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The Rayner-Slade Amalgamation by J. S. Fletcher

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engagement. Then we can talk. I suppose," he continued, turning to the
manager, "she first announced her loss to you?"

"She announced her loss to the whole world, in a way of speaking,"
answered the manager, with a dry laugh.

"She screamed it out over the main staircase into the hall! Everybody in
the place knows it by this time--she took good care they should. I don't
know how she can have been robbed--so far as I can learn she's scarcely
been out of these rooms since she came into them yesterday afternoon. The
grand piano had been put in for her before she arrived, and she's spent
all her time singing and playing--I don't believe she's ever left the
hotel. And as I pointed out to her when she fetched me up, she found this
box locked when she went to it--why didn't the thieves carry it bodily
away? Why--"

"Just so--just so!" broke in Fullaway. "I quite appreciate your points.
But there is more in this than meets the first glance. Let us get
Mademoiselle off to her engagement, I say--that's the first thing. Then
we can do business. Weiss," he continued, drawing the concert-director
aside, "you must arrange to let her appear as soon as possible after you
get back to the hall, and to put forward her appearance in the second
half of your program, so that she can return here as soon as
possible--she'll only be in irrepressible fidgets until she knows what's
been done. And--you know what she is!--you ought to be very thankful that
she's allowed herself to be persuaded to go with you. Mademoiselle," he
went on, as the prima donna, fully attired, but innocent of jewelled
ornament, swept into the room, "you are doing the right thing--bravely!
Go, sing--sing your best, your divinest--let your admiring audience
recognize that you have a soul above even serious misfortune. Meanwhile,
allow me to order your supper to be served in this room, for eleven
o'clock, and permit me and my friend, Mr. Allerdyke, to invite ourselves
to share it with you. Then--we will give you some news that will
interest and astonish you."

"That only makes me all the more frantic to get back," exclaimed the
prima donna. "Come along, now, Weiss--you've got a car outside, I
suppose? Hurry, then, and let me get it over."

When the vastly relieved concert-director had led his bundle of silks and
laces safely out, Fullaway laughed and turned to the other men.

"Now, gentlemen," he said, "perhaps we can have a little quiet talk about
this affair." He flung himself into a seat and nodded at the
hotel-manager. "Just tell us exactly what's happened since Mademoiselle
arrived here," he said. "Let's get an accurate notion of all her doings.
She came--when?"

"She got here about the beginning of yesterday afternoon," answered the
manager, who did not appear to be too well pleased about this disturbance
of his usual proceedings. "She has always had this suite of rooms
whenever she has sung in Edinburgh before, and it was understood that
whenever she wrote or wired for them we were to arrange for a grand
piano, properly tuned to concert-pitch, to be put in for her. She wrote
for the suite over a fortnight ago from Russia, and, of course, we had
everything in readiness for her. She turned up, as I say, yesterday,
alone--she explained something about her maid having been obliged to
leave her on arrival in England, and since she came she's had the
services of one of our smartest chambermaids, whom she herself picked out
after carefully inspecting a whole dozen of them. That chambermaid can
tell you that Mademoiselle's scarcely left her rooms since then, and it's
an absolute mystery to me that any person could get in here, open this
box, and abstract its contents. As I say--if anybody wanted to steal her
jewels, why didn't he pick up this box and carry it bodily off instead of
hanging about to pick the lock? I don't believe--"

"Ah, quite so!" interrupted Fullaway. "I quite agree with you. Now, at
what time did Mademoiselle announce the loss of her jewels?"

"Oh, about--say, an hour ago. This chambermaid--she's there in
the bedroom now--was helping her to dress for the concert.
She--Mademoiselle--went to this box to get out what ornaments she wanted.
According to the girl, she let out an awful scream, and, just as she was,
rushed to the head of the main stairs--these rooms, as you see, are on
our first floor--and began to shout for me, for anybody, for everybody.
The hall below was just then full of people--coming in and out of the
dining-room and so on. She set the whole place going with the noise she
made," added the manager, visibly annoyed. "It would have been far better
if she'd shown some reserve--"

"Reserve is certainly an admirable quality," commented Fullaway, "but
it is foreign to young ladies of Mademoiselle's temperament.
Well--and then?"

"Oh, then, of course, I came up to her suite. She showed me this box. It
had stood, she declared, on a table by her bedside, close to her pillows,
from the moment she entered her rooms yesterday. She swore that it ought
to have been full of her jewels--in cases. When she had opened it--just
before this--it was empty. Of course, she demanded the instant presence
of the police. Also, she insisted that I should at once, that minute,
lock every door in the hotel, and arrest every person in it until their
effects and themselves could be rigorously searched and examined.

"As you doubtless said," remarked Fullaway.

"No--I said nothing. Instead I telephoned for police assistance. These
two officers came. And," concluded the manager, with a sympathetic glance
at the detectives, "since they came Mademoiselle has done nothing but
insist on arresting every soul within these walls--she seems to think
there's a universal conspiracy against her."

"Exactly," said Fullaway. "It is precisely what she would think--under
the circumstances. Now let us see this chambermaid."

The manager opened the door of the bedroom, and called in a pretty,
somewhat shy, Scotch damsel, who betrayed a becoming confusion at the
sight of so many strangers. But she gave a plain and straightforward
account of her relations with Mademoiselle since the arrival of
yesterday. She had been in almost constant attendance on Mademoiselle
ever since her election to the post of temporary maid--had never left her
save at meal-times. The little chest had stood at Mademoiselle's bed-head
always--she had never seen it moved, or opened. There was a door leading
into the bedroom from the corridor. Mademoiselle had never left the suite
of rooms since her arrival. She had talked that morning of going for a
drive, but rain had begun to fall, and she had stayed in. Mademoiselle
had seemed utterly horrified when she discovered her loss. For a moment
she had sunk on her bed as if she were going to faint; then she had
rushed out into the corridor, just as she was, screaming for the manager
and the police.

When the pretty chambermaid had retired, Fullaway took up the box from
which the missing property was believed to have been abstracted. He
examined it with seeming indifference, yet he announced its particulars
and specifications with business-like accuracy.

"Well--this chest, cabinet, or box," he observed carelessly. "Let us look
at it. Here, gentlemen, we have a piece of well-made work. It is--yes,
eighteen inches square all ways. It is made of--yes, rosewood. Its
corners, you see, are clamped with brass. It has a swing handle, fitted
into this brass plate which is sunk into the lid. It has also three brass
letters sunk into that lid--Z. D. L. Its lock does not appear to be of
anything but an ordinary nature. Taking it altogether, I don't think this
is the sort of thing in which you would believe a lady was carrying
several thousand pounds' worth of pearls and diamonds. Eh?"

One of the detectives stirred uneasily--he did not quite understand the
American's light and easy manner, and he seemed to suspect him of

"We ought to be furnished with a list of the missing articles," he said.
"That's the first thing."

"By no means," replied Fullaway. "That, my dear sir, is neither the
first, nor the second, nor the third thing. There is much to do before we
get to that stage. At present, you, gentlemen, cannot do anything.
To-morrow morning, perhaps, when I have consulted with Mademoiselle de
Longarde, I may call you in again--or call upon you. In the meantime,
there's no need to detain you. Now," he continued, turning to the
manager, when the detectives, somewhat puzzled and bewildered, had left
the room, "will you see that your nicest supper is served--for three--in
this room at eleven o'clock, against Mademoiselle's return? Send up your
best champagne. And do not allow yourself to dwell on Mademoiselle's
agitation on discovering her loss. That agitation was natural. If it is
any consolation to you, I will give you a conclusion which may be
satisfactory to your peace of mind as manager. What is it? Merely
this--that though Mademoiselle de Longarde has undoubtedly lost her
jewels, they were certainly not stolen from her in this hotel!"



When the manager, much appeased and relieved in mind, had gone, Fullaway
tapped at the door of the bedroom, summoned the pretty chambermaid, and
handed her the rosewood box.

"Put this back exactly where Mademoiselle has kept it since she came
here," he commanded. "Now you yourself--you're going to stay in the rooms
until she comes back from the concert? That's right--if she returns
before my friend and I come up again, tell her that we shall present
ourselves at five minutes to eleven. Come downstairs, Allerdyke," he
proceeded, leading the way from the room. "We must book rooms for the
night here, so we'll send to the station for our things and make our
arrangements, after which we'll smoke a cigar and talk--I am beginning to
see chinks of daylight."

He led Allerdyke down to the office, completed the necessary
arrangements, and went on to the smoking-room, in a quiet corner of which
he pulled out his cigar-case.

"Well?" he said. "What do you think now?"

"I think you're a smart chap," answered Allerdyke bluntly. "You did all
that very well. I said naught, but I kept an eye and an ear open.
You'll do."

"Very complimentary!--but I wasn't asking you what you thought about me,"
said Fullaway, with a laugh. "I'm asking you what you think of the
situation, as illuminated by this last episode?"

"Well, I'm still reflecting on what you said to that manager
chap," answered Allerdyke. "You really think this young woman has
lost her jewels?"

"Oh, no doubt, no doubt at all," replied Fullaway. "Mademoiselle is
impetuous, impulsive, demonstrative, much given to insisting on her own
way, but she's absolutely honest and truthful, and I've no doubt
whatever--none!--that she's been robbed. But--not here. She never brought
those jewels here. They were not in that box when she came here.
Mademoiselle, my dear sir, was relieved of those jewels either on the
steamer, as she crossed from, Christiania to Hull, or during the few
hours she spent at the Hull hotel. The whole thing--the robbery from your
cousin, the robbery from Mademoiselle de Longarde--is all the work of a
particularly clever and brilliant gang of international thieves; and, by
the holy smoke, sir, we've got our hands full! For there isn't a clue to
the identity of the operators, so far, unless the lady with whom we are
going to sup can help us to one."

Allerdyke ruminated over this for a moment or two. Then, after lighting
the cigar which Fullaway had offered him, he shook his head--in grim

"I shouldn't wonder," he said. "Certainly, it seems a big thing. You're
figuring on its having been a carefully concocted scheme? No mere chance
affair, eh?"

"This sort of thing's never done by chance," responded the American.
"This is the work of very clever and accomplished thieves who somehow
became aware of two facts. One, that your cousin was bringing with him to
England the jewels of the Princess Nastirsevitch. The other, that
Mademoiselle Zelie de Longarde carried her pearls and diamonds in an
innocent-looking rosewood box. My dear sir! you observed that I examined
that box with seeming carelessness--in reality, I was looking at it with
the eye of a trained observer. I am one of those people who, from having
knocked about the world a lot, engaging in a multifarious variety of
occupations, have picked up a queer scrap-heap of knowledge, and I will
lay you any odds you like that I am absolutely correct in affirming that
the box which I just now handed to Maggie, the chambermaid, was newly
made by a Russian cabinet-maker within the last four weeks!"

"For a purpose?" suggested Allerdyke.

"Just so--for a purpose," assented Fullaway. "That purpose being, of
course, its substitution for the real original article. You did not
handle the box which is now upstairs--it is carefully weighted, though it
is empty. I believe--nay, I am sure, it contains a sheet of lead under
its delicate lining of satin. That, of course, was to deceive
Mademoiselle. You heard her say that the jewels were in her box at
Christiania, and that she never opened the box until this evening here in
Edinburgh? Very good--between here and Christiania somebody substituted
the imitation box for the real one. Ah!--in all these great criminal
operations there is nothing like sticking to the old, well-worn,
tried-and-proved tricks of the trade!--they are like well-oiled,
well-practised machinery. And now we come back to the real, great,
anxious question--Who did it? And there, Allerdyke, we are at
present--only at present, mind!--up against a very big, blank wall."

"On the other side of which, my lad, lies the secret of the murder of my
cousin," said Allerdyke grimly. "Mind you that! That's what I'm after,
Fullaway. Damn all these jewels and things, in comparison with
that!--it's that I'm after, I tell you again, and a thousand times again.
And I'm considering if I'm doing any good hanging round here after this
singing woman when the probable sphere of action lies yonder away at
Hull, eh?"

"The proper--not probable--sphere of action, my dear sir, is the
supper-table to which we're presently going," answered Fullaway, with
supreme assurance. "What the singing woman, as you call her, can tell us
will most likely make all the difference in the world to our
investigations. Remember the shoe-buckle! Have it ready to exhibit when I
lead up to it. Then--we shall see."

The prima donna, back for her engagement at eleven o'clock, came in
flushed and smiling--the extraordinary warmth and fervour of her
reception by the audience which she had at first been so inclined to
treat with scant courtesy had restored her to good humour, and when she
had eaten a few mouthfuls of delicate food and drunk her first glass of
champagne she began to laugh almost light-heartedly.

"Well, I suppose you've been doing your best, Fullaway," she said, with
easy familiarity. "I declare you turned up at the very moment, for that
fat Weiss would have been no good. But I'm still wondering how you came
to be here, and what this gentleman--Mr. Allerdyke, is it?--is doing here
with you. Allerdyke, now--well, that's the same name as that of a man I
came across from Christiania with, and left at Hull."

Fullaway kicked Allerdyke under the table.

"You haven't heard of that Mr. Allerdyke since you left him at Hull,
then?" he asked, gazing intently at their hostess.

"Heard? How should I hear?" asked the prima donna. "He was just a
travelling acquaintance. All the same, I had certainly fixed up to see
him in London on a business matter."

"You don't read the newspapers, then?" suggested Fullaway.

"Not unless there's something about myself in them," she answered, with
an arch smile at Allerdyke.

"If you'd read this morning's papers, you'd have seen that the Mr.
Allerdyke with whom you travelled--this gentleman's cousin, by the
by--was found dead in his room at the hotel in Hull not so long after you
quitted it," said Fullaway coolly. "In fact, he must have been dead when
you passed his door on your way out."

The prima donna was genuinely shocked. She set down the glass which she
was just lifting to her lips; her large, handsome eyes dilated, her lips
quivered a little. She turned a look of sympathy on Allerdyke, who, at
that moment, realized that she was a very beautiful woman.

"You don't say so!" she exclaimed. "Well, I'm really grieved to hear
that--I am! Dead?--and when I left! Why, I was in his room that very
night we reached Hull, having a talk on the business matter I mentioned
just now--he was well enough and lively enough then, I'll swear.
Dead!--why, what did he die of?"

The two men looked at each other. There was a brief pause; then
Allerdyke slowly produced a small packet, wrapped in tissue-paper, from
his waistcoat pocket. He laid it on the table at his side and looked at
his hostess.

"I knew you had been in my cousin's room," he said. "You left or dropped
your shoe-buckle there. I found it when I searched his room. Then the
hotel manager showed me your wire. Here's the buckle."

He was watching her narrowly as he spoke, and his glance deepened in
intensity as he handed over the little packet and watched her unwrap the
paper. But there was not a sign of anything but a little surprised
satisfaction in the prima donna's face as she recognized her lost
property, and her eyes were ingenuous enough as she turned them on him.

"Why, of course, that's mine!" she exclaimed. "I'm ever so much obliged
to you, Mr. Allerdyke. Yes, I wired to the hotel, in my proper name, you
know--Zelie de Longarde is only my professional name. I didn't want to
lose that buckle--it was part of a birthday present from my mother. But
you don't mean to say that you travelled all the way to Edinburgh to hand
me that! Surely not?"

"No!" replied Allerdyke. He wanted to take a direct share in the talking,
and went resolutely ahead now that the chance had come. "No--not at all.
I knew you'd come to Edinburgh--found it out from that chauffeur who was
driving you when you and I met at Howden the night before last, and so I
came on to find you. I want to ask you some questions about my cousin,
and maybe to get you to come and give evidence at the inquest on him."

"Inquest!" she exclaimed. "I know what that means, of course. Why--you
don't say there's been anything wrong?"

"I believe my cousin was murdered that night," answered Allerdyke. "So,
too, does Fullaway there. And you were probably the last person who ever
spoke to him alive. Now, you see, I'm a plain, blunt-spoken sort of
chap--I ask people straight questions. What did you go into his room to
talk to him about?"

"Business!" she replied, with a directness which impressed both men.
"Mere business. He and I had several conversations on board the
_Perisco_--I made out he was a clever business man. I want to invest some
money--he advised me to put it into a development company in Norway,
which is doing big things in fir and pine. I went into his room to look
at some plans and papers--he gave me some prospectuses which are in that
bag there just now---I was reading them over again only this evening.
That's all. I wasn't there many minutes--and, as I told you, he was very
well, very brisk and lively then."

"Did he show you any valuables that he had with him--jewels?" asked
Allerdyke brusquely.

"Jewels! Valuables!" she answered. "No--certainly not."

"Nor when you were on the steamer?"

"No--nor at any time," she said. "Jewels?--why--what makes you ask such a

"Because my cousin had in his possession a consignment of such things, of
great value, and we believe that he was murdered for them--that's why,"
replied Allerdyke. "He had them when he left Christiania--he had them
when he entered the Hull hotel--"

Fullaway, who had been listening intently, leant forward with a shake
of his head.

"Stop at that, Allerdyke," he said. "We don't know, now, that he did have
them when he entered the hotel at Hull! He mayn't have had. Miss
Lennard--we'll drop the professional name and turn to the real one," he
said, with a bow to the prima donna--"Miss Lennard here thinks she had
her jewels in her little box when she entered the Hull hotel, and also
when she came to this hotel, here in Edinburgh, but--"

"Do you mean to say that I hadn't?" she exclaimed. "Do you mean--"

"I mean," replied Fullaway, "that, knowing what I now know, I believe
that both you and the dead man, James Allerdyke, were robbed on the
_Perisco_. And I want to ask you a question at once. Where is your maid!"

Celia Lennard dropped her knife and fork and sat back, suddenly
turning pale.

"My maid!" she said faintly. "Good heavens! you don't think--oh, you
aren't suggesting that she's the thief? Because--oh, this is dreadful!
You see--I never thought of it before--when she and I arrived at Hull
that night she was met by a man who described himself as her brother. He
was in a great state of agitation--he said he'd rushed up to Hull to meet
her, to beg her to go straight with him to their mother, who was dying in
London. Of course, I let her go at once--they drove straight from the
riverside at Hull to the station to catch the train. What else could I
do? I never suspected anything. Oh!"

Fullaway leaned across the table and filled his hostess's glass.

"Now," he said, motioning her to drink, "you know your maid's name and
address, don't you? Let me have them at once, and within a couple of
hours we'll know if the story about the dying mother was true."



It had been very evident to Allerdyke that ever since Fullaway had
mentioned the matter of the missing maid, Celia Lennard had become a
victim to doubt, suspicion, and uncertainty. Her colour came and went;
her eyes began to show signs of tears; her voice shook. And now, at the
American's direct question, she wrung her hands with an almost
despairing gesture.

"But I can't!" she exclaimed. "I don't know her address--how should I?
It's somewhere in London--Bloomsbury, I think--but even then I don't know
if that's where her mother lives, to whom she said she was going. I did
know her address--I mean I remembered it for a while, at the time I
engaged her--a year ago, but I've forgotten it. Oh! do you really think
she's robbed me, or helped to rob me?"

"Never mind opinions," answered Fullaway curtly. "They're no good. Is
this the maid you brought with you once or twice when you called at my
office some time ago, over the Pinkie Pell deal?"

"Yes--yes, the same!" she answered.

"A Frenchwoman?" said Fullaway.

"Yes--Lisette. Of course she went with me to your office--that was eight
or nine months ago, and I've had her a year. And I had excellent
testimonials with her, too. Oh, I can't think that--"

"Can't you make an effort to remember her address?" urged Fullaway.
"What can we do until we know that?"

Celia drew her fine eyebrows together in a palpable effort to think.

"I've got it somewhere," she said at last. "I must have it
somewhere--most likely in an address-book at my flat--I should be sure to
put it down at the time."

"Who is there at your flat?" asked Fullaway.

"My housekeeper and a maid," answered Celia. "They're always there,
whether I'm at home or not. But they couldn't get at what you want--all
my papers and things are locked up--and in a hopeless state of
confusion, too."

Fullaway pushed aside his plate.

"Then there's only one thing to be done," he said, with an accent of
finality. "We must go up to town at once."

Allerdyke, still quietly eating his supper, looked up.

"That's just what I was going to suggest," he said. "There's no good to
be done hanging about here. Let's get on to the scene of operations. If
Miss Lennard's maid has stolen her jewels, she's probably had some hand
in the theft from my cousin. We must find her. Now, then, let me come in.
I'll look up the train, settle up with these hotel folk, and we'll be
off. You give your attention to your packing, Miss Lennard, and leave the
rest to me--you won't mind travelling the night?"

Celia shook her head.

"I don't mind travelling all night for half a dozen nights if I can track
my lost property," she said lugubriously. "You're dead sure it's no use
stopping here?--that the robbery didn't take place here?"

"Sure!" answered Fullaway. "We must get off. That French damsel's got to
be found--somehow."

The supper-party came to an end--the prima donna and her temporary maid
began to bustle with garments and trunks, the two men attended to all
other necessary matters, and at two o'clock in the morning the three sped
out of Edinburgh for the South, each secretly wondering what was going to
come of their journey. Allerdyke, preparing to go to sleep in the
compartment which he and Fullaway occupied by themselves, dropped one
grim remark to his companion as he settled himself.

"Seems like a wild-goose chase this, my lad, but it's one we've got to go
through with! What'll the next stage be?"

The next stage was an arrival in London in the middle of a lovely May
morning, a swift drive to Celia Lennard's flat in Bedford Court Mansions,
the hurried rummaging of its owner amongst an extraordinary mass of
papers, books, and documents, and the ultimate discovery of the French
maid's address. Celia held it up with a sigh of vast relief, which
changed into a groan of despairing doubt.

"There it is!" she exclaimed. "Lisette Beaurepaire, 911 Bernard Street,
Bloomsbury--I knew it was Bloomsbury. That's where she lived when I
engaged her, anyhow--but then her sick mother mayn't live there! The man
who met her at Hull, who said he was her brother, didn't say where the
mother lived, except that it was in London."

"We must go to Bernard Street, anyway, at once," said Fullaway. "We may
get some information there."

But such information as they got on the door-step of 911 Bernard Street
was scanty and useless. The house was a typical Bloomsbury lodging-place,
let off in floors and rooms. Its proprietor, summoned from a
neighbouring house, recollected, with considerable difficulty and after
consultation of a penny pocket-book, that he had certainly let a
top-floor room to a young Frenchwoman about a year ago, but he had never
caught her name properly, and simply had her noted down as Mamselle. She
had paid her rent regularly, and had remained in the house five
weeks--that was all he knew about her. Had he ever seen her since? Not
that he knew of--in fact, he shouldn't know her if he saw her--they were
all pretty much alike, these young Frenchwomen. Did he know where she
came from to his house--where she went from his house? Not he! he knew no
more than what he had just told.

"What now?" asked Allerdyke as the three searchers paced dejectedly up
the street. "This is doing no good--it's worse than the Hull affair.
However, there's one thing suggests itself to me. Didn't you say," he
went on, turning to Celia, "that you had some very good testimonials with
this young woman? If so, and you've still got them, we might trace her in
that way."

"I had some, and I may have them still, but you saw just now what an
awful mess all my letters and papers are in," replied Celia, almost
tearfully. "I always do get things like that into hopeless confusion--I
never know what to destroy and what to keep, and they accumulate so. It
would take hours upon hours to look for those letters, and in the

"In the meantime," remarked Fullaway as he signalled to a taxi-cab,
"there's only one thing to be done. We must go to the police. Get in,
both of you, and let's make haste to New Scotland Yard."

Once more Allerdyke received an impression of the American's usefulness
and practical acquaintance with things. Fullaway seemed to know exactly
what to do, whom to approach, how to go about the business in hand;
within a few minutes all three were closeted with a high official of the
Criminal Investigation Department, a man who might have been a barrister,
a medical specialist, or a scientist of distinction, and who maintained
an unmoved countenance and a perfect silence while Fullaway unfolded the
story. He and Allerdyke had held a brief consultation as they drove from
Bloomsbury to Whitehall, and they had decided that as things had now
reached a critical stage it would be best to tell the authorities
everything. Therefore the American narrated the entire sequence of events
as they related not only to Mademoiselle de Longarde's loss but to the
death of James Allerdyke and the disappearance of the Nastirsevitch
valuables. And the official heard, and made mental notes, soaking
everything into some proper cell of his brain, and he said nothing until
Fullaway had come to an end, and at that end he turned to Celia Lennard.

"You can, of course, describe your maid?" he asked.

"Certainly!" answered Celia. "To every detail."

"Do so, if you please," continued the official, producing a pile of
papers from a drawer and turning them over until he came to one which he
drew from the rest.

"A Frenchwoman," said Celia. "Aged, I should say, about twenty-six. Tall.
Slender--but not thin. Of a very good figure. Black hair--a quantity of
it. Black eyes--very penetrating. Fresh colour. Not exactly pretty, but
attractive--in the real Parisian way--she is a Parisian. Dressed--when
she left me at Hull--in a black tailor-made coat and skirt, and carrying
a travelling coat of black, lined with fur--one I gave her in Russia."

"Her luggage?" asked the official.

"She had a suit-case: a medium-sized one."

"Large enough, I presume, to conceal the jewel-box your friend has told
me about just now?"

"Oh, yes--certainly!"

The official put his papers back in the drawer and turned to his visitors
with a business-like look which finally settled itself on Celia's face.

"You must be prepared to hear some serious news," he said. "I mean about
this woman. I have no doubt from what you have just told me that I know
where she is."

"Where?" demanded Celia excitedly. "You know? Where, then?"

"Lying in the mortuary at Paddington," answered the official quietly.

In spite of Celia's strong nerves she half rose in her seat--only to drop
back with a sharp exclamation.

"Dead! Probably murdered. And I should say," continued the official,
with a glance at the two men, "murdered in the same way as the gentleman
you have told me of was murdered at Hull--by some subtle, strange, and
secret poison."

No one spoke for a minute or two. When the silence was broken it was by

"I should like to know about this," he said in a hard, keen voice. "I'm
getting about sick of delay in this affair of my cousin's, and if this
murder of the young woman is all of a piece with his, why, then, the
sooner we all get to work the better. I'm not going to spare time,
labour, nor expense in running that lot down, d'you understand? Money's
naught to me--I'm willing--"

"We are already at work, Mr. Allerdyke," said the official, interrupting
him quietly. "We've been at work in the affair of the young woman for
twenty-four hours, and although you didn't know of it, we've heard of the
affair of your cousin at Hull, and the two cases are so similar that when
you came in I was wondering if there was any connection between them.
Now, as regards the young woman. You may or may not be aware that in
Eastbourne Terrace, Paddington, a street of houses which runs alongside
the departure platform of the Great Western Railway, there are a number
of small private hotels, which are largely used by railway passengers. To
one of these hotels, about nine o'clock on the evening of May 13th (just
about twenty-four hours after you, Miss Lennard, landed at Hull), there
came a man and a woman, who represented themselves as brother and sister,
and took two rooms for the night. The woman answers the description of
your maid--as to the man, I will give you a description of him later.
These two, who had for luggage such a medium-sized suit-case as that Miss
Lennard has spoken of, partook of some supper and retired. There was
nothing noticeable about them--they seemed to be quiet, respectable
people--foreigners who spoke English very well. Nothing was heard of them
until next morning at eight o'clock, when the man rang his bell and asked
for tea to be brought up for both. This was done--he took it in at his
door, and was seen to hand a cup in at his sister's door, close by. An
hour later he came downstairs and gave instructions that his sister was
not to be disturbed--she was tired and wanted to rest, he said, and she
would ring when she wanted attendance. He then booked the two rooms again
for the succeeding night, and, going into the coffee-room, ate a very
good breakfast, taking his time over it. That done, he lounged about a
little, smoking, and eventually crossed the road towards the
station--since when he has not been seen. The day passed on--the woman
neither rang her bell nor came down. When evening arrived, as the man had
not returned, and no response could be got to repeated knocks at the
door, the landlady opened it with a master-key, and entered the room. She
found the woman dead--and according to the medical evidence she had been
dead since ten or eleven o'clock in the morning. Then, of course, the
police were called in. There was nothing in the room or in the suit-case
to establish or suggest identity. The body was removed, and an autopsy
has been held. And the conclusion of the medical men is that this woman
has been secretly and subtly poisoned."

Here the official paused, rang a bell, and remained silent until a
quiet-looking, middle-aged man who might have been a highly respectable
butler entered the room: then he turned again to his visitors.

"I want you, Miss Lennard, to accompany this man--one of my officers--to
the mortuary, to see if you can identify the body I have told you of.
Perhaps you gentlemen will accompany Miss Lennard? Then," he continued,
rising, "if you will all return here, we will go into this matter
further, and see if we can throw more light on it."

Allerdyke's next impressions were of a swift drive across London to a
quiet retreat in Paddington, where, in a red-brick building set amidst
trees, official-faced men conducted him and his two companions into a
sort of annex, one side of which was covered with sheet glass. On the
other side of that glass he became aware of a still figure, shrouded and
arranged in formal lines, of a white face, set amidst dark hair ... then
as in a dream he heard Celia Lennard's frightened whisper--

"That's she--that's Lisette! Oh, for God's sake, take me out!"



The three searchers into what was rapidly becoming a most complicated
mystery drove back to New Scotland Yard in a silence which lasted until
they were set down at the door of the department whereat they had
interviewed the high official. Celia Lennard was thoroughly upset; the
sight of the dead woman had disturbed her even more than she let her
companions see; she remained dumb and rigid, staring straight before her
as if she still gazed on the white face set in its frame of dark hair.
Allerdyke, too, stared at the crowds in the streets as if they were
abstract visions--his keen brain felt dazed and mystified by this
accumulation of strange events. And Fullaway, active and mercurial though
he was, made no attempt at conversation--he sat with knitted forehead,
trying to think, to account, to surmise, only conscious that he was up
against a bigger mystery than life had ever shown him up to then.

The detective who had accompanied them to the mortuary conducted the
three straight back to his chief's office--the chief, noticing the effect
of the visit on Celia, hastened to give her a chair at the side of his
desk, and looked at her with a lessening of his official manner. He
signed to the other two to sit down, and motioned the detective to
remain. Then he turned to Celia.

"You recognized the woman?" he said softly. "Just so. I thought you
would, and I was sorry to ask you to perform such an unpleasant task but
it was absolutely necessary. Now," he continued, taking up his bundle of
papers again, "I want you to describe the man who met you and your maid
on your arrival at Hull the other night. Of course you saw him?"

"Certainly I saw him," replied Celia. "And I should know him again
anywhere--the scoundrel!"

The high official smiled and glanced at Fullaway.

"You are thinking, Miss Lennard, that the man you then saw is the man who
accompanied your maid to the hotel in which she was found dead," he said.
"Well, that may be so--but it mayn't. That is why I want you to give us
an accurate description of the man you saw. You described the maid very
well indeed. Now describe the man."

"I can do that quite well," said Celia, with assurance. "And I can tell
you the circumstances. The steamer--the _Perisco_--got into the river at
Hull about a quarter to nine and anchored off the Victoria Pier. We
understood that she couldn't get into dock just then because of the tide,
and that we must go on shore by tender. A tender came off--some of the
people on board it came on our deck. There was a good deal of bustle. I
went down to my cabin to see after something or other. Lisette came to me
there, evidently much agitated, saying that her brother had come off on
the tender to fetch her at once to their mother who was ill in
London--dying. She begged to be allowed to go with him. Of course I said
she might. She immediately picked up her suit-case and travelling coat
out of our pile of luggage, and I went up with her on deck. She and the
man--her brother, as I understood--got into a small boat which was
alongside and went straight off to the pier: the tender was not leaving
for shore for some time. And--that was the last I saw of her. It was all
done in a minute or two."

"Now--the man," suggested the chief softly.

"A young man--about Lisette's age, I should say--twenty-seven to thirty
anyway. Tallish. Dark hair, moustache, eyes, and complexion.
Good-looking--in a foreign way. I had no doubt he was her brother--he
looked French, though he spoke English quite well and without accent.
Very respectably dressed in dark clothes and overcoat. He would have
passed for a well-to-do clerk--that type. I spoke to him--a few words. He
spoke well--had very polite, almost polished manners. Of course he was
hurried--wanting to get Lisette away--he said they could just catch the
last train to London."

The chief shook his head.

"Not the man who accompanied her to the Paddington Hotel," he said.
"Listen--this is the description of that man, as given to the police by
the landlady and her servants: 'Age, presumably between forty and
forty-five years, medium height. Brown hair. Clean-shaven. Dressed in
grey tweed suit, over which he wore a fawn-coloured overcoat. Deerstalker
hat--light brown. Brown brogue shoes.' That, you see," continued the
chief, "describes a quite different person. You do not recognize the
description as that of any man you have ever seen in company with your
late maid, Miss Lennard?"

"I never saw my maid in any man's company," replied Celia. "Since I first
engaged her we have not been much in London. I was in New York and
Chicago for a time last year; then in Paris; then in Milan and Turin;
lately in Moscow and St. Petersburg. When we were at home, here in
London, she certainly had time of her own--her evenings out, you
know--but of course I don't know with whom she spent them. No--I don't
know any man answering that description."

The chief folded up his papers and restored them to his desk.

"Now that you are here," he said, "you may as well give me a few
particulars about your doings on the _Perisco_, especially as they relate
to Mr. James Allerdyke. When and where did you make his acquaintance?"

"On the steamer--a few hours after we left Christiania," replied Celia.

"Just as fellow-passengers, I suppose?"

"Quite so--just that. We sat next to each other at meals."

"Do you know where his cabin was on the steamer?"

"Yes, exactly opposite my own. He and I, I believe, were the only
passengers who had cabins all to ourselves."

"Did he ever mention to you these valuables which Mr. Fullaway tells us
he was carrying to England!"

"No--never at any time."

"Did you see him leave the _Perisco_ for the shore?"

"Why, yes, certainly! As a matter of fact, he and I came ashore at Hull
together, ahead of any other passengers. After Lisette had left the
steamer with her brother, I happened to come across Mr. James Allerdyke.
I told him what had just occurred, and asked him if he would help me
about my things, as my maid had gone. He immediately suggested that we
shouldn't wait for the tender, but should get a boat of our own--there
were several lying around. He said he was in a great hurry to get ashore,
because he'd a friend awaiting him at the Station Hotel. So he got a
boat, and his things and mine were put into it, and we left the steamer,
and were rowed to the landing-stage, just opposite."

"And you, of course, carried your jewel-case--or what you believed to be
your jewel-case--the duplicate chest which you subsequently carried to

"Yes, of course--I had it in my hand when Lisette left, and, I never left
hold of it until I got into the hotel."

"Do you remember if Mr. James Allerdyke carried anything in his hand?"

"Yes, he carried a hand-bag. He had that bag in his hand when I met him
on deck; he kept it on his knee in the boat, and in the cab in which we
drove to the hotel from the landing-stage; I saw him carrying it upstairs
after we got to the hotel. What is more, I saw him bring it into the
coffee-room later on, and place it on the table at which he had some
supper. I saw it again in his room when I went in there to look at the
plans of the Norwegian estate which he had told me about. He didn't take
those plans out of that hand-bag; he took them out of a side flap-pocket
in a suit-case."

"Did you have supper with him that night?"

"No--I was sitting at another table, talking to a lady who had been with
us on the _Perisco_. A lot of _Perisco_ passengers--twenty, at least--had
come to the hotel by that time."

"Did any of them join Mr. James Allerdyke--at his table, I mean?"

"I don't remember--no, I think not. He sat at a table, one end of which
adjoined the wall--he put the hand-bag at that end. I remember wondering
why he carried his bag about with him. But then I, of course, was
carrying what I believed to be my jewel-case."

"Did you see him talking to any of your fellow-passengers that night?"

"Oh, yes--to two or three of them--in the hall of the hotel. I didn't
know who they were, particularly--except the doctor with the big beard. I
saw him talking to Mr. Allerdyke at the door of the smoking-room."

"Had you taken any special notice of your fellow passengers on board the

"No--not at all. They were just the usual sort of passengers--I wasn't
interested in them. Of course, I talked to some of them, in the ordinary
way, as one does talk on board ship. But I don't remember anything
particular about them, nor any of their names, even if I ever knew their
names. Of course I remember Mr. James Allerdyke's name, because of the
business talk."

The chief, who had been making shorthand notes of this conversation,
paused for a moment, evidently considering matters, and then turned to
Celia with a smile.

"Why did you leave the hotel at Hull so suddenly?" he asked. "I daresay
you had good reasons, but I should just like to know what they were, if
you don't mind."

"I'd no reason at all," replied Celia, with almost blunt directness. "At
least, if I had, they were only a woman's reasons. I was a bit upset at
being left alone. I didn't like the hotel. I knew I shouldn't sleep. It
was a most beautiful moonlight night, and I suddenly thought I'd like to
go motoring. I knew enough of the geography of those parts to know if I
motored across country I should strike the Great Northern main line
somewhere and catch a train to Edinburgh in the early morning. So--I just
cleared out."

"Ah--you see you had quite a number of reasons!" said the chief,
smiling again. "Very well. Now then, before you go, Miss Lennard, I
want you to do just one thing more which may be useful to us in our
work." He turned to the detective. "Get those things," he said quietly.
"Bring the lot in here."

Celia made a little sound of distaste as the detective presently returned
to the room carrying in one hand a brown leather suit-case, and in the
other a cardboard dress-box, to which was strapped a travelling-coat,
lined with fur. Her face, which had regained its colour, paled again.

"Lisette's things!" she muttered. "Oh--I don't--don't like to see them!
What is it you want?"

"We want you to identify them--and, if you will, to look them over,"
replied the chief. "The cardboard box contains everything she was wearing
when she went to the hotel in Eastbourne Terrace; the suit-case and coat
are what she took in with her. Spread the things out on that side table,"
he continued, turning to the detective.

"Let Miss Lennard look them over."

Celia performed the task required of her with dislike--it seemed
somehow as if she were inspecting the dead woman afresh. She hurried
over the task.

"All these things are hers, of course," she said. "That's the suit-case
she had with her when she left me at Hull, and that's the coat I gave
her--and the other things are hers, too. Oh--I don't like looking at
them. Can't we go, please?"

"One moment," said the chief. "I wanted to tell you that amongst all
these things there is nothing that establishes the woman's identity--I
mean in the way of papers or anything of that sort. There were no letters
in this case--not a scrap of paper. There is money in that purse--two or
three pounds in gold, some silver. There is her watch--a good gold
watch--and there are two or three rings she was wearing. Now we have only
made a superficial examination of all these personal belongings--can you,
as her mistress, suggest if she was likely to hide anything in her
clothing, and if so, in what article? You might save us some trouble,
Miss Lennard."

Allerdyke, who was more interested in Celia than in what was going on,
saw a sudden gleam come into her eyes--her feminine spirit of curiosity
was aroused. She hesitated, turned back to the side-table, paused
before the various articles laid out there, took up and fingered two or
three, and suddenly wheeled round on the men, exhibiting a quilted
handkerchief case.

"There's something been sewn into the padding of this!" she said. "I can
feel it. Can any one lend me pocket-scissors or a penknife?"

The men gathered round as Celia's deft fingers ripped open the satin
covering: a moment later she drew out a wad of folded paper and handed it
to the chief. Fullaway and Allerdyke craned their necks over his
shoulders as he unwrapped and spread the bits of paper out before them.
And it was Fullaway who broke the silence with a sharp exclamation.

"Bank-notes!" he said. "Russian bank-notes! And new ones!"



Fullaway's exclamation was followed by a murmur of astonishment from
Celia, and by a low growl which meant many things from Allerdyke. The
chief turned the banknotes over silently, moved to his desk, and picked
up a reference book.

"I'm not very familiar with Russian money--paper or otherwise," he
remarked. "How much does this represent in ours, now?"

"I can tell you that," said Fullaway, taking the wad of notes and rapidly
counting them. "Five hundred pounds English," he announced. "And you see
that all the notes are new--don't forget to note that."

"Yes?--what do you argue from it?" asked the chief, with obvious
interest. "It proves--what?"

"That these notes were given to this woman in Russia, recently--most
likely in St. Petersburg," replied the American. "And, in my opinion,
their presence--their discovery--proves more. It suggests at any rate
that this woman, the dead maid, was a tool in the conspiracy to rob Miss
Lennard and Mr. James Allerdyke, that this money is her reward, or part
of it, and that the whole scheme was hatched and engineered in Russia."

"Good!" muttered Allerdyke. "Now we're getting to business."

"We shall have to get some evidence from Russia," observed the chief
meditatively. "That's very evident. If the thing began there, or was put
into active shape there--"

"The Princess Nastirsevitch is on her way now," said Fullaway. He pulled
out his pocket-book, and began searching amongst its papers. "Here you
are," he continued producing a cablegram. "That's from the Princess--you
see she says she's leaving for London at once, via Berlin and Calais, and
will call upon me at my hotel as soon as she arrives. Now, that was sent
off two days ago--she'd leave St. Petersburg that night. It's seventy-two
hours' journey--three days. She'll be in London tomorrow evening."

The chief sat down at his desk and picked up a pen.

"Give me your addresses please, all of you," he said. "Then I can
communicate with you at any moment. Miss Lennard, you mentioned Bedford
Court Mansions. What number? Right.--yours, Mr. Fullaway, is the Waldorf
Hotel--permanently there? Very good. You, Mr. Allerdyke, live in
Bradford? It will be advisable, if you really want to clear up the
mystery of your cousin's death, to remain in town for a few days, at any
rate--now that we've got all this in hand, you'd better be close to the
centre of things. Can you give me an address here?"

"I've a London office," answered Allerdyke. "I can always be heard of
there when I'm in town. Allerdyke and Partners, Limited, Gresham
Street--ask for Mr. Marshall Allerdyke. But as I'll have to put up here,
I'll go to the Waldorf, with Mr. Fullaway, so if you want me you'll find
me there. And look here," he went on, as the chief noted these
particulars, "I want to know, to have some idea, you know, of what's
going to be done. I tell you, I'll spare no time, labour, or expense in
getting at the bottom of this! If it's a question of money, say the
word, and--"

"All right, Mr. Allerdyke, leave it to us--for the present," said the
chief, with an understanding smile. "I know what you mean. We're only
beginning. This affair is doubtless a big thing, as Mr. Fullaway has
suggested, and it will need some clever work. Now, at present, this
case--the joint case of the Hull affair and the Eastbourne Terrace
affair, for they're without doubt both parts of one serious whole--is in
the hands of two of my best men. This is one of them: Detective-Sergeant
Blindway. If and when Blindway wants any of you, he'll come to you. Miss
Lennard, you'll be wanted at the inquest on your late maid--the Coroner's
officer will let you know when. You two gentlemen will doubtless go with
Miss Lennard. You'll all three certainly be wanted at that adjourned
inquest at Hull. Now, that's all--except that when you, Miss Lennard,
return home, you must at once begin searching for the references you had
with your maid--let me have them as soon as they're found--and that you,
Mr. Fullaway, must bring the Princess Nastirsevitch here as soon as you
can after her arrival."

Outside New Scotland Yard Celia Lennard relieved her feelings with a
fervent exclamation.

"I wish I'd never spent a penny on pearls or diamonds in my life!" she
said vehemently. "Insane folly! What good have they done? Leading to all
this bother, and to murder. What fools women are! All that money thrown
away!--for of course I shall never see a sign of them again!"

"That's a rather hopeless way of looking at it," observed Fullaway.
"You've got the cleverest police in Europe on the search for them; also
you've got our friend Allerdyke and myself on the run, and we're
neither of us exactly brainless. So hasten home in this taxi-cab, get
some lunch, have an hour's nap, and then begin putting your papers
straight and looking for those references. Search well!--you don't know
what depends on it."

He and Allerdyke strolled up Whitehall when Celia had gone--in silence at
first, both wrapped in meditation.

"There's only one thing one can say with any certainty about this affair,
Allerdyke," remarked the American at last, "and that is precisely what
the man we've been talking to said--it's a big do. The folk at the back
of it are smart and clever and daring. We'll need all our wits. Well,
come along to the Waldorf and let's lunch--then we'll talk some more.
There's little to be done till the Princess turns up tomorrow."

"There's one thing I want to do at once," said Allerdyke. "If I'm going
to stop in town I must wire to my housekeeper to send me clothes and
linen, and to the manager at my mill. Then I'm with you--and I wish to
Heaven we'd something to do! What I can't stand is this forced inaction,
this hanging about, waiting, wondering, speculating--and doing naught!"

"We may be in action before you know it's at hand," said Fullaway. "In
these cases you never know what a minute may bring forth. All we can do
is to be ready."

He led the way to the nearest telegraph office and waited while Allerdyke
sent off his messages. The performance of even this small task seemed to
restore the Yorkshireman's spirits--he came away smiling.

"I've told my housekeeper to pack a couple of trunks with what I want,
and to send my chauffeur, Gaffney, up with them, by the next express," he
said. "I feel better after doing that. He's a smart chap, Gaffney--the
sort that might be useful at a pinch. If any one wanted anything
ferreted out, now!--he's the sense of an Airedale terrier, that chap!"

"High praise," laughed Fullaway. "And original too. Well, let's fix up
and get some food, and then we'll go into my private rooms and have a
talk over the situation."

Mr. Franklin Fullaway, following a certain modern fashion, introduced
into life by twentieth-century company promoters and magnates of the high
finance, had established his business quarters at his hotel. It was a
wise and pleasant thing to do, he explained to Allerdyke; you had the
advantage of living over the shop, as it were; of being able to go out of
your private sitting-room into your business office; you had the bright
and pleasant surroundings; you had, moreover, all the various rooms and
saloons of a first-rate hotel wherein to entertain your clients if need
be. Certainly you had to pay for these advantages and luxuries, but no
more than you would have to lay out in the rents, rates, and taxes of
palatial offices in a first-class business quarter.

"And my line of business demands luxurious fittings," remarked the
American, as he installed Allerdyke in a sybaritic armchair and handed
him a box of big cigars of a famous brand. "You're not the first
millionaire that's come to anchor in that chair, you know!"

"If they're millionaires in penny-pieces, maybe not," answered Allerdyke.
He lighted a cigar and glanced appraisingly at his surroundings--at the
thick velvet pile of the carpets, the fine furniture, the bookcases
filled with beautiful bindings, the choice bits of statuary, the two or
three unmistakably good pictures. "Doing good business, I reckon?" he
said, with true Yorkshire curiosity. "What's it run to, now?"

Fullaway showed his fine white teeth in a genial laugh.

"Oh, I've turned over two and three millions in a year in this little
den!" he answered cheerily. "Varies, you know, according to what people
have got to sell, and what good buyers there are knocking around."

"You keep a bit of sealing wax, of course?" suggested Allerdyke. "Take
care that some of the brass sticks when you handle it, no doubt?"

"Commission and percentage, of course," responded Fullaway.

"Ah, well, you've an advantage over chaps like me," said Allerdyke. "Now,
you shall take my case. We've made a pile of money in our firm,
grandfather, father, and myself; but, Lord, man, you wouldn't believe
what our expenses have been! Building mills, fitting machinery--and then,
wages! Why, I pay wages to six hundred workpeople every Friday afternoon!
Our wages bill runs to well over fourteen hundred pound a week. You've
naught of that sort, of course--no great staff to keep up?"

"No," answered Fullaway. He nodded his head towards the door of a room
through which they had just passed on their way into the agent's private
apartments. "All the staff I have is the young lady you just saw--Mrs.
Marlow. Invaluable!"

"Married woman?" inquired Allerdyke laconically.

"Young widow," answered Fullaway just as tersely. "Excellent business
woman--been with me ever since I came here--three years. Speaks and
writes several languages--well educated, good knowledge of my particular
line of business. American--I knew her people very well. Of course, I
don't require much assistance--merely clerical help, but it's got to be
of a highly intelligent and specialized sort."

"Leave your business in her hands if need be, I reckon?" suggested
Allerdyke, with a sidelong nod at the closed door.

"In ordinary matters, yes--comfortably," answered Fullaway. "She's a bit
a specialist in two things that I'm mainly concerned in--pictures and
diamonds. She can tell a genuine Old Master at a glance, and she knows a
lot about diamonds--her father was in that trade at one time, out in
South Africa."

"Clever woman to have," observed Allerdyke; "knows all your business,
of course?"

"All the surface business," said Fullaway, "naturally! Anything but a
confidential secretary would be useless to me, you know."

"Just so," agreed Allerdyke. "Told her about this affair yet?"

"I've had no chance so far," replied Fullaway. "I shall take her advice
about it--she's a cute woman."

"Smart-looking, sure enough," said Allerdyke. He let his mind dwell for a
moment on the picture which Mrs. Marlow had made as Fullaway led him
through the office--a very well-gowned, pretty, alert, piquant little
woman, still on the sunny side of thirty, who had given him a sharp
glance out of unusually wide-awake eyes. "Aye, women are clever nowadays,
no doubt--they'd show their grandmothers how to suck eggs in a good many
new fashions. Well, now," he went on, stretching his long legs over
Fullaway's beautiful Persian rug, "what do you make of this affair,
Fullaway, in its present situation? There's no doubt that everything's
considerably altered by what we've heard of this morning. Do you really
think that this French maid affair is all of a piece, as one may term it,
with the affair of my cousin James?"

"Yes--without doubt," replied Fullaway. "I believe the two affairs all
spring from the same plot. That plot, in my opinion, has originated from
a clever gang who, somehow or other, got to know that Mr. James Allerdyke
was bringing over the Princess Nastirsevitch's jewels, and who also
turned their eyes on Zelie de Longarde's valuables. The French maid,
Lisette, was probably nothing but a tool, a cat's paw, and she, having
done her work, has been cleverly removed so that she could never split.

A quiet knock at the door just then prefaced the entrance of Mrs. Marlow,
who gave her employer an inquiring glance.

"Mr. Blindway to see you," she announced. "Shall I show him in?"

"At once!" replied Fullaway. He leapt from his chair, and going to the
door called to the detective to enter. "News?" he asked excitedly, when
Mrs. Marlow had retired, closing the door again. "What is it--important?"

The detective, who looked very solemn, drew a letter-case from his
pocket, and slowly produced a telegram.

"Important enough," he answered. "This case is assuming a very
strange complexion, gentlemen. This arrived from Hull half an hour
ago, and the chief thought I'd better bring it on to you at once. You
see what it is--"

He held the telegram out to both men, and they read it together, Fullaway
muttering the words as he read--

From _Chief Constable, Hull, to Superintendent C.I.D., New
Scotland Yard_.

Dr. Lydenberg, concerned in Allerdyke case, was shot dead in High Street
here this morning by unseen person, who is up to now unarrested and to
whose identity we have no clue.



Fullaway laid the telegram down on his table and looked from it to the

"Shot dead--High Street--this morning?" he said wonderingly. "Why!--that
means, of course, in broad daylight--in a busy street, I suppose? And
yet--no clue. How could a man be shot dead under such circumstances
without the murderer being seen and followed?"

"You don't know Hull very well," remarked Allerdyke, who had been pulling
his moustache and frowning over the telegram, "else you'd know how that
could be done easy enough in High Street. High Street," he went on,
turning to the detective, "is the oldest street in the town. It's the old
merchant street. Half of it--lower end--is more or less in ruins. There
are old houses there which aren't tenanted. Back of these houses are
courts and alleys and queer entries, leading on one side to the river,
and on the other to side streets. A man could be lured into one of those
places and put out of the way easily and quietly enough. Or he could be
shot by anybody lurking in one of those houses, and the murderer could be
got away unobserved with the greatest ease. That's probably what's
happened--I know that street as well as I know by own house--I'm not
surprised by that! What I'm surprised about is to hear that Lydenberg has
been shot at all. And the question is--is his murder of a piece with all
the rest of this damnable mystery, or is it clean apart from it?
Understand, Fullaway?"

"I'm thinking," answered the American. "It takes a lot of thinking, too."

"You see," continued Allerdyke, turning to Blindway again, "we're all
in a hole--in a regular fog. We know naught! literally naught. This
Lydenberg was a foreigner--Swede, Norwegian, Dane, or something. We
know nothing of him, except that he said he'd come to Hull on business.
He may have been shot for all sorts of reasons--private, political. We
don't know. But--mark me!--if his murder's connected with the others,
if it's all of a piece with my cousin's murder, and that French girl's,
why then--"

He paused, shaking his head emphatically, and the other two, impressed by
his earnestness, waited until he spoke again.

"Then," he continued at last, after a space of silence, during which he
seemed to be reflecting with added strenuousness--"then, by Heaven! we're
up against something that's going to take it out of us before we get at
the truth. That's a dead certainty. If this is all conspiracy, it's a big
'un--a colossal thing! What say, Fullaway?"

"I should say you're right," replied Fullaway. "I've been trying to
figure things up while you talked, though I gave you both ears. It looks
as if this Lydenberg had been shot in order to keep his tongue quiet
forever. Maybe he knew something, and was likely to split. What are your
people going to do about this?" he asked turning to the detective. "I
suppose you'll go down to Hull at once?"

"I shan't," answered Blindway. "I've enough to do here. One of our men
has already gone--he's on his way. We shall have to wait for news. I'm
inclined to agree with Mr. Allerdyke--it's a big thing, a very big thing.
If Mr. Allerdyke's cousin was really murdered, and if the Frenchwoman's
death arose out of that, and now Lydenberg's, there's a clever
combination at work. And--where's the least clue to it?"

Allerdyke helped himself to a fresh cigar out of a box which lay on
Fullaway's table, lighted it, and smoked in silence for a minute or two.
The other men, feeling instinctively that he was thinking, waited.

"Look you here!" he exclaimed suddenly. "Clue? Yes, that's what we want.
Where's that clue likely to be found? Why, in this, and this only--who
knew, person or persons, that my cousin was bringing those jewels from
the Princess Nastirsevitch to this country? Get to know that, and it
narrows the field, d'ye see?"

"There's the question of Miss Lennard's jewels, too," remarked Fullaway.

"That may be--perhaps was--a side-issue," said Allerdyke. "It may have
come into the big scheme as an after-thought. But, anyway, that's what
we want--a first clue. And I don't see how that's to be got at until
this Princess arrives here. You see, she may have talked, she may have
let it out in confidence--to somebody who abused her confidence. What is
certain is that somebody must have got to know of this proposed deal
between the Princess and your man, Fullaway, and have laid plans
accordingly to rob the Princess's messenger--my cousin James. D'ye see,
the deal was known of at two ends--to you here, to this Princess,
through James, over there, in Russia. Now, then, where did the secret
get out? Did it get out there, or here?"

"Not here, of course!" answered Fullaway, with emphasis. "That's dead
sure. Over there, of a certainty. The robbery was engineered from there."

"Then, in that case, there's naught to do but wait the arrival of the
Princess," said Allerdyke. "And you say she'll be here to-morrow night.
In the meantime no doubt you police gentlemen'll get more news about this
last affair at Hull, and perhaps Miss Lennard'll find those references
about the Frenchwoman, and maybe we shall mop things up bit by bit--for
mopped up they'll have to be, or my name isn't what it is! Fullaway," he
went on, rising from his chair, "I'll have to leave you--yon man o'
mine'll be arriving from Yorkshire with my things before long, and I must
go down to the hotel office and make arrangements about him. See you
later--at dinner to-night, here, eh?"

He lounged away through the outer office, giving the smart lady secretary
a keen glance as he passed her and getting an equally scrutinizing, if
swift, look in return.

"Clever!" mused Allerdyke as he closed the door behind him. "Deuced
clever, that young woman. Um--well, it's a pretty coil, to be sure!"

He went down to the office, made full and precise arrangements about
Gaffney, who was to be given a room close to his own, left some
instructions as to what was to be done with him on arrival, and then,
hands in pockets, strolled out into Aldwych and walked towards the
Strand, his eyes bent on the ground as if he strove to find in those hard
pavements some solution of all these difficulties. And suddenly he lifted
his head and muttered a few emphatic words half aloud, regardless of
whoever might overhear them.

"I wish to Heaven I'd a right good, hard-headed Yorkshireman to talk
to!" he said. "A chap with some gumption about him! These Cockneys and
Americans are all very well in their way, but--"

Then he pulled himself up sharply. An idea, a name, had flashed into his
mental field of vision as if sent in answer to his prayer. And still
regardless of bystanders he slapped his thigh delightedly.

"Ambler Appleyard!" he exclaimed. "The very man! Here, you!"

The last two words were addressed to a taxi-cab driver whose car stood at
the head of the line by the Gaiety Theatre. Allerdyke crossed from the
pavement and jumped in.

"Run down to this end of Gresham Street," he said. "Go quick as you can."

He wondered as he sped along the crowded London streets why he had not
thought of Ambler Appleyard before. Ambler Appleyard was the manager of
his own London warehouse, a smart, clever, pushing young Bradford man
who had been in charge of the London business of Allerdyke and
Partners, Limited, for the last three years. He had come to London with
his brains already sharpened--three years of business life in the
Metropolis had made them all the sharper. Allerdyke rubbed his hands
with satisfaction. Exchange of confidence with a fellow-Yorkshireman
was the very thing he wanted.

He got out of his cab at the Aldersgate end of Gresham Street, and walked
quickly along until he came to a highly polished brass plate on which his
own name was deeply engraven. Running up a few steps into a warehouse
stored with neat packages of dress goods, he encountered a couple of
warehousemen engaged in sorting and classifying a consignment of fabrics
just arrived from Bradford. Allerdyke, whose visits to his London
warehouse were fairly frequent, and usually without notice, nodded
affably to both and walked across the floor to an inner office. He opened
the door without ceremony, closed it carefully behind him, and stepping
forward to the occupant of the room, who sat busily writing at a desk,
with his back to the entrant, and continued to write without moving or
looking round, gave him a resounding smack on the shoulder.

"The very man I want, Ambler, my lad!" he said. "Sit up!"

Ambler Appleyard raised his head, slowly twisted in his revolving chair,
and looked quietly at his employer. And Allerdyke, dropping into an
easy-chair by the fireplace, over which hung a fine steel engraving of
himself, flanked by photographs of the Bradford mills and the Bradford
warehouse, looked at his London manager, secretly admiring the shrewdness
and self-possession evidenced in the young man's face. Appleyard was
certainly no beauty; his outstanding features were sandy-coloured hair,
freckled cheeks, a snub nose, and a decidedly wide mouth; moreover, his
ears, unusually large, stood out from the sides of his head in very
prominent fashion, and gave a beholder the impression that they were
perpetually stretched to attention. But he was the owner of a well-shaped
forehead, a pair of steady and honest blue eyes, and a firmly cut square
chin, and his entire atmosphere conveyed the idea of capacity, resource,
and energy. It pleased Allerdyke, too, to see that the young man was
attentive to his own personal appearance--his well-cut garments bore the
undoubted stamp of the Savile Row tailor; the silk hat which covered his
crop of sandy hair was the latest thing in Sackville Street headgear;
from top to toe he was the smart man-about-town. And that was the sort
of man Marshall Allerdyke liked to have about him, and to see as heads of
his departments--not fops, nor dandies, but men who knew the commercial
value of good appearance and smart finish.

"I didn't know you were in town, Mr. Allerdyke," said the London manager
quietly. "Still, one never knows where you are these days."

"I've scarcely known that myself, my lad, these last seventy-two hours,"
replied Allerdyke. "You mightn't think it, but at this time yesterday I
was going full tilt up to Edinburgh. I want to tell you about that,
Ambler--I want some advice. But business first--aught new?"

"I've brought that South American contract off," replied Appleyard.
"Fixed it this morning."

"Good!" said Allerdyke. "What's it run to, like?"

"Seventy-five thousand," answered Appleyard. "Nice bit of profit on that,
Mr. Allerdyke."

"Good--good!" repeated Allerdyke. "Aught else?"

"Naught--at present. Naught out of the usual, anyway," said the manager.

He took off his hat, laid aside the papers he had been busy with on
Allerdyke's entrance, and twisted his chair round to the hearth. "This
advice, then?" he asked quietly. "I'm free now."

"Aye!" said Allerdyke. He sat reflecting for a moment, and then turned to
his manager with a sudden question.

"Have you heard all this about my cousin James?" he asked with sharp

Appleyard lifted a couple of newspapers from his desk.

"No more than what's in these," he answered. "One tells of his sudden
death at Hull; the other begins to hint that there was something queer
about it."

"Queer!" exclaimed Allerdyke. "Aye, and more than queer, my lad. Our
James was murdered! Now, then, Ambler, I've come here to tell you all the
story--you must listen to every detail. I know your brains--keep 'em
fixed on what I'm going to tell; hear it all; weigh it up, and then tell
me what you make of it; for I'm damned if I can make either head or tail,
back, side, or front of the whole thing--so far. Happen you can see a bit
of light. Listen, now."

Allerdyke, from long training in business habits, was a good teller of a
plain and straightforward tale: Appleyard, for the same reason, was a
good listener. So one man talked, in low, earnest tones, checking off
his points as he made them, taking care that he emphasized the principal
items of his news and dwelt lightly on the connecting links, and the
other listened in silence, keeping a concentrated attention and storing
away the facts in his memory as they were duly marshalled before him.
For a good hour one brain gave out, and the other took in, and without
waste of words.

It came to an end at last, and master looked at man.

"Well?" said Allerdyke, after a silence that was full of meaning--"well?"

"Take some thinking about," answered Appleyard tersely. "It's a big
thing--a devilish clever thing, too. There's one fact strikes me at once,
though. The news about the Nastirsevitch jewels leaked out somewhere, Mr.
Allerdyke. That's certain. Either here in London, or over there in
Russia, it leaked out. Now until this Princess comes you've no means of
knowing if the leakage was over yonder. But there's one thing you do
know now--at this very minute. There were three people here in England
who knew that the jewels were on the way from Russia, in Mr. James
Allerdyke's charge. Those three were this man Fullaway, his lady
secretary, and Delkin, the Chicago millionaire! Now, then, Mr.
Allerdyke--how much, or what, do you know about any one of 'em?"



Allerdyke encountered this direct question with a long, fixed stare of
growing comprehension; his silence showed that he was gradually taking in
its significance.

"Aye, just so!" he said at last. "Just so! How much do I know of any of
'em? Well, of Fullaway no more than I've seen. Of his secretary no more
than what I've seen and heard. Of Delkin no more than that such a man
exists. Sum total--what!"

"Next to naught," said Appleyard. "In a case like this you ought to know
more. Fullaway may be all right. Fullaway may be all wrong. His lady
secretary may be as right as he is, or as wrong as he is. As to
Delkin--he might be a creature of Fullaway's imagination. Put it all to
yourself now, Mr. Allerdyke--on the face of what you've told me, these
three people--two of 'em, at any rate, for a certainty--knew about these
valuables coming over in Mr. James's charge. So far as you know, your
cousin had 'em when he left Christiania and reached Hull. There they
disappear. So far as you're aware, nobody but these people knew of their
coming--no other people in England knew, at any rate, so far, I repeat,
as your knowledge goes. I should want to know something about these
three, if I were in your place, Mr. Allerdyke."

"Aye--aye!" replied Allerdyke. "I see your point. Well, I've been in
Fullaway's company now for two days--there's no denying he's a smart
chap, a clever chap, and he seems to be doing good business. Moreover,
Ambler, my lad, James knew him and James wasn't the sort to take up with
wrong 'uns. As to the secretary, I can't say. Besides, Fullaway said this
afternoon that he hadn't told her all about it yet."

"All about the Hull affair and the Lennard affair, I took that to mean
from your account," remarked Appleyard. "If she's his confidential
secretary, with access to his papers and business, she'd know all about
the Princess transaction. Now, of course, an inquiry or two of the usual
sort would satisfy you about Fullaway--I mean as a business man. An
inquiry or two would tell you all about Delkin. But you can't get to know
all about Mrs. Marlow from any inquiry. And you can't find out all about
Fullaway from any inquiry. He may be the straightest business man in all
London--and yet have a finger in this pie, and his secretary with him.
Two hundred and fifty thousand pounds' worth of jewels, Mr. Allerdyke,
is--a temptation! And--these folks knew the jewels were on the way.
What's more, they'd time to intercept their bearer--Mr. James."

Allerdyke rubbed his chin and knitted his brows in obvious bewilderment.
"There must ha' been more than them in at it," he said musingly. "A
regular gang of 'em, judging by results."

"Every gang has its ganger," replied Appleyard, with a knowing smile.
"There's no doubt this is a big thing--but there must be a central point,
a head, a controlling authority in it. We come back, you see, after all,
to where we started--these people were the only people in England who
knew about these jewels, so far as we know."

"Aye, but only so far as we know," said Allerdyke. "There may have been
others. There may have been folks who got to know about them over there
in Russia and who communicated their knowledge to some folks here. And
there's always this to be borne in mind--the affair, the plot, may have
been originated there, and worked from there. Remember that!"

"Quite so--and you can't decide on anything relating to that until this
Princess comes," agreed Appleyard. "It'll have to rest till you've heard
all she has to say, and then you'll know where you are. But in the
meantime you can find out a bit about Fullaway and this millionaire
man--I can find out for you, if you like, in a few hours."

"Do, my lad!" said Allerdyke. "It's always well to know who you're
dealing with. Aye--make an inquiry or two."

"But remember that all I can inquire about will be in the ordinary
business way," continued Appleyard. "I can ascertain if there is a Delkin
in town, who's a Chicago millionaire, and if Fullaway's a reputable
business man--but that'll be all. As to the secretary, I can't do

"I'll keep an eye on her myself," said Allerdyke. "Well, do this, then,
and let me know the results. I've put up at the Waldorf, and there I
shall stop while all this is being investigated here in London, but I
shall pop in and out here, of course. And now I'll go back there and find
out if there's any fresh news from the police or from Hull. I reckon
there'll be some fine reading in the newspapers in a day or two,
Ambler--it'll all have to come out now."

In this supposition Allerdyke was right. The police authorities, finding
that the affair had assumed dimensions of an astonishing magnitude,
decided to seek the aid of the Press, and to publish the entire story in
the fullest possible fashion. And Allerdyke and all London woke next
morning to find the newspapers alive with a new sensation, and every
other man asking his neighbour what it all meant. Three mysterious
murders--two big thefts--together--the newspaper world had known nothing
like it for years, and the only regrets in Fleet Street were those of the
men who would have sacrificed their very noses to have got the story
exclusively to themselves. But the police authorities had exercised a
wise generosity, and no one newspaper knew more than another at that
stage--they all, as Fullaway said to Allerdyke at breakfast, got a fair
start, and from that one could run their own race.

"We shall be to these Pressmen as a pot of honey to flies," he observed.
"Take my advice, Allerdyke--see none of them, and if you should--as you
will--get buttonholed and held up, refuse to say a word."

"You can leave that to me," answered Allerdyke, with a twitch of his
determined jaw. "It 'ud be a clever newspaper chap that would get aught
out of me. I've other fish to fry than to talk to these gentry. And what
good will all this newspaper stuff do?"

"Lots!" replied Fullaway. "It will draw attention. There'll already be a
few thousand amateur detectives looking out for the man who left the
French maid dead in Eastbourne Terrace, and a few hundred amateur
criminologists racking their brains for a plausible theory of the whole
thing. Oh, yes, it's a good thing to arouse public interest, Allerdyke.
All that's wanted now is a rousing reward. Have you thought of that?"

"Didn't I mention it to the man at Scotland Yard yesterday?" said
Allerdyke. "I'm game to find aught reasonable in the way of brass. But,"
he added, with a touch of true Yorkshire caution, "I've been thinking
that over during the night, and it seems to me that there are two other
parties who ought to come in at it, with me, of course. Miss Lennard and
the Princess, d'ye see? If they're willing, I am."

"You mean a joint reward for the detection of the murderer and the
recovery of the jewels?" suggested Fullaway.

"Well, you can be pretty certain, by now, that the murders and the thefts
are all the work of one gang," replied Allerdyke. "So it's long as it's
short. These two women want their pearls and their diamonds back--I want
to know who killed my cousin James. We're all three in the same boat,
really; so if we make up a good, substantial purse between us--what?"

"Good!" agreed Fullaway. "We'll hear what the Princess says when she
arrives to-night. I guess we shall all know better where we exactly are
when we've heard what she has to say."

"If she's like most women that's lost aught in the way of finery,"
remarked Allerdyke drily, "she'll have plenty to say."

That night he had abundant opportunity of hearing the Princess
Nastirsevitch's views on the situation, freely expressed. He himself
fetched Celia Lennard to the conference at New Scotland Yard; they found
Fullaway and the Princess already there, in full blast of debate.
Allerdyke inspected the new arrival with keen interest and found her a
well-preserved, handsome woman of middle-age, sharp, smart, and American
to the finger-tips. The official whom they had met before was already
questioning her, and for Allerdyke's benefit he repeated what had
already transpired.

"The Princess affirms, Mr. Allerdyke, that not a soul but herself and
your cousin, Mr. James Allerdyke, knew of this affair," he said. "I am
right, am I not, madame," he went on, turning to the Princess, "in saying
that not one word of this transaction, or proposed transaction, was ever
mentioned by you to any person but Mr. James Allerdyke?"

"To no other person than Mr. James Allerdyke," assented the Princess
firmly. "It would have been strange conduct on my part, I think, if I had
told anybody else anything about it!--my object, of course, being
secrecy. From the moment I first mentioned it to Mr. James Allerdyke
until I arrived here just now and met Mr. Fullaway there, I never spoke
of the matter to any one!"

The official looked at Allerdyke as if inviting him to ask any question
that occurred to him, and Allerdyke immediately brought up that which had
been in his mind ever since his discovery of James Allerdyke's

"How came you to repose such confidence in my cousin, ma'am?" he asked
brusquely. "I always thought I was pretty deep in his counsels, but I
never heard him mention your name. Did he know you well?"

"I had known Mr. James Allerdyke for a little over a year," replied the
Princess. "I met him first in Paris--then on the Riviera--then in
Russia. The fact is, he did some business for me. I had every confidence
in him--the fullest confidence. I knew he was a thoroughly straight man.
And just as I had decided to sell these jewels'--all my own property,
mind--in order to clear off the whole lot of the mortgages on my son's
estate, so's he could come into them quite unencumbered, I happened to
meet Mr. James Allerdyke in St. Petersburg--that's of course, a few weeks
ago--and I immediately took him into my confidence and asked his help.
With the result," added the Princess, "that he cabled to Mr. Fullaway
there and that all this has come about! I tell you in the most emphatic
manner at my command," she went on, turning to the official, and tapping
the edge of his desk as if to accentuate her words, "it's impossible that
anybody over there in Russia could have known of my arrangements with Mr.
James Allerdyke--utterly impossible. For I never spoke of them to any one
there, and I'm sure he would not!"

"Impossible is a big word, Princess," said the official. "There may have
been ways of leakage. Did you exchange any correspondence on the matter?"

"Not a line!" replied the Princess. "There was no need. We met three
times and arranged everything. The only correspondence there was--if you
could call it correspondence--was the exchange of cablegrams between Mr.
James Allerdyke and Mr. Fullaway. I saw those cablegrams--of course the
jewels were mentioned. But I don't believe Mr. James Allerdyke was the
sort of man to leave his cablegrams lying around for somebody else to
see. I know he had them in his pocket-book. No!" she went on, with added
emphasis and conviction. "The thing did not start over there, I'm sure.
It's been put up here, in London."

"Well," observed the official, after a pause, "there's only one thing
more I want to ask you just now, Princess. You gave these immensely
valuable jewels to Mr. James Allerdyke? Did he hand you any receipt
for them?"

"A receipt which I've got here," answered the Princess, tapping her
hand-bag. "And it's all in his handwriting, and made out in the form of
an inventory--all that was at his suggestion."

"And how," asked the official, "were the jewels packed when given to

"Very simply," said the Princess. "That was his suggestion, too. They
were wrapped up in soft paper and chamois leather, and put into an old
cigar-box which he placed in his small travelling-bag. That bag, he said,
would never go out of his sight until he reached London, where, when he'd
exhibited the jewels to Mr. Fullaway's client, he was to lodge them in a
bank. It seemed to him that the cigar-box was a good notion--the jewels
themselves didn't take up so much room as you might think, and he laid
some very ordinary things over the top of the package--a cake or two of
soap, a sponge, and things like that--so that, supposing the cigar-box
had been opened, its contents would have seemed very ordinary, you

"And yet," said the official softly, "the thieves evidently went
straight for that cigar-box when the critical moment came. Well," he
continued, looking round at his visitors, "I don't know that we can do
more to-night. Is there anything any of you ladies or gentlemen wish
to suggest?"

"Yes!" said Allerdyke. "In my opinion a most important thing. It's my
decided conviction that in this case we've got to offer a reward--no mere
trifling sum, but one that'll set a few fingers tingling. And it's my
concern, and the Princess's, and Miss Lennard's. And if you'll permit us
three to have a quiet talk in yon corner of your room, I'll tell you its
result when we've finished."

The result of that quiet talk--chiefly conducted by Allerdyke with
masculine force and vigour--was that by noon of next day the exterior of
every London police-station attracted vast attention by reason of a
freshly-posted bill. It was a long bill, and it set out the surface
particulars of three murders, and of two robberies in connection
therewith. The particulars made interesting reading enough--but the real
fascination of the bill was in its big, staring headline--




Some time previous to these remarkable events, Marshall Allerdyke,
being constantly in London, and having to spend much time on business
in the Mansion House region, had sought and obtained membership of the
City Carlton Club, in St. Swithin's Lane, and at noon of the day
following the arrival of the Princess Nastirsevitch, he stood in a
window of the smoking-room, looking out for Appleyard, whom he had
asked to lunch. In one hand he carried a folded copy of the reward
bill, which Blindway had left at the Waldorf Hotel for him, and while
he waited--the room being empty just then save for an old gentleman who
read _The Times_ in a far corner--he unfolded and took a surreptitious
glance at it, chuckling to himself at the thought of the cupidity which
its contents and promises would arouse in the breasts of the many
thousands of folk who would read it.

"Fifty thousand pounds!" he thought, with high amusement. "Egad, some of
'em 'ud feel like Rothschild himself if they could shove that bit in
their pockets--they'd take on all the airs of a Croesus!"

The thought of the Rothschild wealth made him lift his eyes and glance
through the window at the gate of the quiet, ultra-respectable
establishment across the way. Allerdyke, like all men of considerable
means, had a mighty respect for wealth in its colossal forms, and he
never visited the City Carlton, nor looked out of its smoking-room
windows, without glancing with interest and admiration at the famous
Rothschild offices, immediately opposite. It amused him to speculate and
theorize about the vast amounts of money which must needs be turned over
in theory and practice within those soberly quiet walls, to indulge in
fancies about the secrets, financial and political, which must be
discussed and locked up in human breasts there--to him the magic address,
New Court, St. Swithin's Lane, was as full of potential mystery as the
Sphinx is to an imaginative traveller. He glanced at its gates and at its
sign now with an almost youthful awe and reverence--the reverence of the
man of considerable wealth for the men of enormous wealth--and while his
eyes were thus busy a taxi-cab came along the Lane, stopped by the
entrance to New Court, and set down Mrs. Marlow.

Allerdyke instinctively shrank back within the curtains of the
smoking-room window. There was no reason why he should have done so. He
had no objection to Franklin Fullaway's secretary seeing him standing in
a window of the City Carlton Club; he knew no reason why Mrs. Marlow
should object to be seen getting out of a cab in St. Swithin's Lane. Yet,
he drew back, and, from his concealed position, watched. Not that there
was anything out of the ordinary to watch. Mrs. Marlow, who looked
daintier, prettier, more charming than ever, paid her driver, gave him a
smiling nod, and tripped into New Court, a bundle of papers in her
well-gloved hand.

"Business with Rothschild's, eh?" mused Allerdyke.

"Well, I daresay there's a vast lot of folk in this city who do business
across there. Um!--smart little woman that, and no doubt as clever as
she's smart. I'd like to know--"

Just then the ancient hall-porter of the club (who surely missed his
vocation in life, and should have been a bishop, or at least a dean)
ushered in Appleyard, whom Allerdyke immediately beckoned to join him
amongst the window-curtains.

"I say!" he whispered, with a side glance at _The Times_-reading old
gentleman, "you remember me telling you yesterday about the
lady-secretary of Fullaway's--Mrs. Marlow?--what a smart bit she looked
to be. Eh?"

"Well?" replied Appleyard. "Of course, what about her?"

"She's just gone into Rothschild's across there," answered Allerdyke.
"Come here, this corner; she'll be coming out before long, no doubt, and
then you'll see her. As I told you about her, I want you to take a look
at her--she's worth seeing for more reasons than one."

Appleyard allowed himself to be drawn into the embrasure. He waited
patiently and in silence--presently Allerdyke dug a finger into his ribs.

"She's coming!" he whispered. "Now!"

Appleyard looked half-carelessly across the street--the next instant he
was devoutly thanking his stars that since boyhood he had sedulously
trained himself to control his countenance. He made no sign, gave no
indication of previous acquaintance, as he watched Mrs. Marlow's svelt
figure trip out of New Court and away up St. Swithin's Lane; his face
was as calm and unemotional, his eyes as steady as ever when he turned
to his employer.

"Pretty woman," he said. "Looks a sharp 'un, too, Mr. Allerdyke. Well,"
he went on, turning away into the room as if Mrs. Marlow no longer
interested him. "I got those two reports for you--shall I tell you about
them now?"

"Aye, for sure," replied Allerdyke. "Come into this corner--we'll have a
glass of sherry--it's early for lunch yet. Those reports, eh? About
Fullaway and Delkin, you mean?"

"Just so," said Appleyard, settling himself in the corner of a lounge and
lighting the cigarette which Allerdyke offered him. "They're ordinary
business reports, you know, got through the usual channels. Fullaway's
all right, so far as the various commercial agencies know--nothing ever
been heard against him, anyhow. The account of himself and his business
which he gave to you is quite correct. To sum up--he's a sound man--quite
straight--on the business surface, which is, of course, all we can get
at. As for Delkin, that's a straight story, too--anyway, there's a
Chicago millionaire of that name been in town some weeks--he's stopping
at the Hotel Cecil--has a palatial suite there--and his daughter's about
to marry Lord Hexwater. All correct there, Mr. Allerdyke, too--I mean as
regards all that Fullaway told you."

"Well, there's something in knowing all that, Ambler, my lad,"
answered Allerdyke. "You can't get to know too much about the folks
you're dealing with, you know. Very good--we'll leave that now. What
d'ye think o' this?"

He unfolded and held up the reward bill, first looking as fondly at it as
a youthful author looks at his first printed performance, and then
glancing at his manager to see what effect it had upon him. And he saw
Ambler Appleyard's sandy eyebrows go up in a definite arch.

"Fifty thousand!" muttered Appleyard. "Whew! It's a stiff figure, Mr.
Allerdyke. You've put a thick finger in that pie, I'm thinking!"

"One half from the Princess; twenty thousand from me; five thousand from
the singing lady," whispered Allerdyke. "That's how it's made up, my lad.
And naught'll please me better than to see it paid out--that's a fact!"

"You'll have some triers," said Appleyard, with an emphatic wag of the
head. "Make no mistake about that! Fifty thousand! Gosh!--why, anybody
that's got the least clue, the slightest idea--and there must be
somebody--'ll have a go in for all he or she's worth!"

"Let 'em try!" exclaimed Allerdyke. "The welcome man's the chap that
enables us to recover and convict. Here, shove that bill in your pocket,
and read it at your leisure--there's something to think about in what it
says, I promise you."

Appleyard went away from the club an hour and a half later, thinking hard
enough. But he was not thinking about the reward bill. What he was
thinking about, had been thinking about from the moment in which
Allerdyke had drawn him into the smoking-room window and pointed her out
to him, was--Mrs. Marlow. For Appleyard knew Mrs. Marlow well enough, but
(always those buts in life, he reflected with a cynical laugh as he
threaded his way back to Gresham Street) he knew her by another
name--Miss Slade. And now he was wondering why Miss Slade or Mrs. Marlow
had two names, and why she appeared to be one person as he knew her in
private life, and another as he had seen her that very morning.

On Appleyard's first coming to town in the capacity of sole manager of
the London warehouse of Allerdyke and Partners, Limited, he had set
himself up in two rooms in a Bloomsbury lodging-house. He knew little of
London life at that time, or he would have known that he was thus
condemning himself to a drab and dreary existence. As it was, he quickly
learnt by experience, and within six months, having picked up a
comfortable knowledge of things, he transferred himself to one of those
well-equipped boarding establishments in the best part of Bayswater,
wherein bachelors, old maids, young women, widowers, and married couples
without encumbrance, can live together in as much or as little friendship
and intercourse as pleases their individual tastes. Ambler Appleyard took
his time and selected the likeliest place he could find after much
inspection of many similar places. His salary of a thousand a year (to
which was to be added a handsome, if varying commission) enabled him to
pick and choose; the house which he did choose, in the immediate
neighbourhood of Lancaster Gate, was of the luxurious order; its private
rooms were models of the last thing in comfort, its public rooms were
equal to those of the best modern hotels. If you wanted male society, you
could find it in the smoking-room and the billiard-room; if you desired
feminine influences there was a pleasing variety in the drawing-room and
the lounges. You could be just as much alone, and just as much in company
as you pleased--anyway, the place suited Ambler Appleyard, and there he
had lived for two and a half years. And during a good two of them, the
young lady whom he knew as Miss Slade had lived there too.

With Miss Slade, Appleyard, as fellow-resident in the same house, was on
quite friendly terms. He sometimes talked to her in one of the
drawing-rooms. He knew her for a clever, rather brilliant young woman,
with ideas, and the power to express them. It was evident to him that she
had travelled and had seen a good deal of the world and its men and
women; she could talk politics with far more knowledge and insight than
most women; she knew more than a little of economic matters, and was
inclined, like Appleyard himself, to utilitarianism in all things
affecting government and society. But of herself she never spoke
directly; all Appleyard knew of her concerns was that she was engaged in
business of some nature, and went to it every morning as regularly and
punctually as he went to his. He judged that whatever her business was
she must be well paid for it, or must possess means of her own; nobody,
man or woman, could possibly live at that boarding-house, or private
hotel, as its proprietors preferred to call it, for anything less than
four guineas a week. Well--here was the explanation of Miss Slade's
business; she was evidently private secretary to Mr. Franklin Fullaway,
and competent to do business at a place like Rothschild's. And why
not?--yet ... why did she call herself Miss Slade at the boarding-house
and Mrs. Marlow in her business capacity?

"And yet why shouldn't she?" asked Appleyard of himself. "A woman's a
right to do what she likes in that way, and she isn't necessarily
deceitful because she passes as a single woman in one place and a widow
in another. I daresay she could give a very good reason for all this--but
who's got any right to ask her for one? Not me, certainly!"

He had no intention of asking Miss Slade anything when he left the City
for Bayswater that evening, but chance threw him into her immediate
company in one of the lounges, where, after dinner, they met at a table
on which the evening newspapers were laid out. As Miss Slade picked up
one, Appleyard picked up another--certain big, strong letters on the
front sheets of both gave him an opening.

"Have you read anything about this affair?" he asked, with apparent
carelessness, pointing to a row of capitals. "This extraordinary
murder-robbery business which is becoming the talk of the town? Murders
of three people--theft of nearly three hundred thousand pounds' worth of
jewels--and fifty thousand pounds reward! It's colossal!"

Miss Slade, without showing the slightest shade of interest, shook her

"I don't read murders," she answered. "Fifty thousand pounds reward!
That's an awful lot, isn't it?"

"Worth trying for, anyway!" replied Appleyard. He gave her a sly look,
and smiled grimly. "I think I'll try for it," he said. "Fifty thousand!"

"How could any one try unless he or she's some clue?" she asked. "If you
don't know anything about it, or any of the persons concerned, where
would you begin?"

"There are plenty of persons named in these accounts about whom one could
find something out, at any rate," replied Appleyard, tapping the
newspaper with his finger. "There's a Russian Princess with a sneezy sort
of name; a Yorkshire manufacturer named Allerdyke; an American man called
Franklin Fullaway--all seem to be well-known people in town. You ever
hear of any of them?"

Miss Slade turned a face of absolute indifference on him and the paper to
which he was pointing.

"Never," she answered calmly. "But I daresay I shall hear of them
now--for nine days."

Then she went off, with her own newspaper, and Appleyard carried his to a
corner and sat down.

"That's a lie!" he said to himself. "And a woman who will tell a lie as
calmly and quietly as that will tell a thousand with equal assurance and
cleverness. She--"

There he stopped. In the doorway Miss Slade had also stopped--stopped to
speak to another resident, a man, about whom Ambler Appleyard had often
wondered as keenly as he was now wondering about Miss Slade herself.



There were various reasons why Ambler Appleyard's wonder had often been
aroused by the man to whom Miss Slade had stopped to speak. He wondered
about him, first of all, because of his personal appearance. That was
striking enough to excite wonder in anybody, for he was one of those
remarkable men who possess great beauty of countenance allied to
unfortunate deformity of body. The face was that of a poet and a
dreamer, the body that of a hunchback and a cripple. Painter or
sculptor alike would have rejoiced to depict the face on canvas or
carve it in marble--its perfect shape, fine tinting, the lines of the
features, the beauty of the eyes, the wealth of the dark, clustering
hair, were all as near artistic perfection as could be. But all else
spoke of deformity--the badly bent back, the twisted body, the short
leg, the misshapen foot. It was as if Nature had endeavoured in some
wickedly mischievous freak to show how beauty and ugliness can be
combined in one creature.

That was one reason for wonder in Appleyard's mind--he had never come
across quite this type before, though he knew that hunchbacks and
cripples are often gifted with unusual strength, and more than usual good
looks, as if in ironic compensation for their other disadvantages. But
there were others. Mr. Gerald Rayner--everybody knew everybody else's
name in that private hotel, for they were all more or less permanent
residents--was something of a mystery man. In spite of his deformity, he
was the best-dressed man in the house--they were all smart men there, but
none of them came up to him in the way of clothes, linen, and personal
adornment, always in the best and most cultured taste. Also it was easy
to gather that he was a young man of large means. Although he made full
use of the public rooms, and was always in and about them of an evening,
from dinner-time to a late hour, he tenanted a private suite of
apartments in the hotel--those residents, few in number, who had been
privileged to obtain entrance to them spoke with almost awed admiration
of their occupant's books, pictures, and objects of art. Mr. Gerald
Rayner, it was evident, was a man of culture--that, indeed, was shown by
his conversation. And at first Appleyard had set him down as a poet, or
an artist, or a writing man of some sort--a dilettante who possessed
private means. Then, being a sharp observer of all that went on around
his own centre, he began to perceive that he must be mistaken in
that--Rayner was obviously a business man, like himself. For every
morning, at precisely half-past nine, a smart motor-brougham arrived at
the door of the private hotel and carried Rayner off Citywards; every
afternoon at exactly half-past five the same conveyance brought him back.
Only business men, said Appleyard, are so regular, so punctual; therefore
Rayner must be a business man.

But nobody in that hotel knew anything whatever of Rayner, beyond what
they saw of him within its walls. Nobody knew whither the motor-brougham
carried him, what he did when he reached his destination, nobody knew
what or who he was. Appleyard, who was always knocking about the heart of
the City, who was for ever in its business streets, who knew all the City
clubs, all the best City restaurants, and was familiar with all sorts

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