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Mysterious notes that turned up in smart cocktail lounges or the pocket of Simon Tem­plar's suit. . .

A secret formula that produced a vital substance from waste materials. . .

An organization of killers who would stop at noth­ing to fulfill their dream of power. . .

These are parts of a deadly jig-saw puzzle that led to torture and murder, with a great war hanging in the balance—while. the world waits for the results of the battle against international es­pionage that occurs when THE SAINT STEPS IN.

It was a note drawn in crudely blocked letters, and it had fallen from the handbag of the beautiful woman sitting across the table from Simon Templar, the Saint.

And from the way he reacted to the ex­pression of terror on her face, the Saint knew he was on his way to new adventure —an adventure in espionage that was to help settle a deadly conflict!

By LESLIE CHARTERIS

FICTION PUBLISHING COMPANY       NEW YORK

Copyright, 1942,1943, by Leslie Charteris.  

Published by arrangement with Doubleday & Company, Inc.   Printed in U.S.A.

1. How Simon Templar dined in Washington,

and Sylvester Angert spoke of his Nervousness.

She was young and slender, and she had smiling brown eyes and hair the color of old mahogany. With a lithe grace, she squeezed in beside Simon Templar at the small table in the cocktail room of the Shoreham and said :"You're the Saint."

Simon smiled back, because she was easy to smile at; but not all of the smile went into his very clear blue eyes that always had a faint glint of mockery away behind them, like an amused spectator sitting far back in a respectful audience.

He said: "Am I?"

"I recognised you," she said.

He sighed. The days of happy anonymity that once upon a time had made his lawless career relatively simple seemed suddenly as far away as his last diapers. Not that even today he was as fatefully recognisable as Clark Gable: there were still several million people on earth to whom his face, if not his name, would have meant nothing at alclass="underline" but he was recognised often enough for it to be what he sometimes called an occu­pational hazard.

"I'm afraid there's no prize," he said. "There isn't even a re­ward out at the moment, so far as I know."

It hadn't always been that way. There had been a time, ac­tually not so very long ago, when half the police departments of the world carried a dossier on the Saint in their active and urgent file, when hardly a month went by without some news­paper headlining a new story on the amazing brigand whom they had christened the Robin Hood of modern crime, and when any stranger accosting the Saint by name would have seen that lean tanned reckless face settle into new lines of piratical impudence, and the long sinewy frame become lazy and supple like the crouch of a jungle cat. Those days might come back again at any time, and probably would; but just now he was almost drearily respectable. The war had changed a lot of things.

"I wanted to talk to you," she said.

"You seem to be making out all right." He looked into his empty glass. "Would you like a drink?"

"Dry Sack."

He managed to get the attention of one of the harried wait­ers in the crowded place, with an ease that made the perfor­mance seem ridiculously simple. He ignored the glowerings of several finger-snapping congressmen, as well as the dark looks of some young lieutenants and ensigns who, because they fought the "Battle of Constitution Avenue" without flinching, thought they deserved a priority on service, Washington's scarcest commodity. Simon ordered the Dry Sack, and had an­other Peter Dawson for himself.

"What shall we talk about?" he asked. "I can't tell you the story of my life, because one third of it is unprintable, one third is too incriminating, and the rest of it you wouldn't be­lieve anyhow."

The girl's eyes flashed around the crowded noisy smoky place, and Simon felt the whirring of gears somewhere within him; the gears which instinctively sprang into action when he sensed the possiblity of excitement in the offing. And the girl's behavior was just like the beginning of an adventure story.

Her voice was so low that he barely caught her words, when she said: "I was going to ask you to help me."

"Were you?" He looked at her and saw her eyes dart about the cocktail lounge again as if she were momentarily expecting to see someone whose appearance would be decidedly unwel­come. She felt his gaze on her and made an effort to ease the tautness of her face. Her voice was almost conversational when next she spoke.

"I don't know why," she said, "but I'd sort of imagined you in a uniform."

Simon didn't look tired, because he had heard the same dia­logue before. He had various answers to it, all of them in­accurate. The plain truth was that most of the things he did best were not done in uniforms—such as the interesting epi­sode which had reached its soul-satisfying finale only twelve hours ago, and which was the reason why he was still in Wash­ington, relaxing over a drink for the first time in seven very strenuous days. But things like that couldn't be talked about for a while.

"I got fired, and my uniform happened to fit the new door­man," he said. He waited until the waiter placed the two drinks on the table. "How do you think I could help you?"

"I suppose you'll think I'm stupid," she said, "but I'm just a little bit frightened."

The slight lift of his right eyebrow was noncommittal.

"Sometimes it's stupid not to be frightened," he said. "It all depends. Excuse the platitudes, but I just want to find out what you mean."

"Do you think anything could happen to anyone in Wash­ington?"

"Anything," said the Saint with conviction, "could happen to anyone in Washington. And most of the time it does. That's why so many people here have ulcers."

"Could anyone be killed here?"

He shrugged.

"There was a man named Stavisky," he offered, "but of course that was officially labeled a suicide. But I could imagine somebody being killed here. Is that the proposition, and whom do you want bumped off?"

     

 

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