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Chapter 3

  • AS FAR AS their reception was concerned, even the sensitive mind of an India_ould find nothing at which to take offence. It was, of course, with profoun_egret that the pseudo Nana Rau heard that no visitors could be expected a_he royal table the same evening in consequence of a slight indisposition o_he part of a certain great ruler. Nor was it suggested by the gorgeou_fficial who conducted the interview that the visit of the Prince should b_rolonged in consequence.
  • "It is greatly to be regretted," Nana murmured.
  • "I can assure you that the regret is mutual," was the reply. "If the Princ_ill honour us by dining with the Household, together with his suite"
  • "I shall be delighted," the Prince interpolated. "As to my suite, they ha_etter dine in the apartment apportioned to their use. Afterwards you wil_reatly oblige me by letting an attendant conduct them over the state rooms, and show them some of the treasures of this wonderful place. It is a pleasur_hat my faithful followers have looked forward to for a long time."
  • "Everything shall be done to make them comfortable," the big official replied.
  • "May I remind the Prince that we dine at eight."
  • Nana Rau nodded carelessly and intimated his desire to be alone with his men.
  • The request was immediately granted. For a little time the three conspirator_tood as far from the door as possible talking in whispers.
  • "You see how beautifully things are falling out," said Gryde. "We are her_ithout any suspicion being aroused. There is no chance of public sentimen_eing awakened by a flagrant insult to the sovereign. All we have to do is t_ill these big trunks in the still watches of the night, and get these goo_eople to convey them to the station for us in the morning. By way of spottin_ll the things worth having, an attendant will take you round presently an_oint out the plums to you. But I need not waste my time on advice; you ar_oth capital judges of articles of value."
  • "And as to you?"
  • "As to me, I dine with the Household. Of course, you both occupy my dressing- room. We leave by a train about seven, as I have an engagement in Mancheste_o fill to-morrow night, or, at least, the real Nana has, so we shall be awa_efore anything is missing."
  • "And if things are missed just after we start?"
  • "What matter? We should be the last to be suspected. And you may be certai_he common or garden police would never be consulted in a matter like this.
  • Absolutely nothing in the way of a public scandal would be permitted. And sa_hey looked like bringing it home to us. Would they care to stop us, and car_s off to a police-station? Not a bit of it. Am I not a man of power in ou_ountry? A trustworthy courtier would come to us with every expression o_egret to call for the few trifles that were by mistake taken away with ou_uggage. But as we are not going to Jermyn Street, and as we shall emerge o_addington platform clothed and in our right minds, they have little chance o_eeing those treasures again."
  • There was sound logic in every word that Gryde uttered. Unless by any chance, and that was indeed a remote one, the real Indian was discovered, they wer_bsolutely safe. But, even if by some strange fortune the Simon Pure wa_nearthed, the powerful drug would seal his lips for some hours yet.
  • It was, therefore, with an easy conscience and a mind at rest that Nana Ra_ent down to dine with the Household. He would have felt a little mor_omfortable, perhaps, in ordinary evening dress, but nobody seemed to notic_his. At the same time he had the satisfaction of knowing that there wa_ositively no flaw in his attire, and all the more so because at least tw_enerals who knew India well were present.
  • Gryde said very little, and that little awkwardly. His cue was to do the sh_nd slightly suspicious guest, which part he acted to perfection.
  • A little before eleven he deemed it prudent to retire. In that exalted of al_xalted spheres they are not particularly late, and by twelve o'clock slee_rooded over the Castle.
  • But not in the two rooms devoted to the Indian guests. They sat waiting an_alking there for the critical moment to arrive, which hour had been fixed b_ryde for two. Meantime they had to wait.
  • "You have seen everything?" Gryde murmured.
  • "Well, not everything," was the reply; "but enough, and more than enough. W_an take away thousands of pounds' worth of stuff without quitting thi_loor."
  • "So much the better," Gryde replied with a smile. "Never run any unnecessar_isks. Not that it would matter very much if one of you were taken." The tim_rept slowly on, and at length the hour came. Gryde jumped to his feet. He wa_lert and eager enough now. There was no need for lights, as all the passage_leamed. What they had to fear were the watchmen. But there were three o_hem.
  • "Now follow me," Gryde whispered. There was no time for hesitation. Th_orridors appeared to be silent and deserted, but at any time a watchman migh_ome along. But nothing happened to disturb the work of the adventurers.
  • Tapestry hangings and Cordova leather here and there not only looked patricia_nd valuable, but they formed capital cover for a laden thief whose modesty i_n proportion to the value of his burden.
  • At the end of an hour Gryde's bedroom presented an appearance of dazzlin_plendour. Most of the treasures collected were not only historic but o_mmense intrinsic value. On the whole, the haul was perhaps a better one tha_he theft of the regal corpse.
  • Even Gryde was satisfied at length.
  • "No more," he said. "Now remove those bars of lead from the baggage and hid_hem behind the curtains. Pack the stuff away quietly and then get to bed. W_hall have to be up a little after six, remember."
  • Shortly after seven the next morning three shivering Orientals were sped awa_rom the Castle by a big official, who strove politely to hide his yawns. Whe_he station was reached and the Orientals were alone they developed ne_igour. One of them even went so far as to see the baggage safely in the van.
  • Perhaps he mistrusted the absent guard, for he followed it in, the other_tanding by th« door.
  • His movements were peculiar and rapid. He touched a spring on each box and th_asket frames fell all to pieces. These were immediately hidden under mai_ags. Three huge portmanteaux of different colour were revealed. To each o_hese a label bearing a different name was attached; the baggage was quit_ransformed.
  • Then the shivering Orientals went on their way to the carriage reserved fo_hem. Directly they were inside the blinds were pulled down. The loose Easter_obes were discarded, and beneath them were disclosed three typical Englis_arbs—a parson's, a country squire's, and that of a man about town. With th_ree use of the lavatory and a make-up box produced by Gryde, he and the othe_rtists were utterly changed by the time Slough was reached. Just before the_ big bundle was carefully dropped out of the window. The train pulled up a_lough. Gryde opened the window opposite the platform.
  • "Now," he whispered, "you've all got your tickets?"
  • Confederates One and Two nodded curtly. An instant later the door was close_gain with the curtains still down, and the trio had reached the furthe_latform without attracting the slightest attention. When they strolled bac_gain by the proper way to the train they appeared to be strangers to eac_ther, for each entered a different carriage, not, needless to remark, the on_ith the drawn blinds. Then the train sped on towards Paddington.
  • Once arrived there, Gryde was out of the carriage before the train had fairl_topped. In this move the other actors were not far behind him. The grea_bject now was to secure the baggage and get it out of the station withou_elay. Out came the stuff tumbling on the platform, and a moment later th_hree precious portmanteaux were hoisted upon three cabs and all driven awa_t once to separate destinations. The  _coup_  had been accomplished!
  • But not with much to spare. As Gryde looked with lamb-like gaze over the top_f his glasses, a parson to the life, he saw coming down the slope into th_tation two quiet men, who appeared to see nothing. Gryde smiled.
  • "They've found it out and telegraphed," he chuckled, "or else two shinin_ights like Marsh and Elliott would not have been put on the job. If they hav_ound Nana Rau, why we have no time to lose. If not, why so much the better."
  • It was about nine o'clock the same evening, and the three conspirators, absolutely without disguise, and  _qua_  Gryde and Co., were seated ove_inner in the former's rooms. They had the air of men who had done well an_irtuously
  • "You managed to get rid of your lot?" Gryde asked.
  • "Yes," the first man responded. "All beyond recognition by this time. You'l_ee to the disposal?"
  • "I suppose you are all right?" Gryde said to the other.
  • "I am also satisfied," said he. "We both deposited the plunder as yo_irected. Most of my stuff was jewelled, and you can't recognise jewels. W_re as safe as houses. For my part I should like to have a bit of a rest, considering that I haven't seen my own natural face for a fortnight. When _ook at myself in the glass I feel quite startled."
  • "Let's go round to a restaurant," suggested Gryde, " and see if anything'_ome out."
  • The proposal found favour in the eyes of the others. In the St. Giles's one o_wo men were languidly discussing something in connection with Windsor Castl_nd incidentally Indian princes.
  • "What's that?" Gryde demanded.
  • "All in the  _Globe_ ," said an exhausted voice. "Rum case, by Jove!"
  • Gryde took up the special  _Globe_  and turned it over languidly. He ha_ardly' expected to find the case public. But all the same it was, and nothin_ad been lost in the display of the juicy item:
  • > BURGLARY AT WINDSOR CASTLE > INGENIOUS AND SUCCESSFUL FRAUD > AN INDIAN PRINCE IS DRUGGED AND IMPERSONATED BY THIEVES
  • >
  • > From information just received it is evident that last night a clever an_uccessful attempt at burglary was carried out at Windsor Castle.
  • >
  • > It appears that H.R.H. the Mahrajah of Curriebad was summoned to Windsor fo_ome purpose of State, and this seems to have been known to the miscreants.
  • The Prince was lured away to Epsom by an individual claiming to be an ol_riend of his, the pretext being an invitation to luncheon. There he and hi_ttendants were drugged and locked in a deserted house whilst the pseud_ndians repaired to Windsor.
  • >
  • > What happened there we are not in a position to say, but early this mornin_he Prince and his attendants escaped from their prison-house, and lost n_ime in laying the case before the proper authorities. The police ar_xtremely reticent upon the point, but we have the best authority for sayin_hat during the night the daring thieves carried away from Windsor articles t_he value of thousands of pounds. How they managed to get clear away is _ystery, for though the sham Indians were seen to enter their reserve_arriage at Windsor, it is certain they did not detrain en route. Up to th_resent nothing has been heard or seen of them.
  • >
  • > At the last moment we are informed that a large bundle of Oriental robe_ave been picked up on the line near Slough. How they got there must for th_resent remain a mere matter for conjecture.
  • Gryde smiled as he laid the paper aside.
  • "Looks to me like a hoax," he said,
  • "Depend upon it, our friend the Mahrajah got screwed and imagined the whol_hing. Burglary at Windsor Castle! The whole thing is too absurd."
  • With which Gryde went off to play pool, at which game, as usual, he prove_ingularly successful. But he declined to stay late.
  • "No," he said; "I was up nearly all night. Some other time, perhaps. But yo_haps may depend upon it those 'Indians' will never be caught. See you fellow_n a day or two. I'm going out of town to-morrow for a time."
  • But Gryde's tools never saw him again. They had pooled their plunder, an_ryde was to dispose of it. Yet days and weeks went by, and like the raven,
  • "Still is sitting, never flitting,"
  • they tarried for the master who came not.
  • "Some day," growled No. 1, "we shall meet Vaughan again; then let him look t_imself. I should know him anywhere."
  • Vain boast, fond delusion. Tools it was necessary for Gryde to have, but as t_sing them and making familiar as Gryde with them—never! A myth was "Vaughan,"
  • and as a myth he is likely to remain.