Page:BulldogDrummondSapper.djvu/25

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21
PROLOGUE

thought. Genius that he was in the reading of men's minds, he felt that he knew the result of that ten minutes' deliberation.… And then … What then? … In his imagination he saw his plans growing and spreading, his tentacles reaching into every corner of a great people—until, at last, everything was ready. He saw himself supreme in power, glutted with it—a king, an autocrat, who had only to lift his finger to plunge his kingdom into destruction and annihilation.… And when he had done it, and the country he hated was in ruins, then he would claim his million and enjoy it as a great man should enjoy a great reward.… Thus for the space of ten minutes did the Count see visions and dream dreams. That the force he proposed to tamper with was a dangerous force disturbed him not at all: he was a dangerous man. That his scheme would bring ruin, perhaps death, to thousands of innocent men and women, caused him no qualm: he was a supreme egoist. All that appealed to him was that he had seen the opportunity that existed, and that he had the nerve and the brain to turn that opportunity to his own advantage. Only the necessary money was lacking … and … With a quick movement he pulled out his watch. They had had their ten minutes … the matter was settled, the die was cast.…

He rose and walked across the lounge. At the swing doors was the head waiter, bowing obsequiously.…

It was to be hoped that the dinner had been to the liking of Monsieur le Comte … the wines all that he could wish … that he had been comfortable and would return again.…