Part 2 out of 5
those two rings which you claim to be yours, really are yours?"
There followed on that a dead silence in court. People had been coming in
since the proceedings had opened, and the place was now packed to the
door. Every eye was turned on Lauriston as he stood in the witness-box,
evidently thinking deeply. And in two pairs of eyes there was deep
anxiety: Melky was nervous and fidgety; Zillah was palpably greatly
concerned. But Lauriston looked at neither--and he finally turned to Mr.
Parminter with a candid glance.
"The rings are mine," he answered. "But--I don't know how I can prove that
A suppressed murmur ran round the court--in the middle of it, the Coroner
handed the rings to a police official and motioned him to show them to the
jurymen. And Mr. Parminter's suave voice was heard again.
"You can't prove that they are yours."
"May I explain?" asked Lauriston. "Very well--there may be people, old
friends, who have seen those two rings in my mother's possession. But I
don't know where to find such people. If it's necessary, I can try."
"I should certainly try, if I were you," observed Mr. Parminter, drily.
"Now, when did those two rings come into your possession?"
"When my mother died," replied Lauriston.
"Where have you kept them?"
"Locked up in my trunk."
"Have you ever, at any time, or any occasion, shown them to any person?
"No," answered Lauriston. "I can't say that I ever have."
"Not even at the time of your mother's death?"
"No! I took possession, of course, of all her effects. I don't remember
showing the rings to anybody."
"You kept them in your trunk until you took them out to raise money on
"Yes--that's so," admitted Lauriston.
"How much money had you--in the world--when you went to the pawnshop
yesterday afternoon?" demanded Mr. Parminter, with a sudden keen glance.
Lauriston flushed scarlet.
"If you insist on knowing," he said. "I'd just nothing."
There was another murmur in court--of pity from the sentimental ladies in
the public seats, who, being well acquainted with the pawnshops
themselves, and with the necessities which drove them there were
experiencing much fellow-feeling for the poor young man in the witness-
box. But Lauriston suddenly smiled--triumphantly.
"All the same," he added, glancing at Mr. Parminter. "I'd forty pounds, in
my letters, less than an hour afterwards. Ayscough knows that!"
Mr. Parminter paid no attention to this remark. He had been whispering to
the police inspector, and now he turned to the Coroner.
"I should like this witness to stand down for a few minutes, sir," he
said. "I wish to have Miss Wildrose recalled."
The Coroner gently motioned Zillah to go back to the witness-box.
Zillah had listened to Lauriston's answers to Mr. Parminter's searching
questions with an anxiety which was obvious to those who sat near her. The
signs of that anxiety were redoubled as she walked slowly to the box, and
the glance she threw at the Coroner was almost appealing. But the Coroner
was looking at his notes, and Zillah was obliged to turn to Mr. Parminter,
whose accents became more mellifluous than ever as he addressed her; Mr.
Parminter, indeed, confronting Zillah might have been taken for a kindly
benevolent gentleman whose sole object was to administer condolence and
comfort. Few people in court, however, failed to see the meaning of the
questions which he began to put in the suavest and softest of tones.
"I believe you assisted your late grandfather in his business?" suggested
"Just so! Now, how long had you assisted him in that way?"
"Ever since I left school--three years ago," replied Zillah.
"Three years--to be sure! And I believe you had resided with him for some
years before that?"
"Ever since I was a little girl," admitted Zillah.
"In fact, the late Mr. Multenius brought you up? Just so!--therefore,
of course, you would have some acquaintance with his business before
you left school?"
"Yes--he taught me a good deal about it."
"You were always about the place, of course--yes? And I may take it that
you gradually got a good deal of knowledge about the articles with which
your grandfather had to deal? To be sure--thank you. In fact, you are
entitled to regard yourself as something of an expert in precious stones
"I know a good deal about them," replied Zillah.
"You could tell the value of a thing as accurately as your grandfather?"
"And you were very well acquainted with your grandfather's stock?"
Mr. Parminter motioned the official who had charge of it to place the tray
of rings on the ledge of the witness-box.
"Oblige me by looking at that tray and the contents," he said. "You
recognize it, of course? Just so. Now, do you know where that tray was
when you went out, leaving your grandfather alone, yesterday afternoon?"
"Yes," replied Zillah, unhesitatingly. "On the table in the back-parlour--
where I saw it when I came in. My grandfather had taken it out of the
front window, so that he could polish the rings."
"Do you know how many rings it contained?"
"No. Perhaps twenty-five or thirty."
"They are, I see, laid loosely in the tray, which is velvet-lined. They
were always left like that? Just so. And you don't know how many there
were--nor how many there should be there, now? As a matter of fact, there
are twenty-seven rings there--you can't say that is the right number?"
"No," answered Zillah, "and my grandfather couldn't have said, either. A
ring might be dropped into that tray--or a ring taken out. They are all
"But--valuable?" suggested Mr. Parminter.
"Some--yes. Others are not very valuable."
"Now what do you mean by that word valuable? What, for instance, is the
value of the least valuable ring there, and what is that of the most
Zillah glanced almost indifferently at the tray before her.
"Some of these rings are worth no more than five pounds," she replied.
"Some--a few--are worth twenty to thirty pounds; one or two are worth
"And--they are all old?"
"They are all of old-fashioned workmanship," said Zillah. "Made a good
many years ago, all of them. The diamonds, or pearls, are all right, of
Mr. Parminter handed over the half-sheet of paper on which Lauriston's
rings had been exhibited to the Coroner and the jurymen.
"Look at those rings, if you please," he said quietly. "Are they of the
same sort, the same class, of rings as those in the tray?"
"Yes," admitted Zillah. "Something the same."
"What is the value of those rings--separately?" enquired Mr. Parminter.
"Please give us your professional opinion."
Zillah bent over the two rings for a while, turning them about.
"This is worth about thirty, and that about fifty pounds," she replied at
"In other words, these two rings are similar in style and value to the
best rings in that tray?"
"Do you recognize those two rings?"
"No--not at all."
Mr. Parminter paused a moment, and caught the jury's attention with a
sharp glance of his eye before he turned again to the witness.
"Could you have recognized any of the rings in that tray?" he asked.
"No!" said Zillah. "I could not."
"Then you could not possibly say--one way or another, if those rings were
taken out of that tray?"
"The fact is that all those rings--the two on the half-sheet of notepaper,
and twenty-seven on the tray--are all of the same class as regards age and
style--all very much of a muchness?"
"Yes," admitted Zillah.
"And you can't--you are on your oath remember!--you can't definitely say
that those two rings were not picked up from that tray, amongst the
"No," replied Zillah. "But I can't say that they were! And--I don't
believe they were. I don't believe they were our rings!"
Mr. Parminter smiled quietly and again swept the interested jurymen with
his quick glance.
Then he turned to Zillah with another set of questions.
"How long have you known the last witness--Andrew Lauriston?" he enquired.
"Since one day last week," replied Zillah.
She had flushed at the mention of Lauriston's name, and Mr. Parminter was
quick to see it.
"How did you get to know him?" he continued.
"By his coming to the shop--on business."
"To pawn his watch, I believe?"
"You attended to him?"
"You had never seen him before?"
"Ever seen him since?"
Zillah hesitated for a moment.
"I saw him--accidentally--in Kensington Gardens, on Sunday," she answered
"Have any conversation with him?"
"Yes," admitted Zillah.
"No!" retorted Zillah. "About his work--writing."
"Did he tell you he was very hard up?"
"I knew that!" said Zillah. "Hadn't he pawned his watch?"
"Perhaps--you seem to be a very good business woman--perhaps you gave him
"Yes, I did! I advised him, as long as he'd anything on which he could
raise money, not to let himself go without money in his pocket."
"Excellent advice!" said Mr. Parminter, with a smile.
He leaned forward, looking at his witness more earnestly. "Now, did
Lauriston, on Sunday, or when you saw him before, ever mention to you that
he possessed two rings of some value?"
"No," replied Zillah.
Mr. Parminter paused, hesitated, suddenly bowed to the Coroner, and
dropping back into his seat, pulled out his snuff-box. And the Coroner,
motioning Zillah to leave the witness-box, interrupted Mr. Parminter in
the midst of a pinch of snuff.
"I think it will be best to adjourn at this stage," he said. "It is
obvious that we can't finish this today." He turned to the jurymen. "I
propose to adjourn this enquiry for a week, gentlemen," he went on. "In
His attention was suddenly arrested by Melky Rubinstein, who, after much
uneasiness and fidgeting, rose from his seat and made his way to the foot
of the table, manifestly desiring to speak.
"What is it?" asked the Coroner. "Who are you? Oh!--the witness who
identified the body. Yes?"
"Mr. Coroner!" said Melky, in his most solemn tones. "This here inquest
ain't being conducted right, sir! I don't mean by you--but these here
gentlemen, the police, and Mr. Parminter there, is going off on a wrong
scent. I know what they're after, and they're wrong! They're suppressing
evidence, Mr. Coroner." Melky turned on Ayscough. "What about the clue o'
this here old book?" he demanded. "Why ain't you bringing that forward?
I'm the late Daniel Multenius's nearest male relative, and I say that
clue's a deal more important nor what we've been hearing all the morning.
What about that book, now, Mr. Ayscough? Come on!--what about it!--and its
"What is this?" demanded the Coroner. "If there is anything--"
"Anything, sir!" exclaimed Melky. "There's just this--between the time
that my cousin there, Miss Zillah Wildrose left the old man alive, and the
time when Mr. Lauriston found him dead, somebody came into the shop as
left a valuable book behind him on the parlour table, which book,
according to all the advertisements in the morning papers, is the property
of Mr. Spencer Levendale, the Member of Parliament, as lives in Sussex
Square. Why ain't that matter brought up? Why ain't Mr. Levendale brought
here? I ask you, Mr. Coroner, to have it seen into! There's more behind
The Coroner held up a hand and beckoned the police inspector and Mr.
Parminter to approach his desk; a moment later, Ayscough was summoned. And
Lauriston, watching the result of this conference, was quickly aware that
the Coroner was not particularly pleased; he suddenly turned on the
inspector with a question which was heard by every one in court.
"Why was not the matter of the book put before the Court at first?" he
demanded. "It seems to me that there may be a most important clue in it.
The fact of the book's having been found should most certainly have been
mentioned, at once. I shall adjourn for a week, from today, and you will
produce the book and bring Mr. Spencer Levendale here as a witness. This
day week, gentlemen!"
Melky Rubinstein turned, whispered a hurried word to Zillah and Mrs.
Goldmark, and then, seizing Lauriston by the elbow, drew him quickly away
from the court.
THE BACK DOOR
Once outside in the street, Melky turned down the nearest side-street,
motioning Lauriston to follow him. Before they had gone many yards he
edged himself close to his companion's side, at the same time throwing a
cautious glance over his own shoulder.
"There's one o' them blooming detectives after us!" said Melky. "But
that's just what's to be expected, mister!--they'll never let you out o'
their sight until one of two things happen!"
"What things?" asked Lauriston.
"Either you'll have to prove, beyond all doubt, that them rings is yours,
and was your poor mother's before you," answered Melky, "or we shall have
to put a hand on the chap that scragged my uncle. That's a fact! Mister!--
will you put your trust and confidence in me, and do what I tell you? It's
for your own good."
"I don't know that I could do better," responded Lauriston, after a
moment's thought. "You're a right good fellow, Melky--I'm sure of that!
What do you want me to do?"
Melky pulled out a handsome gold watch and consulted it.
"It's dinner-time," he said. "Come round to Mrs. Goldmark's and get some
grub. I'll tell you what to do while we're eating. I've been thinking
things over while that there Parminter was badgering poor Zillah, and
s'elp me, there only is one thing for you to do, and you'd best to do it
sharp! But come on to Praed Street--don't matter if this here chap behind
does shadow you--I can get the better of him as easy as I could sell this
watch! It 'ud take all the detectives in London to beat me, if I put my
mind to it."
They were at Mrs. Goldmark's eating-house in five minutes: Melky, who knew
all the ins and outs of that establishment, conducted Lauriston into an
inner room, and to a corner wherein there was comparative privacy, and
summoned a waitress. Not until he and his companion were half way through
their meal did he refer to the business which was in his thoughts: then he
leaned close to Lauriston and began to talk.
"Mister!" he whispered. "Where do you come from?"
"Peebles," answered Lauriston. "You heard me tell them so, in that court."
"I'm no scholar," said Melky. "I ain't no idea where Peebles is, except
that it's in Scotland. Is it far into that country, or where is it?"
"Not far across the Border," replied Lauriston.
"Get there in a few hours, I reckon?" asked Melky. "You could? Very well,
then, mister, you take my tip--get there! Get there--quick!"
Lauriston laid down his knife and fork and stared.
"Whatever for?" he exclaimed.
"To find somebody--anybody--as can prove that those rings are yours!"
answered Melky solemnly and emphatically. "Tain't no use denying it--
you're in a dangerous position. The police always goes for the straightest
and easiest line. Their line was clear enough, just now--Parminter give it
away! They've a theory--they always have a theory--and when once police
gets a theory, nothing can drive it out o' their heads--their official
heads, anyway. What they're saying, and what they'll try to establish, is
this here. That you were hard up, down to less than your last penny. You
went to Mr. Multenius's--you peeked and peered through the shop window and
saw him alone, or, perhaps, saw the place empty. You went in--you grabbed
a couple o' rings--he interrupted you--you scragged him! That's their
line--and Zillah can't swear that those rings which you claim to be yours
aren't her grandfather's, and up to now you can't prove that they're yours
and were once your mother's! Mister!--be off to this here Peebles at once
--immediate!--and find somebody, some old friend, as can swear that he or
she--never mind which--knows them rings to be your property beyond a
shadow of doubt! Bring that friend back--bring him if he has to come in an
Lauriston was so much struck by Melky's argument and advice that it needed
no more explanations to convince him of its wisdom.
"But--how could I get away'" he asked. "There'll be that detective chap
hanging about outside--I know I've been shadowed ever since last evening!
They'll never let me get away from London, however much I wish. The
probability is that if they saw me going to a railway station they'd
"My own opinion, mister, after what's taken place this morning, is that if
you stop here, you'll be arrested before night," remarked Melky coolly.
"I'd lay a tenner on it! But you ain't going to stop--you must go! There
must be somebody in the old spot as can swear that them two rings o' yours
is family property, and you must find 'em and bring 'em, if you value your
neck. As to slipping the police, I'll make that right for you, proper!
Now, then, what money have you about you, Mr. Lauriston?"
"Plenty!" answered Lauriston. "Nearly forty pounds--the money I got last
"Will you do exactly what I tell you?" asked Melky, "And do it at once,
without any hesitation, any hanging about, any going home to Mother
Flitwick's, or anything o' that sort?"
"Yes!" replied Lauriston. "I'm so sure you're right, that I will."
"Then you listen to me--careful," said Melky. "See that door in the
corner? As soon as you've finished that pudding, slip out o' that door.
You'll find yourself in a little yard. Go out o' that yard, and you'll
find yourself in a narrow passage. Go straight down the passage, and
you'll come out in Market Street. Go straight down Southwick Street--you
know it--to Oxford and Cambridge Terrace, and you'll see a cab-rank right
in front of you. Get into a taxi, and tell the fellow to drive you to
Piccadilly Circus. Leave him there--take a turn round so's he won't see
what you do--then get into another taxi, and drive to St. Pancras Church.
Get out there--and foot it to King's Cross Station. You'll catch the 3.15
for the North easy--and after you're once in it, you're all right. Get to
Peebles!--that's the thing! S'elp me, Mr. Lauriston, it's the only thing!"
Five minutes later, there being no one but themselves in the little room,
Lauriston gave Melky a hearty grip of the hand, walked out of the door in
the corner, and vanished. And Melky, left alone, pulled out his cigarette
case, and began to smoke, calmly and quietly. When the waitress came back,
he whispered a word or two to her; the waitress nodded with full
comprehension--for everybody knew Melky at Goldmark's, and if the
waitresses wanted a little jewellery now and then, he let them have it at
"So you can give me the checks for both," said Melky. "I'll pay 'em."
But Melky let three-quarters of an hour elapse before he went to the desk
in the outer shop. He sipped a cup of coffee; he smoked several
cigarettes; it was quite a long time before he emerged into Praed Street,
buttoning his overcoat. And without appearing to see anything, he at once
saw the man who had followed Lauriston and himself from the Coroner's
Court. Being almost preternaturally observant, he also saw the man start
with surprise--but Melky showed, and felt, no surprise, when the watcher
came after him.
"You know me, Mr. Rubinstein," he said, almost apologetically. "You know,
of course, we're keeping an eye on that young Scotch fellow--we've got to!
He went in there, to Goldmark's, with you? Is he still there?"
"Strikes me you ain't up to your job!" remarked Melky, coolly. "He went
out, three-quarters of an hour ago. Gone home, I should say."
The man turned away, evidently puzzled, but just as evidently taking
Melky's word. He went off in the direction of Star Street, while Melky
strolled along to the pawnbroker's shop. It was necessary that he should
tell his cousin of what he had done.
Mrs. Goldmark was still with Zillah--Melky unfolded his story to the two
of them. Zillah heard it with unfeigned relief; Mrs. Goldmark, who, being
a young and pretty widow, was inclined to sentiment, regarded Melky with
"My!--if you ain't the cute one, Mr. Rubinstein!" she exclaimed, clapping
her plump hands. "As for me, now, I wouldn't have thought of that in a
hundred years! But it's you that's the quick mind."
Melky laid a finger to the side of his nose.
"Do you know what, Mrs. Goldmark?" he said. "I ain't going to let them
police fellows put a hand on young Lauriston, not me! I've my own ideas
about this here business--wait till I put my hand on somebody, see? Don't
it all come out clear to you?--if I find the right man, then there ain't
no more suspicion attaching to this young chap, ain't it? Oh, I'm no fool,
Mrs. Goldmark; don't you make no mistake!"
"I'm sure!" asserted Mrs. Goldmark. "Yes, indeed--you don't carry your
eyes in your head for nothing, Mr. Rubinstein!"
Zillah, who had listened abstractedly to these compliments suddenly turned
on her cousin.
"What are you going to do then, Melky?" she demanded. "What's all this
business about that book? And what steps are you thinking of taking?"
But Melky rose and, shaking his head, buttoned up his overcoat as if he
were buttoning in a multitude of profound secrets.
"What you got to do, just now, Zillah--and Mrs. Goldmark too," he
answered, "is to keep quiet tongues about what I done with young
Lauriston. There ain't to be a word said! If any o' them police come round
here, asking about him, you don't know nothing--see? You ain't seen him
since he walked out o' that court with me--see? Which, of course--you
ain't. And as for the rest, you leave that to yours truly!"
"Oh, what it is to have a mind!" exclaimed Mrs. Goldmark "I ain't no mind,
beyond managing my business."
"Don't you show your mind in managing that?" said Melky, admiringly. "What
do I always say of you, Mrs. Goldmark? Don't I always say you're the
smartest business woman in all Paddington? Ain't that having a mind? Oh, I
think you've the beautifullest mind, Mrs. Goldmark!"
With this compliment Melky left Mrs. Goldmark and Zillah, and went away to
his lodgings. He was aware of a taxi-cab drawn up at Mrs. Flitwick's door
as he went up the street; inside Mrs. Flitwick's shabby hall he found that
good woman talking to a stranger--a well-dressed young gentleman, who was
obviously asking questions Mrs. Flitwick turned to Melky with an air of
"Perhaps you can tell this gentleman where Mr. Lauriston is, Mr.
Rubinstein?" she said. "I ain't seen him since he went out first thing
Melky looked the stranger over--narrowly. Then he silently beckoned him
outside the house, and walked him out of earshot.
"You ain't the friend from Scotland?" asked Melky. "Him what sent the
bank-note, last night?"
"Yes!" assented the stranger. "I see you're aware of that. My name is
Purdie--John Purdie. Where is Lauriston? I particularly want to see him."
Melky tapped the side of his nose, and whispered.
"He's on his way to where you come from, mister!" he said. "Here!--I know
who you are, and you'll know me in one minute. Come up to my sitting-
THE FRIEND FROM PEEBLES
Melky, as principal lodger in Mrs. Flitwick's establishment, occupied what
that lady was accustomed to describe as the front drawing-room floor--a
couple of rooms opening one into the other. Into one of these, furnished
as a sitting-room, he now led Lauriston's friend, hospitably invited him
to a seat, and took a quiet look at him. He at once sized up Mr. John
Purdie for what he was--a well-to-do, well-dressed, active-brained young
business man, probably accustomed to controlling and dealing with
important affairs. And well satisfied with this preliminary inspection,
he immediately plunged into the affair of the moment.
"Mister," began Melky, pulling up a chair to Purdie's side, and assuming a
tone and manner of implicit confidence. "I've heard of you. Me and Mr.
Lauriston's close friends. My name's Mr. Rubinstein--Mr. Melchior
Rubinstein, commonly called Melky. I know all about you--you're the friend
that Lauriston asked for a bit of help to see him through, like--ain't it?
Just so--and you sent him twenty pounds to be going on with--which he got,
all right, last night. Also, same time, he got another twenty quid for
two of his lit'ry works--stories, mister. Mister!--I wish he'd got your
money and the other money just an hour before it come to hand! S'elp me!--
if them there letters had only come in by one post earlier, it 'ud ha'
saved a heap o' trouble!"
"I haven't the remotest notion of what you're talking about, you know,"
said Purdie good-naturedly. "You evidently know more than I do. I knew
Andie Lauriston well enough up to the time he left Peebles, but I've never
seen or heard of him since until he wrote to me the other week. What's it
all about, and why has he gone back to Peebles? I told him I was coming up
here any day now--and here I am, and he's gone!"
Melky edged his chair still nearer to his visitor, and with a cautious
glance at the door, lowered his voice.
"I'm a-going to tell you all about it, mister," he said. "I know you
Scotch gentlemen have got rare headpieces on you, and you'll pick it up
sharp enough. Now you listen to me, Mr. Purdie, same as if I was one of
them barrister chaps stating a case, and you'll get at it in no time."
John Purdie, who had already recognized his host as a character, as
interesting as he was amusing, listened attentively while Melky told the
story of Lauriston's doings and adventure from the moment of his setting
out to pawn his watch at Multenius's pledge-office to that in which, on
Melky's suggestion, he had made a secret and hurried departure for
Peebles. Melky forgot no detail; he did full justice to every important
point, and laid particular stress on the proceedings before the Coroner.
And in the end he appealed confidently to his listener.
"And now I put it up to you, mister--straight!" concluded Melky. "Could I
ha' done better for him than to give him the advice I did? Wasn't it best
for him to go where he could get some evidence on his own behalf, than to
run the risk of being arrested, and put where he couldn't do nothing for
himself? What d'you say, now, Mr. Purdie?"
"Yes," agreed Purdie, after a moment's further thought. "I think you did
well. He'll no doubt be able to find some old friends in Peebles who can
surely remember that his mother did possess those two rings. But you must
bear this in mind--the police, you say, have shadowed him since yesterday
afternoon. Well, when they find he's flown, they'll take that as a strong
presumptive evidence of guilt. They'll say he's flying from justice!"
"Don't matter, mister, if Lauriston comes back with proof of his
innocence," replied Melky.
"Yes, but they'll not wait for that," said Purdie. "They'll set the hue-
and-cry on to him--at once. He's not the sort to be easily mistaken or
overlooked--unless he's changed a lot this late year or two--he was always
a good-looking lad."
"Is so now, mister," remarked Melky, "is so now!"
"Very well," continued Purdie. "Then I want to make a suggestion to you.
It seems to me that the wisest course is for you and me to go straight to
the police authorities, and tell them frankly that Lauriston has gone to
get evidence that those rings are really his property, and that he'll
return in a day or two with that evidence. That will probably satisfy
them--I think I can add a bit more that will help further. We don't want
it to be thought that the lad's run away rather than face a possible
charge of murder, you know!"
"I see your point, mister, I see your point!" agreed Melky. "I'm with
you!--I ain't no objection to that. Of course, there ain't no need to tell
the police precisely where he has gone--what?"
"Not a bit!" said Purdie. "But I'll make myself responsible to them for
his re-appearance. Now--did you and he arrange anything about
communicating with each other?"
"Yes," replied Melky. "If anything turns up this next day or two I'm to
wire to him at the post-office, Peebles. If he finds what he wants, he'll
wire to me, here, at once."
"Good!" said Purdie. "Now, here's another matter. You've mentioned Mr.
Spencer Levendale and this book which was so strangely left at the pledge-
office. I happen to know Mr. Levendale--pretty well."
"You do, mister!" exclaimed Melky. "Small world, ain't it, now?"
"I met Mr. Spencer Levendale last September--two months ago," continued
Purdie. "He was staying at an hotel in the Highlands, with his children
and their governess: I was at the same hotel, for a month--he and I used
to go fishing together. We got pretty friendly, and he asked me to call on
him next time I was in town. Here I am--and when we've been to the police,
I'm going to Sussex Square--to tell him I'm a friend of Lauriston's, that
Lauriston is in some danger over this business, and to ask him if he can
tell me more about--that book!"
Melky jumped up and wrung his visitor's hand.
"Mister!--you're one o' the right sort," he said fervently. "That there
book has something to do with it! My idea is that the man what carried
that book into the shop is the man what scragged my poor old relative
--fact, mister! Levendale, he wouldn't tell us anything much this
morning--maybe he'll tell you more. Stand by Lauriston, mister!--we'll
pull him through."
"You seem very well disposed towards him," remarked Purdie. "He's
evidently taken your fancy."
"And my cousin Zillah's," answered Melky, with a confidential grin.
"Zillah--loveliest girl in all Paddington, mister--she's clear gone on the
young fellow! And--a word in your ear, mister!--Zillah's been educated
like a lady, and now that the old man's gone, Zillah'll have--ah! a
fortune that 'ud make a nigger turn white! And no error about it! See it
"I'll see it through," said Purdie. "Now, then--these police. Look here--
is there a good hotel in this neighbourhood?--I've all my traps in that
taxi-cab downstairs--I drove straight here from the station, because I
wanted to see Andie Lauriston at once."
"Money's no object to you, I reckon, mister?" asked Melky, with a shrewd
glance at the young Scotsman's evident signs of prosperity.
"Not in reason," answered Purdie.
"Then there's the Great Western Hotel, at the end o' Praed Street," said
Melky. "That'll suit a young gentleman like you, mister, down to the
ground. And you'll be right on the spot!"
"Come with me, then," said Purdie. "And then to the police."
Half-an-hour's private conversation with the police authorities enabled
Purdie to put some different ideas into the official heads. They began to
look at matters in a new light. Here was a wealthy young Scottish
manufacturer, a person of standing and position, who was able to vouch for
Andrew Lauriston in more ways than one, who had known him from boyhood,
had full faith in him and in his word, and was certain that all that
Lauriston had said about the rings and about his finding of Daniel
Multenius would be found to be absolutely true. They willingly agreed to
move no further in the matter until Lauriston's return--and Purdie
noticed, not without a smile, that they pointedly refrained from asking
where he had gone to. He came out from that interview with Ayscough in
attendance upon him--and Melky, waiting without, saw that things had gone
"You might let me have your London address, sir," said Ayscough. "I might
want to let you know something."
"Great Western Hotel," answered Purdie. "I shall stay there until
Lauriston's return, and until this matter's entirely cleared up, as far as
he's concerned. Come there, if you want me. All right," he continued, as
he and Melky walked away from the police-station. "They took my word for
it!--they'll do nothing until Lauriston comes back. Now then, you know
this neighbourhood, and I don't--show me the way to Sussex Square--I'm
going to call on Mr. Levendale at once."
John Purdie had a double object in calling on Mr. Spencer Levendale. He
had mentioned to Melky that when he met Levendale in the Highlands,
Levendale, who was a widower, had his children and their governess with
him. But he had not mentioned that he, Purdie, had fallen in love with the
governess, and that one of his objects in coming to London just then was
to renew his acquaintance with her. It was chiefly of the governess that
he was thinking as he stood on the steps of the big house in Sussex
Square--perhaps, in a few minutes, he would see her again.
But Purdie was doomed to see neither Mr. Spencer Levendale nor the pretty
governess that day. Mr. Levendale, said the butler, was on business in the
city and was to dine out that evening: Miss Bennett had taken the two
children to see a relative of theirs at Hounslow, and would not return
until late. So Purdie, having pencilled his London address on them, left
cards for Mr. Levendale and Miss Bennett, and, going back to his hotel,
settled himself in his quarters to await developments. He spent the
evening in reading the accounts of the inquest on Daniel Multenius--in
more than one of the newspapers they were full and circumstantial, and it
needed little of his shrewd perception to convince him that his old
schoolmate stood in considerable danger if he failed to establish his
ownership of the rings.
He had finished breakfast next morning and was thinking of strolling round
to Melky Rubinstein's lodgings, to hear if any news had come from
Lauriston, when a waiter brought him Ayscough's card, saying that its
presenter was waiting for him in the smoking-room. Purdie went there at
once: the detective, who looked unusually grave and thoughtful, drew him
aside into a quiet part of the room.
"There's a strange affair occurred during the night, Mr. Purdie," said
Ayscough, when they were alone. "And it's my opinion it's connected with
this Multenius affair."
"What is it?" asked Purdie.
"This," replied Ayscough. "A Praed Street tradesman--in a small way--was
picked up, dying, in a quiet street off Maida Vale, at twelve o'clock last
night, and he died soon afterwards. And--he'd been poisoned!--but how, the
doctors can't yet tell."
THE CALL FOR HELP
Purdie, whose temperament inclined him to slowness and deliberation in
face of any grave crisis, motioned the detective to take a seat in the
quiet corner of the smoking-room, into which they had retreated, and sat
down close by him.
"Now, to begin with," he said, "why do you think this affair is connected
with the affair of the old pawn-broker? There must be some link."
"There is a link, sir," answered Ayscough. "The man was old Daniel
Multenius's next door neighbour: name of Parslett--James Parslett, fruit
and vegetable dealer. Smallish way of business, but well known enough in
that quarter. Now, I'll explain something to you. I'm no hand at drawing,"
continued the detective, "but I think I can do a bit of a rough sketch on
this scrap of paper which will make clear to you the lie of the land.
These two lines represent Praed Street. Here, where I make this cross, is
Daniel Multenius's pawnshop. The front part of it--the jeweller's shop--
looks out on Praed Street. At the side is a narrow passage or entry: from
that you get access to the pledge-office. Now then, Multenius's premises
run down one side of this passage: Parslett's run down the other.
Parslett's house has a side-door into it, exactly opposite the door into
Multenius's pledge office. Is that clear, Mr. Purdie?"
"Quite!" answered Purdie. "I understand it exactly."
"Then my theory is, that Parslett saw the real murderer of Daniel
Multenius come out of Multenius's side-door, while he, Parslett, was
standing at his own; that he recognized him, that he tried to blackmail
him yesterday, and that the man contrived to poison him, in such a fashion
that Parslett died shortly after leaving him," said Ayscough, confidently.
"It's but a theory--but I'll lay anything I'm not far out in it!"
"What reason have you for thinking that Parslett blackmailed the
murderer?" asked Purdie.
"This!" answered the detective, with something of triumph in his tone.
"I've been making some enquiries already this morning, early as it is.
When Parslett was picked up and carried to the hospital--this St. Mary's
Hospital, close by here--he was found to have fifty pounds in gold in his
pocket. Now, according to Parslett's widow, whom I've seen this morning,
Parslett was considerably hard up yesterday. Trade hasn't been very good
with him of late, and she naturally knows his circumstances. He went out
of the house last night about nine o'clock, saying he was going to have a
stroll round, and the widow says she's certain he'd no fifty pounds on him
when he left her--it would be a wonder, she says, if he'd as much as fifty
shillings! Now then, Mr. Purdie, where did a man like that pick up fifty
sovereigns between the time he went out, and the time he was picked up,
"He might have borrowed it from some friend," suggested Purdie.
"I thought of that, sir," said Ayscough. "It seems the natural thing to
think of. But Mrs. Parslett says they haven't a friend from whom he could
have borrowed such an amount--not one! No, sir!--my belief is that
Parslett saw some man enter and leave Multenius's shop; that he knew the
man; that he went and plumped him with the affair, and that the man gave
him that gold to get rid of him at the moment--and contrived to poison
Purdie considered the proposition for awhile in silence.
"Well," he remarked at last, "if that's so, it seems to establish two
facts--first, that the murderer is some man who lives in this
neighbourhood, and second, that he's an expert in poisons."
"Right, sir!" agreed Ayscough. "Quite right. And it would, of course,
establish another--the innocence of your friend, Lauriston."
"I never had any doubt of that," he said.
"Between ourselves, neither had I," remarked Ayscough heartily. "I told
our people that I, personally, was convinced of the young fellow's
complete innocence from the very first--and it was I who found him in the
shop. It's a most unfortunate thing that he was there, and a sad
coincidence that those rings of his were much of a muchness with the rings
in the tray in the old man's parlour--but I've never doubted him. No,
sir!--I believe all this business goes a lot deeper than that! It's no
common affair--old Daniel Multenius was attacked by somebody--somebody!--
for some special reason--and it's going to take a lot of getting at. And
I'm convinced this Parslett affair is a development--Parslett's been
poisoned because he knew too much."
"You say you don't know what particular poison was used?" asked Purdie.
"It would be something of a clue to know that. Because, if it turned out
to be one of a very subtle nature, that would prove that whoever
administered it had made a special study of poisons."
"I don't know that--yet," answered Ayscough. "But," he continued, rising
from his chair, "if you'd step round with me to the hospital, we might get
to know, now. There's one or two of their specialists been making an
examination. It's only a mere step along the street."
Purdie followed the detective out and along Praed Street. Before they
reached the doors of the hospital, a man came up to Ayscough: a solid,
substantial-looking person, of cautious manner and watchful eye, whose
glance wandered speculatively from the detective to his companion.
Evidently sizing Purdie up as some one in Ayscough's confidence, he spoke
--in the fashion of one who has something as mysterious, as important, to
"Beg your pardon, Mr. Ayscough," he said. "A word with you sir. You know
me, Mr. Ayscough?"
Ayscough looked sharply at his questioner.
"Mr. Goodyer, isn't it?" he asked. "Oh, yes, I remember. What is it? You
can speak before this gentleman--it's all right."
"About this affair of last night--Parslett, you know," said Goodyer,
drawing the detective aside, and lowering his voice, so that passers-by
might not hear. "There's something I can tell you--I've heard all about
the matter from Parslett's wife. But I've not told her what I can tell
you, Mr. Ayscough."
"And--what's that?" enquired the detective.
"I'm Parslett's landlord, you know," continued Goodyer. "He's had that
shop and dwelling-house of me for some years. Now, Parslett's not been
doing very well of late, from one cause or another, and to put it in a
nutshell, he owed me half a year's rent. I saw him yesterday, and told him
I must have the money at once: in fact, I pressed him pretty hard about
it.--I'd been at him for two or three weeks, and I could see it was no
good going on. He'd been down in the mouth about it, the last week or so,
but yesterday afternoon he was confident enough. 'Now, you needn't alarm
yourself, Mr. Goodyer,' he said. 'There's a nice bit of money going to be
paid to me tonight, and I'll settle up with you before I stick my head on
the pillow,' he said. 'Tonight, for certain?' says I. 'Before even I go to
bed!' he says. 'I can't fix it to a minute, but you can rely on me calling
at your house in St. Mary's Terrace before eleven o'clock--with the
money.' And he was so certain about it, Mr. Ayscough, that I said no more
than that I should be much obliged, and I'd wait up for him. And,"
concluded Goodyer, "I did wait up--till half-past twelve--but he never
came. So this morning, of course, I walked round here--and then I heard
what happened--about him being picked up dying and since being dead--with
fifty pounds in gold in his pocket. Of course, Mr. Ayscough, that was the
money he referred to."
"You haven't mentioned this to anybody?" asked Ayscough.
"Neither to the widow nor to anybody--but you," replied Goodyer.
"Don't!" said Ayscough. "Keep it to yourself till I give you the word. You
didn't hear anything from Parslett as to where the money was coming from?"
"Not one syllable!" answered Goodyer. "But I could see he was dead sure of
"Well--keep quiet about it," continued Ayscough. "There'll be an inquest,
you know, and what you have to tell'll come in handy, then. There's some
mystery about all this affair, Mr. Goodyer, and it's going to take some
"You're right!" said Goodyer. "I believe you!"
He went off along the street, and the detective turned to Purdie and
motioned him towards the hospital.
"Queer, all that, sir!" he muttered. "Very queer! But it all tends to
showing that my theory's the right one. Now if you'll just stop in the
waiting-room a few minutes, I'll find out if these doctors have come to
any conclusion about the precise nature of the poison."
Purdie waited for ten minutes, speculating on the curiosities of the
mystery into which he had been so strangely plunged: at last the detective
came back, shaking his head.
"Can't get a definite word out of 'em, yet," he said, as they went away.
"There's two or three of 'em--big experts in--what do you call it--oh,
yes, toxology--putting their heads together over the analysing business,
and they won't say anything so far--they'll leave that to the inquest. But
I gathered this much, Mr. Purdie, from the one I spoke to--this man
Parslett was poisoned in some extremely clever fashion, and by some poison
that's not generally known, which was administered to him probably half-
an-hour before it took effect. What's that argue, sir, but that whoever
gave him that poison is something of an expert? Deep game, Mr. Purdie, a
very deep game indeed!--and now I don't think there's much need to be
anxious about that young friend of yours. I'm certain, anyway, that the
man who poisoned Parslett is the man who killed poor old Daniel Multenius.
But--we shall see."
Purdie parted from Ayscough outside the hospital and walked along to Mrs.
Flitwick's house in Star Street. He met Melky Rubinstein emerging from the
door; Melky immediately pulled out a telegram which he thrust into
"Just come, mister!" exclaimed Melky. "There's a word for you in it--I was
going to your hotel. Read what he says."
Purdie unfolded the pink paper and read.
"On the track all right understand Purdie is in town if he comes to Star
Street explain all to him will wire again later in day."
"Good!" said Purdie. He handed back the telegram and looked meditatively
at Melky. "Are you busy this morning?" he asked.
"Doing no business whatever, mister," lisped Melky, solemnly. "Not until
this business is settled--not me!"
"Come to the hotel with me," continued Purdie. "I want to talk to you
But when they reached the hotel, all thought of conversation was driven
out of Purdie's mind for the moment. The hall-porter handed him a note,
remarking that it had just come. Purdie's face flushed as he recognized
the handwriting: he turned sharply away and tore open the envelope.
Inside, on a half-sheet of notepaper, were a few lines--from the pretty
governess at Mr. Spencer Levendale's.
"Can you come here at once and ask for me? There is something seriously
wrong: I am much troubled and have no one in London I can consult."
With a hasty excuse to Melky, Purdie ran out of the hotel, and set off in
quick response to the note.
THE PRIVATE LABORATORY
As he turned down Spring Street towards Sussex Square, Purdie hastily
reviewed his knowledge of Mr. Spencer Levendale and his family. He had met
them, only two months previously, at a remote and out-of-the-way place in
the Highlands, in a hotel where he and they were almost the only guests.
Under such circumstances, strangers are soon drawn together, and as
Levendale and Purdie had a common interest in fishing they were quickly on
good terms. But Purdie was thinking now as he made his way towards
Levendale's London house that he really knew very little of this man who
was evidently mixed up in some way with the mystery into which young Andie
Lauriston had so unfortunately also become intermingled. He knew that
Levendale was undoubtedly a very wealthy man: there were all the signs of
wealth about him; he had brought several servants down to the Highlands
with him: money appeared to be plentiful with him as pebbles are on a
beach. Purdie learnt bit by bit that Levendale had made a great fortune in
South Africa, that he had come home to England and gone into Parliament;
that he was a widower and the father of two little girls--he learnt, too,
that the children's governess, Miss Elsie Bennett, a pretty and taking
girl of twenty-two or three, had come with them from Cape Town. But of
Levendale's real character and self he knew no more than could be gained
from holiday acquaintance. Certain circumstances told him by Melky about
the rare book left in old Multenius's parlour inclined Purdie to be
somewhat suspicious that Levendale was concealing something which he knew
about that affair--and now here was Miss Bennett writing what, on the face
of it, looked like an appealing letter to him, as if something had
Purdie knew something had happened as soon as he was admitted to the
house. Levendale's butler, who had accompanied his master to the
Highlands, and had recognized Purdie on his calling the previous day, came
hurrying to him in the hall, as soon as the footman opened the door.
"You haven't seen Mr. Levendale since you were here yesterday, sir?" he
asked, in a low, anxious voice.
"Seen Mr. Levendale? No!" answered Purdie. "Why--what do you mean?"
The butler looked round at a couple of footmen who hung about the door.
"Don't want to make any fuss about it, Mr. Purdie," he whispered, "though
it's pretty well known in the house already. The fact is, sir, Mr.
"Missing?" exclaimed Purdie. "Since when?"
"Only since last night, sir," replied the butler, "but the circumstances
are queer. He dined out with some City gentlemen, somewhere, last night,
and he came home about ten o'clock. He wasn't in the house long. He went
into his laboratory--he spends a lot of time in experimenting in
chemistry, you know, sir--and he called me in there. 'I'm going out again
for an hour, Grayson,' he says. 'I shall be in at eleven: don't go to bed,
for I want to see you for a minute or two.' Of course, there was nothing
in that, Mr. Purdie, and I waited for him. But he never came home--and no
message came. He never came home at all--and this morning I've telephoned
to his two clubs, and to one or two other places in the City--nobody's
seen or heard anything of him. And I can't think what's happened--it's all
so unlike his habits."
"He didn't tell you where he was going?" asked Purdie.
"No, sir, but he went on foot," answered the butler. "I let him out--he
turned up Paddington way."
"You didn't notice anything out of the common about him?" suggested
The butler hesitated for a moment.
"Well, sir," he said at last, "I did notice something. Come this way, Mr.
Turning away from the hall, he led Purdie through the library in which
Levendale had received Ayscough and his companions into a small room that
opened out of it.
Purdie, looking round him, found that he was standing in a laboratory,
furnished with chemical apparatus of the latest descriptions. Implements
and appliances were on all sides; there were rows of bottles on the
shelves; a library of technical books filled a large book-case; everything
in the place betokened the pursuit of a scientific investigator. And
Purdie's keen sense of smell immediately noted the prevalent atmosphere of
drugs and chemicals.
"It was here that I saw Mr. Levendale last night, sir," said the butler.
"He called me in. He was measuring something from one of those bottles
into a small phial, Mr. Purdie--he put the phial in his waistcoat pocket.
Look at those bottles, sir--you'll see they all contain poison!--you can
tell that by the make of 'em."
Purdie glanced at the shelf which the butler indicated. The bottles ranged
on it were all of blue glass, and all triangular in shape, and each bore a
red label with the word _Poison_ prominently displayed.
"Odd!" he said. "You've some idea?" he went on, looking closely at the
butler. "Something on your mind about this? What is it?"
The butler shook his head.
"Well, sir," he answered, "when you see a gentleman measuring poison into
a phial, which he carefully puts in his pocket, and when he goes out, and
when he never comes back, and when you can't hear of him, anywhere! why,
what are you to think? Looks strange, now, doesn't it, Mr. Purdie?"
"I don't know Mr. Levendale well enough to say," replied Purdie. "There
may be some quite good reason for Mr. Levendale's absence. He'd no trouble
of any sort, had he?"
"He seemed a bit upset, once or twice, yesterday--and the night before,"
said the butler. "I noticed it--in little things. Well!--I can't make it
out, sir. You see, I've been with him ever since he came back to England--
some years now--and I know his habits, thoroughly. However, we can only
wait--I believe Miss Bennett sent for you, Mr. Purdie?"
"Yes," said Purdie. "She did."
"This way, sir," said the butler. "Miss Bennett's alone, now--the children
have just gone out with their nurses."
He led Purdie through the house to a sitting-room looking out on the
garden of the Square, and ushered him into the governess's presence.
"I've told Mr. Purdie all about it, miss," he said, confidentially.
"Perhaps you'll talk it over with him! I can't think of anything more to
do--until we hear something."
Left alone, Purdie and Elsie Bennett looked at each other as they shook
hands. She was a fair, slender girl, naturally shy and retiring; she was
manifestly shy at renewing her acquaintance with Purdie, and Purdie
himself, conscious of his own feelings towards her, felt a certain
embarrassment and awkwardness.
"You sent for me," he said brusquely. "I came the instant I got your note.
Grayson kept me talking downstairs. You're bothered--about Mr. Levendale?"
"Yes," she answered. Then she pointed to a chair. "Won't you sit down?"
she said, and took a chair close by. "I sent for you, because--it may seem
strange, but it's a fact!--I couldn't think of anybody else! It seemed so
fortunate that you were in London--and close by. I felt that--that I could
depend on you."
"Thank you," said Purdie. "Well--you can! And what is it?"
"Grayson's told you about Mr. Levendale's going out last night, and never
coming back, nor sending any message?" she continued. "As Grayson says,
considering Mr. Levendale's habits, that is certainly very strange! But--I
want to tell you something beyond that--I must tell somebody! And I know
that if I tell you you'll keep it secret--until, or unless you think you
ought to tell it to--the police!"
"The police!" he exclaimed. "What is it?"
Elsie Bennett turned to a table, and picked up a couple of newspapers.
"Have you read this Praed Street mystery affair?" she asked. "I mean the
account of the inquest?"
"Every word--and heard more, besides," answered Purdie. "That young
fellow, Andie Lauriston, is an old schoolmate and friend of mine. I came
here yesterday to see him, and found him plunged into this business. Of
course, he's absolutely innocent."
"Has he been arrested?" asked Elsie, almost eagerly.
"No!" replied Purdie. "He's gone away--to get evidence that those rings
which are such a feature of the case are really his and were his
"Have you noticed these particulars, at the end of the inquest, about the
book which was found in the pawnbroker's parlour?" she went on. "The
"Said to have been lost by Mr. Levendale in an omnibus," answered Purdie.
"Yes! What of it?"
The girl bent nearer to him.
"It seems a dreadful thing to say," she whispered, "but I must tell
somebody--I can't, I daren't keep it to myself any longer! Mr. Levendale
isn't telling the truth about that book!"
Purdie involuntarily glanced at the door--and drew his chair nearer to
"You're sure of that?" he whispered. "Just so! Now--in what way?"
"It says here," answered Elsie, tapping the newspapers with her finger,
"that Mr. Levendale lost this book in a 'bus, which he left at the corner
of Chapel Street, and that he was so concerned about the loss that he
immediately sent advertisements off to every morning newspaper in London.
The last part of that is true--the first part is not true! Mr. Levendale
did not lose his book--he did not leave it in the 'bus! I'm sorry to have
to say it--but all that is invention on his part--why, I don't know."
Purdie had listened to this with a growing feeling of uneasiness and
suspicion. The clouds centring round Levendale were certainly thickening.
"Now, just tell me--how do you know all this?" he asked. "Rely on me--to
"I'll tell you," replied Elsie, readily. "Because, about four o'clock on
the afternoon of the old man's death, I happened to be at the corner of
Chapel Street. I saw Mr. Levendale get out of the 'bus. He did not see me.
He crossed Edgware Road and walked rapidly down Praed Street. And--he was
carrying that book in his hand!"
"You're sure it was that book?" asked Purdie.
"According to the description given in this account and in the
advertisement--yes," she answered. "I noticed the fine binding. Although
Mr. Levendale didn't see me--there were a lot of people about--I was close
to him. I am sure it was the book described here."
"And--he went in the direction of the pawnshop?" said Purdie. "What on
earth does it all mean? What did he mean by advertising for the book,
Before he could say more, a knock came at the door, and the butler
entered, bearing an open telegram in his hand. His face wore an expression
"Here's a wire from Mr. Levendale, Miss Bennett," he said. "It's addressed
to me. He says, 'Shall be away from home, on business, for a few days. Let
all go on as usual. That's better, miss! But," continued Grayson, glancing
at Purdie, "it's still odd--for do you see, sir, where that wire has been
sent from? Spring Street--close by!"
Purdie was already sufficiently acquainted with the geography of the
Paddington district to be aware of the significance of Grayson's remark.
The Spring Street Post Office, at which Levendale's wire had been handed
in, was only a few minutes' walk from the house it stood, in fact, between
Purdie's hotel and Sussex Square, and he had passed it on his way to
Levendale's. It was certainly odd that a man who was within five minutes'
walk of his own house should send a telegram there, when he had nothing to
do but walk down one street and turn the corner of another to give his
message in person.
"Sent off, do you see, sir, twenty minutes ago," observed the butler,
pointing to some figures in the telegram form. "So--Mr. Levendale must
have been close by--then!"
"Not necessarily," remarked Purdie. "He may have sent a messenger with
that wire--perhaps he himself was catching a train at Paddington."
Grayson shook his head knowingly.
"There's a telegraph office on the platform there, sir," he answered.
"However--there it is, and I suppose there's no more to be done."
He left the room again, and Purdie looked at the governess. She, too,
looked at him: there was a question in the eyes of both.
"What do you make of that?" asked Purdie after a pause.
"What do you make of it?" she asked in her turn.
"It looks odd--but there may be a reason for it," he answered. "Look
here!--I'm going to ask you a question. What do you know of Mr. Levendale?
You've been governess to his children for some time, haven't you?"
"For six months before he left Cape Town, and ever since we all came to
England, three years ago," she answered. "I know that he's very rich, and
a very busy man, and a member of Parliament, and that he goes to the City
a great deal--and that's all! He's a very reserved man, too--of course, he
never tells me anything. I've never had any conversation with him
excepting about the children."
"You're upset about this book affair?" suggested Purdie.
"Why should Mr. Levendale say that he left that book in the omnibus, when
I myself saw him leave the 'bus with it in his hand, and go down Praed
Street with it?" she asked. "Doesn't it look as if he were the person who
left it in that room--where the old man was found lying dead?"
"That, perhaps, is the very reason why he doesn't want people to know that
he did leave it there," remarked Purdie, quietly. "There's more in all
this than lies on the surface. You wanted my advice? Very well don't say
anything to anybody till you see me again. I must go now--there's a man
waiting for me at my hotel. I may call again, mayn't I?"
"Do!" she said, giving him her hand. "I am bothered about this--it's
useless to deny it--and I've no one to talk to about it. Come--any time."
Purdie repressed a strong desire to stay longer, and to turn the
conversation to more personal matters. But he was essentially a business
man, and the matters of the moment seemed to be critical. So he promised
to return, and then hurried back to his hotel--to find Melky Rubinstein
pacing up and down outside the entrance.
Purdie tapped Melky's shoulder and motioned him to walk along Praed
"Look here!" he said. "I want you to take me to see your cousin--and the
pawnshop. We must have a talk--you said your cousin's a good business
woman. She's the sort we can discuss business with, eh?"
"My cousin Zillah Wildrose, mister," answered Melky, solemnly, "is one of
the best! She's a better headpiece on her than what I have--and that's
saying a good deal. I was going to suggest you should come there. Talk!--
s'elp me, Mr. Purdie, it strikes me there'll be a lot of that before we've
done. What about this here affair of last night?--I've just seen Mr.
Ayscough, passing along--he's told me all about it. Do you think it's
anything to do with our business?"
"Can't say," answered Purdie. "Wait till we can discuss matters with your
Melky led the way to the side-door of the pawnshop. Since the old man's
death, the whole establishment had been closed--Zillah had refused to do
any business until her grandfather's funeral was over. She received her
visitors in the parlour where old Daniel had been found dead: after a
moment's inspection of her, and the exchange of a few remarks about
Lauriston, Purdie suggested that they should all sit down and talk matters
"Half-a-mo!" said Melky. "If we're going to have a cabinet council,
mister, there's a lady that I want to bring into it--Mrs. Goldmark. I know
something that Mrs. Goldmark can speak to--I've just been considering
matters while I was waiting for you, Mr. Purdie, and I'm going to tell you
and Zillah, and Mrs. Goldmark, of a curious fact that I know of. I'll
fetch her--and while I'm away Zillah'll show you that there book what was
Purdie looked with interest at the Spanish manuscript which seemed to be a
factor of such importance.
"I suppose you never saw this before?" he asked, as Zillah laid it on the
table before him. "And you're certain it wasn't in the place when you went
out that afternoon, leaving your grandfather alone?"
"That I'm positive of," answered Zillah. "I never saw it in my life until
my attention was drawn to it after he was dead. That book was brought in
here during my absence, and it was neither bought nor pawned--that's
absolutely certain! Of course, you know who's book it is?"
"Mr. Spencer Levendale's," answered Purdie. "Yes I know all those
particulars--and about his advertisements for it, and a little more. And I
want to discuss all that with you and your cousin. This Mrs. Goldmark
she's to be fully trusted?"
Zillah replied that Mrs. Goldmark was worthy of entire confidence, and an
old friend, and Melky presently returning with her, Purdie suggested they
should all sit down and talk--informally and in strict privacy.
"You know why I'm concerning myself in this?" he said, looking round at
his three companions. "I'm anxious that Andie Lauriston should be fully
and entirely cleared! I've great faith in him--he's beginning what I
believe will be a successful career, and it would be a terrible thing if
any suspicion rested on him. So I want, for his sake, to thoroughly clear
up this mystery about your relative's death."
"Mister!" said Melky, in his most solemn tones. "Speaking for my cousin
there, and myself, there ain't nothing what we wouldn't do to clear Mr.
Lauriston! We ain't never had one moment's suspicion of him from the
first, knowing the young fellow as we do. So we're with you in that
matter, ain't we, Zillah?"
"Mr. Purdie feels sure of that," agreed Zillah, with a glance at
Lauriston's old schoolmate. "There's no need to answer him, Melky."
"I am sure!" said Purdie. "So--let's put our wits together--we'll consider
the question of approaching the police when we've talked amongst
ourselves. Now--I want to ask you some very private questions. They spring
out of that rare book there. There's no doubt that book belongs to Mr.
Levendale. Do either of you know if Mr. Levendale had any business
relations with the late Mr. Rubinstein?"
Zillah shook her head.
"None!--that I know of," she answered. "I've helped my grandfather in this
business for some time. I never heard him mention Mr. Levendale. Mr.
Levendale never came here, certainly."
Melky shook his head, too.
"When Mr. Ayscough, and Mr. Lauriston, and me went round to Sussex Square,
to see Mr. Levendale about that advertisement for his book," he remarked,
"he said he'd never heard of Daniel Multenius. That's a fact, mister!"
"Had Mr. Multenius any private business relations of which he didn't tell
you?" asked Purdie, turning to Zillah.
"He might have had," admitted Zillah. "He was out a good deal. I don't
know what he might do when he went out. He was--close. We--it's no use
denying it--we don't know all about it. His solicitor's making some
enquiries--I expect him here, any time, today."
"It comes to this," observed Purdie. "Your grandfather met his death by
violence, the man who attacked him came in here during your absence. The
question I want to get solved is--was the man who undoubtedly left that
book here the guilty man? If so--who is he?"
Melky suddenly broke the silence which followed upon this question.
"I'm going to tell something that I ain't told to nobody as yet!" he said.
"Not even to Zillah. After this here parlour had been cleared, I took a
look round. I've very sharp eyes, Mr. Purdie. I found this here--half-
hidden under the rug there, where the poor old man had been lying." He
pulled out the platinum solitaire, laid it on the palm of one hand, and
extended the hand to Mrs. Goldmark. "You've seen the like of that before,
ain't you?" asked Melky.
"Mercy be upon us!" gasped Mrs. Goldmark, starting in her seat. "I've the
fellow to it lying in my desk!"
"And it was left on a table in your restaurant," continued Melky, "by a
man what looked like a Colonial party--I know!--I saw it by accident in
your place the other night, and one o' your girls told me. Now then, Mr.
Purdie, here's a bit more of puzzlement--and perhaps a clue. These here
platinum solitaire cuff-links are valuable--they're worth--well, I'd give
a good few pounds for the pair. Now who's the man who lost one in this
here parlour--right there!--and the other in Mrs. Goldmark's restaurant?
For--it's a pair! There's no doubt about that, mister!--there's that same
curious and unusual device on each. Mister!--them studs has at some time
or other been made to special order!"
Purdie turned the solitaire over, and looked at Zillah.
"Have you ever seen, anything like this before?" he asked.
"Never!" said Zillah. "It's as Melky says--specially made."
"And you have its fellow--lost in your restaurant?" continued Purdie,
turning to Mrs. Goldmark.
"Its very marrow," assented Mrs. Goldmark, fervently, "is in my desk! It
was dropped on one of our tables a few afternoons ago by a man who, as Mr.
Rubinstein says, looked like one of those Colonials. Leastways, my
waitress, Rosa, she picked it up exactly where he'd been sitting. So I put
it away till he comes in again, you see. Oh, yes!"
"Has he been in again?" asked Purdie.
"Never was he inside my door before!" answered Mrs. Goldmark dramatically.
"Never has he been inside it since! But--I keep his property, just so. In
my desk it is!"
Purdie considered this new evidence in silence for a moment.
"The question now is--this," he said presently. "Is the man who seems
undoubtedly to have dropped those studs the same man who brought that book
in here? Or, had Mr. Multenius two callers here during your absence, Miss
Wildrose? And--who is this mysterious man who dropped the studs--valuable
things, with a special device on them? He'll have to be traced! Mrs.
Goldmark--can you describe him, particularly?"
Before Mrs. Goldmark could reply, a knock came at the side-door, and
Zillah, going to answer it, returned presently with a middle-aged, quiet-
looking, gold-spectacled gentleman whom she introduced to Purdie as Mr.
Penniket, solicitor to the late Daniel Multenius.
THE DETECTIVE CALLS
Mr. Penniket, to whom the two cousins and Mrs. Goldmark were evidently
very well known, looked a polite enquiry at the stranger as he took the
chair which Melky drew forward for him.
"As Mr. Purdie is presumably discussing this affair with you," he
observed, "I take it that you intend him to hear anything I have to tell?"
"That's so, Mr. Penniket," answered Melky. "Mr. Purdie's one of us, so to
speak--you can tell us anything you like, before him. We were going into
details when you come--there's some strange business on, Mr. Penniket! And
we want to get a bit clear about it before we tell the police what we
"You know something that they don't know?" asked Mr. Penniket.
"More than a bit!" replied Melky, laconically. "This here affair's
revolving itself into a network, mister, out of which somebody's going to
find it hard work to break through!"
The solicitor, who had been quietly inspecting Purdie, gave him a sly
"Then before I tell you what I have just found out," he said, turning to
Melky, "I think you had better tell me all you know, and what you have
been discussing. Possibly, I may have something to tell which bears on our
knowledge. Let us be clear!"
He listened carefully while Purdie, at Zillah's request, told him briefly
what had been said before his arrival, and Purdie saw at once that none of
the facts surprised him. He asked Mrs. Goldmark one or two questions about
the man who was believed to have dropped one of his cuff-links in her
restaurant; he asked Melky a question as to his discovery of the other; he
made no comment on the answers which they gave him. Finally, he drew his
chair nearer to the table at which they were sitting, and invited their
attention with a glance.
"There is no doubt," he said, "that the circumstances centring round the
death of my late client are remarkably mysterious! What we want to get at,
put into a nut-shell, is just this--what happened in this parlour between
half-past four and half-past five on Monday afternoon? We might even
narrow that down to--what happened between ten minutes to five and ten
minutes past five? Daniel Multenius was left alone--we know that. Some
person undoubtedly came in here--perhaps more than one person came. Who
was the person? Were there two persons? If there were two, did they come
together--or singly, separately? All that will have to be solved before we
find out who it was that assaulted my late client, and so injured him that
he died under the shock. Now, Miss Wildrose, and Mr. Rubinstein, there's
one fact which you may as well get into your minds at once. Your deceased
relative had his secrets!"
Neither Zillah nor Purdie made any comment on this, and the solicitor,
with a meaning look at Purdie, went on. "Not that Daniel Multenius
revealed any of them to me!" he continued. "I have acted for him in legal
matters for some years, but only in quite an ordinary way. He was a well-
to-do man, Mr. Purdie--a rich man, in fact, and a considerable property
owner--I did all his work of that sort. But as regards his secrets, I know
nothing--except that since yesterday, I have discovered that he certainly
had them. I have, as Miss Wildrose knows--and by her instructions--been
making some enquiries at the bank where Mr. Multenius kept his account--
the Empire and Universal, in Lombard Street--and I have made some curious
unearthings in the course of them. Now then, between ourselves--Mr. Purdie
being represented to me as in your entire confidence--I may as well tell
you that Daniel Multenius most certainly had dealings of a business nature
completely outside his business as jeweller and pawnbroker in this shop.
That's positively certain. And what is also certain is that in some of
those dealings he was, in some way or another, intimately associated with
the man whose name has already come up a good deal since Monday--Mr.
"S'elp me!" muttered Melky. "I heard Levendale, with my own two ears, say
that he didn't know the poor old fellow!"
"Very likely," said Mr. Penniket, drily. "It was not convenient to him--we
will assume--to admit that he did, just then. But I have discovered--from
the bankers--that precisely two years ago, Mr. Spencer Levendale paid to
Daniel Multenius a sum of ten thousand pounds. That's a fact!"
"For what, mister?" demanded Melky.
"Can't say--nobody can say," answered the solicitor. "All the same, he
did--paid it in, himself, to Daniel Multenius's credit, at the Empire and
Universal. It went into the ordinary account, in the ordinary way, and was
used by Mr. Multenius as part of his own effects--as no doubt it was.
Now," continued Mr. Penniket, turning to Zillah, "I want to ask you a
particular question. I know you had assisted your grandfather a great deal
of late years. Had you anything to do with his banking account?"
"No!" replied Zillah, promptly. "That's the one thing I never had anything
to do with. I never saw his pass-book, nor his deposit-book, nor even his
cheque-book. He kept all that to himself."
"Just so," said Mr. Penniket. "Then, of course, you don't know that he
dealt with considerable sums--evidently quite outside this business. He
made large--sometimes very heavy--payments. And--this, I am convinced, is
of great importance to the question we are trying to solve--most of these
payments were sent to South Africa."
The solicitor glanced round his audience as if anxious to see that its
various members grasped the significance of this announcement. And Melky
at once voiced the first impression of, at any rate, three of them.
"Levendale comes from those parts!" he muttered. "Came here some two or
three years ago--by all I can gather."
"Just so," said Mr. Penniket. "Therefore, possibly this South African
business, in which my late client was undoubtedly engaged, is connected
with Mr. Levendale. That can be found out. But I have still more to tell
you--perhaps, considering everything, the most important matter of the
whole lot. On Monday morning last--that would be a few hours before his
death--Mr. Multenius called at the bank and took from it a small packet
which he had entrusted to his banker's keeping only a fortnight
previously. The bankers do not know what was in that packet--he had more
than once got them to take care of similar packets at one time or another.
But they described it to me just now. A packet, evidently enclosing a
small, hard box, some four or five inches square in all directions,
wrapped in strong cartridge paper, and heavily sealed with red wax. It
bore Mr. Multenius's name and address--written by himself. Now, then, Miss
Wildrose--he took that packet away from the bank at about twelve-thirty on
Monday noon. Have you seen anything of it?"
"Nothing!" answered Zillah with certainty. "There's no such packet here,
Mr. Penniket. I've been through everything--safes, drawers, chests, since
my grandfather died, and I've not found anything that I didn't know of. I
remember that he went out last Monday morning--he was away two hours, and
came in again about a quarter past one, but I never saw such a packet in
his possession as that you describe. I know nothing of it."
"Well," said the solicitor, after a pause, "there are the facts. And the
question now is--ought we not to tell all this to the police, at once?
This connection of Levendale with my late client--as undoubted as it seems
to have been secret--needs investigation. According to Mr. Purdie here--
Levendale has suddenly disappeared--or, at any rate, left home under
mysterious circumstances. Has that disappearance anything to do with
Multenius's death? Has it anything to do with the death of this next door
man, Parslett, last night? And has Levendale any connections with the
strange man who dropped one platinum solitaire stud in Mrs. Goldmark's
restaurant, and another in this parlour?"
No one attempted to answer these questions for a moment; then, Melky, as
if seized with a sudden inspiration, smote the table and leaned over it
towards the solicitor.
"Mr. Penniket!" he said, glancing around him as if to invite approval of
what he was about to say. "You're a lawyer, mister!--you can put things in
order and present 'em as if they was in a catalogue! Take the whole
business to New Scotland Yard, sir!--let the big men at headquarters have
a go at it. That's what I say! There's some queer mystery at the bottom of
all this, Mr. Penniket, and it ain't a one-man job. Go to the Yard,
mister--let 'em try their brains on it!"
Zillah made a murmured remark which seemed to second her cousin's
proposal, and Mr. Penniket turned to Purdie.
"I understand you to be a business man," he remarked. "What do you say??"
"As far as I can put things together," answered Purdie, "I fully agree
that there is some extraordinary mystery round and about Mr. Multenius's
death. And as the detective force at New Scotland Yard exists for the
solution of such problems--why, I should certainly tell the authorities
there everything that is known. Why not?"
"Very good," said Mr. Penniket. "Then it will be well if you two come with
me. The more information we can give to the heads of the Criminal
Investigation Department, the better. We'll go there at once."
In a few moments, the three men had gone, and Zillah and Mrs. Goldmark,
left alone, looked at each other.
"Mrs. Goldmark!" said Zillah, after a long silence. "Did you see that man,
yourself, who's supposed to have dropped that platinum solitaire in your
"Did I see him?" exclaimed Mrs. Goldmark. "Do I see you, Zillah? See him I
did!--though never before, and never since! And ain't I the good memory
for faces--and won't I know him again if he comes my way? Do you know
what?--I ain't never forgotten a face what I've once looked at! Comes from
keeping an eye on customers who looks as if they might have forgot to
bring their moneys with 'em!"
"Well, I hope you'll see this man again," remarked Zillah. "I'd give a lot
to get all the mystery cleared up."
Mrs. Goldmark observed that mysteries were not cleared up in a day, and
presently went away to see that her business was being conducted properly.
She was devoting herself to Zillah in very neighbourly fashion just then,
but she had to keep running into the restaurant every hour or two to keep
an eye on things. And during one of her absences, later in the early
evening of that day, Zillah, alone in the house, answered a knock at the
door, and opening it found Ayscough outside. His look betokened news, and
Zillah led him into the parlour.
"Alone?" asked Ayscough. "Aye, well, I've something to tell you that I
want you to keep to yourself--for a bit, anyway. Those rings, you know,
that the young fellow, Lauriston, says are his, and had been his
"Well?" said Zillah, faintly, and half-conscious of some coming bad news.
"What of them?"
"Our people," continued the detective, "have had some expert chap--
jeweller, or something of that sort, examining those rings, and comparing
them with the rings that are in your tray. And in that tray there are
several rings which have a private mark inside them. Now, then!--those two
rings which Lauriston claims are marked in exactly the same fashion!"
WHAT THE LAMPS SHONE ON
Zillah leaned suddenly back against the table by which she was standing,
and Ayscough, who was narrowly watching the effect of his news, saw her
turn very pale. She stood staring at him during a moment's silence; then
she let a sharp exclamation escape her lips, and in the same instant her
colour came back--heightened from surprise and indignation.
"Impossible!" she said. "I can't believe it; There may be marks inside our
rings--that's likely enough. But how could those marks correspond with the
marks in his rings?"
"I tell you it is so!" answered Ayscough. "I've seen the marks in both--
with my own eyes. It occurred to one of our bosses this evening to have
all the rings carefully examined by an expert--he got a man from one of
the jeweller's shops in Edgware Road. This chap very soon pointed out that
inside the two rings which young Lauriston says are his, and come to him
from his mother, are certain private marks--jewellers' marks, this man
called 'em--which are absolutely identical with similar marks which are
inside some of the rings in the tray which was found on this table. That's
a fact!--I tell you I've seen 'em--all! And--you see the significance of
it! Of course, our people are now dead certain that young Lauriston's
story is false, and that he grabbed those two rings out of that tray.
"Are you certain of it--yourself?" demanded Zillah.
Ayscough hesitated and finally shook his head.
"Well, between ourselves, I'm not!" he answered. "I've a feeling from the
first, that the lad's innocent enough. But it's a queer thing--and it's
terribly against him. And--what possible explanation can there be?"
"You say you've seen those marks," said Zillah. "Would you know them
again--on other goods?"
"I should!" replied Ayscough. "I can tell you what they are. There's the
letter M. and then two crosses--one on each side of the letter. Very
small, you know, and worn, too--this man I'm talking of used some sort of
a magnifying glass."
Zillah turned away and went into the shop, which was all in darkness.
Ayscough, waiting, heard the sound of a key being turned, then of a
metallic tinkling; presently the girl came back, carrying a velvet-lined
tray in one hand, and a jeweller's magnifying glass in the other.
"The rings in that tray you're talking about--the one you took away--are
all very old stock," she remarked. "I've heard my grandfather say he'd had
some of them thirty years or more. Here are some similar ones--we'll see
if they're marked in the same fashion."
Five minutes later, Zillah had laid aside several rings marked in the way
Ayscough had indicated, and she turned from them to him with a look of
"I can't understand it!" she exclaimed. "I know that these rings, and
those in that tray at the police-station, are part of old stock that my
grandfather had when he came here. He used to have a shop, years ago, in
the City--I'm not quite sure where, exactly--and this is part of the stock
he brought from it. But, how could Mr. Lauriston's rings bear those marks?
Because, from what I know of the trade, those are private marks--my
grandfather's private marks!"
"Well, just so--and you can imagine what our people are inclined to say
about it," said the detective. "They say now that the two rings which
Lauriston claims never were his nor his mother's, but that he stole them
out of your grandfather's tray. They're fixed on that, now."
"What will they do?" asked Zillah, anxiously. "Is he in danger?"
Ayscough gave her a knowing look.
"Between you and me," he said, lowering his voice to a whisper, "I came
around here privately--on my own hook, you know. I should be sorry if this
really is fixed on the young fellow--there's a mystery, but it may be
cleared up. Now, he's gone off to find somebody who can prove that those
rings really were his mother's. You, no doubt, know where he's gone?"
"Yes--but I'm not going to tell," said Zillah firmly. "Don't ask me!"
"Quite right--I don't want to know myself," answered Ayscough. "And you'll
probably have an idea when he's coming back? All right--take a tip from
me. Keep him out of the way a bit--stop him from coming into this
district. Let him know all about those marks--and if he can clear that up,
well and good. You understand?--and of course, all this is between you and
"You're very good, Mr. Ayscough," replied Zillah, warmly. "I won't forget
your kindness. And I'm certain this about the marks can be cleared up--but
I don't know how!"
"Well--do as I say," said the detective. "Just give the tip to your cousin
Melky, and to that young Scotch gentleman--let 'em keep Lauriston out of
the way for a few days. In the meantime--this is a very queer case!--
something may happen that'll fix the guilt on somebody else--conclusively.
I've my own ideas and opinions--but we shall see. Maybe we shall see a
lot--and everybody'll be more astonished than they're thinking for."
With this dark and sinister hint, Ayscough went away, and Zillah took the
rings back to the shop, and locked them up again. And then she sat down to
wait for Mrs. Goldmark--and to think. She had never doubted Lauriston's
story for one moment, and she did not doubt it now. But she was quick to
see the serious significance of what the detective had just told her and
she realized that action must be taken on the lines he had suggested. And
so, having made herself ready for going out, she excused herself to Mrs.
Goldmark when that good lady returned, and without saying anything to her
as to the nature of her errand, hurried round to Star Street, to find
Melky Rubinstein and tell him of the new development.
Mrs. Flitwick herself opened the door to Zillah and led her into the
narrow passage. But at the mention of Melky she shook her head.
"I ain't set eyes on Mr. Rubinstein not since this morning, miss," said
she. "He went out with that young Scotch gentleman what come here
yesterday asking for Mr. Lauriston, and he's never been in again--not even
to put his nose inside the door. And at twelve o'clock there come a
telegram for him--which it was the second that come this morning. The
first, of course, he got before he went out; the one that come at noon's
awaiting him. No--I ain't seen him all day!"
Zillah's quick wits were instantly at work as soon as she heard of the
"Oh, I know all about that wire, Mrs. Flitwick!" she exclaimed. "It's as
much for me as for my cousin. Give it to me--and if Mr. Rubinstein comes
in soon--or when he comes--tell him I've got it, and ask him to come round
to me immediately--it's important."
Mrs. Flitwick produced the telegram at once, and Zillah, repeating her
commands about Melky, hurried away with it. But at the first street lamp
she paused, and tore open the envelope, and pulled out the message. As she
supposed, it was from Lauriston, and had been handed in at Peebles at
eleven o'clock that morning.
"Got necessary information returning at once meet me at King's Cross at
nine-twenty this evening. L."
Zillah looked at her watch. It was then ten minutes to nine. There was
just half an hour before Lauriston's train was due. Without a moment's
hesitation, she turned back along Star Street, hurried into Edgware Road
and hailing the first taxi-cab she saw, bade its driver to get to the
Great Northern as fast as possible. Whatever else happened, Lauriston must
be met and warned.
The taxi-cab made good headway along the Marylebone and Euston Roads, and
the hands of the clock over the entrance to King's Cross had not yet
indicated a quarter past nine when Zillah was set down close by. She
hurried into the station, and to the arrival platform. All the way along
in the cab she had been wondering what to do when she met Lauriston--not
as to what she should tell him, for that was already settled, but as to
what to advise him to do about following Ayscough's suggestion and keeping
out of the way, for awhile. She had already seen enough of him to know
that he was naturally of high spirit and courage, and that he would hate
the very idea of hiding, or of seeming to run away. Yet, what other course
was open if he wished to avoid arrest? Zillah, during her short business
experience had been brought in contact with the police authorities and
their methods more than once, and she knew that there is nothing the
professional detective likes so much as to follow the obvious--as the
easiest and safest. She had been quick to appreciate all that Ayscough
told her--she knew how the police mind would reason about it: it would be
quite enough for it to know that on the rings which Andy Lauriston said
were his there were marks which were certainly identical with those on her
grandfather's property: now that the police authorities were in possession
of that fact, they would go for Lauriston without demur or hesitation,
leaving all the other mysteries and ramification of the Multenius affair
to be sorted, or to sort themselves, at leisure. One thing was certain--
Andie Lauriston was in greater danger now than at any moment since
Ayscough found him leaving the shop, and she must save him--against his
own inclinations if need be.
But before the train from the North was due, Zillah was fated to have yet
another experience. She had taken up a position directly beneath a
powerful lamp at the end of the arrival platform, so that Lauriston, who
would be obliged to pass that way, could not fail to see her. Suddenly
turning, to glance at the clock in the roof behind her, she was aware of a
man, young, tall, athletic, deeply bronzed, as from long contact with the
Southern sun, who stood just behind a knot of loungers, his heavy overcoat
and the jacket beneath it thrown open, feeling in his waistcoat pockets as
if for his match-box--an unlighted cigar protruded from the corner of his
rather grim, determined lips. But it was not at lips, nor at the cigar,
nor at the searching fingers that Zillah looked, after that first
comprehensive glance--her eyes went straight to an object which shone in
the full glare of the lamp above her head. The man wore an old-fashioned,
double-breasted fancy waistcoat, but so low as to reveal a good deal of
his shirt-front. And in that space, beneath his bird's-eye blue tie,
loosely knotted in a bow, Zillah saw a stud, which her experienced eyes
knew to be of platinum, and on it was engraved the same curious device
which she had seen once before that day--on the solitaire exhibited by
The girl was instantly certain that here was the man who had visited Mrs.
Goldmark's eating-house. Her first instinct was to challenge him with the
fact--but as she half moved towards him, he found his match-box, struck a
match, and began to light his cigar. And just then came the great engine
of the express, panting its way to a halt beside them, and with it the
folk on the platform began to stir, and Zillah was elbowed aside. Her
situation was perplexing--was she to watch the man and perhaps lose
Lauriston in the crowd already passing from the train, or--
The man was still leisurely busy with his cigar, and Zillah turned and
went a few steps up the platform. She suddenly caught sight of Lauriston,
and running towards him gripped his arm, and drew him to the lamp. But in
that moment of indecision, the man had vanished.
MR. STUYVESANT GUYLER
Lauriston, surprised beyond a little at seeing Zillah, found his surprise
turned into amazement as she seized his arm and forced him along the
platform, careless of the groups of passengers and the porters, crowding
about the baggage vans.
"What is it?" he demanded. "Has something happened? Where are we going?"
But Zillah held on determinedly, her eyes fixed ahead.
"Quick!" she said, pantingly. "A man I saw just now! He was there--he's
gone--while I looked for you. We must find him! He must have gone this
way. Andie!--look for him! A tall, clean-shaven man in a slouched hat and
a heavy travelling coat--a foreigner of some sort. Oh, look!"
It was the first time she had called Lauriston by his name, and he gave
her arm an involuntary pressure as they hastened along.
"But why?" he asked. "Who is he--what do you want with him? What's it all
"Oh, find him!" she exclaimed. "You don't know how important it is! If I
lose sight of him now, I'll very likely never see him again. And he must
be found--and stopped--for your sake!"
They had come to the end of the platform, by that time, and Lauriston
looked left and right in search of the man described. Suddenly he twisted
"Is that he--that fellow talking to another man?" he asked. "See him--
"Yes!" said Zillah. She saw the man of the platinum stud again, and on
seeing him, stopped dead where she was, holding Lauriston back. The man,
leisurely smoking his cigar, was chatting to another man, who, from the
fact that he was carrying a small suit-case in one hand and a rug over the
other arm, had evidently come in by the just-arrived express. "Yes!" she
continued. "That's the man! And--we've just got to follow him wherever he
"What on earth for?" asked Lauriston. "What mystery's this? Who is he?"
At that moment the two men parted, with a cordial handshake; the man of
the suit-case and the rug turned towards the stairs which led to the
underground railway; the other man walked slowly away through the front of
the station in the direction of the Great Northern Hotel. And Zillah
immediately dragged Lauriston after him, keeping a few yards' distance,
but going persistently forward. The man in front crossed the road, and
strode towards the portico of the hotel--and Zillah suddenly made up her
"We've got to speak to that man!" she said. "Don't ask why, now--you'll
know in a few minutes. Ask him if he'll speak to me?"
Lauriston caught up the stranger as he set foot on the steps leading to
the hotel door. He felt uncomfortable and foolish--but Zillah's tone left
him no option but to obey.
"I beg your pardon," said Lauriston, as politely as possible, "but--this
lady is very anxious to speak to you."
The man turned, glanced at Zillah, who had hurried up, and lifted his
slouched hat with a touch of old-fashioned courtesy. There was a strong
light burning just above them: in its glare all three looked at each
other. _The stranger smiled--a little wonderingly._
"Why, sure!" he said in accents that left no doubt of his American origin.
"I'd be most happy. You're not mistaking me for somebody else?"
Zillah was already flushed with embarrassment. Now that she had run her
quarry to earth, and so easily, she scarcely knew what to do with it.
"You'll think this very strange," she said, stammeringly, "but if you
don't mind telling me something?--you see, I saw you just now in the
station, when you were feeling for your match-box, and I noticed that you
wore a platinum stud--with an unusual device on it."
The American laughed--a good-natured, genial laugh--and threw open his
coat. At the same moment he thrust his wrists forward.
"This stud!" he said. "That's so!--it is platinum, and the device is
curious. And the device is right there, too, see--on those solitaire cuff-
He paused looking at Zillah, whose eyes were now fastened on the cuff-
studs, and who was obviously so astonished as to have lost her tongue.
"You seemed mighty amazed at my studs!" said the stranger, with another
laugh. "Now, you'll just excuse me if I ask--why?"
Zillah regained her wits with an effort, and became as business-like as
"Don't, please, think I'm asking idle and purposeless questions," she
said. "Have you been long in London?"
"A few days only," answered the stranger, readily enough.
"Have you read of what's already called the Praed Street Murder in the
papers?" continued Zillah.
"Yes--I read that," the stranger said, his face growing serious. "The
affair of the old man--the pawnbroker with the odd name. Yes!"
"I'm the old man's granddaughter," said Zillah, brusquely. "Now, I'll tell
you why I was upset by seeing your platinum stud. A solitaire stud, made
of platinum, and ornamented with exactly the same device as yours, was
found in our parlour after my grandfather's death--and another, evidently
the fellow to it, was found in an eating-house, close by. Now, do you
understand why I wished to speak to you?"
While Zillah spoke, the American's face had been growing graver and
graver, and when she made an end, he glanced at Lauriston and shook his