Page:BulldogDrummondSapper.djvu/23

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19
PROLOGUE

such a game? The only question which occupied their minds was whether he could carry it through. And on that point they had only their judgment of his personality to rely on.

Suddenly the American removed the toothpick from his mouth, and stretched out his legs.

"There is a question which occurs to me, Count, before I make up my mind on the matter. I guess you've got us sized up to the last button; you know who we are, what we're worth, and all about us. Are you disposed to be a little more communicative about yourself? If we agree to come in on this hand, it's going to cost big money. The handling of that money is with you. Wal—who are you?"

Von Gratz paused in his restless pacing and nodded his head in agreement; even Steinemann, with a great effort, raised his eyes to the Count's face as he turned and faced them.…

"A very fair question, gentlemen, and yet one which I regret I am unable to answer. I would not insult your intelligence by giving you the fictitious address of—a fictitious Count. Enough that I am a man whose livelihood lies in other people's pockets. As you say, Mr. Hocking, it is going to cost big money; but compared to the results the costs will be a flea-bite.… Do I look—and you are all of you used to judging men—do I look the type who would steal the baby's money-box which lay on the mantelpiece, when the pearls could be had for opening the safe.… You will have to trust me, even as I shall have to trust you.… You will have to trust me not to divert the money which you give me as working expenses into