Part 2 out of 5
He was a tidy man, was the lodger; he did not throw his things
about as so many gentlemen do, leaving them all over the place.
No, he kept everything scrupulously tidy. His clothes, and the
various articles Mrs. Bunting had bought for him during the first
two days he had been there, were carefully arranged in the chest
of drawers. He had lately purchased a pair of boots. Those he
had arrived in were peculiar-looking footgear, buff leather shoes
with rubber soles, and he had told his landlady on that very first
day that he never wished them to go down to be cleaned.
A funny idea--a funny habit that, of going out for a walk after
midnight in weather so cold and foggy that all other folk were
glad to be at home, snug in bed. But then Mr. Sleuth himself
admitted that he was a funny sort of gentleman.
After she had done his bedroom the landlady went into the
sitting-room and gave it a good dusting. This room was not kept
quite as nice as she would have liked it to be. Mrs. Bunting
longed to give the drawing-room something of a good turn out; but
Mr. Sleuth disliked her to be moving about in it when he himself
was in his bedroom; and when up he sat there almost all the time.
Delighted as he had seemed to be with the top room, he only used
it when making his mysterious experiments, and never during the
And now, this afternoon, she looked at the rosewood chiffonnier with
longing eyes--she even gave that pretty little piece of furniture
a slight shake. If only the doors would fly open, as the locked
doors of old cupboards sometimes do, even after they have been
securely fastened, how pleased she would be, how much more
comfortable somehow she would feel!
But the chiffonnier refused to give up its secret.
About eight o'clock on that same evening Joe Chandler came in, just
for a few minutes' chat. He had recovered from his agitation of the
morning, but he was full of eager excitement, and Mrs. Bunting
listened in silence, intensely interested in spite of herself, while
he and Bunting talked.
"Yes," he said, "I'm as right as a trivet now! I've had a good rest
--laid down all this afternoon. You see, the Yard thinks there's
going to be something on to-night. He's always done them in pairs."
"So he has," exclaimed Hunting wonderingly. "So he has! Now, I
never thought o' that. Then you think, Joe, that the monster'll be
on the job again to-night?"
Chandler nodded. "Yes. And I think there's a very good chance of
his being caught too--"
"I suppose there'll be a lot on the watch to-night, eh?"
"I should think there will be! How many of our men d'you think
there'll be on night duty to-night, Mr. Bunting?"
Bunting shook his head. "I don't know," he said helplessly.
"I mean extra," suggested Chandler, in an encouraging voice.
"A thousand?" ventured Bunting.
"Five thousand, Mr. Bunting."
"Never!" exclaimed Bunting, amazed.
And even Mrs. Bunting echoed "Never!" incredulously.
"Yes, that there will. You see, the Boss has got his monkey up!"
Chandler drew a folded-up newspaper out of his coat pocket. "Just
listen to this:
"'The police have reluctantly to admit that they have no clue to
the perpetrators of these horrible crimes, and we cannot feel any
surprise at the information that a popular attack has been organised
on the Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. There is even
talk of an indignation mass meeting.'
"What d'you think of that? That's not a pleasant thing for a
gentleman as is doing his best to read, eh?"
"Well, it does seem queer that the police can't catch him, now
doesn't it?" said Bunting argumentatively.
"I don't think it's queer at all," said young Chandler crossly.
"Now you just listen again! Here's a bit of the truth for once--
in a newspaper." And slowly he read out:
"'The detection of crime in London now resembles a game of blind
man's buff, in which the detective has his hands tied and his eyes
bandaged. Thus is he turned loose to hunt the murderer through
the slums of a great city."'
"Whatever does that mean?" said Bunting. "Your hands aren't tied,
and your eyes aren't bandaged, Joe?"
"It's metaphorical-like that it's intended, Mr. Bunting. We haven't
got the same facilities--no, not a quarter of them--that the
French 'tecs have."
And then, for the first time, Mrs. Bunting spoke: "What was that
word, Joe--'perpetrators'? I mean that first bit you read out."
"Yes," he said, turning to her eagerly.
"Then do they think there's more than one of them?" she said, and
a look of relief came over her thin face.
"There's some of our chaps thinks it's a gang," said Chandler.
"They say it can't be the work of one man."
"What do you think, Joe?"
"Well, Mrs. Bunting, I don't know what to think. I'm fair puzzled."
He got up. "Don't you come to the door. I'll shut it all right.
So long! See you to-morrow, perhaps." As he had done the other
evening, Mr. and Mrs. Bunting's visitor stopped at the door. "Any
news of Miss Daisy?" he asked casually.
"Yes; she's coming to-morrow," said her father. "They've got scarlet
fever at her place. So Old Aunt thinks she'd better clear out."
The husband and wife went to bed early that night, but Mrs. Bunting
found she could not sleep. She lay wide awake, hearing the hours,
the half-hours, the quarters chime out from the belfry of the old
church close by.
And then, just as she was dozing off--it must have been about one
o'clock--she heard the sound she had half unconsciously been
expecting to hear, that of the lodger's stealthy footsteps coming
down the stairs just outside her room.
He crept along the passage and let himself out very, very quietly.
But though she tried to keep awake, Mrs. Bunting did not hear him
come in again, for she soon fell into a heavy sleep.
Oddly enough, she was the first to wake the next morning; odder
still, it was she, not Bunting, who jumped out of bed, and going
out into the passage, picked up the newspaper which had just been
pushed through the letter-box.
But having picked it up, Mrs. Bunting did not go back at once into
her bedroom. Instead she lit the gas in the passage, and leaning
up against the wall to steady herself, for she was trembling with
cold and fatigue, she opened the paper.
Yes, there was the heading she sought:
"The AVENGER Murders"
But, oh, how glad she was to see the words that followed:
"Up to the time of going to press there is little new to report
concerning the extraordinary series of crimes which are amazing,
and, indeed, staggering not only London, but the whole civilised
world, and which would seem to be the work of some woman-hating
teetotal fanatic. Since yesterday morning, when the last of these
dastardly murders was committed, no reliable clue to the perpetrator,
or perpetrators, has been obtained, though several arrests were made
in the course of the day. In every case, however, those arrested
were able to prove a satisfactory alibi."
And then, a little lower down
"The excitement grows and grows. It is not too much to say that
even a stranger to London would know that something very unusual
was in the air. As for the place where the murder was committed
"Last night!" thought Mrs. Bunting, startled; and then she realised
that "last night," in this connection, meant the night before last.
She began the sentence again:
"As for the place where the murder was committed last night, all
approaches to it were still blocked up to a late hour by hundreds
of onlookers, though, of course, nothing now remains in the way of
traces of the tragedy."
Slowly and carefully Mrs. Bunting folded the paper up again in its
original creases, and then she stooped and put it back down on the
mat where she had found it. She then turned out the gas, and going
back into bed she lay down by her still sleeping husband.
"Anything the matter?" Bunting murmured, and stirred uneasily.
"Anything the matter, Ellen?"
She answered in a whisper, a whisper thrilling with a strange
gladness, "No, nothing, Bunting--nothing the matter! Go to sleep
again, my dear."
They got up an hour later, both in a happy, cheerful mood. Bunting
rejoiced at the thought of his daughter's coming, and even Daisy's
stepmother told herself that it would be pleasant having the girl
about the house to help her a bit.
About ten o'clock Bunting went out to do some shopping. He brought
back with him a nice little bit of pork for Daisy's dinner, and
three mince-pies. He even remembered to get some apples for the
Just as twelve was striking a four-wheeler drew up to the gate.
It brought Daisy--pink-cheeked, excited, laughing-eyed Daisy--a
sight to gladden any father's heart.
"Old Aunt said I was to have a cab if the weather was bad," she
cried out joyously.
There was a bit of a wrangle over the fare. King's Cross, as all
the world knows, is nothing like two miles from the Marylebone Road,
but the man clamoured for one and sixpence, and hinted darkly that
he had done the young lady a favour in bringing her at all.
While he and Bunting were having words, Daisy, leaving them to it,
walked up the flagged path to the door where her stepmother was
As they were exchanging a rather frigid kiss, indeed, 'twas a mere
peck on Mrs. Bunting's part, there fell, with startling suddenness,
loud cries on the still, cold air. Long-drawn and wailing, they
sounded strangely sad as they rose and fell across the distant roar
of traffic in the Edgware Road.
"What's that?" exclaimed Bunting wonderingly. "Why, whatever's
The cabman lowered his voice. "Them's 'a-crying out that 'orrible
affair at King's Cross. He's done for two of 'em this time! That's
what I meant when I said I might 'a got a better fare. I wouldn't
say nothink before little missy there, but folk 'ave been coming
from all over London the last five or six hours; plenty of toffs,
too--but there, there's nothing to see now!"
"What? Another woman murdered last night?"
Bunting felt tremendously thrilled. What had the five thousand
constables been about to let such a dreadful thing happen?
The cabman stared at him, surprised. "Two of 'em, I tell yer--
within a few yards of one another. He 'ave--got a nerve--But,
of course, they was drunk. He are got a down on the drink!"
"Have they caught him?" asked Bunting perfunctorily.
"Lord, no! They'll never catch 'im! It must 'ave happened hours
and hours ago--they was both stone cold. One each end of a little
passage what ain't used no more. That's why they didn't find 'em
The hoarse cries were coming nearer and nearer--two news vendors
trying to outshout each other.
"'Orrible discovery near King's Cross!" they yelled exultingly.
"The Avenger again!"
And Bunting, with his daughter's large straw hold-all in his hand,
ran forward into the roadway and recklessly gave a boy a penny for
a halfpenny paper.
He felt very much moved and excited. Somehow his acquaintance with
young Joe Chandler made these murders seem a personal affair. He
hoped that Chandler would come in soon and tell them all about it,
as he had done yesterday morning when he, Bunting, had unluckily
As be walked back into the little hall, he heard Daisy's voice--
high, voluble, excited--giving her stepmother a long account of
the scarlet fever case, and how at first Old Aunt's neighbours had
thought it was not scarlet fever at all, but just nettlerash.
But as Bunting pushed open the door of the sitting-room, there
came a note of sharp alarm in his daughter's voice, and he heard
her cry, "Why, Ellen, whatever is the matter? You do look bad!"
and his wife's muffled answer, "Open the window--do."
"'Orrible discovery near King's Cross--a clue at last!" yelled
the newspaper-boys triumphantly.
And then, helplessly, Mrs. Bunting began to laugh. She laughed,
and laughed, and laughed, rocking herself to and fro as if in an
ecstasy of mirth.
"Why, father, whatever's the matter with her?"
Daisy looked quite scared.
"She's in 'sterics--that's what it is," he said shortly.
"I'll just get the water-jug. Wait a minute!"
Bunting felt very put out. Ellen was ridiculous--that's what she
was, to be so easily upset.
The lodger's bell suddenly pealed through the quiet house. Either
that sound, or maybe the threat of the water-jug, had a magical
effect on Mrs. Bunting. She rose to her feet, still shaking all
over, but mentally composed.
"I'll go up," she skid a little chokingly. "As for you, child,
just run down into the kitchen. You'll find a piece of pork
roasting in the oven. You might start paring the apples for the
As Mrs. Bunting went upstairs her legs felt as if they were made
of cotton wool. She put out a trembling hand, and clutched at the
banister for support. But soon, making a great effort over herself,
she began to feel more steady; and after waiting for a few moments
on the landing, she knocked at the door of the drawing-room.
Mr. Sleuth's voice answered her from the bedroom. "I'm not well,"
he called out querulously; "I think I've caught a chill. I should
be obliged if you would kindly bring me up a cup of tea, and put it
outside my door, Mrs. Bunting."
"Very well, sir."
Mrs. Bunting turned and went downstairs. She still felt queer and
giddy, so instead of going into the kitchen, she made the lodger his
cup of tea over her sitting-room gas-ring.
During their midday dinner the husband and wile had a little
discussion as to where Daisy should sleep. It had been settled
that a bed should be made up for her in the top back room, but
Mrs. Bunting saw reason to change this plan. "I think 'twould be
better if Daisy were to sleep with me, Bunting, and you was to
Bunting felt and looked rather surprised, but he acquiesced. Ellen
was probably right; the girl would be rather lonely up there, and,
after all, they didn't know much about the lodger, though he seemed
a respectable gentleman enough.
Daisy was a good-natured girl; she liked London, and wanted to make
herself useful to her stepmother. "I'll wash up; don't you bother to
come downstairs," she said cheerfully.
Bunting began to walk up and down the room. His wife gave him a
furtive glance; she wondered what he was thinking about.
"Didn't you get a paper?" she said at last.
"Yes, of course I did," he answered hastily. "But I've put it away.
I thought you'd rather not look at it, as you're that nervous."
Again she glanced at him quickly, furtively, but he seemed just as
usual--he evidently meant just what he said and no more.
"I thought they was shouting something in the street--I mean just
before I was took bad."
It was now Bunting's turn to stare at his wife quickly and rather
furtively. He had felt sure that her sudden attack of queerness,
of hysterics--call it what you might--had been due to the shouting
outside. She was not the only woman in London who had got the
Avenger murders on her nerves. His morning paper said quite a lot
of women were afraid to go out alone. Was it possible that the
curious way she had been taken just now had had nothing to do with
the shouts and excitement outside?
"Don't you know what it was they were calling out?" he asked slowly.
Mrs. Bunting looked across at him. She would have given a very
great deal to be able to lie, to pretend that she did not know what
those dreadful cries had portended. But when it came to the point
she found she could not do so.
"Yes," she said dully. "I heard a word here and there. There's
been another murder, hasn't there?"
"Two other murders," he said soberly.
"Two? That's worse news!" She turned so pale--a sallow
greenish-white--that Bunting thought she was again going queer.
"Ellen?" he said warningly, "Ellen, now do have a care! I can't
think what's come over, you about these murders. Turn your mind
away from them, do! We needn't talk about them--not so much,
"But I wants to talk about them," cried Mrs. Bunting hysterically.
The husband and wife were standing, one each side of the table,
the man with his back to the fire, the woman with her back to the
Bunting, staring across at his wife, felt sadly perplexed and
disturbed. She really did seem ill; even her slight, spare figure
looked shrunk. For the first time, so he told himself ruefully,
Ellen was beginning to look her full age. Her slender hands--she
had kept the pretty, soft white hands of the woman who has never
done rough work--grasped the edge of the table with a convulsive
Bunting didn't at all like the look of her. "Oh, dear," he said
to himself, "I do hope Ellen isn't going to be ill! That would be
a to-do just now."
"Tell me about it," she commanded, in a low voice. "Can't you see
I'm waiting to hear? Be quick now, Bunting!"
"There isn't very much to tell," he said reluctantly. "There's
precious little in this paper, anyway. But the cabman what brought
Daisy told me--"
"What I said just now. There's two of 'em this time, and they'd
both been drinking heavily, poor creatures."
"Was it where the others was done?" she asked looking at her husband
"No," he said awkwardly. "No, it wasn't, Ellen. It was a good bit
farther West--in fact, not so very far from here. Near King's Cross
--that's how the cabman knew about it, you see. They seems to have
been done in a passage which isn't used no more." And then, as he
thought his wife's eyes were beginning to look rather funny, he added
hastily. "There, that's enough for the present! We shall soon be
hearing a lot more about it from Joe Chandler. He's pretty sure to
come in some time to-day."
"Then the five thousand constables weren't no use?" said Mrs.
She had relaxed her grip of the table, and was standing more
"No use at all," said Bunting briefly. "He is artful and no mistake
about it. But wait a minute--" he turned and took up the paper
which he had laid aside, on a chair. "Yes they says here that they
has a clue."
"A clue, Bunting?" Mrs. Bunting spoke in a soft, weak, die-away
voice, and again, stooping somewhat, she grasped the edge of the
But her husband was not noticing her now. He was holding the paper
close up to his eyes, and he read from it, in a tone of considerable
"'It is gratifying to be able to state that the police at last
believe they are in possession of a clue which will lead to the
arrest of the--'" and then Bunting dropped the paper and rushed
round the table.
His wife, with a curious sighing moan, had slipped down on to the
floor, taking with her the tablecloth as she went. She lay there
in what appeared to be a dead faint. And Bunting, scared out of
his wits, opened the door and screamed out, "Daisy! Daisy! Come
up, child. Ellen's took bad again."
And Daisy, hurrying in, showed an amount of sense and resource
which even at this anxious moment roused her fond father's
"Get a wet sponge, Dad--quick!" she cried, "a sponge,--and, if
you've got such a thing, a drop o' brandy. I'll see after her!"
And then, after he had got the little medicine flask, "I can't think
what's wrong with Ellen," said Daisy wonderingly. "She seemed quite
all right when I first came in. She was listening, interested-like,
to what I was telling her, and then, suddenly--well, you saw how
she was took, father? 'Taint like Ellen this, is now?"
"No," he whispered. "No, 'taint. But you see, child, we've been
going through a pretty bad time--worse nor I should ever have let
you know of, my dear. Ellen's just feeling it now--that's what it
is. She didn't say nothing, for Ellen's a good plucked one, but
it's told on her--it's told on her!"
And then Mrs. Bunting, sitting up, slowly opened her eyes, and
instinctively put her hand up to her head to see if her hair was
She hadn't really been quite "off." It would have been better for
her if she had. She had simply had an awful feeling that she
couldn't stand up--more, that she must fall down. Bunting's words
touched a most unwonted chord in the poor woman's heart, and the
eyes which she opened were full of tears. She had not thought her
husband knew how she had suffered during those weeks of starving
But she had a morbid dislike of any betrayal of sentiment. To her
such betrayal betokened "foolishness," and so all she said was,
"There's no need to make a fuss! I only turned over a little queer.
I never was right off, Daisy."
Pettishly she pushed away the glass in which Bunting had hurriedly
poured a little brandy. "I wouldn't touch such stuff--no, not if
I was dying!" she exclaimed.
Putting out a languid hand, she pulled herself up, with the help of
the table, on to her feet. "Go down again to the kitchen, child";
but there was a sob, a kind of tremor in her voice.
"You haven't been eating properly, Ellen--that's what's the matter
with you," said Bunting suddenly. "Now I come to think of it, you
haven't eat half enough these last two days. I always did say--in
old days many a time I telled you--that a woman couldn't live on
air. But there, you never believed me!"
Daisy stood looking from one to the other, a shadow over her bright,
pretty face. "I'd no idea you'd had such a bad time, father," she
said feelingly. "Why didn't you let me know about it? I might have
got something out of Old Aunt."
"We didn't want anything of that sort," said her stepmother hastily.
"But of course--well, I expect I'm still feeling the worry now. I
don't seem able to forget it. Those days of waiting, of--of--"
she restrained herself; another moment and the word "starving" would
have left her lips.
"But everything's all right now," said Bunting eagerly, "all right,
thanks to Mr. Sleuth, that is."
"Yes," repeated his wife, in a low, strange tone of voice. "Yes,
we're all right now, and as you say, Bunting, it's all along of
She walked across to a chair and sat down on it. "I'm just a little
tottery still," she muttered.
And Daisy, looking at her, turned to her father and said in a
whisper, but not so low but that Mrs. Bunting heard her, "Don't you
think Ellen ought to see a doctor, father? He might give her
something that would pull her round."
"I won't see no doctor!" said Mrs. Bunting with sudden emphasis. "I
saw enough of doctors in my last place. Thirty-eight doctors in ten
months did my poor missis have. Just determined on having 'em she
was! Did they save her? No! She died just the same! Maybe a bit
"She was a freak, was your last mistress, Ellen," began Bunting
Ellen had insisted on staying on in that place till her poor mistress
died. They might have been married some months before they were
married but for that fact. Bunting had always resented it.
His wife smile wanly. "We won't have no words about that," she said,
and again she spoke in a softer, kindlier tone than usual. "Daisy?
If you won't go down to the kitchen again, then I must"--she turned
to her stepdaughter, and the girl flew out of the room.
"I think the child grows prettier every minute," said Bunting fondly.
"Folks are too apt to forget that beauty is but skin deep," said his
wife. She was beginning to feel better. "But still, I do agree,
Bunting, that Daisy's well enough. And she seems more willing, too."
"I say, we mustn't forget the lodger's dinner," Bunting spoke
uneasily. "It's a bit of fish to-day, isn't it? Hadn't I better
just tell Daisy to see to it, and then I can take it up to him, as
you're not feeling quite the thing, Ellen?"
"I'm quite well enough to take up Mr. Sleuth's luncheon," she said
quickly. It irritated her to hear her husband speak of the lodger's
dinner. They had dinner in the middle of the day, but Mr. Sleuth
had luncheon. However odd he might be, Mrs. Bunting never forgot
her lodger was a gentleman.
"After all, he likes me to wait on him, doesn't he? I can manage
all right. Don't you worry," she added after a long pause.
Perhaps because his luncheon was served to him a good deal later
than usual, Mr. Sleuth ate his nice piece of steamed sole upstairs
with far heartier an appetite than his landlady had eaten her nice
slice of roast pork downstairs.
"I hope you're feeling a little better, sir," Mrs. Bunting had forced
herself to say when she first took in his tray.
And he had answered plaintively, querulously, "No, I can't say I
feel well to-day, Mrs. Bunting. I am tired--very tired. And as I
lay in bed I seemed to hear so many sounds--so much crying and
shouting. I trust the Marylebone Road is not going to become a noisy
thoroughfare, Mrs. Bunting?"
"Oh, no, sir, I don't think that. We're generally reckoned very
quiet indeed, sir."
She waited a moment--try as she would, she could not allude to what
those unwonted shouts and noises had betokened. "I expect you've
got a chill, sir," she said suddenly. "If I was you, I shouldn't
go out this afternoon; I'd just stay quietly indoors. There's a lot
of rough people about--" Perhaps there was an undercurrent of
warning, of painful pleading, in her toneless voice which penetrated
in some way to the brain of the lodger, for Mr. Sleuth looked up, and
an uneasy, watchful look came into his luminous grey eyes.
"I'm sorry to hear that, Mrs. Bunting. But I think I'll take your
advice. That is, I will stay quietly at home, I am never at a loss
to know what to do with myself so long as I can study the Book of
"Then you're not afraid about your eyes, sir?" said Mrs. Bunting
curiously. Somehow she was beginning to feel better. It comforted
her to be up here, talking to Mr. Sleuth, instead of thinking about
him downstairs. It seemed to banish the terror which filled her
soul--aye, and her body, too--at other times. When she was with
him Mr. Sleuth was so gentle, so reasonable, so--so grateful.
Poor kindly, solitary Mr. Sleuth! This kind of gentleman surely
wouldn't hurt a fly, let alone a human being. Eccentric--so much
must be admitted. But Mrs. Bunting had seen a good deal of eccentric
folk, eccentric women rather than eccentric men, in her long career
as useful maid.
Being at ordinary times an exceptionally sensible, well-balanced
woman, she had never, in old days, allowed her mind to dwell on
certain things she had learnt as to the aberrations of which human
nature is capable--even well-born, well-nurtured, gentle human
nature--as exemplified in some of the households where she had
served. It would, indeed, be unfortunate if she now became morbid
So it was in a sharp, cheerful voice, almost the voice in which she
had talked during the first few days of Mr. Sleuth's stay in her
house, that she exclaimed, "Well, sir, I'll be up again to clear
away in about half an hour. And if you'll forgive me for saying so,
I hope you will stay in and have a rest to-day. Nasty, muggy weather
--that's what it is! If there's any little thing you want, me or
Bunting can go out and get it."
It must have been about four o'clock when there came a ring at the
The three were sitting chatting together, for Daisy had washed up
--she really was saving her stepmother a good bit of trouble--and
the girl was now amusing her elders by a funny account of Old Aunt's
"Whoever can that be?" said Bunting, looking up. "It's too early
for Joe Chandler, surely."
"I'll go," said his wife, hurriedly jumping up from her chair.
"I'll go! We don't want no strangers in here."
And as she stepped down the short bit of passage she said to herself,
"A clue? What clue?"
But when she opened the front door a glad sigh of relief broke from
her. "Why, Joe? We never thought 'twas you! But you're very
welcome, I'm sure. Come in."
And Chandler came in, a rather sheepish look on his good-looking,
fair young face.
"I thought maybe that Mr. Bunting would like to know--" he began,
in a loud, cheerful voice, and Mrs. Bunting hurriedly checked him.
She didn't want the lodger upstairs to hear what young Chandler
might be going to say.
"Don't talk so loud," she said a little sharply. "The lodger is
not very well to-day. He's had a cold," she added hastily, "and
during the last two or three days he hasn't been able to go out."
She wondered at her temerity, her--her hypocrisy, and that moment,
those few words, marked an epoch in Ellen Bunting's life. It was
the first time she had told a bold and deliberate lie. She was
one of those women--there are many, many such--to whom there is
a whole world of difference between the suppression of the truth
and the utterance of an untruth.
But Chandler paid no heed to her remarks. "Has Miss Daisy arrived?"
he asked, in a lower voice.
She nodded. And then he went through into the room where the father
and daughter were sitting.
"Well?" said Bunting, starting up. "Well, Joe? Now you can tell
us all about that mysterious clue I suppose it'd be too good news
to expect you to tell us they've caught him?"
"No fear of such good news as that yet awhile. If they'd caught
him," said Joe ruefully, "well, I don't suppose I should be here,
Mr. Bunting. But the Yard are circulating a description at last.
And--well, they've found his weapon!"
"No?" cried Bunting excitedly. "You don't say so! Whatever sort
of a thing is it? And are they sure 'tis his?"
"Well, 'tain't sure, but it seems to be likely."
Mrs. Bunting had slipped into the room and shut the door behind her.
But she was still standing with her back against the door, looking
at the group in front of her. None of them were thinking of her
--she thanked God for that! She could hear everything that was
said without joining in the talk and excitement.
"Listen to this!" cried Joe Chandler exultantly. "'Tain't given
out yet--not for the public, that is--but we was all given it by
eight o'clock this morning. Quick work that eh?" He read out:
A man, of age approximately 28, slight in figure, height
approximately 5 ft. '8 in. Complexion dark. No beard or
whiskers. Wearing a black diagonal coat hard felt hat, high
white collar, and tie. Carried a newspaper parcel. Very
Mrs. Bunting walked forward. She gave a long, fluttering sigh of
"There's the chap!" said Joe Chandler triumphantly. "And now, Miss
Daisy"--he turned to her jokingly, but there was a funny little
tremor in his frank, cheerful-sounding voice--"if you knows of any
nice, likely young fellow that answers to that description--well,
you've only got to walk in and earn your reward of five hundred
"Five hundred pounds!" cried Daisy and her father simultaneously.
"Yes. That's what the Lord Mayor offered yesterday. Some private
bloke--nothing official about it. But we of the Yard is barred
from taking that reward, worse luck. And it's too bad, for we has
all the trouble, after all"
"Just hand that bit of paper over, will you?" said Bunting. "I'd
like to con it over to myself."
Chandler threw over the bit of flimsy.
A moment later Bunting looked up and handed it back. "Well, it's
clear enough, isn't it?"
"Yes. And there's hundreds--nay, thousands--of young fellows
that might be a description of," said Chandler sarcastically. "As
a pal of mine said this morning, 'There isn't a chap will like to
carry a newspaper parcel after this.' And it won't do to have a
Daisy's voice rang out in merry, pealing laughter. She greatly
appreciated Mr. Chandler's witticism.
"Why on earth didn't the people who saw him try and catch him?"
asked Bunting suddenly.
And Mrs. Bunting broke in, in a lower voice, "Yes, Joe--that seems
odd, don't it?"
Joe Chandler coughed. "Well, it's this way," he said. "No one
person did see all that. The man who's described here is just made
up from the description of two different folk who think they saw
him. You see, the murders must have taken place--well, now, let
me see--perhaps at two o'clock this last time. Two o'clock--
that's the idea. Well, at such a time as that not many people are
about, especially on a foggy night. Yes, one woman declares she
saw a young chap walking away from the spot where 'twas done; and
another one--but that was a good bit later--says The Avenger
passed by her. It's mostly her they're following in this 'ere
description. And then the boss who has charge of that sort of
thing looked up what other people had said--I mean when the other
crimes was committed. That's how he made up this 'Wanted."'
"Then The Avenger may be quite a different sort of man?" said
Bunting slowly, disappointedly.
"Well, of course he may be. But, no; I think that description
fits him all right," said Chandler; but he also spoke in a
"You was saying, Joe, that they found a weapon?" observed Bunting
He was glad that Ellen allowed the discussion to go on--in fact,
that she even seemed to take an intelligent interest in it. She
had come up close to them, and now looked quite her old self again.
"Yes. They believe they've found the weapon what he does his awful
deeds with," said Chandler. "At any rate, within a hundred yards
of that little dark passage where they found the bodies--one at
each end, that was--there was discovered this morning a very
peculiar kind o' knife--'keen as a razor, pointed as a dagger'--
that's the exact words the boss used when he was describing it to
a lot of us. He seemed to think a lot more of that clue than of
the other--I mean than of the description people gave of the chap
who walked quickly by with a newspaper parcel. But now there's a
pretty job in front of us. Every shop where they sell or might a'
sold, such a thing as that knife, including every eating-house in
the East End, has got to be called at!"
"Whatever for?" asked Daisy.
"Why, with an idea of finding out if anyone saw such a knife fooling
about there any time, and, if so, in whose possession it was at the
time. But, Mr. Bunting"--Chandler's voice changed; it became
businesslike, official--"they're not going to say anything about
that--not in newspapers--till to-morrow, so don't you go and
tell anybody. You see, we don't want to frighten the fellow off.
If he knew they'd got his knife--well, he might just make himself
scarce, and they don't want that! If it's discovered that any knife
of that kind was sold, say a month ago, to some customer whose ways
are known, then--then--"
"What'll happen then?" said Mrs. Bunting, coming nearer.
"Well, then, nothing'll be put about it in the papers at all," said
Chandler deliberately. "The only objec' of letting the public know
about it would be if nothink was found--I mean if the search of
the shops, and so on, was no good. Then, of course, we must try
and find out someone--some private person-like, who's watched that
knife in the criminal's possession. It's there the reward--the
five hundred pounds will come in."
"Oh, I'd give anything to see that knife!" exclaimed Daisy, clasping
her hands together.
"You cruel, bloodthirsty, girl!" cried her stepmother passionately.
They all looked round at her, surprised.
"Come, come, Ellen!" said Bunting reprovingly.
"Well, it is a horrible idea!" said his wife sullenly. "To go and
sell a fellow-being for five hundred pounds."
But Daisy was offended. "Of course I'd like to see it!" she cried
defiantly. "I never said nothing about the reward. That was Mr.
Chandler said that! I only said I'd like to see the knife."
Chandler looked at her soothingly. "Well, the day may come when
you will see it," he said slowly.
A great idea had come into his mind.
"No! What makes you think that?"
"If they catches him, and if you comes along with me to see our
Black Museum at the Yard, you'll certainly see the knife, Miss Daisy.
They keeps all them kind of things there. So if, as I say, this
weapon should lead to the conviction of The Avenger--well, then,
that knife 'ull be there, and you'll see' it!"
"The Black Museum? Why, whatever do they have a museum in your
place for?" asked Daisy wonderingly. "I thought there was only the
And then even Mrs. Bunting, as well as Bunting and Chandler,
"You are a goosey girl!" said her father fondly. "Why, there's a
lot of museums in London; the town's thick with 'em. Ask Ellen
there. She and me used to go to them kind of places when we was
courting--if the weather was bad."
"But our museum's the one that would interest Miss Daisy," broke in
Chandler eagerly. "It's a regular Chamber of 'Orrors!"
"Why, Joe, you never told us about that place before," said Bunting
excitedly. "D'you really mean that there's a museum where they
keeps all sorts of things connected with crimes? Things like knives
murders have been committed with?"
"Knives?" cried Joe, pleased at having become the centre of
attention, for Daisy had also fixed her blue eyes on him, and even
Mrs. Bunting looked at him expectantly. "Much more than knives, Mr.
Bunting! Why, they've got there, in little bottles, the real poison
what people have been done away with."
"And can you go there whenever you like?" asked Daisy wonderingly.
She had not realised before what extraordinary and agreeable
privileges are attached to the position of a detective member of
the London Police Force.
"Well, I suppose I could--" Joe smiled. "Anyway I can certainly
get leave to take a friend there." He looked meaningly at Daisy,
and Daisy looked eagerly at him.
But would Ellen ever let her go out by herself with Mr. Chandler?
Ellen was so prim, so--so irritatingly proper. But what was this
father was saying? "D'you really mean that, Joe?"
"Yes, of course I do!"
"Well, then, look here! If it isn't asking too much of a favour, I
should like to go along there with you very much one day. I don't
want to wait till The Avenger's caught "--Bunting smiled broadly.
"I'd be quite content as it is with what there is in that museum
o' yours. Ellen, there,"--he looked across at his wife--"don't
agree with me about such things. Yet I don't think I'm a
bloodthirsty man! But I'm just terribly interested in all that sort
of thing--always have been. I used to positively envy the butler
in that Balham Mystery!"
Again a look passed between Daisy and the young man--it was a look
which contained and carried a great many things backwards and
forwards, such as--"Now, isn't it funny that your father should
want to go to such a place? But still, I can't help it if he does
want to go, so we must put up with his company, though it would
have been much nicer for us to go just by our two selves." And
then Daisy's look answered quite as plainly, though perhaps Joe
didn't read her glance quite as clearly as she had read his: "Yes,
it is tiresome. But father means well; and 'twill be very pleasant
going there, even if he does come too."
"Well, what d'you say to the day after to-morrow, Mr. Bunting? I'd
call for you here about--shall we say half-past two?--and just
take you and Miss Daisy down to the Yard. 'Twouldn't take very
long; we could go all the way by bus, right down to Westminster
Bridge." He looked round at his hostess: "Wouldn't you join us,
Mrs. Bunting? 'Tis truly a wonderful interesting place."
But his hostess shook her head decidedly. "'Twould turn me sick,"
she exclaimed, "to see the bottle of poison what had done away with
the life of some poor creature!
"And as for knives--!" a look of real horror, of startled fear,
crept over her pale face.
"There, there!" said Bunting hastily. "Live and let live--that's
what I always say. Ellen ain't on in this turn. She can just
stay at home and mind the cat--I beg his pardon, I mean the lodger!"
"I won't have Mr. Sleuth laughed at," said Mrs. Bunting darkly.
"But there! I'm sure it's very kind of you, Joe, to think of giving
Bunting and Daisy such a rare treat "--she spoke sarcastically, but
none of the three who heard her understood that.
The moment she passed though the great arched door which admits the
stranger to that portion of New Scotland Yard where throbs the heart
of that great organism which fights the forces of civilised crime,
Daisy Bunting felt that she had indeed become free of the Kingdom of
Romance. Even the lift in which the three of them were whirled up
to one of the upper floors of the huge building was to the girl a
new and delightful experience. Daisy had always lived a simple,
quiet life in the little country town where dwelt Old Aunt and this
was the first time a lift had come her way.
With a touch of personal pride in the vast building, Joe Chandler
marched his friends down a wide, airy corridor.
Daisy clung to her father's arm, a little bewildered, a little
oppressed by her good fortune. Her happy young voice was
stilled by the awe she felt at the wonderful place where she
found herself, and by the glimpses she caught of great rooms full
of busy, silent men engaged in unravelling--or so she supposed
--the mysteries of crime.
They were passing a half-open door when Chandler suddenly stopped
short. "Look in there," he said, in a low voice, addressing the
father rather than the daughter, "that's the Finger-Print Room.
We've records here of over two hundred thousand men's and women's
finger-tips! I expect you know, Mr. Bunting, as how, once we've got
the print of a man's five finger-tips, well, he's done for--if he
ever does anything else, that is. Once we've got that bit of him
registered he can't never escape us--no, not if he tries ever so.
But though there's nigh on a quarter of a million records in there,
yet it don't take--well, not half an hour, for them to tell
whether any particular man has ever been convicted before! Wonderful
thought, ain't it?"
"Wonderful!" said Bunting, drawing a deep breath. And then a
troubled look came over his stolid face. "Wonderful, but also a
very fearful thought for the poor wretches as has got their
finger-prints in, Joe."
Joe laughed. "Agreed!" he said. "And the cleverer ones knows that
only too well. Why, not long ago, one man who knew his record was
here safe, managed to slash about his fingers something awful, just
so as to make a blurred impression--you takes my meaning? But
there, at the end of six weeks the skin grew all right again, and
in exactly the same little creases as before!"
"Poor devil!" said Bunting under his breath, and a cloud even came
over Daisy's bright eager face.
They were now going along a narrower passage, and then again they
came to a half-open door, leading into a room far smaller than
that of the Finger-Print Identification Room.
"If you'll glance in there," said Joe briefly, "you'll see how we
finds out all about any man whose finger-tips has given him away, so
to speak. It's here we keeps an account of what he's done, his
previous convictions, and so on. His finger-tips are where I told
you, and his record in there--just connected by a number."
"Wonderful!" said Bunting, drawing in his breath. But Daisy was
longing to get on--to get to the Black Museum. All this that Joe
and her father were saying was quite unreal to her, and, for the
matter of that not worth taking the trouble to understand. However,
she had not long to wait.
A broad-shouldered, pleasant-looking young fellow, who seemed on
very friendly terms with Joe Chandler, came forward suddenly, and,
unlocking a common-place-looking door, ushered the little party of
three through into the Black Museum.
For a moment there came across Daisy a feeling of keen disappointment
and surprise. This big, light room simply reminded her of what they
called the Science Room in the public library of the town where she
lived with Old Aunt. Here, as there, the centre was taken up with
plain glass cases fixed at a height from the floor which enabled
their contents to be looked at closely.
She walked forward and peered into the case nearest the door. The
exhibits shown there were mostly small, shabby-looking little things,
the sort of things one might turn out of an old rubbish cupboard in
an untidy house--old medicine bottles, a soiled neckerchief, what
looked like a child's broken lantern, even a box of pills. . .
As for the walls, they were covered with the queerest-looking
objects; bits of old iron, odd-looking things made of wood and
leather, and so on.
It was really rather disappointing.
Then Daisy Bunting gradually became aware that standing on a shelf
just below the first of the broad, spacious windows which made the
great room look so light and shadowless, was a row of life-size
white plaster heads, each head slightly inclined to the right.
There were about a dozen of these, not more--and they had such odd,
staring, helpless, real-looking faces.
"Whatever's those?" asked Bunting in a low voice.
Daisy clung a thought closer to her father's arm. Even she guessed
that these strange, pathetic, staring faces were the death-masks of
those men and women who had fulfilled the awful law which ordains
that the murderer shall be, in his turn, done to death.
"All hanged!" said the guardian of the Black Museum briefly. "Casts
taken after death."
Bunting smiled nervously. "They don't look dead somehow.. They
looks more as if they were listening," he said.
"That's the fault of Jack Ketch," said the man facetiously. "It's
his idea--that of knotting his' patient's necktie under the left
ear! That's what he does to each of the gentlemen to whom he has
to act valet on just one occasion only. It makes them lean just a
bit to one side. You look here--?"
Daisy and her father came a little closer, and the speaker pointed
with his' finger to a little dent imprinted on the left side of each
neck; running from this indentation was a curious little furrow,
well ridged above, showing how tightly Jack Ketch's necktie had been
drawn when its wearer was hurried through the gates of eternity.
"They looks foolish-like, rather than terrified, or--or hurt," said
He was extraordinarily moved and fascinated by those dumb, staring
But young Chandler exclaimed in a cheerful, matter-of-fact voice,
"Well, a man would look foolish at such a time as that, with all his
plans brought to naught--and knowing he's only got a second to live
--now wouldn't he?"
"Yes, I suppose he would," said Bunting slowly.
Daisy had gone a little pale. The sinister, breathless atmosphere
of the place was beginning to tell on her. She now began to
understand that the shabby little objects lying there in the glass
case close to her were each and all links in the chain of evidence
which, in almost every case, had brought some guilty man or woman
to the gallows.
"We had a yellow gentleman here the other day," observed the guardian
suddenly; "one of those Brahmins--so they calls themselves. Well,
you'd a been quite surprised to see how that heathen took on! He
declared--what was the word he used?"--he turned to Chandler.
"He said that each of these things, with the exception of the casts,
mind you--queer to say, he left them out--exuded evil, that was
the word he used! Exuded--squeezed out it means. He said that
being here made him feel very bad. And twasn't all nonsense either.
He turned quite green under his yellow skin, and we had to shove him
out quick. He didn't feel better till he'd got right to the other
end of the passage!"
"There now! Who'd ever think of that?" said Bunting. "I should say
that man 'ud got something on his conscience, wouldn't you?"
"Well, I needn't stay now," said Joe's good-natured friend. "You
show your friends round, Chandler. You knows the place nearly as
well as I do, don't you?"
He smiled at Joe's visitors, as if to say good-bye, but it seemed
that he could not tear himself away after all.
"Look here," he said to Bunting. "In this here little case are the
tools of Charles Peace. I expect you've heard of him."
"I should think I have!" cried Bunting eagerly.
"Many gents as comes here thinks this case the most interesting of
all. Peace was such a wonderful man! A great inventor they say he
would have been, had he been put in the way of it. Here's his
ladder; you see it folds up quite compactly, and makes a nice little
bundle--just like a bundle of old sticks any man might have been
seen carrying about London in those days without attracting any
attention. Why, it probably helped him to look like an honest
working man time and time again, for on being arrested he declared
most solemnly he'd always carried that ladder openly under his arm."
"The daring of that!" cried Bunting.
"Yes, and when the ladder was opened out it could reach from the
ground to the second storey of any old house. And, oh! how clever
he was! Just open one section, and you see the other sections open
automatically; so Peace could stand on the ground and force the
thing quietly up to any window he wished to reach. Then he'd go
away again, having done his job, with a mere bundle of old wood
under his arm! My word, he was artful! I wonder if you've heard
the tale of how Peace once lost a finger. Well, he guessed the
constables were instructed to look out for a man missing a finger;
so what did he do?"
"Put on a false finger," suggested Bunting.
"No, indeed! Peace made up his mind just to do without a hand
altogether. Here's his false stump: you see, it's made of wood
--wood and black felt? Well, that just held his hand nicely.
Why, we considers that one of the most ingenious contrivances in
the whole museum."
Meanwhile, Daisy had let go her hold of her father. With Chandler
in delighted attendance, she bad moved away to the farther end of
the great room, and now she was bending over yet another glass case.
"Whatever are those little bottles for?" she asked wonderingly.
There were five small phials, filled with varying quantities of
"They're full of poison, Miss Daisy, that's what they are. There's
enough arsenic in that little whack o' brandy to do for you and me
--aye, and for your father as well, I should say."
"Then chemists shouldn't sell such stuff," said Daisy, smiling.
Poison was so remote from herself, that the sight of these little
bottles only brought a pleasant thrill.
"No more they don't. That was sneaked out of a flypaper, that was.
Lady said she wanted a cosmetic for her complexion, but what she was
really going for was flypapers for to do away with her husband.
She'd got a bit tired of him, I suspect."
"Perhaps he was a horrid man, and deserved to be done away with,"
said Daisy. The idea struck them both as so very comic that they
began to laugh aloud in unison.
"Did you ever hear what a certain Mrs. Pearce did?" asked Chandler,
becoming suddenly serious.
"Oh, yes," said Daisy, and she shuddered a little. "That was the
wicked, wicked woman what killed a pretty little baby and its mother.
They've got her in Madame Tussaud's. But Ellen, she won't let me go
to the Chamber of Horrors. She wouldn't let father take me there
last time I was in London. Cruel of her, I called it. But somehow
I don't feel as if I wanted to go there now, after having been here!"
"Well," said Chandler slowly, "we've a case full of relics of Mrs.
Pearce. But the pram the bodies were found in, that's at Madame
Tussaud's--at least so they claim, I can't say. Now here's something
just as curious, and not near so dreadful. See that man's jacket
"Yes," said Daisy falteringly. She was beginning to feel oppressed,
frightened. She no longer wondered that the Indian gentleman had
been taken queer.
"A burglar shot a man dead who'd disturbed him, and by mistake he
went and left that jacket behind him. Our people noticed that one
of the buttons was broken in two. Well, that don't seem much of a
clue, does it, Miss Daisy? Will you believe me when I tells you
that that other bit of button was discovered, and that it hanged
the fellow? And 'twas the more wonderful because all three buttons
Daisy stared wonderingly, down at the little broken button which
had hung a man. "And whatever's that!" she asked, pointing to a
piece of dirty-looking stuff.
"Well," said Chandler reluctantly, "that's rather a horrible thing
--that is. That's a bit o' shirt that was buried with a woman--
buried in the ground, I mean--after her husband had cut her up and
tried, to burn her. Twas that bit o' shirt that brought him to the
"I considers your museum's a very horrid place!" said Daisy
pettishly, turning away.
She longed to be out in the passage again, away from this brightly
lighted, cheerful-looking, sinister room.
But her father was now absorbed in the case containing various types
of infernal machines. "Beautiful little works of art some of them
are," said his guide eagerly, and Bunting could not but agree.
"Come along--do, father!" said Daisy quickly. "I've seen about
enough now. If I was to stay in here much longer it 'ud give me
the horrors. I don't want to have no nightmares to-night. It's
dreadful to think there are so many wicked people in the world.
Why, we might knock up against some murderer any minute without
knowing it, mightn't we?"
"Not you, Miss Daisy," said Chandler smilingly. "I don't suppose
you'll ever come across even a common swindler, let alone anyone
who's committed a murder--not one in a million does that. Why,
even I have never had anything to do with a proper murder case!"
But Bunting was in no hurry. He was thoroughly enjoying every
moment of the time. Just now he was studying intently the various
photographs which hung on the walls of the Black Museum; especially
was he pleased to see those connected with a famous and still
mysterious case which had taken place not long before in Scotland,
and in which the servant of the man who died had played a
considerable part--not in elucidating, but in obscuring, the mystery.
"I suppose a good many murderers get off?" he said musingly.
And Joe Chandler's friend nodded. "I should think they did!" he
exclaimed. "There's no such thing as justice here in England.
'Tis odds on the murderer every time. 'Tisn't one in ten that
come to the end he should do--to the gallows, that is."
"And what d'you think about what's going on now--I mean about
those Avenger murders?"
Bunting lowered his voice, but Daisy and Chandler were already
moving towards the door.
"I don't believe he'll ever be caught," said the other
confidentially. "In some ways 'tis a lot more of a job to catch a
madman than 'tis to run down just an ordinary criminal. And, of
course--leastways to my thinking--The Avenger is a madman--one
of the cunning, quiet sort. Have you heard about the letter?" his
voice dropped lower.
"No," said Bunting, staring eagerly at him. "What letter d'you
"Well, there's a letter--it'll be in this museum some day--which
came just before that last double event. 'Twas signed 'The Avenger,'
in just the same printed characters as on that bit of paper he always
leaves behind him. Mind you, it don't follow that it actually was The
Avenger what sent that letter here, but it looks uncommonly like it,
and I know that the Boss attaches quite a lot of importance to it."
"And where was it posted?" asked Bunting. "That might be a bit of a
clue, you know."
"Oh, no," said the other. "They always goes a very long way to
post anything--criminals do. It stands to reason they would. But
this particular one was put in the Edgware Road Post Office."
"What? Close to us?" said Bunting. "Goodness! dreadful!"
"Any of us might knock up against him any minute. I don't suppose
The Avenger's in any way peculiar-looking--in fact we know he ain't."
"Then you think that woman as says she saw him did see him?" asked
"Our description was made up from what she said," answered the other
cautiously. "But, there, you can't tell! In a case like that it's
groping--groping in the dark all the time--and it's just a lucky
accident if it comes out right in the end. Of course, it's upsetting
us all very much here. You can't wonder at that!"
"No, indeed," said Bunting quickly. "I give you my word, I've hardly
thought of anything else for the last month."
Daisy had disappeared, and when her father joined her in the passage
she was listening, with downcast eyes, to what Joe Chandler was
He was telling her about his real home, of the place where his mother
lived, at Richmond--that it was a nice little house, close to the
park. He was asking her whether she could manage to come out there
one afternoon, explaining that his mother would give them tea, and
how nice it would be.
"I don't see why Ellen shouldn't let me," the girl said rebelliously.
"But she's that old-fashioned and pernickety is Ellen--a regular
old maid! And, you see, Mr. Chandler, when I'm staying with them,
father don't like for me to do anything that Ellen don't approve of.
But she's got quite fond of you, so perhaps if you ask her--?"
She looked at him, and he nodded sagely.
"Don't you be afraid," he said confidently. "I'll get round Mrs.
Bunting. But, Miss Daisy"--he grew very red--"I'd just like to
ask you a question--no offence meant--"
"Yes?" said Daisy a little breathlessly. "There's father close to
us, Mr. Chandler. Tell me quick; what is it?"
"Well, I take it, by what you said just now, that you've never
walked out with any young fellow?"
Daisy hesitated a moment; then a very pretty dimple came into her
cheek. "No," she said sadly. "No, Mr. Chandler, that I have not."
In a burst of candour she added, "You see, I never had the chance!"
And Joe Chandler smiled, well pleased.
By what she regarded as a fortunate chance, Mrs. Bunting found
herself for close on an hour quite alone in the house during her
husband's and Daisy's jaunt with young Chandler.
Mr. Sleuth did not often go out in the daytime, but on this
particular afternoon, after he had finished his tea, when dusk was
falling, he suddenly observed that he wanted a new suit of clothes,
and his landlady eagerly acquiesced in his going out to purchase it.
As soon as he had left the house, she went quickly up to the
drawing-room floor. Now had come her opportunity of giving the two
rooms a good dusting; but Mrs. Bunting knew well, deep in her heart,
that it was not so much the dusting of Mr. Sleuth's sitting-room she
wanted to do--as to engage in a vague search for--she hardly knew
During the years she had been in service Mrs. Bunting had always
had a deep, wordless contempt for those of her fellow-servants who
read their employers' private letters, and who furtively peeped
into desks and cupboards in the hope, more vague than positive, of
discovering family skeletons.
But now, with regard to Mr. Sleuth, she was ready, aye, eager, to
do herself what she had once so scorned others for doing.
Beginning with the bedroom, she started on a methodical search. He
was a very tidy gentleman was the lodger, and his few things,
under-garments, and so on, were in apple-pie order. She had early
undertaken, much to his satisfaction, to do the very little bit of
washing he required done, with her own and Bunting's. Luckily he
wore soft shirts.
At one time Mrs. Bunting had always had a woman in to help her with
this tiresome weekly job, but lately she had grown quite clever at
it herself. The only things she had to send out were Bunting's
shirts. Everything else she managed to do herself.
From the chest of drawers she now turned her attention to the
Mr. Sleuth did not take his money with him when he went out, he
generally left it in one of the drawers below the old-fashioned
looking-glass. And now, in a perfunctory way, his landlady pulled
out the little drawer, but she did not touch what was lying there;
she only glanced at the heap of sovereigns and a few bits of silver.
The lodger had taken just enough money with him to buy the clothes
he required. He had consulted her as to how much they would cost,
making no secret of why he was going out, and the fact had vaguely
comforted Mrs. Bunting.
Now she lifted the toilet-cover, and even rolled up the carpet a
little way, but no, there was nothing there, not so much as a scrap
of paper. And at last, when more or less giving up the search, as
she came and went between the two rooms, leaving the connecting door
wide open, her mind became full of uneasy speculation and wonder as
to the lodger's past life.
Odd Mr. Sleuth must surely always have been, but odd in a sensible
sort of way, having on the whole the same moral ideals of conduct
as have other people of his class. He was queer about the drink--one
might say almost crazy on the subject--but there, as to that, he
wasn't the only one! She. Ellen Bunting, had once lived with a
lady who was just like that, who was quite crazed, that is, on the
question of drink and drunkards--She looked round the neat
drawing-room with vague dissatisfaction. There was only one place
where anything could be kept concealed--that place was the
substantial if small mahogany chiffonnier. And then an idea
suddenly came to Mrs. Bunting, one she had never thought of before.
After listening intently for a moment, lest something should suddenly
bring Mr. Sleuth home earlier than she expected, she went to the
corner where the chiffonnier stood, and, exerting the whole of her
not very great physical strength, she tipped forward the heavy piece
As she did so, she heard a queer rumbling sound,--something rolling
about on the second shelf, something which had not been there before
Mr. Sleuth's arrival. Slowly, laboriously, she tipped the chiffonnier
backwards and forwards--once, twice, thrice--satisfied, yet strangely
troubled in her mind, for she now felt sure that the bag of which the
disappearance had so surprised her was there, safely locked away by
Suddenly a very uncomfortable thought came to Mrs. Buntlng's mind.
She hoped Mr. Sleuth would not notice that his bag had shifted inside
the cupboard. A moment later, with sharp dismay, Mr. Sleuth's
landlady realised that the fact that she had moved the chiffonnier
must become known to her lodger, for a thin trickle of some
dark-coloured liquid was oozing out though the bottom of the little
She stooped down and touched the stuff. It showed red, bright red,
on her finger.
Mrs. Bunting grew chalky white, then recovered herself quickly. In
fact the colour rushed into her face, and she grew hot all over.
It was only a bottle of red ink she had upset--that was all! How
could she have thought it was anything else?
It was the more silly of her--so she told herself in scornful
condemnation--because she knew that the lodger used red ink.
Certain pages of Cruden's Concordance were covered with notes written
in Mr. Sleuth's peculiar upright handwriting. In fact in some places
you couldn't see the margin, so closely covered was it with remarks
and notes of interrogation.
Mr Sleuth had foolishly placed his bottle of red ink in the
chiffonnier--that was what her poor, foolish gentleman had done;
and it was owing to her inquisitiveness, her restless wish to know
things she would be none the better, none the happier, for knowing,
that this accident had taken place.
She mopped up with her duster the few drops of ink which had fallen
on the green carpet and then, still feeling, as she angrily told
herself, foolishly upset she went once more into the back room.
It was curious that Mr. Sleuth possessed no notepaper. She would
have expected him to have made that one of his first purchases--the
more so that paper is so very cheap, especially that rather
dirty-looking grey Silurian paper. Mrs. Buntlng had once lived with
a lady who always used two kinds of notepaper, white for her friends
and equals, grey for those whom she called "common people." She,
Ellen Green, as she then was, had always resented the fact. Strange
she should remember it now, stranger in a way because that employer
of her's had not been a real lady, and Mr. Sleuth, whatever his
peculiarities, was, in every sense of the word, a real gentleman.
Somehow Mrs. Bunting felt sure that if he had bought any notepaper
it would have been white--white and probably cream-laid--not
grey and cheap.
Again she opened the drawer of the old-fashioned wardrobe and lifted
up the few pieces of underclothing Mr. Sleuth now possessed.
But there was nothing there--nothing, that is, hidden away. When
one came to think of it there seemed something strange in the notion
of leaving all one's money where anyone could take it, and in locking
up such a valueless thing as a cheap sham leather bag, to say nothing
of a bottle of ink.
Mrs. Bunting once more opened out each of the tiny drawers below the
looking-glass, each delicately fashioned of fine old mahogany. Mr.
Sleuth kept his money in the centre drawer.
The glass had only cost seven-and-sixpence, and, after the auction
a dealer had come and offered her first fifteen shillings, and then
a guinea for it. Not long ago, in Baker Street, she had seen a
looking-glass which was the very spit of this one, labeled
"Chippendale, Antique. £21 5s 0d."
There lay Mr. Sleuth's money--the sovereigns, as the landlady well
knew, would each and all gradually pass into her's and Bunting's
possession, honestly earned by them no doubt but unattainable--in
act unearnable--excepting in connection with the present owner of
those dully shining gold sovereigns.
At last she went downstairs to await Mr. Sleuth's return.
When she heard the key turn in the door, she came out into the
"I'm sorry to say I've had an accident, sir," she said a little
breathlessly. "Taking advantage of your being out I went up to
dust the drawing-room, and while I was trying to get behind the
chiffonnier it tilted. I'm afraid, sir, that a bottle of ink that
was inside may have got broken, for just a few drops oozed out,
sir. But I hope there's no harm done. I wiped it up as well as
I could, seeing that the doors of the chiffonnier are locked."
Mr. Sleuth stared at her with a wild, almost a terrified glance.
But Mrs. Bunting stood her ground. She felt far less afraid now
than she had felt before he came in. Then she had been so
frightened that she had nearly gone out of the house, on to the
pavement, for company.
"Of course I had no idea, sir, that you kept any ink in there."
She spoke as if she were on the defensive, and the lodger's brow
"I was aware you used ink, sir," Mrs. Bunting went on, "for I have
seen you marking that book of yours--I mean the book you read
together with the Bible. Would you like me to go out and get you
another bottle, sir?"
"No," said Mr. Sleuth. "No, I thank you. I will at once proceed
upstairs and see what damage has been done. When I require you I
He shuffled past her, and five minutes later the drawing-room bell
At once, from the door, Mrs. Bunting saw that the chiffonnier was
wide open, and that the shelves were empty save for the bottle of
red ink which had turned over and now lay in a red pool of its own
making on the lower shelf.
"I'm afraid it will have stained the wood, Mrs. Bunting. Perhaps I
was ill-advised to keep my ink in there."
"Oh, no, sir! That doesn't matter at all. Only a drop or two fell
out on to the carpet, and they don't show, as you see, sir, for it's
a dark corner. Shall I take the bottle away? I may as well."
Mr. Sleuth hesitated. "No," he said, after a long pause, "I think
not, Mrs. Bunting. For the very little I require it the ink
remaining in the bottle will do quite well, especially if I add a
little water, or better still, a little tea, to what already
remains in the bottle. I only require it to mark up passages which
happen to be of peculiar interest in my Concordance--a work, Mrs.
Bunting, which I should have taken great pleasure in compiling
myself had not this--ah--this gentleman called Cruden, been before."
Not only Bunting, but Daisy also, thought Ellen far pleasanter in
her manner than usual that evening. She listened to all they had
to say about their interesting visit to the Black Museum, and did
not snub either of them--no, not even when Bunting told of the
dreadful, haunting, silly-looking death-masks taken from the hanged.
But a few minutes after that, when her husband suddenly asked her
a question, Mrs. Bunting answered at random. It was clear she had
not heard the last few words he had been saying.
"A penny for your thoughts!" he said jocularly. But she shook her
Daisy slipped out of the room, and, five minutes later, came back
dressed up in a blue-and-white check silk gown.
"My!" said her father. "You do look fine, Daisy. I've never seen
you wearing that before."
"And a rare figure of fun she looks in it!" observed Mrs. Bunting
sarcastically. And then, "I suppose this dressing up means that
you're expecting someone. I should have thought both of you must
have seen enough of young Chandler for one day. I wonder when that
young chap does his work--that I do! He never seems too busy to
come and waste an hour or two here."
But that was the only nasty thing Ellen said all that evening. And
even Daisy noticed that her stepmother seemed dazed and unlike
herself. She went about her cooking and the various little things
she had to do even more silently than was her wont.
Yet under that still, almost sullen, manner, how fierce was the
storm of dread, of sombre, anguish, and, yes, of sick suspense,
which shook her soul, and which so far affected her poor, ailing
body that often she felt as if she could not force herself to
accomplish her simple round of daily work.
After they had finished supper Bunting went out and bought a penny
evening paper, but as he came in he announced, with a rather' rueful
smile, that he had read so much of that nasty little print this
last week or two that his eyes hurt him.
"Let me read aloud a bit to you, father," said Daisy eagerly, and he
handed her the paper.
Scarcely had Daisy opened her lips when a loud ring and a knock
echoed through the house.
It was only Joe. Somehow, even Bunting called him "Joe" now, and no
longer "Chandler," as he had mostly used to do.
Mrs. Bunting had opened the front door only a very little way.
She wasn't going to have any strangers pushing in past her.
To her sharpened, suffering senses her house had become a citadel
which must be defended; aye, even if the besiegers were a mighty
horde with right on their side. And she was always expecting that
first single spy who would herald the battalion against whom her
only weapon would be her woman's wit and cunning.
But when she saw who stood there smiling at her, the muscles of her
face relaxed, and it lost the tense, anxious, almost agonised look
it assumed the moment she turned her back on her husband and
"Why, Joe," she whispered, for she had left the door open behind
her, and Daisy had already begun to read aloud, as her father had
bidden her. "Come in, do! It's fairly cold to-night."
A glance at his face had shown her that there was no fresh news.
Joe Chandler walked in, past her, into the little hall. Cold?
Well, he didn't feel cold, for he had walked quickly to be the
sooner where he was now.
Nine days had gone by since that last terrible occurrence, the
double murder which had been committed early in the morning of
the day Daisy had arrived in London. And though the thousands of
men belonging to the Metropolitan Police--to say nothing of the
smaller, more alert body of detectives attached to the Force--
were keenly on the alert, not one but had begun to feel that
there was nothing to be alert about. Familiarity, even with
horror, breeds contempt.
But with the public it was far otherwise. Each day something
happened to revive and keep alive the mingled horror and interest
this strange, enigmatic series of crimes had evoked. Even the
more sober organs of the Press went on attacking, with gathering
severity and indignation, the Commissioner of Police; and at the
huge demonstration held in Victoria Park two days before violent
speeches had also been made against the Home Secretary.
But just now Joe Chandler wanted to forget all that. The little
house in the Marylebone Road had become to him an enchanted isle
of dreams, to which his thoughts were ever turning when he had a
moment to spare from what had grown to be a wearisome, because an
unsatisfactory, job. He secretly agreed with one of his pals who
had exclaimed, and that within twenty-four hours of the last double
crime, "Why, 'twould be easier to find a needle in a rick o' hay
And if that had been true then, how much truer it was now--after
nine long, empty days had gone by?
Quickly he divested himself of his great-coat, muffler, and low hat.
Then he put his finger on his lip, and motioned smilingly to Mrs.
Bunting to wait a moment. From where he stood in the hall the
father and daughter made a pleasant little picture of contented
domesticity. Joe Chandler's honest heart swelled at the sight.
Daisy, wearing the blue-and-white check silk dress about which her
stepmother and she had had words, sat on a low stool on the left
side of the fire, while Bunting, leaning back in his own comfortable
arm-chair, was listening, his hand to his ear, in an attitude--as
it was the first time she had caught him doing it, the fact brought
a pang to Mrs. Bunting--which showed that age was beginning to
creep over the listener.
One of Daisy's duties as companion to her great-aunt was that of
reading the newspaper aloud, and she prided herself on her
Just as Joe had put his finger on his lip Daisy bad been asking,
"Shall I read this, father?" And Bunting had answered quickly,
"Aye, do, my dear."
He was absorbed in what he was hearing, and, on seeing Joe at the
door, he had only just nodded his head. The young man was becoming
so frequent a visitor as to be almost one of themselves.
Daisy read out:'
"The Avenger: A--"
And then she stopped short, for the next word puzzled her greatly.
Bravely, however, she went on. "A the-o-ry."
"Go in--do!" whispered Mrs. Bunting to her visitor. "Why should
we stay out here in the cold? It's ridiculous."
"I don't want to interrupt Miss Daisy," whispered Chandler back,
"Well, you'll hear it all the better in the room. Don't think
she'll stop because of you, bless you! There's nothing shy about
The young man resented the tart, short tone. "Poor little girl!"
he said to himself tenderly. "That's what it is having a stepmother,
instead of a proper mother." But he obeyed Mrs. Bunting, and then
he was pleased he had done so, for Daisy looked up, and a bright
blush came over her pretty face.
"Joe begs you won't stop yet awhile. Go on with your reading,"
commanded Mrs. Bunting quickly. "Now, Joe, you can go and sit over
there, close to Daisy, and then you won't miss a word."
There was a sarcastic inflection in her voice, even Chandler noticed
that, but he obeyed her with alacrity, and crossing the room he went
and sat on a chair just behind Daisy. From there he could note with
reverent delight the charming way her fair hair grew upwards from
the nape of her slender neck.
"The AVENGER: A THE-O-RY"
began Daisy again, clearing her throat.
"DEAR Sir--I have a suggestion to put forward for which I think
there is a great deal to be said. It seems to me very probable
that The Avenger--to give him the name by which he apparently
wishes to be known--comprises in his own person the peculiarities
of Jekyll and Hyde, Mr. Louis Stevenson's now famous hero.
"The culprit, according to my point of view, is a quiet,
pleasant-looking gentleman who lives somewhere in the West End of
London. He has, however, a tragedy in his past life. He is the
husband of a dipsomaniac wife. She is, of course, under care, and
is never mentioned in the house where he lives, maybe with his
widowed mother and perhaps a maiden sister. They notice that he
has become gloomy and brooding of late, but he lives his usual life,
occupying himself each day with some harmless hobby. On foggy
nights, once the quiet household is plunged in sleep, he creeps out
of the house, maybe between one and two o'clock, and swiftly makes
his way straight to what has become The Avenger's murder area.
Picking out a likely victim, he approaches her with Judas-like
gentleness, and having committed his awful crime, goes quietly home
again. After a good bath and breakfast, he turns up happy, once
more the quiet individual who is an excellent son, a kind brother,
esteemed and even beloved by a large circle of friends and
acquaintances. Meantime, the police are searching about the scene
of the tragedy for what they regard as the usual type of criminal
"I give this theory, Sir, for what it is worth, but I confess that
I am amazed the police have so wholly confined their inquiries to
the part of London where these murders have been actually committed.
I am quite sure from all that has come out--and we must remember
that full information is never given to the newspapers--The Avenger
should be sought for in the West and not in the East End of London
--Believe me to remain, Sir, yours very truly--"
Again Daisy hesitated, and then with an effort she brought out the
word "Gab-o-ri-you," said she.
"What a funny name!" said Bunting wonderingly.
And then Joe broke in: "That's the name of a French chap what wrote
detective stories," he said. "Pretty good, some of them are, too!"
"Then this Gaboriyou has come over to study these Avenger murders,
I take it?" said Bunting.
"Oh, no," Joe spoke with confidence. "Whoever's written that silly
letter just signed that name for fun."
"It is a silly letter," Mrs. Bunting had broken in resentfully. "I
wonder a respectable paper prints such rubbish."
"Fancy if The Avenger did turn out to be a gentleman!" cried Daisy, in
an awe-struck voice. "There'd be a how-to-do!"
"There may be something in the notion," said her father thoughtfully.
"After all, the monster must be somewhere. This very minute he must
be somewhere a-hiding of himself."
"Of course he's somewhere," said Mrs. Bunting scornfully.
She had just heard Mr. Sleuth moving overhead. 'Twould soon be time
for the lodger's supper.
She hurried on: "But what I do say is that--that--he has nothing
to do with the West End. Why, they say it's a sailor from the Docks
--that's a good bit more likely, I take it. But there, I'm fair
sick of the whole subject! We talk of nothing else in this house.
The Avenger this--The Avenger that--"
"I expect Joe has something to tell us new to-night," said Bunting
cheerfully. "Well, Joe, is there anything new?"
"I say, father, just listen to this!" Daisy broke in excitedly.
She read out:
"BLOODHOUNDS TO BE SERIOUSLY CONSIDERED"
"Bloodhounds?" repeated Mrs. Bunting, and there was terror in her
tone. "Why bloodhounds? That do seem to me a most horrible idea!"
Bunting looked across at her, mildly astonished. "Why, 'twould be
a very good idea, if 'twas possible to have bloodhounds in a town.
But, there, how can that be done in London, full of butchers' shops,
to say nothing of slaughter-yards and other places o' that sort?"
But Daisy went on, and to her stepmother's shrinking ear there
seemed a horrible thrill of delight; of gloating pleasure, in her
fresh young voice.
"Hark to this," she said:
"A man who had committed a murder in a lonely wood near Blackburn
was traced by the help of a bloodhound, and thanks to the sagacious
instincts of the animal, the miscreant was finally convicted and
"La, now! Who'd ever have thought of such a thing?" Bunting
exclaimed, in admiration. "The newspapers do have some useful
hints in sometimes, Joe."
But young Chandler shook his head. "Bloodhounds ain't no use," he
said; "no use at all! If the Yard was to listen to all the
suggestions that the last few days have brought in--well, all I
can say is our work would be cut out for us--not but what it's
cut out for us now, if it comes to that!" He sighed ruefully. He
was beginning to feel very tired; if only he could stay in this
pleasant, cosy room listening to Daisy Bunting reading on and on
for ever, instead of having to go out, as he would presently have
to do, into the cold and foggy night!
Joe Chandler was fast becoming very sick of his new job. There
was a lot of unpleasantness attached to the business, too. Why,
even in the house where he lived, and in the little cook-shop where
he habitually took his meals, the people round him had taken to
taunt him with the remissness of the police. More than that one of
his pals, a man he'd always looked up to, because the young fellow
had the gift of the gab, had actually been among those who had
spoken at the big demonstration in Victoria Park, making a violent
speech, not only against the Commissioner of the Metropolitan
Police, but also against the Home Secretary.
But Daisy, like most people who believe themselves blessed with the
possession of an accomplishment, had no mind to leave off reading
"Here's another notion!" she exclaimed. "Another letter, father!"
"PARDON TO ACCOMPLICES.
"DEAR Sir--During the last day or two several of the more
Intelligent of my acquaintances have suggested that The Avenger,
whoever he may be, must be known to a certain number of persons.
It is impossible that the perpetrator of such deeds, however
nomad he may be in his habits--"
"Now I wonder what 'nomad' can be?" Daisy interrupted herself, and
looked round at her little audience.
"I've always declared the fellow had all his senses about him,"
observed Bunting confidently.
Daisy went on, quite satisfied:
"--however nomad he may be in his habit; must have some habitat
where his ways are known to at least one person. Now the person
who knows the terrible secret is evidently withholding information
in expectation of a reward, or maybe because, being an accessory
after the fact, he or she is now afraid of the consequences. My
suggestion, Sir, is that the Home Secretary promise a free pardon.
The more so that only thus can this miscreant be brought to justice.
Unless he was caught red-handed in the act, it will be exceedingly
difficult to trace the crime committed to any individual, for
English law looks very askance at circumstantial evidence."
"There's something worth listening to in that letter," said Joe,
Now he was almost touching Daisy, and he smiled involuntarily as
she turned her gay, pretty little face the better to hear what he
"Yes, Mr. Chandler?" she said interrogatively.
"Well, d'you remember that fellow what killed an old gentleman in
a railway carriage? He took refuge with someone--a woman his
mother had known, and she kept him hidden for quite a long time.
But at last she gave him up, and she got a big reward, too!"
"I don't think I'd like to give anybody up for a reward," said
Bunting, in his slow, dogmatic way.
"Oh, yes, you would, Mr. Bunting," said Chandler confidently. "You'd
only be doing what it's the plain duty of everyone--everyone, that
is, who's a good citizen. And you'd be getting something for doing
it, which is more than most people gets as does their duty."
"A man as gives up someone for a reward is no better than a common
informer," went on Bunting obstinately. "And no man 'ud care to be
called that! It's different for you, Joe," he added hastily. "It's
your job to catch those who've done anything wrong. And a man'd be
a fool who'd take refuge--like with you. He'd be walking into the
lion's mouth--" Bunting laughed.
And then Daisy broke in coquettishly: "If I'd done anything I
wouldn't mind going for help to Mr. Chandler," she said.
And Joe, with eyes kindling, cried, "No. And if you did you needn't
be afraid I'd give you up, Miss Daisy!"
And then, to their amazement, there suddenly broke from Mrs. Bunting,
sitting with towed head over the table, an exclamation of impatience
and anger, and, it seemed to those listening, of pain.
"Why, Ellen, don't you feel well?" asked Bunting quickly.
"Just a spasm, a sharp stitch in my side, like," answered the poor
woman heavily. "It's over now. Don't mind me."
"But I don't believe--no, that I don't--that there's anybody in
the world who knows who The Avenger is," went on Chandler quickly.
"It stands to reason that anybody'd give him up--in their own
interest, if not in anyone else's. Who'd shelter such a creature?
Why, 'twould be dangerous to have him in the house along with one!"
"Then it's your idea that he's not responsible for the wicked things
he does?" Mrs. Bunting raised her head, and looked over at Chandler
with eager, anxious eyes.
"I'd be sorry to think he wasn't responsible enough to hang!" said
Chandler deliberately. "After all the trouble he's been giving us, too!"
"Hanging'd be too good for that chap," said Bunting.
"Not if he's not responsible," said his wife sharply. "I never
heard of anything so cruel--that I never did! If the man's a
madman, he ought to be in an asylum--that's where he ought to be."
"Hark to her now!" Bunting looked at his Ellen with amusement.
"Contrary isn't the word for her! But there, I've noticed the last
few days that she seemed to be taking that monster's part. That's
what comes of being a born total abstainer."
Mrs. Bunting had got up from her chair. "What nonsense you do talk!"
she said angrily. "Not but what it's a good thing if these murders
have emptied the public-houses of women for a bit. England's drink
is England's shame--I'll never depart from that! Now, Daisy, child,
get up, do! Put down that paper. We've heard quite enough. You can
be laying the cloth while I goes down the kitchen."
"Yes, you mustn't be forgetting the lodger's supper," called out
Bunting. "Mr. Sleuth don't always ring--" he turned to Chandler.
"For one thing, he's often out about this time."
"Not often--just now and again, when he wants to buy' something,"
snapped out Mrs. Bunting. "But I hadn't forgot his supper. He
never do want it before eight o'clock."
"Let me take up the lodger's supper, Ellen," Daisy's eager voice
broke in. She had got up in obedience to her stepmother, and was
now laying the cloth.
"Certainly not! I told you he only wanted me to wait on him. You
have your work cut out looking after things down here--that's where
I wants you to help me."
Chandler also got up. Somehow he didn't like to be doing nothing
while Daisy was so busy. "Yes," he said, looking across at Mrs.
Bunting, "I'd forgotten about your lodger. Going on all right, eh?"
"Never knew so quiet and well-behaved a gentleman," said Bunting.
"He turned our luck, did Mr. Sleuth."
His wife left the room, and after she had gone Daisy laughed.
"You'll hardly believe it, Mr. Chandler, but I've never seen this
wonderful lodger. Ellen keeps him to herself, that she does! If I
was father I'd be jealous!"
Both men laughed. Ellen? No, the idea was too funny.
"All I can say is, I think Daisy ought to go. One can't always do
just what one wants to do--not in this world, at any rate!"
Mrs. Bunting did not seem to be addressing anyone in particular,
though both her husband and her stepdaughter were in the room. She
was standing by the table, staring straight before her, and as she
spoke she avoided looking at either Bunting or Daisy. There was in
her voice a tone of cross decision, of thin finality, with which
they were both acquainted, and to which each listener knew the other
would have to bow.
There was silence for a moment, then Daisy broke out passionately,
"I don't see why I should go if I don't want to!" she cried.
"You'll allow I've been useful to you, Ellen? 'Tisn't even as if
you was quite well."
"I am quite well--perfectly well!" snapped out Mrs. Bunting, and
she turned her pale, drawn face, and looked angrily at her
"'Tain't often I has a chance of being with you and father." There
were tears in Daisy's voice, and Bunting glanced deprecatingly at