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Sean arrived early at the ball, before most of the guests to get a view of the setup. With a glass of champagne he canvassed the areas where the party would take place. The party would be contained, mostly, to three places.

The first was the entry way, which was quite large enough for mingling. From there stairs led up to the private residence and staff was stationed at the top of the stairs to prevent guests from wandering up. Large arches led off to the left and right into the dining room and the ballroom.

The dining room was set with a long row of tables on which food was placed. A door led to the kitchen and servants were coming and going constantly to replenish food or circulate with canapes and drinks.

To the right of the foyer was the ballroom. A small traditional Spanish band was set up at one end on a small dias which was above a small raised wooden platform, perhaps 10 feet square. From there a dance floor covered most of the room, with some tables and chairs on the sides for those who were tired to rest.

Sean continued to walk around the embassy familiarizing himself with the layout. Gently he tapped his foot on the dance floor and strolled around glancing out the windows and peering around the instruments. Satisfied there was nothing amiss, he found himself in the foyer.

Guests were trickling in, to be greeted by the staff. It was early, so the ambassador himself was at the door greeting the arrivals.

The evening wore on, and Sean meandered from place to place keeping an eye open for anything unusual, as well as watching the new arrivals. After a while, the ambassador was occupied and not greeting is guests individually at the door. Some time after that, Sean saw a couple arrive that caught his eye - Miss Wilson and a man that fit the description of Charles Brechtman.

With a broad grin Sean approached, "Miss Wilson, so good to see you again," he bowed sharply. "And what a pleasant surprise considering the tragedy, I am glad you have recovered sufficiently." Turning he offered his hand to her escort, "Sean Lincoln."

"Charles Brechtman," said the man. "Yes, it's a tragedy. But it's an ill wind that blows no good, as they say. I've been trying to hire Miss Wilson for months now. I needed a good secretary."

"Looks like you will be the beneficiary of such a loss," Sean commented. "Miss Wilson brings a wealth of talent, I suspect she will be courted by many in need such as yourself." Sean looked around admiringly, "such a beautiful decor, how do you know the ambassador?"

"Professionally only. We do a lot of mining work and so do the Spaniards. We run in some of the same circles," said Brechtman.

"Quite an opulent circle," Sean commented. "What do you mine? I've always found the exploration and extraction of buried materials fascinating, however I know so little about the business."

"Whatever there is to mine," he said. "Gold when I can find it. Silver, lead, tin when I can't. Not coal, though. Too dangerous."

"And why is that?" Sean asked.

"Coal burns, coal gas is dangerous. Gold mines rarely explode," he smiled.

"Ah, I see. Explosions can be quite deadly," he commented looking at Miss Wilson. "Well, I've kept you two long enough. I'm sure out paths will cross again, enjoy your evening."

"We shall," said the man, and the couple swept off into the crowd.

Sean mingled with the crowd, keeping an eye for danger and trying to avoid making a spectacle of himself. In that he almost failed, for at one point, there was a series of rapid bangs and he almost popped his derringer into his hand before he realized that what he was seeing was the use of the wooden platorm in front of the band. Several flamenco dancers were stamping and twirling in a display of Spanish culture.

He glanced over at Brechtman and noticed that Miss Wilson was not by his side.

Quietly he withdrew from the watching crowd and faded to the back, making his way to the entry way. Sean approached one of the staff members and asked if they had seen Miss Wilson after giving them a description.

Several had noticed her, but no one had seen her dissappear. When he looked back at Brechtman, he saw Miss Wilson rejoin him. He gave her an interrogative look and she nodded with satisfaction.

Witnessing this exchange Sean drifted back into the main room and kept his distance from the twosome, not letting them out of his sight. If Miss Wilson's rendezvous had been to discuss the formula then a deal must have been struck. If the exchange had already taken place then Miss Wilson was the only connection to where the formula had gone. Nevertheless, she became the focal point of the evening as far Sean was concerned.

Sean decided that whatever had been done must have been done, since Miss Wilson remained in full view for the rest of the evening. As midnight approached, a embassy functionary approached the band stage and got up to make an announcment. Below him a chair was set and the ambassador sat down.

"Now his Excellency, will demonstrate the flamenco dancing of our native land. Afterward, there shall be one more dance with instruction in flamenco for those who wish it." A number of young spaniards began to take up stations along the wall. The ambassador finished changing shoes and took up a position on the platform.

Sean eyed the ambassador's shoes and a queasy feeling came over him as he thought about the professor's death by explosive impact. Quickly he grabbed a glass on his way to the dance floor and broke through the crowd proclaiming, "But first a toast!"

Sean held his glass aloft turning to address the guests. "Abassador, it is with great pleasure that I have the opportunity," he began, backing toward the platform," to welcome and thank you for your hospitality." Sean bumped into the platform, and sprawled clumsily while spilling his drink onto the ambassador's feet.

"I am so sorry," he begged, "please forgive me." Sean began wiping the man's wet shoes and untying them in an effort to facilitate changing out of them and hopefully saving the man's life.

In the ensuing mess, Sean caught a glimpse of Brechtman and Wilson slipping away, with a clear look of disgust on their faces.

"Once the ambassador understood that you had saved him from an assassination attempt, the diplomatic issues were easily cleared up," said the Major.

"I'm just glad the embassy guards weren't paying too close attention otherwise it could have been messier." Sean leaned back in his chair and swirled his drink around, "any word on Miss Wilson and her consort?"

"They're sitting tight. There's nothing solid to link them to the attempt, I'm afraid." The Major shook his head. "If they were trying to sabotage the government's deal with Spain, it backfired. Spain is grateful that we saved their ambassador."

"All in a day's work," Sean offered with a grin. "There is still the question of the explosives formula. Were the boys able to determine if the amount on the ambassador's shoes was new manufacture or from the professor's lab?"

"No, but I think we have to assume that Wilson has the formula, and we need to get it back," said the Major.

"She and her partner Brechtman probably won't split up. Any word from the railroad or stagecoach companies on seeing them? I'd guess the Spanish won't be so forgiving when it comes to the presence of evidence. What about the Brazilians, did they had something to gain by the ambassador's demise? She met with them too."

"Just economic, I think. If the contract goes to Brazil, they stand to make the money," said the Major. "Still, well done. Althought I fear we haven't heard the last of Brechtman and Wilson."

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