The Master Key

Page 28

But there he was politely informed that the President was busily engaged in his garden, and would see no one.

"That's all right," said the boy, calmly. "If he's in the garden I'll have no trouble finding him."

Then, to the amazement of the Frenchmen, Rob shot into the air fifty feet or so, from which elevation he overlooked a pretty garden in the rear of the President's mansion. The place was protected from ordinary intrusion by high walls, but Rob descended within the enclosure and walked up to a man who was writing at a small table placed under the spreading branches of a large tree.

"Is this President Loubet?" he inquired, with a bow.

The gentleman looked up.

"My servants were instructed to allow no one to disturb me," he said, speaking in excellent English.

"It isn't their fault; I flew over the wall," returned Rob. "The fact is," he added, hastily, as he noted the President's frown, "I have come to save the Republic; and I haven't much time to waste over a bundle of Frenchmen, either."

The President seemed surprised.

"Your name!" he demanded, sharply.

"Robert Billings Joslyn, United States of America!"

"Your business, Monsieur Joslyn!"

Rob drew the Record from his pocket and placed it upon the table.

"This, sir," said he, "is an electrical device that records all important events. I wish to call your attention to a scene enacted in Paris last evening which may have an effect upon the future history of your country."

He opened the lid, placed the Record so that the President could see clearly, and then watched the changing expressions upon the great man's face; first indifference, then interest, the next moment eagerness and amazement.

"MON DIEU!" he gasped; "the Orleanists!"

Rob nodded.

"Yes; they've worked up a rather pretty plot, haven't they?"

The President did not reply. He was anxiously watching the Record and scribbling notes on a paper beside him. His face was pale and his lips tightly compressed.

Finally he leaned back in his chair and asked:

"Can you reproduce this scene again?"

"Certainly, sir," answered the boy; "as often as you like."

"Will you remain here while I send for my minister of police? It will require but a short time."

"Call him up, then. I'm in something of a hurry myself, but now I've mixed up with this thing I'll see it through."

The President touched a bell and gave an order to his servant. Then he turned to Rob and said, wonderingly:

"You are a boy!"

"That's true, Mr. President," was the answer; "but an American boy, you must remember. That makes a big difference, I assure you."

The President bowed gravely.

"This is your invention?" he asked.

"No; I'm hardly equal to that. But the inventor has made me a present of the Record, and it's the only one in the world."

"It is a marvel," remarked the President, thoughtfully. "More! It is a real miracle. We are living in an age of wonders, my young friend."

"No one knows that better than myself, sir," replied Rob. "But, tell me, can you trust your chief of police?"

"I think so," said the President, slowly; "yet since your invention has shown me that many men I have considered honest are criminally implicated in this royalist plot, I hardly know whom to depend upon."

"Then please wear these spectacles during your interview with the minister of police," said the boy. "You must say nothing, while he is with us, about certain marks that will appear upon his forehead; but when he has gone I will explain those marks so you will understand them."

The President covered his eyes with the spectacles.

"Why," he exclaimed, "I see upon your own brow the letters--"

"Stop, sir!" interrupted Rob, with a blush; "I don't care to know what the letters are, if it's just the same to you."

The President seemed puzzled by this speech, but fortunately the minister of police arrived just then and, under Rob's guidance, the pictured record of the Orleanist plot was reproduced before the startled eyes of the official.

The Master Key Page 29

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