The idea tickled Desmond's sense of humor and he smiled.
"Come," cried Strangwise, "you've heard my terms. This jewel, this Star of Poland, it is nothing to you or your Government. You restore it to me and I won't even ask you for a safe conduct back to Germany. I'll just slide out and it will be as if I had never been to England at all. As for my organization, you, Desmond Okewood, have blown it sky-high!"
He stretched out his hand to Desmond as though he expected the other to produce the gem from his pocket. But Desmond rose to his feet and struck the hand contemptuously on one side. The smile had vanished from his face.
"Are you sure that is all you have to say to me?" he asked.
Strangwise had stood up as well.
"Why, yes!" he said, "I think so!"
"Well, then," said Desmond firmly, "just listen to me for a moment! Here's my answer. You've lost the jewel for good and all, and you will never get it back. Your offer to betray your accomplices to me in exchange for the Star of Poland is an empty one; for your accomplices will be arrested with you. And lastly I give you my word that I shall make it my personal duty to see that you are not shot by clean-handed British soldiers, but strung up by the neck by the common hangman--as the murderer that you are!"
Strangwise's face underwent an extraordinary change. His suavity vanished, his easy smile disappeared and he looked balefully across the table as the other fearlessly confronted him.