Having ensconced himself into his lodgings, Simon retrieved a copy of the Post and settled into a large, chair with a slightly contented sigh. But no sooner had he made himself comfortable than a knock came at his door. Lifting himself from the seated position with a sigh, Simon opened the door to reveal a delivery boy.
“Telegram for Mr. Templar,” he said predictably.
Simon identified himself as the recipient and tipped the lad generously before shooing him away. Closing the door, he examined the communique. It was from an old acquaintance of his who had made a fair sum of money chronicling the occasional tale of The Saint’s exploits.
Business advisor Charles Hillarram fleeced clients stop. Lives in Pierre Hotel stop. Up your alley stop. L.C.
A smile curled the corner of the Saint’s lip. Although he may not have begun this holiday with adventure in mind, fate had other ideas for him. He deftly slipped into his overcoat and made his way from his room to the ground floor and out to Fifth Avenue. As he strolled the few blocks to the Pierre Hotel, Simon whistled a jaunty tune and took in the scenery.
Reaching the building, he was surprised to see a number of police milling about the entrance. Pausing, Simon drew a cigarette from his case and lit it. Presently, the face of Inspector Henry Fernack made itself seen, issuing orders and directing officers. As Fernack vanished into the hotel, Simon once again walked toward the building and into the lobby. Making his way toward the elevators, he was stopped by a patrolman.
“Are you residing here, sir?”
The police officer blinked at the terse answer. “Here on business, sir?”
“After a fashion.” The Saint smiled at the confused policeman. “I’m here to see the Inspector.”
This pronouncement caused some comprehension in the officer. He quickly summoned the elevator and instructed its operator. “Take this man to the seventh floor.” To Simon he added, “Room seven-oh-three, sir.”
When the elevator reached its destination, Simon exited and made his way down the corridor. Upon reaching the room, he nodded to the guard and walked through the open doorway. Leaning against the wall, he surveyed the scene. It was littered with maps and drawings, technical blueprints and what seemed to be layouts of local military installations. Standing in the midst of the chaos was Inspector Fernack. The Saint’s deep blue eyes flashed with amusement. “Hello, Henry. Is it the maid’s day off?”
Fernack whirled, a shocked look on his face. “What the deuce are you doing here?”
“Why, Inspector Fernack!” Simon exclaimed with mock offense. “Is that any way to greet an old friend? I was merely walking down the avenue with a song in my heart when I saw a group of policemen surrounding the hotel entrance, I thought perhaps there was a Policeman’s Ball or some such. But then I saw your shining face protruding through the doors, issuing orders, and I knew I must come up and say hello.” Simon looked around the room. “What goes on here?”
Henry Fernack just grumbled. “I don’t know. The hotel maids reported the room like this. We can’t find any of the men who were staying here.” Shaking his head, he began to pace. Simon followed as Fernack continued. “Foreigners, diplomats of some sort, according to the consierge. He said their behavior was odd.”
“Is there anything I can do to help?” Simon asked, his mission of inconveniencing Mister Hillarram pushed to the back of mind.
“Well…” Fernack scratched his chin. Coming to a decision, he nodded. “Come on back to my office. I’d like your opinion on some other odd things we’ve found. They might tie into this.” He spoke to a uniformed officer, “Lock down this room until Sergeant Chambers gets here.”
Getting a salute in return, Fernack led Simon from the room and out to the street. As he opened the door of his automobile, a strange high-pitched whining noise filled the air. The Saint turned to the policeman. “Is there an air raid drill scheduled, Inspector?”
Fernack shook his head. “Not that I’m aware of. The duo, along with the inhabitants of New York, craned their necks and searched the skies. As they looked, a mechanical drone made itself heard over the sirens, and Simon spotted a flight of planes winging their way westward through the sky.