Part 2 out of 4
that usually lay on his mantel-piece. We went upstairs with her, and she
knocked at Mr. Foggatt's door.
There was no reply. Through the ventilating fanlight over the door it
could be seen that there were lights within, a sign, Mrs. Clayton
maintained, that Mr. Foggatt was not out. We knocked again, much more
loudly, and called, but still ineffectually. The door was locked, and an
application of the housekeeper's key proved that the tenant's key had been
left in the lock inside. Mrs. Clayton's conviction that "something had
happened" became distressing, and in the end Hewitt pried open the door
with a small poker.
Something _had_ happened. In the sitting-room Mr. Foggatt sat with his
head bowed over the table, quiet and still. The head was ill to look at,
and by it lay a large revolver, of the full-sized army pattern. Mrs.
Clayton ran back toward the landing with faint screams.
"Run, Brett!" said Hewitt; "a doctor and a policeman!"
I bounced down the stairs half a flight at a time. "First," I thought, "a
doctor. He may not be dead." I could think of no doctor in the immediate
neighborhood, but ran up the street away from the Strand, as being the
more likely direction for the doctor, although less so for the policeman.
It took me a good five minutes to find the medico, after being led astray
by a red lamp at a private hotel, and another five to get back, with a
Foggatt was dead, without a doubt. Probably had shot himself, the doctor
thought, from the powder-blackening and other circumstances. Certainly
nobody could have left the room by the door, or he must have passed my
landing, while the fact of the door being found locked from the inside
made the thing impossible. There were two windows to the room, both of
which were shut, one being fastened by the catch, while the catch of the
other was broken--an old fracture. Below these windows was a sheer drop of
fifty feet or more, without a foot or hand-hold near. The windows in the
other rooms were shut and fastened. Certainly it seemed suicide--unless it
were one of those accidents that will occur to people who fiddle
ignorantly with firearms. Soon the rooms were in possession of the police,
and we were turned out.
We looked in at the housekeeper's kitchen, where her daughter was reviving
and calming Mrs. Clayton with gin and water.
"You mustn't upset yourself, Mrs. Clayton," Hewitt said, "or what will
become of us all? The doctor thinks it was an accident."
He took a small bottle of sewing-machine oil from his pocket and handed it
to the daughter, thanking her for the loan.
* * * * *
There was little evidence at the inquest. The shot had been heard, the
body had been found--that was the practical sum of the matter. No friends
or relatives of the dead man came forward. The doctor gave his opinion as
to the probability of suicide or an accident, and the police evidence
tended in the same direction. Nothing had been found to indicate that any
other person had been near the dead man's rooms on the night of the
fatality. On the other hand, his papers, bankbook, etc., proved him to be
a man of considerable substance, with no apparent motive for suicide. The
police had been unable to trace any relatives, or, indeed, any nearer
connections than casual acquaintances, fellow-clubmen, and so on. The jury
found that Mr. Foggatt had died by accident.
"Well, Brett," Hewitt asked me afterward, "what do you think of the
I said that it seemed to be the most reasonable one possible, and to
square with the common-sense view of the case.
"Yes," he replied, "perhaps it does. From the point of view of the jury,
and on their information, their verdict was quite reasonable.
Nevertheless, Mr. Foggatt did not shoot himself. He was shot by a rather
tall, active young man, perhaps a sailor, but certainly a gymnast--a young
man whom I think I could identify if I saw him."
"But how do you know this?"
"By the simplest possible inferences, which you may easily guess, if you
will but think."
"But, then, why didn't you say this at the inquest?"
"My dear fellow, they don't want any inferences and conjectures at an
inquest; they only want evidence. If I had traced the murderer, of course
then I should have communicated with the police. As a matter of fact, it
is quite possible that the police have observed and know as much as I
do--or more. They don't give everything away at an inquest, you know. It
"But, if you are right, how did the man get away?"
"Come, we are near home now. Let us take a look at the back of the house.
He _couldn't_ have left by Foggatt's landing door, as we know; and as he
_was_ there (I am certain of that), and as the chimney is out of the
question--for there was a good fire in the grate--he must have gone out by
the window. Only one window is possible--that with the broken catch--for
all the others were fastened inside. Out of that window, then, he went."
"But how? The window is fifty feet up."
"Of course it is. But why _will_ you persist in assuming that the only way
of escape by a window is downward? See, now, look up there. The window is
at the top floor, and it has a very broad sill. Over the window is nothing
but the flat face of the gable-end; but to the right, and a foot or two
above the level of the top of the window, an iron gutter ends. Observe, it
is not of lead composition, but a strong iron gutter, supported, just at
its end, by an iron bracket. If a tall man stood on the end of the
window-sill, steadying himself by the left hand and leaning to the right,
he could just touch the end of this gutter with his right hand. The full
stretch, toe to finger, is seven feet three inches. I have measured it. An
active gymnast, or a sailor, could catch the gutter with a slight spring,
and by it draw himself upon the roof. You will say he would have to be
_very_ active, dexterous, and cool. So he would. And that very fact helps
us, because it narrows the field of inquiry. We know the sort of man to
look for. Because, being certain (as I am) that the man was in the room, I
_know_ that he left in the way I am telling you. He must have left in some
way, and, all the other ways being impossible, this alone remains,
difficult as the feat may seem. The fact of his shutting the window behind
him further proves his coolness and address at so great a height from the
All this was very plain, but the main point was still dark.
"You say you _know_ that another man was in the room," I said; "how do you
"As I said, by an obvious inference. Come, now, you shall guess how I
arrived at that inference. You often speak of your interest in my work,
and the attention with which you follow it. This shall be a simple
exercise for you. You saw everything in the room as plainly as I myself.
Bring the scene back to your memory, and think over the various small
objects littering about, and how they would affect the case. Quick
observation is the first essential for my work. Did you see a newspaper,
"Yes. There was an evening paper on the floor, but I didn't examine it."
"On the table there was a whisky decanter, taken from the tantalus-stand
on the sideboard, and one glass. That, by the by," I added, "looked as
though only one person were present."
"So it did, perhaps, although the inference wouldn't be very strong. Go
"There was a fruit-stand on the sideboard, with a plate beside it
containing a few nutshells, a piece of apple, a pair of nut-crackers, and,
I think, some orange peel. There was, of course, all the ordinary
furniture, but no chair pulled up to the table, except that used by
Foggatt himself. That's all I noticed, I think. Stay--there was an
ash-tray on the table, and a partly burned cigar near it--only one cigar,
"Excellent--excellent, indeed, as far as memory and simple observation go.
You saw everything plainly, and you remember everything. Surely _now_ you
know how I found out that another man had just left?"
"No, I don't; unless there were different kinds of ash in the ash-tray."
"That is a fairly good suggestion, but there were not--there was only a
single ash, corresponding in every way to that on the cigar. Don't you
remember everything that I did as we went down-stairs?"
"You returned a bottle of oil to the housekeeper's daughter, I think."
"I did. Doesn't that give you a hint? Come, you surely have it now?"
"Then I sha'n't tell you; you don't deserve it. Think, and don't mention
the subject again till you have at least one guess to make. The thing
stares you in the face; you see it, you remember it, and yet you _won't_
see it. I won't encourage your slovenliness of thought, my boy, by telling
you what you can know for yourself if you like. Good-by--I'm off now.
There's a case in hand I can't neglect."
"Don't you propose to go further into this, then?"
Hewitt shrugged his shoulders. "I'm not a policeman," he said. "The case
is in very good hands. Of course, if anybody comes to me to do it as a
matter of business, I'll take it up. It's very interesting, but I can't
neglect my regular work for it. Naturally, I shall keep my eyes open and
my memory in order. Sometimes these things come into the hands by
themselves, as it were; in that case, of course, I am a loyal citizen, and
ready to help the law. _Au revoir_!"
* * * * *
I am a busy man myself, and thought little more of Hewitt's conundrum for
some time; indeed, when I did think, I saw no way to the answer. A week
after the inquest I took a holiday (I had written my nightly leaders
regularly every day for the past five years), and saw no more of Hewitt
for six weeks. After my return, with still a few days of leave to run, one
evening we together turned into Luzatti's, off Coventry Street, for
"I have been here several times lately," Hewitt said; "they feed you very
well. No, not that table"--he seized my arm as I turned to an unoccupied
corner--"I fancy it's draughty." He led the way to a longer table where a
dark, lithe, and (as well as could be seen) tall young man already sat,
and took chairs opposite him.
We had scarcely seated ourselves before Hewitt broke into a torrent of
conversation on the subject of bicycling. As our previous conversation had
been of a literary sort, and as I had never known Hewitt at any other time
to show the slightest interest in bicycling, this rather surprised me. I
had, however, such a general outsider's grasp of the subject as is usual
in a journalist-of-all-work, and managed to keep the talk going from my
side. As we went on I could see the face of the young man opposite
brighten with interest. He was a rather fine-looking fellow, with a dark,
though very clear skin, but had a hard, angry look of eye, a prominence of
cheek-bone, and a squareness of jaw that gave him a rather uninviting
aspect. As Hewitt rattled on, however, our neighbor's expression became
one of pleasant interest merely.
"Of course," Hewitt said, "we've a number of very capital men just now,
but I believe a deal in the forgotten riders of five, ten, and fifteen
years back. Osmond, I believe, was better than any man riding now, and I
think it would puzzle some of them to beat Furnivall as he was, at his
best. But poor old Cortis--really, I believe he was as good as anybody.
Nobody ever beat Cortis--except--let me see--I think somebody beat Cortis
once--who was it now? I can't remember."
"Liles," said the young man opposite, looking up quickly.
"Ah, yes--Liles it was; Charley Liles. Wasn't it a championship?"
"Mile championship, 1880; Cortis won the other three, though."
"Yes, so he did. I saw Cortis when he first broke the old 2.46 mile
record." And straightway Hewitt plunged into a whirl of talk of bicycles,
tricycles, records, racing cyclists, Hillier, and Synyer and Noel Whiting,
Taylerson and Appleyard--talk wherein the young man opposite bore an
animated share, while I was left in the cold.
Our new friend, it seems, had himself been a prominent racing bicyclist a
few years back, and was presently, at Hewitt's request, exhibiting a neat
gold medal that hung at his watch-guard. That was won, he explained, in
the old tall bicycle days, the days of bad tracks, when every racing
cyclist carried cinder scars on his face from numerous accidents. He
pointed to a blue mark on his forehead, which, he told us, was a track
scar, and described a bad fall that had cost him two teeth, and broken
others. The gaps among his teeth were plain to see as he smiled.
Presently the waiter brought dessert, and the young man opposite took an
apple. Nut-crackers and a fruit-knife lay on our side of the stand, and
Hewitt turned the stand to offer him the knife.
"No, thanks," he said; "I only polish a good apple, never peel it. It's a
mistake, except with thick-skinned foreign ones."
And he began to munch the apple as only a boy or a healthy athlete can.
Presently he turned his head to order coffee. The waiter's back was
turned, and he had to be called twice. To my unutterable amazement Hewitt
reached swiftly across the table, snatched the half-eaten apple from the
young man's plate and pocketed it, gazing immediately, with an abstracted
air, at a painted Cupid on the ceiling.
Our neighbor turned again, looked doubtfully at his plate and the
table-cloth about it, and then shot a keen glance in the direction of
Hewitt. He said nothing, however, but took his coffee and his bill,
deliberately drank the former, gazing quietly at Hewitt as he did it, paid
the latter, and left.
Immediately Hewitt was on his feet and, taking an umbrella, which stood
near, followed. Just as he reached the door he met our late neighbor, who
had turned suddenly back.
"Your umbrella, I think?" Hewitt asked, offering it.
"Yes, thanks." But the man's eye had more than its former hardness, and
his jaw muscles tightened as I looked. He turned and went. Hewitt came
back to me. "Pay the bill," he said, "and go back to your rooms; I will
come on later. I must follow this man--it's the Foggatt case." As he went
out I heard a cab rattle away, and immediately after it another.
I paid the bill and went home. It was ten o'clock before Hewitt turned up,
calling in at his office below on his way up to me.
"Mr. Sidney Mason," he said, "is the gentleman the police will be wanting
to-morrow, I expect, for the Foggatt murder. He is as smart a man as I
remember ever meeting, and has done me rather neatly twice this evening."
"You mean the man we sat opposite at Luzatti's, of course?"
"Yes, I got his name, of course, from the reverse of that gold medal he
was good enough to show me. But I fear he has bilked me over the address.
He suspected me, that was plain, and left his umbrella by way of
experiment to see if I were watching him sharply enough to notice the
circumstance, and to avail myself of it to follow him. I was hasty and
fell into the trap. He cabbed it away from Luzatti's, and I cabbed it
after him. He has led me a pretty dance up and down London to-night, and
two cabbies have made quite a stroke of business out of us. In the end he
entered a house of which, of course, I have taken the address, but I
expect he doesn't live there. He is too smart a man to lead me to his den;
but the police can certainly find something of him at the house he went in
at--and, I expect, left by the back way. By the way, you never guessed
that simple little puzzle as to how I found that this _was_ a murder, did
you? You see it now, of course?"
"Something to do with that apple you stole, I suppose?"
"Something to do with it? I should think so, you worthy innocent. Just
ring your bell; we'll borrow Mrs. Clayton's sewing-machine oil again. On
the night we broke into Foggatt's room you saw the nutshells and the
bitten remains of an apple on the sideboard, and you remembered it; and
yet you couldn't see that in that piece of apple possibly lay an important
piece of evidence. Of course I never expected you to have arrived at any
conclusion, as I had, because I had ten minutes in which to examine that
apple, and to do what I did with it. But, at least, you should have seen
the possibility of evidence in it.
"First, now, the apple was white. A bitten apple, as you must have
observed, turns of a reddish brown color if left to stand long. Different
kinds of apples brown with different rapidities, and the browning always
begins at the core. This is one of the twenty thousand tiny things that
few people take the trouble to notice, but which it is useful for a man in
my position to know. A russet will brown quite quickly. The apple on the
sideboard was, as near as I could tell, a Newtown pippin or other apple of
that kind, which will brown at the core in from twenty minutes to half an
hour, and in other parts in a quarter of an hour more. When we saw it, it
was white, with barely a tinge of brown about the exposed core. Inference,
somebody had been eating it fifteen or twenty minutes before, perhaps a
little longer--an inference supported by the fact that it was only partly
"I examined that apple, and found it bore marks of very irregular teeth.
While you were gone, I oiled it over, and, rushing down to my rooms, where
I always have a little plaster of Paris handy for such work, took a mold
of the part where the teeth had left the clearest marks. I then returned
the apple to its place for the police to use if they thought fit. Looking
at my mold, it was plain that the person who had bitten that apple had
lost two teeth, one at top and one below, not exactly opposite, but nearly
so. The other teeth, although they would appear to have been fairly sound,
were irregular in size and line. Now, the dead man had, as I saw, a very
excellent set of false teeth, regular and sharp, with none missing.
Therefore it was plain that somebody _else_ had been eating that apple. Do
I make myself clear?"
"Quite! Go on!"
"There were other inferences to be made--slighter, but all pointing the
same way. For instance, a man of Foggatt's age does not, as a rule, munch
an unpeeled apple like a school-boy. Inference, a young man, and healthy.
Why I came to the conclusion that he was tall, active, a gymnast, and
perhaps a sailor, I have already told you, when we examined the outside of
Foggatt's window. It was also pretty clear that robbery was not the
motive, since nothing was disturbed, and that a friendly conversation had
preceded the murder--witness the drinking and the eating of the apple.
Whether or not the police noticed these things I can't say. If they had
had their best men on, they certainly would, I think; but the case, to a
rough observer, looked so clearly one of accident or suicide that possibly
"As I said, after the inquest I was unable to devote any immediate time to
the case, but I resolved to keep my eyes open. The man to look for was
tall, young, strong and active, with a very irregular set of teeth, a
tooth missing from the lower jaw just to the left of the center, and
another from the upper jaw a little farther still toward the left. He
might possibly be a person I had seen about the premises (I have a good
memory for faces), or, of course, he possibly might not.
"Just before you returned from your holiday I noticed a young man at
Luzatti's whom I remembered to have seen somewhere about the offices in
this building. He was tall, young, and so on, but I had a client with me,
and was unable to examine him more narrowly; indeed, as I was not exactly
engaged on the case, and as there are several tall young men about, I took
little trouble. But to-day, finding the same young man with a vacant seat
opposite him, I took the opportunity of making a closer acquaintance."
"You certainly managed to draw him out."
"Oh, yes; the easiest person in the world to draw out is a cyclist. The
easiest cyclist to draw out is, of course, the novice, but the next
easiest is the veteran. When you see a healthy, well-trained-looking man,
who, nevertheless, has a slight stoop in the shoulders, and, maybe, a
medal on his watch-guard, it is always a safe card to try him first with a
little cycle-racing talk. I soon brought Mr. Mason out of his shell, read
his name on his medal, and had a chance of observing his teeth--indeed, he
spoke of them himself. Now, as I observed just now, there are several
tall, athletic young men about, and also there are several men who have
lost teeth. But now I saw that this tall and athletic young man had lost
exactly _two_ teeth--one from the lower jaw, just to the left of the
center, and another from the upper jaw, farther still toward the left!
Trivialities, pointing in the same direction, became important
considerations. More, his teeth were irregular throughout, and, as nearly
as I could remember it, looked remarkably like this little plaster mold of
He produced from his pocket an irregular lump of plaster, about three
inches long. On one side of this appeared in relief the likeness of two
irregular rows of six or eight teeth, minus one in each row, where a deep
gap was seen, in the position spoken of by my friend. He proceeded:
"This was enough at least to set me after this young man. But he gave me
the greatest chance of all when he turned and left his apple (eaten
unpeeled, remember!--another important triviality) on his plate. I'm
afraid I wasn't at all polite, and I ran the risk of arousing his
suspicions, but I couldn't resist the temptation to steal it. I did, as
you saw, and here it is."
He brought the apple from his coat-pocket. One bitten side, placed against
the upper half of the mold, fitted precisely, a projection of apple
filling exactly the deep gap. The other side similarly fitted the lower
"There's no getting behind that, you see," Hewitt remarked. "Merely
observing the man's teeth was a guide, to some extent, but this is as
plain as his signature or his thumb impression. You'll never find two men
_bite_ exactly alike, no matter whether they leave distinct teeth-marks or
not. Here, by the by, is Mrs. Clayton's oil. We'll take another mold from
this apple, and compare _them_."
He oiled the apple, heaped a little plaster in a newspaper, took my
water-jug, and rapidly pulled off a hard mold. The parts corresponding to
the merely broken places in the apple were, of course, dissimilar; but as
to the teeth-marks, the impressions were identical.
"That will do, I think," Hewitt said. "Tomorrow morning, Brett, I shall
put up these things in a small parcel, and take them round to Bow Street."
"But are they sufficient evidence?"
"Quite sufficient for the police purpose. There is the man, and all the
rest--his movements on the day and so forth--are simple matters of
inquiry; at any rate, that is police business."
* * * * *
I had scarcely sat down to my breakfast on the following morning when
Hewitt came into the room and put a long letter before me.
"From our friend of last night," he said; "read it."
This letter began abruptly, and undated, and was as follows:
"TO MARTIN HEWITT, ESQ.
"SIR: I must compliment you on the adroitness you exhibited this evening
in extracting from me my name. The address I was able to balk you of for
the time being, although by the time you read this you will probably have
found it through the _Law List_, as I am an admitted solicitor. That,
however, will be of little use to you, for I am removing myself, I think,
beyond the reach even of your abilities of search. I knew you well by
sight, and was, perhaps, foolish to allow myself to be drawn as I did.
Still, I had no idea that it would be dangerous, especially after seeing
you, as a witness with very little to say, at the inquest upon the
scoundrel I shot. Your somewhat discourteous seizure of my apple at first
amazed me--indeed, I was a little doubtful as to whether you had really
taken it--but it was my first warning that you might be playing a deep
game against me, incomprehensible as the action was to my mind. I
subsequently reflected that I had been eating an apple, instead of taking
the drink he first offered me, in the dead wretch's rooms on the night he
came to his merited end. From this I assume that your design was in some
way to compare what remained of the two apples--although I do not presume
to fathom the depths of your detective system. Still, I have heard of many
of your cases, and profoundly admire the keenness you exhibit. I am
thought to be a keen man myself, but, although I was able, to some extent,
to hold my own to-night, I admit that your acumen in this case alone is
something beyond me.
"I do not know by whom you are commissioned to hunt me, nor to what extent
you may be acquainted with my connection with the creature I killed. I
have sufficient respect for you, however, to wish that you should not
regard me as a vicious criminal, and a couple of hours to spare in which
to offer you an explanation that will convince you that such is not
altogether the case. A hasty and violent temper I admit possessing; but
even now I can not forget the one crime it has led me into--for it is, I
suppose, strictly speaking, a crime. For it was the man Foggatt who made a
felon of my father before the eyes of the world, and killed him with
shame. It was he who murdered my mother, and none the less murdered her
because she died of a broken heart. That he was also a thief and a
hypocrite might have concerned me little but for that.
"Of my father I remember very little. He must, I fear, have been a weak
and incapable man in many respects. He had no business abilities--in fact,
was quite unable to understand the complicated business matters in which
he largely dealt. Foggatt was a consummate master of all those arts of
financial jugglery that make so many fortunes, and ruin so many others, in
matters of company promoting, stocks, and shares. He was unable to
exercise them, however, because of a great financial disaster in which he
had been mixed up a few years before, and which made his name one to be
avoided in future. In these circumstances he made a sort of secret and
informal partnership with my father, who, ostensibly alone in the
business, acted throughout on the directions of Foggatt, understanding as
little what he did, poor, simple man, as a schoolboy would have done. The
transactions carried on went from small to large, and, unhappily from
honorable to dishonorable. My father relied on the superior abilities of
Foggatt with an absolute trust, carrying out each day the directions given
him privately the previous evening, buying, selling, printing
prospectuses, signing whatever had to be signed, all with sole
responsibility and as sole partner, while Foggatt, behind the scenes
absorbed the larger share of the profits. In brief, my unhappy and foolish
father was a mere tool in the hands of the cunning scoundrel who pulled
all the wires of the business, himself unseen and irresponsible. At last
three companies, for the promotion of which my father was responsible,
came to grief in a heap. Fraud was written large over all their history,
and, while Foggatt retired with his plunder, my father was left to meet
ruin, disgrace, and imprisonment. From beginning to end he, and he only,
was responsible. There was no shred of evidence to connect Foggatt with
the matter, and no means of escape from the net drawn about my father. He
lived through three years of imprisonment, and then, entirely abandoned by
the man who had made use of his simplicity, he died--of nothing but shame
and a broken heart.
"Of this I knew nothing at the time. Again and again, as a small boy, I
remember asking of my mother why I had no father at home, as other boys
had--unconscious of the stab I thus inflicted on her gentle heart. Of her
my earliest, as well as my latest, memory is that of a pale, weeping
woman, who grudged to let me out of her sight.
"Little by little I learned the whole cause of my mother's grief, for she
had no other confidant, and I fear my character developed early, for my
first coherent remembrance of the matter is that of a childish design to
take a table-knife and kill the bad man who had made my father die in
prison and caused my mother to cry.
"One thing, however, I never knew--the name of that bad man. Again and
again, as I grew older, I demanded to know, but my mother always withheld
it from me, with a gentle reminder that vengeance was for a greater hand
"I was seventeen years of age when my mother died. I believe that nothing
but her strong attachment to myself and her desire to see me safely
started in life kept her alive so long. Then I found that through all
those years of narrowed means she had contrived to scrape and save a
little money--sufficient, as it afterward proved, to see me through the
examinations for entrance to my profession, with the generous assistance
of my father's old legal advisers, who gave me my articles, and who have
all along treated me with extreme kindness.
"For most of the succeeding years my life does not concern the matter in
hand. I was a lawyer's clerk in my benefactors' service, and afterward a
qualified man among their assistants. All through the firm were careful,
in pursuance of my poor mother's wishes, that I should not learn the name
or whereabouts of the man who had wrecked her life and my father's. I
first met the man himself at the Clifton Club, where I had gone with an
acquaintance who was a member. It was not till afterward that I understood
his curious awkwardness on that occasion. A week later I called (as I had
frequently done) at the building in which your office is situated, on
business with a solicitor who has an office on the floor above your own.
On the stairs I almost ran against Mr. Foggatt. He started and turned
pale, exhibiting signs of alarm that I could not understand, and asked me
if I wished to see him.
"'No,' I replied, 'I didn't know you lived here. I am after somebody else
just now. Aren't you well?'
"He looked at me rather doubtfully, and said he was _not_ very well.
"I met him twice or thrice after that, and on each occasion his manner
grew more friendly, in a servile, flattering, and mean sort of way--a
thing unpleasant enough in anybody, but doubly so in the intercourse of a
man with another young enough to be his own son. Still, of course, I
treated the man civilly enough. On one occasion he asked me into his rooms
to look at a rather fine picture he had lately bought, and observed
casually, lifting a large revolver from the mantel-piece:
"'You see, I am prepared for any unwelcome visitors to my little den! He!
He!' Conceiving him, of course, to refer to burglars, I could not help
wondering at the forced and hollow character of his laugh. As we went down
the stairs he said: 'I think we know one another pretty well now, Mr.
Mason, eh? And if I could do anything to advance your professional
prospects, I should be glad of the chance, of course. I understand the
struggles of a young professional man--he! he!' It was the forced laugh
again, and the man spoke nervously. 'I think,' he added, 'that if you will
drop in to-morrow evening, perhaps I may have a little proposal to make.
"I assented, wondering what this proposal could be. Perhaps this eccentric
old gentleman was a good fellow, after all, anxious to do me a good turn,
and his awkwardness was nothing but a natural delicacy in breaking the
ice. I was not so flush of good friends as to be willing to lose one. He
might be desirous of putting business in my way.
"I went, and was received with cordiality that even then seemed a little
over-effusive. We sat and talked of one thing and another for a long
while, and I began to wonder when Mr. Foggatt was coming to the point that
most interested me. Several times he invited me to drink and smoke, but
long usage to athletic training has given me a distaste for both
practices, and I declined. At last he began to talk about myself. He was
afraid that my professional prospects in this country were not great, but
he had heard that in some of the colonies--South Africa, for
example--young lawyers had brilliant opportunities.
"'If you'd like to go there,' he said, 'I've no doubt, with a little
capital, a clever man like you could get a grand practice together very
soon. Or you might buy a share in some good established practice. I should
be glad to let you have L500, or even a little more, if that wouldn't
satisfy you, and----'
"I stood aghast. Why should this man, almost a stranger, offer me L500, or
even more, 'if that wouldn't satisfy' me? What claim had I on him? It was
very generous of him, of course, but out of the question. I was, at least,
a gentleman, and had a gentleman's self-respect. Meanwhile, he had gone
maundering on, in a halting sort of way, and presently let slip a sentence
that struck me like a blow between the eyes.
"'I shouldn't like you to bear ill-will because of what has happened in
the past,' he said. 'Your late--your late lamented mother--I'm afraid--she
had unworthy suspicions--I'm sure--it was best for all parties--your
father always appreciated----'
"I set back my chair and stood erect before him. This groveling wretch,
forcing the words through his dry lips, was the thief who had made another
of my father and had brought to miserable ends the lives of both my
parents! Everything was clear. The creature went in fear of me, never
imagining that I did not know him, and sought to buy me off--to buy me
from the remembrance of my dead mother's broken heart for L500--L500 that
he had made my father steal for him! I said not a word. But the memory of
all my mother's bitter years, and a savage sense of this crowning insult
to myself, took a hold upon me, and I was a tiger. Even then I verily
believe that one word of repentance, one tone of honest remorse, would
have saved him. But he drooped his eyes, snuffled excuses, and stammered
of 'unworthy suspicions' and 'no ill-will.' I let him stammer. Presently
he looked up and saw my face; and fell back in his chair, sick with
terror. I snatched the pistol from the mantel-piece, and, thrusting it in
his face, shot him where he sat.
"My subsequent coolness and quietness surprise me now. I took my hat and
stepped toward the door. But there were voices on the stairs. The door was
locked on the inside, and I left it so. I went back and quietly opened a
window. Below was a clear drop into darkness, and above was plain wall;
but away to one side, where the slope of the gable sprang from the roof,
an iron gutter ended, supported by a strong bracket. It was the only way.
I got upon the sill and carefully shut the window behind me, for people
were already knocking at the lobby door. From the end of the sill, holding
on by the reveal of the window with one hand, leaning and stretching my
utmost, I caught the gutter, swung myself clear, and scrambled on the
roof. I climbed over many roofs before I found, in an adjoining street, a
ladder lashed perpendicularly against the front of a house in course of
repair. This, to me, was an easy opportunity of descent, notwithstanding
the boards fastened over the face of the ladder, and I availed myself of
"I have taken some time and trouble in order that you (so far as I am
aware the only human being beside myself who knows me to be the author of
Foggatt's death) shall have at least the means of appraising my crime at
its just value of culpability. How much you already know of what I have
told you I can not guess. I am wrong, hardened, and flagitious, I make no
doubt, but I speak of the facts as they are. You see the thing, of course,
from your own point of view--I from mine. And I remember my mother!
"Trusting that you will forgive the odd freak of a man--a criminal, let us
say--who makes a confidant of the man set to hunt him down, I beg leave to
be, sir, your obedient servant,
I read the singular document through and handed it back to Hewitt.
"How does it strike you?" Hewitt asked.
"Mason would seem to be a man of very marked character," I said.
"Certainly no fool. And, if his tale is true, Foggatt is no great loss to
"Just so--if the tale is true. Personally I am disposed to believe it is."
"Where was the letter posted?"
"It wasn't posted. It was handed in with the others from the front-door
letter-box this morning in an unstamped envelope. He must have dropped it
in himself during the night. Paper," Hewitt proceeded, holding it up to
the light, "Turkey mill, ruled foolscap. Envelope, blue, official shape,
Pirie's watermark. Both quite ordinary and no special marks."
"Where do you suppose he's gone?"
"Impossible to guess. Some might think he meant suicide by the expression
'beyond the reach even of your abilities of search,' but I scarcely think
he is the sort of man to do that. No, there is no telling. Something may
be got by inquiring at his late address, of course; but, when such a man
tells you he doesn't think you will find him, you may count upon its being
a difficult job. His opinion is not to be despised."
"What shall you do?"
"Put the letter in the box with the casts for the police. _Fiat justitia_,
you know, without any question of sentiment. As to the apple, I really
think, if the police will let me, I'll make you a present of it. Keep it
somewhere as a souvenir of your absolute deficiency in reflective
observation in this case, and look at it whenever you feel yourself
growing dangerously conceited. It should cure you."
* * * * *
This is the history of the withered and almost petrified half apple that
stands in my cabinet among a number of flint implements and one or two
rather fine old Roman vessels. Of Mr. Sidney Mason we never heard another
word. The police did their best, but he had left not a track behind him.
His rooms were left almost undisturbed, and he had gone without anything
in the way of elaborate preparation for his journey, and without leaving a
trace of his intentions.
THE CASE OF THE DIXON TORPEDO.
Hewitt was very apt, in conversation, to dwell upon the many curious
chances and coincidences that he had observed, not only in connection with
his own cases, but also in matters dealt with by the official police, with
whom he was on terms of pretty regular, and, indeed, friendly,
acquaintanceship. He has told me many an anecdote of singular happenings
to Scotland Yard officials with whom he has exchanged experiences. Of
Inspector Nettings, for instance, who spent many weary months in a search
for a man wanted by the American Government, and in the end found, by the
merest accident (a misdirected call), that the man had been lodging next
door to himself the whole of the time; just as ignorant, of course, as was
the inspector himself as to the enemy at the other side of the party-wall.
Also of another inspector, whose name I can not recall, who, having been
given rather meager and insufficient details of a man whom he anticipated
having great difficulty in finding, went straight down the stairs of the
office where he had received instructions, and actually _fell over_ the
man near the door, where he had stooped down to tie his shoe-lace! There
were cases, too, in which, when a great and notorious crime had been
committed, and various persons had been arrested on suspicion, some were
found among them who had long been badly wanted for some other crime
altogether. Many criminals had met their deserts by venturing out of their
own particular line of crime into another; often a man who got into
trouble over something comparatively small found himself in for a
startlingly larger trouble, the result of some previous misdeed that
otherwise would have gone unpunished. The ruble note-forger Mirsky might
never have been handed over to the Russian authorities had he confined his
genius to forgery alone. It was generally supposed at the time of his
extradition that he had communicated with the Russian Embassy, with a view
to giving himself up--a foolish proceeding on his part, it would seem,
since his whereabouts, indeed even his identity as the forger, had not
been suspected. He _had_ communicated with the Russian Embassy, it is
true, but for quite a different purpose, as Martin Hewitt well understood
at the time. What that purpose was is now for the first time published.
* * * * *
The time was half-past one in the afternoon, and Hewitt sat in his inner
office examining and comparing the handwriting of two letters by the aid
of a large lens. He put down the lens and glanced at the clock on the
mantel-piece with a premonition of lunch; and as he did so his clerk
quietly entered the room with one of those printed slips which were kept
for the announcement of unknown visitors. It was filled up in a hasty and
almost illegible hand, thus:
Name of visitor: _F. Graham Dixon_.
Address: _Chancery Lane_.
Business: _Private and urgent_.
"Show Mr. Dixon in," said Martin Hewitt.
Mr. Dixon was a gaunt, worn-looking man of fifty or so, well, although
rather carelessly, dressed, and carrying in his strong, though drawn, face
and dullish eyes the look that characterizes the life-long strenuous
brain-worker. He leaned forward anxiously in the chair which Hewitt
offered him, and told his story with a great deal of very natural
"You may possibly have heard, Mr. Hewitt--I know there are rumors--of the
new locomotive torpedo which the government is about adopting; it is, in
fact, the Dixon torpedo, my own invention, and in every respect--not
merely in my own opinion, but in that of the government experts--by far
the most efficient and certain yet produced. It will travel at least four
hundred yards farther than any torpedo now made, with perfect accuracy of
aim (a very great desideratum, let me tell you), and will carry an
unprecedentedly heavy charge. There are other advantages--speed, simple
discharge, and so forth--that I needn't bother you about. The machine is
the result of many years of work and disappointment, and its design has
only been arrived at by a careful balancing of principles and means, which
are expressed on the only four existing sets of drawings. The whole thing,
I need hardly tell you, is a profound secret, and you may judge of my
present state of mind when I tell you that one set of drawings has been
"From your house?"
"From my office, in Chancery Lane, this morning. The four sets of drawings
were distributed thus: Two were at the Admiralty Office, one being a
finished set on thick paper, and the other a set of tracings therefrom;
and the other two were at my own office, one being a penciled set,
uncolored--a sort of finished draft, you understand--and the other a set
of tracings similar to those at the Admiralty. It is this last set that
has gone. The two sets were kept together in one drawer in my room. Both
were there at ten this morning; of that I am sure, for I had to go to that
very drawer for something else when I first arrived. But at twelve the
tracings had vanished."
"You suspect somebody, probably?"
"I can not. It is a most extraordinary thing. Nobody has left the office
(except myself, and then only to come to you) since ten this morning, and
there has been no visitor. And yet the drawings are gone!"
"But have you searched the place?"
"Of course I have! It was twelve o'clock when I first discovered my loss,
and I have been turning the place upside down ever since--I and my
assistants. Every drawer has been emptied, every desk and table turned
over, the very carpet and linoleum have been taken up, but there is not a
sign of the drawings. My men even insisted on turning all their pockets
inside out, although I never for a moment suspected either of them, and it
would take a pretty big pocket to hold the drawings, doubled up as small
as they might be."
"You say your men--there are two, I understand--had neither left the
"Neither; and they are both staying in now. Worsfold suggested that it
would be more satisfactory if they did not leave till something was done
toward clearing the mystery up, and, although, as I have said, I don't
suspect either in the least, I acquiesced."
"Just so. Now--I am assuming that you wish me to undertake the recovery of
The engineer nodded hastily.
"Very good; I will go round to your office. But first perhaps you can tell
me something about your assistants--something it might be awkward to tell
me in their presence, you know. Mr. Worsfold, for instance?"
"He is my draughtsman--a very excellent and intelligent man, a very smart
man, indeed, and, I feel sure, quite beyond suspicion. He has prepared
many important drawings for me (he has been with me nearly ten years now),
and I have always found him trustworthy. But, of course, the temptation in
this case would be enormous. Still, I can not suspect Worsfold. Indeed,
how can I suspect anybody in the circumstances?"
"The other, now?"
"His name's Ritter. He is merely a tracer, not a fully skilled
draughtsman. He is quite a decent young fellow, and I have had him two
years. I don't consider him particularly smart, or he would have learned a
little more of his business by this time. But I don't see the least reason
to suspect him. As I said before, I can't reasonably suspect anybody."
"Very well; we will get to Chancery Lane now, if you please, and you can
tell me more as we go."
"I have a cab waiting. What else can I tell you?"
"I understand the position to be succinctly this: The drawings were in the
office when you arrived. Nobody came out, and nobody went in; and _yet_
they vanished. Is that so?"
"That is so. When I say that absolutely nobody came in, of course I except
the postman. He brought a couple of letters during the morning. I mean
that absolutely nobody came past the barrier in the outer office--the
usual thing, you know, like a counter, with a frame of ground glass over
"I quite understand that. But I think you said that the drawings were in a
drawer in your _own_ room--not the outer office, where the draughtsmen
are, I presume?"
"That is the case. It is an inner room, or, rather, a room parallel with
the other, and communicating with it; just as your own room is, which we
have just left."
"But, then, you say you never left your office, and yet the drawings
vanished--apparently by some unseen agency--while you were there in the
"Let me explain more clearly." The cab was bowling smoothly along the
Strand, and the engineer took out a pocket-book and pencil. "I fear," he
proceeded, "that I am a little confused in my explanation--I am naturally
rather agitated. As you will see presently, my offices consist of three
rooms, two at one side of a corridor, and the other opposite--thus." He
made a rapid pencil sketch.
"In the outer office my men usually work. In the inner office I work
myself. These rooms communicate, as you see, by a door. Our ordinary way
in and out of the place is by the door of the outer office leading into
the corridor, and we first pass through the usual lifting flap in the
barrier. The door leading from the _inner_ office to the corridor is
always kept locked on the inside, and I don't suppose I unlock it once in
three months. It has not been unlocked all the morning. The drawer in
which the missing drawings were kept, and in which I saw them at ten
o'clock this morning, is at the place marked D; it is a large chest of
shallow drawers in which the plans lie flat."
"I quite understand. Then there is the private room opposite. What of
"That is a sort of private sitting-room that I rarely use, except for
business interviews of a very private nature. When I said I never left my
office, I did not mean that I never stirred out of the inner office. I was
about in one room and another, both the outer and the inner offices, and
once I went into the private room for five minutes, but nobody came either
in or out of any of the rooms at that time, for the door of the private
room was wide open, and I was standing at the book-case (I had gone to
consult a book), just inside the door, with a full view of the doors
opposite. Indeed, Worsfold was at the door of the outer office most of the
short time. He came to ask me a question."
"Well," Hewitt replied, "it all comes to the simple first statement. You
know that nobody left the place or arrived, except the postman, who
couldn't get near the drawings, and yet the drawings went. Is this your
The cab had stopped before a large stone building. Mr. Dixon alighted and
led the way to the first-floor. Hewitt took a casual glance round each of
the three rooms. There was a sort of door in the frame of ground glass
over the barrier to admit of speech with visitors. This door Hewitt pushed
wide open, and left so.
He and the engineer went into the inner office. "Would you like to ask
Worsfold and Ritter any questions?" Mr. Dixon inquired.
"Presently. Those are their coats, I take it, hanging just to the right of
the outer office door, over the umbrella stand?"
"Yes, those are all their things--coats, hats, stick, and umbrella."
"And those coats were searched, you say?"
"And this is the drawer--thoroughly searched, of course?"
"Oh, certainly; every drawer was taken out and turned over."
"Well, of course I must assume you made no mistake in your hunt. Now tell
me, did anybody know where these plans were, beyond yourself and your two
"As far as I can tell, not a soul."
"You don't keep an office boy?"
"No. There would be nothing for him to do except to post a letter now and
again, which Ritter does quite well for."
"As you are quite sure that the drawings were there at ten o'clock,
perhaps the thing scarcely matters. But I may as well know if your men
have keys of the office?"
"Neither. I have patent locks to each door and I keep all the keys myself.
If Worsfold or Ritter arrive before me in the morning they have to wait to
be let in; and I am always present myself when the rooms are cleaned. I
have not neglected precautions, you see."
"No. I suppose the object of the theft--assuming it is a theft--is pretty
plain: the thief would offer the drawings for sale to some foreign
"Of course. They would probably command a great sum. I have been looking,
as I need hardly tell you, to that invention to secure me a very large
fortune, and I shall be ruined, indeed, if the design is taken abroad. I
am under the strictest engagements to secrecy with the Admiralty, and not
only should I lose all my labor, but I should lose all the confidence
reposed in me at headquarters; should, in fact, be subject to penalties
for breach of contract, and my career stopped forever. I can not tell you
what a serious business this is for me. If you can not help me, the
consequences will be terrible. Bad for the service of the country, too, of
"Of course. Now tell me this: It would, I take it, be necessary for the
thief to _exhibit_ these drawings to anybody anxious to buy the secret--I
mean, he couldn't describe the invention by word of mouth."
"Oh, no, that would be impossible. The drawings are of the most
complicated description, and full of figures upon which the whole thing
depends. Indeed, one would have to be a skilled expert to properly
appreciate the design at all. Various principles of hydrostatics,
chemistry, electricity, and pneumatics are most delicately manipulated and
adjusted, and the smallest error or omission in any part would upset the
whole. No, the drawings are necessary to the thing, and they are gone."
At this moment the door of the outer office was heard to open and somebody
entered. The door between the two offices was ajar, and Hewitt could see
right through to the glass door left open over the barrier and into the
space beyond. A well-dressed, dark, bushy-bearded man stood there carrying
a hand-bag, which he placed on the ledge before him. Hewitt raised his
hand to enjoin silence. The man spoke in a rather high-pitched voice and
with a slight accent. "Is Mr. Dixon now within?" he asked.
"He is engaged," answered one of the draughtsmen; "very particularly
engaged. I am afraid you won't be able to see him this afternoon. Can I
give him any message?"
"This is two--the second time I have come to-day. Not two hours ago Mr.
Dixon himself tells me to call again. I have a very important--very
excellent steam-packing to show him that is very cheap and the best of the
market." The man tapped his bag. "I have just taken orders from the
largest railway companies. Can not I see him, for one second only? I will
not detain him."
"Really, I'm sure you can't this afternoon; he isn't seeing anybody. But
if you'll leave your name----"
"My name is Hunter; but what the good of that? He ask me to call a little
later, and I come, and now he is engaged. It is a very great pity." And
the man snatched up his bag and walking-stick, and stalked off,
Hewitt stood still, gazing through the small aperture in the doorway.
"You'd scarcely expect a man with such a name as Hunter to talk with that
accent, would you?" he observed, musingly. "It isn't a French accent, nor
a German; but it seems foreign. You don't happen to know him, I suppose?"
"No, I don't. He called here about half-past twelve, just while we were in
the middle of our search and I was frantic over the loss of the drawings.
I was in the outer office myself, and told him to call later. I have lots
of such agents here, anxious to sell all sorts of engineering appliances.
But what will you do now? Shall you see my men?"
"I think," said Hewitt, rising--"I think I'll get you to question them
"Yes, I have a reason. Will you trust me with the 'key' of the private
room opposite? I will go over there for a little, while you talk to your
men in this room. Bring them in here and shut the door; I can look after
the office from across the corridor, you know. Ask them each to detail his
exact movements about the office this morning, and get them to recall each
visitor who has been here from the beginning of the week. I'll let you
know the reason of this later. Come across to me in a few minutes."
Hewitt took the key and passed through the outer office into the corridor.
Ten minutes later Mr. Dixon, having questioned his draughtsmen, followed
him. He found Hewitt standing before the table in the private room, on
which lay several drawings on tracing-paper.
"See here, Mr. Dixon," said Hewitt, "I think these are the drawings you
are anxious about?"
The engineer sprang toward them with a cry of delight. "Why, yes, yes," he
exclaimed, turning them over, "every one of them! But where--how--they
must have been in the place after all, then? What a fool I have been!"
Hewitt shook his head. "I'm afraid you're not quite so lucky as you think,
Mr. Dixon," he said. "These drawings have most certainly been out of the
house for a little while. Never mind how--we'll talk of that after. There
is no time to lose. Tell me--how long would it take a good draughtsman to
"They couldn't possibly be traced over properly in less than two or two
and a half long days of very hard work," Dixon replied with eagerness.
"Ah! then it is as I feared. These tracings have been photographed, Mr.
Dixon, and our task is one of every possible difficulty. If they had been
copied in the ordinary way, one might hope to get hold of the copy. But
photography upsets everything. Copies can be multiplied with such amazing
facility that, once the thief gets a decent start, it is almost hopeless
to checkmate him. The only chance is to get at the negatives before copies
are taken. I must act at once; and I fear, between ourselves, it may be
necessary for me to step very distinctly over the line of the law in the
matter. You see, to get at those negatives may involve something very like
house-breaking. There must be no delay, no waiting for legal procedure, or
the mischief is done. Indeed, I very much question whether you have any
legal remedy, strictly speaking."
"Mr. Hewitt, I implore you, do what you can. I need not say that all I
have is at your disposal. I will guarantee to hold you harmless for
anything that may happen. But do, I entreat you, do everything possible.
Think of what the consequences may be!"
"Well, yes, so I do," Hewitt remarked, with a smile. "The consequences to
me, if I were charged with house-breaking, might be something that no
amount of guarantee could mitigate. However, I will do what I can, if only
from patriotic motives. Now, I must see your tracer, Ritter. He is the
traitor in the camp."
"Ritter? But how?"
"Never mind that now. You are upset and agitated, and had better not know
more than is necessary for a little while, in case you say or do something
unguarded. With Ritter I must take a deep course; what I don't know I must
appear to know, and that will seem more likely to him if I disclaim
acquaintance with what I do know. But first put these tracings safely away
out of sight."
Dixon slipped them behind his book-case.
"Now," Hewitt pursued, "call Mr. Worsfold and give him something to do
that will keep him in the inner office across the way, and tell him to
send Ritter here."
Mr. Dixon called his chief draughtsman and requested him to put in order
the drawings in the drawers of the inner room that had been disarranged by
the search, and to send Ritter, as Hewitt had suggested.
Ritter walked into the private room with an air of respectful attention.
He was a puffy-faced, unhealthy-looking young man, with very small eyes
and a loose, mobile mouth.
"Sit down, Mr. Ritter," Hewitt said, in a stern voice. "Your recent
transactions with your friend Mr. Hunter are well known both to Mr. Dixon
Ritter, who had at first leaned easily back in his chair, started forward
at this, and paled.
"You are surprised, I observe; but you should be more careful in your
movements out of doors if you do not wish your acquaintances to be known.
Mr. Hunter, I believe, has the drawings which Mr. Dixon has lost, and, if
so, I am certain that you have given them to him. That, you know, is
theft, for which the law provides a severe penalty."
Ritter broke down completely and turned appealingly to Mr. Dixon.
"Oh, sir," he pleaded, "it isn't so bad, I assure you. I was tempted, I
confess, and hid the drawings; but they are still in the office, and I can
give them to you--really, I can."
"Indeed?" Hewitt went on. "Then, in that case, perhaps you'd better get
them at once. Just go and fetch them in; we won't trouble to observe your
hiding-place. I'll only keep this door open, to be sure you don't lose
your way, you know--down the stairs, for instance."
The wretched Ritter, with hanging head, slunk into the office opposite.
Presently he reappeared, looking, if possible, ghastlier than before. He
looked irresolutely down the corridor, as if meditating a run for it, but
Hewitt stepped toward him and motioned him back to the private room.
"You mustn't try any more of that sort of humbug," Hewitt said with
increased severity. "The drawings are gone, and you have stolen them; you
know that well enough. Now attend to me. If you received your deserts, Mr.
Dixon would send for a policeman this moment, and have you hauled off to
the jail that is your proper place. But, unfortunately, your accomplice,
who calls himself Hunter--but who has other names besides that--as I
happen to know--has the drawings, and it is absolutely necessary that
these should be recovered. I am afraid that it will be necessary,
therefore, to come to some arrangement with this scoundrel--to square him,
in fact. Now, just take that pen and paper, and write to your confederate
as I dictate. You know the alternative if you cause any difficulty."
Ritter reached tremblingly for the pen.
"Address him in your usual way," Hewitt proceeded. "Say this: 'There has
been an alteration in the plans.' Have you got that? 'There has been an
alteration in the plans. I shall be alone here at six o'clock. Please
come, without fail.' Have you got it? Very well; sign it, and address the
envelope. He must come here, and then we may arrange matters. In the
meantime, you will remain in the inner office opposite."
The note was written, and Martin Hewitt, without glancing at the address,
thrust it into his pocket. When Ritter was safely in the inner office,
however, he drew it out and read the address. "I see," he observed, "he
uses the same name, Hunter; 27 Little Carton Street, Westminster, is the
address, and there I shall go at once with the note. If the man comes
here, I think you had better lock him in with Ritter, and send for a
policeman--it may at least frighten him. My object is, of course, to get
the man away, and then, if possible, to invade his house, in some way or
another, and steal or smash his negatives if they are there and to be
found. Stay here, in any case, till I return. And don't forget to lock up
* * * * *
It was about six o'clock when Hewitt returned, alone, but with a smiling
face that told of good fortune at first sight.
"First, Mr. Dixon," he said, as he dropped into an easy chair in the
private room, "let me ease your mind by the information that I have been
most extraordinarily lucky; in fact, I think you have no further cause for
anxiety. Here are the negatives. They were not all quite dry when I--well,
what?--stole them, I suppose I must say; so that they have stuck together
a bit, and probably the films are damaged. But you don't mind that, I
He laid a small parcel, wrapped in a newspaper, on the table. The engineer
hastily tore away the paper and took up five or six glass photographic
negatives, of a half-plate size, which were damp, and stuck together by
the gelatine films in couples. He held them, one after another, up to the
light of the window, and glanced through them. Then, with a great sigh of
relief, he placed them on the hearth and pounded them to dust and
fragments with the poker.
For a few seconds neither spoke. Then Dixon, flinging himself into a
"Mr. Hewitt, I can't express my obligation to you. What would have
happened if you had failed, I prefer not to think of. But what shall we do
with Ritter now? The other man hasn't been here yet, by the by."
"No; the fact is I didn't deliver the letter. The worthy gentleman saved
me a world of trouble by taking himself out of the way." Hewitt laughed.
"I'm afraid he has rather got himself into a mess by trying two kinds of
theft at once, and you may not be sorry to hear that his attempt on your
torpedo plans is likely to bring him a dose of penal servitude for
something else. I'll tell you what has happened.
"Little Carton Street, Westminster, I found to be a seedy sort of
place--one of those old streets that have seen much better days. A good
many people seem to live in each house--they are fairly large houses, by
the way--and there is quite a company of bell-handles on each doorpost,
all down the side like organ-stops. A barber had possession of the ground
floor front of No. 27 for trade purposes, so to him I went. 'Can you tell
me,' I said, 'where in this house I can find Mr. Hunter?' He looked
doubtful, so I went on: 'His friend will do, you know--I can't think of
his name; foreign gentleman, dark, with a bushy beard.'
"The barber understood at once. 'Oh, that's Mirsky, I expect,' he said.
'Now, I come to think of it, he has had letters addressed to Hunter once
or twice; I've took 'em in. Top floor back.'
"This was good so far. I had got at 'Mr. Hunter's' other alias. So, by way
of possessing him with the idea that I knew all about him, I determined to
ask for him as Mirsky before handing over the letter addressed to him as
Hunter. A little bluff of that sort is invaluable at the right time. At
the top floor back I stopped at the door and tried to open it at once, but
it was locked. I could hear somebody scuttling about within, as though
carrying things about, and I knocked again. In a little while the door
opened about a foot, and there stood Mr. Hunter--or Mirsky, as you
like--the man who, in the character of a traveler in steam-packing, came
here twice to-day. He was in his shirt-sleeves, and cuddled something
under his arm, hastily covered with a spotted pocket-handkerchief.
"'I have called to see M. Mirsky," I said, 'with a confidential
"'Oh, yas, yas,' he answered hastily; 'I know--I know. Excuse me one
minute.' And he rushed off down-stairs with his parcel.
"Here was a noble chance. For a moment I thought of following him, in case
there might be something interesting in the parcel. But I had to decide in
a moment, and I decided on trying the room. I slipped inside the door,
and, finding the key on the inside, locked it. It was a confused sort of
room, with a little iron bedstead in one corner and a sort of rough
boarded inclosure in another. This I rightly conjectured to be the
photographic dark-room, and made for it at once.
"There was plenty of light within when the door was left open, and I made
at once for the drying-rack that was fastened over the sink. There were a
number of negatives in it, and I began hastily examining them one after
another. In the middle of this our friend Mirsky returned and tried the
door. He rattled violently at the handle and pushed. Then he called.
"At this moment I had come upon the first of the negatives you have just
smashed. The fixing and washing had evidently only lately been completed,
and the negative was drying on the rack. I seized it, of course, and the
others which stood by it.
"'Who are you, there, inside?' Mirsky shouted indignantly from the
landing. 'Why for you go in my room like that? Open this door at once, or
I call the police!'
"I took no notice. I had got the full number of negatives, one for each
drawing, but I was not by any means sure that he had not taken an extra
set; so I went on hunting down the rack. There were no more, so I set to
work to turn out all the undeveloped plates. It was quite possible, you
see, that the other set, if it existed, had not yet been developed.
"Mirsky changed his tune. After a little more banging and shouting I could
hear him kneel down and try the key-hole. I had left the key there, so
that he could see nothing. But he began talking softly and rapidly through
the hole in a foreign language. I did not know it in the least, but I
believe it was Russian. What had led him to believe I understood Russian I
could not at the time imagine, though I have a notion now. I went on
ruining his stock of plates. I found several boxes, apparently of new
plates, but, as there was no means of telling whether they were really
unused or Avere merely undeveloped, but with the chemical impress of your
drawings on them, I dragged every one ruthlessly from its hiding-place and
laid it out in the full glare of the sunlight--destroying it thereby, of
course, whether it was unused or not.
"Mirsky left off talking, and I heard him quietly sneaking off. Perhaps
his conscience was not sufficiently clear to warrant an appeal to the
police, but it seemed to me rather probable at the time that that was what
he was going for. So I hurried on with my work. I found three dark
slides--the parts that carried the plates in the back of the camera, you
know--one of them fixed in the camera itself. These I opened, and exposed
the plates to ruination as before. I suppose nobody ever did so much
devastation in a photographic studio in ten minutes as I managed.
"I had spoiled every plate I could find, and had the developed negatives
safely in my pocket, when I happened to glance at a porcelain washing-well
under the sink. There was one negative in that, and I took it up. It was
_not_ a negative of a drawing of yours, but of a Russian twenty-ruble
This _was_ a discovery. The only possible reason any man could have for
photographing a bank-note was the manufacture of an etched plate for the
production of forged copies. I was almost as pleased as I had been at the
discovery of _your_ negatives. He might bring the police now as soon as he
liked; I could turn the tables on him completely. I began to hunt about
for anything else relating to this negative.
"I found an inking-roller, some old pieces of blanket (used in printing
from plates), and in a corner on the floor, heaped over with newspapers
and rubbish, a small copying-press. There was also a dish of acid, but not
an etched plate or a printed note to be seen. I was looking at the press,
with the negative in one hand and the inking-roller in the other, when I
became conscious of a shadow across the window. I looked up quickly, and
there was Mirsky hanging over from some ledge or projection to the side of
the window, and staring straight at me, with a look of unmistakable terror
"The face vanished immediately. I had to move a table to get at the
window, and by the time I had opened it there was no sign or sound of the
rightful tenant of the room. I had no doubt now of his reason for carrying
a parcel down-stairs. He probably mistook me for another visitor he was
expecting, and, knowing he must take this visitor into his room, threw the
papers and rubbish over the press, and put up his plates and papers in a
bundle and secreted them somewhere down-stairs, lest his occupation should
"Plainly, my duty now was to communicate with the police. So, by the help
of my friend the barber down-stairs, a messenger was found and a note sent
over to Scotland Yard. I awaited, of course, for the arrival of the
police, and occupied the interval in another look round--finding nothing
important, however. When the official detective arrived, he recognized at
once the importance of the case. A large number of forged Russian notes
have been put into circulation on the Continent lately, it seems, and it
was suspected that they came from London. The Russian Government have been
sending urgent messages to the police here on the subject.
"Of course I said nothing about your business; but, while I was talking
with the Scotland Yard man, a letter was left by a messenger, addressed to
Mirsky. The letter will be examined, of course, by the proper authorities,
but I was not a little interested to perceive that the envelope bore the
Russian imperial arms above the words 'Russian Embassy.' Now, why should
Mirsky communicate with the Russian Embassy? Certainly not to let the
officials know that he was carrying on a very extensive and lucrative
business in the manufacture of spurious Russian notes. I think it is
rather more than possible that he wrote--probably before he actually got
your drawings--to say that he could sell information of the highest
importance, and that this letter was a reply. Further, I think it quite
possible that, when I asked for him by his Russian name and spoke of 'a
confidential letter,' he at once concluded that _I_ had come from the
embassy in answer to his letter. That would account for his addressing me
in Russian through the key-hole; and, of course, an official from the
Russian Embassy would be the very last person in the world whom he would
like to observe any indications of his little etching experiments. But,
anyhow, be that as it may," Hewitt concluded, "your drawings are safe now,
and if once Mirsky is caught, and I think it likely, for a man in his
shirt-sleeves, with scarcely any start, and, perhaps, no money about him,
hasn't a great chance to get away--if he is caught, I say, he will
probably get something handsome at St. Petersburg in the way of
imprisonment, or Siberia, or what not; so that you will be amply avenged."
"Yes, but I don't at all understand this business of the drawings even
now. How in the world were they taken out of the place, and how in the
world did you find it out?"
"Nothing could be simpler; and yet the plan was rather ingenious. I'll
tell you exactly how the thing revealed itself to me. From your original
description of the case many people would consider that an impossibility
had been performed. Nobody had gone out and nobody had come in, and yet
the drawings had been taken away. But an impossibility is an
impossibility, after all, and as drawings don't run away of themselves,
plainly somebody had taken them, unaccountable as it might seem. Now, as
they were in your inner office, the only people who could have got at them
besides yourself were your assistants, so that it was pretty clear that
one of them, at least, had something to do with the business. You told me
that Worsfold was an excellent and intelligent draughtsman. Well, if such
a man as that meditated treachery, he would probably be able to carry away
the design in his head--at any rate, a little at a time--and would be
under no necessity to run the risk of stealing a set of the drawings. But
Ritter, you remarked, was an inferior sort of man. 'Not particularly
smart,' I think, were your words--only a mechanical sort of tracer. _He_
would be unlikely to be able to carry in his head the complicated details
of such designs as yours, and, being in a subordinate position, and
continually overlooked, he would find it impossible to make copies of the
plans in the office. So that, to begin with, I thought I saw the most
probable path to start on.
"When I looked round the rooms, I pushed open the glass door of the
barrier and left the door to the inner office ajar, in order to be able to
see any thing that _might_ happen in any part of the place, without
actually expecting any definite development. While we were talking, as it
happened, our friend Mirsky (or Hunter--as you please) came into the outer
office, and my attention was instantly called to him by the first thing he
did. Did you notice anything peculiar yourself?"
"No, really, I can't say I did. He seemed to behave much as any traveler
or agent might."
"Well, what I noticed was the fact that as soon as he entered the place he
put his walking-stick into the umbrella-stand over there by the door,
close by where he stood, a most unusual thing for a casual caller to do,
before even knowing whether you were in. This made me watch him closely. I
perceived with increased interest that the stick was exactly of the same
kind and pattern as one already standing there, also a curious thing. I
kept my eyes carefully on those sticks, and was all the more interested
and edified to see, when he left, that he took the _other_ stick--not the
one he came with--from the stand, and carried it away, leaving his own
behind. I might have followed him, but I decided that more could be
learned by staying, as, in fact, proved to be the case. This, by the by,
is the stick he carried away with him. I took the liberty of fetching it
back from Westminster, because I conceive it to be Ritier's property."
Hewitt produced the stick. It was an ordinary, thick Malacca cane, with a
buck-horn handle and a silver band. Hewitt bent it across his knee and
laid it on the table.
"Yes," Dixon answered, "that is Ritter's stick. I think I have often seen
it in the stand. But what in the world----"
"One moment; I'll just fetch the stick Mirsky left behind." And Hewitt
stepped across the corridor.
He returned with another stick, apparently an exact fac-simile of the
other, and placed it by the side of the other.
"When your assistants went into the inner room, I carried this stick off
for a minute or two. I knew it was not Worsfold's, because there was an
umbrella there with his initial on the handle. Look at this."
Martin Hewitt gave the handle a twist and rapidly unscrewed it from the
top. Then it was seen that the stick was a mere tube of very thin metal,
painted to appear like a Malacca cane.
"It was plain at once that this was no Malacca cane--it wouldn't bend.
Inside it I found your tracings, rolled up tightly. You can get a
marvelous quantity of thin tracing-paper into a small compass by tight
"And this--this was the way they were brought back!" the engineer
exclaimed. "I see that clearly. But how did they get away? That's as
mysterious as ever."
"Not a bit of it! See here. Mirsky gets hold of Ritter, and they agree to
get your drawings and photograph them. Ritter is to let his confederate
have the drawings, and Mirsky is to bring them back as soon as possible,
so that they sha'n't be missed for a moment. Ritter habitually carries
this Malacca cane, and the cunning of Mirsky at once suggests that this
tube should be made in outward fac-simile. This morning Mirsky keeps the
actual stick, and Ritter comes to the office with the tube. He seizes the
first opportunity--probably when you were in this private room, and
Worsfold was talking to you from the corridor--to get at the tracings,
roll them up tightly, and put them in the tube, putting the tube back into
the umbrella-stand. At half-past twelve, or whenever it was, Mirsky turns
up for the first time with the actual stick and exchanges them, just as he
afterward did when he brought the drawings back."
"Yes, but Mirsky came half an hour after they were--Oh, yes, I see. What a
fool I was! I was forgetting. Of course, when I first missed the tracings,
they were in this walking-stick, safe enough, and I was tearing my hair
out within arm's reach of them!"
"Precisely. And Mirsky took them away before your very eyes. I expect
Ritter was in a rare funk when he found that the drawings were missed. He
calculated, no doubt, on your not wanting them for the hour or two they
would be out of the office."
"How lucky that it struck me to jot a pencil-note on one of them! I might
easily have made my note somewhere else, and then I should never have
known that they had been away."
"Yes, they didn't give you any too much time to miss them. Well, I think
the rest pretty clear. I brought the tracings in here, screwed up the sham
stick and put it back. You identified the tracings and found none missing,
and then my course was pretty clear, though it looked difficult. I knew
you would be very naturally indignant with Ritter, so, as I wanted to
manage him myself, I told you nothing of what he had actually done, for
fear that, in your agitated state, you might burst out with something that
would spoil my game. To Ritter I pretended to know nothing of the return
of the drawings or _how_ they had been stolen--the only things I did know
with certainty. But I _did_ pretend to know all about Mirsky--or
Hunter--when, as a matter of fact, I knew nothing at all, except that he
probably went under more than one name. That put Ritter into my hands
completely. When he found the game was up, he began with a lying
confession. Believing that the tracings were still in the stick and that
we knew nothing of their return, he said that they had not been away, and
that he would fetch them--as I had expected he would. I let him go for
them alone, and, when he returned, utterly broken up by the discovery that
they were not there, I had him altogether at my mercy. You see, if he had
known that the drawings were all the time behind your book-case, he might
have brazened it out, sworn that the drawings had been there all the time,
and we could have done nothing with him. We couldn't have sufficiently
frightened him by a threat of prosecution for theft, because there the
things were in your possession, to his knowledge.
"As it was he answered the helm capitally: gave us Mirsky's address on the
envelope, and wrote the letter that was to have got him out of the way
while I committed burglary, if that disgraceful expedient had not been
rendered unnecessary. On the whole, the case has gone very well."
"It has gone marvelously well, thanks to yourself. But what shall I do
"Here's his stick--knock him down-stairs with it, if you like. I should
keep the tube, if I were you, as a memento. I don't suppose the
respectable Mirsky will ever call to ask for it. But I should certainly
kick Ritter out of doors--or out of window, if you like--without delay."
Mirsky was caught, and, after two remands at the police-court, was
extradited on the charge of forging Russian notes. It came out that he had
written to the embassy, as Hewitt had surmised, stating that he had
certain valuable information to offer, and the letter which Hewitt had
seen delivered was an acknowledgment, and a request for more definite
particulars. This was what gave rise to the impression that Mirsky had
himself informed the Russian authorities of his forgeries. His real intent
was very different, but was never guessed.
* * * * *
"I wonder," Hewitt has once or twice observed, "whether, after all, it
would not have paid the Russian authorities better on the whole if I had
never investigated Mirsky's little note factory. The Dixon torpedo was
worth a good many twenty-ruble notes."
THE QUINTON JEWEL AFFAIR.
It was comparatively rarely that Hewitt came into contact with members of
the regular criminal class--those, I mean, who are thieves, of one sort or
another, by exclusive profession. Still, nobody could have been better
prepared than Hewitt for encountering this class when it became necessary.
By some means, which I never quite understood, he managed to keep abreast
of the very latest fashions in the ever-changing slang dialect of the
fraternity, and he was a perfect master of the more modern and debased
form of Romany. So much so that frequently a gypsy who began (as they
always do) by pretending that he understood nothing, and never heard of a
gypsy language, ended by confessing that Hewitt could _rokker_ better than
most Romany _chals_ themselves.
By this acquaintance with their habits and talk Hewitt was sometimes able
to render efficient service in cases of especial importance. In the
Quinton jewel affair Hewitt came into contact with a very accomplished
The case will probably be very well remembered. Sir Valentine Quinton,
before he married, had been as poor as only a man of rank with an old
country establishment to keep up can be. His marriage, however, with the
daughter of a wealthy financier had changed all that, and now the Quinton
establishment was carried on on as lavish a scale as might be; and,
indeed, the extravagant habits of Lady Quinton herself rendered it an
extremely lucky thing that she had brought a fortune with her.
Among other things her jewels made quite a collection, and chief among
them was the great ruby, one of the very few that were sent to this
country to be sold (at an average price of somewhere about twenty thousand
pounds apiece, I believe) by the Burmese king before the annexation of his
country. Let but a ruby be of a great size and color, and no equally fine
diamond can approach its value. Well, this great ruby (which was set in a
pendant, by the by), together with a necklace, brooches, bracelets,
ear-rings--indeed, the greater part of Lady Quinton's collection--were
stolen. The robbery was effected at the usual time and in the usual way in
cases of carefully planned jewelry robberies. The time was early
evening--dinner-time, in fact--and an entrance had been made by the window
to Lady Quinton's dressing-room, the door screwed up on the inside, and
wires artfully stretched about the grounds below to overset anybody who
might observe and pursue the thieves.
On an investigation by London detectives, however, a feature of
singularity was brought to light. There had plainly been only one thief at
work at Radcot Hall, and no other had been inside the grounds. Alone he
had planted the wires, opened the window, screwed the door, and picked the
lock of the safe. Clearly this was a thief of the most accomplished
Some few days passed, and, although the police had made various arrests,
they appeared to be all mistakes, and the suspected persons were released
one after another. I was talking of the robbery with Hewitt at lunch, and
asked him if he had received any commission to hunt for the missing
"No," Hewitt replied, "I haven't been commissioned. They are offering an
immense reward however--a very pleasant sum, indeed. I have had a short
note from Radcot Hall informing me of the amount, and that's all. Probably
they fancy that I may take the case up as a speculation, but that is a
great mistake. I'm not a beginner, and I must be commissioned in a regular
manner, hit or miss, if I am to deal with the case. I've quite enough
commissions going now, and no time to waste hunting for a problematical
But we were nearer a clue to the Quinton jewels than we then supposed.
We talked of other things, and presently rose and left the restaurant,
strolling quietly toward home. Some little distance from the Strand, and
near our own door, we passed an excited Irishman--without doubt an
Irishman by appearance and talk--who was pouring a torrent of angry
complaints in the ears of a policeman. The policeman obviously thought
little of the man's grievances, and with an amused smile appeared to be
advising him to go home quietly and think no more about it. We passed on
and mounted our stairs. Something interesting in our conversation made me
stop for a little while at Hewitt's office door on my way up, and, while I
stood there, the Irishman we had seen in the street mounted the stairs. He
was a poorly dressed but sturdy-looking fellow, apparently a laborer, in a
badly-worn best suit of clothes. His agitation still held him, and without
a pause he immediately burst out:
"Which of ye jintlemen will be Misther Hewitt, sor?"
"This is Mr. Hewitt," I said. "Do you want him?"
"It's protecshin I want, sor--protecshin! I spake to the polis, an' they
laff at me, begob. Foive days have I lived in London, an' 'tis nothin' but
battle, murdher, an' suddhen death for me here all day an' ivery day! An'
the polis say I'm dhrunk!"
He gesticulated wildly, and to me it seemed just possible that the police
might be right.
"They say I'm drunk, sor," he continued, "but, begob, I b'lieve they think
I'm mad. An' me being thracked an' folleyed an' dogged an' waylaid an'
poisoned an' blandandhered an' kidnapped an' murdhered, an' for why I do
"And who's doing all this?'
"Sthrangers, sor--sthrangers. 'Tis a sthranger here I am mesilf, an' fwy
they do it bates me, onless I do be so like the Prince av Wales or other
crowned head they thry to slaughter me. They're layin' for me in the
sthreet now, I misdoubt not, and fwat they may thry next I can tell no
more than the Lord Mayor. An' the polis won't listen to me!"
This, I thought, must be one of the very common cases of mental
hallucination which one hears of every day--the belief of the sufferer
that he is surrounded by enemies and followed by spies. It is probably the
most usual delusion of the harmless lunatic.
"But what have these people done?" Hewitt asked, looking rather
interested, although amused. "What actual assaults have they committed,
and when? And who told you to come here?"
"Who towld me, is ut? Who but the payler outside--in the street below! I
explained to 'um, an' sez he: 'Ah, you go an' take a slape,' sez he; 'you
go an' take a good slape, an' they'll be all gone whin ye wake up.' 'But
they'll murdher me,' sez I. 'Oh, no!' sez he, smilin' behind av his ugly
face. 'Oh, no, they won't; you take ut aisy, me frind, an' go home!' 'Take
it aisy, is ut, an' go home!' sez I; 'why, that's just where they've been
last, a-ruinationin' an' a-turnin' av the place upside down, an' me strook
on the head onsensible a mile away. Take ut aisy, is ut, ye say, whin all
the demons in this unholy place is jumpin' on me every minut in places
promiscuous till I can't tell where to turn, descendin' an' vanishin'
marvelious an' onaccountable? Take ut aisy, is ut?' sez I. 'Well, me
frind,' sez he, 'I can't help ye; that's the marvelious an' onaccountable
departmint up the stairs forninst ye. Misther Hewitt ut is,' sez he, 'that
attinds to the onaccountable departmint, him as wint by a minut ago. You
go an' bother him.' That's how I was towld, sor."
"Very good," he said; "and now what are these extraordinary troubles of
yours? Don't declaim," he added, as the Irishman raised his hand and
opened his mouth, preparatory to another torrent of complaint; "just say
in ten words, if you can, what they've done to you."
"I will, sor. Wan day had I been in London, sor--wan day only, an' a low
scutt thried to poison me dhrink; next day some udther thief av sin shoved
me off av a railway platform undher a train, malicious and purposeful;
glory be, he didn't kill me! but the very docther that felt me bones
thried to pick me pockut, I du b'lieve. Sunday night I was grabbed
outrageous in a darrk turnin', rowled on the groun', half strangled, an'
me pockuts nigh ripped out av me trousies. An' this very blessed mornin'
av light I was strook onsensible an' left a livin' corpse, an' my lodgin's
penethrated an' all the thruck mishandled an' bruk up behind me back. Is
that a panjandhery for the polis to laff at, sor?"
Had Hewitt not been there I think I should have done my best to quiet the
poor fellow with a few soothing words and to persuade him to go home to
his friends. His excited and rather confused manner, his fantastic story
of a sort of general conspiracy to kill him, and the absurd reference to
the doctor who tried to pick his pocket seemed to me plainly to confirm my
first impression that he was insane. But Hewitt appeared strangely
"Did they steal anything?" he asked.
"Divil a shtick but me door-key, an' that they tuk home an' lift in the
Hewitt opened his office door.
"Come in," he said, "and tell me all about this. You come, too, Brett."
The Irishman and I followed him into the inner office, where, shutting the
door, Hewitt suddenly turned on the Irishman and exclaimed sharply: "_Then
you've still got it_?"
He looked keenly in the man's eyes, but the only expression there was one
"Got ut?" said the Irishman. "Got fwhat, sor? Is ut you're thinkin' I've
got the horrors, as well as the polis?"
Hewitt's gaze relaxed. "Sit down, sit down!" he said. "You've still got
your watch and money, I suppose, since you weren't robbed?"
"Oh, that? Glory be, I have ut still! though for how long--or me own head,
for that matter--in this state of besiegement, I can not say."
"Now," said Hewitt, "I want a full, true, and particular account of
yourself and your doings for the last week. First, your name?"
"Leamy's my name, sor--Michael Leamy."
"Lately from Ireland?"
"Over from Dublin this last blessed Wednesday, and a crooil bad
poundherin' tit was in the boat, too--shpakin'av that same."
"Looking for work?"
"That is my purshuit at prisint, sor."
"Did anything noticeable happen before these troubles of yours
began--anything here in London or on the journey?"
"Sure," the Irishman smiled, "part av the way I thraveled first-class by
favor av the gyard, an' I got a small job before I lift the train."
"How was that? Why did you travel first-class part of the way?"
"There was a station fwhere we shtopped afther a long run, an' I got down
to take the cramp out av me joints, an' take a taste av dhrink. I
over-shtayed somehow, an', whin I got to the train, begob, it was on the
move. There was a first-class carr'ge door opin right forninst me, an'
into that the gyard crams me holus-bolus. There was a juce of a foine
jintleman sittin' there, an' he stares at me umbrageous, but I was not
dishcommoded, bein' onbashful by natur'. We thravelled along a heap av
miles more, till we came near London. Afther we had shtopped at a station
where they tuk tickets we wint ahead again, an' prisintly, as we rips
through some udther station, up jumps the jintleman opposite, swearin'
hard undher his tongue, an' looks out at the windy. 'I thought this train
shtopped here,' sez he."
"Chalk Farm," observed Hewitt, with a nod.
"The name I do not know, sor, but that's fwhat he said. Then he looks at
me onaisy for a little, an' at last he sez: 'Wud ye loike a small job, me
good man, well paid?'
"'Faith,' sez I, ''tis that will suit me well.'
"'Then, see here,' sez he, 'I should have got out at that station, havin'
particular business; havin' missed, I must sen' a telegrammer from Euston.
Now, here's a bag,' sez he, 'a bag full of imporrtant papers for my
solicitor--imporrtant to me, ye ondershtand, not worth the shine av a
brass farden to a sowl else--an' I want 'em tuk on to him. Take you this
bag,' he sez, 'an' go you straight out wid it at Euston an' get a cab. I
shall stay in the station a bit to see to the telegrammer. Dhrive out av
the station, across the road outside, an' wait there five minuts by the
clock. Ye ondershtand? Wait five minuts, an, maybe I'll come an' join ye.
If I don't 'twill be bekase I'm detained onexpected, an' then ye'll dhrive
to my solicitor straight. Here's his address, if ye can read writin',' an'
he put ut on a piece av paper. He gave me half-a-crown for the cab, an' I
tuk his bag."
"One moment--have you the paper with the address now?"
"I have not, sor. I missed ut afther the blayguards overset me yesterday;
but the solicitor's name was Hollams, an' a liberal jintleman wid his
money he was, too, by that same token."
"What was his address?"
"'Twas in Chelsea, and 'twas Gold or Golden something, which I know by the
good token av fwhat he gave me; but the number I misremember."
Hewitt turned to his directory. "Gold Street is the place, probably," he
said, "and it seems to be a street chiefly of private houses. You would be
able to point out the house if you were taken there, I suppose?"
"I should that, sor; indade, I was thinkin' av goin' there an' tellin'
Misther Hollams all my throubles, him havin' been so kind."
"Now tell me exactly what instructions the man in the train gave you, and
"He sez: 'You ask for Misther Hollams, an' see nobody else. Tell him ye've
brought the sparks from Misther W.'"
I fancied I could see a sudden twinkle in Hewitt's eye, but he made no
other sign, and the Irishman proceeded.
"'Sparks?' sez I. 'Yes, sparks,' sez he. 'Misther Hollams will know; 'tis
our jokin' word for 'em; sometimes papers is sparks when they set a
lawsuit ablaze,' and he laffed. 'But be sure ye say the _sparks from
Misther W._,' he sez again, 'bekase then he'll know ye're jinuine an'
he'll pay ye han'some. Say Misther W. sez you're to have your reg'lars, if
ye like. D'ye mind that?'
"'Ay,' sez I, 'that I'm to have my reg'lars.'
"Well, sor, I tuk the bag and wint out of the station, tuk the cab, an'
did all as he towld me. I waited the foive minuts, but he niver came, so
off I druv to Misther Hollams, and he threated me han'some, sor."
"Yes, but tell me exactly all he did."
"'Misther Hollams, sor?' sez I. 'Who are ye?' sez he. 'Mick Leamy, sor,'
sez I, 'from Misther W. wid the sparks.' 'Oh,' sez he, 'thin come in.' I
wint in. 'They're in here, are they?' sez he, takin' the bag. 'They are,
sor,' sez I, 'an' Misther W. sez I'm to have me reg'lars.' 'You shall,'
sez he. 'What shall we say, now--afinnip?' 'Fwhat's that, sor?' sez I.
'Oh,' sez he, 'I s'pose ye're a new hand; five quid--ondershtand that?'"
"Begob, I did ondershtand it, an' moighty plazed I was to have come to a
place where they pay five-pun' notes for carryin' bags. So whin he asked
me was I new to London an' shud I kape in the same line av business, I
towld him I shud for certin, or any thin' else payin' like it. 'Right,'
sez he; 'let me know whin ye've got any thin'--ye'll find me all right.'
An' he winked frindly. 'Faith, that I know I shall, sor,' sez I, wid the
money safe in me pockut; an' I winked him back, conjanial. 'I've a smart
family about me,' sez he, 'an' I treat 'em all fair an' liberal.' An',
saints, I thought it likely his family 'ud have all they wanted, seein' he
was so free-handed wid a stranger. Thin he asked me where I was a livin'
in London, and, when I towld him nowhere, he towld me av a room in Musson
Street, here by Drury Lane, that was to let, in a house his fam'ly knew
very well, an' I wint straight there an' tuk ut, an' there I do be stayin'
I hadn't understood at first why Hewitt took so much interest in the
Irishman's narrative, but the latter part of it opened my eyes a little.
It seemed likely that Leamy had, in his innocence, been made a conveyer of
stolen property. I knew enough of thieves' slang to know that "sparks"
meant diamonds or other jewels; that "regulars" was the term used for a
payment made to a brother thief who gave assistance in some small way,
such as carrying the booty; and that the "family" was the time-honored
expression for a gang of thieves.
"This was all on Wednesday, I understand," said Hewitt. "Now tell me what
happened on Thursday--the poisoning, or drugging, you know?"
"Well, sor, I was walking out, an' toward the evenin' I lost mesilf. Up
comes a man, seemin'ly a sthranger, and shmacks me on the showldher. 'Why,
Mick!' sez he; 'it's Mick Leamy, I du b'lieve!'
"'I am that,' sez I, 'but you I do not know.'
"'Not know me?' sez he. 'Why, I wint to school wid ye.' An' wid that he
hauls me off to a bar, blarneyin' and minowdherin', an' orders dhrinks.
"Can ye rache me a poipe-loight?' sez he, an' I turned to get ut, but,
lookin' back suddent, there was that onblushin' thief av the warl' tippin'
a paperful of phowder stuff into me glass."
"What did you do?" Hewitt asked.
"I knocked the dhirty face av him, sor, an' can ye blame me? A mane scutt,
thryin' for to poison a well-manin' sthranger. I knocked the face av him,
an' got away home."
"Now the next misfortune?"
"Faith, that was av a sort likely to turn out the last of all misfortunes.
I wint that day to the Crystial Palace, bein' dishposed for a little
sphort, seein' as I was new to London. Comin' home at night, there was a
juce av a crowd on the station platform, consekins of a late thrain.
Sthandin' by the edge av the platform at the fore end, just as thrain came
in, some onvisible murdherer gives me a stupenjus drive in the back, and
over I wint on the line, mid-betwixt the rails. The engine came up an'
wint half over me widout givin' me a scratch, bekase av my centraleous
situation, an' then the porther-men pulled me out, nigh sick wid fright,
sor, as ye may guess. A jintleman in the crowd sings out: 'I'm a medical
man!' an' they tuk me in the waitin'-room, an' he investigated me, havin'
turned everybody else out av the room. There wuz no bones bruk, glory be!
and the docthor-man he was tellin' me so, after feelin' me over, whin I
felt his hand in me waistcoat pockut.
"'An' fwhat's this, sor?' sez I. 'Do you be lookin' for your fee that
"He laffed, and said: 'I want no fee from ye, me man, an' I did but feel
your ribs,' though on me conscience he had done that undher me waistcoat
already. An' so I came home."
"What did they do to you on Saturday?"
"Saturday, sor, they gave me a whole holiday, and I began to think less of
things; but on Saturday night, in a dark place, two blayguards tuk me
throat from behind, nigh choked me, flung me down, an' wint through all me
pockuts in about a quarter av a minut."
"And they took nothing, you say?"
"Nothing, sor. But this mornin' I got my worst dose. I was trapesing along
distreshful an' moighty sore, in a street just away off the Strand here,
when I obsarved the docthor-man that was at the Crystial Palace station
a-smilin' an' beckonin' at me from a door.
"'How are ye now?' sez he. 'Well,' sez I, 'I'm moighty sore an' sad
bruised,' sez I. 'Is that so?' sez he. 'Sthep in here.' So I sthepped in,
an' before I could wink there dhropped a crack on the back av me head that
sent me off as unknowledgable as a corrpse. I knew no more for a while,
sor, whether half an hour or an hour, an' thin I got up in a room av the
place, marked 'To Let.' 'Twas a house full av offices, by the same token,
like this. There was a sore bad lump on me head--see ut, sor?--an' the
whole warl' was shpinnin' roun' rampageous. The things out av me pockuts
were lyin' on the flure by me--all barrin' the key av me room. So that the
demons had been through me posseshins again, bad luck to 'em."
"You are quite sure, are you, that everything was there except the key?"
"Certin, sor? Well, I got along to me room, sick an' sorry enough, an'
doubtsome whether I might get in wid no key. But there was the key in the
open door, an', by this an' that, all the shtuff in the room--chair,
table, bed, an' all--was shtandin' on their heads twisty-ways, an' the
bedclothes an' every thin' else; such a disgraceful stramash av
conglomerated thruck as ye niver dhreamt av. The chist av drawers was
lyin' on uts face, wid all the dhrawers out an' emptied on the flure.
'Twas as though an arrmy had been lootin', sor!"
"But still nothing was gone?"
"Nothin', so far as I investigated, sor. But I didn't shtay. I came out to
spake to the polis, an' two av them laffed at me--wan afther another!"
"It has certainly been no laughing matter for you. Now, tell me--have you
anything in your possession--documents, or valuables, or anything--that
any other person, to your knowledge, is anxious to get hold of!"
"I have not, sor--divil a document! As to valuables, thim an' me is the
cowldest av sthrangers."
"Just call to mind, now, the face of the man who tried to put powder in
your drink, and that of the doctor who attended to you in the railway
station. Were they at all alike, or was either like anybody you have seen
Leamy puckered his forehead and thought.
"Faith," he said presently, "they were a bit alike, though one had a beard
an' the udther whiskers only."
"Neither happened to look like Mr. Hollams, for instance?"
Leamy started. "Begob, but they did! They'd ha' been mortal like him if
they'd been shaved." Then, after a pause, he suddenly added: "Holy saints!
is ut the fam'ly he talked av?"
Hewitt laughed. "Perhaps it is," he said. "Now, as to the man who sent you
with the bag. Was it an old bag?"
"Bran' cracklin' new--a brown leather bag."
"That I niver thried, sor. It was not my consarn."
"True. Now, as to this Mr. W. himself." Hewitt had been rummaging for some
few minutes in a portfolio, and finally produced a photograph, and held it
before the Irishman's eye. "Is that like him?" he asked.
"Shure it's the man himself! Is he a friend av yours, sor?"
"No, he's not exactly a friend of mine," Hewitt answered, with a grim
chuckle. "I fancy he's one of that very respectable _family_ you heard
about at Mr. Hollams'. Come along with me now to Chelsea, and see if you
can point out that house in Gold Street. I'll send for a cab."
He made for the outer office, and I went with him.
"What is all this, Hewitt?" I asked. "A gang of thieves with stolen
Hewitt looked in my face and replied: "_It's the Quinton ruby_!"
"What! The ruby? Shall you take the case up, then?"
"I shall. It is no longer a speculation."
"Then do you expect to find it at Hollams' house in Chelsea?" I asked.
"No, I don't, because it isn't there--else why are they trying to get it
from this unlucky Irishman? There has been bad faith in Hollams' gang, I
expect, and Hollams has missed the ruby and suspects Leamy of having taken
it from the bag."
"Then who is this Mr. W. whose portrait you have in your possession?"
"See here!" Hewitt turned over a small pile of recent newspapers and
selected one, pointing at a particular paragraph. "I kept that in my mind,
because to me it seemed to be the most likely arrest of the lot," he said.
It was an evening paper of the previous Thursday, and the paragraph was a
very short one, thus:
"The man Wilks, who was arrested at Euston Station yesterday, in
connection with the robbery of Lady Quinton's jewels, has been released,
nothing being found to incriminate him."
"How does that strike you?" asked Hewitt. "Wilks is a man well known to
the police--one of the most accomplished burglars in this country, in
fact. I have had no dealings with him as yet, but I found means, some time
ago, to add his portrait to my little collection, in case I might want it,
and to-day it has been quite useful."
The thing was plain now. Wilks must have been bringing his booty to town,
and calculated on getting out at Chalk Farm and thus eluding the watch
which he doubtless felt pretty sure would be kept (by telegraphic
instruction) at Euston for suspicious characters arriving from the
direction of Radcot. His transaction with Leamy was his only possible
expedient to save himself from being hopelessly taken with the swag in his
possession. The paragraph told me why Leamy had waited in vain for "Mr.
W." in the cab.
"What shall you do now?" I asked.