There were thirty or forty personally addressed letters, the daily heritage of the head of a great business establishment; and a plain, yellow-wrapped package about the size of a cigarette-box, some three inches long, two inches wide and one inch deep. It was neatly tied with thin scarlet twine, and innocent of markings except for the superscription in a precise, copperplate hand, and the smudge of the postmark across the ten-cent stamp in the upper right-hand corner. The imprint of the cancellation, faintly decipherable, showed that the package had been mailed at the Madison Square substation at half-past seven o’clock of the previous evening.

Mr. Harry Latham, president and active head of the H. Latham Company, manufacturing jewelers in Fifth Avenue, found the letters and the package on his desk when he entered his private office a few minutes past nine o’clock. The simple fact that the package bore no return address or identifying mark of any sort caused him to pick it up and examine it, after which he shook it inquiringly. Then, with kindling curiosity, he snipped the scarlet thread with a pair of silver scissors, and unfolded the wrappings. Inside was a glazed paper box, such as jewelers use, but still there was no mark, no printing, either on top or bottom.

The cover of the box came off in Mr. Latham’s hand, disclosing a bed of white cotton. He removed the downy upper layer, and there—there, nestling against the snowy background, blazed a single splendid diamond, of six, perhaps seven, carats. Myriad colors played in its blue-white depths, sparkling, flashing, dazzling in the subdued light. Mr. Latham drew one long quick breath, and walked over to the window to examine the stone in the full glare of day.

A minute or more passed, a minute of wonder, admiration, allurement, but at last he ventured to lift the diamond from the box. It was perfect, so far as he could see; perfect in cutting and color and depth, prismatic, radiant, bewilderingly gorgeous. Its value? Even he could not offer an opinion—only the appraisement of his expert would be worth listening to on that point. But one thing he knew instantly—in the million-dollar stock of precious stones stored away in the vaults of the H. Latham Company, there was not one to compare with this.

At length, as he stared at it fascinated, he remembered that he didn’t know its owner, and for the second time he examined the wrappings, the box inside and out, and finally he lifted out the lower layer of cotton, seeking a fugitive card or mark of some sort. Surely the owner of so valuable a stone would not be so careless as to send it this way, through the mail—unregistered—without some method of identification! Another sharp scrutiny of box and cotton and wrappings left him in deep perplexity.

Then another idea came. One of the letters, of course! The owner of the diamond had sent it this way, perhaps to be set, and had sent instructions under another cover. An absurd, even a reckless thing to do, but ——! And Mr. Latham attacked the heap of letters neatly stacked up in front of him. There were thirty-six of them, but not one even remotely hinted at diamonds. In order to be perfectly sure, Mr. Latham went through his mail a second time. Perhaps the letter of instructions had come addressed to the company, and had gone to the secretary, Mr. Flitcroft.

He arose to summon Mr. Flitcroft from an adjoining room, then changed his mind long enough carefully to replace the diamond in the box and thrust the box into a pigeonhole of his desk. Then he called Mr. Flitcroft in.

“Have you gone through your morning mail?” Mr. Latham inquired of the secretary.

“Yes,” he replied. “I have just finished.”

“Did you happen to come across a letter bearing on—that is, was there a letter to-day, or has there been a letter of instructions as to a single large diamond which was to come, or had come, by mail?”

“No, nothing,” replied Mr. Flitcroft promptly. “The only letter received to-day which referred to diamonds was a notification of a shipment from South Africa.”

Mr. Latham thoughtfully drummed on his desk.

“Well, I’m expecting some such letter,” he explained. “When it comes please call it to my attention. Send my stenographer in.”

Mr. Flitcroft nodded and withdrew; and for an hour or more Mr. Latham was engrossed in the routine of correspondence. There was only an occasional glance at the box in the pigeonhole, and momentary fits of abstraction, to indicate an unabated interest and growing curiosity in the diamond. The last letter was finished, and the stenographer arose to leave.

“Please ask Mr. Czenki to come here,” Mr. Latham directed.

And after a while Mr. Czenki appeared. He was a spare little man, with beady black eyes, bushy brows, and a sinister scar extending from the point of his chin across the right jaw. Mr. Czenki drew a salary of twenty-five thousand dollars a year from the H. Latham Company, and was worth twice that much. He was the diamond expert of the firm; and for five or six years his had been the final word as to quality and value. He had been a laborer in the South African diamond fields—the scar was an assegai thrust—about the time Cecil Rhodes’ grip was first felt there; later he was employed as an expert by Barney Barnato at Kimberly, and finally he went to London with Adolph Zeidt. Mr. Latham nodded as he entered, and took the box from the pigeonhole.

“Here’s something I’d like you to look at,” he remarked.

Mr. Czenki removed the cover and turned the glittering stone out into his hand. For a minute or more he stood still, examining it, as he turned and twisted it in his fingers, then walked over to a window, adjusted a magnifying glass in his left eye and continued the scrutiny. Mr. Latham swung around in his chair and stared at him intently.

“It’s the most perfect blue-white I’ve ever seen,” the expert announced at last. “I dare say it’s the most perfect in the world.”

Mr. Latham arose suddenly and strode over to Mr. Czenki, who was twisting the jewel in his fingers, singling out, dissecting, studying the colorful flashes, measuring the facets with practised eyes, weighing it on his finger-tips, seeking a possible flaw.

“The cutting is very fine,” the expert went on. “Of course I would have to use instruments to tell me if it is mathematically correct; and the weight, I imagine, is—is about six carats, perhaps a fraction more.”

“What’s it worth?” asked Mr. Latham. “Approximately, I mean?”

“We know the color is perfect,” explained Mr. Czenki precisely. “If, in addition, the cutting is perfect, and the depth is right, and the weight is six carats or a fraction more, it’s worth—in other words, if that is the most perfect specimen in existence, as it seems to be, it’s worth whatever you might choose to demand for it—twenty, twenty-five, thirty thousand dollars. With this color, and assuming it to be six carats, even if badly cut, it would be worth ten or twelve thousand.”

Mr. Latham mopped his brow. And this had come by mail, unregistered!

“It would not be possible to say where—where such a stone came from—what country?” Mr. Latham inquired curiously. “What’s your opinion?”

The expert shook his head. “If I had to guess I should say Brazil, of course,” he replied; “but that would be merely because the most perfect blue-white diamonds come from Brazil. They are found all over the world—in Africa, Russia, India, China, even in the United States. The simple fact that this color is perfect makes conjecture useless.”

Mr. Latham lapsed into silence, and for a time paced back and forth across his office; Mr. Czenki stood waiting.

“Please get the exact weight,” Mr. Latham requested abruptly. “Also test the cutting. It came into my possession in rather an—an unusual manner, and I’m curious.”

The expert went out. An hour later he returned and placed the white, glazed box on the desk before Mr. Latham.

“The weight is six and three-sixteenths carats,” he stated. “The depth is absolutely perfect according to the diameter of the girdle. The bezel facets are mathematically correct to the minutest fraction—thirty-three, including the table. The facets on the collet side are equally exact—twenty-five, including the collet, or fifty-eight facets in all. As I said, the color is flawless. In other words,” he continued without hesitation, “I should say, speaking as an expert, that it is the most perfect diamond existing in the world to-day.”

Mr. Latham had been staring at him mutely, and he still sat silent for an instant after Mr. Czenki had finished.

“And its value?” he asked at last.

“Its value!” Mr. Czenki repeated musingly. “You know, Mr. Latham,” he went on suddenly, “there are a hundred experts, commissioned by royalty, scouring the diamond markets of the world for such stones as this. So, if you are looking for a sale and a price, by all means offer it abroad first.” He lifted the sparkling, iridescent jewel from the box again, and gazed at it reflectively. “There is not one stone belonging to the British crown, for instance, which would in any way compare with this.”

“Not even the Koh-i-noor?” Mr. Latham demanded, surprised.

Mr. Czenki shook his head.

“Not even the Koh-i-noor. It is larger, that’s all—a fraction more than one hundred and six carats, but it has neither the coloring nor the cutting of this.” There was a pause. “Would it be impertinent if I ask who owns this?”

“I don’t know,” replied Mr. Latham slowly. “I don’t know; but it isn’t ours. Perhaps later I’ll be able to—”

“I beg your pardon,” the expert interrupted courteously, and there was a slight expression of surprise on his thin scarred face. “Is that all?”

Mr. Latham nodded absently and Mr. Czenki left the room.




A little while later, when Mr. Latham started out to luncheon, he thrust the white glazed box into an inside pocket. It had occurred to him that Schultze—Gustave Schultze, the greatest importer of precious stones in America—was usually at the club where he had luncheon, and—

He found Mr. Schultze, a huge blond German, sitting at a table in an alcove, alone, gazing out upon Fifth Avenue in deep abstraction, with perplexed wrinkles about his blue eyes. The German glanced around at Latham quickly as he proceeded to draw out a chair on the opposite side of the table.

“Sid down, Laadham, sid down,” he invited explosively. “I haf yust send der vaiter to der delephone to ask—”

There was a restrained note of excitement in the German’s voice, but at the moment it was utterly lost upon Mr. Latham.

“Schultze, you’ve probably imported more diamonds in the last ten years than any other half-dozen men in the United States,” he interrupted. “I have something here I want you to see. Perhaps, at some time, it may have passed through your hands.”

He placed the glazed box on the table. For an instant the German stared at it with amazed eyes, then one fat hand darted toward it, and he spilled the diamond out on the napkin in his plate. Then he sat gazing as if fascinated by the lambent, darting flashes deep from the blue-white heart.

Mein Gott, Laadham!” he exclaimed, and with fingers which shook a little he lifted the stone and squinted through it toward the light, with critical eyes. Mr. Latham was leaning forward on the table, waiting, watching, listening.

“Well?” he queried impatiently, at last.

“Laadham, id is der miracle!” Mr. Schultze explained solemnly, with his characteristic, whimsical philosophy. “I haf der dupligade of id, Laadham—der dwin, der liddle brudder. Zee here!”

From an inner pocket he produced a glazed white box, identical with that which Mr. Latham had just set down, then carefully laid the cover aside.

“Look, Laadham, look!”

Mr. Latham looked—and gasped! Here was the counterpart of the mysterious diamond which still lay in Mr. Schultze’s outstretched palm.

“Dey are dwins, Laadham,” remarked the German quaintly, finally. “Id came by der mail in dis morning—yust like das, wrapped in paper, but mit no marks, no name, no noddings. Id yust came!”

With his right hand Mr. Latham lifted the duplicate diamond from its cotton bed, and with his left took the other from the German’s hand. Then, side by side, he examined them; color, cutting, diameter, depth, all seemed to be the same.

“Dwins, I dell you,” repeated Mr. Schultze stolidly. “Dweedledum und Dweedledee, born of der same mudder und fadder. Laadham, id iss der miracle! Dey are der most beaudiful der world in—yust der pair of dem.”

“Have you made,” Mr. Latham began, and there was an odd, uncertain note in his voice—"Have you made an expert examination?”

“I haf. I measure him, der deepness, der cudding, der facets, und id iss perfect. Und I take my own judgment of a diamond, Laadham, before any man der vorld in but Czenki.”

“And the weight?”

“Prezizely six und d’ree-sixdeendh carads. Dere iss nod more as a difference of a d’irty-second bedween dem.”

Mr. Latham regarded the importer steadily, the while he fought back an absurd, nervous thrill in his voice.

“There isn’t that much, Schultze. Their weight is exactly the same.”

For a long time the two men sat staring at each other unseeingly. Finally the German, with a prodigious Teutonic sigh, replaced the diamond from Mr. Latham’s right hand in one of the glazed boxes and carefully stowed it away in a cavernous pocket; Mr. Latham mechanically disposed of the other in the same manner.

“Whose are they?” he demanded at length. “Why are they sent to us like this, with no name, no letter of explanation? Until I saw the stone you have I believed this other had been sent to me by some careless fool for setting, perhaps, and that a letter would follow it. I merely brought it here on the chance that it was one of your importations and that you could identify it. But since you have received one under circumstances which seem to be identical, now—” He paused helplessly. “What does it mean?”

Mr. Schultze shrugged his huge shoulders and thoughtfully flicked the ashes from his cigar into the consomme.

“You know, Laadham,” he said slowly, “dey don’t pick up diamonds like dose on der streed gorners. I didn’t believe dere vas a stone of so bigness in der Unided States whose owner I didn’t know id vas. Dose dat are here I haf bring in myself, mostly—dose I did not I haf kept drack of. I don’d know, Laadham, I don’d know. Der longer I lif der more I don’d know.”

The two men completed a scant luncheon in silence.

“Obviously,” remarked Mr. Latham as he laid his napkin aside, “the diamonds were sent to us by the same person; obviously they were sent to us with a purpose; obviously we will, in time, hear from the person who sent them; obviously they were intended to be perfectly matched; so let’s see if they are. Come to my office and let Czenki examine the one you have.” He hesitated an instant. “Suppose you let me take it. We’ll try a little experiment.”

He carefully placed the jewel which the German handed to him, in an outside pocket, and together they went to his office. Mr. Czenki appeared, in answer to a summons, and Mr. Latham gave him the German’s box.

“That’s the diamond you examined for me this morning, isn’t it?” he inquired.

Mr. Czenki turned it out into his hand and scrutinized it perfunctorily.

“Yes,” he replied after a moment.

“Are you quite certain?” Mr. Latham insisted.

Something in the tone caused Mr. Czenki to raise his beady black eyes questioningly for an instant, after which he walked over to a window and adjusted his magnifying glass again. For a moment or more he stood there, then:

“It’s the same stone,” he announced positively.

“Id iss der miracle, Laadham, when Czenki make der mistake!” the