Part 5 out of 5
the situation. The feeling of stunned surprise began to leave her.
She found herself thinking coherently again.
The relief was but momentary. Why was Jimmy in the room at that
time? Why had he a torch? What had he been doing? The questions shot
from her brain like sparks from an anvil.
The darkness began to tear at her nerves. She felt along the wall
for the switch, and flooded the whole room with light.
Jimmy laid down the torch, and stood for a moment, undecided. He had
concealed the necklace behind him. Now, he brought it forward, and
dangled it silently before the eyes of Molly and his lordship.
Excellent as were his motives for being in. that room with the
necklace in his hand, he could not help feeling, as he met Molly's
startled gaze, quite as guilty as if his intentions had been
His lordship, having by this time pulled himself together to some
extent, was the first to speak.
"I say, you know, what ho!" he observed, not without emotion.
Molly drew back.
"Jimmy! You were--oh, you can't have been!"
"Looks jolly like it!" said his lordship, judicially.
"I wasn't," said Jimmy. "I was putting them back."
"Putting them back?"
"Pitt, old man," said his lordship solemnly, "that sounds a bit
"Dreever, old man," said Jimmy. "I know it does. But it's the
His lordship's manner became kindly.
"Now, look here, Pitt, old son," he said, "there's nothing to worry
about. We're all pals here. You can pitch it straight to us. We
won't give you away. We--"
"Be quiet!" cried Molly. "Jimmy!"
Her voice was strained. She spoke with an effort. She was suffering
torments. The words her father had said to her on the terrace were
pouring back into her mind. She seemed to hear his voice now, cool
and confident, warning her against Jimmy, saying that he was
crooked. There was a curious whirring in her head. Everything in the
room was growing large and misty. She heard Lord Dreever begin to
say something that sounded as if someone were speaking at the end of
a telephone; and, then, she was aware that Jimmy was holding her in
his arms, and calling to Lord Dreever to bring water,
"When a girl goes like that," said his lordship with an insufferable
air of omniscience, "you want to cut her--"
"Come along!" said Jimmy. "Are you going to be a week getting that
His lordship proceeded to soak a sponge without further parley; but,
as he carried his dripping burden across the room, Molly recovered.
She tried weakly to free herself.
Jimmy helped her to a chair. He had dropped the necklace on the
floor, and Lord Dreever nearly trod on it.
"What ho!" observed his lordship, picking it up. "Go easy with the
Jimmy was bending over Molly. Neither of them seemed to be aware of
his lordship's presence. Spennie was the sort of person whose
existence is apt to be forgotten. Jimmy had had a flash of
intuition. For the first time, it had occurred to him that Mr.
McEachern might have hinted to Molly something of his own
"Molly, dear," he said, "it isn't what you think. I can explain
everything. Do you feel better now? Can you listen? I can explain
"Pitt, old boy," protested his lordship, "you don't understand. We
aren't going to give you away. We're all--"
Jimmy ignored him.
"Molly, listen," he said.
She sat up.
"Go on, Jimmy," she said.
"I wasn't stealing the necklace. I was putting it back. The man who
came to the castle with me, Spike Mullins, took it this afternoon,
and brought it to me."
Spike Mullins! Molly remembered the name.
"He thinks I am a crook, a sort of Raffles. It was my fault. I was a
fool. It all began that night in New York, when we met at your
house. I had been to the opening performance of a play called,
'Love, the Cracksman,' one of those burglar plays."
"Jolly good show," interpolated his lordship, chattily. "It was at
the Circle over here. I went twice."
"A friend of mine, a man named Mifflin, had been playing the hero in
it, and after the show, at the club, he started in talking about the
art of burglary--he'd been studying it--and I said that anybody
could burgle a house. And, in another minute, it somehow happened
that I had made a bet that I would do it that night. Heaven knows
whether I ever really meant to; but, that same night, this man
Mullins broke into my flat, and I caught him. We got into
conversation, and I worked off on him a lot of technical stuff I'd
heard from this actor friend of mine, and he jumped to the
conclusion that I was an expert. And, then, it suddenly occurred to
me that it would be a good joke on Mifflin if I went out with
Mullins, and did break into a house. I wasn't in the mood to think
what a fool I was at the time. Well, anyway, we went out, and--well,
that's how it all happened. And, then, I met Spike in London, down
and out, and brought him here."
He looked at her anxiously. It did not need his lordship's owlish
expression of doubt to tell him how weak his story must sound. He
had felt it even as he was telling it. He was bound to admit that,
if ever a story rang false in every sentence, it was this one.
"Pitt, old man," said his lordship, shaking his head, more in sorrow
than in anger, "it won't do, old top. What's the point of putting up
any old yarn like that? Don't you see, what I mean is, it's not as
if we minded. Don't I keep telling you we're all pals here? I've
often thought what a jolly good feller old Raffles was. Regular
sportsman! I don't blame a chappie for doing the gentleman burglar
touch. Seems to me it's a dashed sporting--"
Molly turned on him suddenly, cutting short his views on the ethics
of gentlemanly theft in a blaze of indignation.
"What do you mean?" she cried. "Do you think I don't believe every
word Jimmy has said?"
His lordship jumped.
"Well, don't you know, it seemed to me a bit thin. What I mean is--"
He met Molly's eye. "Oh, well!" he concluded, lamely.
Molly turned to Jimmy.
"Jimmy, of course, I believe you. I believe every word."
His lordship looked on, marveling. The thought crossed his mind that
he had lost the ideal wife. A girl who would believe any old yarn a
feller cared to--If it hadn't been for Katie! For a moment, he felt
Jimmy and Molly were looking at each other in silence. From the
expression on their faces, his lordship gathered that his existence
had once more been forgotten. He saw her hold out her hands to
Jimmy, and it seemed to him that the time had come to look away. It
was embarrassing for a chap! He looked away.
The next moment, the door opened and closed again, and she had gone.
He looked at Jimmy. Jimmy was still apparently unconscious of his
His lordship coughed.
"Pitt, old man--"
"Hullo!" said Jimmy, coming out of his thoughts with a start. "You
still here? By the way--" he eyed Lord Dreever curiously--"I never
thought of asking before--what on earth are you doing here? Why were
you behind the curtain? Were you playing hide-and-seek?"
His lordship was not one of those who invent circumstantial stories
easily on the spur of the moment. He searched rapidly for something
that would pass muster, then abandoned the hopeless struggle. After
all, why not be frank? He still believed Jimmy to be of the class of
the hero of "Love, the Cracksman." There would be no harm in
confiding in him. He was a good fellow, a kindred soul, and would
"It's like this," he said. And, having prefaced his narrative with
the sound remark that he had been a bit of an ass, he gave Jimmy a
summary of recent events.
"What!" said Jimmy. "You taught Hargate picquet? Why, my dear man,
he was playing picquet like a professor when you were in short
frocks. He's a wonder at it."
His lordship started.
"How's that?" he said. "You don't know him, do you?"
"I met him in New York, at the Strollers' Club. A pal of mine, an
actor, this fellow Mifflin I mentioned just now, put him up as a
guest. He coined money at picquet. And there were some pretty
useful players in the place, too. I don't wonder you found him a
"Then--then--why, dash it, then he's a bally sharper!"
"You're a genius at crisp description," said Jimmy. "You've got him
summed up to rights first shot."
"I sha'n't pay him a bally penny!"
"Of course not. If he makes any objection, refer him to me."
His lordship's relief was extreme. The more overpowering effects of
the elixir had passed away, and he saw now, what he had not seen in
his more exuberant frame of mind, the cloud of suspicion that must
have hung over him when the loss of the banknotes was discovered.
He wiped his forehead.
"By Jove!" he said. "That's something off my mind! By George, I feel
like a two-year-old. I say, you're a dashed good sort, Pitt."
"You flatter me," said Jimmy. "I strive to please."
"I say, Pitt, that yarn you told us just now--the bet, and all that.
Honestly, you don't mean to say that was true, was it? I mean--By
Jove! I've got an idea."
"We live in stirring times!"
"Did you say your actor pal's name was Mifflin?" He broke off
suddenly before Jimmy could answer. "Great Scott!" he whispered.
"What's that! Good lord! Somebody's coming!"
He dived behind the curtain, like a rabbit. The drapery had only
just ceased to shake when the door opened, and Sir Thomas Blunt
STIRRING TIMES FOR SIR THOMAS
For a man whose intentions toward the jewels and their owner were so
innocent, and even benevolent, Jimmy was in a singularly
compromising position. It would have been difficult even under more
favorable conditions to have explained to Sir Thomas's satisfaction
his presence in the dressing-room. As things stood, it was even
harder, for his lordship's last action before seeking cover had been
to fling the necklace from him like a burning coal. For the second
time in ten minutes, it had fallen to the carpet, and it was just as
Jimmy straightened himself after picking it up that Sir Thomas got a
full view of him.
The knight stood in the doorway, his face expressing the most lively
astonishment. His bulging eyes were fixed upon the necklace in
Jimmy's hand. Jimmy could see him struggling to find words to cope
with so special a situation, and felt rather sorry for him.
Excitement of this kind was bad for a short-necked man of Sir
With kindly tact, he endeavored to help his host out.
"Good-evening," he said, pleasantly.
Sir Thomas stammered. He was gradually nearing speech.
"What--what--what--" he said.
"Out with it," said Jimmy.
"I knew a man once in South Dakota who stammered," said Jimmy. "He
used to chew dog-biscuit while he was speaking. It cured him--
besides being nutritious. Another good way is to count ten while
you're thinking what to say, and then get it out quick."
Jimmy placed the necklace carefully on the dressing-table. Then, he
turned to Sir Thomas, with his hands thrust into his pockets. Over
the knight's head, he could see the folds of the curtain quivering
gently, as if stirred by some zephyr. Evidently, the drama of the
situation was not lost on Hildebrand Spencer, twelfth Earl of
Nor was it lost on Jimmy. This was precisely the sort of situation
that appealed to him. He had his plan of action clearly mapped out.
He knew that it would be useless to tell the knight the true facts
of the case. Sir Thomas was as deficient in simple faith as in
Norman blood. Though a Londoner by birth, he had one, at least, of
the characteristic traits of the natives of Missouri.
To all appearances, this was a tight corner, but Jimmy fancied that
he saw his way out of it. Meanwhile, the situation appealed to him.
Curiously enough, it was almost identical with the big scene in act
three of "Love, the Cracksman," in which Arthur Mifflin had made
such a hit as the debonair burglar.
Jimmy proceeded to give his own idea of what the rendering of a
debonair burglar should be. Arthur Mifflin had lighted a cigarette,
and had shot out smoke-rings and repartee alternately. A cigarette
would have been a great help here, but Jimmy prepared to do his best
"So--so, it's you, is it?" said Sir Thomas.
"Who told you?"
"Thief! Low thief!"
"Come, now," protested Jimmy. "Why low? Just because you don't know
me over here, why scorn me? How do you know I haven't got a big
American reputation? For all you can tell, I may be Boston Billie or
Sacramento Sam, or someone. Let us preserve the decencies of
"I had my suspicions of you. I had my suspicions from the first,
when I heard that my idiot of a nephew had made a casual friend in
London. So, this was what you were! A thief, who--"
"I don't mind, personally," interrupted Jimmy, "but I hope, if ever
you mix with cracksmen, you won't go calling them thieves. They are
frightfully sensitive. You see! There's a world of difference
between the two branches of the profession and a good deal of
snobbish caste-prejudice. Let us suppose that you were an actor-
manager. How would you enjoy being called a super? You see the idea,
don't you? You'd hurt their feelings. Now, an ordinary thief would
probably use violence in a case like this. But violence, except in
extreme cases--I hope this won't be one of them--is contrary, I
understand, to cracksman's etiquette. On the other hand, Sir Thomas,
candor compels me to add that I have you covered."
There was a pipe in the pocket of his coat. He thrust the stem
earnestly against the lining. Sir Thomas eyed the protuberance
apprehensively, and turned a little pale. Jimmy was scowling
ferociously. Arthur Mifflin's scowl in act three had been much
"My gun," said Jimmy, "is, as you see, in my pocket. I always shoot
from the pocket, in spite of the tailor's bills. The little fellow
is loaded and cocked. He's pointing straight at your diamond
solitaire. That fatal spot! No one has ever been hit in the diamond
solitaire, and survived. My finger is on the trigger. So, I should
recommend you not to touch that bell you are looking at. There are
other reasons why you shouldn't, but those I will go into
Sir Thomas's hand wavered.
"Do if you like, of course," said Jimmy, agreeably. "It's your own
house. But I shouldn't. I am a dead shot at a yard and a half. You
wouldn't believe the number of sitting haystacks I've picked off at
that distance. I just can't miss. On second thoughts, I sha'n't fire
to kill you. Let us be humane on this joyful occasion. I shall just
smash your knees. Painful, but not fatal."
He waggled the pipe suggestively. Sir Thomas blenched. His hand fell
to his side.
"Great!" said Jimmy. "After all, why should you be in a hurry to
break up this very pleasant little meeting. I'm sure I'm not. Let us
chat. How are the theatricals going? Was the duologue a success?
Wait till you see our show. Three of us knew our lines at the dress-
Sir Thomas had backed away from the bell, but the retreat was merely
for the convenience of the moment. He understood that it might be
injudicious to press the button just then; but he had recovered his
composure by this time, and he saw that ultimately the game must be
his. His face resumed its normal hue. Automatically, his hands began
to move toward his coat-tails, his feet to spread themselves. Jimmy
noted with a smile these signs of restored complacency. He hoped ere
long to upset that complacency somewhat.
Sir Thomas addressed himself to making Jimmy's position clear to
"How, may I ask," he said, "do you propose to leave the castle?"
"Won't you let me have the automobile?" said Jimmy. "But I guess I
sha'n't be leaving just yet."
Sir Thomas laughed shortly.
"No," he said--"no! I fancy not. I am with you there!"
"Great minds," said Jimmy. "I shouldn't be surprised if we thought
alike on all sorts of subjects. Just think how you came round to my
views on ringing bells. But what made you fancy that I intended to
leave the castle?"
"I should hardly have supposed that you would be anxious to stay."
"On the contrary! It's the one place I have been in, in the last two
years, that I have felt really satisfied with. Usually, I want to
move on after a week. But I could stop here forever."
"I am afraid, Mr. Pitt--By the way, an alias, of course?"
Jimmy shook his head.
"I fear not," he said. "If I had chosen an alias, it would have been
Tressilyan, or Trevelyan, or something. I call Pitt a poor thing in
names. I once knew a man called Ronald Cheylesmore. Lucky devil!"
Sir Thomas returned to the point on which he had been about to
"I am afraid, Mr. Pitt," he said, "that you hardly realize your
"No?" said Jimmy, interested.
"I find you in the act of stealing my wife's necklace--"
"Would there be any use in telling you that I was not stealing it,
but putting it back?"
Sir Thomas raised his eyebrows in silence.
"No?" said Jimmy. "I was afraid not. You were saying--?"
"I find you in the act of stealing my wife's necklace," proceeded
Sir Thomas, "and, because for the moment you succeed in postponing
arrest by threatening me with a revolver--"
An agitated look came into Jimmy's face.
"Great Scott!" he cried. He felt hastily in his pocket.
"Yes," he said; "as I had begun to fear. I owe you an apology, Sir
Thomas," he went on with manly dignity, producing the briar, "I am
entirely to blame. How the mistake arose I cannot imagine, but I
find it isn't a revolver after all."
Sir Thomas' cheeks took on a richer tint of purple. He glared dumbly
at the pipe.
"In the excitement of the moment, I guess--" began Jimmy.
Sir Thomas interrupted. The recollection of his needless panic
rankled within him.
"You--what you propose to gain by this buffoonery, I am at a loss--"
"How can you say such savage things!" protested Jimmy. "Not
buffoonery! Wit! Esprit! Flow of soul such as circulates daily in
the best society."
Sir Thomas almost leaped toward the bell. With his finger on it, he
turned to deliver a final speech.
"I believe you're insane," he cried, "but I'll have no more of it. I
have endured this foolery long enough. I'll-"
"Just one moment," said Jimmy. "I said just now that there were
reasons besides the revol--well, pipe--why you should not ring that
bell. One of them is that all the servants will be in their places
in the audience, so that there won't be anyone to answer it. But
that's not the most convincing reason. Will you listen to one more
before getting busy?"
"I see your game. Don't imagine for a moment that you can trick me."
"Nothing could be further--"
"You fancy you can gain time by talking, and find some way to
"But I don't want to escape. Don't you realize that in about ten
minutes I am due to play an important part in a great drama on the
"I'll keep you here, I tell you. You'll leave this room," said Sir
Thomas, grandly, "over my body."
"Steeple-chasing in the home," murmured Jimmy. "No more dull
evenings. But listen. Do listen! I won't keep you a minute, and, if
you want to--push that bell after I'm through, you may push it six
inches into the wall if you like."
"Well," said Sir Thomas, shortly.
"Would you like me to lead gently up to what I want to say,
gradually preparing you for the reception of the news, or shall
The knight took out his watch.
"I shall give you one minute," he said.
"Heavens, I must hustle! How many seconds have I got now?"
"If you have anything to say, say it."
"Very well, then," said Jimmy. "It's only this: That necklace is a
fraud. The diamonds aren't diamonds at all. They're paste!"
A DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
If Jimmy had entertained any doubts concerning the effectiveness of
this disclosure, they would have vanished at the sight of the
other's face. Just as the rich hues of a sunset pale slowly into an
almost imperceptible green, so did the purple of Sir Thomas's cheeks
become, in stages, first a dull red, then pink, and finally take on
a uniform pallor. His mouth hung open. His attitude of righteous
defiance had crumpled. Unsuspected creases appeared in his clothes.
He had the appearance of one who has been caught in the machinery.
Jimmy was a little puzzled. He had expected to check the enemy, to
bring him to reason, but not to demolish him in this way. There was
something in this which he did not understand. When Spike had handed
him the stones, and his trained eye, after a moment's searching
examination, had made him suspicious, and when, finally, a simple
test had proved his suspicions correct, he was comfortably aware
that, though found with the necklace on his person, he had
knowledge, which, communicated to Sir Thomas, would serve him well.
He knew that Lady Julia was not the sort of lady who would bear
calmly the announcement that her treasured rope of diamonds was a
fraud. He knew enough of her to know that she would demand another
necklace, and see that she got it; and that Sir Thomas was not one
of those generous and expansive natures which think nothing of an
expenditure of twenty thousand pounds.
This was the line of thought that had kept him cheerful during what
might otherwise have been a trying interview. He was aware from the
first that Sir Thomas would not believe in the purity of his
motives; but he was convinced that the knight would be satisfied to
secure his silence on the subject of the paste necklace at any
price. He had looked forward to baffled rage, furious denunciation,
and a dozen other expressions of emotion, but certainly not to
collapse of this kind.
The other had begun to make strange, gurgling noises.
"Mind you," said Jimmy, "it's a very good imitation. I'll say that
for it. I didn't suspect it till I had the thing in my hands.
Looking at it--even quite close--I was taken in for a moment."
Sir Thomas swallowed nervously.
"How did you know?" he muttered.
Again, Jimmy was surprised. He had expected indignant denials and
demands for proof, excited reiteration of the statement that the
stones had cost twenty thousand pounds.
"How did I know?" he repeated. "If you mean what first made me
suspect, I couldn't tell you. It might have been one of a score of
things. A jeweler can't say exactly how he gets on the track of fake
stones. He can feel them. He can almost smell them. I worked with a
jeweler once. That's how I got my knowledge of jewels. But, if you
mean, can I prove what I say about this necklace, that's easy.
There's no deception. It's simple. See here. These stones are
supposed to be diamonds. Well, the diamond is the hardest stone in
existence. Nothing will scratch it. Now, I've got a little ruby, out
of a college pin, which I know is genuine. By rights, then, that
ruby ought not to have scratched these stones. You follow that? But
it did. It scratched two of them, the only two I tried. If you like,
I can continue the experiment. But there's no need. I can tell you
right now what these stones are, I said they were paste, but that
wasn't quite accurate. They're a stuff called white jargoon. It's a
stuff that's very easily faked. You work it with the flame of a
blow-pipe. You don't want a full description, I suppose? Anyway,
what happens is that the blow-pipe sets it up like a tonic. Gives it
increased specific gravity and a healthy complexion and all sorts of
great things of that kind. Two minutes in the flame of a blow-pipe
is like a week at the seashore to a bit of white jargoon. Are you
satisfied? If it comes to that, I guess you can hardly be expected
to be. Convinced is a better word. Are you convinced, or do you
hanker after tests like polarized light and refracting liquids?"
Sir Thomas had staggered to a chair.
"So, that was how you knew!" he said.
"That was--" began Jimmy, when a sudden suspicion flashed across his
mind. He scrutinized Sir Thomas' pallid face keenly.
"Did you know?" he asked.
He wondered that the possibility had not occurred to him earlier.
This would account for much that had puzzled him in the other's
reception of the news. He had supposed, vaguely, without troubling
to go far into the probabilities of such a thing, that the necklace
which Spike had brought to him had been substituted for the genuine
diamonds by a thief. Such things happened frequently, he knew. But,
remembering what Molly had told him of the care which Sir Thomas
took of this particular necklace, and the frequency with which Lady
Julia wore it, he did not see how such a substitution could have
been effected. There had been no chance of anybody's obtaining
access to these stones for the necessary length of time.
"By George, I believe you did!" he cried. "You must have! So, that's
how it happened, is it? I don't wonder it was a shock when I said I
knew about the necklace."
"I have something to say to you."
Sir Thomas tried to rally. There was a touch of the old pomposity in
his manner when he spoke.
"Mr. Pitt, I find you in an unpleasant position--"
"Don't you worry about my unpleasant position," he said. "Fix your
attention exclusively upon your own. Let us be frank with one
another. You're in the cart. What do you propose to do about it?"
Sir Thomas rallied again, with the desperation of one fighting a
"I do not understand you--" he began.
"No?" said Jimmy. "I'll try and make my meaning clear. Correct me
from time to time, if I am wrong. The way I size the thing up is as
follows: When you married Lady Julia, I gather that it was, so to
speak, up to you to some extent. People knew you were a millionaire,
and they expected something special in the way of gifts from the
bridegroom to the bride. Now, you, being of a prudent and economical
nature, began to wonder if there wasn't some way of getting a
reputation for lavishness without actually unbelting to any great
extent. Am I right?"
Sir Thomas did not answer.
"I am," said Jimmy. "Well, it occurred to you, naturally enough,
that a properly-selected gift of jewelry might work the trick. It
only needed a little nerve. When you give a present of diamonds to a
lady, she is not likely to call for polarized light and refracting
liquids and the rest of the circus. In ninety-nine cases out of a
hundred, she will take the things on trust. Very well. You trotted
off to a jeweler, and put the thing to him confidentially. I guess
you suggested paste. But, being a wily person, he pointed out that
paste has a habit of not wearing well. It is pretty enough when it's
new, but quite a small amount of ordinary wear and tear destroys the
polish of the surface and the sharpness of the cutting. It gets
scratched easily. Having heard this, and reflecting that Lady Julia
was not likely to keep the necklace under a glass case, you rejected
paste as too risky. The genial jeweler then suggested white jargoon,
mentioning, as I have done, that, after an application or so of the
blow-pipe, it's own mother wouldn't know it. If he was a bit of an
antiquary, he probably added that, in the eighteenth century,
jargoon stones were supposed to be actually an inferior sort of
diamond. What could be more suitable? 'Make it jargoon, dear heart,'
you cried joyfully, and all was well. Am I right? I notice that you
have not corrected me so far."
Whether or not Sir Thomas would have replied in the affirmative is
uncertain. He was opening his mouth to speak, when the curtain at
the end of the room heaved, and Lord Dreever burst out like a
cannon-ball in tweeds.
The apparition effectually checked any speech that Sir Thomas might
have been intending to make. Lying back in his chair, he goggled
silently at the new arrival. Even Jimmy, though knowing that his
lordship had been in hiding, was taken aback. His attention had
become so concentrated on his duel with the knight that he had
almost forgotten they had an audience.
His lordship broke the silence.
"Great Scott!" he cried.
Neither Jimmy nor Sir Thomas seemed to consider the observation
unsound or inadequate. They permitted it to pass without comment.
"You old scoundrel!" added his lordship, addressing Sir Thomas. "And
you're the man who called me a welsher!" There were signs of a
flicker of spirit in the knight's prominent eyes, but they died
away. He made no reply.
"Great Scott!" moaned his lordship, in a fervor of self-pity. "Here
have I been all these years letting you give me Hades in every shape
and form, when all the while--My goodness, if I'd only known
He turned to Jimmy.
"Pitt, old man," he said warmly, "I--dash it! I don't know what to
say. If it hadn't been for you--I always did like Americans. I
always thought it bally rot that that fuss happened in--in--whenever
it was. If it hadn't been for fellows like you," he continued,
addressing Sir Thomas once more, "there wouldn't have been any of
that frightful Declaration of Independence business. Would there,
Pitt, old man?"
These were deep problems, too spacious for casual examination. Jimmy
shrugged his shoulders.
"Well, I guess Sir Thomas might not have got along with George
Washington, anyway," he said.
"Of course not. Well"--Spennie moved toward the door--"I'm off
downstairs to see what Aunt Julia has to say about it all."
A shudder, as if from some electric shock, shook Sir Thomas. He
leaped to his feet.
"Spencer," he cried, "I forbid you to say a word to your aunt."
"Oh!" said his lordship. "You do, do you?"
Sir Thomas shivered.
"She would never let me hear the last of it."
"I bet she wouldn't. I'll go and see."
Sir Thomas dabbed at his forehead with his handkerchief. He dared
not face the vision of Lady Julia in possession of the truth. At one
time, the fear lest she might discover the harmless little deception
he had practised had kept him awake at night, but gradually, as the
days went by and the excellence of the imitation stones had
continued to impose upon her and upon everyone else who saw them,
the fear had diminished. But it had always been at the back of his
mind. Even in her calmer moments, his wife was a source of mild
terror to him. His imagination reeled at the thought of what depths
of aristocratic scorn and indignation she would plumb in a ease like
"Spencer," he said, "I insist that you shall not inform your aunt of
"What? You want me to keep my mouth shut? You want me to become an
accomplice in this beastly, low-down deception? I like that!"
"The point," said Jimmy, "is well taken. Noblesse oblige, and all
that sort of thing. The blood of the Dreevers boils furiously at the
idea. Listen! You can hear it sizzling."
Lord Dreever moved a step nearer the door.
"Stop!" cried Sir Thomas again. "Spencer!"
"Spencer, my boy, it occurs to me that perhaps I have not always
treated you very well--"
"'Perhaps!' 'Not always!' Great Scott, I'll have a fiver each way on
both those. Considering you've treated me like a frightful kid
practically ever since you've known me, I call that pretty rich!
Why, what about this very night, when I asked you for a few pounds?"
"It was only the thought that you had been gambling--"
"Gambling! How about palming off faked diamonds on Aunt Julia for a
"A game of skill, surely?" murmured Jimmy.
"I have been thinking the matter over," said Sir Thomas, "and, if
you really need the--was it not fifty pounds?"
"It was twenty," said his lordship. "And I don't need it. Keep it.
You'll want all you can save for a new necklace."
His fingers closed on the door-handle.
"We must talk this over. We must not be hasty."
Sir Thomas passed the handkerchief over his forehead.
"In the past, perhaps," he resumed, "our relations have not been
quite--the fault was mine. I have always endeavored to do my duty.
It is a difficult task to look after a young man of your age--"
His lordship's sense of his grievance made him eloquent.
"Dash it all!" he cried. "That's just what I jolly well complain of.
Who the dickens wanted you to look after me? Hang it, you've kept
your eye on me all these years like a frightful policeman! You cut
off my allowance right in the middle of my time at college, just
when I needed it most, and I had to come and beg for money whenever
I wanted to buy a cigarette. I looked a fearful ass, I can tell you!
Men who knew me used to be dashed funny about it. I'm sick of the
whole bally business. You've given me a jolly thin time all this
while, and now I'm going to get a bit of my own back. Wouldn't you,
Pitt, old man?"
Jimmy, thus suddenly appealed to, admitted that, in his lordship's
place, he might have experienced a momentary temptation to do
something of the kind.
"Of course," said his lordship; "any fellow would."
"But, Spencer, let met--"
"You've soured my life," said his lordship, frowning a tense,
Byronic frown. "That's what you've done--soured my whole bally life.
I've had a rotten time. I've had to go about touching my friends for
money to keep me going. Why, I owe you a fiver, don't I, Pitt, old
It was a tenner, to be finnickingly accurate about details, but
Jimmy did not say so. He concluded, rightly, that the memory of the
original five pounds which he had lent Lord Dreever at the Savoy
Hotel had faded from the other's mind.
"Don't mention it," he said.
"But I do mention it," protested his lordship, shrilly. "It just
proves what I say. If I had had a decent allowance, it wouldn't have
happened. And you wouldn't give me enough to set me going in the
diplomatic service. That's another thing. Why wouldn't you do that?"
Sir Thomas pulled himself together.
"I hardly thought you qualified, my dear boy--"
His lordship did not actually foam at the mouth, but he looked as if
he might do so at any moment. Excitement and the memory of his
wrongs, lubricated, as it were, by the champagne he had consumed
both at and after dinner, had produced in him a frame of mind far
removed from the normal. His manners no longer had that repose which
stamps the caste of Vere de Vere. He waved his hands:
"I know, I know!" he shouted. "I know you didn't. You thought me a
fearful fool. I tell you, I'm sick of it. And always trying to make
me marry money! Dashed humiliating! If she hadn't been a jolly
sensible girl, you'd have spoiled Miss McEachern's life as well as
mine. You came very near it. I tell you, I've had enough of it. I'm
in love. I'm in love with the rippingest girl in England. You've
seen her, Pitt, old top. Isn't she a ripper?"
Jimmy stamped the absent lady with the seal of his approval.
"I tell you, if she'll have me, I'm going to marry her."
The dismay written on every inch of Sir Thomas's countenance became
intensified at these terrific words. Great as had been his contempt
for the actual holder of the title, considered simply as a young
man, he had always been filled with a supreme respect for the
"But, Spencer," he almost howled, "consider your position! You
"Can't I, by Jove! If she'll have me! And damn my position! What's
my position got to do with it? Katie's the daughter of a general, if
it comes to that. Her brother was at college with me. If I'd had a
penny to call my own, I'd have asked her to marry me ages ago. Don't
you worry about my position!"
Sir Thomas croaked feebly.
"Now, look here," said his lordship, with determination. "Here's the
whole thing in a jolly old nutshell. If you want me to forget about
this little flutter in fake diamonds of yours, you've got to pull up
your socks, and start in to do things. You've got to get me attached
to some embassy for a beginning. It won't be difficult. There's
dozens of old boys in London, who knew the governor when he was
alive, who will jump at the chance of doing me a good turn. I know
I'm a bit of an ass in some ways, but that's expected of you in the
diplomatic service. They only want you to wear evening clothes as if
you were used to them, and be a bit of a flyer at dancing, and I can
fill the bill all right as far as that goes. And you've got to give
your jolly old blessing to Katie and me--if she'll have me. That's
about all I can think of for the moment. How do we go? Are you on?"
"It's preposterous," began Sir Thomas.
Lord Dreever gave the door-handle a rattle.
"It's a hold-up all right," said Jimmy, soothingly. "I don't want to
butt in on a family conclave, but my advice, if asked, would be to
unbelt before the shooting begins. You've got something worse than a
pipe pointing at you, now. As regards my position in the business,
don't worry. My silence is presented gratis. Give me a loving smile,
and my lips are sealed."
Sir Thomas turned on the speaker.
"As for you--" he cried.
"Never mind about Pitt," said his lordship. "He's a dashed good
fellow, Pitt. I wish there were more like him. And he wasn't
pinching the stuff, either. If you had only listened when he tried
to tell you, you mightn't be in such a frightful hole. He was
putting the things back, as he said. I know all about it. Well,
what's the answer?"
For a moment, Sir Thomas seemed on the point of refusal. But, just
as he was about to speak, his lordship opened the door, and at the
movement he collapsed again.
"I will," he cried. "I will!"
"Good," said his lordship with satisfaction. "That's a bargain.
Coming downstairs, Pitt, old man? We shall be wanted on the stage in
about half a minute."
"As an antidote to stage fright," said Jimmy, as they went along the
corridor, "little discussions of that kind may be highly
recommended. I shouldn't mind betting that you feel fit for
"I feel like a two-year-old," assented his lordship,
enthusiastically. "I've forgotten all my part, but I don't care.
I'll just go on and talk to them."
"That," said Jimmy, "is the right spirit. Charteris will get heart-
disease, but it's the right spirit. A little more of that sort of
thing, and amateur theatricals would be worth listening to. Step
lively, Roscius; the stage waits."
SPENNIE'S HOUR OF CLEAR VISION
Mr. McEachern sat in the billiard-room, smoking. He was alone. From
where he sat, he could hear distant strains of music. The more
rigorous portion of the evening's entertainment, the theatricals,
was over, and the nobility and gentry, having done their duty by
sitting through the performance, were now enjoying themselves in the
ballroom. Everybody was happy. The play had been quite as successful
as the usual amateur performance. The prompter had made himself a
great favorite from the start, his series of duets with Spennie
having been especially admired; and Jimmy, as became an old
professional, had played his part with great finish and certainty of
touch, though, like the bloodhounds in "Uncle Tom's Cabin" on the
road, he had had poor support. But the audience bore no malice. No
collection of individuals is less vindictive than an audience at
amateur theatricals. It was all over now. Charteris had literally
gibbered in the presence of eye-witnesses at one point in the second
act, when Spennie, by giving a wrong cue, had jerked the play
abruptly into act three, where his colleagues, dimly suspecting
something wrong, but not knowing what it was, had kept it for two
minutes, to the mystification of the audience. But, now Charteris
had begun to forget. As he two-stepped down the room, the lines of
agony on his face were softened. He even smiled.
As for Spennie, the brilliance of his happy grin dazzled all
He was still wearing it when he invaded the solitude of Mr.
McEachern. In every dance, however greatly he may be enjoying it,
there comes a time when a man needs a meditative cigarette apart
from the throng. It came to Spennie after the seventh item on the
program. The billiard-room struck him as admirably suitable in every
way. It was not likely to be used as a sitting-out place, and it was
near enough to the ball-room to enable him to hear when the music of
item number nine should begin.
Mr. McEachern welcomed his visitor. In the turmoil following the
theatricals, he had been unable to get a word with any of the
persons with whom he most wished to speak. He had been surprised
that no announcement of the engagement had been made at the end of
the performance. Spennie would be able to supply him with
information as to when the announcement might be expected.
Spennie hesitated for an instant when he saw who was in the room. He
was not over-anxious for a tete-a-tete with Molly's father just
then. But, re-fleeting that, after all, he was not to blame for
any disappointment that might be troubling the other, he switched on
his grin again, and walked in.
"Came in for a smoke," he explained, by way of opening the
conversation. "Not dancing the next."
"Come in, my boy, come in," said Mr. McEachern. "I was waiting to
Spennie regretted his entrance. He had supposed that the other had
heard the news of the breaking-off of the engagement. Evidently,
however, McEachern had not. This was a nuisance. The idea of flight
came to Spennie, but he dismissed it. As nominal host that night, he
had to dance many duty-dances. This would be his only chance of a
smoke for hours, and the billiard-room was the best place for it.
He sat down, and lighted a cigarette, casting about the while for an
innocuous topic of conversation.
"Like the show?" he inquired.
"Fine," said Mr. McEachern. "By the way--"
Spennie groaned inwardly. He had forgotten that a determined man can
change the conversation to any subject he pleases by means of those
"By the way," said Mr. McEachern, "I thought Sir Thomas--wasn't your
uncle intending to announce--?"
"Well, yes, he was," said Spennie.
"Going to do it during the dancing, maybe?"
"Well--er--no. The fact is, he's not going to do it at all, don't
you know." Spennie inspected the red end of his cigarette closely.
"As a matter of fact, it's kind of broken off."
The other's exclamation jarred on him. Rotten, having to talk about
this sort of thing!
"Miss McEachern thought it over, don't you know," he said, "and came
to the conclusion that it wasn't good enough."
Now that it was said, he felt easier. It had merely been the
awkwardness of having to touch on the thing that had troubled him.
That his news might be a blow to McEachern did not cross his mind.
He was a singularly modest youth, and, though he realized vaguely
that his title had a certain value in some persons' eyes, he could
not understand anyone mourning over the loss of him as a son-in-law.
Katie's father, the old general, thought him a fool, and once,
during an attack of gout, had said so. Spennie was wont to accept
this as the view which a prospective father-in-law might be expected
to entertain regarding himself.
Oblivious, therefore, to the storm raging a yard away from him, he
smoked on with great contentment, till suddenly it struck him that,
for a presumably devout lover, jilted that very night, he was
displaying too little emotion. He debated swiftly within himself
whether or not he should have a dash at manly grief, but came to the
conclusion that it could not be done. Melancholy on this maddest,
merriest day of all the glad New Year, the day on which he had
utterly routed the powers of evil, as represented by Sir Thomas, was
impossible. He decided, rather, on a let-us-be-reasonable attitude.
"It wouldn't have done, don't you know," he said. "We weren't
suited. What I mean to say is, I'm a bit of a dashed sort of silly
ass in some ways, if you know what I mean. A girl like Miss
McEachern couldn't have been happy with me. She wants one of these
capable, energetic fellers."
This struck him as a good beginning--modest, but not groveling. He
continued, tapping quite a respectably deep vein of philosophy as he
"You see, dear old top--I mean, sir, you see, it's like this. As far
as women are concerned, fellers are divided into two classes.
There's the masterful, capable Johnnies, and the--er--the other
sort. Now, I'm the other sort. My idea of the happy married life is
to be--well, not exactly downtrodden, but--you know what I mean--
kind of second fiddle. I want a wife--" his voice grew soft and
dreamy--"who'll pet me a good deal, don't you know, stroke my hair a
lot, and all that. I haven't it in me to do the master-in-my-own-
house business. For me, the silent-devotion touch. Sleeping on the
mat outside her door, don't you know, when she wasn't feeling well,
and being found there in the morning and being rather cosseted for
my thoughtfulness. That's the sort of idea. Hard to put it quite O.
K., but you know the sort of thing I mean. A feller's got to realize
his jolly old limitations if he wants to be happy though married,
what? Now, suppose Miss McEachern was to marry me! Great Scott,
she'd be bored to death in a week. Honest! She couldn't help
herself. She wants a chap with the same amount of go in him that
He lighted another cigarette. He was feeling pleased with himself.
Never before had ideas marshaled themselves in his mind in such long
and well-ordered ranks. He felt that he could go on talking like
this all night. He was getting brainier every minute. He remembered
reading in some book somewhere of a girl (or chappie) who had had
her (or his) "hour of clear vision." This was precisely what had
happened now. Whether it was owing to the excitement of what had
taken place that night, or because he had been keying up his
thinking powers with excellent dry champagne, he did not know. All
he knew was that he felt on top of his subject. He wished he had had
a larger audience.
"A girl like Miss McEachern doesn't want any of that hair-stroking
business. She'd simply laugh at a feller if he asked for it. She
needs a chappie of the get-on-or-get-out type, somebody in the six
cylinder class. And, as a matter of fact, between ourselves, I
rather think she's found him."
Mr. McEachern half rose from his chair. All his old fears had come
"What do you mean?"
"Fact," said his lordship, nodding. "Mind you, I don't know for
certain. As the girl says in the song, I don't know, but I guess.
What I mean to say is, they seemed jolly friendly, and all that;
calling each other by their first names, and so on."
"Pitt," said his lordship. He was leaning back, blowing a smoke-ring
at the moment, so he did not see the look on the other's face and
the sudden grip of the fingers on the arms of the chair. He went on
with some enthusiasm.
"Jimmy Pitt!" he said. "Now, there's a feller! Full of oats to the
brim, and fairly bursting with go and energy. A girl wouldn't have a
dull moment with a chap like that. You know," he proceeded
confidently, "there's a lot in this idea of affinities. Take my word
for it, dear old--sir. There's a girl up in London, for instance.
Now, she and I hit it off most amazingly. There's hardly a thing we
don't think alike about. For instance, 'The Merry Widow' didn't make
a bit of a hit with her. Nor did it with me. Yet, look at the
millions of people who raved about it. And neither of us likes
oysters. We're affinities--that's why. You see the same sort of
thing all over the place. It's a jolly queer business. Sometimes,
makes me believe in re-in-what's-it's-name. You know what I mean.
All that in the poem, you know. How does it go? 'When you were a
tiddley-om-pom, and I was a thingummajig.' Dashed brainy bit of
work. I was reading it only the other day. Well, what I mean to say
is, it's my belief that Jimmy Pitt and Miss McEachern are by way of
being something in that line. Doesn't it strike you that they are
just the sort to get on together? You can see it with half an eye.
You can't help liking a feller like Jimmy Pitt. He's a sport! I wish
I could tell you some of the things he's done, but I can't, for
reasons. But you can take it from me, he's a sport. You ought to
cultivate him. You'd like him ... Oh, dash it, there's the music. I
must be off. Got to dance this one."
He rose from his chair, and dropped his cigarette into the ash-tray.
"So long," he said, with a friendly nod. "Wish I could stop, but
it's no go. That's the last let-up I shall have to-night."
He went out, leaving Mr. McEachern a prey to many and varied
THE LAST ROUND
He had only been gone a few minutes when Mr. McEachern's meditations
were again interrupted. This time, the visitor was a stranger to
him, a dark-faced, clean-shaven man. He did not wear evening
clothes, so could not be one of the guests; and Mr. McEachern could
not place him immediately. Then, he remembered. He had seen him in
Sir Thomas Blunt's dressing-room. This was Sir Thomas's valet.
"Might I have a word with you, sir?"
"What is it?" asked McEachern, staring heavily. His mind had not
recovered from the effect of Lord Dreever's philosophical remarks.
There was something of a cloud on his brain. To judge from his
lordship's words, things had been happening behind his back; and the
idea of Molly's deceiving him was too strange to be assimilated in
an instant. He looked at the valet dully.
"What is it?" he asked again.
"I must apologize for intruding, but I thought it best to approach
you before making my report to Sir Thomas."
"I am employed by a private inquiry agency."
"Yes, sir. Wragge's. You may have heard of us. In Holborn Bars. Very
old established. Divorce a specialty. You will have seen the
advertisements. Sir Thomas wrote asking for a man, and the governor
sent me down. I have been with the house some years. My job, I
gathered, was to keep my eyes open generally. Sir Thomas, it seemed,
had no suspicions of any definite person. I was to be on the spot
just in case, in a manner of speaking. And it's precious lucky I
was, or her ladyship's jewels would have been gone. I've done a fair
cop this very night."
He paused, and eyed the ex-policeman keenly. McEachern was obviously
excited. Could Jimmy have made an attempt on the jewels during the
dance? or Spike?
"Say," he said, "was it a red-headed--?"
The detective was watching him with a curious smile.
"No, he wasn't red-headed. You seem interested, sir. I thought you
would be. I will tell you all about it. I had had my suspicions of
this party ever since he arrived. And I may say that it struck me at
the time that there was something mighty fishy about the way he got
into the castle."
McEachern started. So, he had not been the only one to suspect
Jimmy's motives in attaching himself to Lord Dreever.
"Go on," he said.
"I suspected that there was some game on, and it struck me that this
would be the day for the attempt, the house being upside down, in a
manner of speaking, on account of the theatricals. And I was right.
I kept near those jewels on and off all day, and, presently, just as
I had thought, along comes this fellow. He'd hardly got to the door
when I was on him."
"Good boy! You're no rube."
"We fought for a while, but, being a bit to the good in strength,
and knowing something about the game, I had the irons on him pretty
quick, and took him off, and locked him in the cellar. That's how it
Mr. McEachern's relief was overwhelming. If Lord Dreever's statement
was correct and Jimmy had really succeeded in winning Molly's
affection, this would indeed be a rescue at the eleventh hour. It
was with a Nunc-Dimittis air that he felt for his cigar-case, and
extended it toward the detective. A cigar from his own private case
was with him a mark of supreme favor and good-will, a sort of
accolade which he bestowed only upon the really meritorious few.
Usually, it was received with becoming deference; but on this
occasion there was a somewhat startling deviation from routine; for,
just as he was opening the case, something cold and hard pressed
against each of his wrists, there was a snap and a click, and,
looking up, dazed, he saw that the detective had sprung back, and
was contemplating him with a grim smile over the barrel of an ugly-
looking little revolver.
Guilty or innocent, the first thing a man does when, he finds
handcuffs on his wrists is to try to get them off. The action is
automatic. Mr. McEachern strained at the steel chain till the veins
stood out on his forehead. His great body shook with rage.
The detective eyed these efforts with some satisfaction. The picture
presented by the other as he heaved and tugged was that of a guilty
"It's no good, my friend," he said.
The voice brought McEachern back to his senses. In the first shock
of the thing, the primitive man in him had led him beyond the
confines of self-restraint. He had simply struggled unthinkingly.
Now, he came to himself again.
He shook his manacled hands furiously.
"What does this mean?" he shouted. "What the--?"
"Less noise," said the detective, sharply. "Get back!" he snapped,
as the other took a step forward.
"Do you know who I am?" thundered McEachern.
"No," said the detective. "And that's just why you're wearing those
bracelets. Come, now, don't be a fool. The game's up. Can't you see
McEachern leaned helplessly against the billiard-table. He felt
weak. Everything was unreal. Had he gone mad? he wondered.
"That's right," said the detective. "Stay there. You can't do any
harm there. It was a pretty little game, I'll admit. You worked it
well. Meeting your old friend from New York and all, and having him
invited to the castle. Very pretty. New York, indeed! Seen about as
much of New York as I have of Timbuctoo. I saw through him."
Some inkling of the truth began to penetrate McEachern's
consciousness. He had become obsessed with the idea that, as the
captive was not Spike, it must be Jimmy. The possibility of Mr.
Galer's being the subject of discussion only dawned upon him now.
"What do you mean?" he cried. "Who is it that you have arrested?"
"Blest if I know. You can tell me that, I should think, seeing he's
an old Timbuctoo friend of yours. Galer's the name he goes by here."
"That's the man. And do you know what he had the impudence, the
gall, to tell me? That he was in my own line of business. A
detective! He said you had sent for him to come here!"
The detective laughed amusedly at the recollection.
"And so he is, you fool. So I did."
"Oh, you did, did you? And what business had you bringing detectives
into other people's houses?"
Mr. McEachern started to answer, but checked himself. Never before
had he appreciated to the full the depth and truth of the proverb
relating to the frying-pan and the fire. To clear himself, he must
mention his suspicions of Jimmy, and also his reasons for those
suspicions. And to do that would mean revealing his past. It was
Scylla and Charybdis.
A drop of perspiration trickled down his temple.
"What's the good?" said the detective. "Mighty ingenious idea, that,
only you hadn't allowed for there being a real detective in the
house. It was that chap pitching me that yarn that made me
suspicious of you. I put two and two together. 'Partners,' I said to
myself. I'd heard all about you, scraping acquaintance with Sir
Thomas and all. Mighty ingenious. You become the old family friend,
and then you let in your pal. He gets the stuff, and hands it over
to you. Nobody dreams of suspecting you, and there you are.
Honestly, now, wasn't that the game?"
"It's all a mistake--" McEachern was beginning, when the door-handle
The detective looked over his shoulder. McEachern glared dumbly.
This was the crowning blow, that there should be spectators of his
Jimmy strolled into the room.
"Dreever told me you were in here," he said to McEachern. "Can you
spare me a--Hullo!"
The detective had pocketed his revolver at the first sound of the
handle. To be discreet was one of the chief articles in the creed of
the young men from Wragge's Detective Agency. But handcuffs are not
easily concealed. Jimmy stood staring in amazement at McEachern's
"Some sort of a round game?" he enquired with interest.
The detective became confidential.
"It's this way, Mr. Pitt. There's been some pretty deep work going
on here. There's a regular gang of burglars in the place. This chap
here's one of them."
"What, Mr. McEachern!"
"That's what he calls himself."
It was all Jimmy could do to keep himself from asking Mr. McEachern
whether he attributed his downfall to drink. He contented himself
with a sorrowful shake of the head at the fermenting captive. Then,
he took up the part of the prisoner's attorney.
"I don't believe it," he said. "What makes you. think so?"
"Why, this afternoon, I caught this man's pal, the fellow that calls
"I know the man," said Jimmy. "He's a detective, really. Mr.
McEachern brought him down here."
The sleuth's jaw dropped limply, as if he had received a blow.
"What?" he said, in a feeble voice.
"Didn't I tell you--?" began Mr. McEachern; but the sleuth was
occupied with Jimmy. That sickening premonition of disaster was
beginning to steal over him. Dimly, he began to perceive that he had
"Yes," said Jimmy. "Why, I can't say; but Mr. McEachern was afraid
someone might try to steal Lady Julia Blunt's rope of diamonds. So,
he wrote to London for this man, Galer. It was officious, perhaps,
but not criminal. I doubt if, legally, you could handcuff a man for
a thing like that. What have you done with good Mr. Galer?"
"I've locked him in the coal-cellar," said the detective, dismally.
The thought of the interview in prospect with the human bloodhound
he had so mishandled was not exhilarating.
"Locked him in the cellar, did you?" said Jimmy. "Well, well, I
daresay he's very happy there. He's probably busy detecting black-
beetles. Still, perhaps you had better go and let him out. Possibly,
if you were to apologize to him--? Eh? Just as you think. I only
suggest. If you want somebody to vouch for Mr. McEachern's non-
burglariousness, I can do it. He is a gentleman of private means,
and we knew each other out in New York--we are old acquaintances."
"I never thought--"
"That," said Jimmy, with sympathetic friendliness, "if you will
allow me to say so, is the cardinal mistake you detectives make. You
never do think."
"It never occurred to me--"
The detective looked uneasily at Mr. McEachern. There were
indications in the policeman's demeanor that the moment following
release would be devoted exclusively to a carnival of violence, with
a certain sleuth-hound playing a prominent role.
He took the key of the handcuffs from his pocket, and toyed with it.
Mr. McEachern emitted a low growl. It was enough.
"If you wouldn't mind, Mr. Pitt," said the sleuth, obsequiously. He
thrust the key into Jimmy's hands, and fled.
Jimmy unlocked the handcuffs. Mr. McEachern rubbed his wrists.
"Ingenious little things," said Jimmy.
"I'm much obliged to you," growled Mr. McEachern, without looking
"Not at all. A pleasure. This circumstantial evidence thing is the
devil, isn't it? I knew a man who broke into a house in New York to
win a bet, and to this day the owner of that house thinks him a
"What's that?" said Mr. McEachern, sharply.
"Why do I say 'a man '? Why am I so elusive and mysterious? You're
quite right. It sounds more dramatic, but after all what you want is
facts. Very well. I broke into your house that night to win a bet.
That's the limpid truth."
McEachern was staring at him. Jimmy proceeded.
"You are just about to ask--what was Spike Mullins doing with me?
Well, Spike had broken into my flat an hour before, and I took him
along with me as a sort of guide, philosopher, and friend."
"Spike Mullins said you were a burglar from England."
"I'm afraid I rather led him to think so. I had been to see the
opening performance of a burglar-play called, 'Love, the Cracksman,'
that night, and I worked off on Spike some severely technical
information I had received from a pal of mine who played lead in the
show. I told you when I came in that I had been talking to Lord
Dreever. Well, what he was saying to me was that he had met this
very actor man, a fellow called Mifflin--Arthur Mifflin--in London
just before he met me. He's in London now, rehearsing for a show
that's come over from America. You see the importance of this item?
It means that, if you doubt my story, all you need do is to find
Mifflin--I forgot what theater his play is coming on at, but you
could find out in a second--and ask him to corroborate. Are you
McEachern did not answer. An hour before, he would have fought to
the last ditch for his belief in Jimmy's crookedness; but the events
of the last ten minutes had shaken him. He could not forget that it
was Jimmy who had extricated him from a very uncomfortable position.
He saw now that that position was not so bad as it had seemed at the
time, for the establishing of the innocence of Mr. Galer could have
been effected on the morrow by an exchange of telegrams between the
castle and Dodson's Private Inquiry Agency; yet it had certainly
been bad enough. But for Jimmy, there would have been several hours
of acute embarrassment, if nothing worse. He felt something of a
reaction in Jimmy's favor.
Still, it is hard to overcome a deep-rooted prejudice in an instant.
He stared doubtfully.
"See here, Mr. McEachern," said Jimmy, "I wish you would listen
quietly to me for a minute or two. There's really no reason on earth
why we should be at one another's throats in this way. We might just
as well be friends. Let's shake, and call the fight off. I guess you
know why I came in here to see you?"
McEachern did not speak.
"You know that your daughter has broken off her engagement to Lord
"Then, he was right!" said McEachern, half to himself. "It is you?"
Jimmy nodded. McEachern drummed his fingers on the table, and gazed
thoughtfully at him.
"Is Molly--?" he said at length. "Does Molly--?"
"Yes," said Jimmy.
McEachern continued his drumming. "Don't think there's been anything
underhand about this," said Jimmy. "She absolutely refused to do
anything unless you gave your consent. She said you had been
partners all her life, and she was going to do the square thing by
"She did?" said McEachern, eagerly.
"I think you ought to do the square thing by her. I'm not much, but
she wants me. Do the square thing by her."
He stretched out his hand, but he saw that the other did not notice
the movement. McEachern was staring straight in front of him. There
was a look in his eyes that Jimmy had never seen there before, a
frightened, hunted look. The rugged aggressiveness of his mouth and
chin showed up in strange contrast. The knuckles of his clenched
fists were white.
"It's too late," he burst out. "I'll be square with her now, but
it's too late. I won't stand in her way when I can make her happy.
But I'll lose her! Oh, my God, I'll lose her!"
He gripped the edge of the table.
"Did you think I had never said to myself," he went on, "the things
you said to me that day when we met here? Did you think I didn't
know what I was? Who should know it better than myself? But she
didn't. I'd kept it from her. I'd sweat for fear she would find out
some day. When I came over here, I thought I was safe. And, then,
you came, and I saw you together. I thought you were a crook. You
were with Mullins in New York. I told her you were a crook."
"You told her that!"
"I said I knew it. I couldn't tell her the truth--why I thought so.
I said I had made inquiries in New York, and found out about you."
Jimmy saw now. The mystery was solved. So, that was why Molly had
allowed them to force her into the engagement with Dreever. For a
moment, a rush of anger filled him; but he looked at McEachern, and
it died away. He could not be vindictive now. It would be like
hitting a beaten man. He saw things suddenly from the other's view-
point, and he pitied him.
"I see," he said, slowly.
McEachern gripped the table in silence.
"I see," said Jimmy again. "You mean, she'll want an explanation."
He thought for a moment.
"You must tell her," he said, quickly. "For your own sake, you must
tell her. Go and do it now. Wake up, man!" He shook him by the
shoulder. "Go and do it now. She'll forgive you. Don't be afraid of
that. Go and look for her, and tell her now."
McEachern roused himself.
"I will," he said.
"It's the only way," said Jimmy.
McEachern opened the door, then fell back a pace. Jimmy could hear
voices in the passage outside. He recognized Lord Dreever's.
McEachern continued to back away from the door.
Lord Dreever entered, with Molly on his arm.
"Hullo," said his lordship, looking round. "Hullo, Pitt! Here we all
"Lord Dreever wanted to smoke," said Molly.
She smiled, but there was anxiety in her eyes. She looked quickly at
her father and at Jimmy.
"Molly, my dear," said McEachern huskily, "I to speak to you for a
Jimmy took his lordship by the arm.
"Come along, Dreever," he said. "You can come and sit out with me.
We'll go and smoke on the terrace."
They left the room together.
"What does the old boy want?" inquired his lordship. "Are you and
"We are," said Jimmy.
"By Jove, I say, old chap! Million congratulations, and all that
sort of rot, you know!"
"Thanks," said Jimmy. "Have a cigarette?"
His lordship had to resume his duties in the ballroom after awhile;
but Jimmy sat on, smoking and thinking. The night was very still.
Now and then, a sparrow would rustle in the ivy on the castle wall,
and somewhere in the distance a dog was barking. The music had begun
again in the ball-room. It sounded faint and thin where he sat.
In the general stillness, the opening of the door at the top of the
steps came sharply to his ears. He looked up. Two figures were
silhouetted for a moment against the light, and then the door closed
again. They began to move slowly down the steps.
Jimmy had recognized them. He got up. He was in the shadow. They
could not see him. They began to walk down the terrace. They were
quite close now. Neither was speaking; but, presently when they were
but a few feet away, they stopped. There was the splutter of a match,
and McEachern lighted a cigar. In the yellow light, his face was
clearly visible. Jimmy looked, and was content.
He edged softly toward the shrubbery at the end of the terrace, and,
entering it without a sound, began to make his way back to the
The American liner, St. Louis, lay in the Empress Dock at
Southampton, taking aboard her passengers. All sorts and conditions
of men flowed in an unceasing stream up the gangway.
Leaning over the second-class railing, Jimmy Pitt and Spike Mullins
watched them thoughtfully.
Jimmy looked up at the Blue Peter that fluttered from the fore-mast,
and then at Spike. The Bowery boy's face was stolid and
expressionless. He was smoking a short wooden pipe with an air of
"Well, Spike," said Jimmy. "Your schooner's on the tide now, isn't
it? Your vessel's at the quay. You've got some queer-looking fellow-
travelers. Don't miss the two Cingalese sports, and the man in the
turban and the baggy breeches. I wonder if they're air-tight. Useful
if he fell overboard."
"Sure," said Spike, directing a contemplative eye toward the garment
in question. "He knows his business."
"I wonder what those men on the deck are writing. They've been
scribbling away ever since we came here. Probably, society
journalists. We shall see in next week's papers: 'Among the second-
class passengers, we noticed Mr. "Spike" Mullins, looking as cheery
as ever.' It's a pity you're so set on. going, Spike. Why not change
your mind, and stop?"
For a moment, Spike looked wistful. Then, his countenance resumed
its woodenness. "Dere ain't no use for me dis side, boss," he said.
"New York's de spot. Youse don't want none of me, now you're
married. How's Miss Molly, boss?"
"Splendid, Spike, thanks. We're going over to France by to-night's
"It's been a queer business," Jimmy continued, after a pause, "a
deuced-queer business! Still, I've come very well out of it, at any
rate. It seems to me that you're the only one of us who doesn't end
happily, Spike. I'm married. McEachern's butted into society so deep
that it would take an excavating party with dynamite to get him out
of it. Molly--well, Molly's made a bad bargain, but I hope she won't
regret it. We're all going some, except you. You're going out on the
old trail again--which begins in Third Avenue, and ends in Sing
Sing. Why tear yourself away, Spike?"
Spike concentrated his gaze on a weedy young emigrant in a blue
jersey, who was having his eye examined by the overworked doctor and
seemed to be resenting it.
"Dere's nuttin' doin' dis side, boss," he said, at length. "I want
to git busy."
"Ulysses Mullins!" said Jimmy, looking at him curiously. "I know the
feeling. There's only one cure. I sketched it out for you once, but
I guess you'll never take it. Yon don't think a lot of women, do
you? You're the rugged bachelor."
"Goils--!" began Spike comprehensively, and abandoned the topic
without dilating on it further.
Jimmy lighted his pipe, and threw the match overboard.
The sun came out from behind a cloud, and the water sparkled.
"Dose were great jools, boss," said Spike, thoughtfully.
"I believe you're still brooding over them, Spike."
"We could have got away wit' dem, if youse would have stood fer it.
"You are brooding over them. Spike, I'll tell you something which
will console you a little, before you start out on your wanderings.
It's in confidence, so keep it dark. That necklace was paste."
"Nothing but paste. I got next directly you handed them to me. They
weren't worth a hundred dollars."
A light of understanding came into Spike's eyes. His face beamed
with the smile of one to whom dark matters are made clear.
"So, dat's why you wouldn't stan' fer gittin' away wit' dem!" he