Part 4 out of 5
found out what bearing, if any, this letter had on Hartley Parrish's
Euan MacTavish leant back in his chair and said nothing. He finished his
cigarette, pitched the butt into the fender, and turned to Mary. He
asked her to let him see the letter again. Once more he read it over.
Then, handing it back to her, he said:
"It's all so simple-looking that there may well be something behind it.
But, if you do go to Holland, how are you going to set about your
"That's where you can help me, Euan, dear," answered the girl. "I want
to find somebody at Rotterdam who will help me to make some confidential
enquiries about this firm. Do you know any one? An Englishman would be
best, of course ..."
But Euan MacTavish was halfway to the door.
"Wait there," he commanded, "till I telephone the one man in the world
who can help us."
He vanished into the hall where Mary heard him at the instrument.
"We are going round to the Albany," he said, "to see my friend, Ernest
Dulkinghorn, of the War Office. He can help us if any one can. But,
Mary, you must promise me one thing before we go ... you must agree to
do what old Ernest tells you. You needn't be afraid. He is the most
unconventional of men, capable of even approving this madcap scheme of
"I agree," said Mary, "but how you waste time, Euan! We could have been
at the Albany by this time!"
In a first-floor oak-panelled suite at the Albany, overlooking the
covered walk that runs from Piccadilly to Burlington Gardens, they found
an excessively fair, loose-limbed man whose air of rather helpless
timidity was heightened by a pair of large tortoise-shell spectacles. He
appeared excessively embarrassed at the sight of MacTavish's extremely
"You never told me you were bringing a lady, Euan," he said
reproachfully, "or I should have attempted to have made myself more
He looked down at his old flannel suit and made an apologetic gesture
which took in the table littered with books and papers and the sofa on
which lay a number of heavy tomes with marked slips sticking out between
"I am working at a code," he explained.
"Ernest here," said MacTavish, turning to Mary, "is the code king. Your
pals in the Intelligence tell me, Ernest, that you've never been beaten
by a code ..."
The fair man laughed nervously.
"They've been pullin' your leg, Euan," he said.
"Don't you believe him, Mary," retorted her cousin. "This is the man who
probably did more than any one man to beat the Boche. Whenever the
brother Hun changed his code, Brother Ernest was called in and he
produced a key in one, two, three!..."
"What rot you talk, Euan!" said Dulkinghorn. "Working out a code is a
combination of mathematics, perseverance, and inspiration with a good
slice of luck thrown in! But isn't Miss Trevert going to sit down?"
He cleared the sofa with a sweep of his arm which sent the books flying
on to the floor.
"Ernest," said MacTavish, "I want you to give Miss Trevert here a
letter to some reliable fellow in Rotterdam who can assist her in making
a few enquiries of a very delicate nature!"
"What sort of enquiries?" asked Dulkinghorn bluntly.
"About a firm called Elias van der Spyck," replied Euan.
"Of Rotterdam?" enquired the other sharply.
"That's right! Do you know them?"
"I've heard the name. They do a big business. But hadn't Miss Trevert
better tell her story herself?"
Mary told him of the death of Hartley Parrish and of the letter she had
found upon his desk. She said nothing of the part played by Robin Greve.
"Hmph!" said Dulkinghorn. "You think it might be blackmail, eh? Well,
well, it might be. Have you got this letter about you? Hand it over and
let's have a look at it."
His nervous manner had vanished. His face seemed to take on a much
keener expression. He took the letter from Mary and read it through.
Then he crossed the room to a wall cupboard which he unlocked with a key
on a chain, produced a small tray on which stood a number of small
bottles, some paint-brushes and pens, and several little open dishes
such as are used for developing photographs. He bore the tray to the
table, cleared a space on a corner by knocking a pile of books and
papers on the floor, and set it down.
"Just poke the fire!" he said to Euan.
From a drawer in the table he produced a board on which he pinned down
the letter with a drawing-pin at each corner. Then he dipped a
paint-brush into one of the bottles and carefully painted the whole
surface of the sheet with some invisible fluid.
"So!" he said, "we'll leave that to dry and see if we can find out any
little secrets, eh? That little tray'll do the trick if there's any
monkey business to this letter of yours, Miss Trevert. That'll do the
trick, eh, what?"
He paced the room as he talked, not waiting for an answer, but running
on as though he were soliloquizing. Presently he turned and swooped down
on the board.
"Nothing," he ejaculated. "Now for the acids!"
With a little piece of sponge he carefully wiped the surface of the
letter and painted it again with a substance from another bottle.
"Just hold that to the fire, would you, Euan?" he said, and gave
MacTavish the board. He resumed his pacing, but this time he hummed in
the most unmelodious voice imaginable:
She was bright as a butterfly, as fair as a queen,
Was pretty little Polly Perkins, of Paddington Green.
MacTavish's voice broke in upon the pacing and the discordant song.
Dulkinghorn snapped out the question.
"No result!" said Euan. He handed him the board.
Dulkinghorn cast a glance at it, swiftly removed the letter, held it for
an instant up to the electric light, fingered the paper for a moment,
and handed the letter back to Mary.
"If it's code," he said, "it's a conventional code and that always beats
the expert ... at first. Go to Rotterdam and call on my friend, Mr.
William Schulz. I'll give you a letter for him and he'll place himself
entirely at your disposition. Euan will take you over. Holland is on
your beat, ain't it, Euan? When do you go next?"
"To-morrow," said the King's Messenger. "The boat train leaves Liverpool
Street at ten o'clock."
"You'll want a passport," said Dulkinghorn, turning to the girl.
"You've got it there? Good. Leave it with me. You shall have it back
properly viséed by nine o'clock to-morrow morning. Where are you
stayin'? Almond's Hotel. Good. I'll send the letter for Mr. William
Schulz with it!"
"But," Euan interjected mildly, after making several ineffectual efforts
to stem the torrent of speech, "do you really think that Miss Trevert
will be well advised to risk this trip to Holland alone? Hadn't the
police better take the matter in hand?"
"Police be damned!" replied Dulkinghorn heartily. "Miss Trevert will be
better than a dozen heavy-handed, heavy-footed plain-clothes men. When
you get to Rotterdam, Miss Trevert, you trot along and call on William
Schulz. He'll see you through."
Then, to indicate without any possibility of misunderstanding, that his
work had been interrupted long enough, Dulkinghorn got up, and, opening
the sitting-room door, led the way into the hall. As he stood with his
hand on the latch of the front door, Mary Trevert asked him:
"Is this Mr. Schulz an Englishman?"
"I'll let you into a secret," answered Bulkinghorn; "he _was_. But he
isn't now! No, no, I can't say anything more. You must work it out for
yourself. But I will give you a piece of advice. The less you say about
Mr. William Schulz and about your private affairs generally when you are
on the other side, the better it will be for you! Good-night--and good
Euan MacTavish escorted Mary to Almond's Hotel.
"I'm very much afraid," he said to her as they walked along, "that
you're butting that pretty head of yours into a wasps' nest, Mary!"
"Nonsense!" retorted the girl decisively; "I can take care of myself!"
"If I consent to let you go off like this," said Euan, "it is only on
one condition ... you must tell Lady Margaret where you are going ..."
"That'll spoil everything," answered Mary, pouting; "Mother will want to
come with me!"
"No, she won't," urged her cousin, "not if I tell her. She'll worry
herself to death, Mary, if she doesn't know what has become of you.
You'd better let me ring her up from the club and tell her you're
running over to Rotterdam for a few days. Look here, I'll tell her
you're going with me. She'll be perfectly happy if she thinks I'm to be
with you ..."
On that Mary surrendered.
"Have it your own way," she said.
"I'll pick you up here at a quarter-past nine in the morning," said Euan
as he bade the girl good-night at her hotel, "then we'll run down to
the F.O. and collect my bags and go on to the station!"
"Euan," the girl asked as she gave him her hand, "who is this man
Schulz, do you think?"
The King's messenger leant over and whispered:
The girl repeated the words in a hushed voice.
"Then Mr. Dulkinghorn ... is he ... that too?"
Euan nodded shortly.
"One of their leadin' lights!" he answered.
"But, Euan,"--the girl was very serious now,--"what has the Secret
Service to do with Hartley Parrish's clients in Holland?"
The King's messenger laid a lean finger along his nose.
"Ah!" he said, "what? That's what is beginning to interest me!"
A WORD WITH MR. JEEKES
Life is like a kaleidoscope, that ingenious toy which was the delight of
the Victorian nursery. Like the glass fragments in its slide, different
in colour and shape, men's lives lie about without seeming connection;
then Fate gives the instrument a shake, and behold! the fragments slide
into position and form an intricate mosaic....
Mark how Fate proceeded on the wet and raw Sunday evening when Bruce
Wright, at the instance of Mr. Manderton, quitted Robin Greve's chambers
in the Temple, leaving his friend and the detective alone together. To
tell the truth, Bruce Wright was in no mood for facing the provincial
gloom of a wet Sunday evening in London, nor did he find alluring the
prospect of a suburban supper-party at the quiet house where he lived
with his widowed mother and sisters in South Kensington. So, in an
irresolute, unsettled frame of mind, he let himself drift down the
Strand unable to bring himself to go home or, indeed, to form any plan.
He crossed Trafalgar Square, a nocturne in yellow and black--lights
reflected yellow in pavements shining dark with wet--and by and by
found himself in Pall Mall. Here it was that Fate took a hand. At this
moment it administered a preliminary jog to the kaleidoscope and brought
the fragment labelled Bruce Wright into immediate proximity with the
piece entitled Albert Edward Jeekes.
As Bruce Wright came along Pall Mall, he saw Mr. Jeekes standing on the
steps of his club. The little secretary appeared to be lost in thought,
his chin thrust down on the crutch-handle of the umbrella he clutched to
himself. So absorbed was he in his meditations that he did not observe
Bruce Wright stop and regard him. It was not until our young man had
touched him on the arm that he looked up with a start.
"God bless my soul!" he exclaimed, "if it isn't young Wright!"
Now the sight of Jeekes had put a great idea into the head of our young
friend. He had been more chagrined than he had let it appear to Robin
Greve at his failure to recover the missing letter from the library at
Harkings. To obtain the letter--or, at any rate, a copy of it--from
Jeekes and to hand it to Robin Greve would, thought Bruce, restore his
prestige as an amateur detective, at any rate in his own eyes. Moreover,
a chat with Jeekes over the whole affair seemed a Heaven-sent exit from
the _impasse_ of boredom into which he had drifted this wet Sunday
"How are you, Mr. Jeekes?" said Bruce briskly. ("Mr." Jeekes was the
form of address always accorded to the principal secretary in the
Hartley Parrish establishment and Bruce resumed it instinctively.) "I
was anxious to see you. I called in at the club this afternoon. Did you
get my message?"
The little secretary blinked at him through his _pince-nez_.
"There have been so many messages about this shocking affair that really
I forget ..."
He sighed heavily.
"Couldn't I come in and have a yarn now?"
Bruce spoke cajolingly. But Mr. Jeekes wrinkled his brow fussily.
There was so much to do; he had had a long day; if Wright would excuse
"As a matter of fact," explained Bruce with an eye on his man, "I wanted
to see you particularly about a letter ..."
"Some other time ... to-morrow ..."
"Written on dark-blue paper ... you know, one of those letters H.P. made
all the fuss about."
Mr. Jeekes took his _pince-nez_ from his nose, gave the glasses a hasty
rub with his pocket-handkerchief, and replaced them. He slanted a long
narrow look at the young man.
Then, "What letter do you mean?" he asked composedly.
"A letter which lay on H.P.'s desk in the library at Harkings when they
found the body ..."
"There _was_ a letter there then ...?"
"Haven't _you_ got it?"
Jeekes shook his head.
"Come inside for a minute and tell me about this," he said.
He led Bruce into the vast smoking-room of the club. They took seats in
a distant corner near the blazing fire. The room was practically
Now, Mr. Jeekes's excessive carefulness about money had been a
long-standing joke amongst his assistants when Bruce Wright had belonged
to Hartley Parrish's secretarial staff. Thrift had become with him more
than a habit. It was a positive obsession. It revealed itself in such
petty meannesses as a perpetual cadging for matches or small change and
a careful abstention from any offer of hospitality. Never in the whole
course of his service had Bruce Wright heard of Mr. Jeekes taking
anybody out to lunch or extending any of the usual hospitalities of
life. He was not a little surprised, therefore, to hear Jeekes ask him
what he would take.
Bruce said he would take some coffee.
"Have a liqueur? Have a cigar?" said Jeekes, turning to Bruce from the
somnolent waiter who had answered the bell.
There was a strange eagerness, a sort of over-done cordiality, in the
invitation which contrasted so strongly with the secretary's habits that
Robin felt dimly suspicious. He suddenly formed the idea that Mr. Jeekes
wanted to pump him. He refused the liqueur, but accepted a cigar. Jeekes
waited until they had been served and the waiter had withdrawn silently
into the dim vastness of the great room before he spoke.
"Now, then, young Wright," he said, "what's this about a letter? Tell me
from the beginning ..."
Bruce told him of the letter from Elias van der Spyck & Co. which Robin
had seen upon the desk in the library at Harkings, of his (Bruce's)
journey down to Harkings that afternoon and of his failure to find the
"But why do you assume that I've got it?"
There was an air of forced joviality about Mr. Jeekes as he put the
question which did not in the least, as he undoubtedly intended it
should, disguise his eagerness. On the contrary, it lent his rather
undistinguished features an expression of cunning which can only be
described as knavish. Bruce Wright, who, as will already have been seen,
was a young man with all his wits about him, did not fail to remark it.
The result was that he hastily revised an intention half-formed in his
mind of taking Jeekes a little way into his confidence regarding Robin
Greve's doubts and suspicions about Hartley Parrish's death.
But he answered the secretary's question readily enough.
"Because Miss Trevert told me you went to the library immediately you
arrived at Harkings last night. I consequently assumed that you must
have taken away the letter seen by Robin Greve ..."
Mr. Jeekes drew in his breath with a sucking sound. It was a little
trick of his when about to speak.
"So you saw Miss Trevert at Harkings, eh?"
"I did," he said. "We had quite a dramatic meeting, too--it was like a
scene from a film!"
And, with a little good-humoured exaggeration, he gave Mr. Jeekes a
description of his encounter with Mary. And lest it should seem that
young Wright was allowing Mr. Jeekes to pump him, it should be stated
that Bruce was well aware of one of the secretary's most notable
characteristics, a common failing, be it remarked, of the small-minded,
and that was an overpowering suspicion of anything resembling a leading
question. In order, therefore, to gain his confidence, he willingly
satisfied the other's curiosity regarding his visit to Harkings hoping
thereby to extract some information as to the whereabouts of the letter
on the slatey-blue paper.
"There was no letter of this description on the desk, you say, when you
and Miss Trevert looked?" asked Jeekes when Bruce had finished his
"Nothing but circulars and bills," Bruce replied.
Mr. Jeekes leaned forward and drank off his coffee with a swift
movement. Then he said carelessly:
"From what you tell me, Miss Trevert would have been perhaps a minute
alone in the room without your seeing her?"
Bruce agreed with a nod.
Adjusting his _pince-nez_ on his nose the secretary rose to his feet.
"Very glad to have seen you again, Wright," he said, thrusting out a
limp hand; "must run off now--mass of work to get through ..."
Then Bruce risked his leading question.
"If you haven't got this letter," he observed, "what has become of it?
Obviously the police are not likely to have taken it because they know
nothing of its significance ..."
"Quite, quite," answered Mr. Jeekes absently, but without replying to
the young man's question.
"Why," asked Bruce boldly, "did old H.P. make such a mystery about these
letters on the slatey-blue paper, Mr. Jeekes?"
The secretary wrinkled up his thin lips and sharp nose into a cunning
"When you get to be my age, young Wright," he made answer, "you will
understand that every man has a private side to his life. And, if you
have learnt your job properly, you will also know that a private
secretary's first duty is to mind his own business. About this letter
now--it's the first I've heard of it. Take my advice and don't bother
your head about it. _If_ it exists ..."
"But it _does_ exist," broke in Bruce quickly. "Mr. Greve saw it and
read it himself ..."
Mr. Jeekes laughed drily.
"Don't you forget, young Wright," he said, jerking his chin towards the
youngster in a confidential sort of way, "don't you forget that Mr.
Greve is anxious to find a plausible motive for Mr. Parrish's suicide.
People are talking, you understand! That's all I've got to say! Just you
think it over ..."
Bruce Wright bristled up hotly at this.
"I don't see you have any reason to try and impugn Greve's motive for
wishing to get at the bottom of this mysterious affair ..."
Mr. Jeekes affected to be engrossed in the manicuring of his nails. Very
intently he rubbed the nails of one hand against the palm of the other.
"No mystery!" he said decisively with a shake of the head: "no mystery
whatsoever about it, young Wright, except what the amateur detectives
will try and make it out to be. Or has Mr. Greve discovered a mystery
The question came out artfully. But in the quick glance which
accompanied it, there was an intent watchfulness which startled Bruce
accustomed as he was to the mild and unemotional ways of the little
"Not that I know of," said Bruce. "Greve is only puzzled like all of us
that H.P. should have done a thing like this!"
Mr. Jeekes was perfectly impassive again.
"The nerves, young Wright! The nerves!" he said impressively. "Harley
Street, not Mr. Greve, will supply the motive to this sad affair,
With that he accompanied the young man to the door of the club and from
the vestibule watched him sally forth into the rain of Pall Mall.
Then Mr. Jeekes turned to the hall porter.
"Please get me Stevenish one-three-seven," he said, "it's a trunk call.
Don't let them put you off with 'No reply.' It's Harkings, and they are
expecting me to ring them. I shall be in the writing room."
When, twenty minutes later, Mr. Jeekes emerged from the trunk call
telephone box in the club vestibule, his mouth was drooping at the
corners and his hands trembled curiously. He stood for an instant in
thought tapping his foot on the marble floor of the deserted hall dimly
lit by a single electric bulb burning over the hall porter's box. Then
he went back to the writing-room and returned with a yellow telegram
"Send a boy down to Charing Cross with that at once, please," he said to
the night porter.
Fate which had brought Bruce Wright face to face with Mr. Jeekes gave
the kaleidoscope another jerk that night. As Bruce Wright entered the
Tube Station at Dover Street to go home to South Kensington, it occurred
to him that he would ring up Robin Greve at his chambers in the Temple
and give him an outline of his (Bruce's) talk with Jeekes. Bruce went to
the public callbox in the station, but the rhythmic "Zoom-er! Zoom-er!
Zoom-er!" which announces that a number is engaged was all the
satisfaction he got. The prospect of waiting about the draughty station
exit did not appeal to him, so he decided to go home and telephone
Robin, as originally arranged, in the morning.
Just about the time that he made this resolve, Robin in his rooms in the
Temple was hanging up the receiver of his telephone with a dazed
expression in his eyes. Mr. Manderton had rung him up with a piece of
intelligence which fairly bewildered him. It bewildered Mr. Manderton
also, as the detective was frank enough to acknowledge.
Mary Trevert had gone to Rotterdam for a few days in company with her
cousin, Major Euan MacTavish. Mr. Manderton had received this
astonishing information by telephone from Harkings a few minutes before.
"It bothers me properly, Mr. Greve, sir," the detective had added.
"There's only one thing for it, Manderton," Robin had said; "I'll have
to go after her ..."
"The very thing I was about to suggest myself, Mr. Greve. You're
unofficial-like and can be more helpful than if we detailed one of our
own people from the Yard. And with the investigation in its present
stage I don't reely feel justified in going off on a wild-goose chase
myself. There are several important enquiries going forward now, notably
as to where Mr. Parrish bought his pistol. But we certainly ought to
find out what takes Miss Trevert careering off to Rotterdam in this
"It seems almost incredible," Robin had said, "but it looks to me as
though Miss Trevert must have found out something about the letter ..."
"Or found it herself ..."
"By Jove! She was in the library when Bruce Wright was there. This
settles it, Manderton. I must go!"
"Then," said the detective, "I'm going to entrust you with that slotted
sheet of paper again. For I have an idea, Mr. Greve, that you may get a
glimpse of that letter before I do. I'll send a messenger round with it
Then a difficulty arose. Manderton had not got the girl's address. They
had no address at Harkings. Nor did he know what train Miss Trevert had
taken. She might have gone by the 9 P.M. that night. Had Mr. Greve got a
passport? Yes, Robin had a passport, but it was not viséed for Holland.
That meant he could not leave until the following evening. Then Robin
had a "brain wave."
"There's an air service to Rotterdam!" he exclaimed. "It doesn't leave
till noon. A pal of mine went across by it only last week. That will
leave me time to get my passport stamped at the Dutch Consulate, to
catch the air mail, and be in Rotterdam by tea-time! And, Manderton, I
shall go to the Grand Hotel. That's where my friend stopped. Wire me
there if there's any news ..."
Air travel is so comfortably regulated at the present day that Robin
Greve, looking back at his trip by air from Croydon Aerodrome to the big
landing-ground outside Rotterdam, acknowledged that he had more
excitement in his efforts to stir into action a lethargic Dutch passport
official in London, so as to enable him to catch the air mail, than in
the smooth and uneventful voyage across the Channel. He reached
Rotterdam on a dull and muggy afternoon and lost no time in depositing
his bag at the Grand Hotel. An enquiry at the office there satisfied him
that Mary Trevert had not registered her name in the hotel book. Then he
set out in a taxi upon a dreary round of the principal hotels.
But fate, which loves to make a sport of lovers, played him a scurvy
trick. In the course of his search it brought Robin to that very hotel
towards which, at the selfsame moment, Mary Trevert was driving from
the station. By the time she arrived, Robin was gone and, with despair
in his heart, had started on a tour of the second-class hotels, checking
them by the Baedeker he had bought in the Strand that morning. It was
eight o'clock by the time he had finished. He had drawn a blank.
The sight of a huge, plate-glass-fronted café reminded him that in the
day's rush he had omitted to lunch. So he paid off his taxi and dined
off succulent Dutch beefsteak, pounded as soft as velvet and swimming
with butter and served in a bed of deliciously browned 'earth apples,'
as the Holländers call potatoes. The café was stiflingly hot; there was
a large and noisy orchestra in the front part and a vast billiard-saloon
in the back--a place of shaded lights, clicking balls, and guttural
exclamations. The heat of the place, the noise and the cries combined
with the effect of his long journey in the fresh air to make him very
drowsy. When he had finished dinner he was content to postpone his
investigations until the morrow and go to bed. Emerging from the café he
found to his relief that his hotel was but a few houses away.
As he sat at breakfast the next morning, enjoying the admirable Dutch
coffee, he reviewed the situation very calmly but very thoroughly. He
told himself that he had no indication as to Mary Trevert's business in
Rotterdam save the supposition that she had found the van der Spyck
letter and had come to Rotterdam to investigate the matter for herself.
He realized that the hypothesis was thin, for, in the first place, Mary
could have no inkling as to the hidden significance of the document,
and, in the second place, she was undoubtedly under the impression that
Hartley Parrish was driven to suicide by his (Robin's) threats.
But, in the absence of any other apparent explanation of the girl's
extraordinary decision to come to Rotterdam, Robin decided he would
accept the theory that she had come about the van der Spyck letter. How
like Mary, after all, he mused, self-willed, fearless, independent, to
rush off to Holland on her own on a quest like this! Where would her
investigations lead her? To the offices of Elias van der Spyck & Co., to
be sure! Robin threw his napkin down on the table, thrust back his
chair, and went off to the hotel porter to locate the address of the
The telephone directory showed that the offices were situated in the
Oranien-Straat, about ten minutes' walk from the hotel, in the business
quarter of the city round the Bourse. Robin glanced at the clock. It
was twenty minutes to ten. The principals, he reflected, were not likely
to be at the office before ten o'clock. It was a fine morning and he
decided to walk. The hotel porter gave him a few simple directions: the
gentleman could not miss the way, he said; so Robin started off, hope
high in his breast of getting a step nearer to the elucidation of the
mystery of the library at Harkings.
A brisk walk of about ten minutes through the roaring streets of the
city brought him to a big open square from which, he had been
instructed, the Oranien-Straat turned off. He was just passing a large
and important-looking post-office--he remarked it because he looked up
at a big clock in the window to see the time--when a man came hastily
through the swing-door and stopped irresolutely on the pavement in
front, glancing to right and left as a man does who is looking for a
At the sight of him Robin could scarcely suppress an expression of
amazement. It was Mr. Jeekes.
THE MAN WITH THE YELLOW FACE
In a narrow, drowsy side street at Rotterdam, bisected by a somnolent
canal, stood flush with the red-brick sidewalk a small clean house. Wire
blinds affixed to the windows of its ground and first floors gave it a
curious blinking air as though its eyes were only half open. To the neat
green front door was affixed a large brass plate inscribed with the
single name: "Schulz."
A large woman, in a pink print dress with a white cloth bound about her
head, was vigorously polishing the plate as, on the morning following
her departure from London, Mary Trevert, Dulkinghorn's letter of
introduction in her pocket, arrived in front of the residence of Mr.
William Schulz. Euan MacTavish had, on the previous evening, seen her to
her hotel and had then--very reluctantly, as it seemed to
Mary--departed to continue his journey to The Hague, his taxi piled high
with white-and-green Foreign Office bags, heavily sealed with scarlet
Mary Trevert approached the woman, her letter of introduction, which
Dulkinghorn, being an unusual person, had fastened down, in her hand.
"Schulz?" she said interrogatively.
"_Nicht da_," replied the woman without looking up from her rubbing.
"Has he gone out?" asked Mary in English.
"_Verstehe nicht_!" mumbled the woman.
But she put down her cleaning-rag and, breathing heavily, mustered the
girl with a leisurely stare.
Mary repeated the question in German whereupon the woman brightened up
The _Herr_ was not at home. The _Herr_ had gone out. On business,
_jawohl_. To the bank, perhaps. But the _Herr_ would be back in time for
_Mittagessen_ at noon. There was beer soup followed by _Rindfleisch_ ...
Mary hesitated an instant. She was wondering whether she should leave
her letter of introduction. She decided she would leave it. So she wrote
on her card: "Anxious to see you as soon as possible" and the name of
her hotel, and gave it, with the letter, to the woman.
"Please see that Herr Schulz gets that directly he comes in," she said.
"It is important!"
"_Gut, gut_!" said the woman, wiping her hands on her apron. She took
the card and letter, and Mary, thanking her, set off to go back to her
About twenty yards from Mr. Schulz's house a narrow alley ran off. As
Mary turned to regain the little footbridge across the canal to return
to the noisy street which would take her back to the hotel, she caught
sight of a man disappearing down this alley.
She only had a glimpse of him, but it was sufficient to startle her
considerably. He was a small man wearing a tweed cap and a tweed
travelling ulster of a vivid brown. It was not these details, however,
which took her aback. It was the fact that in the glimpse she had had of
the man's face she had seemed to recognize the features of Mr. Albert
"What an extraordinary thing!" Mary said to herself. "It _can't_ be Mr.
Jeekes. But if it is not, it is some one strikingly like him!"
To get another view of the stranger she hurried to the corner of the
alley. It was a mere thread of a lane, not above six yards wide, running
between the houses a distance of some sixty yards to the next street.
But the alley was empty. The stranger had disappeared.
Mary went a little way down the lane. A wooden fence ran down it on
either side, with doors at intervals apparently giving on the back yards
of the houses in the street. There was no sign of Mr. Jeekes's double,
so she retraced her steps and returned to her hotel without further
She had not been back more than half an hour when a waiter came in to
the lounge where she was sitting.
"Miss Trevert?" he said. "Zey ask for you at ze delephone!"
He took her to a cabin under the main staircase.
"This is Miss Trevert speaking!" said Mary.
"I am speaking for Mr. Schulz," a man's voice answered--rather a nasal
voice with a shade of foreign inflexion--"he has had your letter. He is
very sorry he has been detained in the country, but would be very glad
if you would lunch with him to-day at his country-house."
"I shall be very pleased," the girl replied. "Is it far?"
"Only just outside Rotterdam," the voice responded. "Mr. Schulz will
send the car to the hotel to pick you up at 11.45. The driver will ask
for you. Is that all right?"
"Certainly," said Mary. "Please thank Mr. Schulz and tell him I will
expect the car at a quarter to twelve!"
Punctually at the appointed hour an open touring-car drove up to the
hotel. Mary was waiting at the entrance. The driver was a young Dutchman
in a blue serge suit. He jumped out and came up to Mary.
"Mees Trevert?" he said.
Mary nodded, whereupon he helped her into the car, then got back into
the driving-seat and they drove away.
A run of about twenty minutes through trim suburbs brought them out on a
long straight road, paved with bricks and lined with poplars. The day
was fine with a little bright sunshine from time to time and a high wind
which kept the sails of the windmills dotting the landscape turning
briskly. They followed the road for a bit, then branched off down a side
turning which led to a black gate. It bore the name "Villa Bergendal" in
white letters. The gate opened into a short drive fringed by thick
laurel bushes which presently brought them in view of an ugly square
The car drew up at a creeper-hung porch paved in red tiles. The
chauffeur helped Mary to alight and, pushing open a glass door, ushered
the girl into a square, comfortably furnished hall. Some handsome
Oriental rugs were spread about: trophies of native weapons hung on the
walls, and there were some fine specimens of old Dutch chests and blue
The chauffeur led the way across the hall to a door at the far end. As
Mary followed him, something bright lying on one of the chests caught
her eye. It was a vivid brown travelling ulster and on it lay a brown
Mary Trevert was no fool. She was, on the contrary, a remarkably
quick-witted young person. The sight of that rather "loud" overcoat
instantly recalled the stranger so strikingly resembling Mr. Jeekes who
had disappeared down the lane as she was coming away from Mr. Schulz's
house. Mr. Jeekes _was_ in Rotterdam then, and had, of course, been sent
by her mother to look after her. What a fool she had been to allow Euan
MacTavish to persuade her to tell her mother of her plans!
Mary suddenly felt very angry. How dare Mr. Jeekes spy on her like this!
She was quite capable, she told herself, of handling her own affairs,
and she intended to tell the secretary so very plainly. And if, as she
was beginning to believe, Mr. Schulz were acting hand in glove with Mr.
Jeekes, she would let him know equally plainly that she had no intention
of troubling him, but would make her own investigations independently.
With a heightened colour she followed the chauffeur and passed through
the door he held open for her.
She found herself in a small, pleasant room with a bright note of colour
in the royal blue carpet and window-curtains. A log-fire burned
cheerfully in the fireplace before which a large red-leather
Chesterfield was drawn up. On the walls hung some good old Dutch prints,
and there were a couple of bookcases containing books which, by their
bindings at least, seemed old and valuable.
At the farther end of the room was another door across which a curtain
of royal blue was drawn. Mary had scarcely entered the room when this
door opened and a man appeared.
He was carefully dressed in a well-cut suit of some dark material and
wore a handsome pearl pin in his black tie. He was a dark, sallow type
of man, his skin yellowed as though from long residence in the tropics.
A small black moustache, carefully trained outwards from the lips,
disclosed, as he smiled a greeting at his visitor, a line of broken
yellow teeth. His hair, which was grizzled at the temples, was black and
oily and brushed right back off the forehead. With his coarse black
hair, his sallow skin, and his small beady eyes, rather like a snake's,
there was something decidedly un-English about him. As Mary Trevert
looked at him, somewhat taken aback by his sudden appearance, she became
conscious of a vague feeling of mistrust welling up within her.
The man closed the door behind him and advanced into the room, his hand
extended. Mary took it. It was dank and cold to the touch.
"A thousand apologies, my dear Miss Trevert," he said in a soft, silky
voice, a trifle nasal, with a touch of Continental inflexion, "for
asking you to come out here to see me. The fact is I had an important
business conference here this morning and I have a second one this
afternoon. It was materially impossible for me to come into Rotterdam ...
But I am forgetting my manners. Let me introduce myself. I am
Mr. Schulz ..."
Mary Trevert looked at him thoughtfully. Was this the friend of Ernest
Dulkinghorn, the man of confidence to whom he had recommended her? A
feeling of great uneasiness came over her. She listened. The house was
absolutely still. From the utter silence enveloping it--for aught she
knew--she and her unsavoury-looking companion might be the only persons
in it. And then she realized that, on the faith of a telephone call, she
had blindly come out to a house, the very address of which was utterly
unknown to her.
She fought down a sudden sensation of panic that made her want to
scream, to bolt from the room into the fresh air, anywhere away from
those snake eyes, that soft voice, that clammy hand. She collected her
thoughts, remembered that Jeekes must be somewhere in the house, as his
outdoor things were in the hall. The recollection reminded her of her
determination to tolerate no interference from Jeekes or her mother.
So she merely answered: "It was no trouble to come," and waited for the
man to speak again.
He pulled forward the Chesterfield and made her sit down beside him.
"I had the letter of introduction," he said, "and I want you to know
that my services are entirely at your disposal. Now, what can I do for
He looked at the girl intently--rather anxiously, she thought.
"That was explained in the letter," she answered, meeting his gaze
"Yes, yes, of course, I know. I meant in what way do you propose to make
use of my ... my local knowledge?"
"I will tell you that, Mr. Schulz," Mary Trevert said in a measured
voice, "when you tell me what you think of the mission which has brought
me here ..."
The snake's eyes narrowed a little.
"For a young lady to have come out alone to Holland on a mission of this
description speaks volumes for your pluck and self-reliance, Miss
"I asked you what you thought of my mission to Holland, Mr. Schulz,"
Mary interposed coldly.
It was beginning to dawn on her that Mr. Schulz did not seem to know
anything about the object of her visit, but, on the contrary, was
seeking to elicit this from her by a process of adroit cross-examination.
She was rather puzzled, therefore, but also somewhat relieved
when he said:
"I can give my opinion better after you have shown me the letter ..."
"What letter?" said the girl.
"The letter from Elias van der Spyck and Company, to be sure," retorted
the other quickly.
Mary dipped her hand into her black fox muff. Then she hesitated. She
could not rid herself of the suspicion that this man with the sallow
face and the yellow fangs was not to be trusted. She withdrew her hand.
"This is a very delicate matter, Mr. Schulz," she said. "Our appointment
was made by telephone, and I think therefore I should ask you to show me
Mr. Dulkinghorn's letter of introduction before I go any further, so
that I may feel quite sure in my mind that I am dealing with one in whom
I know Mr. Dulkinghorn to have every confidence ..."
Mr, Schulz's yellow face went a shade yellower. His mouth twisted itself
into a wry smile, his thin lips fleshing his discoloured teeth. He
stood up rather stiffly.
"You are a guest in my house, Miss Trevert," he said with offended
dignity, "I scarcely expected you to impugn my good faith. Surely my
word is sufficient ..."
He turned his back on her and took a couple of paces into the room in
apparent vexation. Then he returned and stood at the back of the
Chesterfield behind her. His feet made no sound on the thick carpet, but
some vague instinct made Mary Trevert turn her head. She saw him
standing there, twisting his hands nervously behind his back.
"Surely my word is sufficient ..." he repeated.
"In business," said Mary boldly, "one cannot be too careful."
"Besides," Mr. Schulz urged, "this was a private letter which Mr. ...
Mr. Dulkinghorn certainly did not expect you to see. That makes
it awkward ..."
"I think in the circumstances," said Mary, "I must insist, Mr. Schulz!"
She was now feeling horribly frightened. She strained her ears in vain
for a sound. The whole house seemed wrapped in a grave-like quiet. The
smile had never left Mr. Schulz's face. But it was a cruel, wolfish grin
without a ray of kindliness in it. The girl felt her heart turn cold
within her every time her eyes fell on the mask-like face.
Mr. Schulz shrugged shoulders.
"Since you insist ..." he remarked. "But I think it is scarcely fair on
our friend Dulkinghorn. The letter is in the safe in my office next
door. If you come along I will get it out and show it to you ..."
He spoke unconcernedly, but stiffly, as though to emphasize the slight
put upon his dignity. One hand thrust jauntily in his jacket pocket, he
stepped across the carpet to the door with the blue curtain. He opened
it, then stood back for the girl to pass in before him.
"After you!" he said.
He had placed himself so close to the doorway that the black fox about
her neck brushed his face as she passed. Suddenly a warm, sickly whiff
of some sweet-smelling odour came to her. She stopped on the instant,
irresolute, alarmed. Then a dank hand was clapped on her face, covering
nostrils and mouth with a soft cloth reeking with a horrible cloying
drug. An arm with muscles like steel was passed round her waist and held
her in a vice-like grip against which she struggled in vain. She felt
her senses slipping, slipping ...
TWO'S COMPANY ...
On the pavement opposite the post-office stood one of those high pillars
which are commonly used in Continental cities for the display of theatre
and concert advertisements. Robin instantly stepped behind it. It was
not that he wished to avoid being seen by Jeekes as much as that he had
not decided in his mind what course he had best pursue. From behind the
cover of the pillar he mustered his man.
The little secretary looked strange and unfamiliar in a sporting sort of
travelling ulster of a tawny brown hue and a cap of the same stuff. But
there was no mistaking the watery eyes, the sharp nose, the features. He
had obviously not seen Robin. His whole attention was rivetted on the
street. He kept peering nervously to right and left as though expecting
Suddenly he stepped forward quickly to the kerb. Then Robin saw an open
car detach itself from the press of traffic in the square and, driven
very fast, approach the post-office. It was a large car with a grey
body; a sallow man wearing a black felt hat sat at the wheel. The car
drew up at the kerb and halted within a few feet of the advertisement
pillar. Robin backed hastily round it to escape observation. He had
resolved to do nothing until he had ascertained who Jeekes's friend was
and what business the secretary had with him.
"It's all right," Robin heard the man in the car say in English; "I
telephoned the girl and she's coming. What a piece of luck, eh?"
Robin heard the click of the car door as it swung open.
"... better get along out there at once," he heard the man in the car
say, "I'm sending Jan in the car for her at ..."
Then Robin stepped out unexpectedly from behind his pillar and cannoned
into Mr. Jeekes, who was just entering the car.
"Good-morning," said Robin with easy assurance; "I'm delighted to hear
that you've found Miss Trevert, Jeekes, for, to tell the truth, I was
feeling somewhat uneasy about her ..."
The secretary's face was a study. The surprise of seeing Robin, who had
dropped, it seemed to him, out of the clouds into the city of Rotterdam,
deprived him of speech for an instant. He blinked his eyes, looked this
way and that, and finally, with a sort of blind gesture, readjusted his
_pince-nez_ and glared at the intruder.
Then, without a word, he got into the car. But Robin, with a firm hand,
stayed the door which Jeekes would have closed behind him.
"Excuse me," Robin remarked decidedly, "but I'm coming with you if your
friend"--at this he looked at the man in the driving-seat--"has no
Mr. Jeekes cast a frightened glance at the sallow man.
The latter said impatiently:
"We're wasting time, Jeekes. Who is this gentleman?"
"This is Mr. Greve," said the little secretary hurriedly, "a friend of
Mr. Parrish and Miss Trevert. He was staying in the house at the time of
the tragedy. He has, I understand, taken a prominent part in the
investigations as to the motive of our poor friend's sad end ..."
Mr. Jeekes looked to Robin as he said this as though for confirmation.
The man at the driving-wheel turned and gave the little secretary a
quick glance. Then he mustered Robin with a slow, insolent stare. He had
a yellow face and small black eyes quick and full of intelligence.
Then he bowed.
"My name is Victor," he said. "The sad news about Mr. Parrish was a
great shock to me. I met him several times in London. Were you anxious
to see Miss ... er ... Trevert? She has come to Rotterdam (so my friend
Jeekes tells me) to look into certain important business transactions
which the late Mr. Parrish had in hand at the time of his death. Did I
understand you to say that you were uneasy about this lady? Is there any
mystery about her journey?..."
For the moment Robin felt somewhat abashed. The question was rather a
poser. Was there, in effect, any mystery about Mary's trip to Rotterdam
accompanied by her cousin? She had acquainted her people at Harkings
with her plans. What if, after all, everything was open and above-board,
and she had merely come to Rotterdam on business? It seemed difficult to
believe. Surely in such a case the solicitor, Bardy, would have been the
more suitable emissary ...
"You'll forgive us, I'm sure," the yellow-faced man remarked suavely,
"but we're in a great hurry. Would you mind closing that door?..."
Robin closed the door. But he got into the car first. As he had stood on
the pavement in doubt, the recollection of Jeekes's inexplicable lie
about the payments made by Parrish for the French lady in the Mayfair
flat came back to him and deepened the suspicion in his mind. It would
in any case, he told himself, do no harm to find out who this rather
unsavoury-looking Rotterdam friend of Jeekes's was ...
So Robin jumped into the car and sat down on the back seat next to the
"It happens," he said, "that I am particularly anxious to see Miss
Trevert. As I gather you are going to meet her, I feel sure you won't
mind my accompanying you ..."
The yellow-faced man turned with an easy smile.
"Sorry," he said, "but we are having a meeting with Miss Trevert on
private business and I'm afraid we cannot take you along. Jeekes here,
however, could take a message to Miss Trevert and if she _wanted_ to see
He broke off significantly and smiled slily at the secretary. Robin felt
himself flush. So Jeekes had been telling tales out of school to Mr.
Victor, had he? The young man squared his jaw. That settled it. He would
"I promise not to butt in on your private business," he replied, "but I
simply must see Miss Trevert before I go back to London. So, if you
don't mind, I think I'll come along ..."
The yellow-faced man glanced at his wrist watch.
"I can't prevent you!" he exclaimed. Then he rapped out something in
Dutch to Jeekes. The secretary leaned forward to catch the remark. The
yellow-faced man threw in the clutch.
"Goed!" (good), answered Jeekes in the same language, and resumed his
seat as the car glided smoothly away from the kerb into the traffic of
the busy square. Robin settled himself back in the seat with an
inaudible sigh of satisfaction. He did not like the look of Jeekes's
companion, he told himself, and Mr. Victor, whoever he was, had
certainly manifested no great desire for Robin's company. But he was
going to see Mary. That was all that counted for the moment.
They threaded their way through the streets in silence. It passed
through Robin's mind to start a discussion with Jeekes about the death
of Hartley Parrish. But in the circumstances he conceived it might
easily assume a controversial character, and he did not want to take any
risk of jeopardizing his chance of meeting Mary again. And no other
subject of conversation occurred to him. He did not know Jeekes at all
well, knew him in fact only as a week-end guest knows the private
secretary of his host, a shadowy personality, indispensable and part of
the household, but scarcely more than a name ...
The car had put on speed as they left the more crowded streets and
emerged into the suburbs. Now they were running over a broad straight
main road lined with poplars. Robin wondered whither they were bound.
He was about to put the question to the secretary when the man Victor
turned his head and said over his shoulder:
At the same moment the speed of the car sensibly diminished.
Jeekes put his arm across the young man at his side.
"That door," he said, touching his sleeve, "doesn't seem to be properly
shut. Would you mind ..."
Robin pushed the door with his hand.
"It seems all right," he said.
"Permit me ..."
The secretary stretched across and pulled back the latch, releasing the
door. It swung out.
"Now close it," said Mr. Jeekes.
The door was flapping to and fro with the swaying of the car over the
rough road and Robin had to half rise in order to comply with the
request. He was leaning forward, steadying himself with one hand
grasping the back of the driving-seat, when he received a tremendous
shove in the back. At the same moment the car seemed to leap forward: he
made a desperate effort to regain his balance, failed, and was whirled
out head foremost on to the side of the road.
Fortunately for himself he fell soft. The road ran here through a
little wood of young oak and beech which came right down to the edge of
the _chaussée_. The ground was deep in withered leaves which, with the
rain and the water draining from the road's high camber, were soft and
soggy. Robin went full length into this muss with a thud that shook
every bone in his body. His left leg, catching in a bare gorse-bush,
acted as a brake and stopped him from rolling farther. He sat up, his
mouth full of mud and his hair full of wet leaves, and felt himself
carefully over. He contemplated rather ruefully a long rent in the left
leg of his trousers just across the knee.
"Jeekes!" he murmured; "he pushed me out! The dirty dog!"
Then he remembered that, with the men in the car gone, he had lost trace
again of Mary Trevert. His forcible ejection from the car was evidence
enough of their determination to deal with Mary without interference
from outside. It looked ominous. Robin sprang to his feet and rushed to
the middle of the road.
The _chaussée_ was absolutely empty. About a hundred yards from where he
stood in the direction in which the car had been travelling the road
made a sharp bend to the right, thus curtailing his view. Robin did not
hesitate. Not waiting to retrieve his hat or even to wipe the mud from
his face, he started off at a brisk run along the road in the direction
in which the car had disappeared. He had not gone far before he found
that his heavy overcoat was seriously impeding him. He stripped it off
and, folding it, hid it beneath a bush just inside the plantation. Then
he ran on again.
Fresh disappointment awaited him when he rounded the bend in the road. A
few hundred yards on the road turned again. There was no sign of the
car. A cart piled high with manure was approaching, the driver, wearing
wooden shoes and cracking at intervals a huge whip, trudging at the
Robin stopped him.
"Motor-car? Automobile?" he asked pointing in the direction from which
the cart had come. The driver stared at him with a look of owlish
"Automobile?" repeated Robin. "Tuff-Tuff?"
Very slowly a grin suffused the carter's grimy face. He showed a row of
broken black teeth. A tiny stream of saliva escaped from the corner of
his mouth and trickled over the reddish stubble on his chin. Then he
continued his way, turning his head every now and then to display his
"Damnation!" exclaimed Robin, starting to run again. "Not a soul to ask
in this accursed desert except the village idiot! Oh! that Jeekes! I'll
wring his blinking neck when I get hold of him!"
He was furious with himself for the abject way in which he had been
fooled. The man Victor had given Jeekes his orders in Dutch and had
purposely picked a soft spot on the roadside and slowed down the car in
order that the unwelcome intruder might be ejected as safely as
possible. And to think that Robin had blandly allowed Jeekes to open the
door and throw him out on the road!
He was round the second bend now. The sun was shining with a quite
respectable warmth and the steamy air made him desperately hot. The
perspiration rolled off his face. But he never slackened his gait. Robin
knew these Continental roads and their habit of running straight. He
reckoned confidently on presently coming upon a long stretch where he
might discern the car.
He was not deceived. After the second bend the _chaussée_, just as he
anticipated, straightened out and ran clear away between an
ever-narrowing double line of poplars to become a bluish blob on the
horizon. But of the car nothing was to be seen.
For the second time Robin pulled up. He took serious counsel with
himself. He estimated that he could see for about three miles along the
road. Less than three minutes had elapsed since his misadventure, and
therefore he was confident that the car should yet be in sight, unless
it had left the road, for it could not have warmed up to a speed
exceeding sixty miles an hour in the time. There was no sign of the car
on the road, consequently it must have left it. Robin had passed no side
roads between the scene of the accident and the second bend; therefore,
he argued, he had the car before him still. He would go on.
When he started off for the third time, it was at a brisk walking pace.
As he went he kept a sharp lookout to right and left of the road for any
trace of the car. It never occurred to him that to follow on foot a
swift car bound for an unknown destination was the maddest kind of
wild-goose chase. He was profoundly uneasy about Mary, but at the same
time immeasurably angered by the trick played upon him--angered not so
much against Jeekes as against the sallow-faced man whom he recognized
as its inceptor. He had no thought for anything else.
The flat Dutch landscape stretched away on either side of the road. A
windmill or two, the inevitable irrigation canals with their little
sluices, and an occasional tree alone broke the monotony of the scene.
But away to the right Robin noticed a clump of trees which, he surmised,
might conceivably enclose a house.
As he walked, he scrutinized the roadway for any track of a car. But on
the hard brick _pavé_ wheels left no mark. The first side road he came
to was likewise paved in brick. In grave perplexity Robin came to a
Then his eye fell upon a puddle. It lay on the edge of the footpath
bordering the _chaussée_ about five yards beyond the turning. The soft
mud which skirted it showed the punched-out pattern of a studded tyre!
The car had not taken this side road, at any rate. It had probably
pulled over on to the footpath to pass the manure cart which Robin had
met. He pushed on again valiantly.
Another hundred yards brought him to a second side road. There was no
_pavé_ here, but a soft sandy surface. And it bore, clearly imprinted in
the mud, the fresh tracks of a car as it had turned off the road.
Breaking into a run Robin followed the track down the turning. It led
him to a black gate beyond which was a twisting gravel drive fringed
with high laurels. And the gravel showed the same tyre marks as the
He vaulted the gate lightly and ran up the drive. He was revolving in
his head what his next move should be. Should he walk boldly into the
house and confront Jeekes and his rascally looking companion or should
he first spy out the ground and try to ascertain whether Mary had
arrived? He decided on the latter course.
Accordingly, when an unexpected turn of the drive brought him in view of
a white porch, he left the avenue and took cover behind the laurel
bushes. Walking softly on the wet grass and keeping well down behind the
laurels, he went forward parallel with the drive. It ran into a clean
courtyard with a coachhouse or garage on one side and a small green
door, seemingly a side entrance into the house, on the other.
There was no one in the courtyard and the house seemed perfectly quiet.
From his post of observation behind the laurels, Robin observed that a
tall window beside the green door commanded the view across the
courtyard. He therefore retraced his steps by the way he had come. When
he was past the corner of the house, he returned to the drive and
keeping close to the bushes walked quietly into the courtyard. There,
hugging the wall, he crept round past the closed doors of the garage
until he found himself beside the tall window adjoining the green door.
The window was open a few inches at the top. From within the sound of
voices reached him. Jeekes was speaking. Robin recognized his rather
grating voice at once.
"... no more violence," he was saying; "first Greve and now the girl. I
don't like your methods, Victor ..."
Very cautiously Robin dropped on one knee and shuffled forward in this
position until his eyes were on a level with the window-sill. He found
himself looking into a narrow room, well lighted by a second window at
the farther end. It was apparently an office, for there was a high desk
running down the centre and a large safe occupied a prominent place
against the wall.
Jeekes and the man Victor stood chatting at the desk. The yellow-faced
man was grinning sardonically.
"Parrish don't like your methods, I'll be bound," he retorted. "Don't
you worry about the little lady, Jeekes! Bless your heart, I won't hurt
her unless ..."
The loud throbbing of a car at the front of the house made Robin duck
his head hastily. The car, he guessed, might be round at the garage any
moment and it would not do for him to be discovered. He got clear of the
window, rose to his feet, and tiptoed round the house by the way he had
come. Then he crossed the drive and regained the shelter of the laurels.
Crawling along until he came level with the porch, he peeped through.
Mary Trevert was just entering the house.
THE METAMORPHOSIS OF MR. SCHULZ
As the girl collapsed, the yellow-faced man, with an adroit movement,
whisked the handkerchief off her face and crammed it into his pocket.
Then, while he supported her with one arm, with the other he thrust at
the door to close it. Without paying further attention to it, he turned
and, bending down, lifted the girl without an effort off her feet and
carried her across the room to the Chesterfield, upon which he laid her
at full length. Then he seized her muff, which dangled from her neck by
a thin platinum chain.
Suddenly he heard the door behind him creak. In a flash he remembered
that he had not heard the click of the lock as he had thrust the door
to. He was springing erect when a firm hand gripped him by the back of
the collar and pulled him away from the couch. He staggered back,
striving to regain his balance, but then a savage shove flung him head
foremost into the fireplace. He fell with a crash among the fire-irons.
But he was on his feet again in an instant.
He saw a tall, athletic-looking young man standing at the couch. He had
a remarkably square jaw; his eyes were shining and he breathed heavily.
He wore a blue serge suit which was heavily besmeared with white plaster
and the trousers were rent across one knee. Straight at his throat
sprang the yellow-faced man.
Something struck him halfway. The young man had waited composedly for
his coming, but as his assailant advanced, had shot out his left hand.
There was a sharp crack and the yellow-faced man, reeling, dropped face
downwards on the carpet without a sound. In his fall his foot caught a
small table on which a vase of chrysanthemums stood, and the whole thing
went over with a loud crash. He made a spasmodic effort to rise, hoisted
himself on to his knees, swayed again, and then collapsed full length on
the floor, where he lay motionless.
The sound of the fall seemed to awaken the girl. She stirred uneasily
once or twice.
"What ... what is it?" she muttered, and was still again.
Bending down, the young man gathered her up in his arms and bore her out
through the door with the blue curtain, through a plainly furnished sort
of office with high desks and stools, and out by a side door into a
paved yard. There an open car was standing. The fresh air seemed to
revive the girl further. As the young man laid her on the seat, she
struggled up into a sitting position and passed her hand across her
"What is the matter with me?" she said in a dazed voice; "I feel so
Then, catching sight of the young man as he peered into her face, she
"Thank God, you're all right, Mary," said Robin. "We've not got a moment
to lose. We must get away from here quick!"
He was at the bonnet cranking up the car. But the engine, chilled by the
cold air, refused to start. As he was straining at the handle, a man
dashed suddenly into the yard by the office door.
It was Jeekes. The little secretary was a changed man. He still wore his
_pince-nez_. But his mild air had utterly forsaken him. His face was
livid, the eyes bulged horribly from his head, and his whole body was
trembling with emotion. In his hand he held an automatic pistol. He came
so fast that he was at the car and had covered Robin with his weapon
before the other had seen him come.
Mr. Jeekes left Robin no time to act. He called out in a voice that rang
like a pistol shot:
"Hands up, Mr. Smartie! Quick, d'you hear? Put 'em up, damn you!"
Slowly, defiantly the young man raised his arms above his head.
Mr. Jeekes stood close to the driver's seat, having prudently put the
car between himself and Robin. As he stood there, his automatic levelled
at the young man, a remarkable thing happened. A black, soft surface
suddenly fell over his face and was pulled back with a brisk tug. Mary
Trevert, standing up in the back seat of the car, had flung her fur over
the secretary's head from behind and caught him in a noose. Before Mr.
Jeekes could disentangle himself, Robin was at his throat and had borne
him to the ground. The pistol was knocked skilfully from his hand and
fell clattering on the flags. Robin pounced down on it. Then for the
first time he smiled, a sunny smile that lit up his blue eyes.
"Bravo, Mary!" he said. "That _was_ an idea! Now, then, Jeekes," he
ordered, "crank up that car. And be quick about it! We want to be off!"
The little secretary was a lamentable sight. He was bleeding from a cut
on the forehead, his clothes were covered with dust, and his glasses had
been broken in his fall. Peering helplessly about him, he walked to the
bonnet of the car and sullenly grasped the handle. The smile had left
Robin's face, and Mary noticed that he looked several times anxiously at
the office door.
And then suddenly the engine bit. Handing the pistol to the girl, Robin
warned her to keep the secretary covered and, leaping into the
driving-seat, turned the car into the avenue which curved round the
Mr. Jeekes made no further show of fight. He remained standing in the
centre of the courtyard, a ludicrous, rather pathetic, figure. As the
tyres of the car gritted on the gravel of the drive, the office door was
flung open and the yellow-faced man ran out, brandishing a big revolver.
"Stop!" he shouted and levelled his weapon. The car seemed to leap
forward and took the sharp turn on two wheels just as the man fired. The
bullet struck the wall of the house and sent up a shower of plaster.
Before he could fire again the car was round the house and out of sight.
But as the car whizzed round the turn an instant before the yellow-faced
man fired, the girl heard a sharp cry from Jeekes:
"Don't, Victor ...!"
The rest of the sentence was lost in the roar of the engine as the car
raced away down the drive.
They left the avenue in a splutter of wet gravel. The gate still stood
open. They wheeled furiously into the side road and regained the
_chaussée_. As yet there was no sign of pursuit. The car rocked
dangerously over the broken _pavé_, so Robin, after a glance behind,
steadied her down to an easier pace. Mary, who looked very pale and ill,
was lying back on the back seat with her eyes closed.
They ran easily into Rotterdam as, with a terrific jangle of tunes
played jerkily on the chimes, the clocks were striking two. Robin slowed
down as they approached the centre of the city.
"Where are you staying, Mary?" he asked.
He had to repeat the question several times before she gave him the
address. Then he found himself in a quandary. He was in a strange town
and did not know a word of the language so as to be able to ask the way.
However, he solved the difficulty without great trouble. He beckoned to
a newspaper boy on the square outside the Bourse and, holding up a
two-gulden piece, indicated by signs that he desired him as a guide. The
boy comprehended readily enough and, springing on the footboard of the
car, brought them safely to the hotel.
Robin left Mary and the car in charge of the boy and went to the office
and asked to see the manager. He had decided upon the story he must
"Miss Trevert," he said, when the manager, a blond and suave Swiss, had
presented himself, "has been to the dentist and has been rather upset by
the gas. Would you get one of the maids to help her up to her room and
in the meantime telephone for a doctor. If there is an English doctor in
Rotterdam, I should prefer to have him!"
The manager clicked in sympathy. He despatched a lady typist and a
chambermaid to help Mary out of the car.
"For a doctor," he said, "it ees fortunate. We 'ave an English doctor
staying in ze hotel now--a sheep's doctor. He is in ze lounge. Eef you
The "sheep's doctor" proved to be a doctor off one of the big liners, a
clean-shaven, red-faced, hearty sort of person who readily volunteered
his services. As Robin was about to follow him into the lift, the
manager stopped him.
"Zere was a shentleman call to see Mees Trevert," he said, "two or three
time 'e been 'ere ... a Sherman shentleman. 'E leave 'er a note ... will
you take it?"
Greatly puzzled, Robin Greve balanced in his hands the letter which
the manager produced from a pigeon-hole. Then he tore open the envelope.
DEAR MISS TREVERT [he read], I was extremely
sorry to miss you this morning. Directly I received
your message I called at your hotel, but, though I
have been back twice, I have not found you in.
Circumstances have arisen which make it imperative that
I should see you as soon as possible. This is _most
urgent_. I will come back at four o'clock, as I cannot
get away before. Do not leave the hotel _on any pretext_
until you have seen me and Dulkinghorn's letter as
identification. You are in _grave danger_.
The note was signed "W. Schulz."
"H'm," was Robin's comment; "he writes like an Englishman, anyway."
He ascertained the number of Mary Trevert's room and went up to her
floor in the lift. He waited in the corridor outside the room for the
doctor to emerge, and lit a cigarette to while away the time. It was not
until he had nearly finished his second cigarette that the doctor
The doctor hesitated on seeing Robin. Then he stepped close up to him.
Robin noticed that his red face was more flushed than usual and his eyes
"What's this cock-and-bull story about gas you've put up to the
manager?" he said bluntly in a low voice. "The girl's been doped with
chloroform, as well you know. You'll be good enough to come downstairs
to the manager with me ..."
Robin took out his note-case and produced a card.
"That's my name," he said. "You'll see that I'm a barrister ..."
"Well?" said the doctor in a non-committal voice after he had read the
"I'm not surprised to hear you say that Miss Trevert has been doped,"
Robin remarked. "I found her here in a house on the outskirts of
Rotterdam in the hands of two men, one of whom is believed to be
implicated in a mysterious case of suspected murder in England. Through
the part he played this morning, he has probably run his head into the
noose. But he'll have it out again if we delay an instant. I told the
manager that yarn about the dentist to avoid enquiries and waste of
time. I have here a note from some man I don't know, addressed to Miss
Trevert, warning her of a grave danger threatening her. It corroborates
to some extent what I have told you. Here ... read it for yourself!"
He handed the doctor the note signed "W. Schulz."
The doctor read it through carefully.
"What I would propose to you," said Robin, "is that we two should go off
at once to this Herr Schulz and find out exactly what he knows. Then we
can decide what action there is to be taken ..."
He paused for the doctor's reply. The latter searched Robin's face with
"I'm your man," he said shortly. "And, by the way, my name's
Collingwood ... Robert Collingwood."
"There's a car downstairs," said Robin, "and a guide to show us the way.
Shall we go?"
Five minutes later, under the newsboy's expert guidance, the car drew up
in front of the small clean house with the neat green door bearing the
name of "Schulz." Leaving the boy to mind the car, they rang the bell.
The door was opened by the fat woman in the pink print dress.
Robin gave the woman his card. On it he had written "About Miss
Trevert." Speaking in German the woman bade them rather roughly to bide
where they were, and departed after closing the front door in their
faces. She did not keep them waiting long, however, for in about a
minute she returned. Herr Schulz would receive the gentlemen, she said.
Within, the house was spotlessly clean with that characteristic German
house odour which always seems to be a compound of cleaning material and
hot grease. Up a narrow staircase, furnished in plain oil-cloth with
brass stair-rods, they went to a landing on the first floor. Here the
woman motioned them back and, bending her head in a listening attitude,
"_Herein_!" cried a guttural German voice.
The room into which they entered would have been entitled to a place in
any museum for showing the mode of life of the twentieth-century
Germans. With its stuffy red rep curtains, its big green majolica stove,
its heavy mahogany furniture, its oleographs of Bismarck, Roon, and
Moltke, it might have been lifted bodily from a bourgeois house in the
A man was sitting at a mahogany roll-top desk as they entered. The air
in the room was thick with the fumes of the cheap Dutch cigar he was
smoking. He was a sturdily built fellow with blond hair shaven so close
to the skull that at a distance he seemed to be bald.
At the sound of their entrance, he rose and faced them. When he stood
erect the sturdiness of his build became accentuated, and they saw he
was a man of medium height, but so muscular that he looked much shorter.
A pair of large tortoise-shell spectacles straddled a big beak-like
nose, and he wore a heavyish blond moustache with its points trained
upwards and outwards rather after the fashion made famous in the
Fatherland by William Hohenzollern. In his ill-cut suit of cheap-looking
blue serge, which he wore with a pea-green tie, Robin thought he looked
altogether a typical specimen of the German of the non-commissioned
"You ask for me?" he said in deep guttural accents, looking at Robin;
"I am Herr Schulz!"
The German's manner was cold and formal and Robin felt a little dashed.
"My name is Greve," he began rather hurriedly. "I understand you
received a visit to-day from a young English lady, a Miss Trevert ..."
The German let his eyes travel slowly from Robin to the doctor and back
again. He did not offer them a chair and all three remained standing.
"Ye-es, and what if I did?"
Robin felt his temper rising.
"You wrote a note to Miss Trevert at her hotel warning her that she was
in danger. I want to know why you warned her. What led you to suppose
that she was threatened?"
Herr Schulz made a little gesture of the hand.
"Wass I not right to warn her?"
"Indeed, you were," Robin asserted with conviction. "She was spirited
away and drugged."
The German started. A frowning pucker appeared just above the bridge of
his big spectacles and he raised his head quickly,
"Drugged?" he said.
"Certainly," said Robin. "This gentleman with me is a doctor ... Dr.
Robert Collingwood, of the Red Lion Line. He has examined Miss Trevert
and can corroborate my statement."
"By Gad!" exclaimed Herr Schulz--and this time his English was
faultless and fluent--"Shut that door behind you, Mr. Greve, and shoot
the bolt--that's it just below the knob! Sit down, sit down, and while I
mix you a drink, you shall tell me about this!"
THE READING OP THE RIDDLE
In uttering those words Herr Schulz seemed suddenly to become
loose-limbed and easy. His plethoric rigidity of manner vanished, and,
though he spoke with a brisk air of authority, there was a jovial ring
in his voice which instantly inspired confidence. With the change the
illusion supported by his appalling clothes was broken and he looked
like a man dressed up for charades.
"Are you--English?" asked Robin in astonishment.
"Only in this room," was the dry reply, "and don't you or our friend,
the doctor, here forget it. You'll both take whisky? Three fingers will
do you good, Mr. Greve, for I see you've had a roughish time this
morning. Say when!"
He spurted a siphon into three glasses.
"Before we go any farther," he went on, "perhaps I had better identify
myself--to save any further misunderstandings, don't you know? Do either
of you gentlemen happen to know a party called Dulkinghorn? You may have
heard of him, Mr. Greve, for I can see you have been in the army ..."
"Not Ernest Dulkinghorn, of the War Office?" asked Robin.
"The identical party!"
"I never met him," said Robin. "But I was at the War Office for a bit
before I was demobilized and I heard fellows speak of him.
Counter-espionage, isn't he?"
"That's right," nodded Herr Schulz. "You can read his letter to me
introducing Miss Trevert."
He handed a sheet of paper to Robin.
DEAR SCHULZ [it ran], Victor Marbran's push appear
to be connected with Hartley Parrish, who has
just met his death under suspicious circumstances.
You will have read about it in the English papers.
Miss Trevert was engaged to H.P. and has a letter
from Elias van der Spyck and Company which she
found on Parrish's desk after his death. I should say
that the Marbran-Parrish connection would repay investigation.
P.S. The letter is, of course, in conventional code.
P.P.S. Don't frighten the life out of the Trevert
girl, you unsympathetic brute!
Robin read the letter through to the end.
"Then Mary Trevert has this letter from Rotterdam which we have been
hunting for!" he cried. "Have you seen it?"
Herr Schulz shook his head.
"Miss Trevert called here this morning," he said, "when I was out. She
gave her letter to Frau Wirth, my housekeeper, with her card and
address. Frau Wirth was cleaning the plate on the front door and, a
moment after Miss Trevert had gone, a fellow appeared and said he was a
friend of Miss Trevert who had made a mistake and left the wrong letter.
My housekeeper is well trained and wouldn't give the letter up. But she
made the fatal mistake of telling the fellow exactly what he wanted to
know, and that was who the letter was addressed to. 'The letter is
addressed to Herr Schulz,' said this excellent woman, 'and if there's
any mistake he will find it out when he opens it.' And with that she
told him to clear out. Which, having got all he wanted, he was glad
enough to do!"
"What was this chap like?" asked Robin.
The big man shrugged his shoulders.
"I can teach my servants discretion," he replied whimsically, "but I
can't teach 'em to use their eyes. Frau Wirth could remember nothing
about this fellow except that he wasn't tall and wore a brown overcoat ..."
"Jeekes!" cried Robin, slapping his thigh. "He must have been actually
coming away from your place when I met him ..."
"And who," asked the big man, reflectively contemplating the amber
fluid in his glass, "who is Jeekes?"
In reply Robin told him the story of Hartley Parrish's death, his
growing certainty that the millionaire had been murdered, the mysterious
letters on slatey-blue paper, and Jeekes's endeavor to burke the
investigations by throwing on Robin the suspicion of having driven
Parrish to suicide by threats. He told of his chance meeting with Jeekes
in Rotterdam that morning, his adventure at the Villa Bergendal, his
finding and rescue of Mary Trevert, and their escape.
Herr Schulz listened attentively and without interruption until Robin
had reached the end of his story.
"There's one thing you haven't explained," he said, "and that's how Miss
Trevert came to walk into the hands of these precious ruffians ..."
"There, perhaps, I can help you," said the doctor from behind one of
Herr Schulz's rank cigars; "I have it from Miss Trevert herself. Some
one impersonating you Mr.--er, ahem,--Schulz--telephoned her this
morning, after she had left her letter of introduction here, asking her
to come out to lunch at your country-house. She suspected nothing and
went off in the car they sent for her ..."
"By George!" said the big man thoughtfully; "I suspected some game of
this kind when I heard of the attempt to get at that letter of
introduction. If I only could have got hold of Marbran this morning ..."
"Marbran!" said Robin thoughtfully. "When I read Dulkinghorn's letter
just now I thought I had heard that name before. Of course--Victor
Marbran! That was it! I remember now! He knew Hartley Parrish in the old
days. Parrish once said that Marbran would do him an injury if he could.
Who is Marbran, sir?"
All unconsciously he paid the tribute of 'sir' to Herr Schulz's
undoubted habit of command.
"Victor Marbran," replied the big man, "is Elias van der Spyck & Co., a
firm which made millions in the war by trading with the enemy. In every
neutral country there were, of course, firms which specialized in
importing contraband for the use of the Germans, but van der Spyck & Co.
brought the evasion of the blockade to a fine art. They covered up their
tracks, however, with such consummate art that we could never bring
anything home to them. In fact, it was only after the armistice that we
began to learn something of the immense scope of their operations. There
was a master brain behind them. But it was never discovered. It strikes
me, however, that we are on the right track at last ..."
"By Jove ...!" exclaimed Robin impressively. "Hartley Parrish!..."
The big man raised a hand.
"_Attentions!_" he interposed suavely. "The chain is not yet complete. I
wonder what this van der Spyck letter of Miss Trevert's contained that
made Victor Marbran and the secretary chap so desperately anxious to get
hold of it. For you understand, don't you?" he said briskly, turning to
Robin, "that they were after that and that alone. And they risked penal
servitude in this country to get it ..."
"To save their necks in another," he said.
"I have the letter here," mildly remarked the doctor from his corner of
the room. "Miss Trevert gave it to me!"
He produced a white envelope and drew from it a folded square of
slatey-blue paper. In great excitement Robin sprang forward.
"You're a downy bird, Doctor, I must say," he remarked, "fancy keeping
it up your sleeve all this time!"
He eagerly took the letter, spread it out on the table, and read it
through whilst Herr Schulz looked over his shoulder.
"Code, eh?" commented the big man, shaking his head humorously. "If it
beats Dulkinghorn, it beats me!"
From his note-case Robin now drew a folded square of paper identical in
colour with the letter spread out before them.
"I found this on the carpet beside Parrish's body," he said. "Look, it's
exactly the same paper ..."
Behind the tortoise-shell spectacles the big man's eyes narrowed down to
pin-points as he caught sight of the sheet which Robin unfolded and its
series of slits.
"Aha!" he cried--and his voice rang out clear through the room--"the
grill, eh? Well, well, to think of that!"
He took the slotted sheet of paper from Robin's hands and laid it over
the letter so that it exactly covered it, edge to edge and corner to
corner. In this way the greater part of the typewriting in the letter
was covered over, and only the words appearing in the slots could be
read. And thus it was that Robin Greve, Herr Schulz, and Dr.
Collingwood, leaning shoulder to shoulder, read the message that came to
Hartley Parrish in the library at Harkings....
ELIAS VAN DER SPYCK & CO.
ROTTERDAM Rotterdam 25th Nov.
Dear Mr. Parrish,
Your favour of even date to hand and contents
noted. _The last_ delivery of steel was to time but we have had
_warning_ from the railway authorities that labour troubles at the
docks are likely to delay future consignments. _If you don't_
mind we should prefer to _settle_ the question of future
delivery _by Nov. 27_ as we have a board meeting on the 30th
inst. While we fully appreciate your own difficulties with
labour at home, _you_ will understand that this is a question
which we cannot afford to adjourn _sine_ _die._
pro ELIAS VAN DER SPYCK & CO.
"'The last ... warning,'" Robin read out, "'if you don't ... settle ...
by Nov. 27 ... you ... die ...!'"
He looked up. "Last Saturday," he said, "was the 27th, the day that
Parrish died ..."
"The grill," remarked the big man authoritatively, "is one of the oldest
dodges known to the Secret Service. It renders a conventional code
absolutely undecipherable as long as it is skilfully worded, as it is in
this case. You send your conventional code by one route, your key by
another. I make no doubt that this was the way in which van der Spyck &
Co. transacted their business with Hartley Parrish. They simply posted
their conventional code letters through the post in the ordinary way,
confident that there was nothing in them to catch the eye of the
Censor's Department. The key might be sent in half a dozen different
ways, by hand, concealed in a newspaper, in a parcel ..."
"So this," said Robin, pointing at the letter, "was what caused Hartley
Parrish to make his will. It would lead one to suppose that it was what
induced him to commit suicide were not the presumption so strong that he
was murdered. But who killed him? Was it Jeekes or Marbran?"
Herr Schulz pitched his cigar-stump into an ash-tray.
"That," he said, "is the question which I am going to ask you gentlemen
to help me answer. You will realize that legally we have not a leg to
stand on. We are in a foreign country where, without first getting a
warrant from London, we can take no steps whatever to run these fellows
in. To get the Dutch police to move against these gentry in the matter
of the assault upon Miss Trevert would waste valuable time. And we have
to move quickly--before these two lads can get away. I therefore propose
that we start this instant for the Villa Bergendal and try, if we are
not too late, to force Marbran or Jeekes or both of them to a
confession. That done, we can hold them if possible until we can get the
Dutch police to apprehend them at the instance of Miss Trevert. Then we
can communicate with the English police. It's all quite illegal, of
course! You have a car, I think, Mr. Greve! You will come with us, Dr.
Collingwood? Good! Then let us start at once!"
Robin intervened with a proposal that they should call _en route_ at his
hotel to see if there were any telegrams for him.
"Manderton knows I am in Rotterdam," he explained, "and he promised to
wire me the latest developments in the enquiry he is conducting."
"Miss Trevert should be fully recovered by this," put in the doctor;
"apart from a little sickness she is really none the worse for her
disagreeable experience. If there was anything you wanted to ask her ..."
"There is," said Robin promptly. "Her reply to one question," he
explained, turning to Herr Schulz, "will give us the certainty that
Parrish was murdered and did not commit suicide. It will not delay us
more than five minutes to stop at her hotel in passing, We will then
call in at my place. We should be at the Villa within half an hour from
"Gentlemen," said Herr Schulz as they prepared to go, "I know my Mr.
Victor Marbran. You should all be armed."
Robin produced the pistol he had taken from Jeekes. Herr Schulz slipped
a Browning pistol into the breast-pocket of his jacket and, producing a
long-barrelled service revolver, gave it to the doctor.
"There are three of them, I gather, counting the chauffeur," commented
the big man, pulling on his overcoat, "so we shall be equally matched."
Darkness had fallen upon Rotterdam and the lights from the houses made
yellow streaks in the water of the canal as the car, piloted by Robin,
drove the party to Mary Trevert's hotel.
They found the girl, pale and anxious, in the lounge.
"Well, now," cried the doctor breezily, "and how are you feeling? Did
you take my advice and have some tea?"
"What has happened?" asked the girl; "I have been so anxious about you ..."
Her words were addressed to the doctor, but she looked at Robin.
"Mary," said Robin, "we are very near the truth now. But there is one
thing you can tell us. It is very important. When you heard the shot in
the library at Harkings, did you notice any other sound--before or
The girl paused to think.
"There was a sort of sharp cry and a thud ..."
"I know. But was there anything else? Do try and remember. It's so
The girl was silent for a moment. Then she said slowly:
"Yes, there was, now I come to think of it. Just as I tried the door--it
was locked, you know--there was a sort of hiss, harsh and rather loud,
from the room ..."
"A sort of hiss, eh? Something like a sneeze?"
"Yes. Only louder and ... and ... harsher!"
"Now, answer me carefully! Was this before or after the shot?"
"Oh, before! Just as I was rattling the doorhandle. The shot broke in
Robin turned to Herr Schulz, who stood with a grave face by his side.
"The silencer, you see, sir!" he said. Then to Mary he added: "Mary, we
are going off now. But we will be back within the hour and...."
"Oh, Robin," the girl broke in, "don't leave me alone! I don't feel safe
in this place after this morning. I'd much rather come with you...."
"Mary, it's quite impossible...." Robin began.
But the girl had turned to a table and taken from it her hat and fur.
"I don't care!" she exclaimed wilfully; "I'm coming anyhow. I refuse to
be left behind!"
She smiled at Herr Schulz as she spoke, and that gentleman's rather grim
face relaxed as he looked at her.
"I'm not sure I wouldn't say the same!" he remarked.
The upshot of it was that, despite Robin's objections, Mary Trevert
accompanied the party. She sat on the back seat, rather flushed and
excited, between Herr Schulz and the doctor, while Robin took the wheel
again. A few minutes' drive took them to the big hotel where Robin had
booked a room. They all waited in the car whilst he went to the office.
He was back in a minute, an open telegram in his hand.
"I believe I've got in my pocket," he cried, "the actual weapon with
which Hartley Parrish was killed!"
And he read from the telegram:
"Mastertons gunsmiths sold last July pair of Browning automatics
identical with that found on Parrish to Jeekes who paid with Parrish's
The message was signed "Manderton."
At that moment a man wearing a black bowler hat and a heavy frieze
overcoat came hurrying out of the hotel.
"Mr. Greve!" he cried as Robin, who was back in the driving-seat, was
releasing the brake. "Did you have the wire from the Yard saying I was
coming?" he asked. "Probably I beat the telegraph, though. I came by
Then he tipped his hat respectfully at Herr Schulz.