Part 4 out of 5
"Mr. Ayscough!" said Melky. "I hadn't a notion of aught like that--it's
give me a turn! But don't I know what it means, Mr. Ayscough--not half!
It's all of a piece with the rest of it! Murder, Mr. Ayscough--bloody
murder! All on account of that orange-yellow diamond we've heard of--at
last. Ah!--if I'd known there was that at the bottom of this affair, I'd
ha' been a bit sharper in coming to conclusions, I would so! Diamond worth
eighty thousand pounds--."
Ayscough, who had been busy at the front door of the house, suddenly
interrupted his companion's reflections.
"The door's open!" he exclaimed. "Open! Not even on the latch. Come on!"
Melky shrank back at the prospect of the unlighted hall. There was a
horror in the garden, in that bright moonlight--what might there not be in
that black, silent house?
"Well, turn that there bull's eye on!" he said. "I don't half fancy this
sort of exploration. We'd ought to have had revolvers, you know."
Ayscough turned on the light and advanced into the hall. There was nothing
there beyond what one would expect to see in the hall of a well-furnished
house, nor was there anything but good furniture, soft carpets, and old
pictures to look at in the first room into which he and Melky glanced. But
in the room behind there were evidences of recent occupation--a supper-
table was laid: there was food on it, a cold fowl, a tongue--one plate had
portions of both these viands laid on it, with a knife and fork crossed
above them; on another plate close by, a slice of bread lay, broken and
crumbled--all the evidences showed that supper had been laid for two, that
only one had sat down to it: that he had been interrupted at the very
beginning of his meal--a glass half-full of a light French wine stood near
the pushed-aside plate.
"Looks as if one of 'em had been having a meal, had had to leave it, and
had never come back to it," remarked Ayscough. "Him outside, no doubt.
Let's see the other rooms."
There was nothing to see beyond what they would have expected to see--
except that in one of the bedrooms, in a drawer pulled out from a
dressing-table and left open, lay a quantity of silver and copper, with
here and there a gold coin shining amongst it. Ayscough made a significant
motion of his head at the sight.
"Another proof of--hurry!" he said. "Somebody's cleared out of this place
about as quick as he could! Money left lying about--unfinished meal--door
open--all sure indications. Well, we've seen enough for the present. Our
people'll make a thorough search later. Come downstairs again."
Neither Ayscough nor Melky were greatly inclined for conversation or
speculation, and they waited in silence near the gate, both thinking of
the still figure lying behind the laurel bushes until the police came.
Then followed whispered consultations between Ayscough and the inspector,
and arrangements for the removal of the dead man to the mortuary and the
guardianship and thorough search of the house--and that done, Ayscough
beckoned Melky out into the road.
"Glad to be out of that--for this time, anyway!" he said, with an air of
relief. "There's too much atmosphere of murder and mystery--what they call
Oriental mystery--for me in there, Mr. Rubinstein! Now then, there's
something we can do, at once. Did I understand you to say these two were
medical students at University College?"
"So Mr. Penniket said," replied Melky. "S'elp me! I never heard of 'em
till this afternoon!"
"You're going to hear a fine lot about 'em before long, anyway!" remarked
"Well--we'll just drive on to Gower Street--somebody'll know something
about 'em there, I reckon."
He walked forward until he came to the cab-rank at the foot of St. John's
Wood Road, where he bundled Melky into a taxi-cab, and bade the driver get
away to University College Hospital at his best pace. There was little
delay in carrying out that order, but it was not such an easy task on
arrival at their destination to find any one who could give Ayscough the
information he wanted. At last, after they had waited some time in a
reception room a young member of the house-staff came in and looked an
"What is it you want to know about these two Chinese students?" he asked a
little impatiently, with a glance at Ayscough's card. "Is anything wrong?"
"I want to know a good deal!" answered Ayscough. "If not just now, later.
You know the two men I mean--Chang Li and Chen Li--brothers, I take it?"
"I know them--they've been students here since about last Christmas,"
answered the young surgeon. "As a matter of fact they're not brothers--
though they're very much alike, and both have the same surname--if Li is a
surname. They're friends--not brothers, so they told us."
"When did you see them last?" asked Ayscough.
"Not for some days, now you mention it," replied the surgeon. "Several
days. I was remarking on that today--I missed them from a class."
"You say they're very much alike," remarked the detective. "I suppose you
can tell one from the other?"
"Of course! But--what is this? I see you're a detective sergeant. Are they
in any bother--trouble?"
"The fact of the case," answered Ayscough, "is just this--one of them's
lying dead at our mortuary, and I shall be much obliged if you'll step
into my cab outside and come and identify him. Listen--it's a case of
Twenty minutes later, Ayscough, leading the young house-surgeon into a
grim and silent room, turned aside the sheet from a yellow face.
"Which one of 'em is it?" he asked.
The house-surgeon started as he saw the wound in the dead man's throat.
"This is Chen!" he answered.
THE L500 BANK NOTE
Ayscough drew the sheet over the dead man's face and signed to his
companion to follow him outside, to a room where Melky Rubinstein, still
gravely meditating over the events of the evening, was awaiting their
"So that," said Ayscough, jerking his thumb in the direction of the
mortuary, "that's Chen Li! You're certain?" "Chen Li! without a doubt!"
answered the house-surgeon. "I know him well!"
"The younger of the two?" suggested Ayscough.
The house-surgeon shook his head.
"I can't say as to that," he answered. "It would be difficult to tell
which of two Chinese, of about the same age, was the older. But that's
Chen. He and the other, Chang Li, are very much alike, but Chen was a
somewhat smaller and shorter man."
"What do you know of them?" inquired Ayscough. "Can you say what's known
at your hospital?"
"Very little," replied the house-surgeon. "They entered, as students
there--we have several foreigners--about last Christmas--perhaps at the
New Year. All that I know of them is that they were like most Easterns--
very quiet, unassuming, inoffensive fellows, very assiduous in their
studies and duties, never giving any trouble, and very punctual in their
"And, you say, they haven't been seen at the hospital for some days?"
continued Ayscough. "Now, can you tell me--it's important--since what
precise date they've been absent?"
The house-surgeon reflected for a moment--then he suddenly drew out a
small memorandum book from an inner pocket.
"Perhaps I can," he answered, turning the pages over. "Yes--both these men
should have been in attendance on me--a class of my own, you know--on the
20th, at 10.35. They didn't turn up. I've never seen them since--in fact,
I'm sure they've never been at the hospital since."
"The 20th?" observed Ayscough. He looked at Melky, who was paying great
attention to the conversation. "Now let's see--old Mr. Multenius met his
death on the afternoon of the 18th. Parslett was poisoned on the night of
the 19th, Um!"
"And Parslett was picked up about half-way between the Chink's house and
his own place, Mr. Ayscough--don't you forget that!" muttered Melky. "I'm
not forgetting--don't you make no error!"
"You don't know anything more that you could tell us about these two?"
asked the detective, nodding reassuringly at Melky and then turning to the
house-surgeon. "Any little thing?--you never know what helps."
"I can't!" said the house-surgeon, who was obviously greatly surprised by
what he had seen and heard. "These Easterns keep very much to themselves,
you know. I can't think of anything."
"Don't know anything of their associates--friends--acquaintances?"
suggested Ayscough. "I suppose they had some--amongst your students?"
"I never saw them in company with anybody--particularly--except a young
Japanese who was in some of their classes," replied the house-surgeon. "I
have seen them talking with him--in Gower Street."
"What's his name?" asked Ayscough, pulling out a note-book.
"Mr. Mori Yada," answered the house-surgeon promptly. "He lives in Gower
Street--I don't know the precise number of the house. Yes, that's the way
to spell his name. He's the only man I know who seemed to know these two."
"Have you seen him lately?" asked Ayscough.
"Oh, yes--regularly--today, in fact," said the house-surgeon.
He waited a moment in evident expectation of other questions; as the
detective asked none--"I gather," he remarked, "that Chang Li has
"The house these two occupied is empty," replied Ayscough.
"I am going to suggest something," said the house-surgeon. "I know--from
personal observation--that there is a tea-shop in Tottenham Court Road--a
sort of quiet, privately-owned place--Pilmansey's--which these two used to
frequent. I don't know if that's of any use to you?"
"Any detail is of use, Sir," answered Ayscough, making another note. "Now,
I'll tell this taxi-man to drive you back to the hospital. I shall call
there tomorrow morning, and I shall want to see this young Japanese
gentleman, too. I daresay you see that this is a case of murder--and
there's more behind it!"
"You suspect Chang Li?" suggested the house-surgeon as they went out to
"Couldn't say that--yet," replied Ayscough, grimly. "For anything I know,
Chang Li may have been murdered, too. But I've a pretty good notion what
Chen Li was knifed for!"
When the house-surgeon had gone away, Ayscough turned to Melky.
"Come back to Molteno Lodge," he said. "They're searching it. Let's see if
they've found anything of importance."
The house which had been as lifeless and deserted when Melky and the
detective visited it earlier in the evening was full enough of energy and
animation when they went back. One policeman kept guard at the front gate;
another at the door of the yard; within the house itself, behind closed
doors and drawn shutters and curtains, every room was lighted and the
lynx-eyed men were turning the place upside down. One feature of the
search struck the newcomers immediately--the patch of ground whereon Melky
had found the dead man had been carefully roped off. Ayscough made a
significant motion of his hand towards it.
"Good!" he said, "that shows they've found footprints. That may be useful.
Let's hear what else they've found."
The man in charge of these operations was standing within the dining-room
when Ayscough and Melky walked in, and he at once beckoned them into the
room and closed the door.
"We've made two or three discoveries," he said, glancing at Ayscough. "To
start with, there were footprints of a rather unusual sort round these
bushes where the man was lying--so I've had it carefully fenced in around
there--we'll have a better look at 'em, in daylight. Very small prints,
you understand--more like a woman's than a man's."
Ayscough's sharp eyes turned to the hearth--there were two or three pairs
of slippers lying near the fender and he pointed to them.
"These Chinamen have very small feet, I believe," he said. "The footprints
are probably theirs. Well--what else?"
"This," answered the man in charge, producing a small parcel from the
side-pocket of his coat, and proceeding to divest it of a temporary
wrapping. "Perhaps Mr. Rubinstein will recognize it. We found it thrown
away in a fire-grate in one of the bedrooms upstairs--you see, it's half
He produced a small, stoutly-made cardboard box, some three inches square,
the outer surface of which was covered with a thick, glossy-surfaced dark-
green paper, on which certain words were deeply impressed in gilt letters.
The box was considerably charred and only fragments of the lettering on
the lid remained intact--but it was not difficult to make out what the
full wording had been.
. . . . _enius_,
. . ._nd jeweller_,
. . _ed Street_.
"That's one of the late Mr. Multenius's boxes," affirmed Melky at once.
"Daniel Multenius, Pawnbroker and Jeweller, Praed Street--that's the full
wording. Found in a fireplace, d'ye say, mister? Ah--and what had he taken
out of it before he threw the box away, now, Mr. Ayscough--whoever it was
that did throw it away?"
"That blessed orange and yellow diamond, I should think!" said Ayscough.
"Of course! Well, anything else?"
The man in charge carefully wrapped up and put away the jeweller's box;
then, with a significant glance at his fellow-detective, he slipped a
couple of fingers into his waistcoat pocket and drew out what looked like
a bit of crumpled paper.
"Aye!" he answered. "This! Found it--just there! Lying on the floor, at
the end of this table."
He opened out the bit of crumpled paper as he spoke and held it towards
the other two. Ayscough stared, almost incredulously, and Melky let out a
"S'elp us!" he said. "A five-hundred-pound bank-note!"
"That's about it," remarked the exhibitor. "Bank of England note for five
hundred of the best! And--a good 'un, too. Lying on the floor."
"Take care of it," said Ayscough laconically. "Well--you haven't found any
papers, documents, or anything of that sort, that give any clue?"
"There's a lot of stuff there," answered the man in charge, pointing to a
pile of books and papers on the table, "but it seems to be chiefly
exercises and that sort of thing. I'll look through it myself, later."
"See if you can find any letters, addresses, and so on," counselled
Ayscough. He turned over some of the books, all of them medical works and
text-books, opening some of them at random. And suddenly he caught sight
of the name which the house-surgeon had given him half-an-hour before,
written on a fly-leaf: Mori Yada, 491, Gower Street--and an idea came into
his mind. He bade the man in charge keep his eyes open and leave nothing
unexamined, and tapping Melky's arm, led him outside. "Look here!" he
said, drawing out his watch, as they crossed the hall, "it's scarcely ten
o'clock, and I've got the address of that young Jap. Come on--we'll go and
ask him a question or two."
So for the second time that evening, Melky, who was beginning to feel as
if he were on a chase which pursued anything but a straight course, found
himself in Gower Street again, and followed Ayscough along, wondering what
was going to happen next, until the detective paused at the door of a tall
house in the middle of the long thoroughfare and rang the bell. A smart
maid answered that ring and looked dubiously at Ayscough as he proffered a
request to see Mr. Mori Yada. Yes--Mr. Yada was at home, but he didn't
like to see any one, of an evening when he was at his studies, and--in
fact he'd given orders not to be disturbed at that time.
"I think he'll see me, all the same," said Ayscough, drawing out one of
his professional cards. "Just give him that, will you, and tell him my
business is very important."
He turned to Melky when the girl, still looking unwilling, had gone away
upstairs, and gave him a nudge of the elbow.
"When we get up there--as we shall," whispered Ayscough, "you watch this
Jap chap while I talk to him. Study his face--and see if anything
"Biggest order, mister--with a Jap!" muttered Melky. "Might as well tell
me to watch a stone image--their faces is like wood!"
"Try it!" said Ayscough. "Flicker of an eyelid--twist of the lip--
anything! Here's the girl back again."
A moment later Melky, treading close on the detective's heels, found
himself ushered into a brilliantly-lighted, rather over-heated room,
somewhat luxuriously furnished, wherein, in the easiest of chairs, a cigar
in his lips, a yellow-backed novel in his hand, sat a slimly-built,
elegant young gentleman whose face was melting to a smile.
MR. MORI YADA
Ayscough was on his guard as soon as he saw that smile. He had had some
experience of various national characteristics in his time, and he knew
that when an Eastern meets you with a frank and smiling countenance you
had better keep all your wits about you. He began the exercise of his own
with a polite bow--while executing it, he took a rapid inventory of Mr.
Mori Yada. About--as near as he could judge--two or three and twenty; a
black-haired, black-eyed young gentleman; evidently fastidious about his
English clothes, his English linen, his English ties, smart socks, and
shoes--a good deal of a dandy, in short--and, judging from his
surroundings, very fond of English comfort--and not averse to the English
custom of taking a little spirituous refreshment with his tobacco. A
decanter stood on the table at his elbow; a syphon of mineral water reared
itself close by; a tumbler was within reach of Mr. Yada's slender
"Servant, Sir!" said Ayscough. "Detective Sergeant Ayscough of the
Criminal Investigation Department--friend of mine, this, Sir, Mr. Yada, I
believe--Mr. Mori Yada?"
Mr. Yada smiled again, and without rising, indicated two chairs.
"Oh, yes!" he said in excellent English accents. "Pleased to see you--will
you take a chair--and your friend! You want to talk to me?"
Ayscough sat down and unbuttoned his overcoat.
"Much obliged, Sir," he said. "Yes--the fact is, Mr. Yada, I called to see
you on a highly important matter that's arisen. Your name, sir, was given
to me tonight by one of the junior house-surgeons at the hospital up the
"Oh, yes, Dr. Pittery--I know," agreed Yada. "Yes?"
"Dr. Pittery tells me, sir," continued Ayscough, "that you know two
Chinese gentlemen who are fellow-students of yours at the hospital, Mr.
The Japanese bowed his dark head and blew out a mouthful of smoke from his
"Yes!" he answered readily, "Mr. Chang Li--Mr. Chen Li. Oh, yes!"
"I want to ask you a question, Mr. Yada," said Ayscough, bending forward
and assuming an air of confidence. "When did you see those two gentlemen
last--either of them?"
Yada leaned back in his comfortably padded chair and cast his quick eyes
towards the ceiling. Suddenly he jumped to his feet.
"You take a little drop of whisky-and-soda?" he said hospitably, pushing a
clean glass towards Ayscough. "Yes--I will get another glass for your
friend, too. Help yourselves, please, then--I will look in my diary for an
answer to your question. You excuse me, one moment."
He walked across the room to a writing cabinet which stood in one corner,
and took up a small book that lay on the blotting-pad; while he turned
over its pages, Ayscough, helping himself and Melky to a drink, winked at
his companion with a meaning expression.
"I have not seen either Mr. Chang Li or Mr. Chen Li since the morning of
the 18th November," suddenly said Yada. He threw the book back on the
desk, and coming to the hearthrug, took up a position with his back to the
fire and his hands in the pockets of his trousers. He nodded politely as
his visitors raised their glasses to him. "Is anything the matter, Mr.
Detective-Sergeant?" he asked.
Ayscough contrived to press his foot against Melky's as he gave a direct
answer to this question.
"The fact of the case is, Mr. Yada," he said, "one of these two young men
has been murdered! murdered, sir!"
Yada's well-defined eyebrows elevated themselves--but the rest of his face
was immobile. He looked fixedly at Ayscough for a second or two--then he
let out one word.
"According to Dr. Pittery--Chen Li," answered Ayscough. "Dr. Pittery
identified him. Murdered, Mr. Yada, murdered! Knifed!--in the throat."
The reiteration of the word murdered appeared to yield the detective some
sort of satisfaction--but it apparently made no particular impression on
the Japanese. Again he rapped out one word.
"His body was found in the garden of the house they rented in Maida Vale,"
replied Ayscough. "Molteno Lodge. No doubt you've visited them there, Mr.
"I have been there--yes, a few times," assented Yada. "Not very lately.
But--where is Chang Li?"
"That's what we don't know--and what we want to know," said Ayscough.
"He's not been seen at the hospital since the 20th. He didn't turn up
there--nor Chen, either, at a class, that day. And you say you haven't
seen them either since the 18th?"
"I was not at the hospital on the 19th," replied Yada. He threw away the
end of his cigar, picked up a fresh one from a box which stood on the
table, pushed the box towards his visitors, and drew out a silver match-
box. "What are the facts of this murder, Mr. Detective-Sergeant?" he
asked quietly. "Murder is not done without some object--as a rule."
Ayscough accepted the offered cigar, passed the box to Melky and while he
lighted his selection, thought quietly. He was playing a game with the
Japanese, and it was necessary to think accurately and quickly. And
suddenly he made up his mind and assumed an air of candour.
"It's like this, Mr. Yada," he said. "I may as well tell you all about it.
You've doubtless read all about this Praed Street mystery in the
newspapers? Well, now, some very extraordinary developments have arisen
out of the beginnings of that. It turns out."
Melky sat by, disturbed and uncomfortable, while Ayscough reeled off a
complete narrative of the recent discoveries to the suave-mannered,
phlegmatic, calmly-listening figure on the hearthrug. He did not
understand the detective's doings--it seemed to him the height of folly to
tell a stranger, and an Eastern stranger at that, all about the fact that
there was a diamond worth eighty thousand pounds at the bottom of these
mysteries and murders. But he discharged his own duties, and watched Yada
intently--and failed to see one single sign of anything beyond ordinary
interest in his impassive face.
"So there it is, sir," concluded Ayscough. "I've no doubt whatever that
Chen Li called at Multenius's shop to pay the rent; that he saw the
diamond in the old man's possession and swagged him for it; that Parslett
saw Chen Li slip away from that side-door and, hearing of Multenius's
death, suspected Chen Li of it and tried to blackmail him; that Chen Li
poisoned Parslett--and that Chen Li himself was knifed for that diamond.
Now--by whom? Chang Li has--disappeared!"
"You suspect Chang Li?" asked Yada.
"I do," exclaimed Ayscough. "A Chinaman--a diamond worth every penny of
eighty thousand pounds--Ah!" He suddenly lifted his eyes to Yada with a
quick enquiry. "How much do you know of these two?" he asked.
"Little--beyond the fact that they were fellow-students of mine," answered
Yada. "I occasionally visited them--occasionally they visited me--that is
"Dr. Pittery says they weren't brothers?" suggested Ayscough.
"So I understood," assented Yada. "Friends."
"You can't tell us anything of their habits?--haunts?--what they usually
did with themselves when they weren't at the hospital?" asked the
"I should say that when they weren't at the hospital, they were at their
house--reading," answered Yada, drily. "They were hard workers."
Ayscough rose from his chair.
"Well, much obliged to you, Sir," he said. "As your name was mentioned as
some sort of a friend of theirs, I came to you. Of course, most of what
I've told you will be in all the papers tomorrow. If you should hear
anything of this Chang Li, you'll communicate with us, Mr. Yada?"
The Japanese smiled--openly.
"Most improbable, Mr. Detective-Sergeant!" he answered. "I know no more
than what I have said. For more information, you should go to the Chinese
"Good idea, sir--thank you," said Ayscough.
He bowed himself and Melky out; once outside the street-door he drew his
companion away towards a part which lay in deep shadow. Some repairing
operations to the exterior of a block of houses were going on there;
underneath a scaffolding which extended over the sidewalk Ayscough drew
Melky to a halt.
"You no doubt wondered why I told that chap so much?" he whispered.
"Especially about that diamond! But I had my reasons--and particularly for
telling him about its value."
"It isn't what I should ha' done, Mr. Ayscough," said Melky, "and it
didn't ought to come out in the newspapers, neither--so I think! 'Tain't a
healthy thing to let the public know there's an eighty-thousand pound
diamond loose somewhere in London--and as to telling that slant-eyed
fellow in there--"
"You wait a bit, my lad!" interrupted Ayscough. "I had my reasons--good
'uns. Now, look here, we're going to watch that door awhile. If the Jap
comes out--as I've an idea he will--we're going to follow. And as you're
younger, and slimmer, and less conspicuous than I am, if he should emerge,
keep on the shadowy side of the street, at a safe distance, and follow him
as cleverly as you can. I'll follow you."
"What new game's this?" asked Melky.
"Never mind!" replied Ayscough. "And, if it does come to following, and he
should take a cab, contrive to be near--there's a good many people about,
and if you're careful he'll never see you. And--there, now, what did I
tell you? He's coming out, now! Be handy--more depends on it than you're
Yada, seen clearly in the moonlight which flooded that side of the street,
came out of the door which they had left a few minutes earlier. His smart
suit of grey tweed had disappeared under a heavy fur-collared overcoat; a
black bowler hat surmounted his somewhat pallid face. He looked neither to
right nor left, but walked swiftly up the street in the direction of the
Euston Road. And when he had gone some thirty yards, Ayscough pushed Melky
before him out of their retreat.
"You go first," he whispered, "I'll come after you. Keep an eye on him as
far as you can--didn't I tell you he'd come out when we'd left? Be wary!"
Melky slipped away up the street on the dark side and continued to track
the slim figure quickly advancing in the moonlight. He followed until they
had passed the front of the hospital--a few yards further, and Yada
suddenly crossed the road in the direction of the Underground Railway. He
darted in at the entrance to the City-bound train, and disappeared, and
Melky, uncertain what to do, almost danced with excitement until Ayscough
came leisurely towards him. "Quick! quick!" exclaimed Melky. "He's gone
down there--City trains. He'll be off unless you're on to him!"
But Ayscough remained quiescent and calmly relighted his cigar.
"All right, my lad," he said. "Let him go--just now. I've seen--what I
expected to see!"
Melky, who had grown breathless in his efforts to carry out his
companion's wishes, turned and looked at him with no attempt to conceal
"Well, s'elp me if you ain't a cool 'un, Mr. Ayscough!" he exclaimed.
"Here you troubles to track a chap to this here Underground Railway, seen
him pop into it like a rabbit into a hole--and let's him go! What did we
follow him up Gower Street for? Just to see him set off for a ride?"
"All right, my lad!" repeated Ayscough. "You don't quite understand our
little ways. Wait here a minute."
He drew one of his cards from his pocket and carrying it into the booking
office exchanged a few words with the clerk at the window. Presently he
rejoined Melky. "He took a ticket for Whitechapel," remarked Ayscough as
he strolled quietly up. "Ah! now what does a young Japanese medical
student want going down that way at eleven o'clock at night? Something
special, no doubt, Mr. Rubinstein. However, I'm going westward just now.
Just going to have a look in at the Great Western Hotel, to see if Mr.
Purdie heard anything from that American chap--and then I'm for home and
bed. Like to come to the hotel with me?"
"Strikes me we might as well make a night of it!" remarked Melky as they
recrossed the road and sought a west-bound train. "We've had such an
evening as I never expected! Mr. Ayscough! when on earth is this going to
come to something like a clearing-up?"
Ayscough settled himself in a corner of a smoking-carriage and leaned
"My own opinion," he said, "is that it's coming to an end. Tomorrow, the
news of the Chinaman's murder'll be the talk of the town. And if that
doesn't fetch Levendale out of whatever cranny he's crept into, hanged if
I know what will!"
"Ah! you think that, do you?" said Melky. "But--why should that news fetch
"Don't know!" replied Ayscough, almost unconcernedly. "But I'm almost
certain that it will. You see--I think Levendale's looking for Chen Li.
Now, if Levendale hears that Chen Li's lying dead in our mortuary--what?
Melky murmured that Mr. Ayscough was a cute 'un, and relapsed into thought
until the train pulled up at Praed Street. He followed the detective up
the streets and across the road to the hotel, dumbly wondering how many
times that day he had been in and about that quarter on this apparently
interminable chase. He was getting dazed--but Ayscough who was still
smoking the cigar which Yada had given him, strode along into the hotel
entrance apparently as fresh as paint.
Purdie had a private sitting-room in connection with his bedroom, and
there they found him and Lauriston, both smoking pipes and each evidently
full of thought and speculation. They jumped to their feet as the
"I say!" exclaimed Lauriston. "Is this true?--this about the Chinese chap?
Is it what they think at your police-station?--connected with the other
affairs? We've been waiting, hoping you'd come in!"
"Ah!" said Ayscough, dropping into a chair. "We've been pretty busy, me
and Mr. Rubinstein there--we've had what you might call a pretty full
evening's work of it. Yes--it's true enough, gentlemen--another step in
the ladder--another brick in the building! We're getting on, Mr. Purdie,
we're getting on! So you've been round to our place?--they told you,
"They gave us a mere outline," answered Purdie. "Just the bare facts. I
suppose you've heard nothing of the other Chinaman?"
"Not a circumstance--as yet," said Ayscough. "But I'm in hopes--I've done
a bit, I think, towards it--with Mr. Rubinstein's help, though he doesn't
quite understand my methods. But you, gentlemen--I came in to hear if
you'd anything to tell about Guyler. What did he think about what John
Purvis had to tell us this afternoon?"
"He wasn't surprised," answered Purdie. "Don't you remember that he
assured us from the very start that diamonds would be found to be at the
bottom of this. But he surprised us!"
"Aye? How?" asked Ayscough. "Some news?"
"Guyler swears that he saw Stephen Purvis this very morning," replied
Purdie. "He's confident of it!"
"Saw Stephen Purvis--this very morning!" exclaimed Ayscough. "Where, now?'
"Guyler had business down in the City--in the far end of it," said
Purdie. "He was crossing Bishopsgate when he saw Stephen Purvis--he swears
it was Stephen Purvis!--nothing can shake him! He, Purvis, was just
turning the corner into a narrow alley running out of the street. Guyler
rushed after him--he'd disappeared. Guyler waited, watching that alley, he
says, like a cat watches a mouse-hole--and all in vain. He watched for an
hour--it was no good."
"Pooh!" said Ayscough. "If it was Purvis, he'd walked straight through the
alley and gone out at the other end."
"No!" remarked Lauriston. "At least, not according to Guyler. Guyler says
it was a long, narrow alley--Purvis could have reached one end by the time
he'd reached the other. He says--Guyler--that on each side of that alley
there are suites of offices--he reckoned there were a few hundred separate
offices in the lot, and that it would take him a week to make enquiry at
the doors of each. But he's certain that Purvis disappeared into one block
of them and dead certain that it was Stephen Purvis that he saw. So--
Purvis is alive!"
"Where's the other Purvis--the farmer?" asked Ayscough.
"Stopping with Guyler at the Great Northern," answered Lauriston. "We've
all four been down in the City, looking round, this evening. Guyler and
John Purvis are going down again first thing in the morning. John Purvis,
of course, is immensely relieved to know that Guyler's certain about his
brother. I say!--do you know what Guyler's theory is about that diamond of
"No--and what might Mr. Guyler's theory be, now Mr. Lauriston?" enquired
the detective. "There's such a lot of ingenious theories about that one
may as well try to take in another. Mr. Rubinstein there is about weary of
But Melky was pricking his ears at the mere mention of anything relating
to the diamond.
"That's his chaff, Mr. Lauriston," he said. "Never mind him! What does
"Well, of course, Guyler doesn't know yet about the Chinese development,"
said Lauriston. "Guyler thinks the robbery has been the work of a gang--a
clever lot of diamond thieves who knew about Stephen Purvis's find of the
orange-yellow thing and put in a lot of big work about getting it when it
reached England. And he believes that that gang has kidnapped Levendale,
and that Stephen Purvis is working in secret to get at them. That's
Guyler's notion, anyhow."
"Well!" said Ayscough. "And there may be something in it! For this search
--how do we know that at any rate one of these Chinamen mayn't have had
some connection with this gang? You never know--and to get a dead straight
line at a thing's almost impossible. However, we've taken steps to have
the news about the diamond and about this Chen Li appear in tomorrow
morning's papers, and if that doesn't rouse the whole town--"
A tap at the door prefaced the entrance of a waiter, who looked
apologetically at its inmates.
"Beg pardon, gentlemen," he said, "Mr. Ayscough? Gentleman outside would
like a word with you, if you please, sir."
Ayscough picked up his hat and walked out--there, waiting a little way
down the corridor, an impressive figure in his big black cloak and wide-
brimmed hat, stood Dr. Mirandolet. He strode forward as the detective
"I heard you were here, so I came up," he said, leading Ayscough away.
"Look here, my friend--one of your people has told me of this affair at
Molteno Lodge--the discovery of the Chinaman's dead body."
"That young fellow, Rubinstein, who called on you early this evening, and
got me to accompany him discovered it," said Ayscough, who was wondering
what the doctor was after. "I was with him."
"I have heard, too," continued Mirandolet, "also from one of your people,
about the strange story of the diamond which came out this afternoon, from
the owner's brother. Now--I'll tell you why after--I want to see that dead
Chinaman! I've a particular reason. Will you come with me to the
Ayscough's curiosity was aroused by Mirandolet's manner, and without going
back to Purdie's room, he set out with him. Mirandolet remained strangely
silent until they came to the street in which the mortuary stood.
"A strange and mysterious matter this, my friend!" he said. "That little
Rubinstein man might have had some curious premonition when he came to me
tonight with his odd question about Chinese!"
"Just what I said myself, doctor!" agreed Ayscough.
"It did look as if he'd a sort of foreboding, eh? But--Hullo!"
He stopped short as a taxi-cab driven at a considerable speed, came
rushing down the street and passing them swiftly turned into the wider
road beyond. And the sudden exclamation was forced from his lips because
it seemed to him that as the cab sped by he saw a yellow-hued face within
it--for the fraction of a second. Quick as that glimpse was, Ayscough was
still quicker as he glanced at the number on the back of the car--and
"Odd!" he muttered, "odd! Now, I could have sworn--" He broke off, and
hurried after Mirandolet who had stridden ahead. "Here we are, doctor," he
said, as they came to the door of the mortuary. "There's a man on night
duty here, so there's no difficulty about getting in."
There was a drawing of bolts, a turning of keys; the door opened, and a
man looked out and seeing Ayscough and Dr. Mirandolet, admitted them into
an ante-room and turned up the gas.
"We want to see that Chinaman, George," said the detective. "Shan't keep
"There's a young foreign doctor just been to see him, Mr. Ayscough," said
the man. "You'd pass his car down the street--he hasn't been gone three
minutes. Young Japanese--brought your card with him."
Ayscough turned on the man as if he had given him the most startling news
in the world.
"What?" he exclaimed, "Japanese? Brought my card?"
"Showed me it as soon as he got here," answered the attendant, surprised
at Ayscough's amazement. "Said you'd given it to him, so that he could
call here and identify the body. So, of course, I let him go in."
Ayscough opened his mouth in sheer amazement. But before he could get out
a word, Mirandolet spoke, seizing the mortuary-keeper by the arm in his
"You let that man--a Japanese--see the dead Chinaman--_alone_?" he
"Why, of course!" the attendant answered surlily. "He'd Mr. Ayscough's
Mirandolet dropped the man's arm and threw up his own long white hands.
"Merciful Powers!" he vociferated. "He has stolen the diamond!"
THE MIRANDOLET THEORY
The silence that followed on this extraordinary exclamation was suddenly
broken: the mortuary keeper, who had been advancing towards a door at the
side of the room, dropped a bunch of keys. The strange metallic sound of
their falling roused Ayscough, who had started aside, and was staring,
open-mouthed, at Mirandolet's waving hands. He caught the doctor by the
"What on earth do you mean?" he growled. "Speak man--what is it?"
Mirandolet suddenly laughed.
"What is it?" he exclaimed. "Precisely what I said, in plain language!
That fellow has, of course, gone off with the diamond--worth eighty
thousand pounds! Your card!--Oh, man, man, whatever have you been doing?
Be quick!--who is this Japanese?--how came he by your card? Quick, I say!
--if you want to be after him!"
"Hanged if I know what this means!" muttered Ayscough. "As to who he is--
if he's the fellow I gave a card to, he's a young Japanese medical
student, one Yada, that was a friend of those Chinese--I called on him
tonight, with Rubinstein, to see if we could pick up a bit of information.
Of course, I sent in my professional card to him. But--we saw him set off
to the East End!"
"Bah!" laughed Mirandolet. "He has--what you call done you brown, my
friend! He came--here! And he has got away--got a good start--with that
diamond in his pocket!"
"What the devil do you mean by that?" said Ayscough, hotly. "Diamond!
Diamond! Where should he find the diamond--here? In a deadhouse? What are
you talking about?"
Mirandolet laughed again, and giving the detective a look that was very
like one of pitying contempt, turned to the amazed mortuary keeper.
"Show us that dead man!" he said.
The mortuary keeper, who had allowed his keys to lie on the floor during
this strange scene, picked them up, and selecting one, opened, and threw
back the door by which he was standing. He turned on the light in the
mortuary chamber, and Mirandolet strode in, with Ayscough, sullen and
wondering, at his heels.
Chen Li lay where the detective had last seen him, still and rigid, the
sheet drawn carefully over his yellow face. Without a word Mirandolet drew
that sheet aside, and motioning his companion to draw nearer, pointed to a
skull-cap of thin blue silk which fitted over the Chinaman's head.
"You see that!" he whispered. "You know what's beneath it!--something that
no true Chinaman ever parts with, even if he does come to Europe, and does
wear English dress and English headgear--his pigtail! Look here!"
He quietly moved the skull-cap, and showed the two astonished men a
carefully-coiled mass of black hair, wound round and round the back of the
head. And into it he slipped his own long, thin fingers--to draw them out
again with an exclamation which indicated satisfaction with his own
"Just as I said," he remarked. "Gone! Mr. Detective--that's where Chen Li
hid the diamond--and that Japanese man has got it. And now--you'd better
be after him--half-an-hour's start to him is as good as a week's would be
He drew the sheet over the dead face and strode out, and Ayscough
followed, angry, mystified, and by no means convinced.
"Look here!" he said, as they reached the ante-room; "that's all very
well, Dr. Mirandolet, but it's only supposition on your part!"
"Supposition that you'll find to be absolute truth, my good friend!"
retorted Mirandolet, calmly. "I know the Chinese--better than you think.
As soon as I heard of this affair tonight, I came to you to put you up to
the Chinese trick of secreting things of value in their pigtails--it did
not occur to me that the diamond might be there in this case, but I
thought you would probably find something. But when we reached this
mortuary, and I heard that a Japanese had been here, presenting your card
when he had no business to present it, I guessed immediately what had
happened--and now that you tell me that you told him all about this
affair, well--I am certain of my assertion. Mr. Detective--go after the
He turned as if to leave the place, and Ayscough followed.
"He mayn't been after the diamond at all!" he said, still resentful and
incredulous. "Is it very likely he'd think it to be in that dead chap's
pigtail when the other man's missing? It's Chang that's got that diamond--
"All right, my friend!" replied Mirandolet. "Your wisdom is superior to
mine, no doubt. So--I wish you good-night!"
He strode out of the place and turned sharply up the street, and Ayscough,
after a growl or two, went back to the mortuary keeper.
"How long was that Jap in there?" he asked, nodding at the death chamber.
"Not a minute, Mr. Ayscough!" replied the man. "In and out again, as you
"Did he say anything when he came out?" enquired the detective.
"He did--two words," answered the keeper. "He said, 'That's he!' and
walked straight out, and into his car."
"And when he came he told you I'd sent him?" demanded Ayscough.
"Just that--and showed me your card," assented the man. "Of course, I'd no
reason to doubt his word."
"Look here, George!" said Ayscough, "you keep this to yourself! Don't say
anything to any of our folks if they come in. I don't half believe what
that doctor said just now--but I'll make an enquiry or two. Mum's the
word, meanwhile. You understand, George?"
George answered that he understood very well, and Ayscough presently left
him. Outside, in the light of the lamp set over the entrance to the
mortuary, he pulled out his watch. Twelve o'clock--midnight. And
somewhere, that cursed young Jap was fleeing away through the London
streets--having cheated him, Ayscough, at his own game!
He had already reckoned things up in connection with Yada. Yada had been
having him--even as Melky Rubinstein had suspected and suggested--all
through that conversation at Gower Street. Probably, Yada, from his window
in the drawing-room floor of his lodging-house, had watched him and Melky
slip across the street and hide behind the hoarding opposite. And then
Yada had gone out, knowing he was to be followed, and had tricked them
beautifully, getting into an underground train going east, and, in all
certainty, getting out again at the next station, chartering a cab, and
returning west--with Ayscough's card in his pocket.
But Ayscough knew one useful thing--he had memorized the letters and
numbers of the taxi-cab in which Yada had sped by him and Mirandolet, L.C.
2571--he had kept repeating that over and over. Now he took out his note-
book and jotted it down--and that done he set off to the police-station,
intent first of all on getting in touch with New Scotland Yard by means of
Ayscough, like most men of his calling in London, had a considerable
amount of general knowledge of things and affairs, and he summoned it to
his aid in this instance. He knew that if the Japanese really had become
possessed of the orange and yellow diamond (of which supposition, in spite
of Mirandolet's positive convictions, he was very sceptical) he would most
certainly make for escape. He would be off to the Continent, hot foot.
Now, Ayscough had a good acquaintance with the Continental train services
--some hours must elapse before Yada could possibly get a train for Dover,
or Folkstone, or Newhaven, or the shortest way across, or to any other
ports such as Harwich or Southampton, by a longer route. Obviously, the
first thing to do was to have the stations at Victoria, and Charing Cross,
and Holborn Viaduct, and London Bridge carefully watched for Yada. And for
two weary hours in the middle of the night he was continuously at work on
the telephone, giving instructions and descriptions, and making
arrangements to spread a net out of which the supposed fugitive could not
And when all that was at last satisfactorily arranged, Ayscough was
conscious that it might be for nothing. He might be on a wrong track
altogether--due to the suspicions and assertions of that queer man,
Mirandolet. There might be some mystery--in Ayscough's opinion there
always was mystery wherever Chinese or Japanese or Hindus were concerned.
Yada might have some good reason for wishing to see Chen Li's dead body,
and have taken advantage of the detective's card to visit it. This
extraordinary conduct might be explained. But meanwhile Ayscough could not
afford to neglect a chance, and tired as he was, he set out to find the
driver of the taxicab whose number he had carefully set down in his
There was little difficulty in this stage of the proceedings; it was
merely a question of time, of visiting a central office and finding the
man's name and address. By six o'clock in the morning Ayscough was at a
small house in a shabby street in Kentish Town, interviewing a woman who
had just risen to light her fire, and was surlily averse to calling up a
husband, who, she said, had not been in bed until nearly four. She was not
any more pleased when Ayscough informed her of his professional status--
but the man was fetched down.
"You drove a foreigner--a Japanese--to the mortuary in Paddington last
night?" said Ayscough, plunging straight into business, after telling the
man who he was. "I saw him--just a glimpse of him--in your cab, and I took
your number. Now, where did you first pick him up?"
"Outside the Underground, at King's Cross," replied the driver promptly.
This was precisely what Ayscough had expected; so far, so good; his own
prescience was proving sure.
"Anything wrong, mister?" asked the driver.
"There may be," said Ayscough. "Well--you picked him up there, and drove
him straight to the mortuary?"
"No--I didn't," said the man. "We made a call first. Euston. He went in
there, and, I should say, went to the left luggage office, 'cause he came
back again with a small suit-case--just a little'un. Then we went on to
Euston! A small suit-case! More facts--Ayscough made notes of them.
"Well," he said, "and when you drove away from the mortuary, where did you
"Oxford Circus," answered the driver, "set him down--his orders--right
opposite the Tube Station--t'other side of the street."
"Did you see which way he went--then?" enquired Ayscough.
"I did. Straight along Oxford Street--Tottenham Court Road way," said the
driver, "carrying his suitcase--which it was, as I say, on'y a little 'un
--and walking very fast. Last I see of him was that, guv'nor."
Ayscough went away and got back to more pretentious regions. He was dead
tired and weary with his night's work, and glad to drop in at an early-
opened coffee-shop and get some breakfast. While he ate and drank a boy
came in with the first editions of the newspapers. Ayscough picked one up
--and immediately saw staring headlines:--
THE PADDINGTON MYSTERIES.
NEW AND STARTLING FEATURES.
DIAMOND WORTH L80,000 BEING LOOKED FOR
MURDER IN MAIDA VALE
Ayscough laid down the paper and smiled. Levendale--if not dead--could
scarcely fail to see that!
ONE O'CLOCK MIDNIGHT
Five minutes after Ayscough had gone away with Dr. Mirandolet the hotel
servant who had summoned him from Purdie's sitting-room knocked at the
door for the second time and put a somewhat mystified face inside.
"Beg pardon, sir," he said, glancing at Purdie, who was questioning Melky
Rubinstein as to the events of the evening in their relation to the house
in Maida Vale. "Two ladies outside, sir--waiting to see you. But they
don't want to come in, sir, unless they know who's here--don't want to
meet no strangers, sir."
Purdie jumped to his feet, and putting the man aside looked into the
dimly-lighted corridor. There, a few paces away, stood Zillah--and, half
hidden by her, Mrs. Goldmark.
"Come in--come in!" he exclaimed. "Nobody here but Andie Lauriston and
Melky Rubinstein. You've something to tell--something's happened?"
He ushered them into the room, sent the hotel servant, obviously in a
state of high curiosity about these happenings, away, and closed the door.
"S'elp me!" exclaimed Melky, "there ain't no other surprises, Zillah? You
ain't come round at this time o' night for nothing! What you got to tell,
"Mrs. Goldmark has something to tell," answered Zillah. "We didn't know
what to do, and you didn't come, Melky--nobody come--and so we locked the
house and thought of Mr. Purdie. Mrs. Goldmark has seen somebody!"
"Who?" demanded Melky. "Somebody, now? What somebody?"
"The man that came to her restaurant," replied Zillah. "The man who lost
the platinum solitaire!"
Mrs. Goldmark who had dropped into the chair which Purdie had drawn to the
side of the table for her, wagged her head thoughtfully.
"This way it was, then," she said, with a dramatic suggestion of personal
enjoyment in revealing a new feature of the mystery, "I have a friend who
lives in Stanhope Street--Mrs. Isenberg. She sends to me at half-past-ten
to tell me she is sick. I go to see her--immediate. I find her very
poorly--so! I stop with her till past eleven, doing what I can. Then her
sister, she comes--I can do no more--I come away. And I walk through
Sussex Square, as my road back to Praed Street and Zillah. But before I am
much across Sussex Square, I stop--sudden, like that! For what? Because--I
see a man! That man! Him what drops his cuff-link on my table. Oh, yes!"
"You're sure it was that man, Mrs. Goldmark?" enquired Melky, anxiously.
"You don't make no mistakes, so?"
"Do I mistake myself if I say I see you, Mr. Rubinstein?" exclaimed Mrs.
Goldmark, solemnly and with emphasis. "No, I don't make no mistakes at
all. Is there not gas lamps?--am I not blessed with good eyes? I see him--
like as I see you there young gentleman and Zillah. Plain!"
"Well--and what was he doing?" asked Purdie, desirous of getting at facts.
"Did he come out of a house, or go into one, or--what?"
"I tell you," replied Mrs. Goldmark, "everything I tell you--all in good
time. It is like this. A taxicab comes up--approaching me. It stops--by
the pavement. Two men--they get out. Him first. Then another. They pay the
driver--then they walk on a little--just a few steps. They go into a
house. The other man--he lets them into that house. With a latch-key. The
door opens--shuts. They are inside. Then I go to Zillah and tell her what
I see. So!"
The three young men exchanged glances, and Purdie turned to the informant.
"Mrs. Goldmark," he said, "did you know the man who opened the door?"
"Not from another!" replied Mrs. Goldmark. "A stranger to me!"
"Do you know Mr. Levendale--by sight?" asked Purdie.
"Often, since all this begins, I ask myself that question," said Mrs.
Goldmark, "him being, so to speak, a neighbour. No, that I do not, not
being able to say he was ever pointed out to me."
"Well, you can describe the man who pulled out his latch-key and opened
the door, anyhow," remarked Purdie. "You took a good look at him, I
"And a good one," answered Mrs. Goldmark. "He was one of our people--I saw
his nose and his eyes. And I was astonished to see so poor-looking a man
have a latch-key to so grand a mansion as that!--he was dressed in poor
clothes, and looked dirty and mean."
"A bearded dark man?" suggested Purdie.
"Not at all," said Mrs. Goldmark. "A clean-shaved man--though dark he
Purdie looked at Melky and shook his head.
"That's not Levendale!" he said, "Clean-shaven! Levendale's bearded and
mustached--and I should say a bit vain of his beard. Um! you're dead
certain, Mrs. Goldmark, about the other man?"
"As that I tell you this," insisted Mrs. Goldmark. "I see him as plain as
what I see him when he calls at my establishment and leaves his jewellery
on my table. Oh, yes--I don't make no mistake, Mr. Purdie."
Purdie looked again at Melky--this time with an enquiry in his glance.
"Don't ask me, Mr. Purdie!" said Melky. "I don't know what to say. Sounds
like as if these two went into Levendale's house. But what man would have
a latch-key to that but Levendale himself? More mystery!--ain't I full of
it already? Now if Mr. Ayscough hadn't gone away--"
"Look here!" said Purdie, coming to a sudden decision, "I'm going round
there. I want to know what this means--I'm going to know. You ladies had
better go home. If you others like to come as far as the corner of Sussex
Square, come. But I'm going to Levendale's house alone. I'll find
He said no more until, Zillah and Mrs. Goldmark having gone homeward, and
he and his two companions having reached a side street leading into Sussex
Square, he suddenly paused and demanded their attention!
"I've particular reasons for wanting to go into that house alone," he
said. "There's no danger--trust me. But--if I'm not out again in a quarter
of an hour or so, you can come there and ask for me. My own impression is
that I shall find Levendale there. And--as you're aware, Andie--I know
Levendale." He left them standing in the shadow of a projecting portico
and going up to Levendale's front door, rang the bell. There was no light
in any of the windows; all appeared to be in dead stillness in the house;
somewhere, far off in the interior, he heard the bell tinkle. And
suddenly, as he stood waiting and listening, he heard a voice that sounded
close by him and became aware that there was a small trap or grille in the
door, behind which he made out a face.
"Who is that?" whispered the voice.
"John Purdie--wanting to see Mr. Levendale," he answered promptly.
The door was just as promptly opened, and as Purdie stepped within was as
quickly closed behind him. At the same instant the click of a switch
heralded a flood of electric light, and he started to see a man standing
at his side--a man who gave him a queer, deprecating smile, a man who was
not and yet who was Levendale.
"Gracious me!" exclaimed Purdie, "it isn't--"
"Yes!" said Levendale, quietly. "But it is, though! All right, Purdie--
come this way."
Purdie followed Levendale into a small room on the right of the hall--a
room in which the remains of a cold, evidently impromptu supper lay on a
table lighted by a shaded lamp. Two men had been partaking of that supper,
but Levendale was alone. He gave his visitor another queer smile, and
pointed, first to a chair and then to a decanter.
"Sit down--take a drink," he said. "This is a queer meeting! We haven't
seen each other since--"
"Good God, man!" broke in Purdie, staring at his host. "What's it all
mean? Are you--disguised?"
Levendale laughed--ruefully--and glanced at the mean garments which Mrs.
Goldmark had spoken of.
"Necessity!" he said. "Had to! Ah!--I've been through some queer times--
and in queer places. Look here--what do you know?"
"Know!" cried Purdie. "You want me to tell you all I know--in a sentence?
Man!--it would take a month! What do you know? That's more like it!"
Levendale passed a hand across his forehead--there was a weariness in his
gesture which showed his visitor that he was dead beat.
"Aye, just so!" he said. "But--tell me! has John Purvis come looking for
"He has!" answered Purdie. "He's in London just now."
"Has he told about that diamond?--told the police?" demanded Levendale.
"He has!" repeated Purdie. "That's all known. Stephen Purvis--where is
"Upstairs--asleep--dead tired out," said Levendale. "We both are! Night
and day--day and night--I could fall on this floor and sleep--"
"You've been after that diamond?" suggested Purdie.
"That--and something else," said Levendale.
"Something else?" asked Purdie. "What then?"
"Eighty thousand pounds," answered Levendale. "Just that!"
Purdie stood staring at him. Then he suddenly put a question.
"Do you know who murdered that old man in Praed Street?" he demanded.
"That's what I'm after."
"No!" said Levendale, promptly. "I don't even know that he was murdered!"
He, too, stared at his visitor for a moment; then "But I know more than a
little about his being robbed," he added significantly.
Purdie shook his head. He was puzzled and mystified beyond measure.
"This is getting too deep for me!" he said. "You're the biggest mystery of
all, Levendale. Look here!" he went on. "What are you going to do? This
queer disappearance of yours--this being away--coming back without your
beard and dressed like that!--aren't you going to explain? The police--"
"Yes!" said Levendale. "Ten o'clock this morning--the police-station. Be
there--all of you--anybody--anybody who likes--I'm going to tell the
police all I know. Purvis and I, we can't do any more--baffled, you
understand! But now--go away, Purdie, and let me sleep--I'm dead done
Within ten minutes of leaving them, Purdie was back with Lauriston and
Melky Rubinstein, and motioning them away from Sussex Square.
"That's more extraordinary than the rest!" he said, as they all moved off.
"Levendale's there, in his own house, right enough! And he's shaved off
his beard and mustache, and he's wearing tramp's clothes and he and
Stephen Purvis have been looking night and day, for that confounded
diamond, and for eighty thousand pounds! And--what's more, Levendale does
not know who killed Daniel Multenius or that he was murdered! But, by
George, sirs!" he added, as high above their heads the clock of St.
James's Church struck one, "he knows something big!--and we've got to wait
nine hours to hear it!"
The inner room of the police-station, at ten o'clock that morning, was
full of men. Purdie, coming there with Lauriston at five minutes before
the hour, found Melky Rubinstein hanging about the outer door, and had
only just time to warn his companion to keep silence as to their midnight
discovery before Guyler and John Purvis drove up in one cab and Mr.
Killick in another. Inside, Ayscough, refreshed by his breakfast and an
hour's rest, was talking to the inspector and the man from New Scotland
Yard--all these looked enquiringly at the group which presently crowded in
"Any of you gentlemen got any fresh news?" demanded the inspector, as he
ran his eye over the expectant faces "No?--well, I suppose you're all
wanting to know if we have?" He glanced at Ayscough, who was pointing out
certain paragraphs in one of the morning newspapers to the Scotland Yard
man. "The fact is," he continued, "there have been queer developments
since last night--and I don't exactly know where we are! My own opinion is
that we'd better wait a few hours before saying anything more definite--to
my mind, these newspapers are getting hold of too much news--giving
information to the enemy, as it were. I think you'd all better leave
things to us, gentlemen--for a while." There was rather more than a polite
intimation in this that the presence of so many visitors was not wanted--
but John Purvis at once assumed a determined attitude.
"I want to know exactly what's being done, and what's going to be done,
about my brother!" he said. "I'm entitled to that! That's the job I came
about--myself--as for the rest--"
"Your brother's here!" said Purdie, who was standing by the window and
keeping an eye on the street outside. "And Mr. Levendale with him--hadn't
you better have them straight in?" he went on, turning to the inspector.
"They both look as if they'd things to tell."
But Ayscough had already made for the door and within a moment was
ushering in the new arrivals. And Purdie was quick to note that the
Levendale who entered, a sheaf of morning papers in his hand, was a vastly
different Levendale to the man he had seen nine hours before, dirty,
unkempt, and worn out with weariness. The trim beard and mustache were
hopelessly lost, and there were lines on Levendale's face which they
concealed, but Levendale himself was now smartly groomed and carefully
dressed, and business-like, and it was with the air of a man who means
business that he strode into the room and threw a calm nod to the
"Now, Inspector," he said, going straight to the desk, while Stephen
Purvis turned to his brother. "I see from the papers that you've all been
much exercised about Mr. Purvis and myself--it just shows how a couple of
men can disappear and give some trouble before they're found. But here we
are!--and why we're here is because we're beaten--we took our own course
in trying to find our own property--and we're done! We can do no more--and
so we come to you."
"You should have come here at first, Mr. Levendale," said the Inspector, a
little sourly. "You'd have saved a lot of trouble--to yourselves as well
as to us. But that's neither here nor there--I suppose you've something to
tell us, Sir?"
"Before I tell you anything," replied Levendale, "I want to know
something." He pointed to the morning papers which he had brought in.
"These people," he said, "seem to have got hold of a lot of information--
all got from you, of course. Now, we know what we're after--let's put it
in a nutshell. A diamond--an orange-yellow diamond--worth eighty thousand
pounds, the property of Mr. Stephen Purvis there. That's item one! But
there's another. Eighty thousand pounds in banknotes!--my property. Now--
have any of you the least idea who's got the diamond and my money? Come!"
There was a moment's silence. Then Ayscough spoke.
"Not a definite idea, Mr. Levendale--as yet."
"Then I'll tell you," said Levendale. "A Chinese fellow--one Chang Li.
He's got them--both! And Stephen Purvis and I have been after him for all
the days and nights since we disappeared--and we're beaten! Now you'll
have to take it up--and I'd better tell you the plain truth about what's
no doubt seemed a queer business from the first. Half-an-hour's talk now
will save hours of explanation later on. So listen to me, all of you--I
already see two gentlemen here, Mr. Killick, and Mr. Guyler, who in a
certain fashion, can corroborate some particulars that I shall give you.
Keep us free from interruption, if you please, while I tell you my story."
Ayscough answered this request by going to the door and leaning against
it, and Levendale took a chair by the side of the desk and looked round at
an expectant audience.
"It's a queer and, in some respects, an involved story," he said, "but I
shall contrive to make matters plain to you before I've finished. I shall
have to go back a good many years--to a time when, as Mr. Killick there
knows, I was a partner with Daniel Molteno in a jewellery business in the
City. I left him, and went out to South Africa, where I engaged in diamond
trading. I did unusually well in my various enterprises, and some years
later I came back to London a very well-to-do man. Not long after my
return, I met my former partner again. He had changed his name to
Multenius, and was trading in Praed Street as a jeweller and pawnbroker.
Now, I had no objection to carrying on a trade with certain business
connections of mine at the Cape--and after some conversation with
Multenius he and I arranged to buy and sell diamonds together here in
London, and I at once paid over a sum of money to him as working capital.
The transactions were carried out in his name. It was he, chiefly, who
conducted them--he was as good and keen a judge of diamonds as any man I
ever knew--and no one here was aware that I was concerned in them. I never
went to his shop in Praed Street but twice--if it was absolutely necessary
for him to see me, we met in the City, at a private office which I have
there. Now you understand the exact relations between Daniel Multenius and
myself. We were partners--in secret.
"We come, then, to recent events. Early in this present autumn, we heard
from Mr. Stephen Purvis, with whom I had had some transactions in South
Africa, that he had become possessed of a rare and fine orange-yellow
diamond and that he was sending it to us. It arrived at Multenius's--
Multenius brought it to me at my city office and we examined it, after
which Multenius deposited it in his bank. We decided to buy it ourselves
--I finding the money. We knew, from our messages from Stephen Purvis,
that he would be in town on the 18th November, and we arranged everything
for that date. That date, then, becomes of special importance--what
happened at Multenius's shop in Praed Street on the afternoon of November
18th, between half-past four and half-past five is, of course, the thing
that really is of importance. Now, what did happen? I can tell you--same
as regards one detail which is, perhaps, of more importance than the other
details. Of that detail I can't tell anything--but I can offer a good
suggestion about it.
"Stephen Purvis was to call at Daniel Multenius's shop in Praed Street
between five o'clock and half-past on the afternoon of November 18th--to
complete the sale of his diamond. About noon on that day, Daniel Multenius
went to the City. He went to his bank and took the diamond away. He then
proceeded to my office, where I handed him eighty thousand pounds in bank
notes--notes of large amounts. With the diamond and these notes in his
possession, Daniel Multenius went back to Praed Street. I was to join him
there shortly after five o'clock.
"Now we come to my movements. I lunched in the City, and afterwards went
to a certain well-known book-seller's in Holborn, who had written to tell
me that he had for sale a valuable book which he knew I wanted. I have
been a collector of rare books ever since I came back to England. I spent
an hour or so at the book-seller's shop. I bought the book which I had
gone to see--paying a very heavy price for it. I carried it away in my
hand, not wrapped up, and got into an omnibus which was going my way, and
rode in it as far as the end of Praed Street. There I got out. And--in
spite of what I said in my advertisement in the newspapers of the
following morning,--I had the book in my hand when I left the omnibus. Why
I pretended to have lost it, why I inserted that advertisement in the
papers, I shall tell you presently--that was all part of a game which was
forced upon me.
"It was, as near as I can remember, past five o'clock when I turned along
Praed Street. The darkness was coming on, and there was a slight rain
falling, and a tendency to fog. However, I noticed something--I am
naturally very quick of observation. As I passed the end of the street
which goes round the back of the Grand Junction Canal basin, the street
called Iron Gate Wharf, I saw turn into it, walking very quickly, a
Chinaman whom I knew to be one of the two Chinese medical students to whom
Daniel Multenius had let a furnished house in Maida Vale. He had his back
to me--I did not know which of the two he was. I thought nothing of the
matter, and went on. In another minute I was at the pawn-shop. I opened
the door, walked in, and went straight to the little parlour--I had been
there just twice before when Daniel Multenius was alone, and so I knew my
way. I went, I say, straight through--and in the parlour doorway ran into
"Purvis was excited--trembling, big fellow though he is, do you see? He
will bear me out as to what was said--and done. Without a word, he turned
and pointed to where Daniel Multenius was lying across the floor--dead. 'I
haven't been here a minute!' said Purvis. 'I came in--found him, like
that! There's nobody here. For God's sake, where's my diamond?'
"Now, I was quick to think. I formed an impression within five seconds.
That Chinaman had called--found the old man lying in a fit, or possibly
dead--had seen, as was likely, the diamond on the table in the parlour,
the wad of bank-notes lying near, had grabbed the lot--and gone away. It
was a theory--and I am confident yet that it was the correct one. And I
tell you plainly that my concern from that instant was not with Daniel
Multenius, but with the Chinaman! I thought and acted like lightning.
First, I hastily examined Multenius, felt in his pockets, found that there
was nothing there that I wanted and that he was dead. Then I remembered
that on a previous visit of mine he had let me out of his house by a door
at the rear which communicated with a narrow passage running into Market
Street, and without a second's delay, I seized Purvis by the arm and
hurried him out. It was dark enough in that passage--there was not a soul
about--we crossed Market Street, turned to the right, and were in Oxford
and Cambridge Terrace before we paused. My instinct told me that the right
thing to do was to get away from that parlour. And it was not until we
were quite away from it that I realized that I had left my book behind
Levendale paused at this point of his story, and looked round the circle
of attentive faces. He was quick to notice that two men were watching him
with particularly close attention--one was Ayscough, the other, the old
solicitor. And as he resumed his account he glanced meaningly at Mr.
"I daresay some of you would like to question me--and Stephen Purvis, too
--on what I've already told you?" he said. "You're welcome to ask any
questions you like--any of you--when I've done. But--let me finish--for
then perhaps you'll fully understand what we were at.
"Purvis and I walked up and down in Oxford and Cambridge Terrace for some
time--discussing the situation. The more I considered the matter, the more
I was certain that my first theory was right--the Chinaman had got the
diamond and the banknotes. I was aware of these two Chinamen as tenants of
Multenius's furnished house--as a matter of fact, I had been present, at
the shop in Praed Street, on one of my two visits there when they
concluded their arrangements with him. What I now thought was this--one of
them had called on the old man to do some business, or to pay the rent,
and had found him in a fit, or dead, as the result of one, had seen the
diamond and the money on the table, placed there in readiness for Purvis's
coming, and had possessed himself of both and made off. Purvis agreed with
me. And--both Purvis and myself are well acquainted with the
characteristic peculiarities, and idiosyncrasies of Chinamen!--we knew
with what we had to deal. Therefore we knew what we had to do. We wanted
the diamond and my money. And since we were uncomfortably aware of the
craft and subtlety of the thief who'd got both we knew we should have to
use craft ourselves--and of no common sort. Therefore we decided that the
very last thing we should think of would be an immediate appeal to the
"Now, you police officials may, nay, will!--say that we ought to have gone
straight to you, especially as this was a case of murder. But we knew
nothing about it being a case of murder. We had seen no signs of violence
on the old man--I knew him to be very feeble, and I believed he had been
suddenly struck over by paralysis, or something of that sort. I reckoned
matters up, carefully. It was plain that Daniel Multenius had been left
alone in house and shop--that his granddaughter was out on some errand or
other. Therefore, no one knew of the diamond and the money. We did not
want any one to know. If we had gone to the police and told our tale, the
news would have spread, and would certainly have reached the Chinaman's
ears. We knew well enough that if we were to get our property back the
thief must not be alarmed--there must be nothing in the newspapers next
morning. The Chinaman must not know that the real owners of the diamond
and the banknotes suspected him--he must not know that information about
his booty was likely to be given to the police. He must be left to
believe--for some hours at any rate--that what he had possessed himself of
was the property of a dead man who could not tell anything. But there
was my book in that dead man's parlour! It was impossible to go back and
fetch it. It was equally impossible that it should not attract attention.
Daniel Multenius's granddaughter, whom I believed to be a very sharp young
woman, would notice it, and would know that it had come into the place
during her absence. I thought hard over that problem--and finally I
drafted an advertisement and sent it off to an agency with instructions to
insert it in every morning newspaper in London next day. Why? Because I
wanted to draw a red herring across the trail!--I wanted, for the time
being, to set up a theory that some man or other had found that book in
the omnibus, had called in at Multenius's to sell or pawn it, had found
the old man alone, and had assaulted and robbed him. All this was with a
view to hoodwinking the Chinaman. Anything must be done, anything!--to
keep him ignorant that Purvis and I knew the real truth.
"But--what did we intend to do? I tell you, not being aware that old
Daniel Multenius had met his death by violence, we did not give one
second's thought to that aspect and side of the affair--we concentrated on
the recovery of our property. I knew the house in which these Chinese
lived. That evening, Purvis and I went there. We have both been
accustomed, in our time, to various secret dealings and manoeuvres, and we
entered the grounds of that house without any one being the wiser. It did
not take long to convince us that the house was empty. It remained empty
that night--Purvis kept guard over it, in an outhouse in the garden. No
one either entered or left it between our going to it and Purvis coming
away from it next morning--he stayed there, watching until it was time to
keep an appointment with me in Hyde Park. Before I met him, I had been
called upon by Detective Ayscough, Mr. Rubinstein, and Mr. Lauriston--they
know what I said to them. I could not at that time say anything else--I
had my own concerns to think of.
"When Purvis and I met we had another consultation, and we determined, in
view of all the revelations which had come out and had been published in
the papers, that the suspicion cast on young Mr. Lauriston was the very
best thing that could happen for us; it would reassure our Chinaman. And
we made up our minds that the house in Maida Vale would not be found
untenanted that night, and we arranged to meet there at eleven o'clock. We
felt so sure that our man would have read all the news in the papers, and
would feel safe, and that we should find him. But, mark you, we had no
idea as to which of the two Chinamen it was that we wanted. Of one fact,
however, we were certain--whichever it was that I had seen slip round the
corner of Iron Gate Wharf the previous day, whether it was Chang Li or
Chen Li, he would have kept his secret to himself! The thing was--to get
into that house; to get into conversation with both; to decide which was
the guilty man, and then--to take our own course. We knew what to do--and
we went fully prepared.
"Now we come to this--our second visit to the house in Maida Vale. To be
exact, it was between eleven and twelve on the second night after the
disappearance of the diamond. As on the previous night, we gained access
to the garden by the door at the back--that, on each occasion, was
unfastened, while the gate giving access to the road in Maida Vale was
securely locked. And, as on the previous night, we quickly found that up
to then at any rate, the house was empty. But not so the garden! While I
was looking round the further side of the house, Purvis took a careful
look round the garden. And presently he came to me and drew away to the
asphalted path which runs from the front gate to the front door. The moon
had risen above the houses and trees--and in its light he pointed to
bloodstains. It did not take a second look, gentlemen, to see that they
were recent--in fact, fresh. Somebody had been murdered in that garden not
many minutes--literally, minutes!--before our arrival. And within two
minutes more we found the murdered man lying behind some shrubbery on the
left of the path. I knew him for the younger of the two Chinese--the man
called Chen Li.
"This discovery, of course, made us aware that we were now face to face
with a new development. We were not long in arriving at a conclusion about
that. Chang Li had found out that his friend had become possessed of these
valuable--he might have discovered the matter of the diamond, or of the
bank-notes or both--how was immaterial. But we were convinced, putting
everything together, that he had made this discovery, had probably laid in
wait for Chen Li as he returned home that night, had run a knife into him
as he went up the garden, had dragged the body into the shrubbery,
possessed himself of the loot, and made off. And now we were face to face
with what was going, as we knew, to be the stiffest part of our work--the
finding of Chang Li. We set to work on that without a moment's delay.
"I have told you that Purvis and I have a pretty accurate knowledge of
Chinamen; we have both had deep and intimate experience of them and their
ways. I, personally, know a good deal of the Chinese Colony in London: I
have done business with Chinamen, both in London and South Africa, for
years. I had a good idea of what Chang Li's procedure would be. He would
hide--if need be, for months, until the first heat of the hue and cry
which he knew would be sure to be raised, would have cooled down. There
are several underground warrens--so to speak--in the East End, in which he
could go to earth, comfortably and safely, until there was a chance of
slipping out of the country unobserved. I know already of some of them. I
would get to know of others.
"Purvis and I got on that track--such as it was, at once. We went along to
the East End there and then--before morning I had shaved off my beard and
mustache, disguised myself in old clothes, and was beginning my work.
First thing next morning I did two things--one was to cause a telegram to
be sent from Spring Street to my butler explaining my probable absence;
the other to secretly warn the Bank of England about the bank-notes. But I
had no expectation that Chang Li would try to negotiate those--all his
energies, I knew, would be concentrated on the diamond. Nevertheless, he
might try--and would, if he tried--succeed--in changing one note, and it
was as well to take that precaution.
"Now then, next day, Purvis and I being, in our different ways, at work in
the East End, we heard the news about the Praed Street tradesman,
Parslett. That seemed to me remarkable proof of my theory. As the
successive editions of the newspapers came out during that day, and next
day, we learnt all about the Parslett affair. I saw through it at once.
Parslett, being next-door neighbour to Daniel Multenius, had probably seen
Chen Li--whom we now believed to have been the actual thief--slip away
from Multenius's door, and, when the news of Daniel's death came out, had
put two and two together, and, knowing where the Chinamen lived, had gone
to the house in Maida Vale to blackmail them. I guessed what had happened
then--Parslett, to quieten him for the moment, had been put off with fifty
pounds in gold, and promised more--and he had also been skilfully poisoned
in such a fashion that he would get safely away from the premises but die
before he got home. And when he was safe away, Chang Li had murdered Chen
Li, and made off. So--as I still think--all our theories were correct, and
the only thing to do was to find Chang."
But here Levendale paused, glanced at Stephen Purvis, and spread out his
hands with a gesture which indicated failure and disappointment. His
glance moved from Stephen Purvis to the police officials.
"All no good!" he exclaimed. "It's useless to deny it. I have been in
every Chinese den and haunt in East London--I'm certain that Chang Li is
nowhere down there. I have spent money like water--employed Chinese and
Easterns on whom I could depend--there isn't a trace of him! And so--we
gave up last night. Purvis and I--baffled. We've come to you police
"You should have done that before, Mr. Levendale," said the Inspector
severely. "You haven't given us much credit, I think, and if you'd told
all this at first--"
Before the Inspector could say more, a constable tapped at the door and
put his head into the room. His eyes sought Ayscough.
"There's a young gentleman--foreigner--asking for you, Mr. Ayscough," he
said. "Wants to see you at once--name of Mr. Yada."
YADA TAKES CHARGE
Ayscough had only time to give a warning look and a word to the others
before Mr. Mori Yada was ushered in. Every eye was turned on him as he
entered--some of the men present looking at him with wonder, some with
curiosity, two, at any rate--Levendale and Stephen Purvis--with doubt. But
Yada himself was to all outward appearance utterly indifferent to the
glances thrown in his direction: it seemed to John Purdie, who was
remembering all he had heard the night before, that the young Japanese
medical student was a singularly cool and self-possessed hand. Yada,
indeed, might have been walking in on an assemblage of personal friends,
specially gathered together in his honour. Melky Rubinstein, who was also
watching him closely, noticed at once that he had evidently made a very
careful toilet that morning. Yada's dark overcoat, thrown negligently
open, revealed a smart grey lounge suit; in one gloved hand he carried a
new bowler hat, in the other a carefully rolled umbrella. He looked as
prosperous and as severely in mode as if no mysteries and underground
affairs had power to touch him, and the ready smile with which he greeted
Ayscough was ingenuous and candid enough to disarm the most suspicious.
"Good morning, Mr. Detective," he began, as he crossed the threshold and
looked first at Ayscough and then at the ring of attentive faces. "I want
to speak to you on that little affair of last night, you know. I suppose
you are discussing it with these gentlemen? Well, perhaps I can now give
you some information that will be useful."
"Glad to hear anything, Mr. Yada," said Ayscough, who was striving hard to
conceal his surprise. "Anything that you can tell us. You've heard
something during the night, then?"
Yada laughed pleasantly, showing his white teeth. He dropped into the
chair which Ayscough pushed forward, and slowly drew off his gloves.
"I assured myself of something last night--after you left me," he said,
with a knowing look. "I used your card to advantage, Mr. Detective. I went
to the mortuary."
Ayscough contrived to signal to the Inspector to leave the talking to him.
He put his thumbs in the armholes of his waistcoat, assumed an easy
attitude as he leaned against the door, and looked speculatively at the
"Aye?--and what made you do that now, Mr. Yada?" he asked, half-
carelessly. "A bit of curiosity, eh?"
"Not idle curiosity, Mr. Detective," replied Yada. "I wanted to know, to
make certain, which of the two Chinamen it really was who was there--dead.
I saw him. Now I know. Chen Li!"
"Well?" said Ayscough.
Yada suddenly twisted round in his chair, and slowly glanced at the
listening men on either side of the desk. They were cool, bold, half-
insolent eyes which received face after face, showing no recognition of
any until they encountered Melky Rubinstein's watchful countenance. And to
Melky, Yada accorded a slight nod--and turned to Ayscough again.
"Which," he asked calmly, "which of these gentlemen is the owner of the
diamond? Which is the one who has lost eighty thousand pounds in bank-
notes? That is what I want to know before I say more."
In the silence which followed upon Ayscough's obvious doubt about
answering this direct question, Levendale let out a sharp, half-irritable
"In God's name!" he said, "who is this young man? What does he know about
the diamond and the money?"
Yada turned and faced his questioner--and suddenly smiling, thrust his
hand in his breast pocket and drew out a card-case. With a polite bow he
handed a card in Levendale's direction.
"Permit me, sir," he said suavely. "My card. As for the rest, perhaps Mr.
Detective here will tell you."
"It's this way, you see, Mr. Levendale," remarked Ayscough. "Acting on
information received from Dr. Pittery, one of the junior house-surgeons at
University College Hospital, who told me that Mr. Yada was a fellow-
student of those two Chinese, and a bit of a friend of theirs, I called on
Mr. Yada last night to make enquiries. And of course I had to tell him
about the missing property--though to be sure, that's news that's common
to everybody now--through the papers. And--what else have you to tell, Mr.
But Yada was watching Levendale--who, on his part, was just as narrowly
watching Yada. The other men in the room watched these two--recognizing,
as if by instinct, that from that moment matters lay between Levendale and
Yada, and not between Yada and Ayscough. They were mutually inspecting and
appraising each other, and in spite of their impassive faces, it was plain
that each was wondering about his next move.
It was Levendale who spoke first--spoke as if he and the young Japanese
were the only people in the room, as if nothing else mattered. He bent
forward to Yada.
"How much do you know?" he demanded.
Yada showed his white teeth again.
"A plain--and a wide question, Mr. Levendale!" he answered, with a laugh.
"I see that you are anxious to enlist my services. Evidently, you believe
that I do know something. But--you are not the owner of the diamond! Which
of these gentlemen is?"
Levendale made a half impatient gesture towards Stephen Purvis, who nodded
at Yada but remained silent.
"He is!" said Levendale, testily. "But you--can do your talking to me.
Again--how much do you know in this matter?"
"Enough to make it worth your while to negotiate with me," answered Yada.
"Is that as plain as your question?"
"It's what I expected," said Levendale. "You want to sell your knowledge."
"Well?" assented Yada, "I am very sure you are willing to purchase."
Once more that duel of the eyes--and to John Purdie, who prided himself on
being a judge of expressions, it was evident that the younger man was more
than the equal of the older. It was Levendale who gave way--and when he
took his eyes off Yada, it was to turn to Stephen Purvis.
Stephen Purvis nodded his head once more--and growled a little.
"Make terms with him!" he muttered. "Case of have to, I reckon!"
Levendale turned once more to the Japanese, who smiled on him.
"Look you here, Mr. Yada," said Levendale, "I don't know who you are
beyond what I'm told--your card tells me nothing except that you live--
lodge, I suppose--in Gower Street. You've got mixed up in this, somehow,
and you've got knowledge to dispose of. Now, I don't buy unless I know
first what it is I'm buying. So--let's know what you've got to sell?"
Yada swept the room with a glance.
"Before these gentlemen?" he asked. "In open market, eh?"
"They're all either police, or detectives, or concerned," retorted
Levendale. "There's no secret. I repeat--what have you got to sell?
Yada lifted his hands and began to check off points on the tips of his
"Three items, then, Mr. Levendale," he replied cheerfully. "First--the
knowledge of who has got the diamond and the money. Second--the knowledge
of where he is at this moment, and will be for some hours. Third--the
knowledge of how you can successfully take him and recover your property.
Three good, saleable items, I think--yes?"
Purdie watched carefully for some sign of greed or avarice in the
informer's wily countenance. To his surprise, he saw none. Instead, Yada
assumed an almost sanctimonious air. He seemed to consider matters--though
his answer was speedy.
"I don't want to profit--unduly--by this affair," he said. "At the same
time, from all I've heard, I'm rendering you and your friend a very
important service, and I think it only fair that I should be remunerated.
Give me something towards the expenses of my medical education, Mr.
Levendale: give me five hundred pounds."
With the briefest exchange of glances with Stephen Purvis, Levendale
pulled out a cheque-book, dashed off a cash cheque, and handed it over to
the Japanese, who slipped it into his waistcoat pocket.
"Now--your information!" said Levendale.
"To be sure," replied Yada. "Very well. Chang Li has the diamond and the
money. And he is at this moment where he has been for some days, in
hiding. He is in a secret room at a place called Pilmansey's Tea Rooms, in
Tottenham Court Road--a place much frequented by medical students from our
college. The fact of the case is, Mr. Policeman, and the rest of you
generally, there is a secret opium den at Pilmansey's, though nobody knows
of it but a few frequenters. And there!--there you will find Chang Li."
"You've seen him there?" demanded Levendale.
"I saw him there during last night--I know him to be there--he will be
there, either until you take him, or until his arrangements are made for
getting out of this country," answered Yada.
Levendale jumped up, as if for instant action. But the Inspector quietly
tapped him on the elbow.
"He promised to tell you how to take him, Mr. Levendale," he said. "Let's
know all we can--we shall have to be in with you on this, you know."
"Mr. Police-Inspector is right," said Yada. "You will have to conduct what
you call a raid. Now, do precisely what I tell you to do. Pilmansey's is
an old-fashioned place, a very old house as regards its architecture, on
the right-hand side of Tottenham Court Road. Go there today--this mid-day
--a little before one--when there are always plenty of customers. Go with
plenty of your plain-clothes men, like Mr. Ayscough there. Drop in, don't
you see, as if you were customers--let there be plenty of you, I repeat.
There are two Pilmanseys--men--middle-aged, sly, smooth, crafty men. When
you are all there, take your own lines--close the place, the doors, if you
like--but get hold of the Pilmansey men, tell them you are police, insist
on being taken to the top floor and shown their opium den. They will
object, they will lie, they will resist--you will use your own methods.
But--in that opium den you will find Chang Li--and your property!"
He had been drawing on his gloves as he spoke, and now, picking up his hat
and umbrella, Yada bowed politely to the circle and moved to the door.
"You will excuse me, now?" he said. "I have an important lecture at the
medical school which I must not miss. I shall be at Pilmansey's, myself, a
little before one--please oblige me by not taking any notice of me. I do
not want to figure--actively--in your business."
Then he was gone--and the rest of them were so deeply taken with the news
which he had communicated that no one noticed that just before Yada
fastened his last glove-button, Melky Rubinstein slipped from his corner
and glided quietly out of the room.
PILMANSEY'S TEA ROOMS
Two hours later, it being then a quarter-to-one o'clock, Purdie and
Lauriston got out of a taxi-cab at the north-end of Tottenham Court Road
and walked down the right-hand side of that busy thoroughfare, keeping
apparently careless but really vigilant eyes open for a first glimpse of
the appointed rendezvous. But Pilmansey's Tea Rooms required little
searching out. In the midst of the big modern warehouses, chiefly given up
to furniture and upholstery, there stood at that time a block of old
property which was ancient even for London. The buildings were plainly
early eighteenth century: old redbrick erections with narrow windows in
the fronts and dormer windows in the high, sloping roofs. Some of them
were already doomed to immediate dismantlement; the tenants had cleared
out, there were hoardings raised to protect passers-by from falling
masonry, and bills and posters on the threatened walls announced that
during the rebuilding, business would be carried on as usual at some other
specified address. But Pilmansey's, so far, remained untouched, and the
two searchers saw that customers were going in and out, all unaware that
before evening their favourite resort for a light mid-day meal would
attain a fame and notoriety not at all promised by its very ordinary and
"An excellent example of the truth of the old saying that you should never
judge by appearances, Andie, my man!" remarked Purdie, as they took a
quick view of the place. "Who'd imagine that crime, dark secrets, and all
the rest of it lies concealed behind this?--behind the promise of tea and
muffins, milk and buns! It's a queer world, this London!--you never know
what lies behind any single bit of the whole microcosm. But let's see
what's to be seen inside."
The first thing to be seen inside the ground floor room into which they
stepped was the man from New Scotland Yard, who, in company with another
very ordinary-looking individual was seated at a little table just inside
the entrance, leisurely consuming coffee and beef sandwiches. He glanced
at the two men as if he had never seen them in his life, and they,
preserving equally stolid expressions with credit if not with the
detective's ready and trained ability, passed further on--only to
recognize Levendale and Stephen Purvis, who had found accommodation in a
quiet corner half-way down the room. They, too, showed no signs of
recognition, and Purdie, passing by them, steered his companion to an
unoccupied table and bade him be seated.
"Let's get our bearings," he whispered as they dropped into their seats.
"Looks as innocent and commonplace within as it appeared without, Andie.
But use your eyes--it ought to make good copy for you, this."
Lauriston glanced about him. The room in which they sat was a long, low-
ceiling apartment, extending from the street door to a sort of bar-counter
at the rear, beyond which was a smaller room that was evidently given up
to store and serving purposes. On the counter were set out provisions--
rounds of beef, hams, tongues, bread, cakes, confectionery; behind it
stood two men whom the watchers at once set down as the proprietors. Young
women, neatly gowned in black and wearing white caps and aprons, flitted
to and fro between the counter and the customers. As for the customers
they were of both sexes, and the larger proportion of them young. There
was apparently no objection to smoking at Pilmansey's--a huge cloud of
blue smoke ascended from many cigarettes, and the scent of Turkish tobacco
mingled with the fragrance of freshly-ground coffee. It was plain that
Pilmansey's was the sort of place wherein you could get a good sandwich,
good tea or coffee, smoke a cigarette or two, and idle away an hour in
light chatter with your friends between your morning and afternoon
But Lauriston's attention was mainly directed to the two men who stood
behind the bar-counter, superintending and directing their neat
assistants. Sly, smooth, crafty men--so they had been described by Mr.
Mori Yada: Lauriston's opinion coincided with that of the Japanese, on
first, outer evidence and impression. They were middle-aged, plump men who
might be, and probably were, twins, favouring mutton chop whiskers, and
good linen and black neckcloths--they might have been strong, highly-
respectable butlers. Each had his coat off; each wore a spotless linen
apron; each wielded carving knives and forks; each was busy in carving
plates of ham or tongue or beef; each contrived, while thus engaged, to
keep his sharp, beady eyes on the doings in the room in front of the
counter. Evidently a well-to-do, old-established business, this, and
highly prosperous men who owned it: Lauriston wondered that they should
run any risks by hiding away a secret opium den somewhere on their ancient
In the midst of their reflections one of the waitresses came to the table
at which the two friends sat: Lauriston quicker of wit than Purdie in such
matters immediately ordered coffee and sandwiches and until they came,
lighted a cigarette and pretended to be at ease, though he was inwardly
"It's as if one were waiting for an explosion to take place!" he muttered
to Purdie. "Even now I don't know what's going to happen."
"Here's Ayscough, anyway," said Purdie. "He looks as if nothing was about
Ayscough, another man with him, was making his way unconcernedly down the
shop. He passed the man from New Scotland Yard without so much as a wink:
he ignored Levendale and Stephen Purvis; he stared blankly at Purdie and
Lauriston, and led his companion to two vacant seats near the counter. And
they had only just dropped into them when in came Mr. Killick, with John
Purvis and Guyler and slipped quietly into seats in the middle of the
room. Here then, said Lauriston to himself, were eleven men, all in a
secret--and there were doubtless others amongst the company whom he did
"But where's Melky Rubinstein?" he whispered suddenly. "I should have
thought he'd have turned up--he's been so keen on finding things out."
"There's time enough yet," answered Purdie. "It's not one. I don't see the
Jap, either. But--here's the Inspector--done up in plain clothes."
The Inspector came in with a man whom neither Purdie nor Lauriston had
ever seen before--a quietly but well-dressed man about whom there was a
distinct air of authority. They walked down the room to a table near the
counter, ordered coffee and lighted cigarettes--and the two young
Scotsmen, watching them closely, saw that they took a careful look round
as if to ascertain the strength of their forces. And suddenly, as
Lauriston was eating his second sandwich, the Inspector rose, quietly
walked to the counter and bending over it, spoke to one of the white-
aproned men behind.