|Paper||Pleasant Grove Review|
|Rights||No Copyright - United States (NoC-US)|
|Publisher||Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah|
|Creator||L. W. Gaisford|
|Article Title||The Treasure of the Bucoleon|
|Paper||Pleasant Grove Review|
|Creator||L. W. Gaisford|
3ipT TREASURE ' COPYRIGHT 1933 by BftENTANO's INC. BY AKTI"! U R, CX COPYRIGHT 1923 THE RIDGE WAY CO. HUWDEN 5 h ! T fil 1 I ; HI i searcTYed me Tor valuables "winch "luckily "luck-ily I did not possess, and leff me us 1 was found. The police, impressed by Hugh's title and our assertion that we had no important business engagement engage-ment in Marseilles, placed no obstacles obsta-cles in the way of our departure. So the express steamed out of Lyons Ly-ons ten minutes late, and Hugh and Nikka and Watkins escorted me back to our own compartment And when I reached there, and was safe from observation, I jangled the handcuffs before their eyes and lay back and laughed until they thought I was hysterical. hys-terical. "It may have been funny for you," snapped Hugh. "It certainly wasn't for us." ''It's funny for all of us," I insisted, wiping the tears from my eyes. "It's a joke on us. Don't you see it, Hugh? You were claiming that we had shaken them off, that we could sound the 'Stole Away.' And then they ransacked ran-sacked our baggage and kidnaped me on a crowded train. I tell you they are artists. There never was such u gang." Kikka grinned at us. "Don't be down-hearted, you chaps. The law of averages works in lhcs:e affairs as in everything. And anyhow, I've got a plan." To Be Continued "It's only a question of time," slie went on. "You don't realize that you and your friends are alone In this. You have a great organization against you. You have as much chance as the fly after he touched the flypaper. All we have to do is watch you, and at the worst we can take the treasure away from you when you Dnd it. You know you are in a helpless position, my friend. Why not talk sensibly? We can easily get rid of you and your friends if w? care to." "You'll find it harder, the longer you delay," I flashed at ber. "You are educating us." She laughed as merrily as a convent schoolgirl. "So I see." She leaned closer co.'.s-ingly. co.'.s-ingly. "Now, just between the two of us we're Americans, aren't we? what did you find behind the chimney? Come, let's get this over with! We'll make an accommodation. Think " There was a buzz of voices in the corridor. I heard a dry official monotone, mono-tone, then Hugh's clipped English French and Nikka's smooth accent. A hand rattled on the knob of the door. The woman ripped off her waist, dropped her skirt to the floor, and tumbled her hair over her shoulders all in two consecutive movements. As she unlocked the door, she clutched her lingerie about her. Toutou reached up one hand and switched off the single sin-gle light ; his other nand compressed my neck and throat so that I could hardly breathe. She pushed open the door. "Why the disturbance, messieurs?" she questioned silkily in French with the Parisian tang. "In here we have illness. Is it necessary " One look was enough for them, I suppose. It would have fixed me, I know. I heard Hugh'" boyish gasp, and Nikka's apology. "It was a mistake, madame. A friend of mine is missing. We thought m "Here t iert are, only ourselves," she assured them holding the doo wider. Hugh cursed bluntly in Anglo-Saxon, and the guard joined his voice in hectic phraseology. The woman slowly reclosed the door. "The light once more, Toutou," she whispered, and then she sank on the seat and laughed as she had before like a schoolgirl on a lark. She rearranged her hair, picked up her wair '. and skirt, and put them on as casually as though she was in her boudoir. "This writing that you found," she resumed her questioning, "is it definite? def-inite? You may nod or shake yeur head." I did neither. "Very well," she answered patiently. "We will try you further." And for two hours she shot questions ques-tions at me, attacking the problem from every conceivable angle, always al-ways with her eyes glued on my eyes, always vigilant for any sign of acquiescence acqui-escence or denial. At last she leaned back a trifle wearily. "Wo approach Lyons," she said. "I shall let you go this time, Mr. Nash, principally because if we killed you it might frighten your friends away. Above everything, if we cannot learn the secret first, we must get you to Constantinople.'' Toutou took from one of their bags a length of stout rope, and tied my legs from ankle to knee. The woman donned hat and furs and patted my shoulder. "I wish you were with us, my friend. Ah, well, one wishes for the moon. Be of stout heart, and remember that I Helene de Cespedes has .saved you from the knife. I fancy we shall meet again, and 1 cannot promise always to be so kind-hearted." She let Toutou collect their two bags, saw him to the door and then switched off the single light. They went out, the door closed, and I was in darkness. Suddenly, the door was reopened. The head of Helene de Cespedes Ces-pedes showed against the lights in the corridor. "Here in the key to those wristlets," she whispered, sliding It along the seat toward me. "Your friends can unlock them when they find you. I don't believe be-lieve in being too hard on an enemy not when you don't have to be. Well, so long, boy." I chuckled to myself as the door clicked the second time. She was a character, and no ordinary woman. I was still reflecting on the amazing three hours I had experienced In that railway compartment, when the brakes took bold, and the train slowed to a stop between the brightly lighted platforms plat-forms of the Lyons station. There was the customary clatter of arriving and departing passengers. Footsteps sounded on the corridor outside; a hand wrenched at the door; and a guard bundled in, with two people behind be-hind him. As he turned un the light his face was a study in consternation. The (wo people with him bolted pell-mell pell-mell into the corridor, shrieking In terror. The guard stood fast, and stared at me, stroking his chin. "Sacre hleau !" he muttered to himself. him-self. At that moment nugh, attracted by the rumpus the two startled passengers passen-gers were making In the corridor, forced his, way Into the compartment, shoved the guard headlong on the floor and grabbed me by the arm. "Are you all right, old man?" he cried. "For God's sake, what have they done with you?" I motioned to the key on the seat, and he f.rted it clumsily to the hand- ' cm: .7s. Nikka and Walkins ran in about this time; the guard regained his feet ; the two passengers returned: somebody fetched the police. ; To t;.e latter I told a hasty cock-and- i bull story. Bandits had assa; ed me, j CHAPTER V Hide and Seek Hugh slipped the penciled transla-m transla-m In his pocket, swiftly rewrapped e Black Letter original and stowed In the ebony chest, and refastened e iron box, which he returned to its rmer place on the mailed chest ol j dead ancestor. "Come on you aps." In the doorway he paused by the dy of Toutou's gangster. 'What about this?" he demanded. "1 m't have him left in there-witu )se." 'No need to," returned Nikka curt-emptying curt-emptying the lime-sack as he )ke. "Leave hi- here." 'It seems to me we have got to ive rapidly if we are going to shake Toutou's gang," Hugh said, when ! reached the library. "They are ful-as ful-as formidable as Nikka warned us y would be. We ought to start for nstantinople this afternoon." 'There's no question of that," as-Ued as-Ued Nikka. "But what are you go-; go-; to do with the key to the treasure? u have it in your pocket now, but Is a long journey to Constantinople, ppose they steal it en route? They "y have plenty of opportunities, you jw. Personally, I am not sanguine shaking them off. It will be a aim-matter aim-matter for a gang like Toutou's : waylay you or search your bag- ; ;e." Iugb flushed. 'I had thought of that," he said p the fact is Jack has a cousin rirl we both know. She and her fa- ir are at the Pera palace he's an fully good sort." And the girl?" inquired Nikka, with quiet grin. Oh, you'll meet her, too. She's very ,'erent from what you'd expect in a "sin of Jack. Anyhow, she knows "-4ut this treasure business, and she d of Uncle James' murder, and 's fearfully keen to be in the game h us. My suggestion is that I mail cle James' translation of the key to in Constantinople. Nobody knows t she knows me or has any con-tion con-tion with any of us. She left New k before Uncle James arrived. So would be perfectly safe In her ids." And in the meantime, we'd better unit it to memory," I said, 'lie others agreed to this, and we d over the brief transcript of the sing half of the Instructions un-we un-we had the salient directions fixed our minds. Then we retraced our is through the passage, climbed out he Prior's vent and sealed it again; I while Hugh and Nikka motored i-n to the village post office with the er for Betty, Watkins and I saw the necessary packing in prepara-l prepara-l for the journey, 'n the channel boat we bad the sation of being watched, although could not have pointed to any per-s per-s and accused them of spying; and ninly none of tho members of the jer bouse party was in evidence, t Calais we passed the customs and sport ollicials expeditiously because i Hugh and Nikka were personages doubtful asset, as wo were soon earn. And on the Paris train we lally thought that wo had eluded eillaneo until wo rolled into the e du Nord and started to disem-It disem-It was Nikka who discovered little red chalk mark on the door our compartment, and Watkins ted a furtive individual, who k down the corridor as we stepped II, n rat faced fellow of the die type. e were all of us familiar with s, Nikka and 1 perhaps more so i Hugh. And we drove to a small 1 near the Louvre, ie four of us were dog-tired re-iher, re-iher, we had been steadily "on the ," as Hugh said, since we wak-' wak-' In the early morning hours to re-1'iuitou's re-1'iuitou's invasion, and the nervous n bad been wearing. But before urned in, Nikka telephoned a pri-nmiber pri-nmiber at the prefecture of po- ie result of his call was deiuon-ed deiuon-ed when we went down to luvuk-tlie luvuk-tlie next morning. A jaunty little iu a top-hat .ml frock-coat, with 5 and u gold headed cane. licw up ikka and embraced him iu the ceu-Pi ceu-Pi Ihj lobby. ,vnd Nikka intro-d intro-d him to us as y. l loumorgiio, mssairo of the '101100 de sunie, or t poiiee. .mid he to us the honor of tak-u'eaklast tak-u'eaklast with us? .Mais, certaine- It vrs a pleasure of the givat-to givat-to have the company of M. Za-0 Za-0 "ml his cher colleagues. He also examined the dossiers of the i'luals Mr. Zaranko had named, f Toutou LaFitle, Messieurs, hut can ue said. If you have seen Jhen you Jiave seen one whoju nbolielT official "can claim "knowingly to have laid eyes on. But we feel him, Messieurs. We hear of him. We sense his manifold activities. If the stories which others, like yourselves, tell us are true, he is a genius, a monster. He rules the criminal world. He has the brain of a statesman, the instincts in-stincts of an animal. Hilmi Bey we know well. He has been mixed up in various shady coups, both in Egypt and in Turkey. He has sources of income we have never been able to discover.. Prior to this nobody has associated him with Toutou. "And this Russian pair ! Vassilie-vich Vassilie-vich and Vassilievna ! They are notorious no-torious as international spies. They hold heir titles of right, and undoubtedly undoubt-edly come of an honorable family or families. "The Uilyers have been watched since before the war on suspicion of being implicated in dishonorable gambling gam-bling transactions. But so far, we have not been able to catch them how Is it the excellent Americans say? Ah, yes, wiz ze goods. "Is this of assistance? 1 deeply regret re-gret I cannot add more. But if I can aid you in any way, if you are annoyed an-noyed in Paris or subjected to observation, ob-servation, pray call upon me." ,., He bowed himself out. "That's all very well," remarked Hugh, "and his information is valuable, valu-able, Nikka, but we can't call on him officially ! If wc complain of being shadowed at the prefecture of police, they will ask us the object of it ; and if we tell them the truth, you can be sure the secret will leak ut. No, lads, the only thing for us to do is to dodge our trailers. There's only one thing to do. Where's Watkins? We'll collect him, and book for the first train to Marseilles. They'll expect us to go direct by the Orient express." We rather prided ourselves on our cleverness as we sat back in a reserved re-served compartment of the Lyons-Mediterranean express, and watched the Tour Eiffel fade aganist the sky. Hugh voiced the sentiments of the three of us, when he stretched out his legs and exclaimed: ''What price Toutou's vermin now? I jolly well bet they esteem us artful art-ful dodgers." Nikka smiled. "Lou t be loo sure," he cautioned. "Eluding detection is their life work. We are only amateurs." We loafed through dinner, and complete com-plete darkness had shut down when we returned to our compartment. "I sa" " exclaimed Nikka, as he switched on the light. "Was your bag up there when we left, Hugh?" Hugh studied the arrangement ol the luggage on the racks. "Can't say," he admitted finally. "But it ought to show if it's been pawed over." He hauled it down and opened It. Everything apparently was in perfect order. "Hold on, though," he cried, pursing his lips in a low whistle. "Watty, you packed this bag. Don't you tisuallj put razors at the bottom?" "Yes, your luilsbip." ''They're on top now. So are my brushes. Everything in order, but-What but-What do you say to giving this train a look-over. Jack? If there are any familiar faces aboard we ought to be able to spot them. Nikka, you and Watty can mount guard here and protect pro-tect each other until we come back." Our car was about in the middle ol the train, and at my suggestion, nugh went forward, while I followed the corridor toward the rear. I did not see anyone who looked at all like any of the members of Toutou's gang whom I knew. In fact, the passengers were the usual lot one sees ou a Continental Con-tinental through-train. 1 was returning and had readied the rear end of our car when I heard a scream just behind me and a door crashed open. I turned involuntarily. A woman in black, with a veil flying around her pale "ace. ran into the corridor, hesitated, and then seized me by the arm. "("ih. Monsieur! My husband ! Hols so ill." she cried in French. "He dies at this .nonient. I pray you, have you a flask?" The tears were streaming from her eyes; her face was convulsed wi;ii grief. I reached for my lla.-k. "Calm ,!: -If, inaaame." I sni.l "Do you take this. I will ask the guard to ljolp in raiding a physician." "Oil. no. no," she protested. "He has fallen. He Is so hea .-y I cannot lift him. And 1; decs, nonsieur! On. mon Dion ! Mon Piou '" I slipped pat her into the compartment, compart-ment, ilask in hand. Or.o of the e'ee tries was on, and by its light I decerned de-cerned the body of a man huddled face down on the floor in the midst ! a liner of baggage and wraps. I dropped tho flask on one ol the sealant seal-ant leaned over to hoist jt';( nam in, "Oh Monsieur! My Husband! He Is So III." ATI did so she re-entered "aha "closed the door, sill babbling brokenly in French. "If you will help me, please, madame," mad-ame," I suggested. "He is very heavy, as you say." "But gladly, monsieur. If you will turn him over so that we may see if he breathes." I braced my hands beneath his chest. I started to lift him and my wrists were caught in a human vise. So quickly that I could not follow his movements, the inert man on the floor had twisted me down beside him, his knee was on my chest, my wind was cut off, a pair of steel handcuffs fettered fet-tered me, and as I opened my mouth to scream a cotton gag was thrust Into In-to place by the woman who had lured me in. "Voila !" she said complacently, knotting knot-ting the cords of the gag around my neck. "Or if you'd rather have it in American, Mr. Nash, you're It. Here, Toutou, get off him. You won't help by crushing his chest in." She gave my captor a shove, and he rose with a growl and a menacing gesture ges-ture of clawed hands to take a seat by the door. I could see now that he was Toutou or Teodoreschi, cleverly disguised. "Get up," said the woman. She stooped and put her hands under un-der my arm-pits, exerting a strength amazing for her size. I staggered up and collapsed on the seat opposite Toutou and as far away from him as 1 could get. Inwardly, I cursed myself for a fool I had been neatly trapped at the very moment I was priding myself my-self on being on the alert . The woman was of a Latin brunette type, with masses of wavy black hair, great lustrous brown eyes, and a piquant pi-quant beauty of face. After a muttered interchange ol words with Toutou in a language I did net understand, she fastened her gaze on me, and evidently something of my thoughts was reflected in my face, for she burst out laughing. "You can't make me out !" she jeered in an unmistakable American accent. "You're not the first, Mr. Nash. I'm going to take that gag out, and Toutou Tou-tou is going to sit beside you with his hand on the back of your neck, and if you so much as start to yip he'll break it just as if you were a chicken." chick-en." Her eyes glinted harshly. "Do you get me? that goes." I nodded my head. Toutou moved up beside me, and a shiver wrenched my spine, as his hand unfastened the gag and enclosed my neck. "We are perfectly safe," she continued. contin-ued. "You are my insane husband. We are Americans, and I am taking you to relatives in Italy. Toutou is the physician in charge of the case." She reached inside her bodice, and produced pro-duced some papers. "Here are your passpor; and a medical certificate. Everything Ev-erything ip in order. "The one question Is : are you going go-ing to do business with us willingly or must we make you?" I moistened my lips. "I don't know what you mean," I answered as coolly as I could. "1 haven't got anything you might want Search me." "I will." She dug out every pocket She opened my vest, felt for a money-belt, felt inside my shirt, took my shoes off, examined them carefully by flashlight, and made sure I had nothing In my socks. She was a methodical person, that lady. Having searched me, she put everything ba?k in its proper place, drew on my shoes and lacetl them. Then she sat back and stared at mo. "And I hoi e was nothing in the baggage," bag-gage," she commented. "What about your friends, Mr. Nash?" "None of them has anything." "But you found something. You mil'', have. What was it?" She leaned forward, and her eyes bored into mine. I stared back uncompromisingly. un-compromisingly. ''I d'T.'t want to have to let Toutou hurt you." she warned softly. At that son.elhii.g; in n,e burst into Ilame. "It dot sn't matter what he does," 1 spat at her. "He can't make me toil you an.- tliiiig. As a maCer of fact, I haven't anything definite, none of us lias. But if we had, we wouldu't toil. I'll die before I'll help yovrr gang." That sounds like s;a.re heroics, bui 1 wa.s in an cxaiied mood. I could fid Teuton's grip on u:. neck, and I im nginod I didn't have long to live in any case.