Desmond listened to this story in amazement. He did not attempt to speculate on the different course events would have taken had he but known that the mysterious jewel which had cost old Mackwayte his life, had been in his, Desmond's, possession from the very day on which he had assumed the guise and habiliments of Mr. Bellward. He was racking his brains to think what he had done with the box of cigarettes he had purchased at the Dionysus shop on the afternoon of the day he had taken the leave train back to France.
He remembered perfectly buying the cigarettes for the journey. But he didn't have them on the journey; for the captain of the leave boat had given him some cigars as Desmond had nothing to smoke. And then with a flash he remembered. He had packed the cigarettes in his kit--his kit which had gone over to France in the hold of the leave boat? And to think that there was a 100,000 pound jewel in charge of the M.L.O. at a French port!
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!"