15. The Examination Of Sonia
M. Formery gasped: "The real track?" he muttered.
"Let me show you," said Guerchard. And he led him to the fireplace, and showed him the
opening between the two houses.
"I must go into this myself!" cried M. Formery in wild excitement.
Without more ado he began to mount the steps. Guerchard followed him. The Duke saw their
heels disappear up the steps. Then he came out of the drawing-room and inquired for M.
Gournay-Martin. He was told that the millionaire was up in his bedroom; and he went upstairs,
and knocked at the door of it.
M. Gournay-Martin bade him enter in a very faint voice, and the Duke found him lying on the
bed. He was looking depressed, even exhausted, the shadow of the blusterous Gournay-Martin
of the day before. The rich rosiness of his cheeks had faded to a moderate rose-pink.
"That telegram," moaned the millionaire. "It was the last straw. It has overwhelmed me. The
coronet is lost."
"What, already?" said the Duke, in a tone of the liveliest surprise.
"No, no; it's still in the safe," said the millionaire. "But it's as good as lost--before midnight it
will be lost. That fiend will get it."
"If it's in this safe now, it won't be lost before midnight," said the Duke. "But are you sure it's
"Look for yourself," said the millionaire, taking the key of the safe from his waistcoat pocket,
and handing it to the Duke.
The Duke opened the safe. The morocco case which held the coronet lay on the middle shell in
front of him. He glanced at the millionaire, and saw that he had closed his eyes in the
exhaustion of despair. Whistling softly, the Duke opened the case, took out the diadem, and
examined it carefully, admiring its admirable workmanship. He put it back in the case, turned
to the millionaire, and said thoughtfully:
"I can never make up my mind, in the case of one of these old diadems, whether one ought not
to take out the stones and have them re-cut. Look at this emerald now. It's a very fine stone, but
this old-fashioned cutting does not really do it justice."
"Oh, no, no: you should never interfere with an antique, historic piece of jewellery. Any
alteration decreases its value--its value as an historic relic," cried the millionaire, in a shocked
"I know that," said the Duke, "but the question for me is, whether one ought not to sacrifice
some of its value to increasing its beauty."
"You do have such mad ideas," said the millionaire, in a tone of peevish exasperation.
"Ah, well, it's a nice question," said the Duke.
He snapped the case briskly, put it back on the shelf, locked the safe, and handed the key to the
millionaire. Then he strolled across the room and looked down into the street, whistling softly.
"I think--I think--I'll go home and get out of these motoring clothes. And I should like to have
on a pair of boots that were a trifle less muddy," he said slowly.
M. Gournay-Martin sat up with a jerk and cried, "For Heaven's sake, don't you go and desert
me, my dear chap! You don't know what my nerves are like!"