the thing seemed to hold him spellbound; one might have fancied him gazing into the devilish-diamond eyes of a coiled snake. The wallet had not been there when he closed the safe last; there had been nothing in the safe but the boxes, the bottle and the glasses, and of the safe there were but two keys, one at the bank, one in his pocket. The manager of Cumber's Bank, a bald-headed magnate with side-whiskers, even if he had means of access to the safe, could not have been the author of this little trick, simply because the key at the bank was out of his reach, being safely locked away in the Pettigrew private deed-chest, and the key of the Pettigrew private deed-chest was on the same bunch as that now hanging from the safe door.

 

The lock was unpickable.

 

Yet the look on Simon's face was less that of surprise at the thing found than terror of the thing seen. Brownlow's head on a charger could not have affected him much more.

 

Then, stretching out his hand, he took the wallet, brought it to the table and opened it.

 

It contained bank-notes, beautiful, new, crisp Bank of England notes; but the joy of the ordinary man in discovering a great unexpected wad of bank-notes was not apparent in the face of Simon, unless beads of perspiration are indications of joy. He turned to the sherry-bottle, filled two glasses with a shaky hand and drained them; then he turned again to the notes.

 

He sat down and, pushing the wallet aside, began to count them. Began to count them feverishly, as though the result of the tally were a matter of vast importance. There were four notes of a thousand, the rest were hundreds and a few tens. Ten thousand pounds, that was the total.