"So I've lost everything," said Danny.
"Not quite," said Munro. "Although I admit that matters do look a little bleak on the home front, but when it comes to Geneva, you still have the key. I suspect that the bank will be loath to hand over anything that belonged to your grandfather to someone who is unable to produce that key." He paused for a moment before he delivered the next sentence. "And of one thing I am certain. If your grandfather had been placed in this position, he would not have taken it lying down."
"And neither would I," said Danny, "if I had the finances to take Hugo on. But despite yesterday's sale of the envelope, it will only be a matter of weeks before my uncle can add a writ for bankruptcy to the long list of actions we are already defending."
Mr. Munro smiled for the first time that morning. "I had anticipated this problem, Sir Nicholas, and yesterday afternoon my partners and I discussed what we should do about your current dilemma." He coughed. "They were of the unanimous opinion that we should break with one of our long-held customs, and not present any further bills until this action has reached a satisfactory conclusion."
"But should the case fail when it comes to court-and let me assure you, Mr. Munro, that I have some experience in these matters-I would end up being perpetually in your debt."
"Should we fail," replied Munro, "no bills will be presented, because this firm remains perpetually in your grandfather's debt."
The chairman returned after a few minutes, and resumed the place opposite his would-be customers. He smiled. "Mr. Moncrieff," he began. "I have been able to confirm that Sir Alexander did indeed conduct some business with this bank. We must now attempt to establish your claim to be the sole heir to his estate."
"I can supply you with any documentation you require," said Hugo with confidence.
"First, I must ask you if you are in possession of a passport, Mr. Moncrieff?"
"Yes, I am," replied Hugo, who opened his briefcase, extracted his passport and handed it across the table.
De Coubertin turned to the back page and studied the photograph for a moment before returning the passport to Hugo. "Do you have your father's death certificate?" he asked.
"Yes," replied Hugo, taking a second document from his briefcase and pushing it across the table.
This time the chairman studied the document a little more carefully before nodding and handing it back. "And do you also have your brother's death certificate?" he asked. Hugo passed over a third document. Once again de Coubertin took his time before handing it back. "I will also need to see your brother's will, to confirm that he left the bulk of the estate to you." Hugo handed over the will and put another tick against the long list Galbraith had prepared for him.
De Coubertin did not speak for some time while he studied Angus Moncrieff's will. "That all seems to be in order," he said eventually. "But most important of all, are you in possession of your father's will?"
"Not only am I able to supply you with his last Will and Testament," said Hugo, "signed and dated six weeks before his death, but I am also in possession of a letter he wrote to my brother Angus and myself that was attached to that will." Hugo slid both documents across the table, but de Coubertin made no attempt to study either of them.
"And finally, Mr. Moncrieff, I must ask if there was a key among your father's bequests?"
"There most certainly was," said Margaret, speaking for the first time, "but unfortunately it has been mislaid, although I have seen it many times over the years. It's quite small, silver, and, if I remember correctly, it has a number stamped on it."
"And do you recall that number by any chance, Mrs. Moncrieff?" asked the chairman.
"Unfortunately I do not," Margaret finally admitted.
"In that case, I'm sure you will appreciate the bank's dilemma," said de Coubertin. "As you can imagine, without the key, we are placed in an invidious position. However," he added before Margaret could interrupt, "I will ask one of our experts to study the will, which as I'm sure you are aware is common practice in such circumstances. Should they consider it to be authentic, we will hand over any possessions we are holding in Sir Alexander's name."
"But how long will that take?" asked Hugo, aware that it would not take Nick long to work out where they were, and what they were up to.
"A day, a day and a half at the most," said the chairman.
"When should we return?" asked Margaret.
"To be on the safe side, let us say three o'clock tomorrow afternoon."
"Thank you," said Margaret. "We look forward to seeing you then."
De Coubertin accompanied Mr. and Mrs. Moncrieff to the bank's front door without discussing anything more significant than the weather.
"I've booked you on a BA business-class flight to Barcelona," said Beth. "You fly from Heathrow on Sunday evening, and you'll be staying at the Arts Hotel." She handed her boss a folder which contained all the documents he would need for the trip, including the names of several recommended restaurants and a guide to the city. "The conference opens at nine o'clock with a speech from the International President, Dick Sherwood. You'll be sitting on the platform along with the other seven VPs. The organizers have asked you to be in your place by eight forty-five."
"How far away from the conference center is the hotel?" asked Mr. Thomas.
"It's just across the road," said Beth. "Is there anything else you need to know?"
"Just one thing," Thomas replied. "How would you like to join me for the trip?"
Beth was taken by surprise, something Thomas didn't manage that often, and admitted, "I've always wanted to visit Barcelona."
"Well, now's your chance," said Thomas, giving her a warm smile.
"But would there be enough for me to do while I was there?" asked Beth.
"For a start, you could make sure I'm sitting in my place on time next Monday morning." Beth didn't respond. "I was rather hoping you might relax for a change," added Thomas. "We could go to the opera, take in the Thyssen Collection, study Picasso's early work, see Miro's birthplace, and they tell me that the food..."
You do realize that Mr. Thomas fancies you. Danny's words came flooding back, and caused Beth to smile. "It's very kind of you, Mr. Thomas, but I think it might be wiser if I were to stay behind and make sure that everything runs smoothly while you're away."
"Beth," said Thomas, sitting back and folding his arms. "You're a bright, beautiful young woman. Don't you think Danny would have wanted you to enjoy yourself occasionally? God knows you've earned it."
"It's very thoughtful of you, Mr. Thomas, but I'm not quite ready to consider..."
"I understand," said Thomas, "of course I do. In any case, I'm quite content to wait until you're ready. Whatever it was that Danny possessed, I haven't yet calculated the premium that's required to insure against it."
Beth laughed. "He's like the opera, the art galleries and the finest wine all wrapped up in one," she replied, "and even then you won't have captured Danny Cartwright."