Long Live the King
Herman Spier had made his escape with the letter. He ran through tortuous byways of the
old city, under arches into courtyards, out again by doorway set in walls, twisted, doubled
like a rabbit. And all this with no pursuit, save the pricking one of terror.
But at last he halted, looked about, perceived that only his own guilty conscience accused
him, and took breath. He made his way to the house in the Road of the Good Children,
the letter now buttoned inside his coat, and, finding the doors closed, lurked in the
shadow of the park until, an hour later, Black Humbert himself appeared.
He eyed his creature with cold anger. "It is a marvel," he sneered, "that such flight as
yours hag not brought the police in a pack at your heels."
"I had the letter," Herman replied sulkily. "It was necessary to save it."
"You were to see where Niburg took the substitute."
But here Herman was the one to sneer. "Niburg!" he said. "You know well enough that he
will take no substitute to-night, or any night, You strike hard, my friend."
The concierge growled, and together they entered the house across the street.
In the absence of Humbert, his niece, daughter of a milk-seller near, kept the bureau,
answered the bell, and after nine o'clock, when the doors were bolted, admitted the
various occupants of the house and gave them the tiny tapers with which to light
themselves upstairs. She was sewing and singing softly when they entered. Herman
Spier's pale face colored. He suspected the girl of a softness for him, not entirely borne
out by the facts. So he straightened his ready-made tie, which hooked to his collar button,
and ogled her.
"All right, girl. You may go," said Humbert. His huge bulk seemed to fill the little room.
"Good-night to you both," the girl said, and gave Herman Spier a nod. When she was
gone, the concierge locked the door behind her.
"And now," he said, "for a look at the treasure."
He rubbed his hands together as Herman produced the letter. Heads close, they examined
it under the lamp. Then they glanced at each other.
"A cipher," said the concierge shortly. "It tells nothing."
It was a moment of intense disappointment. In Humbert's mind had been forming, for the
past hour or two, a plan - nothing less than to go himself before the Council and, with the