"Does this mean anything to you?" Danny asked.
"No, it doesn't," confessed Munro. "But recalling your grandfather's lifelong hobby, perhaps the stamp might be of some significance."
Danny placed the envelope in an inside pocket without further comment.
Munro rose from his chair. "I hope, Sir Nicholas, that it will not be too long before we see you in Scotland again. In the meantime, should you require my assistance, do not hesitate to call."
"I don't know how to repay your kindness," said Danny.
"I'm sure that after we have dealt with the problem of your uncle Hugo, I shall be more than adequately compensated." He smiled drily, then accompanied Sir Nicholas to the door, shook him warmly by the hand and bade him farewell.
As Munro watched his client stride back in the direction of the hotel, he couldn't help thinking how like his grandfather Sir Nicholas had turned out to be, although he wondered if it had been wise of him to wear the regimental tie-given the circumstances.
"He's done what?" said Hugo, shouting down the phone.
"He's issued a counter-writ against you, making a claim for the two million one hundred thousand you raised on the two properties."
"Fraser Munro must be behind this," said Hugo. "Nick wouldn't have the nerve to oppose his father's wishes. What do we do now?"
"Accept service of the writ and tell them we'll see them in court."
"But we can't afford to do that," said Hugo. "You've always said that if this case were to end up in court, we'd lose-and the press would have a field day."
"True, but it will never come to court."
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because I'll make certain that the case drags on for at least a couple of years, and your nephew will have run out of money long before then. Don't forget, we know how much is in his bank account. You'll just need to be patient while I bleed him dry."
"What about the key?"
"Munro is claiming that he doesn't know anything about a key."
"Offer him more money," said Hugo. "If Nick ever discovers what that key opens, he'll be able to watch me bleed to death."
ON THE TRAIN back to London, Danny took a closer look at the envelope Nick's grandfather must have wanted him to have without his father knowing. But why?
Danny turned his attention to the stamp. It was French, value five francs, and showed the five circles of the Olympic emblem. The envelope was postmarked Paris and dated 1896. Danny knew from Nick's diaries that his grandfather, Sir Alexander Moncrieff, had been a keen collector, so the stamp might possibly be rare and valuable, but he had no idea who to turn to for advice. He found it hard to believe that the name and address could be of any significance: Baron de Coubertin, 25 rue de la Croix-Rouge, Geneve, La Suisse. The baron must have been dead for years.
From King's Cross, Danny took the tube to South Kensington-not a part of London in which he felt at home. With the aid of an A to Z bought from a station kiosk, he walked down Old Brompton Road in the direction of The Boltons. Although Nick's suitcase was becoming heavier by the minute, he didn't feel he could waste any more of his rapidly dwindling reserves on a taxi.
When he finally reached The Boltons, Danny came to a halt outside number 12. He couldn't believe that only one family had lived there; the double garage alone was larger than his home in Bow. He opened a squeaky iron gate and walked up a long path covered in weeds to the front door. He pressed the bell. He couldn't think why, except that he didn't want to put the key in the lock until he was certain the house was unoccupied. No one answered.
Danny made several attempts at turning the key in the lock before the door reluctantly opened. He switched on the hall light. Inside, the house was exactly as Nick had described it in his diary. A thick green carpet, faded; red-patterned wallpaper, faded; and long antique lace curtains that hung from ceiling to floor, and had been allowed to attract moths over the years. There were no pictures on the walls, just less faded squares and rectangles to show where they had once hung. Danny wasn't in much doubt who had removed them, and in whose home they were now hanging.
He walked slowly around the rooms trying to get his bearings. It felt like a museum rather than someone's home. Once he'd explored the ground floor, he climbed the stairs to the landing and walked down another corridor before entering a large double bedroom. In a wardrobe hung a row of dark suits that could have been hired out for a period drama, along with shirts with wing collars, and on a rail at the bottom were several pairs of heavy black brogues. Danny assumed that this must have been Nick's grandfather's room, and clearly his father had preferred to stay in Scotland. Once Sir Alexander had died, Uncle Hugo must have removed the pictures and anything else of value that wasn't nailed down, before committing Nick's father to a million-pound mortgage on the house while Nick was safely locked up in prison. Danny was beginning to think that he might have to settle with Hugo before he could turn his attention to the Musketeers.
Having checked all the bedrooms-seven in all-Danny selected one of the smaller rooms in which to spend his first night. After he'd looked through the wardrobe and the chest of drawers, he concluded that it had to be Nick's old room, because there was a rack of suits, a drawer full of shirts and a row of shoes that fitted him perfectly, but looked as if they had been worn by a soldier who spent most of his time in uniform and had little interest in fashion.
Once Danny had unpacked, he decided to venture higher and find out what was on the top floor. He came across a children's room that looked as if it had never been slept in, next door to a nursery full of toys that no child had ever played with. His thoughts turned to Beth and Christy. He looked out of the nursery window onto a large garden. Even in the fading light of dusk he could see that the lawn was overgrown from years of neglect.
Danny returned to Nick's room, undressed and ran himself a bath. He sat in it, deep in thought, and didn't move until the water had turned cold. Once he'd dried himself, he decided against wearing Nick's silk pajamas and climbed straight into bed. Within minutes he was fast asleep. The mattress was more like the one he had become accustomed to in prison.
Danny leaped out of bed the following morning, pulled on a pair of pants, grabbed a silk dressing gown that was hanging on the back of the door, and went in search of the kitchen.
He descended a small uncarpeted staircase to a dark basement, where he discovered a large kitchen with an Aga and shelves full of glass bottles containing he knew not what. He was amused by a line of little bells attached to the wall, marked "Drawing Room," "Master Bedroom," "Study," "Nursery" and "Front Door." He began to search for some food, but couldn't find anything that hadn't passed its sell-by date years before. He now realized what the smell was that pervaded the whole house. If there was any money in Nick's bank account, the first thing he needed to do was employ a cleaner. He pulled open one of the large windows to allow a gust of fresh air to enter the room, into which it hadn't been invited for some time.
Having failed to find anything to eat, Danny returned to the bedroom to get dressed. He chose the least conservative garments he could find from Nick's wardrobe, but still ended up looking like a Guards captain on furlough.