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A Cabinet Secret by Guy Newell Boothby

A Cabinet Secret

[Illustration: SHE STOOPED OVER ME. 'A Cabinet Secret.'

_Page 118._ (_Frontispiece_.)]

A Cabinet Secret

By Guy Boothby

Author of "Dr Nikola," "The Beautiful White Devil," "Pharos the Egyptian," "A Sailor's Bride," etc., etc.

With Illustrations by A. Wallis Mills

London

F. V. White & Co.

14 Bedford Street, Strand, W.C.

1901

INTRODUCTION

The Author deems it right to preface his work with the remark, that while the War between England and the South African Republics forms the basis of the story, the characters and incidents therein described are purely fictional, and have no sort of resemblance, either intended or implied, with living people. The Author's only desire is to show what, under certain, doubtless improbable, conditions, might very well have happened, had a secret power endeavoured to harass the Empire by taking advantage of her temporary difficulties.

A CABINET SECRET

INTRODUCTION

Night was falling, and Naples Harbour, always picturesque, appeared even more so than usual in the warm light of the departing day. The city itself, climbing up the hillside, almost from the water's edge, was coloured a pale pink by the sunset, and even old Vesuvius, from whose top a thin column of black smoke was issuing, seemed somewhat less sombre than usual. Out Ischiawards, the heavens were a mass of gold and crimson colouring, and this was reflected in the calm waters of the Bay, till the whole world was a veritable glow. Taken altogether, a more beautiful evening could scarcely have been desired. And yet it is not with the city, the mountain, or the sunset, that we have to do, but with the first movement of a conspiracy that was destined ultimately to shake one of the greatest Empires, the earth has ever seen, to the very foundations of its being.

Though the world was not aware of it, and would not, in all human probability, have concerned itself very much about it even if it had, the fact remains that for some hours past two men, from a house situated on one of the loftiest pinnacles of the city, had been concentrating their attention, by means of powerful glasses, upon the harbour, closely scrutinizing every vessel that entered and dropped her anchor inside the Mole.

"Can anything have happened that she does not come?" asked the taller of the pair, as he put down his glasses, and began to pace the room. "The cable said most distinctly that the steam yacht, _Princess Badroulbadour_ passed through the Straits of Messina yesterday at seven o'clock. Surely they should be here by this time?"

"One would have thought so," his companion replied. "It must be borne in mind, however, that the _Princess_ is a private yacht, and it is more likely, as the wind is fair, that the owner is sailing in order to save his fuel."

"To the devil with him, then, for his English meanness," answered the other angrily. "He does not know how anxious we are to see her."

"And, everything taken into consideration, it is just as well for us and for the safety of his passengers that he does not," his friend retorted. "If he did, his first act after he dropped anchor would be to hand them over to the tender mercies of the Police. In that case we should be ruined for ever and a day. Perhaps that aspect of the affair has not struck you?"


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