Part 3 out of 6
"You are making a worse one of yourself by lying here and giving
way," Laverick declared, "besides frightening your sister half to
Morrison passed his hand across his forehead.
"We talked - some time ago," he went on, "about my getting away.
You promised that you would help me. You said that I could get
off to Africa or America to-morrow."
"Not the slightest difficulty about that," Laverick answered. "There
are half-a-dozen steamers sailing, at least. At the same time, I
suppose I ought to remind you that the firm is going to pull through.
Mind - don't take this unkindly but the truth is best - I will not
have you back again. There may have to be a more definite
readjustment of our affairs now, but the old business is finished
"I don't want to come back," Morrison murmured. "I have had enough
of the city for the rest of my life. I'd rather get away somewhere
and make a fresh start. You'll help me, Laverick, won't you?"
"Yes, I will help you," Laverick promised.
"You were always a good sort," Morrison continued, "much too good
for me. It was a rotten partnership for you. We could never have
"Let that go," Laverick interrupted. "If you really mean getting
away, that simplifies matters, of course. Have you made any plans
at all? Where do you want to go?"
"To New York," answered Morrison; "New York would suit me best.
There is money to be made there if one has something to make a
"There will be some more money to come to you," Laverick answered,
"probably a great deal more. I shall place our affairs in the hands
of an accountant, and shall have an estimate drawn up to yesterday.
You shall have every penny that is due to you. You have quite
enough, however, to get there with. I will see to your ticket
to-night, if possible. When you've arrived you can cable me your
address, or you can decide where you will stay before you leave,
and I will send you a further remittance."
"You're a good sort, Laverick," Morrison mumbled.
"You'd better give me the key of your rooms," Laverick continued,
"and I will go back and put together some of your things. I suppose
you will not want much to go away with. The rest can be sent on
afterwards. And what about your letters?"
Morrison, with a sudden movement, threw himself almost out of the
bed. He clutched at Laverick's shoulder frantically.
"Don't go near my rooms, Laverick!" he begged. "Promise me that you
won't! I don't want any letters! I don't want any of my things!"
Laverick was dumfounded.
"You mean you want to go away without - "
"I mean just what I have said," Morrison continued hysterically.
"If you go there they will watch you, they will follow you, they
will find out where I am. I should be there now but for that."
Laverick was silent for a moment. The matter was becoming serious.
"Very well," he said, "I will do as you say. I will not go near
your rooms. I will get you a few things somewhere to start with."
Morrison sank back upon his pillow.
"Thank you, Laverick," he said; "thank you. I wish - I wish - "
His voice seemed to die away. Laverick glanced towards him,
wondering at the unfinished sentence. Once again the man's face
seemed to be convulsed with horror. He flung himself face downward
upon the bed and tore at the sheets with both his hands.
"Don't be a fool," Laverick said sternly. "If you've anything on
your mind apart from business, tell me about it and I'll do what
I can to help you."
Morrison made no reply. He was sobbing now like a child. Laverick
rose to his feet and went to the window. What was to be done with
such a creature! When he got back, Morrison had raised himself once
more into a sitting posture. His appearance was absolutely spectral.
"Laverick," he said feebly, "there is something else, but I cannot
tell you - I cannot tell any one."
"Just as you please, of course," Laverick answered. "I am simply
anxious to help you."
"You can do that as it is!" Morrison exclaimed feverishly. "You
must promise me something - promise that if any one asks for me
to-morrow before I get away, you will not tell them where I am.
Say you suppose that I am at my rooms, or that I have gone into
the country for a few days. Say that you are expecting me back.
Don't let any one know that I have gone abroad, until I am safely
away. And then don't tell a soul where I have gone."
"Have you been up to any tricks with your friends?" Laverick asked
"I haven't - I swear that I haven't," Morrison declared. "It's
something quite outside business - quite outside business altogether."
"Very well," answered Laverick, "I will promise what you have asked,
then. Listen - here is your sister back again," he added, as he
heard the taxicab stop outside. "Pull yourself together and don't
frighten her so much. I am going down to meet her. I shall tell
her that you are better. Try and buck up when she comes in to see
"I'll do my best," Morrison said humbly. "If you knew! If you
He began to sob again. Laverick left the room and, descending the
stairs, met the girl in the hall. Her white face questioned him
before her lips had time to frame the speech.
"Your brother is very much better," Laverick said. "I am sure that
you need not be anxious about him."
"I am so glad," she murmured. "They let me off but I had to pay a
fine. I had no idea before that I was so important. Shall I go to
"One moment," Laverick answered, holding open the door of the
sitting-room. "Miss Morrison," he went on, -
"Miss Leneven is my name," she interrupted.
"I beg your pardon. Your brother evidently has something on his
mind apart from business. I am afraid that he has been getting
into some sort of trouble. I don't think there is any object in
bothering him about it, but the great thing is to get him away."
"You will help?" she begged.
"I will help, certainly," Laverick answered. "I have promised to.
You must see that he is ready to leave here at seven o'clock
to-morrow morning. He wants to go to New York, and the special
to catch the German boat will leave Waterloo somewhere about eight
"But his clothes!" she cried. "How can he be ready by then?"
"Your brother does not wish me or any one to go near his rooms or
to send him any of his belongings," Laverick continued quietly.
"But how strange!" the girl exclaimed. "Do you mean to say, then,
that he is going without anything?"
"I am afraid," Laverick said kindly, "that we must take it for
granted that your brother has got mixed up in some undesirable
business or other. He is nervously anxious to keep his whereabouts
an entire secret. He has been asking me whether any one has been
to the office to inquire for him. Under the circumstances, I think
the best thing we can do is to humor him. I shall buy him before
to-morrow morning a cheap dressing-case and a ready-made suit of
clothes, and a few things for the voyage. Then I shall send a cab
for you both at seven o'clock and meet you at the station.
"You are very kind," she murmured. "What should I have done without
you? Oh, I cannot think!"
The protective instinct in the man was suddenly strong. Naturally
unaffectionate, he was conscious of an almost overmastering desire
to take her hands in his, even to lift her up and kiss away the
tears which shone in her deep, childlike eyes. He reminded himself
that she was a stranger, that her appearance of youth was a delusion,
that she could only construe such an action as a liberty, an
impertinence, offered under circumstances for which there could be
no possible excuse.
He moved away towards the door.
"Naturally," he said, "I am glad to be of use to your brother. You
see," he explained, a little awkwardly, "after all, we have been
partners in business."
He caught a look upon her face and smiled.
"Naturally, too," he continued, "it has been a great pleasure for
me to do anything to relieve your anxiety."
She gave him her hands then of her own accord. The gratitude which
shone out of her swimming eyes seemed mingled with something which
was almost invitation. Laverick was suddenly swept off his feet.
Something had come into his life - something absurd, uncounted upon,
incomprehensible. The atmosphere of the room seemed electrified.
In a moment, he had done what only a second or two before he had
told himself would be the action of a cad. He had taken her,
unresisting, up into his arms, kissed her eyes and lips. Afterwards,
he was never able to remember those few moments clearly, only it
seemed to him that she had accepted his caress almost without
hesitation, with the effortless serenity of a child receiving a
natural consolation in a time of trouble. But Laverick was conscious
of other feelings as he leaned hard back in the corner of his taxicab
and was driven swiftly away.
THE WAITER AT THE "BLACK POST"
Laverick, notwithstanding that the hour was becoming late, found an
outfitter's shop in the Strand still open, and made such purchases
as he could on Morrison's behalf. Then, with the bag ready packed,
he returned to his rooms. Time had passed quickly during the last
three hours. It was nearly nine o'clock when he stepped out of the
lift and opened the door of his small suite of rooms with the
latchkey which hung from his chain. He began to change his clothes
mechanically, and he had nearly finished when the telephone bell
upon his table rang.
"Who's that?" he asked, taking up the receiver.
"Hall-porter, sir," was the answer. "Person here wishes to see you
"A person!" Laverick repeated. "Man or woman?"
"Better send him up," Laverick ordered.
"He's a seedy-looking lot, sir," the porter explained "I told him
that I scarcely thought you'd see him."
"Never mind," Laverick answered. "I can soon get rid of the fellow
if he's cadging."
He went back to his room and finished fastening his tie. His own
affairs had sunk a little into the background lately, but the
announcement of this unusual visitor brought them back into his
mind with a rush. Notwithstanding his iron nerves, his fingers
shook as he drew on his dinner-jacket and walked out to the
passageway to answer the bell which rang a few seconds later. A
man stood outside, dressed in shabby black clothes, whose face
somehow was familiar to him, although he could not, for the moment,
"Do you want to see me?" Laverick asked.
"If you please, Mr. Laverick," the man replied, "if you could spare
me just a moment."
"You had better come inside, then," Laverick said, closing the door
and preceding the way into the sitting-room. At any rate, there
was nothing threatening about the appearance of this visitor - nor
"I have taken the liberty of coming, sir," the man announced, "to
ask you if you can tell me where I can find Mr. Arthur Morrison."
Laverick's face showed no sign of his relief. What he felt he
succeeded in keeping to himself.
"You mean Morrison - my partner, I suppose?" he answered.
"If you please, sir," the man admitted. "I wanted a word or two
with him most particular. I found out his address from the
caretaker of your office, but he don't seem to have been home to
his rooms at all last night, and they know nothing about him there."
"Your face seems familiar to me," Laverick remarked. "Where do you
The man hesitated.
"I am the waiter, sir, at the 'Black Post,' - little bar and
restaurant, you know," he added, "just behind your offices, sir,
at the end of Crooked Friars' Alley. You've been in once or
twice, Mr. Laverick, I think. Mr. Morrison 's a regular customer.
He comes in for a drink most mornings."
"I knew I'd seen your face somewhere," he said. "What do you want
with Mr. Morrison?"
The man was silent. He twirled his hat and looked embarrassed.
"It's a matter I shouldn't like to mention to any one except Mr.
Morrison himself, sir," he declared finally. "If you could put me
in the way of seeing him, I'd be glad. I may say that it would be
to his advantage, too."
Laverick was thoughtful for a moment.
"As it happens, that's a little difficult," he explained. "Mr.
Morrison and I disagreed on a matter of business last night. I
undertook certain responsibilities which he should have shared,
and he arranged to leave the firm and the country at once. We
parted - well, not exactly the best of friends. I am afraid I
cannot give you any information."
"You haven't seen him since then, sir?" the man asked.
Laverick lied promptly but he lied badly. His visitor was not in
the least convinced.
"I am afraid I haven't made myself quite plain, sir," he said.
"It's to do him a bit o' good that I'm here. I'm not wishing him
any harm at all. On the contrary, it's a great deal more to his
advantage to see me than it will be mine to find him."
"I think," Laverick suggested, "that you had better be frank with
me. Supposing I knew where to catch Morrison before he left the
country, I could easily deal with you on his behalf."
The man looked doubtful.
"You see, sir," he replied awkwardly, "it's a matter I wouldn't
like to breathe a word about to any one but Mr. Morrison himself.
It's - it's a bit serious."
The man's face gave weight to his words. Curiously enough, the
gleam of terror which Laverick caught in his white face reminded
him of a similar look which he had seen in Morrison's eyes barely
an hour ago. To gain time, Laverick moved across the room, took
a cigarette from a box and lit it. A conviction was forming
itself in his mind. There was something definite behind these
hysterical paroxysms of his late partner, something of which this
man had an inkling.
"Look here," he said, throwing himself into an easychair, "I think
you had better be frank with me. I must know more than I know at
present before I help you to find Morrison, even if he is to be
found. We didn't part very good friends, but I'm his friend enough
- for the sake of others," he added, after a moment's hesitation,
"to do all that I could to help him out of any difficulty he may
have stumbled into. So you see that so far as anything you may have
to say to him is concerned, I think you might as well say it to me."
"You couldn't see your way, then, sir," the man continued doggedly,
"to tell me where I could find Mr. Morrison himself?"
"No, I couldn't," Laverick decided. "Even if I knew exactly where
he was - and I'm not admitting that - I couldn't put you in touch
with him unless I knew what your business was.
The man's eyes gleamed. He was a typical waiter - pasty-faced,
unwholesome-looking - but he had small eyes of a greenish cast, and
they were expressive.
"I think, sir," he said, "you've some idea yourself, then, that Mr.
Morrison has been getting into a bit of trouble."
"We won't discuss that," Laverick answered. "You must either go
away - it's past nine o'clock and I haven't had my dinner yet - or
you must treat me as you would Mr. Morrison."
The man looked upon the carpet for several moments.
"Very well, sir," he said, "there's no great reason why I should put
myself out about this at all. The only thing is - "
"Well, go on," Laverick said encouragingly.
"I think," the man continued, "that Mr. Morrison - knowing, as I
well do, sir, the sort of gent he is - would be more likely to talk
common sense with me about this matter than you, sir."
"I'll imagine I'm Morrison, for the moment," Laverick said smiling,
"especially as I'm acting for him."
The man looked around the room. The door behind had been left ajar.
He stepped backward and closed it.
"You'll pardon the liberty, sir," he said, "but this is a serious
matter I'm going to speak about. I'll just tell you a little thing
and you can form your own conclusions. Last night we was open late
at the 'Black Post.' We keep open, sir, as you know, when you
gentlemen at the Stock Exchange are busy. About nine o'clock there
was a strange customer came in. He had two drinks and he sat as
though he were waiting. In about 'arf-an-hour another gent came in,
and they went into a corner together and seemed to be doing some sort
of business. Anyways, there was papers passed between them. I was
fairly busy about then, as there were one or two more customers in
the place, but I noticed these two talking together, and I noticed
the dark gentleman leave. The others went out a few minutes
afterwards, and the gent who had come first was alone in the place.
He sat in the corner and he had a pocket-book on the table before
him. I had a sort of casual glance at it when I brought him a drink,
and it seemed to me that it was full of bank-notes. He sat there
just like a man extra deep in thought. Just after eleven, in came
Mr. Morrison. I could see he was rare and put out, for he was white,
and shaking all over. 'Give me a drink, Jim,' he said, - 'a big
brandy and soda, big as you make 'em."'
The man paused for a moment as though to collect himself. Laverick
was suddenly conscious of a strange thrill creeping through his
"Go on," he said. "That was after he left me. Go on."
"He was quite close to the other gent, Mr. Morrison was," the waiter
continued, "but they didn't say nowt to each other. All of a sudden
I see Mr. Morrison set down his glass and stare at the other chap
as though he'd seen something that had given him a turn. I leaned
over the counter and had a look, too. There he sat - this tall,
fair chap who had been in the place so long - with his big
pocket-book on the table in front of him, and even from where I was
I could see that there was a great pile of bank-notes sticking out
from it. All of a sudden he looks up and sees Mr. Morrison
a-watching him and me from behind the counter. Back he whisks the
pocket-book into his pocket, calls me for my bill, gives me two
mouldy pennies for a tip, buttons up his coat and walks out."
"You know who he was?" Laverick inquired.
Again the waiter paused for a moment before he answered - paused
and looked nervously around the room. His voice shook.
"He was the man as was murdered about a hundred yards off the
'Black Post' last night, sir," he said.
"How do you know?" Laverick asked.
"I got an hour off to-day," the waiter continued, "and went down to
the Mortuary. There was no doubt about it. There he was - same
chap, same clothes. I could swear to him anywhere, and I reckon
I '11 have to at the inquest."
Laverick's cigarette burned away between his fingers. It seemed to
him that he was no longer in the room. He was listening to Big
Ben striking the hour, he was back again in that tiny little bedroom
with its spotless sheets and lace curtains. The man on the bed was
looking at him. Laverick remembered the look and shivered.
"What has this to do with Morrison?" he demanded.
Once more the waiter looked around in that half mysterious, half
"Mr. Morrison, sir," he said, dropping his voice to a hoarse whisper,
"he followed the other chap out within thirty seconds. A sort of
queer look he'd got in his face too, and he went out without paying
me. I've read the papers pretty careful, sir," the man went on,
"but I ain't seen no word of that pocket-book of bank-notes being
found on the man as was murdered."
Laverick threw the end of his burning cigarette away. He walked to
the window, keeping his back deliberately turned on his visitor.
His eyes followed the glittering arc of lights which fringed the
Thames Embankment, were caught by the flaring sky-sign on the other
side of the river. He felt his heart beating with unaccustomed vigor.
Was this, then, the secret of Morrison's terror? He wondered no
longer at his collapse. The terror was upon him, too. He felt his
forehead, and his hand, when he drew it away, was wet. It was not
Morrison alone but he himself who might be implicated in this man's
knowledge. The thoughts flitted through his brain like parts of a
nightmare. He saw Morrison arrested, he saw the whole story of the
missing pocket-book in the papers, he imagined his bank manager
reading it and thinking of that parcel of mysterious bank-notes
deposited in his keeping on the morning after the tragedy. . .
Laverick was a strong man, and his moment of weakness, poignant
though it had been, passed. This was no new thing with which he
was confronted. All the time he had known that the probabilities
were in favor of such a discovery. He set his teeth and turned to
face his visitor.
"This is a very serious thing which you have told me," he said.
"Have you spoken about it to any one else?"
"Not a soul, sir," the man answered. "I thought it best to have a
word or two first with Mr. Morrison."
"You were thinking of attending the inquest," Laverick said
thoughtfully. "The police would thank you for your evidence, and
there, I suppose, the matter would end."
"You've hit it precisely, sir," the man admitted. "There the matter
"On the other hand," Laverick continued, speaking as though he were
reasoning this matter out to himself, "supposing you decided not to
meddle in an affair which does not concern you, supposing you were
not sure as to the identity of your customer last night, and being
a little tired you could not rightly remember whether Mr. Morrison
called in for a drink or not, and so, to cut the matter short, you
dismissed the whole matter from your mind and let the inquest take
its own course, - Laverick paused. His visitor scratched the side
of his chin and nodded.
"You've put this matter plainly, sir," he said, "in what I call an
understandable, straightforward way. I'm a poor man - I've been a
poor man all my life - and I've never seed a chance before of
getting away from it. I see one now."
"You want to do the best you can for yourself?"
"So 'elp me God, sir, I do!" the man agreed.
"You have done a remarkably wise thing," he said, "in coming to me
and in telling me about this affair. The idea of connecting Mr.
Morrison with the murder would, of course, be ridiculous, but, on
the other hand, it would be very disagreeable to him to have his
name mentioned in connection with it. You have behaved discreetly,
and you have done Mr. Morrison a service in trying to find him out.
You will do him a further service by adopting the second course I
suggested with regard to the inquest. What do you consider that
service is worth?"
"It depends, sir," the man answered quietly, "at what price Mr.
Morrison values his life!"
THE PRICE OF SILENCE
The man's manner was expressive. Laverick repeated his phrase,
Laverick shrugged his shoulders.
"Come," he declared, "you must not go too far with this thing. I
have admitted, so as to clear the way for anything you have to say,
that Mr. Morrison would not care to have his name mentioned in
connection with this affair. But because he left your bar a few
minutes after the murdered man, it is sheer folly to assume that
therefore he is necessarily implicated in his death. I cannot
conceive anything more unlikely."
The man smiled - a slow, uncomfortable smile which suggested mirth
less than anything in the world.
"There are a few other things, sir," he remarked, - "one in especial."
"Well?" Laverick inquired. "Let's have it. You had better tell me
everything that is in your mind."
"The man was stabbed with a horn-handled knife."
"I remember reading that," Laverick admitted.
"The knife was mine," his visitor affirmed, dropping his voice once
more to a whisper. "It lay on the edge of the counter, close to
where Mr. Morrison was leaning, and as soon as he'd gone I missed it."
Laverick was silent. What was there to be said?
"Horn-handled knives," he muttered, "are not rare not uncommon things."
"One don't possess a knife for a matter of eight or nine years
without being able to swear to it," the other remarked dryly.
"Is there anything more?"
"There don't need to be," was the quiet reply. "You know that, sir.
So do I. There don't need to be any more evidence than mine to send
Mr. Morrison to the gallows."
"We will waive that point," Laverick declared. "The jury sometimes
are very hard to convince by circumstantial evidence alone. However,
as I have said, let us waive that point. Your position is clear
enough. You go to the inquest, you tell all you know, and you get
nothing. You are a poor man, you have worked hard all your life.
The chance has come in your way to do yourself a little good. Now
take my advice. Don't spoil it all by asking for anything ridiculous.
It won't do for you to come into a fortune a few days after this
affair, especially if it ever comes out that the murdered man was in
your place. I am here to act for Mr. Morrison. What is it that you
"You are talking like a gent, sir," the man said, - "like a sensible
gent, too. I'd have to keep it quiet, of course, that I'd come into
a bit of money, - just at present, at any rate. I could easy find
an excuse for changing my job - perhaps get away from London
altogether. I've got a few pounds saved and I've always wanted to
open a banking account. A gent like you, perhaps, could put me in
the way of doing it."
"How much do you consider would be a satisfactory balance to
commence with?" Laverick asked.
"I was thinking of a thousand pounds, sir."
Laverick was thoughtful for a few moments.
"By the way, what is your name?" he inquired at last.
"James Shepherd, sir," the man answered, - "generally called Jim,
"Well, you see, Shepherd," Laverick continued, "the difficulty is,
in your case, as in all similar ones, that one never knows where
the thing will end. A thousand pounds is a considerable sum, but
in four amounts, with three months interval between each, it could
be arranged. This would be better for you, in any case. Two
hundred and fifty pounds is not an unheard-of sum for you to have
saved or got together. After that your investments would be my
lookout, and they would produce, as I have said, another seven
hundred and fifty pounds. But what security have I - has Mr.
Morrison, let us say - that you will be content with this sum?"
"He hasn't any, sir," the man admitted at once. "He couldn't have
any. I'm a modest-living man, and I've no desire to go shouting
around that I'm independent all of a sudden. That wouldn't do
nohow. A thousand pounds would bring me in near enough a pound a
week if I invested it, or two pounds a week for an annuity, my
health being none too good. I've no wife or children, sir. I was
thinking of an annuity. With two pounds a week I'd have no cause
to trouble any one again."
"It shall be done," he said. "To-morrow I shall buy shares for
you to the extent of two hundred and fifty pounds. They will be
deposited in a bank. Some day you can look in and see me, and I
will take you round there. You are my client who has speculated
under my instructions successfully, and you will sign your name
and become a customer. After that, you will speculate again.
When your thousand pounds has been made, I will show you how to
buy an annuity. Keep your mouth shut, and last night will be
the luckiest night of your life. Do you drink?"
"A drop or two, sir," the man admitted. "If I didn't, I guess
I'd go off my chump."
"Do you talk when you're drunk?" Laverick asked.
"Never, sir," the man declared. "I've a way of getting a drop
too much when I'm by myself. Then I tumbles off to sleep and
that's the end of it. I've no fancy for company at such times."
"It's a good thing," Laverick remarked, thrusting his hand into
his pocket. "Here's a five-pound note on account. I daresay you
can manage to keep sober to-night, at any rate. That's all, isn't
"That's all, sir," the man answered, "unless I might make so bold as
to ask whether Mr. Morrison has really hooked it?"
"Mr. Morrison had decided to hook it, as you graphically say, before
he came in for that drink to your bar, Shepherd," Laverick affirmed.
"Business had been none too good with us, and we had had a
The man nodded.
"I see, sir," he said, taking up his hat. "Good night, sir!"
"Good night!" Laverick answered. "You can find your way down?"
"Quite well, sir, and thank you," declared Mr. Shepherd, closing
the door softly behind him.
Laverick sat down in his chair. He had forgotten that he was hungry.
He was faced now with a new tragedy.
THE LONELY CHORUS GIRL
They stood together upon the platform watching the receding train.
The girl's eyes were filled with tears, but Laverick was conscious
of a sense of immense relief. Morrison had been at the station
some time before the train was due to leave, and, although a
physical wreck, he seemed only too anxious to depart. He had all
the appearance of a broken-spirited man. He looked about him on
the platform, and even from the carriage, in the furtive way of a
criminal expecting apprehension at any moment. The whistle of the
train had been a relief as great to him as to Laverick.
We'11 write you to New York, care of Barclays," Laverick called out.
"Good luck, Morrison! Pull yourself tog-ether and make a fresh
"Morrison's only reply was a somewhat feeble nod. Laverick had not
attempted to shake hands. He felt himself at the last moment,
stirred almost to anger by the perfunctory farewell which was all
this man had offered to the girl he had treated so inconsiderately.
His thoughts were engrossed upon himself and his own danger. He
would not even have kissed her if she had not drawn his face down
to hers and whispered a reassuring little message. Laverick turned
away. For some reason or other he felt himself shuddering.
Conversation during those last few moments had been increasingly
difficult. The train was off at last, however, and they were alone.
The girl drew a long breath, which might very well have been one of
relief. They turned silently toward the exit.
"Are you going back home?" Laverick asked.
"Yes," she answered listlessly. "There is nothing else to do."
"Isn't it rather sad for you there by yourself?"
"It is the first time," she said. "Another girl and her mother
have lived with me always. They started off last week, touring.
They are paying a little toward the house or I should have to go
into rooms. As it is, I think that it would be more comfortable."
Laverick looked at her wonderingly.
"You seem such a child," he said, "to be left all alone in the
world like this."
"But I am not a child actually, you see," she answered, with an
effort at lightness. "Somehow, though, I do miss Arthur's going.
His father was always very good to me, and made him promise that
he would do what he could. I didn't see much of him, but one felt
always that there was somebody. It's different now. It makes
one feel very lonely."
"I, too," Laverick said, with commendable mendacity, "am rather a
lonely person. You must let me see something of you now and then."
She looked up at him quickly. Her gaze was altogether disingenuous,
but her eyes - those wonderful eyes - spoke volumes.
"If you really mean it," she said, "I should be so glad."
"Supposing we start to-day," he suggested, smiling. "I cannot ask
you to lunch, as I have a busy day before me, but we might have
dinner together quite early. Then I would take you to the theatre
and meet you afterwards, if you liked."
"If I liked!" she whispered. "Oh, how good you are."
"I am not at all sure about that. Now I'll put you in this taxi
and send you home."
"You mustn't do anything so extravagant. I can get a 'bus just
outside. I never have taxicabs."
"Just this morning," he insisted, "and I think he won't trouble you
for his fare. You must let me, please. Remember that there's a
large account open still between your half-brother and me, so you
needn't mind these trifles. Till this evening, then. Shall I
fetch you or will you come to me?"
"Let me fetch you, if I may," she said. "It isn't nice for you to
come down to where I live. It's such a horrid part."
"Just as you like," he answered. "I'd be very glad to fetch you
if you prefer it, but it would give me more time if you came. Shall
we say seven o'clock? I've written the address down on this card
so that you can make no mistake."
She laughed gayly.
"You know, all the time," she said, "I feel that you are treating
me as though I were a baby. I'll be there punctually, and I don't
think I need tie the card around my neck."
The cab glided off. Laverick caught a glimpse of a wan little face
with a faint smile quivering at the corner of her lips as she
leaned out for a moment to say good-bye. Then he went back to his
rooms, breakfasted, and made his way to his office.
The morning papers had nothing new to report concerning the murder
in Crooked Friars' Alley. Evidently what information the police
had obtained they were keeping for the inquest. Laverick, from the
moment when he entered the office, had little or no time to think
of the tragedy under whose shadow he had come. The long-predicted
boom had arrived at last. Without lunch, he and all his clerks
worked until after six o'clock. Even then Laverick found it hard
to leave. During the day, a dozen people or so had been in to ask
for Morrison. To all of them he had given the same reply, - Morrison
had gone abroad on private business for the firm. Very few were
deceived by Laverick's dry statement. He was quite aware that he
was looked upon either as one of the luckiest men on earth, or as
a financier of consummate skill. The failure of Laverick & Morrison
had been looked upon as a certainty. How they had tided over that
twenty-four hours had been known to no one - to no one but Laverick
himself and the manager of his bank.
Just before four o'clock, the telephone rang at his elbow.
"Mr. Fenwick from the bank, sir, is wishing to speak to you for a
moment," his head-clerk announced.
Laverick took up the telephone.
"Yes," he said, "I am Laverick. Good afternoon, Mr. Fenwick!
Absolutely impossible to spare any time to-day. What is it? The
account is all right, isn't it?"
"Quite right, Mr. Laverick," was the answer. "At the same time,
if you could spare me a moment I should be glad to see you
concerning the deposit you made yesterday."
"I will come in to-morrow," Laverick promised. "This afternoon it
is quite out of the question. I have a crowd of people waiting to
see me, and several important engagements for which I am late
The banker seemed scarcely satisfied.
"I may rely upon seeing you to-morrow?" he pressed.
"To-morrow," Laverick repeated, ringing off.
For a time this last message troubled him. As soon as the day's
work was over, however, and he stepped into his cab, he dismissed
it entirely from his thoughts. It was curious how, notwithstanding
this new seriousness which had come into his life, notwithstanding
that sensation of walking all the time on the brink of a precipice,
he set his face homeward and looked forward to his evening, with a
pleasure which he had not felt for many months. The whirl of the
day faded easily from his mind. He lived no more in an atmosphere
of wild excitement, of changing prices, of feverish anxiety. How
empty his life must have unconsciously grown that he could find so
much pleasure in being kind to a pretty child! It was hard to think
of her otherwise - impossible. A strange heritage, this, to have
been left him by such a person as Arthur Morrison. How in the world,
he wondered, did he happen to have such a connection.
She was a little shy when she arrived. Laverick had left special
orders downstairs, and she was brought up into his sitting-room
immediately. She was very quietly dressed except for her hat,
which was large and wavy. He found it becoming, but he knew enough
to understand that her clothes were very simple and very inexpensive,
and he was conscious of being curiously glad of the fact.
"I am afraid," she said timidly, with a glance at his evening attire,
"that we must go somewhere very quiet. You see, I have only one
evening gown and I couldn't wear that. There wouldn't be time to
change afterwards. Besides, one's clothes do get so knocked about
in the dressing-rooms."
"There are heaps of places we can go to," he assured her pleasantly.
"Of course you can't, dress for the evening when you have to go on
to work, but you must remember that there are a good many other
smart young ladies in the same position. I had to change because I
have taken a stall to see your performance. Tell me, how are you
"Rather lonely," she admitted, making a pathetic little grimace.
"That is to say I have been feeling lonely," she added softly. "I
don't now, of course.
"You are a queer little person," he said kindly, as they went down
in the lift. "Haven't you any friends?"
She shrugged her shoulders.
"What sort of friends could I have?" she asked. "The girls in the
chorus with me are very nice, some of them, but they know so many
people whom I don't, and they are always out to supper, or something
of the sort."
She shook her head.
"I went to one supper-party with the girl who is near me," she said.
"I liked it very much, but they didn't ask me again."
"I wonder why?" he remarked.
"Oh, I don't know!" she went on drearily. "You see, I think the
men who take out girls who are in the chorus, generally expect to
be allowed to make love to them. At any rate, they behaved like
that. Such a horrid man tried to say nice things to me and I didn't
like it a bit. So they left me alone afterwards. The girl I lived
with and her mother are quite nice, and they have a few friends we
go to see sometimes on Sunday or holidays. It's dull, though, very
dull, especially now they're away."
"What on earth made you think of going on the stage at all?" he
"What could one do?" she answered. "My mother's money died with
her - she had only an annuity - and my stepfather, who had promised
to look after me, lost all his money and died quite suddenly. Arthur
was in a stockbroker's office and he couldn't save anything. My only
friend was my old music-master, and he had given up teaching and was
director of the orchestra at the Universal. All he could do for me
was to get me a place in the chorus. I have been there ever since.
They keep on promising me a little part but I never get it. It's
always like that in theatres. You have to be a favorite of the
manager's, for some reason or other, or you never get your chance
unless you are unusually lucky."
"I don't know much about theatres," he admitted. "I am afraid I am
rather a stupid person. When I can get away from work I go into
the country and play cricket or golf, or anything that's going.
When I am up in town, I am generally content with looking up a few
friends, or playing bridge at the club. I never have been a
"I wonder," she asked, as they seated themselves at a small round
table in the restaurant which he had chosen, - "I wonder why every
now and then you look so serious."
"I didn't know that I did," he answered. "We've had thundering
hard times lately in business, though. I suppose that makes a man
"Poor Mr. Laverick," she murmured softly. "Are things any better
"Then you have nothing really to bother you?" she persisted.
"I suppose we all have something," he replied, suddenly grave.
"Why do you ask that?"
She leaned across the table. In the shaded light, her oval face
with its little halo of deep brown hair seemed to him as though
it might have belonged to some old miniature. She was delightful,
like Watteau-work upon a piece of priceless porcelain - delightful
when the lights played in her eyes and the smile quivered at the
corner of her lips. Just now, however, she became very much in
"I will tell you why I ask that question," she said. "I cannot
help worrying still about Arthur. You know you admitted last
night that he had done something. You saw how terribly frightened
he was this morning, and how he kept on looking around as though
he were afraid that he would see somebody whom he wished to avoid.
Oh! I don't want to worry you," she went on, "but I feel so
terrified sometimes. I feel that he must have done something - bad.
It was not an ordinary business trouble which took the life out of
him so completely."
"It was not," Laverick admitted at once. "He has done something, I
believe, quite foolish; but the matter is in my hands to arrange,
and I think you can assure yourself that nothing will come of it."
"Did you tell him so this morning?" she asked eagerly.
"I did not," he answered. "I told him nothing. For many reasons
it was better to keep him ignorant. He and I might not have seen
things the same way, and I am sure that what I am doing is for the
best. If I were you, Miss Leneveu, I think I wouldn't worry any
more. Soon you will hear from your brother that he is safe in
New York, and I think I can promise you that the trouble will
never come to anything serious."
"Why have you been so kind to him?" she asked timidly. "From what
he said, I do not think that he was very useful to you, and, indeed,
you and he are so different."
Laverick was silent for a moment.
"To be honest," he said, "I think that I should not have taken so
much trouble for his sake alone. You see," he continued, smiling,
"you are rather a delightful young person, and you were very
anxious, weren't you?"
Her hand came across the table - an impulsive little gesture,
which he nevertheless found perfectly natural and delightful. He
took it into his, and would have raised the fingers to his lips
but for the waiters who were hovering around.
"You are so kind," she said, "and I am so fortunate. I think that
I wanted a friend."
"You poor child," he answered, "I should think you did. You are
not drinking your wine."
She shook her head.
"Do you mind?" she asked. "A very little gets into my head
because I take it so seldom, and the manager is cross if one makes
the least bit of a mistake. Besides, I do not think that I like
to drink wine. If one does not take it at all, there is an excuse
for never having anything when the girls ask you."
He nodded sympathetically.
"I believe you are quite right," he said; "in a general way, at any
rate. Well, I will drink by myself to your brother's safe arrival
in New York. Are you ready?"
She glanced at the clock.
"I must be there in a quarter of an hour," she told him.
"I will drive you to the theatre," he said, "and then go round and
fetch my ticket."
As he waited for her in the reception hall of the restaurant, he
took an evening paper from the stall. A brief paragraph at once
attracted his attention.
Murder in the City. - We understand that very important
information has come into the hands of the police. An
ARREST is expected to-night or to-morrow at the latest.
He crushed the paper in his hand and threw it on one side. It was
the usual sort of thing. There was nothing they could have found
out - nothing, he told himself.
As soon as he had gone through his letters on the following morning,
Laverick, in response to a second and more urgent message, went
round to his bank. Mr. Fenwick greeted him gravely. He was feeling
keenly the responsibilities of his position. Just how much to say
and how much to leave unsaid was a question which called for a full
measure of diplomacy.
"You understand, Mr. Laverick," he began, "that I wished to see you
with regard to the arrangement we came to the day before yesterday."
Laverick nodded. It suited him to remain monosyllabic.
"Well?" he asked.
"The arrangement, of course, was most unusual," the manager continued.
"I agreed to it as you were an old customer and the matter was an
"I do not quite follow you," Laverick remarked, frowning. "What is
it you wish me to do? Withdraw my account?"
"Not in the least," the manager answered hastily.
"You know the position of our market, of course," Laverick went on.
"Three days ago I was in a situation which might have been called
desperate. I could quite understand that you needed security to
go on making the necessary payments on my behalf. To-day, things
are entirely different. I am twenty thousand pounds better off,
and if necessary I could realize sufficient to pay off the whole of
my overdraft within half-an-hour. That I do not do so is simply a
matter of policy and prices."
"I quite understand that, my dear Mr. Laverick," the bank manager
declared. "The position is simply this. We have had a most unusual
and a strictly private inquiry, of a nature which I cannot divulge
to you, asking whether any large sum in five hundred pound banknotes
has been passed through our account during the last few days."
"You have actually had this inquiry?" Laverick asked calmly.
"We have. I can tell you no more. The source of the inquiry was,
in a sense, amazing."
"May I ask what your reply was?"
"My reply was," Mr. Fenwick said slowly, "that no such notes had
passed through our account. We asked them, however, without giving
any reasons, to repeat their question in a few days' time. Our
reply was perfectly truthful. Owing to your peculiar stipulations,
we are simply holding a certain packet for you in our security
chamber. We know it to contain bank-notes, and there is very little
doubt but that it contains the notes which have been the subject of
this inquiry. I want to ask you, Mr. Laverick, to be so good as to
open that packet, let me credit the notes to your account in the
usual way, and leave me free to reply as I ought to have done in
the first instance to this inquiry."
"The course which you suggest," replied the other, "is one which I
absolutely decline to take. It is not for me to tell you the nature
of the relations which should exist between a banker and his client.
All that I can say is that those notes are deposited with you and
must remain on deposit, and that the transaction is one which must
be treated entirely as a confidential one. If you decline to do
this, I must remove my account, in which case I shall, of course,
take the packet away with me. To be plain with you, Mr. Fenwick,"
he wound up, "I do not intend to make use of those notes, I never
intended to do so. I simply deposited them as security until the
turn in price of 'Unions' came.
"It is a very nice point, Mr. Laverick," the bank manager remarked.
"I should consider that you had already made use of them."
"Every one to his own conscience," Laverick answered calmly.
"You place me in a very embarrassing position, Mr. Laverick."
"I cannot admit that at all," Laverick replied. "There is only one
inquiry which you could have had which could justify you in insisting
upon what you have suggested. It emanated, I presume, from Scotland
"If it had," Mr. Fenwick answered, "no considerations of etiquette
would have intervened at all. I should have felt it my duty to
have revealed at once the fact of your deposit. At the same time,
the inquiry comes from an even more important source, - a source
which cannot be ignored."
Laverick thought for a moment.
"After all, the matter is a very simple one," he declared. "By
four o'clock this afternoon my account shall be within its limits.
You will then automatically restore to me the packet which you hold
on my behalf, and the possession of which seems to embarrass you."
"If you do not mind," the banker answered, "I should be glad if you
would take it with you. It means, I think, a matter of six or
seven thousand pounds added to your overdraft, but as a temporary
thing we will pass that."
"As you will," Laverick assented carelessly. "The charge of those
documents is a trust with me as well as with yourself. I have no
doubt that I can arrange for their being held in a secure place
The usual formalities were gone through, and Laverick left the bank
with the brown leather pocket-book in his breast-coat pocket.
Arrived at his office, he locked it up at once in his private safe
and proceeded with the usual business of the day. Even with an
added staff of clerks, the office was almost in an uproar. Laverick
threw himself into the struggle with a whole-hearted desire to
escape from these unpleasant memories. He succeeded perfectly. It
was two hours before he was able to sit down even for a moment. His
head-clerk, almost as exhausted, followed him into his room.
"I forgot to tell you, sir," he announced, "that there s a man
outside - Mr. Shepherd was his name, I believe - said he had a small
investment to make which you promised to look after personally. He
would insist on seeing you - said he was a waiter at a restaurant
which you visited sometimes."
"That's all right," Laverick declared. "You can show him in. We'll
probably give him American rails."
"Can't we attend to it in the office for you, sir?" the clerk asked.
"I suppose it's only a matter of a few hundreds."
"Less than that, probably, but I promised the fellow I'd look after
it myself. Send him in, Scropes."
There was a brief delay and then Mr. Shepherd was announced.
Laverick, who was sitting with his coat off, smoking a well-earned
cigarette, looked up and nodded to his visitor as the door was closed.
"Sorry to keep you waiting," he remarked. "We're having a bit of a
The man laid down his hat and came up to Laverick's side.
"I guess that, sir," he said, "from the number of people we've had
in the 'Black Post' to-day, and the way they've all been shouting
and talking. They don't seem to eat much these days, but there's
some of them can shift the drink."
"I've got some sound stocks looked out for you," Laverick remarked,
"two hundred and fifty pounds' worth. If you'll just approve that
list as a matter of form," he added, pushing a piece of paper across,
"you can come in to-morrow and have the certificates. I shall tell
them to debit the purchase money to my private account, so that if
any one asks you anything, you can say that you paid me for them."
"I'm sure I'm much obliged, sir," the man said. "To tell you the
truth," he went on, "I've had a bit of a scare to-day."
Laverick looked up quickly.
"What do you mean?" he demanded.
"May I sit down, sir? I'm a bit worn out. I've been on the go
since half-past ten."
Laverick nodded and pointed to a chair. Shepherd brought it up to
the side of the table and leaned forward.
"There's been two men in to-day," he said, "asking questions. They
wanted to know how many customers I had there on Monday night, and
could I describe them. Was there any one I recognized, and so on."
"What did you say?"
"I declared I couldn't remember any one. To the best of my
recollection, I told them, there was no one served at all after ten
o'clock. I wouldn't say for certain - it looked as though I might
have had a reason."
"And were they satisfied?"
"I don't think they were," Shepherd admitted. "Not altogether,
that is to say."
"Did they mention any names?" asked Laverick - "Morrison's, for
instance? Did they want to know whether he was a regular customer?"
"They didn't mention no names at all, sir," the man answered, "but
they did begin to ask questions about my regular clients. Fortunate
like, the place was so crowded that I had every excuse for not
paying any too much attention to them. It was all I could do to
keep on getting orders attended to."
"What sort of men were they?" Laverick asked. "Do you think that
they came from the police?"
"I shouldn't have said so," Shepherd replied, "but one can't tell,
and these gentlemen from Scotland Yard do make themselves up so
sometimes on purpose to deceive. I should have said that these two
were foreigners, the same kidney as the poor chap as was murdered.
I heard a word or two pass, and I sort of gathered that they'd a
shrewd idea as to that meeting in the 'Black Post' between the man
who was murdered and the little dark fellow."
"Jim Shepherd," he declared, "you appear to me to be a very
"I'm sure I'm much obliged, sir; I can tell you, though," he added,
"I don't half like these chaps coming round making inquiries. My
nerves ain't quite what they were, and it gives me the jumps."
Laverick was thoughtful for a few moments.
"After all, there was no one else in the bar that night," he
remarked, - "no one who could contradict you?"
"Not a soul," Jim Shepherd agreed.
"Then don't you bother," Laverick continued. "You see, you've been
wise. You haven't given yourself away altogether. You've simply
said that you don't recollect any one coming in. Why should you
recollect? At the end of a day's work you are not likely to notice
every stray customer. Stick to it, and, if you take my advice,
don't go throwing any money about, and don't give your notice in
for another week or so. Pave the way for it a bit. Ask the governor
for a rise - say you're not making a living out of it."
"I'm on," Jim Shepherd remarked, nodding his head. "I'm on to it,
sir. I don't want to get into no trouble, I'm sure."
"You can't," Laverick answered dryly, "unless you chuck yourself in.
You're not obliged to remember anything. No one can ever prove that
you remembered anything. Keep your eyes open, and let me hear if
these fellows turn up again."
"I'm pretty certain they will, sir," the man declared. "They sat
about waiting for me to be disengaged, but when my time off came, I
hopped out the back way. They'll be there again to-night, sure
"Well, you must let me know," he said, "what happens."
Jim Shepherd leaned across the corner of the table and dropped his
"It's an awful thing to think of, sir," he whispered, blinking
rapidly. "I wouldn't be that young Mr. Morrison for all that great
pocketful of notes. But my! there was a sight of money there,
sir! He'll be a rich man for all his days if nothing comes out."
"We won't talk any more about it," Laverick insisted. "It isn't a
pleasant thing to think about or talk about. We won't know anything,
Shepherd. We shall be better off."
The man took his departure and the whirl of business recommenced.
Laverick turned his back upon the city only a few minutes before
eight and, tired out, he dined at a restaurant on his homeward way.
When at last he reached his sitting-room he threw himself on the
sofa and lit a cigar. Once more the evening papers had no
particular news. This time, however, one of them had a leading
article upon the English police system. The fact that an undetected
murder should take place in a wealthy neighborhood, away from the
slums, a murder which must have been premeditated, was in itself
alarming. Until the inquest had been held, it was better to make
little comment upon the facts of the case so far as they were known.
At the same time, the circumstance could not fail to incite a
considerable amount of alarm among those who had offices in the
vicinity of the tragedy. It was rumored that some mysterious
inquiries were being circulated around London banks. It was
possible that robbery, after all, had been the real motive of the
crime, but robbery on a scale as yet unimagined. The whole interest
of the case now was centred upon the discovery of the man's identity.
As soon as this was solved, some very startling developments might
Laverick threw the paper away. He tried to rest upon the sofa, but
tried in vain. He found himself continually glancing at the clock.
"To-night," he muttered to himself, - "no, I will not go to-night!
It is not fair to the child. It is absurd. Why, she would think
that I was - "
He stopped short.
"I'll change and go to the club," he decided.
He rose to his feet. Just then there was a ring at his bell. He
opened the door and found a messenger boy standing in the vestibule.
"Note, sir, for Mr. Stephen Laverick," the boy announced, opening
Laverick held out his hand. The boy gave him a large square
envelope, and upon the back of it was "Universal Theatre."
Laverick tried to assure himself that he was not so ridiculously
pleased. He stepped back into the room, tore open the envelope,
and read the few lines traced in rather faint but delicate
Are you coming to fetch me to-night? Don't let me be a nuisance,
but do come if you have nothing to do. I have something to tell
Laverick gave the boy a shilling for himself and suddenly forgot
that he was tired. He changed his clothes, whistling softly to
himself all the time. At eleven o'clock, he was at the stage-door
of the Universal Theatre, waiting in a taxicab.
LAVERICK IS CROSS-EXAMINED
One by one the young ladies of the chorus came out from the
stage-door of the Universal, in most cases to be assisted into a
waiting hansom or taxicab by an attendant cavalier. Laverick stood
back in the shadows as much as possible, smiling now and then to
himself at this, to him, somewhat novel way of spending the evening.
Zoe was among the last to appear. She came up to him with a
delightful little gesture of pleasure, and took his arm as a matter
of course as he led her across to the waiting cab.
"This sort of thing is making me feel absurdly young," he declared.
"Luigi's for supper, I suppose?"
"Supper!" she exclaimed, clapping her hands. "Delightful! Two
nights following, too! I did love last night."
"We had better engage a table at Luigi's permanently," he remarked.
"If only you meant it!" she sighed.
He laughed at her, but he was thoughtful for a few minutes.
Afterwards, when they sat at a small round table in the somewhat
Bohemian restaurant which was the fashionable rendezvous of the
moment for ladies of the theatrical profession, he asked her a
"Tell me what you meant in your note," he begged. "You said that
you had some information for me.
"I'm afraid it wasn't anything very much," she admitted. "I found
out to-day that some one had been inquiring at the stage-door about
me, and whether I was connected in any way with a Mr. Arthur
Morrison, the stockbroker."
"Do you know who it was?" he asked.
She shook her head.
"The man left no name at all. I tried to get the doorkeeper to tell
me about him, but he's such a surly old fellow, and he's so used to
that sort of thing, that he pretended he didn't remember anything."
"It seems odd," he remarked thoughtfully, "that any one should have
found you out. You were so seldom with Morrison. I dare say," he
added, "it was just some one to whom your brother owes some small
sum of money."
"Very likely," she answered. "But I was going to tell you. He came
again to-night while the performance was on, and sent a note round.
I have brought it for you to see."
The note - it was really little more than a message - was written
on the back of a programme and enclosed in an envelope evidently
borrowed from the box-office. It read as follows:
DEAR MISS LENEVEU,
I believe that Mr. Arthur Morrison is a connection of yours, and I
am venturing to introduce myself to you as a friend of his. Could
you spare me half-an-hour of your company after the performance of
this evening? If you could honor me so much, you might perhaps
allow me to give you some supper.
PHILIP E. MILES.
Laverick felt an absurd pang of jealousy as he handed back the
"I should say," he declared, "that this was simply some young man
who was trying to scrape an acquaintance with you because he was
or had been a friend of Morrison's."
"In that case," answered Zoe, "he is very soon forgotten."
She tore the programme into two pieces, and Laverick was conscious
of a ridiculous feeling of pleasure at her indifference.
"If you hear anything more about him," he said, "you might let me
know. You are a brave young lady to dismiss your admirers so
"Perhaps I am quite satisfied with one," laughing softly.
Laverick told himself that at his age he was behaving like an idiot,
nevertheless his eyes across the table expressed his appreciation
of her speech.
"Tell me something about yourself, Mr. Laverick," she begged.
"First of all, then, how old are you?"
He made a grimace.
"Thirty-eight - thirty-nine my next birthday. Doesn't that seem
grandfatherly to you?"
"You must not be absurd!" she exclaimed. "It is not even
middle-aged. Now tell me - how do you spend your time generally?
Do you really mean that you go and play cards at your club most
"I have a good many friends, and I dine out quite a great deal."
"You have no sisters?"
"I have no relatives at all in London," he explained.
"It is to be a real cross-examination," she warned him.
"I am quite content," he answered. "Go ahead, but remember, though,
that I am a very dull person."
"You look so young for your years," she declared. "I wonder, have
you ever been in love?"
He laughed heartily.
"About a dozen times, I suppose. Why? Do I seem to you like a
"I don't know," she admitted, hesitatingly. "You don't seem to me
as though you cared to make friends very easily. I just felt I
wanted to ask you. Have you ever been engaged?"
"Never," he assured her.
"And when was the last time," she asked, "that you felt you cared a
little for any one?"
"It dates from the day before yesterday," he declared, filling her
She laughed at him.
"Of course, it is nonsense to talk to you like this!" she said.
"You are quite right to make fun of me."
"On the contrary," he insisted. "I am very much in earnest."
"Very well, then," she answered, "if you are in earnest you shall
be in love with me. You shall take me about, give me supper every
night, send me some sweets and cigarettes to the theatre - oh, and
there are heaps of things you ought to do if you really mean it!"
she wound up.
"If those things mean being fond of you," he answered, "I'll prove
it with pleasure. Sweets, cigarettes, suppers, taxicabs at the
"It all sounds very terrible," she sighed. "It's a horrid little
"Yet I suppose you enjoy it?" he remarked tentatively.
"I hate it, but I must do something. I could not live on charity.
If I knew any other way I could make money, I would rather, but
there is no other way. I tried once to give music lessons. I had
a few pupils, but they never paid - they never do pay.
"I wish I could think of something," Laverick said thoughtfully.
"Of course, it is occupation you want. So far as regards the
monetary part of it, I still owe your brother a great deal - "
She shook her head, interrupting him with a quick little gesture.
"No, no!" she declared. "I have never complained about Arthur.
Sometimes he made me suffer, because I know that he was ashamed of
having a relative in the chorus, but I am quite sure that I do not
wish to take any of his money - or of anybody else's," she added.
"I want always to earn my own living."
"For such a child," he remarked, smiling, "you are wonderfully
"Why not?" she answered softly. "It is years since I had any one
to do very much for me. Necessity teaches us a good many things.
Oh, I was helpless enough when it began!" she added, with a little
sigh. "I got over it. We all do. Tell me - who is that woman,
and why does she stare so at you?"
Laverick looked across the room. Louise and Bellamy were sitting
at the opposite table. The former was strikingly handsome and very
wonderfully dressed. Her closely-clinging gown, cut slightly open
in front, displayed her marvelous figure. She wore long pearl
earrings, and a hat with white feathers which drooped over her fair
hair. Laverick recognized her at once.
"It is Mademoiselle Idiale," he said, "the most wonderful soprano
in the world."
"Why does she look so at you?" Zoe asked.
Laverick shook his head.
"I do not know her," he said. "I know who she is, of course, - every
one does. She is a Servian, and they say that she is devoted to her
country. She left Vienna at a moment's notice, only a few days ago,
and they say that it was because she had sworn never to sing again
before the enemies of her country. She had been engaged a long time
to appear at Covent Garden, but no one believed that she would really
come. She breaks her engagements just when she chooses. In fact,
she is a very wonderful person altogether."
"I never saw such pearls in my life," Zoe whispered. "And how
lovely she is! I do not understand, though, why she is so
interested in you."
"She mistakes me for some one, perhaps."
It certainly seemed probable. Even at that moment she touched
her escort upon the arm, and he distinctly looked across at
Laverick. It was obvious that he was the subject of her
"I know the man," Laverick said. "He was at Harrow with me, and I
have played cricket with him since. But I have certainly never met
Mademoiselle Idiale. One does not forget that sort of person.
"Her figure is magnificent," Zoe murmured wistfully. "Do you like
tall women very much, Mr. Laverick?"
"I adore them," he answered, smiling, "but I prefer small ones."
"We are very foolish people, you and I," she laughed. "We came
together so strangely and yet we talk such frivolous nonsense.
"You are making me young again," he declared.
"Oh, you are quite young enough!" she assured him. "To tell you
the truth, I am jealous. Mademoiselle Idiale looks at you all the
time. Look at her now. Is she not beautiful?"
There was no doubt about her beauty, but those who were criticising
her - and she was by far the most interesting person in the room -
thought her a little sad. Though Bellamy was doing his utmost to
be entertaining, her eyes seemed to travel every now and then over
his head and out of the room. Wherever her thoughts were, one could
be very sure that they were not fixed upon the subject under
"She is like that when she sings," Laverick remarked. "She has none
of the vivacity of the Frenchwomen. Yet there was never anything
so graceful in the world as the way she moves about the stage."
"If I were a man," Zoe sighed, "that is the sort of woman I would
"If you were a man," he replied, "you would probably find some one
whom you preferred to live for. Do you know, you are rather a
morbid sort of person, Miss Zoe?"
"Ah, I like that!" she declared. "I will not be called Miss Leneveu
any more by you. You must call me Miss Zoe, please, - Zoe, if you
"Zoe, by all means. Under the circumstances, I think it is only
His eyes wandered across the room again.
"Ah!" she cried softly, "you, too, are coming under the spell, then.
I was reading about her only the other day. They say that so many
men fall in love with her - so many men to whom she gives no
encouragement at all."
Laverick looked into his companion's face.
"Come," he said, "my heart is not so easily won. I can assure you
that I never aspire to so mighty a personage as a Covent Garden star.
Don't you know that she gets a salary of five hundred pounds a week,
and wears ropes of pearls which would represent ten times my entire
income? Heaven alone knows what her gowns cost!"
"After all, though," murmured Zoe, "she is a woman. See, your
friend is coming to speak to you."
Bellamy was indeed crossing the room. He nodded to Laverick and
bowed to his companion.
"Forgive my intruding, Laverick," he said. "You do remember me, I
hope? Bellamy, you know."
"I remember you quite well. We used to play together at Lord's,
even after we left school."
"That is so," he answered. "I see by the papers that you have kept
up your cricket. Mine, alas! has had to go. I have been too much
of a rolling stone lately. Do you know that I have come to ask you
"Go ahead," Laverick interposed.
"Mademoiselle Idiale has a fancy to meet you," Bellamy explained.
"You know, or I dare say you have heard, what a creature of whims
she is. If you won't come across and be introduced like a good
fellow, she probably won't speak a word all through supper-time,
go off in a huff, and my evening will be spoiled."
Laverick laughed heartily. A little smile played at the corner of
Zoe's lips - nevertheless, she was looking slightly anxious.
"Under those circumstances," remarked Laverick, "perhaps I had
better go. You will understand," he added, with a glance at Zoe,
"that I cannot stay for more than a second."
"Naturally," Bellamy answered. "If Mademoiselle really has anything
to say to you, I will, if I am permitted, return for a moment."
Laverick introduced him to Zoe.
"I am sure I have seen you at the Universal," he declared. "You're
in the front row, aren't you? I have seen you in that clever little
step-dance and song in the second act."
She nodded, evidently pleased.
"Does it seem clever to you?" she asked wistfully. "You see, we
are all so tired of it."
"I think it is ripping," Bellamy declared. "I shall have the
pleasure again directly," he added, with a bow.
The two men crossed the room.
"What the dickens does Mademoiselle Idiale want with me?" Laverick
demanded. "Does she know that I am a poor stockbroker, struggling
against hard times?"
Bellamy shrugged his shoulders.
"She isn't the sort to care who or what you are," he answered. "And
as for the rest, I suppose she could buy any of us up if she wanted
to. Her interest in you is rather a curious one. No time to explain
it now. She'll tell you."
Louise smiled as he paused before her. She was certainly exquisitely
beautiful. Her dress, her carriage, her delicate hands, even her
voice, were all perfection. She gave him the tips of her fingers as
Bellamy pronounced his name.
"It is so kind of you," she said, "to come and speak to me. And
indeed you will laugh when I tell you why I thought that I would
like to say one word with you."
"I am thankful, Mademoiselle," he replied, "for anything which
procures me such a pleasure."
"Ah! you, too, are gallant," she said. "But indeed, then, I fear
you will not be flattered when I tell you why I was so interested.
I read all your newspapers. I read of that terrible murder in
Crooked Friars' Alley only a few days ago, - is not that how you
call the place?"
Laverick was suddenly grave. What was this that was coming?
"One of the reports," she continued, "says that the man was a
foreigner. The maker's name upon his clothes was Austrian. I,
too, come from that part of Europe - if not from Austria, from a
country very near - and I am always interested in my country-people.
A few moments ago I asked my friend Mr. Bellamy, 'Where is this
Crooked Friars' Alley?' Just then he bowed to you, and he answered
me, 'It is in the city. It is within a yard or two of the offices
of the gentleman to whom I just have said good-evening.' So I
looked across at you and I thought that it was strange."
Laverick scarcely knew what to say.
"It was a terrible affair," he admitted, "and, as Mr. Bellamy has
told you, it occurred within a few steps of my office. So far, too,
the police seem completely at a loss."
"Ah!" she went on, shaking her head, "your police, I am afraid they
are not very clever. It is too bad, but I am afraid that it is so.
Tell me, Mr. Laverick, is this, then, a very lonely spot where your
"Not at all," Laverick replied. "On the contrary, in the daytime
it might be called the heart of the city - of the money-making part
of the city, at any rate. Only this thing, you see, seems to have
taken place very late at night."
"When all the offices were closed," she remarked.
"Most of them," Laverick answered. "Mine, as it happened, was open
late that night. I passed the spot within half-an-hour or so of
the time when the murder must have been committed."
"But that is terrible!" she declared, shaking her head. "Tell me,
Mr. Laverick, if I drive to your office some morning you will show
me this place, - yes?"
"If you are in earnest, Mademoiselle, I will certainly do so, but
there is nothing there. It is just a passage."
"You give me your address," she insisted, "and I think that I will
come. You are a stockbroker, Mr. Bellamy tells me. Well, sometimes
I have a good deal of money to invest. I come to you and you will
give me your advice. So! You have a card!"
Laverick found one and scribbled his city address upon it. She
thanked him and once more held out the tips of her fingers.
"So I shall see you again some day, Mr. Laverick."
He bowed and recrossed the room. Bellamy was standing talking to
"Well," he asked,. as Laverick returned, "are you, too, going to
throw yourself beneath the car?"
Laverick shook his head.
"I do not think so," he answered. "Our acquaintance promises to be
a business one. Mademoiselle spoke of investing some money though
"Then you have kept your heart," he remarked. "Ah, well, you have
He bowed to Zoe, nodded to Laverick, and returned to his place.
Laverick looked after him a little compassionately.
"Poor fellow," he said.
"Who is he?"
"He has some sort of a Government appointment," Laverick answered.
"They say he is hopelessly in love with Mademoiselle Idiale."
"Why not?" Zoe exclaimed. "He is nice. She must care for some
one. Why do you pity him?"
"They say, too, that she has no more heart than a stone," Laverick
continued, "and that never a man has had even a kind word from her.
She is very patriotic, and all the thoughts and love she has to
spare from herself are given to her country."
"Ah!" she murmured, "I do not like to think of heartless women.
Perhaps she is not so cruel, after all. To me she seems only very,
very sad. Tell me, Mr. Laverick, why did she send for you?"
"I imagine," said he, "that it was a whim. It must have been a
MADEMOISELLE IDIALE'S VISIT
Laverick, on the following morning, found many things to think
about. He was accustomed to lunch always at the same restaurant,
within a few yards of his office, and with the same little company
of friends. Just as he was leaving, an outside broker whom he
knew slightly came across the room to him.
"Tell me, Laverick," he asked, "what's become of your partner?"
"He has gone abroad for a few weeks. As a matter of fact, we shall
be announcing a change in the firm shortly."
"Queer thing," the broker remarked. "I was in Liverpool yesterday,
and I could have sworn that I saw him hanging around the docks. I
should never have doubted it, but Morrison was always so careful
about his appearance, and this fellow was such a seedy-looking
individual. I called out to him and he vanished like a streak."
"It could scarcely have been Morrison," Laverick said. "He sailed
several days ago for New York."
"That settles it," the man declared, passing on. "All the same,
it was the most extraordinary likeness I ever saw."
Laverick, on his way back, went into a cable office and wrote out
a marconigram to the Lusitania,
Have you passenger Arthur Morrison on board? Reply.
He signed his name and paid for an answer. Then he went back to
"Any one to see me?" he inquired.
"Mr. Shepherd is here waiting," his clerk told him, - "queer
looking fellow who paid you two hundred and fifty pounds in cash
for some railway stock."
"I'll see him," he said. "Anything else?"
"A lady rang up - name sounded like a French one, but we could none
of us catch what it was - to say that she was coming down to see you."
"If it is Mademoiselle Idiale," Laverick directed, "I must see her
directly she arrives. How are you, Shepherd?" he added, nodding to
the waiter as he passed towards his room. "Come in, will you?
You've got your certificates all right?"
Mr. James Shepherd had the air of a man with whom prosperity had not
wholly agreed. He was paler and pastier-looking than ever, and his
little green eyes seemed even more restless. His attire - a long
rough overcoat over the livery of his profession - scarcely enhanced
the dignity of his appearance.
"Well, what is it?" Laverick asked, as soon as the door was closed.
"Our bar is being watched," the man declared. "I don't think it's
anything to do with the police. Seems to be a sort of foreign gang.
They're all round the place, morning, noon, and night. They've
"There isn't very much," Laverick remarked slowly, "for them to find
out except from you."
"They've found out something, anyway," Shepherd continued. "My
junior waiter, unfortunately, who was asleep in the sitting-room,
told them he was sure there were customers in the place between ten
and twelve on Monday night, because they woke him up twice, talking.
They're beginning to look at me a bit doubtful."
"I shouldn't worry," Laverick advised. "The inquest's on now and
you haven't been called. I don't fancy you're running any sort of
risk. Any one may say they believe there were people in the, bar
between those hours, but there isn't any one who can contradict you
outright. Besides, you haven't sworn to anything. You've simply
said, as might be very possible, that you don't remember any one."
"It makes me a bit nervous, though," Shepherd remarked apologetically.
"They're a regular keen-looking tribe, I can tell you. Their eyes
seem to follow you all over the place."
"I shall come in for a drink presently myself," Laverick declared.
"I should like to see them. I might get an idea as to their
nationality, at any rate."
"Very good, sir. I'm sure I'm doing just as you suggested. I've
said nothing about leaving, but I'm beginning to grumble a bit at
the work, so as to pave the way. It's a hard job, and no mistake.
I had thirty-nine chops between one and half-past, single-handed,
too, with only a boy to carry the bread and that, and no one to
serve the drinks unless they go to the counter for them. It's
more than one man's work, Mr. Laverick."
"So much the better," he declared. "All the more excuse for your
"You '11 be round sometime to-day, sir, then?" the man asked, taking
up his hat.
"I shall look in for a few moments, for certain," Laverick answered.
"If you get a chance you must point out to me one of those fellows."
Jim Shepherd departed. There was a shouting of newspaper boys in
the street outside. Laverick sent out for a paper. The account of
the inquest was brief enough, and there were no witnesses called
except the men who had found the dead body. The nature of the
wounds was explained to the jury, also the impossibility of their
having been self-inflicted. In the absence of any police evidence
or any identification, the discussion as to the manner of the death
was naturally limited. The jury contented themselves by bringing
in a verdict of "Wilful murder against some person or persons
unknown." Laverick laid down the paper. The completion of the
inquest was at least the first definite step toward safety. The
question now before him was what to do with that twenty thousand
pounds. He sat at his desk, looking into vacancy. After all, had
he paid too great a price? The millstone was gone from around his
neck, something new and incomprehensible had crept into his life.
Yet for a background there was always this secret knowledge.
A clerk announcing Mademoiselle Idiale broke in upon his reflections.
Laverick rose from his seat to greet his visitor. She was
wonderfully dressed, as usual, yet with the utmost simplicity, - a
white serge gown with a large black hat, but a gown that seemed to
have been moulded on to her slim, faultless figure. She brought with
her a musical rustle, a slight suggestion of subtle perfumes - a
perfume so thin and ethereal that it was unrecognizable except in its
faint suggestion of hothouse flowers. She held out her hand to
Laverick, who placed for her at once an easy-chair.
"This is indeed an honor, Mademoiselle."
She inclined her head graciously.
"You are very kind," said she. "I know that here in the city you
are very busy making money all the time, so I must not stay long.
Will you buy me some stocks, - some good safe stocks, which will
bring me in at least four per cent?"
"I can promise to do that," Laverick answered. "Have you any
"No, I have no choice," Louise told him. "I bring with me a cheque,
- see, I give it to you, - it is for six thousand pounds. I would
like to buy some stocks with this, and to know the names so that I
may watch them in the paper. I like to see whether they go up or
down, but I do not wish to risk their going down too much. It is
something like gambling but it is no trouble."
"Your money shall be spent in a few minutes, Mademoiselle," Laverick
assured her, "and I think I can promise you that for a week or two,
at any rate, your stocks will go up. With regard to selling - "
"I leave everything to you," she interrupted, "only let me know what
"We will do our best," Laverick promised.
"It is good," she said. "Money is a wonderful thing. Without it
one can do little. You have not forgotten, Mr. Laverick, that you
were going to show me this passage?"
"Certainly not. Come with me now, if you will. It is only a yard
or two away."
He took her out into the street. Every clerk in the office forgot
his manners and craned his neck. Outside, Mademoiselle let fall
her veil and passed unrecognized. Laverick showed her the entry.
"It was just there," he explained, "about half a dozen yards up on
the left, that the body was found."
She looked at the place steadily. Then she looked along the
"Where does it lead to - that?" she asked.
"Come and I will show you. On the left" - as they passed along the
flagged pavement - "is St. Nicholas Church and churchyard. On the
right here there are just offices. The street in front of us is
Henschell Street. All of those buildings are stockbrokers' offices."
"And directly opposite," she asked, - "that is a caf‚, is it not,
- a restaurant, as you would call it?"
"That is so," he agreed. "One goes in there sometimes for a drink."