Part 4 out of 6
times," she said.
"But your husband is expecting you," protested Sir Lucien.
"Let's ring him up and ask him to join us. He won't, but he cannot
very well object then."
As a result they presently found themselves descending a broad
carpeted stairway. From the rooms below arose the strains of an
American melody. Dancing was in progress, or, rather, one of those
orgiastic ceremonies which passed for dancing during this pagan
period. Just by the foot of the stairs they paused and surveyed the
"Why," said Rita, "there is Quentin--glaring insanely, silly boy."
"Do you see whom he is with?" asked Sir Lucien.
"But I mean the woman sitting down."
Rita stood on tiptoe, trying to obtain a view, and suddenly:
"Oh!" she exclaimed, "Mrs. Sin!"
The dance at that moment concluding, they crossed the floor and joined
the party. Mrs. Sin greeted them with one of her rapid, mirthless
smiles. She was wearing a gown noticeable, but not for quantity, even
in that semi-draped assembly. Mollie Gretna giggled rapturously. But
Gray's swiftly changing color betrayed a mood which he tried in vain
to conceal by his manner. Having exchanged a few words with the new
arrivals, he evidently realized that he could not trust himself to
remain longer, and:
"Now I must be off," he said awkwardly. "I have an appointment--
important business. Good night, everybody."
He turned away and hurried from the room. Rita flushed slightly and
exchanged a glance with Sir Lucien. Mrs. Sin, who had been watching
the three intently, did not fail to perceive this glance. Mollie
Gretna characteristically said a silly thing.
"Oh!" she cried. "I wonder whatever is the matter with him! He looks
as though he had gone mad!"
"It is perhaps his heart," said Mrs. Sin harshly, and she raised her
bold dark eyes to Sir Lucien's face.
"Oh, please don't talk about hearts," cried Rita, willfully
misunderstanding. "Monte has a weak heart, and it frightens me."
"So?" murmured Mrs. Sin. "Poor fellow."
"I think a weak heart is most romantic," declared Mollie Gretna.
But Gray's behavior had cast a shadow upon the party which even
Mollie's empty light-hearted chatter was powerless to dispel, and
when, shortly after midnight, Sir Lucien drove Rita home to Prince's
Gate, they were very silent throughout the journey. Just before the
car reached the house:
"Where does Mrs. Sin live?" asked Rita, although it was not of Mrs.
Sin that she had been thinking.
"In Limehouse, I believe," replied Sir Lucien; "at The House. But I
fancy she has rooms somewhere in town also."
He stayed only a few minutes at Prince's Gate, and as the car returned
along Piccadilly, Sir Lucien, glancing upward towards the windows of a
tall block of chambers facing the Green Park, observed a light in one
of them. Acting upon a sudden impulse, he raised the speaking-tube.
"Pull up, Fraser," he directed.
The chauffeur stopped the car and Sir Lucien alighted, glancing at the
clock inside as he did so, and smiling at his own quixotic behavior.
He entered an imposing doorway and rang one of the bells. There was an
interval of two minutes or so, when the door opened and a man looked
"Is that you, Willis?" asked Pyne.
"Oh, I beg pardon, Sir Lucien. I didn't know you in the dark."
"Has Mr. Gray retired yet?"
"Not yet. Will you please follow me, Sir Lucien. The stairway lights
A few moments later Sir Lucien was shown into the apartment of Gray's
which oddly combined the atmosphere of a gymnasium with that of a
study. Gray, wearing a dressing-gown and having a pipe in his mouth,
was standing up to receive his visitor, his face rather pale and the
expression of his lips at variance with that in his eyes. But:
"Hello, Pyne," he said quietly. "Anything wrong--or have you just
looked in for a smoke?"
Sir Lucien smiled a trifle sadly.
"I wanted a chat, Gray," he replied. "I'm leaving town tomorrow, or I
should not have intruded at such an unearthly hour."
"No intrusion," muttered Gray; "try the armchair, no, the big one.
It's more comfortable." He raised his voice: "Willis, bring some
Sir Lucien sat down, and from the pocket of his dinner jacket took out
a plain brown packet of cigarettes and selected one.
"Here," said Gray, "have a cigar!"
"No, thanks," replied Pyne. "I rarely smoke anything but these."
"Never seen that kind of packet before," declared Gray. "What brand
"No particular brand. They are imported from Buenos Ayres, I believe."
Willis having brought in a tray of refreshments and departed again,
Sir Lucien came at once to the point.
"I really called, Gray," he said, "to clear up any misunderstanding
there may be in regard to Rita Irvin."
Quentin Gray looked up suddenly when he heard Rita's name, and:
"What misunderstanding?" he asked.
"Regarding the nature of my friendship with her," answered Sir Lucien
coolly. "Now, I am going to speak quite bluntly, Gray, because I like
Rita and I respect her. I also like and respect Monte Irvin; and I
don't want you, or anybody else, to think that Rita and I are, or ever
have been, anything more than pals. I have known her long enough to
have learned that she sails straight, and has always sailed straight.
Now--listen, Gray, please. You embarrassed me tonight, old chap, and
you embarrassed Rita. It was unnecessary." He paused, and then added
slowly: "She is as sacred to me, Gray, as she is to you--and we are
both friends of Monte Irvin."
For a moment Quentin Gray's fiery temper flickered up, as his
heightened color showed, but the coolness of the older and cleverer
man prevailed. Gray laughed, stood up, and held out his hand.
"You're right, Pyne!" he said. "But she's damn pretty!" He uttered a
loud sigh. "If only she were not married!"
Sir Lucien gripped the outstretched hand, but his answering smile had
much pathos in it.
"If only she were not, Gray," he echoed.
He took his departure shortly afterwards, absently leaving a brown
packet of cigarettes upon the table. It was an accident. Yet there
were few, when the truth respecting Sir Lucien Pyne became known, who
did not believe it to have been a deliberate act, designed to lure
Quentin Gray into the path of the poppy.
Less than a month later Rita was in a state of desperation again.
Kazmah's prices had soared above anything that he had hitherto
extorted. Her bank account, as usual, was greatly overdrawn, and
creditors of all kinds were beginning to press for payment. Then,
crowning catastrophe, Monte Irvin, for the first time during their
married life, began to take an interest in Rita's reckless
expenditure. By a combination of adverse circumstances, she, the wife
of one of the wealthiest aldermen of the City of London, awakened to
the fact that literally she had no money.
She pawned as much of her jewellery as she could safely dispose of,
and temporarily silenced the more threatening tradespeople; but Kazmah
declined to give credit, and cheques had never been acceptable at the
establishment in old Bond Street.
Rita feverishly renewed her old quest, seeking in all directions for
some less extortionate purveyor. But none was to be found. The
selfishness and secretiveness of the drug slave made it difficult for
her to learn on what terms others obtained Kazmah's precious goods;
but although his prices undoubtedly varied, she was convinced that no
one of all his clients was so cruelly victimized as she.
Mollie Gretna endeavored to obtain an extra supply to help Rita, but
Kazmah evidently saw through the device, and the endeavor proved a
She demanded to see Kazmah, but Rashid, the Egyptian, blandly assured
her that "the Sheikh-el-Kazmah" was away. She cast discretion to the
winds and wrote to him, protesting that it was utterly impossible for
her to raise so much ready money as he demanded, and begging him to
grant her a small supply or to accept the letter as a promissory note
to be redeemed in three months. No answer was received, but when Rita
again called at old Bond Street, Rashid proposed one of the few
compromises which the frenzied woman found herself unwilling to
"The Sheikh-el-Kazmah say, my lady, your friend Mr. Gray never come to
him. If you bring him it will be all right."
Rita found herself stricken dumb by this cool proposal. The
degradation which awaits the drug slave had never been more succinctly
expounded to her. She was to employ Gray's foolish devotion for the
commercial advantage of Kazmah. Of course Gray might any day become
one of the three wealthiest peers in the realm. She divined the
meaning of Kazmah's hitherto incomprehensible harshness (or believed
that she did); she saw what was expected of her. "My God!" she
whispered. "I have not come to that yet."
Rashid she knew to be incorruptible or powerless, and she turned away,
trembling, and left the place, whose faint perfume of frankincense had
latterly become hateful to her.
She was at this time bordering upon a state of collapse. Insomnia,
which latterly had defied dangerously increased doses of veronal, was
telling upon nerve and brain. Now, her head aching so that she often
wondered how long she could retain sanity, she found herself deprived
not only of cocaine, but also of malourea. Margaret Halley was her
last hope, and to Margaret she hastened on the day before the tragedy
which was destined to bring to light the sinister operations of the
Although, perhaps mercifully, she was unaware of the fact,
representatives of Spinker's Agency had been following her during the
whole of the preceding fortnight. That Rita was in desperate trouble
of some kind her husband had not failed to perceive, and her reticence
had quite naturally led him to a certain conclusion. He had sought to
win her confidence by every conceivable means and had failed. At last
had come doubt--and the hateful interview with Spinker.
As Rita turned in at the doorway below Margaret's flat, then, Brisley
was lighting a cigarette in the shelter of a porch nearly opposite,
and Gunn was not far away.
Margaret immediately perceived that her friend's condition was
alarming. But she realized that whatever the cause to which it might
be due, it gave her the opportunity for which she had been waiting.
She wrote a prescription containing one grain of cocaine, but declined
firmly to issue others unless Rita authorized her, in writing, to
undertake a cure of the drug habit.
Rita's disjointed statements pointed to a conspiracy of some kind on
the part of those who had been supplying her with drugs, but Margaret
knew from experience that to exhibit curiosity in regard to the matter
would be merely to provoke evasions.
A hopeless day and a pain-racked, sleepless night found Kazmah's
unhappy victim in the mood for any measure, however desperate, which
should promise even temporary relief. Monte Irvin went out very early,
and at about eleven o'clock Rita rang up Kazmah's, but only to be
informed by Rashid, who replied, that Kazmah was still away. "This
evening he tell me that he see your friend if he come, my lady." As if
the Fates sought to test her endurance to the utmost, Quentin Gray
called shortly afterwards and invited her to dine with him and go to a
theatre that evening.
For five age-long seconds Rita hesitated. If no plan offered itself by
nightfall she knew that her last scruple would be conquered. "After
all," whispered a voice within her brain, "Quentin is a man. Even if I
took him to Kazmah's and he was in some way induced to try opium, or
even cocaine, he would probably never become addicted to drug-taking.
But I should have done my part--"
"Very well, Quentin," she heard herself saying aloud. "Will you call
But when he had gone Rita sat for more than half an hour, quite still,
her hands clenched and her face a tragic mask. (Gunn, of Spinker's
Agency, reported telephonically to Monte Irvin in the City that the
Hon. Quentin Gray had called and had remained about twenty-five
minutes; that he had proceeded to the Prince's Restaurant, and from
there to Mudie's, where he had booked a box at the Gaiety Theatre.)
Towards the fall of dusk the more dreadful symptoms which attend upon
a sudden cessation of the use of cocaine by a victim of cocainophagia
began to assert themselves again. Rita searched wildly in the lining
of her jewel-case to discover if even a milligram of the drug had by
chance fallen there from the little gold box. But the quest was in
As a final resort she determined to go to Margaret Halley again.
She hurried to Dover Street, and her last hope was shattered. Margaret
was out, and Janet had no idea when she was likely to return. Rita had
much ado to prevent herself from bursting into tears. She scribbled a
few lines, without quite knowing what she was writing, sealed the
paper in an envelope, and left it on Margaret's table.
Of returning to Prince's Gate and dressing for the evening she had
only a hazy impression. The hammer-beats in her head were depriving
her of reasoning power, and she felt cold, numbed, although a big fire
blazed in her room. Then as she sat before her mirror, drearily
wondering if her face really looked as drawn and haggard as the image
in the glass, or if definite delusions were beginning, Nina came in
and spoke to her. Some moments elapsed before Rita could grasp the
meaning of the girl's words.
"Sir Lucien Pyne has rung up, Madam, and wishes to speak to you."
Sir Lucien! Sir Lucien had come back? Rita experienced a swift return
of feverish energy. Half dressed as she was, and without pausing to
take a wrap, she ran out to the telephone.
Never had a man's voice sounded so sweet as that of Sir Lucien when he
spoke across the wires. He was at Albemarle Street, and Rita, wasting
no time in explanations, begged him to await her there. In another ten
minutes she had completed her toilette and had sent Nina to 'phone for
a cab. (One of the minor details of his wife's behavior which latterly
had aroused Irvin's distrust was her frequent employment of public
vehicles in preference to either of the cars.)
Quentin Gray she had quite forgotten, until, as she was about to
"Is there any message for Mr. Gray, Madam?" inquired Nina naively.
"Oh!" cried Rita. "Of course! Quick! Give me some paper and a pencil."
She wrote a hasty note, merely asking Gray to proceed to the
restaurant, where she promised to join him, left it in charge of the
maid, and hurried off to Albemarle Street.
Mareno, the silent, yellow-faced servant who had driven the car on the
night of Rita's first visit to Limehouse, admitted her. He showed her
immediately into the lofty study, where Sir Lucien awaited.
"Oh, Lucy--Lucy!" she cried, almost before the door had closed behind
Mareno. "I am desperate--desperate!"
Sir Lucien placed a chair for her. His face looked very drawn and
grim. But Rita was in too highly strung a condition to observe this
fact, or indeed to observe anything.
"Tell me," he said gently.
And in a torrent of disconnected, barely coherent language, the
tortured woman told him of Kazmah's attempt to force her to lure
Quentin Gray into the drug coterie. Sir Lucien stood behind her chair,
and the icy reserve which habitually rendered his face an impenetrable
mask deserted him as the story of Rita's treatment at the hands of the
Egyptian of Bond Street was unfolded in all its sordid hideousness.
Rita's soft, musical voice, for which of old she had been famous,
shook and wavered; her pose, her twitching gestures, all told of a
nervous agony bordering on prostration or worse. Finally:
"He dare not refuse you!" she cried. "Ring him up and insist upon him
seeing me tonight!"
"I will see him, Rita."
She turned to him, wild-eyed.
"You shall not! You shall not!" she said. "I am going to speak to that
man face to face, and if he is human he must listen to me. Oh! I have
realized the hold he has upon me, Lucy! I know what it means, this
disappearance of all the others who used to sell what Kazmah sells. If
I am to suffer, he shall not escape! I swear it. Either he listens to
me tonight or I go straight to the police!"
"Be calm, little girl," whispered Sir Lucien, and he laid his hand
upon her shoulder.
But she leapt up, her pupils suddenly dilating and her delicate
nostrils twitching in a manner which unmistakably pointed to the
impossibility of thwarting her if sanity were to be retained.
"Ring him up, Lucy," she repeated in a low voice. "He is there. Now
that I have someone behind me I see my way at last!"
"There may, nevertheless, be a better way," said Sir Lucien; but he
added quickly: "Very well, dear, I will do as you wish. I have a
little cocaine, which I will give you."
He went out to the telephone, carefully closing the study door.
That he had counted upon the influence of the drug to reduce Rita to a
more reasonable frame of mind was undoubtedly the fact, for presently
as they proceeded on foot towards old Bond Street he reverted to
something like his old ironical manner. But Rita's determination was
curiously fixed. Unmoved by every kind of appeal, she proceeded to the
appointment which Sir Lucien had made--ignorant of that which Fate
held in store for her--and Sir Lucien, also humanly blind, walked on
to meet his death.
THE MAN FROM WHITEHALL
CHIEF INSPECTOR KERRY RESIGNS
"Come in," said the Assistant Commissioner. The door opened and Chief
Inspector Kerry entered. His face was as fresh-looking, his attire as
spruce and his eyes were as bright, as though he had slept well,
enjoyed his bath and partaken of an excellent breakfast. Whereas he
had not been to bed during the preceding twenty-four hours, had
breakfasted upon biscuits and coffee, and had spent the night and
early morning in ceaseless toil. Nevertheless he had found time to
visit a hairdressing saloon, for he prided himself upon the nicety of
his personal appearance.
He laid his hat, cane and overall upon a chair, and from a pocket of
his reefer jacket took out a big notebook.
"Good morning, sir," he said.
"Good morning, Chief Inspector," replied the Assistant Commissioner.
"Pray be seated. No doubt"--he suppressed a weary sigh--"you have a
long report to make. I observe that some of the papers have the news
of Sir Lucien Pyne's death."
Chief Inspector Kerry smiled savagely.
"Twenty pressmen are sitting downstairs," he said "waiting for
particulars. One of them got into my room." He opened his notebook.
"He didn't stay long."
The Assistant Commissioner gazed wearily at his blotting-pad, striking
imaginary chords upon the table-edge with his large widely extended
fingers. He cleared his throat.
"Er--Chief Inspector," he said, "I fully recognize the difficulties
which--you follow me? But the Press is the Press. Neither you nor I
could hope to battle against such an institution even if we desired to
do so. Where active resistance is useless, a little tact--you quite
"Quite, sir. Rely upon me," replied Kerry. "But I didn't mean to open
my mouth until I had reported to you. Now, sir, here is a precis of
evidence, nearly complete, written out clearly by Sergeant Coombes.
You would probably prefer to read it?"
"Yes, yes, I will read it. But has Sergeant Coombes been on duty all
"He has, sir, and so have I. Sergeant Coombes went home an hour ago."
"Ah," murmured the Assistant Commissioner
He took the notebook from Kerry, and resting his head upon his hand
began to read. Kerry sat very upright in his chair, chewing slowly and
watching the profile of the reader with his unwavering steel-blue
eyes. The reading was twice punctuated by telephone messages, but the
Assistant Commissioner apparently possessed the Napoleonic faculty of
doing two things at once, for his gaze travelled uninterruptedly along
the lines of the report throughout the time that he issued telephonic
When he had arrived at the final page of Coombes' neat, schoolboy
writing, he did not look up for a minute or more, continuing to rest
his head in the palm of his hand. Then:
"So far you have not succeeded in establishing the identity of the
missing man, Kazmah?" he said.
"Not so far, sir," replied Kerry, enunciating the words with
characteristic swift precision, each syllable distinct as the rap of a
typewriter. "Inspector Whiteleaf, of Vine Street, has questioned all
constables in the Piccadilly area, and we have seen members of the
staffs of many shops and offices in the neighborhood, but no one is
familiar with the appearance of the missing man."
"Ah--now, the Egyptian servant?"
Inspector Kerry moved his shoulders restlessly.
"Rashid is his name. Many of the people in the neighborhood knew him
by sight, and at five o'clock this morning one of my assistants had
the good luck to find out, from an Arab coffee-house keeper named
Abdulla, where Rashid lived. He paid a visit to the place--it's off
the West India Dock Road--half an hour later. But Rashid had gone. I
regret to report that all traces of him have been lost."
"Ah--considering this circumstance side by side with the facts that no
scrap of evidence has come to light in the Kazmah premises and that
the late Sir Lucien's private books and papers cannot be found, what
do you deduce, Chief Inspector?"
"My report indicates what I deduce, sir! An accomplice of Kazmah's
must have been in Sir Lucien's household! Kazmah and Mrs. Irvin can
only have left the premises by going up to the roof and across the
leads to Sir Lucien's flat in Albemarle Street. I shall charge the man
"What has he to say?" murmured the Assistant Commissioner, absently
turning over the pages of the notebook. "Ah, yes. 'Claims to be a
citizen of the United States but has produced no papers. Engaged by
Sir Lucien Pyne in San Francisco. Professes to have no evidence to
offer. Admitted Mrs. Monte Irvin to Sir Lucien's flat on night of
murder. Sir Lucien and Mrs. Irvin went out together shortly
afterwards, and Sir Lucien ordered him (Mareno) to go for the car to
garage in South Audley Street and drive to club, where Sir Lucien
proposed to dine. Mareno claims to have followed instructions. After
waiting near club for an hour, learned from hall porter that Sir
Lucien had not been there that evening. Drove car back to garage and
returned to Albemarle Street shortly after eight o'clock.' H'm. Is
this confirmed in any way?"
Kerry's teeth snapped together viciously.
"Up to a point it is, sir. The club porter remembers Mareno inquiring
about Sir Lucien, and the people at the garage testify that he took
out the car and returned it as stated."
"No one has come forward who actually saw him waiting outside the
"No one. But unfortunately it was a dark, misty night, and cars
waiting for club members stand in a narrow side turning. Mareno is a
surly brute, and he might have waited an hour without speaking to a
soul. Unless another chauffeur happened to notice and recognize the
car nobody would be any wiser."
The Assistant Commissioner sighed, glancing up for the first time.
"You don't think he waited outside the club at all?" he said.
"I don't, sir!" rapped Kerry.
The Assistant Commissioner rested his head upon his hand again.
"It doesn't seem to be germane to your case, Chief Inspector, in any
event. There is no question of an alibi. Sir Lucien's wrist-watch was
broken at seven-fifteen--evidently at the time of his death; and this
man Mareno does not claim to have left the flat until after that
"I know it, sir," said Kerry. "He took out the car at half-past seven.
What I want to know is where he went to!"
The Assistant Commissioner glanced rapidly into the speaker's fierce
"From what you have gathered respecting the appearance of Kazmah, does
it seem possible that Mareno may be Kazmah?"
"It does not, sir. Kazmah has been described to me, at first hand and
at second hand. All descriptions tally in one respect: Kazmah has
remarkably large eyes. In Miss Halley's evidence you will note that
she refers to them as 'larger than any human eyes I have ever seen.'
Now, Mareno has eyes like a pig!"
"Then I take it you are charging him as accessory?"
"Exactly, sir. Somebody got Kazmah and Mrs. Irvin away, and it can
only have been Mareno. Sir Lucien had no other resident servant; he
was a man who lived almost entirely at restaurants and clubs. Again,
somebody cleaned up his papers, and it was somebody who knew where to
look for them."
"Quite so--quite so," murmured the Assistant Commissioner. "Of course,
we shall learn today something of his affairs from his banker. He must
have banked somewhere. But surely, Chief Inspector, there is a safe or
private bureau in his flat?"
"There is, sir," said Kerry grimly; "a safe. I had it opened at six
o'clock this morning. It had been hastily cleaned out; not a doubt of
it. I expect Sir Lucien carried the keys on his person. You will
remember, sir, that his pockets had been emptied?"
"H'm," mused the Assistant Commissioner. "This Cubanis Cigarette
Company, Chief Inspector?"
"Dummy goods!" rapped Kerry. "A blind. Just a back entrance to
Kazmah's office. Premises were leased on behalf of an agent. This
agent--a reputable man of business--paid the rent quarterly. I've seen
"And who was his client?" asked the Assistant Commissioner, displaying
a faint trace of interest.
"A certain Mr. Isaacs!"
"Who can be traced?"
"Who can't be traced!"
Chief Inspector Kerry smiled, so that his large white teeth gleamed
"Mr. Isaacs represented himself as a dealer in Covent Garden who was
leasing the office for a lady friend, and who desired, for domestic
reasons, to cover his tracks. As ready money in large amounts changes
hands in the market, Mr. Isaacs paid ready money to the agent. Beyond
doubt the real source of the ready money was Kazmah's."
"But his address?"
"A hotel in Covent Garden."
"Where he lives?"
"Where he is known to the booking-clerk, a girl who allowed him to
have letters addressed there. A man of smoke, sir, acting on behalf of
someone in the background."
"Ah! and these Bond Street premises have been occupied by Kazmah for
the past eight years?"
"So I am told. I have yet to see representatives of the landlord. I
may add that Sir Lucien Pyne had lived in Albemarle Street for about
the same time."
Wearily raising his head:
"The point is certainly significant," said the Assistant Commissioner.
"Now we come to the drug traffic, Chief Inspector. You have found no
trace of drugs on the premises?"
"Not a grain, sir!"
"In the office of the cigarette firm?"
"By the way, was there no staff attached to the latter concern?"
Kerry chewed viciously.
"No business of any kind seems to have been done there," he replied.
"An office-boy employed by the solicitor on the same floor as Kazmah
has seen a man and also a woman, go up to the third floor on several
occasions, and he seems to think they went to the Cubanis office. But
he's not sure, and he can give no useful description of the parties,
anyway. Nobody in the building has ever seen the door open before this
The Assistant Commissioner sighed yet more wearily.
"Apart from the suspicions of Miss Margaret Halley, you have no sound
basis for supposing that Kazmah dealt in prohibited drugs?" he
"The evidence of Miss Halley, the letter left for her by Mrs. Irvin,
and the fact that Mrs. Irvin said, in the presence of Mr. Quentin
Gray, that she had 'a particular reason' for seeing Kazmah, point to
it unmistakably, sir. Then, I have seen Mrs. Irvin's maid. (Mr. Monte
Irvin is still too unwell to be interrogated.) The girl was very
frightened, but she admitted outright that she had been in the habit
of going regularly to Kazmah for certain perfumes. She wouldn't admit
that she knew the flasks contained cocaine or veronal, but she did
admit that her mistress had been addicted to the drug habit for
several years. It began when she was on the stage."
"Ah, yes," murmured the Assistant Commissioner; "she was Rita Dresden,
was she not--'The Maid of the Masque' A very pretty and talented
actress. A pity--a great pity. So the girl, characteristically, is
trying to save herself ?"
"She is," said Kerry grimly. "But it cuts no ice. There is another
point. After this report was made out, a message reached me from Miss
Halley, as a result of which I visited Mr. Quentin Gray early this
"Dear, dear," sighed the Assistant Commissioner, "your intense zeal
and activity are admirable, Chief Inspector, but appalling. And what
did you learn?"
From an inside pocket Chief Inspector Kerry took out a plain brown
paper packet containing several cigarettes and laid the packet on the
"I got these, sir," he said grimly. "They were left at Mr. Gray's some
weeks ago by the late Sir Lucien. They are doped."
The Assistant Commissioner, his head resting upon his hand, gazed
abstractedly at the packet. "If only you could trace the source of
supply," he murmured.
"That brings me to my last point, sir. From Mrs. Irvin's maid I
learned that her mistress was acquainted with a certain Mrs. Sin."
"Mrs. Sin? Incredible name."
"She's a woman reputed to be married to a Chinaman. Inspector
Whiteleaf, of Vine Street, knows her by sight as one of the night-club
birds--a sort of mysterious fungus, sir, flowering in the dark and
fattening on gilded fools. Unless I'm greatly mistaken, Mrs. Sin is
the link between the doped cigarettes and the missing Kazmah."
"Does anyone know where she lives?"
"Lots of 'em know!" snapped Kerry. "But it's making them speak."
"To whom do you more particularly refer, Chief Inspector?"
"To the moneyed asses and the brainless women belonging to a certain
West End set, sir," said Kerry savagely. "They go in for every
monstrosity from Buenos Ayres, Port Said and Pekin. They get up dances
that would make a wooden horse blush. They eat hashish and they smoke
opium. They inject morphine, and they would have their hair dyed blue
if they heard it was 'being done.'"
"Ah," sighed the Assistant Commissioner, "a very delicate and complex
case, Chief Inspector. The agony of mind which Mr. Irvin must be
suffering is too horrible for one to contemplate. An admirable man,
too; honorable and generous. I can conceive no theory to account for
the disappearance of Mrs. Irvin other than that she was a party to the
"No, sir," said Kerry guardedly. "But we have the dope clue to work
on. That the Chinese receive stuff in the East End and that it's sold
in the West End every constable in the force is well aware. Leman
Street is getting busy, and every shady case in the Piccadilly area
will be beaten up within the next twenty-four hours, too. It's purely
departmental, sir, from now onwards, and merely a question of time.
Therefore I don't doubt the issue."
Kerry paused, cleared his throat, and produced a foolscap envelope
which he laid upon the table before the Assistant Commissioner.
"With very deep regret, sir," he said, "after a long and agreeable
association with the Criminal Investigation Department, I have to
tender you this."
The Assistant Commissioner took up the envelope and stared at it
"Ah, yes, Chief Inspector," he murmured. "Perhaps I fail entirely to
follow you; I am somewhat over-worked, as you know. What does this
"My resignation, sir," replied Kerry.
TO INTRODUCE 719
Some moments of silence followed. Sounds of traffic from the
Embankment penetrated dimly to the room of the Assistant Commissioner;
ringing of tram bells and that vague sustained noise which is created
by the whirring of countless wheels along hard pavements. Finally:
"You have selected a curious moment to retire, Chief Inspector," said
the Assistant Commissioner. "Your prospects were never better. No
doubt you have considered the question of your pension?"
"I know what I'm giving up, sir," replied Kerry.
The Assistant Commissioner slowly revolved in his chair and gazed
sadly at the speaker. Chief Inspector Kerry met his glance with that
fearless, unflinching stare which lent him so formidable an
"You might care to favor me with some explanation which I can lay
before the Chief Commissioner?"
Kerry snapped his white teeth together viciously.
"May I take it, sir, that you accept my resignation?"
"Certainly not. I will place it before the responsible authority. I
can do no more."
"Without disrespect, sir, I want to speak to you as man to man. As a
private citizen I could do it. As your subordinate I can't."
The Assistant Commissioner sighed, stroking his neatly brushed hair
with one large hand.
"Equally without disrespect, Chief Inspector," he murmured, "it is
news for me to learn that you have ever refrained from speaking your
mind either in my presence or in the presence of any man."
Kerry smiled, unable wholly to conceal a sense of gratified vanity.
"Well, sir," he said, "you have my resignation before you, and I'm
prepared to abide by the consequences. What I want to say is this: I'm
a man that has worked hard all his life to earn the respect and the
trust of his employers. I am supposed to be Chief Inspector of this
department, and as Chief Inspector I'll kow-tow to nothing on two legs
once I've been put in charge of a case. I work right in the sunshine.
There's no grafting about me. I draw my salary every week, and any man
that says I earn sixpence in the dark is at liberty to walk right in
here and deposit his funeral expenses. If I'm supposed to be under a
cloud--there's my reply. But I demand a public inquiry."
At ever increasing speed, succinctly, viciously he rapped out the
words. His red face grew more red, and his steel-blue eyes more
fierce. The Assistant Commissioner exhibited bewilderment. As the high
"Really, Chief Inspector," he said, "you pain and surprise me. I do
not profess to be ignorant of the cause of your--annoyance. But
perhaps if I acquaint you with the facts of my own position in the
matter you will be open to reconsider your decision."
Kerry cleared his throat loudly.
"I won't work in the dark, sir," he declared truculently. "I'd rather
be a pavement artist and my own master than Chief Inspector with an
unknown spy following me about."
"Quite so--quite so." The Assistant Commissioner was wonderfully
patient. "Very well, Chief Inspector. It cannot enhance my personal
dignity to admit the fact, but I'm nearly as much in the dark as
"What's that, sir?" Kerry sat bolt upright, staring at the speaker.
"At a late hour last night the Secretary of State communicated in
person with the Chief Commissioner--at the latter's town residence. He
instructed him to offer every facility to a newly appointed agent of
the Home office who was empowered to conduct an official inquiry into
the drug traffic. As a result Vine Street was advised that the Home
office investigator would proceed at once to Kazmah's premises, and
from thence wherever available clues might lead him. For some reason
which has not yet been explained to me, this investigator chooses to
preserve a strict anonymity."
Traces of irritation became perceptible in the weary voice. Kerry
staring, in silence, the Assistant Commissioner continued:
"I have been advised that this nameless agent is in a position to
establish his bona fides at any time, as he bears a number of these
cards. You see, Chief Inspector, I am frank with you."
From a table drawer the Assistant Commissioner took a visiting-card,
which he handed to Kerry. The latter stared at it as one stares at a
rare specimen. It was the card of Lord Wrexborough, His Majesty's
Principal Secretary of State for the Home Department, and in the
cramped caligraphy of his lordship it bore a brief note, initialled,
Great Cumberland Place, V. 1
"To introduce 719. W."
Some moments of silence followed; then:
"Seven-one-nine," said Kerry in a high, strained voice. "Why
seven-one-nine? And why all this hocus-pocus? Am I to understand, sir,
that not only myself but all the Criminal Investigation Department is
under a cloud?"
The Assistant Commissioner stroked his hair.
"You are to understand, Chief Inspector, that for the first time
throughout my period of office I find myself out of touch with the
Chief Commissioner. It is not departmental for me to say so, but I
believe the Chief Commissioner finds himself similarly out of touch
with the Secretary of State. Apparently very powerful influences are
at work, and the line of conduct taken up by the Home office suggests
to my mind that collusion between the receivers and distributors of
drugs and the police is suspected by someone. That being so, possibly
out of a sense of fairness to all officially concerned, the committee
which I understand has been appointed to inquire into the traffic has
decided to treat us all alike, from myself down to the rawest
constable. It's highly irritating and preposterous, of course, but I
cannot disguise from you or from myself that we are on trial, Chief
Kerry stood up and slowly moved his square shoulders in the manner of
an athlete about to attempt a feat of weight-lifting. From the
Assistant Commissioner's table he took the envelope which contained
his resignation, and tore it into several portions. These he deposited
in a waste-paper basket.
"That's that!" he said. "I am very deeply indebted to you, sir. I know
now what to tell the Press."
The Assistant Commissioner glanced up.
"Not a word about 719," he said, "of course, you understand this?"
"If we don't exist as far as 719 is concerned, sir," said Kerry in his
most snappy tones, "719 means nothing to me!"
"Quite so--quite so. Of course, I may be wrong in the motives which I
ascribe to this Whitehall agent, but misunderstanding is certain to
arise out of a system of such deliberate mystification, which can only
be compared to that employed by the Russian police under the Tsars."
Half an hour later Chief Inspector Kerry came out of New Scotland
Yard, and, walking down on to the Embankment, boarded a Norwood
tramcar. The weather remained damp and gloomy, but upon the red face
of Chief Inspector Kerry, as he mounted to the upper deck of the car,
rested an expression which might have been described as one of cheery
truculence. Where other passengers, coat collars upturned, gazed
gloomily from the windows at the yellow murk overhanging the river,
Kerry looked briskly about him, smiling pleasurably.
He was homeward bound, and when he presently alighted and went
swinging along Spenser Road towards his house, he was still smiling.
He regarded the case as having developed into a competition between
himself and the man appointed by Whitehall. And it was just such a
position, disconcerting to one of less aggressive temperament, which
stimulated Chief Inspector Kerry and put him in high good humor.
Mrs. Kerry, arrayed in a serviceable rain-coat, and wearing a plain
felt hat, was standing by the dining-room door as Kerry entered. She
had a basket on her arm. "I was waiting for ye, Dan," she said simply.
He kissed her affectionately, put his arm about her waist, and the two
entered the cosy little room. By no ordinary human means was it
possible that Mary Kerry should have known that her husband would come
home at that time, but he was so used to her prescience in this
respect that he offered no comment. She "kenned" his approach always,
and at times when his life had been in danger--and these were not of
infrequent occurrence--Mary Kerry, if sleeping, had awakened,
trembling, though the scene of peril were a hundred miles away, and if
awake had blanched and known a deadly sudden fear.
"Ye'll be goin' to bed?" she asked.
"For three hours, Mary. Don't fail to rouse me if I oversleep."
"Is it clear to ye yet?"
"Nearly clear. The dark thing you saw behind it all, Mary, was dope!
Kazmah's is a secret drug-syndicate. They've appointed a Home office
agent, and he's working independently of us, but . . ."
His teeth came together with a snap.
"Oh, Dan," said his wife, "it's a race? Drugs? A Home office agent?
Dan, they think the Force is in it?"
"They do!" rapped Kerry. "I'm for Leman Street in three hours. If
there's double-dealing behind it, then the mugs are in the East End,
and it's folly, not knavery, I'm looking for. It's a race, Mary, and
the credit of the Service is at stake! No, my dear, I'll have a snack
when I wake. You're going shopping?"
"I am, Dan. I'd ha' started, but I wanted to see ye when ye came hame.
If ye've only three hours go straight up the now. I'll ha' something
hot a' ready when ye waken."
Ten minutes later Kerry was in bed, his short clay pipe between his
teeth, and The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius in his hand. Such was
his customary sleeping-draught, and it had never been known to fail.
Half a pipe of Irish twist and three pages of the sad imperial author
invariably plunged Chief Inspector Kerry into healthy slumber.
NIGHT-LIFE OF SOHO
It was close upon midnight when Detective-Sergeant Coombes appeared in
a certain narrow West End thoroughfare, which was lined with taxicabs
and private cars. He wore a dark overcoat and a tweed cap, and
although his chin was buried in the genial folds of a woollen
comforter, and his cap was pulled down over his eyes, his sly smile
could easily be detected even in the dim light afforded by the car
lamps. He seemed to have business of a mysterious nature among the
cabmen; for with each of them in turn he conducted a brief
conversation, passing unobtrusively from cab to cab, and making
certain entries in a notebook. Finally he disappeared. No one actually
saw him go, and no one had actually seen him arrive. At one moment,
however, he was there; in the next he was gone.
Five minutes later Chief Inspector Kerry entered the street. His dark
overcoat and white silk muffler concealed a spruce dress suit, a fact
betrayed by black, braided trousers, unusually tight-fitting, and
boots which almost glittered. He carried the silver-headed malacca
cane, and had retained his narrow-brimmed howler at its customary
Passing the lines of waiting vehicles, he walked into the entrance of
a popular night-club which faced the narrow street. On a lounge
immediately inside the doorway a heated young man was sitting fanning
his dancing partner and gazing into her weakly pretty face in vacuous
Kerry paused for a moment, staring at the pair. The man returned his
stare, looking him up and down in a manner meant to be contemptuous.
Kerry's fierce, intolerant gaze became transferred to the face and
then the figure of the woman. He tilted his hat further forward and
turned aside. The woman's glance followed him, to the marked disgust
of her companion
"Oh," she whispered, "what a delightfully savage man! He looks
positively uncivilized. I have no doubt he drags women about by their
hair. I do hope he's a member!"
Mollie Gretna spoke loudly enough for Kerry to hear her, but unmoved
by her admiration he stepped up to the reception office. He was in
high good humor. He had spent the afternoon agreeably, interviewing
certain officials charged with policing the East End of London, and
had succeeded, to quote his own language, "in getting a gale up."
Despite the coldness of the weather, he had left two inspectors and a
speechlessly indignant superintendent bathed in perspiration.
"Are you a member, sir?" inquired the girl behind the desk.
Kerry smiled genially. A newsboy thrust open the swing-door, yelling:
"Bond Street murder! A fresh development. Late speshul!"
"Oh!" cried Mollie Gretna to her companion, "get me a paper. Be quick!
I am so excited!"
Kerry took up a pen, and in large bold hand-writing inscribed the
following across two pages of the visitors' book:
"Chief Inspector Kerry. Criminal Investigation Department."
He laid a card on the open book, and, thrusting his cane under his
arm, walked to the head of the stairs.
"Cloak-room on the right, sir," said an attendant.
Kerry paused, glancing over his shoulder and chewing audibly. Then he
settled his hat more firmly upon his red head and descended the
stairs. The attendant went to inspect the visitors' book, but Mollie
Gretna was at the desk before him, and:
"Oh, Bill!" she cried to her annoyed cavalier, "it's Inspector Kerry--
who is in charge of poor Lucy's murder! Oh, Bill! this is lovely!
Something is going to happen! Do come down!"
Followed by the obedient but reluctant "Bill," Mollie ran downstairs,
and almost into the arms of a tall dark girl, who, carrying a purple
opera cloak, was coming up.
"You're not going yet, Dickey?" said Mollie, throwing her arm around
the other's waist.
"Ssh!" whispered "Dickey." "Inspector Kerry is here! You don't want to
be called as a witness at nasty inquests and things, do you?"
"Good heavens, my dear, no! But why should I be?"
"Why should any of us? But don't you see they are looking for the
people who used to go to Kazmah's? It's in the paper tonight. We shall
all be served with subpoenas. I'm off!"
Escaping from Mollie's embrace, the tall girl ran up the stairs,
kissing her hand to Bill as she passed. Mollie hesitated, looking all
about the crowded room for Chief Inspector Kerry. Presently she saw
him, standing nearly opposite the stairway, his intolerant blue eyes
turning right and left, so that the fierce glance seemed to miss
nothing and no one in the room. Hands thrust in his overcoat pockets
and his cane held under his arm, he inspected the place and its
occupants as a very aggressive country cousin might inspect the
monkey-house at the Zoo. To Mollie's intense disappointment he
persistently avoided looking in her direction.
Although a popular dance was on the point of commencing, several
visitors had suddenly determined to leave. Kerry pretended to be
ignorant of the sensation which his appearance had created, passing
slowly along the room and submitting group after group to deliberate
scrutiny; but as news flies through an Eastern bazaar the name of the
celebrated detective, whose association with London's latest crime was
mentioned by every evening paper in the kingdom, sped now on magic
wings, so that there was a muted charivari out of which, in every key
from bass to soprano, arose ever and anon the words "Chief Inspector
"It's perfectly ridiculous but characteristically English," drawled
one young man, standing beside Mollie Gretna, "to send out a belly
red-headed policeman in preposterous glad-rags to look for a clever
criminal. Kerry is well known to all the crooks, and nobody could
mistake him. Damn silly--damn silly!"
As "damn silly" Kerry's open scrutiny of the members and visitors
must have appeared to others, but it was a deliberate policy very
popular with the Chief Inspector, and termed by him "beating."
Possessed of an undisguisable personality, Kerry had found a way of
employing his natural physical peculiarities to his professional
advantage. Where other investigators worked in the dark, secretly, Red
Kerry sought the limelight--at the right time. That every hour lost in
getting on the track of the mysterious Kazmah was a point gained by
the equally mysterious man from Whitehall he felt assured, and
although the elaborate but hidden mechanism of New Scotland Yard was
at work seeking out the patrons of the Bond Street drug-shop, Kerry
was indisposed to await the result.
He had been in the night club only about ten minutes, but during those
ten minutes fully a dozen people had more or less hurriedly departed.
Because of the arrangements already made by Sergeant Coombes, the
addresses of many of these departing visitors would be in Kerry's
possession ere the night was much older. And why should they have
fled, incontinent, if not for the reason that they feared to become
involved in the Kazmah affair? All the cabmen had been warned, and
those fugitives who had private cars would be followed.
It was a curious scene which Kerry surveyed, a scene to have
interested philosopher and politician alike. For here were
representatives of every stratum of society, although some of those
standing for the lower strata were suitably disguised. The peerage was
well represented, so was Judah; there were women entitled to wear
coronets dancing with men entitled to wear the broad arrow, and men
whose forefathers had signed Magna Charta dancing with chorus girls
from the revues and musical comedies.
Waiting until the dance was fully in progress, Inspector Kerry walked
slowly around the room in the direction of the stair. Parties seated
at tables were treated each to an intolerant stare, alcoves were
inspected, and more than one waiter meeting the gaze of the steely
eyes, felt a prickling of conscience and recalled past peccadilloes.
Bill had claimed Mollie Gretna for the dance, but:
"No, Bill," she had replied, watching Kerry as if enthralled; "I don't
want to dance. I am watching Chief Inspector Kerry."
"That's evident," complained the young man. "Perhaps you would like to
spend the rest of the night in Bow Street?"
"Oh," whispered Mollie, "I should love it! I have never been arrested,
but if ever I am I hope it will be by Chief Inspector Kerry. I am
positive he would haul me away in handcuffs!"
When Kerry came to the foot of the stairs, Mollie quite deliberately
got in his way, murmured an apology, and gave him a sidelong gaze
through lowered lashes, which was more eloquent than any thesis. He
smiled with fierce geniality, looked her up and down, and proceeded to
mount the stairs, with never a backward glance.
His genius for criminal investigation possessed definite limitations.
He could not perhaps have been expected in tactics so completely
opposed to those which he had anticipated to recognize the presence of
a valuable witness. Student of human nature though undoubtedly he was,
he had not solved the mystery of that outstanding exception which
seems to be involved in every rule.
Thus, a fellow with a low forehead and a weakly receding chin, Kerry
classified as a dullard, a witling, unaware that if the brow were but
low enough and the chin virtually absent altogether he might stand in
the presence of a second Daniel. Physiognomy is a subtle science, and
the exceptions to its rules are often of a sensational character. In
the same way Kerry looked for evasion, and, where possible, flight, on
the part of one possessing a guilty conscience. Mollie Gretna was a
phenomenal exception to a rule otherwise sound. And even one familiar
with criminal psychology might be forgiven for failing to detect guilt
in a woman anxious to make the acquaintance of a prominent member of
the Criminal Investigation Department.
Pausing for a moment in the entrance of the club, and chewing
reflectively, Kerry swung open the door and walked out into the
street. He had one more cover to "beat," and he set off briskly,
plunging into the mazes of Soho crossing Wardour Street into old
Compton Street, and proceeding thence in the direction of Shaftesbury
Avenue. Turning to the right on entering the narrow thoroughfare for
which he was bound, he stopped and whistled softly. He stood in the
entrance to a court; and from further up the court came an answering
Kerry came out of the court again, and proceeded some twenty paces
along the street to a restaurant. The windows showed no light, but the
door remained open, and Kerry entered without hesitation, crossed a
darkened room and found himself in a passage where a man was seated in
a little apartment like that of a stage-door keeper. He stood up, on
hearing Kerry's tread, peering out at the newcomer.
"The restaurant is closed, sir "
"Tell me a better one," rapped Kerry. "I want to go upstairs."
"Your card, sir."
Kerry revealed his teeth in a savage smile and tossed his card on to
the desk before the concierge. He passed on, mounting the stairs at
the end of the passage. Dimly a bell rang; and on the first landing
Kerry met a heavily built foreign gentleman, who bowed.
"My dear Chief Inspector," he said gutturally, "what is this, please?
I trust nothing is wrong, eh?"
"Nothing," replied Kerry. "I just want to look round."
"A few friends," explained the suave alien, rubbing his hands together
and still bowing, "remain playing dominoes with me."
"Very good," rapped Kerry. "Well, if you think we have given them time
to hide the 'wheel' we'll go in. Oh, don't explain. I'm not worrying
about sticklebacks tonight. I'm out for salmon."
He opened a door on the left of the landing and entered a large room
which offered evidence of having been hastily evacuated by a
considerable company. A red and white figured cloth of a type much
used in Continental cafes had been spread upon a long table, and three
foreigners, two men and an elderly woman, were bending over a row of
dominoes set upon one corner of the table. Apparently the men were
playing and the woman was watching. But there was a dense cloud of
cigar smoke in the room, and mingled with its pungency were sweeter
scents. A number of empty champagne bottles stood upon a sideboard and
an elegant silk theatre-bag lay on a chair.
"H'm," said Kerry, glaring fiercely from the bottles to the players,
who covertly were watching him. "How you two smarts can tell a domino
from a door-knocker after cracking a dozen magnums gets me guessing.
He took up the scented bag and gravely handed it to the old woman.
"You have mislaid your bag, madam," he said. "But, fortunately, I
noticed it as I came in."
He turned the glance of his fierce eyes upon the man who had met him
on the landing, and who had followed him into the room.
"Third floor, von Hindenburg," he rapped. "Don't argue. Lead the way."
For one dangerous moment the man's brow lowered and his heavy face
grew blackly menacing. He exchanged a swift look with his friends
seated at the disguised roulette table. Kerry's jaw muscles protruded
"Give me another answer like that," he said in a tone of cold
ferocity, "and I'll kick you from here to Paradise."
"No offense--no offense," muttered the man, quailing before the
savagery of the formidable Chief Inspector. "You come this way,
please. Some ladies call upon me this evening, and I do not want to
"No," said Kerry, "you wouldn't, naturally." He stood aside as a door
at the further end of the room was opened. "After you, my friend. I
said 'lead the way.' "
They mounted to the third floor of the restaurant. The room which they
had just quitted was used as an auxiliary dining and supper-room
before midnight, as Kerry knew. After midnight the centre table was
unmasked, and from thence onward to dawn, sometimes, was surrounded by
roulette players. The third floor he had never visited, but he had a
shrewd idea that it was not entirely reserved for the private use of
A babel of voices died away as the two men walked into a room rather
smaller than that below and furnished with little tables, cafe
fashion. At one end was a grand piano and a platform before which a
velvet curtain was draped. Some twenty people, men and women, were in
the place, standing looking towards the entrance. Most of the men and
all the women but one were in evening dress; but despite this common
armor of respectability, they did not all belong to respectable
Two of the women Kerry recognized as bearers of titles, and one was
familiar to him as a screen-beauty. The others were unclassifiable,
but all were fashionably dressed with the exception of a masculine-
looking lady who had apparently come straight off a golf course, and
who later was proved to be a well-known advocate of woman's rights.
The men all belonged to familiar types. Some of them were Jews.
Kerry, his feet widely apart and his hands thrust in his overcoat
pockets, stood staring at face after face and chewing slowly. The
proprietor glanced apologetically at his patrons and shrugged. Silence
fell upon the company. Then:
"I am a police officer," said Kerry sharply. "You will file out past
me, and I want a card from each of you. Those who have no cards will
write name and address here."
He drew a long envelope and a pencil from a pocket of his dinner
jacket. Laying the envelope and pencil on one of the little tables:
"Quick march!" he snapped. "You, sir!" shooting out his forefinger in
the direction of a tall, fair young man, "step out!"
Glancing helplessly about him, the young man obeyed, and approaching
"I say, officer," he whispered nervously, "can't you manage to keep my
name out of it? I mean to say, my people will kick up the deuce.
Anything up to a tenner. . . ."
The whisper faded away. Kerry's expression had grown positively
"Put your card on the table," he said tersely, "and get out while my
hands stay in my pockets!"
Hurriedly the noble youth (he was the elder son of an earl) complied,
and departed. Then, one by one, the rest of the company filed past the
Chief Inspector. He challenged no one until a Jew smilingly laid a
card on the table bearing the legend: "Mr. John Jones, Lincoln's Inn
"Hi!" rapped Kerry, grasping the man's arm. "One moment, Mr. 'Jones'!
The card I want is in the other case. D'you take me for a mug? That
'Jones' trick was tried on Noah by the blue-faced baboon!"
His perception of character was wonderful. At some of the cards he did
not even glance; and upon the women he wasted no time at all. He took
it for granted that they would all give false names, but since each of
them would be followed it did not matter. When at last the room was
emptied, he turned to the scowling proprietor, and:
"That's that!" he said. "I've had no instructions about your
establishment, my friend, and as I've seen nothing improper going on
I'm making no charge, at the moment. I don't want to know what sort of
show takes place on your platform, and I don't want to know anything
about you that I don't know already. You're a Swiss subject and a dark
He gathered up the cards from the table, glancing at them carelessly.
He did not expect to gain much from his possession of these names and
addresses. It was among the women that he counted upon finding patrons
of Kazmah and Company. But as he was about to drop the cards into his
overcoat pocket, one of them, which bore a written note, attracted his
At this card he stared like a man amazed; his face grew more and more
"Hell!" he said--"Hell! which of 'em was it?"
The card contained the following:--
Great Cumberland Place, V. 1
"To introduce 719. W."
THE MOODS OF MOLLIE
Early the following morning Margaret Halley called upon Mollie Gretna.
Mollie's personality did not attract Margaret. The two had nothing in
common, but Margaret was well aware of the nature of the tie which had
bound Rita Irvin to this empty and decadent representative of English
aristocracy. Mollie Gretna was entitled to append the words "The
Honorable" to her name, but not only did she refrain from doing so but
she even preferred to be known as "Gretna"--the style of one of the
This pseudonym she had adopted shortly after her divorce, when she had
attempted to take up a stage career. But although the experience had
proved disastrous, she had retained the nom de guerre, and during the
past four years had several times appeared at war charity garden-
parties as a classical dancer--to the great delight of the guests and
greater disgust of her family. Her maternal uncle, head of her house,
said to be the most blase member of the British peerage and known as
"the noble tortoise," was generally considered to have pronounced the
final verdict upon his golden-haired niece when he declared "she is
Mollie received her visitor with extravagant expressions of welcome.
"My dear Miss Halley," she cried, "how perfectly sweet of you to come
to see me! of course, I can guess what you have called about. Look! I
have every paper published this morning in London! Every one! Oh!
poor, darling little Rita! What can have become of her!"
Tears glistened upon her carefully made-up lashes, and so deep did her
grief seem to be that one would never have suspected that she had
spent the greater part of the night playing bridge at a "mixed" club
in Dover Street, and from thence had proceeded to a military
"It is indeed a ghastly tragedy," said Margaret. "It seems incredible
that she cannot be traced."
"Absolutely incredible!" declared Mollie, opening a large box of
cigarettes. "Will you have one, dear?"
"No, thanks. By the way, they are not from Buenos Ayres, I suppose?"
Mollie, cigarette in hand, stared, round-eyed, and:
"Oh, my dear Miss Halley!" she cried, "what an idea! Such a funny
thing to suggest."
Margaret smiled coolly.
"Poor Sir Lucien used to smoke cigarettes of that kind," she
explained, "and I thought perhaps you smoked them, too."
Mollie shook her head and lighted the cigarette.
"He gave me one once, and it made me feel quite sick," she declared.
Margaret glanced at the speaker, and knew immediately that Mollie had
determined to deny all knowledge of the drug coterie. Because there is
no problem of psychology harder than that offered by a perverted mind,
Margaret was misled in ascribing this secrecy to a desire to avoid
becoming involved in a scandal. Therefore:
"Do you quite realize, Miss Gretna," she said quietly, "that every
hour wasted now in tracing Rita may mean, must mean, an hour of agony
"Oh, don't! please don't!" cried Mollie, clasping her hands. "I cannot
bear to think of it."
"God knows in whose hands she is. Then there is poor Mr. Irvin. He is
utterly prostrated. One shudders to contemplate his torture as the
hours and the days go by and no news comes of Rita."
"Oh, my dear! you are making me cry!" exclaimed Mollie. "If only I
could do something to help. . . ."
Margaret was studying her closely, and now for the first time she
detected sincere emotion in Mollie's voice--and unforced tears in her
eyes. Hope was reborn.
"Perhaps you can," she continued, speaking gently. "You knew all
Rita's friends and all Sir Lucien's. You must have met the woman
called Mrs. Sin?"
"Mrs. Sin," whispered Mollie, staring in a frightened way so that the
pupils of her eyes slowly enlarged. "What about Mrs. Sin?"
"Well, you see, they seem to think that through Mrs. Sin they will be
able to trace Kazmah; and wherever Kazmah is one would expect to find
Mollie lowered her head for a moment, then glanced quickly at the
speaker, and quickly away again.
"Please let me explain just what I mean," continued Margaret. "It
seems to be impossible to find anybody in London who will admit having
known Mrs. Sin or Kazmah. They are all afraid of being involved in the
case, of course. Now, if you can help, don't hesitate for that reason.
A special commission has been appointed by Lord Wrexborough to deal
with the case, and their agent is working quite independently of the
police. Anything which you care to tell him will be treated as
strictly confidential; but think what it may mean to Rita."
Mollie clasped her hands about her right knee and rocked to and fro in
"No one knows who Kazmah is," she said.
"But a number of people seem to know Mrs. Sin. I am sure you must have
"If I say that I know her, shall I be called as a witness?"
"Certainly not. I can assure you of that."
Mollie continued to rock to and fro.
"But if I were to tell the police I should have to go to court, I
"I suppose so," replied Margaret. "I am afraid I am dreadfully
ignorant of such matters. It might depend upon whether you spoke to a
high official or to a subordinate one; an ordinary policeman for
instance. But the Home office agent has nothing whatever to do with
Mollie stood up in order to reach an ash-tray, and:
"I really don't think I have anything to say, Miss Halley," she
declared. "I have certainly met Mrs. Sin, but I know nothing whatever
about her, except that I believe she is a Jewess."
Margaret sighed, looking up wistfully into Mollie's face. "Are you
quite sure?" she pleaded. "Oh, Miss Gretna, if you know anything--
anything--don't hide it now. It may mean so much."
"Oh, I quite understand that," cried Mollie. "My heart simply aches
and aches when I think of poor, sweet little Rita. But--really I don't
think I can be of the least tiny bit of use."
Their glances met, and Margaret read hostility in the shallow eyes.
Mollie, who had been wavering, now for some reason had become
confirmed in her original determination to remain silent. Margaret
"It is no good, then," she said. "We must hope that Rita will be
traced by the police. Good-bye, Miss Gretna. I am so sorry you cannot
"And so am I!" declared Mollie. "It is perfectly sweet of you to take
such an interest, and I feel a positive worm. But what can I do?"
As Margaret was stepping into her little runabout car, which awaited
her at the door, a theory presented itself to account for Mollie's
sudden hostility. It had developed, apparently, as a result of
Margaret's reference to the Home office inquiry. Of course! Mollie
would naturally be antagonistic to a commission appointed to suppress
the drug traffic.
Convinced that this was the correct explanation, Margaret drove away,
reflecting bitterly that she had been guilty of a strategical error
which it was now too late to rectify.
In common with others, Kerry among them, who had come in contact with
that perverted intelligence, she misjudged Mollie's motives. In the
first place, the latter had no wish to avoid publicity, and in the
second place--although she sometimes wondered vaguely what she should
do when her stock of drugs became exhausted--Mollie was prompted by no
particular animosity toward the Home office inquiry. She had merely
perceived a suitable opportunity to make the acquaintance of the
fierce red Chief Inspector, and at the same time to secure notoriety
Ere Margaret's car had progressed a hundred yards from the door,
Mollie was at the telephone.
"City 400, please," she said.
An interval elapsed, then:
"Is that the Commissioner's office, New Scotland Yard?" she asked.
A voice replied that it was.
"Could you put me through to Chief Inspector Kerry?"
"What name?" inquired the voice.
Mollie hesitated for three seconds, and then gave her family name.
"Very well, madam," said the voice respectfully. "Please hold on, and
I will enquire if the Chief Inspector is here."
Mollie's heart was beating rapidly with pleasurable excitement, and
she was as confused as a maiden at her first rendezvous. Then:
"Hello," said the voice.
"I am sorry, madam. But Chief Inspector Kerry is off duty."
"Oh, dear!" sighed Mollie, "what a pity. Can you tell me where I could
"I am afraid not, madam. It is against the rules to give private
addresses of members of any department."
"Oh, very well." She sighed again. "Thank you."
She replaced the receiver and stood biting her finger thoughtfully.
She was making a mental inventory of her many admirers and wondering
which of them could help her. Suddenly she came to a decision on the
point. Taking up the receiver:
"Victoria 8440, please," she said.
Still biting one finger she waited, until:
"Foreign office," announced a voice.
"Please put me through to Mr. Archie Boden-Shaw," she said.
Ere long that official's secretary was inquiring her name, and a
"Is that you, Archie?" said Mollie. "Yes! Mollie speaking. No, please
listen, Archie! You can get to know everything at the Foreign office,
and I want you to find out for me the private address of Chief
Inspector Kerry, who is in charge of the Bond Street murder case.
Don't be silly! I've asked Scotland Yard, but they won't tell me. You
can find out. . . . It doesn't matter why I want to know. . . . Just
ring me up and tell me. I must know in half an hour. Yes, I shall be
seeing you tonight. Good-bye. . . ."
Less than half an hour later, the obedient Archie rang up, and Mollie,
all excitement, wrote the following address in a dainty scented
notebook which she carried in her handbag.
CHIEF INSPECTOR KERRY,
67 Spenser Road, Brixton.
The appearance of the violet-enamelled motor brougham upholstered in
cream, and driven by a chauffeur in a violet and cream livery, created
some slight sensation in Spenser Road, S.E. Mollie Gretna's
conspicuous car was familiar enough to residents in the West End of
London, but to lower middle-class suburbia it came as something of a
shock. More than one window curtain moved suspiciously, suggesting a
hidden but watchful presence, when the glittering vehicle stopped
before the gate of number 67; and the lady at number 68 seized an
evidently rare opportunity to come out and polish her letter-box.
She was rewarded by an unobstructed view of the smartest woman in
London (thus spake society paragraphers) and of the most expensive set
of furs in Europe, also of a perfectly gowned slim figure. Of Mollie's
disdainful face, with its slightly uptilted nose, she had no more than
A neat maid, evidently Scotch, admitted the dazzling visitor to number
67; and Spenser Road waited and wondered. It was something to do with
the Bond Street murder! Small girls appeared from doorways suddenly
opened and darted off to advise less-watchful neighbors.
Kerry, who had been at work until close upon dawn in the mysterious
underworld of Soho was sleeping, but Mrs. Kerry received Mollie in a
formal little drawing-room, which, unlike the cosy, homely dining-
room, possessed that frigid atmosphere which belongs to uninhabited
apartments. In a rather handsome cabinet were a number of trophies
associated with the detective's successful cases. The cabinet itself
was a present from a Regent Street firm for whom Kerry had recovered
Mary Kerry, dressed in a plain blouse and skirt, exhibited no trace of
nervousness in the presence of her aristocratic and fashionable
caller. Indeed, Mollie afterwards declared that "she was quite a
ladylike person. But rather tin tabernacley, my dear."
"Did ye wish to see Chief Inspector Kerry parteecularly?" asked Mary,
watching her visitor with calm, observant eyes.
"Oh, most particularly!" cried Mollie, in a flutter of excitement. "Of
course I don't know what you must think of me for calling at such a
preposterous hour, but there are some things that simply can't wait."
"Aye," murmured Mrs. Kerry. "'Twill be yon Bond Street affair?"
"Oh, yes, it is, Mrs. Kerry. Doesn't the very name of Bond Street turn
your blood cold? I am simply shivering with fear!"
"As the wife of a Chief Inspector I am maybe more used to tragedies
than yoursel', madam. But it surely is a sair grim business. My
husband is resting now. He was hard at work a' the night. Nae doubt
ye'll be wishin' tee see him privately?"
"Oh, if you please. I am so sorry to disturb him. I can imagine that
he must be literally exhausted after spending a whole night among
Mary Kerry stood up.
"If ye'll excuse me for a moment I'll awaken him," she said. "Our
household is sma'."
"Oh, of course! I quite understand, Mrs. Kerry! So sorry. But so good
"Might I offer ye a glass o' sherry an' a biscuit?"
"I simply couldn't dream of troubling you! Please don't suggest such a
thing. I feel covered with guilt already. Many thanks nevertheless."
Mary Kerry withdrew, leaving Mollie alone. As soon as the door closed
Mollie stood up and began to inspect the trophies in the cabinet. She
was far too restless and excited to remain sitting down. She looked at
the presentation clock on the mantelpiece and puzzled over the
signatures engraved upon a large silver dish which commemorated the
joy displayed by the Criminal Investigation Department upon the
occasion of Kerry's promotion to the post of Chief Inspector.
The door opened and Kerry came in. He had arisen and completed his
toilet in several seconds less than five minutes. But his spotlessly
neat attire would have survived inspection by the most lynx-eyed
martinet in the Brigade of Guards. As he smiled at his visitor with
fierce geniality, Mollie blushed like a young girl.
Chief Inspector Kerry was a much bigger man than she had believed him
to be. The impression left upon her memory by his brief appearance at
the night club had been that of a small, dapper figure. Now, as he
stood in the little drawing-room, she saw that he was not much if
anything below the average height of Englishmen, and that he possessed
wonderfully broad shoulders. In fact, Kerry was deceptive. His compact
neatness and the smallness of his feet and hands, together with those
swift, lithe movements which commonly belong to men of light physique,
curiously combined to deceive the beholder, but masked eleven stones
(*note: 1 stone = 14 pounds) of bone and muscle.
"Very good of you to offer information, miss," he said. "I'm willing
to admit that I can do with it."
He opened a bureau and took out a writing-block and a fountain pen.
Then he turned and stared hard at Mollie. She quickly lowered her
"Excuse me," said Kerry, "but didn't I see you somewhere last night?"
"Yes," she said. "I was sitting just inside the door at--"
"Right! I remember," interrupted Kerry. He continued to stare. "Before
you say any more, miss, I have to remind you that I am a police
officer, and that you may be called upon to swear to the truth of any
information you may give me."
"Oh, of course! I know."
"You know? Very well, then; we can get on. Who gave you my address?"
At the question, so abruptly asked, Mollie felt herself blushing
again. It was delightful to know that she could still blush. "Oh--
I . . . that is, I asked Scotland Yard "
She bestowed a swift, half-veiled glance at her interrogator, but he
offered her no help, and:
"They wouldn't tell me," she continued. "So--I had to find out. You
see, I heard you were trying to get information which I thought
perhaps I could give."
"So you went to the trouble to find my private address rather than to
the nearest police station," said Kerry. "Might I ask you from whom
you heard that I wanted this information?"
"Well--it's in the papers, isn't it?"
"It is certainly. But it occurred to me that someone. . . connected
might have told you as well."
"Actually, someone did: Miss Margaret Halley."
"Good!" rapped Kerry. "Now we're coming to it. She told you to come to
"Oh, no!" cried Mollie--"she didn't. She told me to tell her so that
she could tell the Home office."
"Eh?" said Kerry, "eh?" He bent forward, staring fiercely. "Please
tell me exactly what Miss Halley wanted to know."
The intensity of his gaze Mollie found very perturbing, but:
"She wanted me to tell her where Mrs. Sin lived," she replied.
Kerry experienced a quickening of the pulse. In the failure of the
C.I.D. to trace the abode of the notorious Mrs. Sin he had suspected
double-dealing. He counted it unbelievable that a figure so
conspicuous in certain circles could evade official quest even for
forty-eight hours. K Division's explanation, too, that there were no
less than eighty Chinamen resident in and about Limehouse whose names
either began or ended with Sin, he looked upon as a paltry evasion.
That very morning he had awakened from a species of nightmare wherein
719 had affected the arrest of Kazmah and Mrs. Sin and had rescued
Mrs. Irvin from the clutches of the former. Now--here was hope. 719
would seem to be as hopelessly in the dark as everybody else.
"You refused?" he rapped.
"Of course I did, Inspector," said Mollie, with a timid, tender
glance. "I thought you were the proper person to tell."
"Then you know?" asked Kerry, unable to conceal his eagerness.
"Yes," sighed Mollie. "Unfortunately--I know. Oh Inspector, how can I
explain it to you?"
"Don't trouble, miss. Just give me the address and I'll ask no
His keenness was thrilling, infectious. As a result of the night's
"beating" he had a list of some twenty names whose owners might have
been patrons of Kazmah and some of whom might know Mrs. Sin. But he
had learned from bitter experience how difficult it was to induce such
people to give useful evidence. There was practically no means of
forcing them to speak if they chose, from selfish motives, to be
silent. They could be forced to appear in court, but anything elicited
in public was worse than useless. Furthermore, Kerry could not afford
to wait. Mollie replied excitedly:
"Oh, Inspector, I know you will think me simply an appalling person
when I tell you; but I have been to Mrs. Sin's house--'The House of a
Hundred Raptures' she calls it--"
"Yes, yes! But--the address?"
"However can I tell you the address, Inspector? I could drive you
there, but I haven't the very haziest idea of the name of the horrible
street! One drives along dreadful roads where there are stalls and
Jews for quite an interminable time, and then over a sort of canal,
and then round to the right all among ships and horrid Chinamen. Then,
there is a doorway in a little court, and Mrs. Sin's husband sits
inside a smelly room with a positively ferocious raven who shrieks
about legs and policemen! Oh! Can I ever forget it!"
"One moment, miss, one moment," said Kerry, keeping an iron control
upon himself. "What is the name of Mrs. Sin's husband?"
"Oh, let me think! I can always remember it by recalling the croak of
the raven." She raised one hand to her brow, posing reflectively, and
began to murmur:
"Sin Sin Ah . . . Sin Sin Jar . . . Sin Sin--Oh! I have it! Sin Sin
"Good!" rapped Kerry, and made a note on the block. "Sin Sin Wa, and
he has a pet raven, you say, who talks?"
"Who positively talks like some horrid old woman!" cried Mollie. "He
has only one eye."
"The raven, yes--and also the Chinaman."
"Oh! it's a nightmare to behold them together!" declared Mollie,
clasping her hands and bending forward.
She was gaining courage, and now looked almost boldly into the fierce
eyes of the Chief Inspector.
"Describe the house," he said succinctly. "Take your time and use your
Thereupon Mollie launched into a description of Sin Sin Wa's opium-
house. Kerry, his eyes fixed upon her face, listened silently. Then:
"These little rooms are really next door?" he asked.
"I suppose so, Inspector. We always went through the back of a
"Can you give me names of others who used this place?"
"Well"--Mollie hesitated--"poor Rita, of course and Sir Lucien. Then,
Cyrus Kilfane used to go."
"Kilfane? The American actor?"
"H'm. He's back in America, Sir Lucien is dead, and Mrs. Irvin is
missing. Nobody else?"
Mollie shook her head.
"Who first took you there?"
"Not Sir Lucien?"
"Oh, no. But both of them had been before."
"What was Kazmah's connection with Mrs. Sin and her husband?"
"I have no idea, Inspector. Kazmah used to supply cocaine and veronal
and trional and heroin, but those who wanted to smoke opium he sent to
"What! he gave them her address?"
"No, no! He gave her their address."
"I see. She called?"
"Yes. Oh, Inspector"--Mollie bent farther forward--"I can see in your
eyes that you think I am fabulously wicked! Shall I be arrested?"
Kerry coughed drily and stood up.
"Probably not, miss. But you may be required to give evidence."
"Oh, actually?" cried Mollie, also standing up and approaching nearer.
"Yes. Shall you object?"
Mollie looked into his eyes.
"Not if I can be of the slightest assistance to you, Inspector."
A theory to explain why this social butterfly had sought him out as a
recipient of her compromising confidences presented itself to Kerry's
mind. He was a modest man, having neither time nor inclination for
gallantries, and this was the first occasion throughout his
professional career upon which he had obtained valuable evidence on
the strength of his personal attractions. He doubted the accuracy of
his deduction. But, Mollie at that moment lowering her lashes and then
rapidly raising them again, Kerry was compelled to accept his own
"And she is the daughter of a peer!" he reflected. "No wonder it has
been hard to get evidence."
He glanced rapidly in the direction of the door. There were several
details which were by no means clear, but he decided to act upon the
information already given and to get rid of his visitor without delay.
Where some of the most dangerous criminals in Europe and America had
failed, Mollie Gretna had succeeded in making Red Kerry nervous.
"I am much indebted to you, miss," he said, and opened the door.
"Oh, it has been delightful to confess to you, Inspector!" declared
Mollie. "I will give you my card, and I shall expect you to come to me
for any further information you may want. If I have to be brought to
court, you will tell me, won't you?"
"Rely upon me, miss," replied Kerry shortly.
He escorted Mollie to her brougham, observed by no less than six
discreetly hidden neighbors. And as the brougham was driven off she
waved her hand to him! Kerry felt a hot flush spreading over his red
countenance, for the veiled onlookers had not escaped his attention.
As he re-entered the house:
"Yon's a bad woman," said his wife, emerging from the dining-room.
"I believe you may be right, Mary," replied Kerry confusedly.
"I kenned it when fairst I set een upon her painted face. I kenned it
the now when she lookit sideways at ye. If yon's a grand lady, she's a
woman o' puir repute. The Lord gi'e us grace."
THE GILDED JOSS
London was fog-bound. The threat of the past week had been no empty
one. Towards the hour of each wintry sunset had come the yellow racks,
hastening dusk and driving folks more speedily homeward to their
firesides. The dull reports of fog-signals had become a part of the
metropolitan bombilation, but hitherto the choking mist had not
secured a strangle-hold.
Now, however, it had triumphed, casting its thick net over the city as
if eager to stifle the pulsing life of the new Babylon. In the
neighborhood of the Docks its density was extraordinary, and the
purlieus of Limehouse became mere mysterious gullies of smoke
impossible to navigate unless one were very familiar with their
intricacies and dangers.
Chief Inspector Kerry, wearing a cardigan under his oilskins, tapped
the pavement with the point of his malacca like a blind man. No
glimmer of light could he perceive. He could not even see his
"Hell!" he snapped irritably, as his foot touched a brick wall, "where
the devil are you, constable?"
"Here beside you, sir," answered P.C. Bryce, of K Division, his guide.
The constable grasped Kerry's arm.
"But we've walked slap into a damn brick wall!"
"Keep the wall on your left, sir, and it's all clear ahead."
"Clear be damned!" said Kerry. "Are we nearly there?"
"About a dozen paces and we shall see the lamp--if it's been lighted."
"And if not we shall stroll into the river, I suppose?"
"No danger of that. Even if the lamp's out, we shall strike the iron
"I don't doubt it," said Kerry grimly.
They proceeded at a slow pace. Dull reports and a vague clangor were
audible. These sounds were so deadened by the clammy mist that they
might have proceeded from some gnome's workshop deep in the bowels of
the earth. The blows of a pile-driver at work on the Surrey shore
suggested to Kerry's mind the phantom crew of Hendrick Hudson at their
game of ninepins in the Katskill Mountains. Suddenly:
"Is that you, Bryce?" he asked.
"I'm here, sir," replied the voice of the constable from beside him.
"H'm, then there's someone else about." He raised his voice. "Hi,
there! have you lost your way?"
Kerry stood still, listening. But no one answered to his call.
"I'll swear there was someone just behind us, Bryce!"
"There was, sir. I saw someone, too. A Chinese resident, probably.
Here we are!"
A sound of banging became audible, and on advancing another two paces,
Kerry found himself beside Bryce before a low closed door.
"Hello! hello!" croaked a dim voice. "Number one p'lice chop, lo! Sin
The flat note of a police whistle followed.
"Sin Sin is at home," declared Bryce. "That's the raven."
"Does he take the thing about with him, then?"
"I don't think so. But he puts it in a cupboard when he goes out, and
it never talks unless it can see a light."
Bolts were unfastened and the door was opened. Out through the moving
curtain of fog shone the red glow from a stove. A grotesque silhouette
appeared outlined upon the dim redness.
"You wantchee me?" crooned Sin Sin Wa.
"I do!" rapped Kerry. "I've called to look for opium."
He stepped past the Chinaman into the dimly lighted room. As he did
so, the cause of an apparent deformity which had characterized the
outline of Sin Sin Wa became apparent. From his left shoulder the