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The Diamond Queen
by [?]

“Meet Sylvania Quarantine midnight. Strange death Rawaruska. Retain you in interest steamship company. Thompson, Purser.”

Kennedy had torn open the envelope of a wireless message that had come from somewhere out in the Atlantic and had just been delivered to him at dinner one evening. He read it quickly and tossed it over to me.

“Rawaruska,” I repeated. “Do you suppose that means the clever little Russian dancer who was in the ‘Revue’ last year?”

“There could hardly be two of that unusual name who would be referred to so familiarly,” returned Craig. “Curious that we’ve had nothing in the wireless news about it.”

“Perhaps it has been delayed,” I suggested. “Let me ring up the Star. They may have something now.”

A few minutes later I rejoined Craig at the table. A report had just been received that Rawaruska had been discovered, late the night before, unconscious in her room on the Sylvania. The ship’s surgeon had been summoned, but before he was able to do anything for her she died. That was all the report said. It was meager, but it served to excite our interest.

Renee Rawaruska, I knew, was a popular little Russian dancer abroad who had come to America the season previous and had made a big hit on Broadway. Beautiful, strange, fiery, she incarnated the mysterious Slav. I knew her to be one of those Russian dancers before whose performances Parisian audiences had gone wild with admiration, one who had carried her art beyond anything known in other countries, fascinating, subtle.

Hastily over the telephone Kennedy made arrangements to go down to Quarantine on a revenue tug that was leaving to meet the Sylvania.

It was a weird trip through the choppy winter seas of the upper bay and the Narrows, in the dark, with the wind cold and bleak.

The tug had scarcely cast off from the Battery, where we met it, when a man, who had been watching us from a crevice of his turned-up ulster collar, quietly edged over.

“You are Professor Kennedy, the detective?” he began, more as if asserting it than asking the question.

Craig eyed him a moment, but said nothing.

“I understand,” he went on, not waiting for a reply, “that you are interested in the case of that little Russian actress, Rawaruska?”

Still Kennedy said nothing.

“My name is Wade–of the Customs Service,” pursued the man, nothing abashed. Sticking his head forward between the corners of his high collar he added, in a lowered voice, “You have heard, I suppose, of the great amber diamond, ‘The Invincible’?”

Kennedy nodded and I thought hurriedly of all the big stones I had ever heard–the Pitt, the Orloff, the Koh-i-noor, the Star of the South, the Cullinan, and others.

“The Invincible, you know,” he added, “is the largest amber diamond in the world, almost the size of the famous Cullinan, over three hundred carats. It was found in the dry diggings of the Vaal River, a few miles from Kimberley. The dry diggings are independent of the De Beers combine, of course. Well, its owner has always been in the position of Mark Twain’s man with the million-dollar bank-note who found it too large to cash. No one knows just what an amber diamond of that size is really worth. This one is almost perfect, resembles the huge top of a decanter stopper. It’s a beautiful orange color and has been estimated at–well, as high as close to a quarter of a million, though, as I said, that is all guesswork.”

“Yes?” remarked Kennedy, more for politeness than anything else.

Wade leaned over closer.

“The Invincible,” he whispered, shielding his lips from the keen, biting gale, “was last known to belong to the De Guerres, of Antwerp. One of my special agents abroad has cabled me to look out for it. He thinks there is reason to believe it will be smuggled into America for safe keeping during the troubles in Belgium.”