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all of the newsboys and caught the word “wheat.” He snatched a paper from the hands of a boy and read.
Every corn-market in the Northern Hemisphere was in a condition of chaos. Prices were jumping to a figure beyond any which the most stringent days of the war had produced.
He slipped into a telephone booth, nike air max 1 black gave a Treasury number and McNorton answered.
“Have you seen the papers?” he asked.
“No, but I’ve heard. You mean about the wheat boom?”
“Yes–the game has started.”
“Where are you–wait for me, I’ll join you.”
Three minutes later McNorton appeared from the Whitehall end of Scotland Yard. Beale hailed a cab and they drove to the hotel together.
“Warrants have been issued for van Heerden and Milsom and the girl Glaum,” he said. “I expect we shall find the nest empty, but I have sent men to all the railway stations–do you think we’ve moved too late?”
“Everything depends on the system that van Heerden has adopted,” replied Beale, “he is the sort of man who would keep everything in his own hands. If he has done that, and we catch him, we may prevent a world catastrophe.”
At the hotel they found Kitson waiting in the vestibul nike air max 1 e.
“Well?” he asked, “I gather that you’ve lost van Heerden, but if the newspapers mean anything, his hand is down on the table. Everybody is crazy here,” he said, as he led the way to the elevator, “I’ve just been speaking to the Under-Minister for Agriculture–all Europe is scared. Now what is the story?” he asked, when they were in his room.
He listened attentively and did not interrupt until Stanford Beale had finished.
“That’s big enough,” he said. “I owe you an apology–much as I was interested in Miss Cresswell, I realize that her fate was as nothing beside the greater issue.”
“What does it mean?” asked McNorton.
“The Wheat Panic? God knows. It may mean bread at a guinea a pound–it is too early to judge.”
The door was opened unceremoniously and a man strode in. McNorton was the first to recognize the intruder and cheap air max 1 rose to his feet.
“I’m sorry to interrupt you,” said Lord Sevington–it was the Foreign Secretary of Great Britain himself. “Well, Beale, the fantastic story you told me seems in a fair way to being realized.”
“This is Mr. Kitson,” introduced Stanford, and the grey-haired statesman bowed.
“I sent for you, but decided I couldn’t wait–so I came myself. Ah, McNorton, what are the chances of catching van Heerden?”
“No man has ever escaped from this country once his identity was established,” said the police chief hopefully.
“If we had taken Beale’s advi nike air max 1 ebay ce we should have the gentleman under lock and key,” said the Foreign Minister, shaking his head. “You probably know that Mr. Beale has been in communication with the Foreign Office for some time?” he said, addressing Kitson.
“I did not know,” admitted the lawyer.
“We thought nike air max 1 sale it was one of those brilliant stories which the American newspaper reporter loves,” smiled the minister.
“I don’t quite get the commercial end of it,” said Kitson. “How does van Heerden benefit by destroying the crops of the world?”
“He doesn’t benefit, because the crops won’t be destroyed,” said the minister. “The South Russian crops are all right, the Germa cheap air max 1 n crops are intact–but are practically all mortgaged to the German Government.”
“The Government?”
“This morning the German Government have made two announcements. The first is the commandeering of all the standing crops, and at the same time the taking over of all options on the sale of wheat. Great granaries are being established all over Germany. The old Zeppelin sheds—-”
“Great heavens!” cried Kitson, and stared at Stanford Beale. ” nike air max 1 red That was the reason they took over the sheds?”
“A pretty good reason, too,” said Beale, “storage is everything in a crisis like this. What is the second announcement, sir?”
“They prohibit the export of grain,” said Lord Sevington, “the whole of Germany is to be rationed for a year, bread is to be supplied by the Government free of all cost to the people; in this way Germany handles the surpluses for us to buy.”
“What will she charge?”
“What she wishes. If van Heerden’s scheme goes through, if throughout the world the crops are destroyed and only that which lies under Germany’s hand is spared, what must we pay? Every penny we have taken from Germany; every cent of her war costs must be returned to her in exchange for wheat.”
“Why impossible? There is no limit to the price of rarities. What is rarer than gold is more costly than gold. You who are in the room are nike air max 1 grey the only people in the world who know the secret of the Green Rust, and I can speak frankly to you. I tell you that we must either buy from Germany or make war on Germany, and the latter course is impossible, and if it were possible would give us no certainty of relief. We shall have to pay, Britain, France, America, Italy–we shall have to pay. We shall pay in gold, we may have to pay in battleships and material. Our stocks of corn have been allowed to fall and to-day we have less than a month’s supply in England. Every producing country in the world will stop exporting instantly, and they, too, with the harvest nearly due, will be near the end of their stocks. Now tell me, Mr. Beale, in your judgment, is it possible to save the crops by local action?”
Beale shook his head.
“I doubt it,” he said; “it would mean the mobilisation of millions of men, the surrounding of all corn-tracts–and even then I doubt if your protection nike air max 1 leopard would be efficacious. You could send the stuff into the fields by a hundred methods. The only thing to do is to catch van Heerden and stifle the scheme at its fountain-head.”
The Chief of the Foreign Ministry strode up and down the room, his hands thrust into his pockets, his head upon his breast.
“It means our holding out for twelve months,” he said. “Can we do it?”
“It means more than that, sir,” said Beale quietly.
Lord Sevington stopped and faced him.
“More than that? What do you mean?”
“It may mean a cornless world for a generation,” said Beale. “I have consulted the best authorities, and they agree that the soil will be infected for ten years.”
The four men looked at one another helplessly.
“Why,” said Sevington, in awe, “the whole social and industrial fabric of the world would crumble into dust. America would be ruined for a hundred years, there would be deaths by the million. It means the very end of civilization!”
Beale glanced from one to the other of the little group.
Sevington, with his hard old face set in harsh nike air max 1 premium lines, a stony sphinx of a man showing no other sign of his emotions than a mop of ruffled hair.
Kitson, an old man and almost as hard of feature, yet of the two more human, stood with pursed lip, his eyes fixed on the floor, as if he were studying the geometrical pattern of the parquet for future reference.
McNorton, big, red-faced and expressionless, save that his mouth dropped and that his arms were tightly fo lded as if he were hugging himself in a sheer ecstasy of pain. From the street outside came the roar and rumble of London’s traffic, the dull murmur of countless voices and the shrill high-pitched whine of a newsboy.
Men and women were buying newspapers and seeing no more in the scare headlines than a newspaper sensation.
To-morrow they might read further and grow a little uncomfortable, but for the moment they were only mildly interested, and the majority would turn to the back page for the list of “arrivals” at Lingfield.
“It is unbelievable,” said Kitson. “I have exactly the same feeling I had on August 1, 1914–that sensation of unreality.”
His voice seemed to arouse the Foreign Minister from the meditation into which he had fallen, and he started.
“Beale,” he said, “you have unlimited authority to act–Mr. McNorton, y cheap nike air max 1 ou will go back to Scotland Yard and ask the Chief Commissioner to attend at the office of the Privy Seal. Mr. Beale will keep in touch with me all the time.”
Without any formal leave-taking he made his exit, followed by Superintendent McNorton.
“That’s a badly rattled man,” said Kitson shrewdly, “the Government may fall on this news. What will you do?”
“Get van Heerden,” said the other.
“It is the job of your life,” said Kitson quietly, and Beale knew within a quarter of an hour that the lawyer did not exaggerate.
Van Heerden had disappeared with dramatic suddenness. Detectives who visited his flat discovered that his personal belongings had been removed in the early hours of the morning. He had left with two trunks (which were afterwards found in a cloak-room of a London railway terminus) and a companion who was identifi air max 1 ed as Milsom. Whether the car had gone east or north, south or west, nobody knew.
In the early editions of the evening newspapers, side by side with the account of the panic scenes on ‘Change was the notice:

“The Air Ministry announce the suspension of Order 63 of Trans-Marine Flight Regulations. No aeroplane will be allowed to cross the coastline by day or night without first descending at a coast control station. Aerial patrols have orders to force down any machine which does not obey the ‘Descend’ signal. This signal is now displayed at all coast stations.”

Every railway station in England, every port of embarkation, were watched by police. The one photograph of van Heerden in existence, thousands of copies of an excellent snapshot taken by one of Beale’s assistants, were distributed by aeroplane to every district cen nike air max 1 tre. At two o’clock Hilda Glaum was arrested and conveyed to Bow Street. She showed neither surprise nor resentment and offered no information as to van Heerden’s whereabouts.
Throughout the afternoon there were the usual crops of false arrest and detention of perfectly innocent people, and at five o’clock it was announced that all telegraphic communication with the Continent and with the Western Hemisphere was suspended until further notice.
Beale came back from Barking, whither he had gone to interview a choleric co

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