Danny hung around outside the hotel for a few moments while he considered his options. He knew that if they spotted him they would think it was Nick. He entered the building cautiously, but there was no sign of either of them in the lobby. Danny took a seat that was half concealed by a pillar, but still allowed him a clear view of the lifts as well as reception. He didn't pay any attention to a man who had just sat down on the other side of the lobby.
Danny waited for another thirty minutes, and began to wonder if he'd missed them. He was about to get up and check with reception when the lift doors opened, and out stepped Hugo and the woman pulling two suitcases. They walked across to the reception desk, where the woman settled the bill before they quickly left the hotel by a different door. Danny rushed out onto the pavement to see them climbing into the back of a black cab. He hailed the next one on the rank, and even before he had closed the door shouted, "Follow that cab."
"I've waited all my life to hear someone say that," the cabbie responded as he pulled away from the curb.
The taxi in front turned right at the end of the road and made its way toward Hyde Park Corner, through the underpass, along Brompton Road and on to the Westway.
"Looks like they're heading for the airport," said the cabbie. Twenty minutes later he was proved right.
When the two cabs emerged from the Heathrow underpass, Danny's driver said, "Terminal two. So they must be flying to somewhere in Europe." They both came to a halt outside the entrance. The meter read £34.50, and Danny handed over forty pounds but remained in the cab until Hugo and the woman had disappeared inside the terminal.
He followed them in, and watched as they joined a queue of businessclass passengers. The screen above the check-in desk read BA0732, Geneva, 13:55.
"Idiot," Danny muttered again, recalling the address on the envelope. But where exactly in Geneva had it been? He looked at his watch. He still had enough time to buy a ticket and catch the plane. He ran across to the British Airways sales counter, and had to wait some time before he reached the front of the queue.
"Can you get me on the 13:55 to Geneva?" he asked, trying not to sound desperate.
"Do you have any luggage, sir?" asked the assistant behind the sales counter.
"None," said Danny.
She checked her computer. "They haven't closed the gate yet, so you should still be able to make it. Business or economy?"
"Economy," said Danny, wanting to avoid the section where Hugo and the woman would be seated.
"Window or aisle?"
"That will be £217, sir."
"Thank you," said Danny as he passed over his credit card.
"May I see your passport please?"
Danny had never had a passport in his life. "My passport?"
"Yes, sir, your passport."
"Oh, no, I must have left it at home."
"Then I'm afraid you won't be in time to catch the plane, sir."
"Idiot, idiot," said Danny.
"I beg your pardon?"
"I'm so sorry," said Danny. "Me, not you," he repeated. She smiled.
Danny turned around and walked slowly back across the concourse, feeling helpless. He didn't notice Hugo and the woman leave through the gate marked Departures, Passengers only, but someone else did, who had been watching both them and Danny closely.
Hugo pressed the green button on his mobile just as the loudspeaker announced, "Final call for all passengers traveling to Geneva on flight BA0732. Please make your way to gate nineteen."
"He followed you from Sotheby's to the hotel, and then from the hotel to Heathrow."
"Is he on the same flight as us?" asked Hugo.
"No, he didn't have his passport with him."
"Typical Nick. Where is he now?"
"On his way back to London, so you should have at least a twenty-four-hour start on him."
"Let's hope that's enough, but don't let him out of your sight for a moment." Hugo turned off his phone, as he and Margaret left their seats to board the aircraft.
"Have you come across another heirloom, Sir Nicholas?" asked Mr. Blundell hopefully.
"No, but I do need to know if you have a copy of the envelope from this morning's sale," said Danny.
"Yes, of course," replied Blundell. "We retain a photograph of every item sold at auction, in case a dispute should arise at some later date."
"Would it be possible to see it?" asked Danny.
"Is there a problem?" asked Blundell.
"No," Danny replied. "I just need to check the address on the envelope."
"Of course," repeated Blundell. He tapped some keys on his computer, and a moment later an image of the letter appeared on the screen. He swiveled the screen around so that Danny could see it.
Baron de Coubertin
25 rue de la Croix-Rouge
Danny copied down the name and address. "Do you by any chance know if Baron de Coubertin was a serious stamp collector?" asked Danny.
"Not to my knowledge," said Blundell. "But of course his son was the founder of one of the most successful banks in Europe."
"Idiot," said Danny. "Idiot," he repeated as he turned to leave.
"I do hope, Sir Nicholas, that you are not dissatisfied with the result of this morning's sale?"
Danny turned back. "No, of course not, Mr. Blundell, I do apologize. Yes, thank you." Another of those moments when he should have behaved like Nick, and only thought like Danny.
The first thing Danny did when he arrived back at The Boltons was to search for Nick's passport. Molly knew exactly where it was. "And by the way," she added, "a Mr. Fraser Munro called, and asked you to phone him."
Danny retreated to the study, called Munro and told him everything that had happened that morning. The old solicitor listened to all his client had to say, but didn't comment.
"I'm glad you phoned back," he eventually said, "because I have some news for you, although it might be unwise to discuss it over the phone. I was wondering when you next expected to be in Scotland."
"I could catch the sleeper train tonight," said Danny.
"Good, and perhaps it might be wise for you to bring your passport with you this time."
"For Scotland?" said Danny.
"No, Sir Nicholas. For Geneva."
MR. AND MRS. Moncrieff were ushered into the boardroom by the chairman's secretary.
"The chairman will be with you in a moment," she said. "Would you care for coffee or tea while you're waiting?"
"No, thank you," said Margaret, as her husband began pacing around the room. She took a seat in one of the sixteen Charles Rennie Mackintosh chairs placed around the long oak table, and that should have made her feel at home. The walls were painted in a pale Wedgwood blue with full-length oil portraits of past chairmen hanging on every available space, giving an impression of stability and wealth. Margaret said nothing until the secretary had left the room and closed the door behind her.
"Calm down, Hugo. The last thing we need is for the chairman to think we're unsure about your claim. Now come and sit down."