Part 5 out of 5
"The game's begun!" whispered Lauriston. "Look!"
But Purdie's eyes were already fixed on the Pilmanseys, whom he recognized
as important actors in the drama about to be played. One of them slightly
taller, slightly greyer than the other, was leaning forward to the
Inspector, and was evidently amazed at what was being said to him, for he
started, glanced questioningly at his visitor, exchanged a hurried word or
two with him and then turned to his brother. A second later, both men laid
down their great knives and forks, left their counter, and beckoned the
Inspector to follow them into a room at the rear of the shop. And the
Inspector in his turn, beckoned Ayscough with a mere glance, and Ayscough
in his, made an inviting movement to the rest of the party.
"Come on!" said Purdie. "Let's hear what's happening."
The proprietors of the tea-rooms had led the Inspector and the man who was
with him into what was evidently a private room--and when Lauriston and
Purdie reached the door they were standing on the hearth rug, side by
side, each in a very evident state of amazement, staring at a document
which the Inspector was displaying to them. They looked up from it to
glance with annoyance, at the other men who came quietly and expectantly
crowding into the room.
"More of your people?" asked the elder man, querulously. "Look here, you
know!--we don't see the need for all this fuss, not for your interrupting
our business in this way! One or two of you, surely, would have been
enough without bringing a troop of people on to our premises--all this is
"You'll allow us to be the best judge of what's necessary and what isn't,
Mr. Pilmansey," retorted the Inspector. "There'll be no fuss, no bother--
needn't be, anyway, if you tell us what we want to know, and don't oppose
us in what we've got power to do. Here's a warrant--granted on certain
information--to search your premises. If you'll let us do that quietly."
"But for what reason?" demanded the younger man. "Our premises, indeed!
Been established here a good hundred years, and never a word against us.
What do you want to search for?"
"I'll tell you that at once," answered the Inspector. "We want a young
Chinaman, one Chang Li, who, we are informed, is concealed here, and has
valuable stolen property on him. Now, then, do you know anything about
him? Is he here?"
The two men exchanged glances. For a moment they remained silent--then the
elder man spoke, running his eye over the expectant faces watching him.
"Before I say any more," he answered, "I should just like to know where
you got your information from?"
"No!" replied the Inspector, firmly. "I shan't tell you. But I'll tell you
this much--this Chang Li is wanted on a very serious charge as it is, and
we may charge him with something much more serious. We've positive
information that he's here--and I'm only giving you sound advice when I
say that if he is here, you'll do well to show us where he is. Now, come,
Mr. Pilmansey, is he here?"
The elder Pilmansey shook his head--but the shake was more one of doubt
than of denial.
"I can't say," he answered. "He might be."
"What's that mean?" demanded the Inspector. "Might be? Surely you know
who's in your own house!'
"No!" said the elder man, "I can't say. It's this way--we've a certain
number of foreigners come here. There are few--just a few--Chinese and
Japanese--medical students, you know. Now, some time ago--a couple of
years ago--some of them asked us if we couldn't let them have three or
four rooms at the top of the house in which to start a sort of little club
of their own, so that they could have a place for their meetings, you
understand. They were all quiet, very respectable young fellows--so we
did. They have the top floor of this house. They furnished and fitted it
up themselves. There's a separate entrance--at the side of the shop. Each
of them has a latch-key of his own. So they can go in and out as they
like--they never bother us. But, as a matter of fact, there are only four
or five of them who are members now--the others have all left. That's the
real truth--and I tell you I don't know if Mr. Chang Li might be up there
or not. We know nothing about what they do in their rooms--they're only
"Let me ask you one question," said the Inspector, "Have either of you
ever been in those rooms since you let them to these people!"
"No!" answered the elder man. "Neither of us--at anytime!"
"Then," commanded the Inspector, "I'll thank you to come up with us to
Not without some grumbling as to waste of time and interference with
business, the Pilmansey brothers led the way to a side door which opened
into a passage that ran along the side of the shop and from whence a
staircase rose to the upper regions of the house. The elder pointed,
significantly, to the street door at the end.
"You'll take notice that these young fellows I told you of get to the
rooms we let them through that?" he observed. "That door's always locked--
they all have latch-keys to it. They never come through the shop--we've
nothing to do with them, and we don't know anything about whatever they
may do in their rooms--all we're concerned with is that they pay their
rent and behave themselves. And quiet enough they've always been--we've
had no reason to complain."
"And, as they all have latch-keys, I suppose they can get into the place
at any hour of the day--or night?" suggested the Inspector. "There's no
bar against them coming here at night?"
"They can come in--and go out--whenever they please," answered the elder
man. "I tell you we've nothing to do with them--except as their
"Where do you live--yourselves?" asked the Inspector. "On these premises?"
"No, we don't," replied the younger brother, who, of the two, had showed
the keenest, if most silent, resentment at the police proceedings. "We
live--elsewhere. This establishment is opened at eight in the morning, and
closed at seven in the evening. We're never here after seven--either of
"So that you never see anything of these foreigners at night-time?" asked
the Inspector. "Don't know what they do, I suppose?"
"We never see anything of 'em at any time," said the elder brother. "As
you see, this passage and staircase is outside the shop. We know nothing
whatever about them beyond what I've told you."
"Well--take us up, and we'll see what we can find out," commanded the
Inspector. "We're going to examine those rooms, Mr. Pilmansey, so we'll
get it done at once."
The intervening rooms between the lower and the top floors of the old
house appeared to be given up to stores--the open doors revealed casks,
cases, barrels, piles of biscuit and confectionery boxes--nothing to
conceal there, decided the lynx-eyed men who trooped up the dingy stairs
after the grumbling proprietors. But the door on the top floor was closed
--and when Ayscough turned its handle he found it to be locked from
"They've keys of their own for that, too," remarked the younger Pilmansey.
"I don't see how you're going to get in, if there's nobody inside."
"We're going in there whether there's anybody or not," said the Inspector.
"Knock, Ayscough!--knock loudly!"
The group of men gathered behind the leaders, and filling the whole of the
lobby outside the closed door, waited, expectant and excited, in the
silence which followed on Ayscough's loud beating on the upper panel. A
couple of minutes went by: the detective knocked again, more insistently.
And suddenly, and silently, the door was opened--first, an inch or two,
then a little wider, and as Ayscough slipped a stoutly booted foot inside
the crack a yellow face, lighted by a pair of narrow-slitted dark eyes,
looked out--and immediately vanished.
"In with you!" said the Inspector. "Careful, now!"
Ayscough pushed the door open and walked in, the rest crowding on his
heels. And Purdie, who was one of the foremost to enter, was immediately
cognizant of two distinct odours--one, the scent of fragrant tea, the
other of a certain heavy, narcotic something which presently overpowered
the fragrance of the tea and left an acid and bitter taste.
"Opium," he whispered to Lauriston, who was close at his elbow. "Opium!
But Lauriston was more eyes than nose just then. He, like the rest of his
companions, was staring at the scene on which they had entered. The room
was of a good size--evidently, from its sloping ceilings, part of the
attic story of the old house. The walls were hung with soft, clinging,
Oriental draperies and curtains; a few easy chairs of wickerwork, a few
small tables of like make, were disposed here and there: there was an
abundance of rugs and cushions: in one corner a gas-stove was alight, and
on it stood a kettle, singing merrily.
The young man who had opened the door had retreated towards this stove;
Purdie noticed that in one hand he held a small tea-pot. And in the left-
hand corner, bent over a little table, and absorbed in their game, sat two
other young men, correctly attired in English clothes, but obviously
Chinese from their eyebrows to their toes, playing chess.
The holder of the tea-pot cast a quick glance at the disturbance of this
peaceful scene, and set down his tea-pot; the chess-players looked up for
one second, showed not the faintest sign of perturbation--and looked down
again. Then the man of the tea-pot spoke--one word.
"Yes?" he said.
"The fact is, Mister," said the elder Pilmansey, "these are police-
officers. They want one of your friends--Mr. Chang Li."
The three occupants of the room appeared to pay no attention. The chess-
players went on playing; the other man reached for a canister, and
mechanically emptied tea out of it into his pot.
"Shut and lock that door, Ayscough," said the Inspector. "Let somebody
stand by it. Now," he continued, turning to the three Chinese, "is one of
you gentlemen Mr. Chang Li?"
"No!" replied one of the chess-players. "Not one of us!"
"Is he here?" demanded the Inspector. Then seeing that he was to be met by
Oriental impassivity, he turned to the Pilmanseys. "What other rooms are
there here?" he asked.
"Two," answered the elder brother, pointing to the curtains at the rear of
the room. "One there--the other there. Behind those hangings--two smaller
The Inspector strode forward and tore the curtains aside. He flung open
the first of the doors--and started back, catching his breath.
"Phew!" he said.
The heavy, narcotic odour which Purdie had noticed at once on entering the
rooms came afresh, out of the newly-opened door, in a thick wave. And as
the rest of them crowded after the Inspector, they saw why. This was a
small room, hung like the first one with curiously-figured curtains, and
lighted only by a sky-light, over which a square of blue stuff had been
draped. In the subdued life they saw that there was nothing in that room
but a lounge well fitted with soft cushions and pillows--and on it, his
spare figure wrapped in a loose gown, lay a young Chinaman, who, as the
foremost advanced upon him, blinked in their wondering faces out of eyes
the pupils of which were still contracted. Near him lay an opium pipe--
close by, on a tiny stand, the materials for more consumption of the drug.
The man who had accompanied the Inspector in his entrance to the tea-shop
strode forward and seized the recumbent figure by the shoulder, shaking
"Now then!" he said, sharply, "wake up, my man! Are you Chang Li?"
The glazed eyes lifted themselves a little wonderingly; the dry lips
"Yes," he muttered. "Chang Li--yes. You want me?"
"How long have you been here?" demanded the questioner.
"How long--yes? Oh--I don't know. What do you want?" asked Chang Li. "I
don't know you."
The tea-maker thrust his head inside the room.
"He can't tell you anything," he said, with a grin. "He has been--what you
call on the break-out--with opium--ever so many days. He has--attacks that
way. Takes a fit of it--just as some of your people take to the drink.
He's coming out of it, now--and he'll be very, very unhappy tomorrow."
The Inspector twisted round on the informant.
"Look here!" he said. "Do you know how long he's been here--stupifying
himself? Is it a day--or days?"
One of the chess-players lifted a stolid face.
"He has been here--like that--several days," he said. "It's useless trying
to do anything with him when he takes the fit--the craving, you
understand?--into his head. If you want any information out of him, you'd
better call again in a few hours."
"Do you mean to tell me he's been here--like that--several days?" demanded
"The young man with the tea-pot grinned again.
"He's never been at a class at the medical school since the 17th," he
announced. "I know that--he's in some classes with me. He's been here--all
the time since then."
The Inspector turned sharply on Ayscough.
"The 17th!" he exclaimed. "And that affair was on the 18th! Then--"
Chang Li was fumbling in a pocket of his gown. He found something there,
raised a hand to his lips, swallowed something. And in a few seconds, as
his eyes grew brighter, he turned a suspicious and sullen glance on the
group which stood watching him.
"What do you want?" he growled. "Who are you?"
"We want some information from you," said the Inspector. "When did you
last see your brother, or friend, or whatever he is--Chen Li?"
Chang Li shook his head--it was obvious that he had no clear recollection.
"Don't know," he answered. "Perhaps just now--perhaps tomorrow--perhaps
not for a long time."
"When were you last at home--in Maida Vale?" asked the Inspector.
But Chang Li gave no answer to that beyond a frown, and it was evident
that as his wits cleared his temper was becoming ugly. He began to look
round with more intelligence, scanning one face after another with growing
dislike, and presently he muttered certain observations to himself which,
though not in English, sounded anything but complimentary to those who
watched him. And Ayscough suddenly turned to the superior officials.
"If this man's been here ever since the 17th," he said, "he can't have had
anything to do with the affairs in Praed Street and Maida Vale! Supposing,
now--I'm only supposing--that young Jap's been lying all the time?" He
turned again--this time on the two chess-players, who had now interrupted
their game and were leaning back in their chairs, evidently amused at the
baffled faces of the searchers. "Here!" he said, "do you know one Yada--
Mori Yada--a Japanese? Is he one of you?"
"Oh, yes!" answered one of the chess-players. "Yada,--yes! We know him--a
very smart fellow, Yada. You know him--too?"
But before Ayscough could reply to this somewhat vexatious question, a man
who had been left in the tearooms came hurrying up the staircase and burst
in upon them. He made straight for the Inspector.
"Man from the office, Sir, outside in a taxi!" he exclaimed breathlessly.
"You're on the wrong track--you're to get to Multenius's shop in Praed
Street at once. The real man's there!"
THE JEW AND THE JAP
When Melky Rubinstein slipped quietly out of the police-station, he
crossed the street, and taking up a position just within a narrow alley on
the other side, set himself to watch the door which he had just quitted.
There was a deep design in his mind, and he meant to carry it out--alone.
Mr. Mori Yada, apparently as cool and unconcerned as ever, presently
tripped down the steps of the police-station and went leisurely off,
swinging his neatly rolled umbrella. As long as he was within sight of the
police-station windows he kept up the same gentle pace--but as soon as he
had turned the first corner his steps were quickened, and he made for a
spot to which Melky had expected him to make--a cab-rank, on which two or
three taxi-cabs were drawn up. He had reached the first, and was
addressing the driver, when Melky, who had kept a few yards in the rear,
stole gently up to his side and tapped him on the shoulder.
"Mister!" said Melky. "A word--in private!"
Yada turned on his interrupter with the swiftness of a snake, and for a
second his white teeth showed themselves in an unmistakable snarl, and a
savage gleam came into his dark eyes. Both snarl and gleam passed as
quickly as they had come, and the next instant he was smiling--as blandly
"Oh, yes!" he said. "It is you--how do you do? Perhaps you are going my
way--I can give you a lift--Yes?"
Melky drew his man away a yard or two, and lowered his voice to a whisper.
"Mister!" he said, with a note of deep confidence which made Yada look at
him with a sudden sense of fear. "Mister!--I wouldn't go no way at all if
I was you--just now. You're in danger, mister--you shoved your head into
the lions' den when you walked in where I've just seen you! Deep, deep is
them fellows, mister!--they're having you on toast. I know where you're
thinking of going, mister, in that cab. Don't go--take my tip!"
"How do you know where I'm going?" demanded Yada.
"I was looking over Levendale's shoulder when he wrote that bit of a
cheque, mister," answered Melky, in his quietest accents. "You're off to
his bank to turn it into cash. And--if you walk into that bank--well,
you'll never walk out again, alone! Mister!--they're going to collar you
there--there's a trap laid for you!"
Melky was watching Yada's face out of his own eye-corners, and he saw the
olive-tinted skin pale a little, and the crafty eyes contract. And on the
instant he pursued his tactics and his advantage. He had purposely steered
the Japanese into a more crowded part of the street, and now he edged him
into a bye-alley which led to a rookery of narrow bye-streets beyond. He
felt that Yada was yielding--oppressed by a fear of the unknown. But
suddenly Yada paused--drawing back from the hand which Melky had kept on
"What are you after?" he demanded. "What is your game eh? You think to
alarm me!--what do you want?"
"Nothing unreasonable, mister," answered Melky. "You'll easily satisfy me.
Game? Come, now, mister--I know your game! Bank first--to get some ready--
then somewhere to pick up a bit of luggage--then, a railway station.
That's it, ain't it, now? No blooming good, mister--they're ready for you
the minute you walk into that bank! If they don't take you then, they'll
only wait to follow you to the station. Mister!--you ain't a cat's
chance!--you're done--if you don't make it worth my while to help you!
Yada looked round, doubtfully. They had turned two or three corners by
that time, and were in a main street, which lay at the back of Praed
Street. He glanced at Melky's face--which suggested just then nothing but
cunning and stratagem.
"What can you do for me?" he asked. "How much do you want? You want money,
"Make it a hundred quid, mister," said Melky. "Just a hundred of the best,
and I'll put you where all the police in London won't find you for the
rest of today, and get you out of it at night in such a fashion that
you'll be as safe as if you was at home. You won't never see your home in
Japan, again, mister, if you don't depend on yours truly! And a hundred
ain't nothing--considering what you've got at stake."
"I haven't a hundred pounds to give you," answered Yada. "I have scarcely
any money but this cheque."
"In course you ain't, mister!" agreed Melky. "I twigged your game straight
off--you only came there to the police-station to put yourself in funds
for your journey! But that's all right!--you come along of me, and let me
put you in safety--then you give me that cheque--I'll get it cashed in ten
minutes without going to any banks--see? Friend o' mine hereabouts--he'll
cash it at his bank close by--anybody'll cash a cheque o' Levendale's.
Come on, now, mister. We're close to that little port o' refuge I'm
telling you about."
The bluff was going down--Melky felt, as much as saw, that Yada was
swallowing it in buckets. And he slipped his hand within his companion's
arm, piloted him along the street, across Praed Street, round the back of
the houses into the narrow passage which communicated with the rear of the
late Daniel Multenius's premises, and in at the little door which opened
on the parlour wherein so many events had recently taken place.
"Where are you taking me?" asked Yada, suspiciously, as they crossed the
"All serene, mister!" answered Melky, reassuringly. "Friend o' mine here
--my cousin. All right--and all secure. You're as safe here as you will be
in your grave, mister--s'elp me, you are! Zillah!"
Zillah walked into the parlour and justified Melky's supreme confidence in
her by showing no surprise or embarrassment. She gave Yada the merest
glance, and turned to Melky.
"Bit o' business with this young gentleman, Zillah," said Melky. "That
little room, upstairs, now--what?" "Oh, all right!" said Zillah,
indifferently. "You know your way--you'll be quiet enough there."
Melky signed to Yada to follow him, and led the way up the stairs to the
very top of the house. He conducted the Japanese into the small room in
which were some ancient moth-and-worm-eaten bits of furniture, an old
chest or two, and a plenitude of dust--and carefully closed the door when
he and his captive had got inside.
"Now, mister!" he said, "you're as safe here as you could be in any spot
in the wide world. Let's get to business--and let's understand each other.
You want that cheque turned into cash--you want to get out of London
tonight? All right--then hand over your check and keep quiet till I come
back. Is there anything else now--any bit of luggage you want?"
"You do all this if I pay you one hundred pounds?" asked Yada.
"That'll do me, mister," answered Melky. "I'm a poor fellow, d'ye see?--I
don't pick up a hundred quid every day, I assure you! So if there is
"A suit-case--at the luggage office at Oxford Circus Tube," said Yada. "I
must have it--papers, you understand. If you will get me that--"
"Give me the ticket--and that cheque," said Melky. He slipped the two bits
of paper into his pocket, and made for the door. "I'll turn the key
outside," he said. "You'll be safer. Make yourself comfortable, mister--
I'll be back in an hour with the money and the goods."
Two minutes later Melky confronted Zillah in the parlour and grinned at
her. Zillah regarded him suspiciously.
"What's this, Melky?" she demanded. "What're you up to?"
"Zillah!" said Melky, "you'll be proud of your cousin, Melky Rubinstein,
before ever it's dinner-time--you will do, Zillah! And in the meantine,
keep your counsel, Zillah, while he fetches a nice large policeman."
"Is that Japanese locked in that little room?" asked Zillah.
Melky tapped the side of his nose, and without a word looked out into the
street. A policeman, large enough for all practical purposes, was lounging
along the side-walk; another, equally bulky, was looking into a shop-
window twenty yards away across the street. Within a couple of minutes
Melky had both in the back-parlour and was giving them and Zillah a swift
but particular account of his schemes.
"You're sure you're right, Melky?" asked Zillah. "You're not making any
"Mistake!" exclaimed Melky, satirically. "You'll see about that in a
minute! Now," he added, turning to the policemen, "you come quietly up--
and do exactly what I've told you. We'll soon know about mistakes,
Yada, left to himself, had spent his time in gazing out of the dirty
window of his prison. There was not much of a prospect. The window
commanded the various backyards of that quarter. As if to consider any
possible chance of escape, he looked out. There was a projection beneath
him, a convenient water-pipe--he might make a perilous descent, if need
arose. But, somehow, he believed in that little Jew: he believed, much
more, in the little Jew's greed for a hundred pounds of ready money. The
little Jew with the cunning smile had seen his chance of making a quiet
penny, and had taken it--it was all right, said Yada, all right. And yet,
there was one horrible thought--supposing, now that Melky had got the
cheque, that he cashed it and made off with all the money, never to
On top of that thought, Melky did return--much sooner than Yada had
expected. He opened the door and beckoned the prisoner out into the dark
lobby at the top of the stairs.
"Come here a minute, mister," said Melky, invitingly. "Just a word!"
Yada, all unsuspecting, stepped out--and found his arms firmly gripped by
two bulky policemen. The policemen were very quiet--but Melky laughed
gleefully while Yada screamed and cursed him. And while he laughed Melky
went through his prisoner's pockets in a knowing and skilful fashion, and
when he had found what he expected to find, he made his helpers lock Yada
up again, and taking them downstairs to the parlour laid his discoveries
on the table before them and Zillah. There was a great orange-yellow
diamond in various folds of tissue-paper, and a thick wad of bank-notes,
with an indiarubber band round them.
These valuables lay, carelessly displayed, on the table when the party
from Pilmansey's Tea Rooms came tumbling into the shop and the parlour, an
hour later. Melky was calmly smoking a cigar--and he went on smoking it as
he led the Inspector and his men upstairs to the prisoner. He could not
deprive himself of the pleasure of a dig at Ayscough.
"Went one better than you again, Mr. Ayscough," he said, as he laid his
hand on the key of the locked room. "Now if I hadn't seen through my young
But there, as Melky threw open the door, his words of assurance came to an
end. His face dropped as he stared into an empty room. Yada had risked his
neck, and gone down the water-pipe.
THE DIAMOND NECKLACE
For the better part of a fortnight the sleuth-hounds of New Scotland Yard
hunted for Mr. Mori Yada in all the likely and unlikely places in London
and sent out their enquiries much further afield. They failed to find him.
One small clue they got, with little difficulty. After the hue-and-cry was
fairly out, an Edgware Road pawnbroker came forward and informed the
police that at two o'clock, or thereabouts, on the afternoon of the day on
which Yada had made his escape from the window, a young Japanese gentleman
who gave his name as Mr. Motono and his address at a small hotel close by
and who volunteered the explanation that he was temporarily short of cash
until a remittance arrived, had borrowed five pounds from him on a pearl
tie-pin which he had drawn from his cravat. That was Yada, without a
doubt--but from that point Yada vanished.
But hunger is the cleverest detective, and at the end of the fortnight,
certain officials of the Japanese embassy in London found themselves
listening to a strange tale from the fugitive, who had come to the end of
his loan, had nowhere to turn and no one but the representatives of his
nation to whom he could appeal. Yada told a strange tale--and all the
stranger because, as the police officials who were called in to hear it
anew recognized that there was probably some truth in it. It amounted,
when all was heard, to this--Yada was willing to confess that for a few
days he had been a successful thief, but he stoutly denied that he was a
This was his story:--On the 18th November, in the evening, he was at the
club which housed itself in Pilmansey's attic. There he saw Chang Li, who,
according to the other members who were there, was beginning one of his
periodic fits of opium smoking, and had been in the inner room, stupifying
himself, since the previous day. Yada knew that it was highly necessary
that Chang Li should be in attendance at certain classes at the medical
school during the next few days, and tried to rouse him out of his
debauch, with no result. Next day, the 19th, he went to Pilmansey's again
--Chang Li was still in the realms of bliss and likely to stop there until
he had had enough of them. For two days nobody at the club nor at the
school had seen Chen Li--and Chen Li was the only person who could do
anything with Chang. So, late that night of the 19th November, Yada went
up to Maida Vale, taking Chang Li's keys with him. He admitted himself to
garden and house and found the house empty. But just as he was entering
the front door he heard the voice of Chen Li at the garden gate; he also
heard the voice of an Englishman. Also he caught something of what that
Englishman said. He was telling Chen Li that he'd better take him, the
Englishman, inside, and settle with him--or things would be all the worse.
And at that, he, Yada, had slipped into the house, quietly closed the
front door behind him, gone into the front room, hidden himself behind a
curtain and waited.
Into that front room, Chen Li had presently conducted a man. He was, said
Yada, a low-class Englishman--what is called a Cockney. He had begun to
threaten Chen Li at once. He told his tale. He was, said this fellow, next
door neighbour to Mr. Daniel Multenius, in Praed Street, Chen Li's
landlord: his name, if Chen Li wanted to know it, was Parslett, fruitier
and green-grocer, and it was there, bold as brass, over his shop-door, for
him or anybody to look at. He had a side-door to his house: that side-door
was exactly opposite a side-door in Mr. Multenius's house, opening into
his back-parlour. Now, the previous afternoon, he, Parslett, had had a
consignment of very fine mushrooms sent in--rare things at that time of
year--and knowing that the old man had a great taste for them and didn't
mind what price he paid, he stepped across with a dish of them to tempt
him. He found Mr. Multenius in his parlour--he was counting a lot of bank-
notes--they must, said Parslett, have represented a large sum. The old man
bade him leave the mushrooms, said he'd send him the money across
presently, and motioned him out. Parslett put the dish of mushrooms aside
on a chiffonier and went away. Somewhat later, chancing to be at his front
door and looking out into the street, he saw Chen Li open the door of
Multenius's shop and go swiftly away. Half-an-hour after that he heard
that something had happened at Multenius's--later in the evening he heard
definitely that the old man had been assaulted under circumstances which
pointed to murder for the sake of robbery. And then he, Parslett, now put
two and two together--and had fixed on Chen Li as the culprit. And now--
how much, was Chen Li going to pay for silence?
According to Yada, Chen Li had had little to say--his chief anxiety,
indeed, had been to find out what the man wanted. Parslett was definite
enough about that. He wanted a thousand pounds--and he wanted it in gold,
and as much of it as Chen Li could hand out there and then. He refused to
believe that Chen Li hadn't gold in considerable quantity somewhere about
--he must, said Parslett, have changed some of those notes since he had
stolen them the previous day. Chen Li protested that he had but some fifty
or sixty pounds in gold available--but he promised to have the rest of the
thousand ready on the following evening. Finally, he handed Parslett fifty
pounds, arranged that he should call the next night--and then invited him
to take a drink. Parslett pocketed the money and accepted the invitation--
and Yada, from his hiding-place, saw Chen Li go to the sideboard, mix
whisky and soda and pour into the mixture a few drops from a phial which
he took from his waistcoat pocket. Parslett drank off the contents of the
glass--and Chen Li went down to the gate with him.
Yada followed to the front door and, through a slight opening, watched.
The garden was fairly well lighted by the moon, which had recently risen.
He saw Chen Li let the man out. He saw him turn from the gate and slowly
come back towards the house. And then he saw something else--the sudden
spring, from behind a big laurel bush, of a man--a short-statured, slight-
figured man, who leapt on Chen Li with the agility of a panther. He saw
the flash of a knife in the moonlight--he heard a muffled cry, and
startled groan--and saw Chen Li pitch forward and lie evidently lifeless,
where he fell. He saw the assailant stoop, seize his victim by the
shoulders and drag him behind the shrubbery. Then, without further delay,
the murderer hurried to the gate. Evidently assured himself that there was
no one about, let himself out, and was gone.
By all the solemn oaths that he could think of, Yada swore that this was
true. Of another thing he was certain--the murderer was a Chinese.
Now began his own career of crime. He was just then very hard up. He had
spent much more than his allowance--he was in debt at his lodgings and
elsewhere. Somewhere, he felt sure, there was, in that house, the money
which Chen Li had evidently stolen from old Multenius. He immediately set
to work to find it. But he had no difficulty--the bank-notes were in the
drawer from which he had seen Chen Li take the gold which he had given to
the blackmailer, Parslett. He hurriedly transferred them to his own
pocket, and got away from the house by the door at the back of the garden
--and it was not until late that night, in the privacy of his own rooms,
that he found he had nearly eighty thousand pounds in his possession.
For some days, said Yada, he was at a loss what to do with his booty. He
was afraid of attempting to change five hundred pound notes. He made
cautious enquiries as to how that could be done--and he began to think
that the notes were so much waste paper to him. And then Ayscough called
on him--and for the first time, he heard the story of the orange-yellow
That gave him an idea. He had a very accurate knowledge of Chinese habits
and characteristics, and he felt sure that Chen Li would have hidden that
diamond in his pig-tail. So he took advantage of his possession of the
detective's card to go to the mortuary, to get a minute or two alone with
the body, and to slip his hand underneath the dead man's silk cap. There
he found the diamond--and he knew that whether the bank-notes were to be
of any value to him or not, the diamond would be if he could only escape
to the Continent.
But--he wanted funds; wanted them badly. He thereupon conceived the bold
idea of getting a reward for his knowledge. He went to the police-station
with a merely modest motive in his mind--fifty pounds would carry him to
Vienna, where he knew how to dispose of the diamond at once, with no
questions asked. But when he found the owners of the diamond and the bank-
notes present he decided to play for higher stakes. He got what he asked
for--and, if it had not been for that little Jew, he said malevolently, he
would have got out of England that eventful afternoon. But--it was not so
written--and the game was up. Only--what he had said was true. Now let
them do what they could for him--but let them search for Chen Li's
* * * * *
The folk who had been chiefly concerned about the orange-yellow diamond
and the eighty thousand pounds' worth of Bank of England notes were not so
much troubled about proving the truth of Yada's strange story as Yada
himself was--the main point to them was that they had recovered their
property. Naturally they felt remarkably grateful to Melky Rubinstein for
his astuteness in circumventing Yada at what might have been the last
moment. And one day, at that portion of it when business was slack and
everybody was feeling comfortable after dinner, Melky called on Mrs.
Goldmark and became confidentially closeted with her in a little parlour
behind her establishment which she kept sacred to herself. Mrs. Goldmark,
who had quick eyes, noticed that Melky was wearing his best clothes, and a
new silk hat, and new gloves, and had put his feet into patent-leather
boots which she secretly and sympathizingly--felt to be at least a size
too small for him. He sighed as he sat near her on the sofa--and Mrs.
Goldmark looked at him with concern.
"Such a time you have lately, Mr. Rubinstein, don't you?" she said
feelingly. "Such worries--such troubles! And the risk you ran taking that
wicked young man all by yourself--so brave of you! You'd ought to have one
of these medals what they give to folks, so!"
"You think that?" responded Melky, brightening suspiciously. "Oh, Mrs.
Goldmark, your words is like wine--all my life I been wishing some
beautiful woman would say them things to me! Now I feel like I was two
foot taller, Mrs. Goldmark! But I don't want no medals--not me. Mr.
Levendale and Mr. Purvis, they came to me and say they must give me a
reward--handsome reward, you understand, for getting back their goods. So
I say no--I won't have nothing for myself--nothing. But, I say, just so--
there is one that should be rewarded. Mrs. Goldmark!--do you know what? I
think of you when I say that!"
Mrs. Goldmark uttered a feeble scream, clasped her hands, and stared at
Melky out of her melting eyes.
"Me?" she exclaimed. "Why--I ain't done nothing, Mr. Rubinstein!"
"Listen to me," persisted Melky. "What I says to Mr. Levendale is this
here--if Mrs. Goldmark hadn't had her eating establishment, and if Mr.
Purvis hadn't gone into it to eat a chop and to drop his platinum
solitaire on the table, and if Mrs. Goldmark hadn't taken care of that
platinum solitaire, and if things hadn't sprung from it--eh, what then, I
should like to know? So Mrs. Goldmark is entitled to whatever little
present there is!--that's how I put it, Mrs. Goldmark. And Mr. Levendale
and Mr. Purvis, they agreed with me--and oh, Mrs. Goldmark, ain't you
going to be nice and let me put this round your beautiful neck?"
Mrs. Goldmark screamed again as Melky produced a diamond necklace, lying
in a blue velvet bed in a fine morocco case. The glitter of the diamonds
turned both beholders hoarse with emotion.
"Do you know what, Mrs. Goldmark!" whispered Melky. "It cost a thousand
guineas--and no error! Now you bend your lovely head, and I puts it on
you--oh, ain't you more beautiful than the Queen of Sheba! And ain't you
Melky's queen, Mrs. Goldmark--say you was!"
"Lor', Mr. Rubinstein!" said Mrs. Goldmark, coyly. "It's as if you was
proposing to me!"
"Why, ain't I?" exclaimed Melky, gathering courage. "Don't you see I'm in
all my best clothes? Ain't it nothing but weddings, just now? There's Mr.
Lauriston a-going to marry Zillah, and Mr. Purdie's a-fixing it up with
Levendale's governess, and--oh, Mrs. Goldmark, ain't I worshipped you
every time I come to eat my dinner in your eating house? Ain't you the
loveliest woman in all Paddington. Say the word, Mrs. Goldmark--don't you
see I'm like as if I was that hungry I could eat you?"
Then Mrs. Goldmark said the word--and presently escaped from Melky's
embrace to look at herself and her necklace in the mirror.