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Title: The Black Tortoise
 - Being the Strange Story of Old Frick's Diamond
Author: Frederick Viller, - To be updated
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Black Tortoise
 - Being the Strange Story of Old Frick's Diamond" ***

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                           THE BLACK TORTOISE

            _Being the Strange Story of Old Frick’s Diamond_


                                   BY

                            FREDERICK VILLER

               AUTHORIZED TRANSLATION FROM THE NORWEGIAN
                                   BY
                       GERTRUDE HUGHES BRAEKSTAD



                          GARDEN CITY NEW YORK
                       DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY
                                  1914



                            COPYRIGHT, 1901,
                        BY DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & CO.



                               *CONTENTS*

                                *PART I*

CHAPTER

      I. Monk contemplates a Voyage to America
     II. Old Frick
    III. Mr. Reginald Howell
     IV. The Black Tortoise again
      V. At the Police Station
     VI. A Morning Visit
    VII. Lawyer Jurgens
   VIII. The Arrest
     IX. The Photograph


                               *PART II*

      I. The Trial
     II. The Photograph cannot lie
    III. In the Dark
     IV. Monk’s Examination
      V. The Most Important Chapter in the Book.  Clara acts the
         Detective
     VI. Old Frick Again
    VII. The Yacht *Deerhound*



                                *PART I*



                          *THE BLACK TORTOISE*



                              *CHAPTER I*

                *MONK CONTEMPLATES A VOYAGE TO AMERICA*


"I am off to America on Friday next."

"What! off to America?"

"Yes; I’m not joking."

"Are you really serious?  Fancy, going to America this time of the year,
at the end of November! It must be very important business which takes
you there!  Can’t you send some one else?  You know Clara won’t consider
her firstborn properly baptized if you don’t stand godfather to him.
That ceremony is to take place next Sunday."

"Unfortunately it is important business—very important business—that
only I can undertake. I am awfully sorry to disappoint your wife, but I
must go."

This conversation took place in Monk’s sitting-room. It was my usual
habit, on leaving my office at seven o’clock, to go up to Monk’s rooms
and have a chat with him, and sometimes persuade him to come home with
me.

I ought perhaps here to inform my readers that, some years before this
story begins, I had returned to my native country after having spent
several years abroad, where I had made a small competency as an
engineer.  When I again saw Monk, the friend of my boyhood, I found he
had, strange to say, adopted the profession of private detective. As far
as I could understand, he carried on this business just as much out of
love for his work as for a means of earning his living, and had already
won himself a reputation by his shrewdness, honesty, and
disinterestedness.

Monk’s sudden announcement took my breath away; he had never for a
moment said a word about going to America before.

"Is it a new case you have on hand?" I asked.

"No; it is not a new case."

I looked doubtingly at him; this was not the Monk I was accustomed to
see standing quietly before me with the handsome, open countenance, and
the intelligent grey eyes looking fearlessly into mine.

He was now pacing restlessly up and down the floor.  All at once he
stopped in front of me.

"Can you stay with me this evening?"

"Yes; with pleasure," I replied.  "Clara has gone to the theatre with a
friend.  I am therefore free, and it was my intention to propose to you
that we should spend the evening together."

"That’s right; let us have supper at once, for I have something to tell
you, and until I have done so I shall have no peace."

Monk rang; and soon after we sat down to supper.  My host ate scarcely
anything; indeed, he hardly attended to his duties as host, and could
not conceal his impatience to hasten the end of the meal.

It was quite apparent that something unusual was the matter, so I got
through my supper as quickly as possible without interchanging many
words.

When we returned again to the sitting-room, Monk placed me in one of his
comfortable chairs, and set before me some whiskey and water and cigars.
He himself lit a cigar, but soon threw it half-smoked into the fire.

"You said you wanted to speak to me about something, Monk."

"Yes; if you have patience to listen to me."

"Of course I have!"

A faint smile lit up Monk’s dark countenance.

"I have put your patience to a severe test over and over again with my
lectures on detective science, logic, deductions, and the like; but what
I have in mind this evening is nothing of that sort.  Do you feel
inclined to hear a story about myself, the story of how it was I came to
be the kind of man I am, and to lead the life I do?"

"My dear fellow," I answered, "I am more than ready to listen to you.
Any one can see that sometime or another something has happened to you
which has thrown a shadow over your existence; but, as you can
understand, one does not ask one’s friends about that sort of thing.
One generally waits until one is approached."

"You are right, and I ought to have told you all about it long ago;
especially as, for my part, I have nothing whatever to conceal.  Yes, a
man is wrong to shut himself up in himself more than is necessary; and
in my case I am afraid I have been foolish, and doubly stupid, not to
have called to my aid a clever friend’s assistance.  I have stared
myself blind with trying to find a way out of the dark.  It is, however,
wrong of me to call the affair my affair, since I no longer play any
part in it; but, in any case, it concerns some one who was as dear to me
as my own life.  Are you prepared to listen to me?  If so, you shall get
to know as much of my history as I know of it myself."

"Go on, Monk; go on!  If an honest man and an intelligent woman can help
you in any way, you have them at your disposal in Clara and myself."

I stretched out my hand to him; Monk seized it and shook it heartily.
All doubt and restlessness on his side had vanished.  In giving the
account of his story, I only wish that I could have given it in his own
clear language and striking words. To detail it in full is of course
impossible; but I will do the best I can, and if the narrative should
become tedious, or wanting in clearness, it is my fault, and not Monk’s.



                              *CHAPTER II*

                              *OLD FRICK*


When we separated, about fifteen years ago (began Monk), that time you
went to Zurich to complete your studies as engineer, I went in seriously
for law, and was fortunate enough in four years’ time to take my degree
with honours.

My friends and teachers tried to persuade me to follow a scientific
career.  An endowment could have been had from the university; and with
this, together with a small inheritance from my father, I could have
followed without trouble the beaten path to a professorship at the
university,—so I was told, at any rate.

But this was not to my mind; to have got free from the student’s bench
only to climb immediately to the dusty chair of a professor, seemed to
me anything but attractive.

I first got a situation in the office of a government official, far up
in the country, where there was little to do, but plenty of game and
fishing; and I returned to Christiania the year after, a bearded,
red-cheeked, young Nimrod.

Then I became the youngest inspector in the Christiania police office,
and spent about two years in fining young men for disorderly conduct in
the streets, and keeping order among the erratic female population of
the town.

As you can well understand, it was hardly an occupation likely to
attract a man for any length of time, and I explained this to our
amiable chief superintendent when, one day, I placed my resignation on
his desk.

"Stop a moment, my dear Monk," he said, with his genial smile.  "Could
you not wait a little, before you hand in this resignation?  I must
admit I have not found that you possess any special talent, either with
regard to arresting drunken students, or as a censor of vice; still, on
the other hand, I should be much deceived, after my many years of
experience, if you do not find your right sphere in the detective
department.  Practically every one is aware that it is to you we owe our
success in the great post office robbery, although officially you had
nothing to do with it; and I, at any rate, know how well you cleared up
the Fjorstat murder.  For many months I have been thinking of offering
you an appointment on the detective force.  If you will take your
resignation back, you can consider the matter as settled."

I gladly accepted the offer, but not until I had obtained a year’s
leave; a year which I spent abroad in travel, to study languages and
life in the great countries.

I need hardly mention how useful my stay abroad has been to me.

I have no doubt that I found my right vocation when I joined the
detective police; especially if I am to take into consideration the
overwhelming praise which my superiors gradually poured upon me, or the
flattering attention which the papers and the public began to bestow
upon me.

Monk paused, and for a few minutes paced up and down the floor, as was
his habit when he was deeply occupied in thought.

Well, he continued, I think I have now given you an account of my life
until the day when the incident occurred which since has played such an
important part in my life, and continues to do so to this very day.

It was a rainy and stormy night at the end of September, about seven
years ago, when, wet to the skin, and dead beat, I came driving up to my
lodgings in University Street.  At that time I always had rooms on the
ground floor, so that I could get in and out quickly and unobserved.

I had been on an expedition after some burglars high up on the Egeberg
hills.  The expedition had been long and irksome, both for myself and my
assistants, and without result.

I always employ the same cabman—you remember Peter Lyverson, of course?
Well, he had been waiting for us five hours in one of the small streets
in the East end, and was just as disappointed at the lack of success and
as wet as I was, so I thought it only right to ask him inside and give
him a stiff glass of brandy.

Lyverson had just finished his glass, and with a profusion of thanks was
lighting a cigar and bowing himself out, when we heard a ring at the
telephone.

"Wait a moment," I cried to him, and rushed to the apparatus.

"Hello! are you Monk, the police detective?"

"Yes; who is it?"

"Bartholomew Frick of Drammen Road.  Can you come out here at once?  My
house has been broken into.  I thought that a man like you would prefer
to be the first on the spot, and as quickly as possible!"

"All right, I will come."

It was not pleasant, for I was wet and tired; but business is business,
and Bartholomew Frick was right in saying that I liked to be the first
on the spot.  Some minutes later the carriage was rolling along the
deserted streets in the pouring rain toward Drammen Road.

I used the time, while we were on our way, to recall what I knew about
"Old Frick."

Bartholomew or "Captain" Frick, as he was also called, had left Norway
when quite a young man—somewhere between twenty and thirty years of age.
For a generation or so no one heard anything of him, until suddenly he
returned to his native country, an old man.  This was some years before
my story begins.

He came to Christiania, bringing with him a whole shipload of
curiosities and costly articles, and was, on the whole, considered to be
a very rich man.

His title of captain he presumably got from the fact that he had won his
fortune, so people said, as captain of a pirate ship, and later on as a
slave-dealer.

A more likely explanation, and one which carried with it a greater
conviction of truth, was that he had acquired his fortune at gold
washing in Australia, and diamond digging in Africa.  He had, in both
places, been one of the first to discover the rich treasures there.

On his return to Christiania he bought himself a large house in Drammen
Road, and this he filled with the curiosities which he had collected and
brought with him from all quarters of the globe.

After becoming settled, he began to look about him to make inquiries
regarding his family, and he found that his only remaining relations
were his brother’s widow and two young children in needy circumstances.

Apparently in order to make some reparation for his earlier neglect, he
overwhelmed the poor widow with benefactions, and brought the poor, weak
soul to a state of great bewilderment by placing large, and to her
notions fabulous, sums at her disposal.

After a short time she died, and Frick then adopted her two children, a
boy and a girl, and it was generally assumed that they would inherit his
wealth.

Old Frick was a well-known figure in Christiania, and had a widespread
reputation for his riches, benevolence, and—irascibility.

The house is situated just outside Skillebek, as you must know.  I
should not wonder, however, if you have never seen him, although your
house is not far from his property, for during the last few years old
Frick has been confined to his house, an invalid, and he never shows
himself outside of it.  As it usually happens, the indifference of the
world to him now is just as great as its interest in him and his affairs
was at one time.

Presently, the carriage drew up before an iron gate, which was
immediately opened by a man, the coachman of the house, with a lantern
in his hand.

Words were unnecessary; he was prepared for my arrival, and I followed
him immediately up to the house.

We went along a passage and passed one or two rooms, in the last of
which stood some servants whispering together, until we came, at length,
into a large room or salon which was lighted up.

This salon presented a motley appearance.  Some of the furniture was
old-fashioned, and some of it modern.  There were tropical plants in
large tubs; Venetian pier glasses on the walls, having between them
large cases filled with wonders from all climes, and of all ages;
stuffed animals in the middle of the room and in the corners.  On a
shelf stood some heavy altar candelabra from an old church, and from a
neighbouring shelf hung a lamp, doubtless stolen from some Hindoo
temple. On a bracket, opposite a clock worked by sand, a relic of the
Middle Ages, ticked a splendid specimen of a modern Parisian timepiece.
Indeed, I might go on forever enumerating the extraordinary and
wonderful assortment of curiosities that met one’s eye at every turn.

In spite of this conglomeration, the room was not unpleasant.  My first
impression—and later it proved to be correct—was that, though all these
things had been brought together by Bartholomew Frick, they had been
arranged by his niece.

At one end of the room only was there any noticeable disorder.  There
several chairs were overturned, a couple of cupboards stood wide open,
and a window was entirely smashed, both glass and woodwork.  The storm
and rain, however, did not beat in, as this room lay to the leeward side
of the house, and the cheerful fire in the grate at the other end of the
room impressed one with a sense of warmth and comfort.

By the fireside sat old Frick in an armchair.  On the mantelpiece before
him lay a large American revolver, with brightly polished barrel, and
leaning against his chair was an enormous Prussian cavalry sword.

The master of the house was clad in a large-patterned dressing-gown and
slippers, and he got up at once when I came in.

At his side stood his brother’s children, a fine young fellow with an
honest face, and a very pretty young girl.

Old Frick himself could hardly be considered handsome.  He had a large,
fat, red face, with an enormous reddish-blue nose, white bushy hair,
which stuck out in unkempt tufts, and a white, thick heard under his
chin.  His eyes were light, and generally friendly: but when he was
angry, which not seldom happened, they changed into a kind of greenish
colour, which was anything but pleasant to see.

Every human being is said to resemble some animal or another in
appearance; Bartholomew Frick would not have done discredit to a Bengal
tiger.

He came quickly across to me, and pressed my hand in his own large ones;
they were of the fulness and size of a walrus’s flippers.  He was stout,
broad, and thick-set, but moved about with youthful energy, although
somewhat clumsily.

"Oh, are you here already, Mr. Monk?  Glad to see you!  It isn’t more
than twenty minutes since I rang you up through the telephone; that’s
smart work if you like!  That’s the thing, young man, promptitude above
everything!  It is the most important thing in the world.  How do you
think Napoleon managed to conquer the whole of Europe?  What do you
think it was that helped him?  His promptitude, my friend, and nothing
else.  Don’t talk to me of generalship or anything of that sort.  He was
smarter and quicker than every one else, and that’s the reason he could
do what he liked with them all.

"But now you must hear how it all happened with regard to the
burglary—ah, you wink at me, Sigrid?  I suppose you mean that I must
first introduce you to Mr. Monk?  Very well!  This is my niece, Sigrid
Frick, and that is my nephew, Einar Frick; both are the joy and stay of
my old age.  But now what about the—what are you now making signs about,
Einar?  I suppose you mean Mr. Monk should be asked to take a seat."

"And a glass of wine," whispered the young girl, casting a compassionate
glance at my wet clothes.

"Yes, of course: Mr. Monk shall sit down and have everything he wants.
But meanwhile I can in a few words tell him how it all happened."

Bartholomew Frick was, however, not a man of few words, and it took some
time before I got to know how he had lain sleepless, kept awake by a
"devilish unpleasant pain in his big toe," and so toward one o’clock had
heard a strange sound in the room below,—for he slept just over the
salon where we sat.

The old man had lost not a minute in getting out of bed; he had seized a
loaded revolver, which always lay at hand on his table, and a sword,
which was also within reach, both mementos, no doubt, of his adventurous
life.

Thus armed, and with slippers on his feet, but with no other clothes on
than his nightshirt, he had crept down the stairs and slowly opened the
door of the salon.

Here he saw two men, who were quietly at work breaking open his
cupboards and emptying their most valuable contents into a sack.

"I first of all fired two shots at their heads," continued Frick; "but
when the smoke had lifted, I saw they were both as alive as ever, and on
their way to the window to escape.  I rushed after them with the sword,
and they would not have got away alive if I had not stumbled over that
confounded panther!" and he pointed to a large stuffed panther which lay
overturned on its side in the middle of the room.

"But you might have killed them, uncle!" faltered the young girl,
reproachfully.

"Yes, killed them!  I only wish I had hacked them to sausage-meat!  But
just listen; now comes the most irritating part of all.  Only one of the
scoundrels could get out through the open window, for the one half has
no hinges on it and does not open; so the other fellow, who evidently
didn’t think he had time to escape before I came up, disappeared head
foremost, through both glass and framework. But he didn’t get through
quickly enough, for when I got away from the confounded panther, his
left leg was still hanging inside the window ledge. ’You shan’t take
that with you, at any rate,’ thought I, for now I was only a couple of
yards from him, and the sword was just raised above my head, ready to
strike, when, one of my feet caught in the jaw of the ice bear, and over
I fell for the second time.

"Yes, you laugh!  Perhaps you do not believe me?  But I tell you, if
that ice bear had not been in the way, I should have been able at this
moment to place on the table before you the rascal’s foot, and perhaps a
bit of his leg as well.  Here, you can see for yourself; the sword just
cut off the heel with a bit of the sole, and more than that I could not
manage; but another inch or two would have done it."

He triumphantly put before me a broad heel, with a bit of the sole
attached, evidently cut from the boot with a powerful stroke.

"This was the only bit of the scoundrel that was left behind; the rest
of him ran across the garden, over the railings, and out into the road.
The revolver had also fallen from my grasp, or else I should have tried
a couple more shots after them. I once shot a Zulu at seventy paces,
with the same revolver; he had stolen a hen from me, the rascal!"

I didn’t quite know what to think of such a bloodthirsty old man.  But a
certain humorous twinkle in his eyes gave me to understand that this was
not genuine, and, as the young people didn’t try to hide their
merriment, we all three had a good laugh.

I afterward learned that old Frick suffered from many of the defects
which are so often the outcome of a hard and adventurous life, such as
he had led from his youth to old age: stubbornness, waywardness, and
tyrannical contempt for the feelings of others when his own were
aroused.  Otherwise his heart was soft, and as good as gold.

It was plain to see that the burglary had not in the least ruffled his
temper.  On the contrary, he felt himself considerably enlivened with
this reminder of a life which had been full of such scenes.

At last he finished his description of how the thieves had disappeared,
the house had become aroused, and I telephoned for, etc., with the
result known.  But what he was especially proud about was that he had
given orders that nothing should be touched or moved in the room after
the burglary.

"I myself have been a policeman," he said.  "I was sheriff in Ballarat
for three years in succession, and I had charge of many investigations
there. One thing I have learned by experience, and that is, that the
place of a crime must remain untouched until the police arrive,
otherwise it is impossible for them to get to work."

I thanked him for his thoughtfulness and presence of mind, which seemed
to please him.

I have described this, my first meeting with old Frick, so fully, not
because it is of any great importance to my story, but because it will,
perhaps, give you some idea of the man and his characteristics.

Next I proceeded to examine the scene of the burglary.  It was just as
Frick had said, nothing had been touched or moved.  Even the sack which
the thieves had used to stow away their spoil in, lay there on the
floor, just as they had flung it from them when they took to flight.

Several of the cupboards in the room had been filled with gold and
silver articles, and precious stones.  It was a complete museum; and the
thieves had, so far, carried out a sensible plan in having broken open
all the cupboards and drawers, but only putting into the bag the
articles which were of the most value and the easiest of transport.
Otherwise, there was little else to discover.  We could follow the
tracks of the thieves through the garden, over the palings, and out into
Drammen Road; but they had left nothing behind them except old Frick’s
trophy, the heel with the bit of sole adhering, and the sack.

This was emptied, and the contents set in their places in the cupboards.
Nothing seemed to be missing; and as each article was numbered, and the
place in which it was to stand, it was an easy matter to control them.

Suddenly Miss Frick clasped her hands together, and exclaimed:—

"But the tortoise, uncle! the tortoise is gone!

"It is a precious gem we have given that name—a large diamond set in
gold, and in the shape of a tortoise," she added, when she saw my
puzzled expression.

"That is the most valuable of all my collection," continued Frick.  "I
don’t know what the diamond can be worth when it is polished, but all I
know is that I have been offered £2000 for it as it is now. It is
black."

He raked about with his large fingers at the bottom of the sack, and
finally turned it inside out, but there was no diamond tortoise.  Then
the room, and at last the garden, and the nearest part of Drammen Road
were searched most carefully by aid of the lantern, but without result.

"How large was the tortoise?" I asked.

"It could at a pinch be hidden in the hollow of a man’s hand,—say about
two inches in diameter with the setting."

It was now nearly three o’clock in the morning. There was no more for me
to do there, so I prepared to take my departure.

The old man began again to lament the loss of the diamond, and
complained in the most energetic manner that he had not been able to
shoot, or cut in two, the rascals who had robbed him.

"It would be stupid of me to promise anything," said I; "but, for my own
part, I am pretty sure we shall have the birds caged before many days,
and that we shall secure the diamond as well."

With these words, I took my departure, put the cut-off heel bits in my
pocket, and went home.

My thoughts on the way were naturally taken up with what I had heard and
seen at Bartholomew Frick’s.

But, remarkably enough, it was the young girl, Miss Frick, upon whom my
thoughts dwelt most of all.  I had only heard her speak a few words, and
this was the first time I had seen her face; but she attracted me
strangely.  I have never been of an impressionable nature, and no woman
had ever had much of an attraction for me.  So I was astonished to find
how clearly her image stood out before me after the few hours we had
been together.  I already felt a strong desire to please her—a desire to
do something which would compel her admiration.

You must, in any case, get the diamond back for her uncle, I thought;
women naturally set value upon a detective’s skill.  It will at any rate
please her uncle, and bring me into her society again.

I had at once noticed that the robbery at Frick’s was of a simple and
not very complicated kind; and though the matter from a professional
stand-point had not interested me particularly, it had suddenly become
invested with a new importance.

As soon as I arrived home, I hurriedly changed my wet clothes, made
myself a cup of coffee over the spirit lamp, and then took out the piece
of heel.

It was a broad, strong heel, with an iron rim round it, and entirely
new, just like the sole.  It did not seem to have belonged to the usual
kind of cheap boots which our ordinary criminals are apt to patronize;
at the same time it did not seem to have belonged to the better class of
foot-gear.  The heel somehow seemed to me to be familiar, a vague
recollection of something set my brain to work.

Ah, suddenly I saw it all!  The heel and sole belonged to the same sort
of shoes, in fact they were a perfect match to a pair which had just
helped the police to circumstantial evidence by an impression on soft
soil in a similar case.  It was the same kind of boot with which the
prison society provides discharged prisoners, so that they shall not be
entirely shoeless when they come out of prison.

One of the thieves must be a discharged prisoner, I went on reasoning.
The boots are quite new; he must, therefore, have been just lately
released,—in all probability yesterday morning.  The burglary must have
been planned and the necessary watch on the house undertaken by a
confederate who, of course, must have been at large for some time
previous.

Ten minutes later I stood in the anteroom to my office at the police
station.  It was not yet morning.  The official on duty sat and dozed
over the stove.

"Find out from the ledger, if any of our burglars have been discharged
from jail in the course of the last two or three days," I asked.

It is, unfortunately, a fact, that a large majority of crime is
committed by prisoners who have just been let out of jail, and we
therefore carefully keep a register of those who are let loose.

In the meanwhile, I went into the guardroom and ordered two constables
to follow me.

"Black John, the Throndhjemer, as you perhaps remember, sir, was
discharged yesterday morning; I don’t see any others.

"That’s all right! find out where he hangs about when he is out."

"I know him well, sir.  He generally puts up at ’Fat Bertha’s,’ she who
has the coffee-house and lodgings for travellers up by Vaalerengen.  But
he often frequents the sheds in the brick fields and round about there."

I always had a trap in readiness at the police station, and in a quarter
of an hour I, and two officers in plain clothes, stopped at a suitable
distance from Fat Bertha’s lodging-house.

Black John was not there, however, and we began to search among the
brick ovens.

Daylight was just breaking when we came to the second oven, and the
workmen were arriving with their tin cans in hand.  Two men crept out on
the other side and began to run across a ploughed field which adjoined
one of the sheds.

We set off after them; but it seemed as if they had got too much of a
start, and were likely to get away from us in the morning mist.

Suddenly one of them began to drop behind, and we soon had him between
us.  We let the other one get away for the time being.

The fellow we had got hold of swore and cursed, but otherwise made no
resistance.

"If it hadn’t been for that sore foot of mine, the police wouldn’t have
got me this time," he bawled.

We followed the direction of his look, and saw how his left foot had
forced its way through the shoe, which was dragging about his ankle.

Black John’s volubility did not deceive me.  I kept a sharp eye on all
his movements.  While he, with a kind of raw good nature, joked with the
constables, he slowly passed one hand behind him, and with a deft
movement threw a small parcel some ten or twelve paces behind him.

"You had better leave tricks of that sort alone, Black John," I said in
a friendly tone, stepping back and picking up a dirty little packet
wrapped in a greasy piece of _The Morning Post_.

Inside three or four wrappers of the same sort I found the strangest
object I had ever seen.

It was a large black diamond, of a flattened oval shape, tapering at the
ends.  It was set in a broad gold rim of the same form as the stone,
and, to make its likeness to a tortoise more complete, a head was
introduced, together with a little stumpy tail, and four knobs
underneath, to represent feet,—all of gold.  In the head shone two green
precious stones for eyes.

"Oh, no; it won’t be of much use to me, I can see," said Black John,
resignedly.  "I suppose I am in for another year or two."

He exhibited a subtle humour, while he tramped along to the town between
the two policemen.  The effects of just-from-prison libations did not
seem quite to have left him.

"Ours is a hard sort of a profession, sir," he continued confidentially.
"I think it’s just as well to be a convict all one’s life.  Then one
wouldn’t get such frights at night.  Such a one as I had last night!"

"Were you frightened, then, last night, in the Drammen Road?" I asked
sympathetically.

"Frightened, indeed!  What would you say, sir, if you were busy rooting
about in a house at night, when you thought all was quiet and still, and
an old ourang-outang in a shirt were suddenly to appear before you with
a sword in one hand and a pistol in the other, firing away at you till
the bullets whistled about your ears?"

In this kind of jocular strain he talked until we reached the town,
where we parted.

                     *      *      *      *      *

It was half-past twelve, and the sun was shining brightly when I again
rang the bell at old Frick’s in the Drammen Road.

I had slept a few hours, handed in my report to the superintendent, and
now I wanted to have the pleasure of giving old Frick his diamond back
again.

I had taken a little more trouble than usual about my toilet; you can
guess the reason why.

I was very pleased to find Miss Frick alone when I was ushered into the
sitting-room.  I thus had an opportunity of exchanging a few words with
her; for when old Frick came in I knew only too well who would take up
all the conversation.

She received me in a friendly manner, and when, without further ado, I
showed her the diamond, she clapped her hands in joyful surprise.

"How glad uncle will be!  When he once gets it back again he will look
upon last night’s affair as an exceedingly pleasant diversion.  May I
take it to him?"

"Yes, of course!"

"It was I who advised him to telephone to you in the night, Mr. Monk,
and to-day I also assured him that you would be certain to find his
tortoise again."

"It is a great pleasure, Miss Frick, to find you have such confidence in
inc.  May I ask how you got to know of my name?"

The young girl blushed a little.  "We have often read about you in the
papers, and Einar tells me there isn’t a case which you cannot clear
up."

"I must thank your brother for his flattering opinion, and I am indebted
to the burglars of last night for giving me this opportunity of making
your acquaintance and the acquaintance with your family."

"But you must excuse me a moment, Mr. Monk. I must hurry away and find
uncle and give him the diamond.  I haven’t even told him you are here!"

She ran out of the room, and I looked after her, enraptured.  She was
even prettier by daylight than by lamplight.  Light, reddish-golden
hair, blue eyes, a straight nose, and a beautiful shapely mouth, yet not
of the smallest.  As for her figure, it was that of a veritable Diana as
she vanished from the room.

I stood looking out of the window, when the door opened.

I turned round hastily, and at first I thought it was Miss Frick who had
come back again.  But the next moment I discovered that it was a young
girl whom I had not seen before, who stood hesitating on the threshold.

She was also tall, fair, and slight, and with something of the same
grace in her movements.  Indeed, both in her movements and carriage she
was wonderfully like Miss Frick.  Nor was her face and especially the
shape of her head unlike Miss Frick’s, but her hair was much redder, her
lips thinner, and her mouth more sharply moulded.  Her eyes were
certainly blue and pretty, but they wore a colder expression.

I thought at first it was Miss Frick’s sister, but a glance at the
small, coquettish, servant-maid’s cap told me she held a different
position in the house.

With an excuse she hurriedly left the room; she had thought Miss Frick
was there.

Scarcely had she shut the door after her before Miss Frick again
appeared, and as she saw perhaps that I looked a bit puzzled, she gave a
low laugh and said:—

"You have seen my double, I suppose?  She didn’t know any one was here.
All strangers are astonished at the likeness between Evelina and me. She
is my lady’s-maid."

"The likeness does not strike me as being so great," I answered; "do you
think so yourself?  I should never make such a mistake as taking her for
you."

"Oh yes, indeed!" she replied; "at first it was almost unpleasant to me.
Her father was, in his line, a well-to-do artisan, but things went badly
with him, and he took to drink.  The mother is not a very desirable
person either, and so my uncle, who had known them many years, proposed
that I should take the daughter as my maid."

It was a pleasure to me to talk with this pretty young girl.  She was
more natural and free from any affectation than any young woman I had
met. It was easy to see she had plenty of common sense, and was well
educated.

Mr. Frick did not tarry long.  He came waddling in, clad in a
large-checked, English pea-jacket, his full-blown face beaming like the
sun.  He was not satisfied this time with shaking one of my hands, but
seized both in his gigantic paws.  His praise of my skill was quite
overwhelming and it was only by the greatest effort that I got him to
change the subject.

After that followed an invitation to dinner at "Villa Ballarat," as he
called the house.  He would like to have a full description of how I had
managed to discover the thieves.

This invitation clashed with my engagements that day, and I should have
felt almost duty bound to refuse it, had I not happened to look at Miss
Frick.

It appeared to me as if I could read something in her face which spoke
of anxious expectation, and—I accepted the invitation.

The dinner went off very well.  Old Frick told us how he had first
become possessed of the tortoise; that, however, I will return to later.

Happily there was another person present who could listen to old Frick,
while I had a much more interesting conversation with Miss Frick.

Young Einar, who seemed a fine young fellow, and whose occupation it was
to keep his uncle’s books and accounts, alone emptied a bottle of
Pleidsieck monopole, and then stole away immediately after dinner with a
good supply of his uncle’s Havana cigars, to have a game of billiards at
the Grand Hotel.

Before I left Villa Ballarat, I had another talk with old Frick, of a
more serious nature.  I represented to him how wrong it was to let so
many costly articles as those he had gathered together, lie unprotected
against thieves and burglars.

"You have seen yourself, Mr. Frick," I said, "how you tempt people to
become housebreakers."

Old Frick showed himself for once amenable to advice.

"Come and see me to-morrow," he said; "I should like to have your
opinion as to how I ought to arrange my things.  The house here is
becoming too small for me; I expect a guest in a few days. What do you
say to my building a pavilion out in the garden, and arranging it
specially as a museum or as a place of custody for all my curiosities?
If I built the pavilion expressly for this purpose, I ought to be able
to make it sufficiently proof against thieves.  I could use iron safes,
iron bars before the windows, electric-alarm apparatus, and suchlike.
So long as I am well and able to move about, I can look after my
things,—as you have seen I did last night; but when I get older, it will
be more difficult.  One cannot depend upon the young people in the
house."

By sufficiently encouraging this plan of his, I got him to start the
work, and within a month old Frick had a building constructed in the
garden, about forty yards from the house.  A building which should serve
as a depository for all his collection, and at the same time give space
for his office, and containing a fire-proof room for money and important
documents.

This building will, later on, play a part in my story, and I shall
therefore give a short description of it.

It was built nearly square, and divided into two. The whole of the one
half was fitted up to receive Frick’s collection.  It formed a large
room with no windows, but was lighted from above.  Over the skylights
were placed strong gilt iron bars to prevent entrance from above.

The heavy iron shutters, which, being painted white and lacquered,
looked like innocent wooden boards, could be pulled down in front of the
cases when the museum was closed.

These iron shutters were so well balanced with hidden counter weights
that the weakest child could move them up or down.  They could be locked
with strong safety locks, of which Bartholomew Frick alone had the keys.

The other half of the house was partitioned into two, forming a larger
and a smaller room.  The larger did duty as Mr. Frick’s office, and
there his nephew took up his residence in the morning among the heap of
business books.  The smaller room, which, on account of the many feet
thick, brick walls, gave very little inside space, served as a
fire-proof room for money and documents.

This room had no windows, and only one very solid, double iron door,
which led into the before-mentioned room used as the museum.

It had been made according to my suggestion; for I reasoned thus: The
office is, as a matter of course, the least-protected room in the
building.  It has windows, and necessarily a good many strangers will be
going in and out there.  The safest thing is to let the one door to the
fire-proof room, where Frick likes to keep a large sum of ready money,
lead out into the museum.  It is only frequented by the people of the
house and guests, and at night it is more secure against burglary than
the office.

All round the garden there was an iron railing, twice as high as a man,
and people who were going to the house had to ring a bell at the iron
gate.

At that time, when I made old Frick’s acquaintance, he had invested a
great deal of his money in various enterprises, mostly industrial
undertakings, and especially such as would bring new trade and industry
to the country.

He himself took no part in the management of these undertakings, and the
work in his office was not more than could be managed by himself and his
nephew.

It was not long before I was a regular and, as far as I could perceive,
a welcome guest at the villa; indeed, all through the winter there was
scarcely a day when I did not visit there.

Old Frick was never tired of asking me about news from the police
courts; but I soon realized that it was not so much my stories that
interested him, as the fact that for each of my stories, which I tried
to make as short as possible, he found opportunity to treat us to two or
three of his own, which always took a long time.

He was, however, an admirable story-teller, and we often sat by the hour
together, listening to him with the greatest interest.

Generally the party was limited to old Frick, Sigrid, and myself.  Einar
was a gay young fellow, who spent a good deal of his time and his money
with his companions, and he gave us but little of his society.  Thus the
three of us spent many pleasant evenings together.



                             *CHAPTER III*

                         *MR. REGINALD HOWELL*


Here was my first letter from Miss Frick:—


DEAR MR. MONK,—My uncle wants you to come and dine with us to-morrow at
five o’clock.  He is expecting an Englishman to-day, a son of one of his
old Australian comrades, and would like you to make his acquaintance.

Yours, SIGRID FRICK.


It was not a love letter, not even a friendly epistle, but quite the
most conventional piece of writing one could receive; and yet it caused
me great happiness when this note arrived, in the fine bold handwriting
I got to know so well.

It was on a Saturday, a few days before Christmas. From the first day I
had seen Sigrid Frick, until now, I had employed the time in falling in
love as deplorably as ever a man can do, and I could see that my
attentions were not displeasing to her.  And so, as a matter of course,
I accepted the invitation for dinner next day.

On my arrival at Villa Ballarat, I found old Frick beaming with delight.

"Here he is, Monk; here he is!—Reginald Howell, son of my old friend
Howell, who was the best man and the most faithful friend in the whole
world.  I don’t think my old friend, even when he was young, had such a
fine appearance as his son, here; but his heart was as true as gold, and
he was as reliable as a rock."

It would have been difficult for old Frick to get away from his
reminiscences of old Howell, but luckily his niece recalled him to the
present by intimating that he ought to introduce me to the young
Englishman before he indulged in them further.

He was a tall, handsome young fellow, about my own age, and of the dark
English type.  His manners were easy and unaffected, as is usual with
Englishmen of good birth.

There was nothing particularly attractive about his face, although he
had fine eyes, somewhat dark, almost black, in fact, but without the
fire in them that usually accompanies eyes of that colour.  His manners
were rather insinuating, though not at all unpleasant.

I gradually learned to like him fairly well.

At first, it happened that he threw many a tender glance at Miss Frick,
and on that account I felt not a little inclined to quarrel with him.
But as this was only a repetition of what had happened in the past two
months with half a dozen other young men who visited Villa Ballarat, I
was sensible enough to allow these feelings to have only a momentary
hold upon me.

He soon kept his eyes to himself, probably because he saw "how the land
lay," as the sailors have it.

One thing which, in a great measure, spoke in the young Englishman’s
favour, was his apparent modesty.

When his father died the year before,—he had until then lived in
Australia,—the son decided to go to Europe, and he took his passage on a
sailing ship.  But the vessel had caught fire in the open sea, and the
passengers and crew had had to take to the boats.  Only one of the boats
had reached land—the one in which Reginald Howell and eight others had
saved themselves.  But the boat foundered on a coral reef, and Mr.
Howell at last found himself, the only survivor, on a little island. The
natives were friendly to him, and after two months’ stay there, he
sighted a ship which brought him to England.

People seldom refuse to relate interesting stories when they concern
themselves; but it was only after repeated appeals from old Frick that
Mr. Howell was at last induced to give a very sober and curtailed
description of his adventurous voyage.

It was easy to understand that he must have behaved very coolly and
bravely under such terrible circumstances, and that it was only due to
his presence of mind and courage that he was able to save himself, yet
he seldom spoke of himself, and then always in the most modest manner
possible.

In short, he had the habit, owing either to the way in which he had been
brought up, or by nature, seldom or never of speaking about himself,—a
habit which never fails to make a favourable impression.

When the young man came to England, he of course gave the authorities an
exact account of the wreck of the _Queen of the East_, and the fate of
the crew.  The account had been published in several of the English
papers, and he laughingly proffered to show us some of these papers if
we found his verbal account not exhaustive enough.

Mr. Howell had come to Norway at the express invitation of old Frick,
who, when he had heard of his old friend’s death, had written and asked
the son to visit him in Norway.  The young man had received Frick’s
letter just when he was on the point of sailing from Australia—he had
already arranged previously to visit Europe—and had notified his
departure by telegraph.

"You did right, Reginald, in coming as quickly as possible to your
father’s old friend.  I suppose you intend to spend the winter with us.
You can learn to go on ’ski’ here; a fine sport, I can tell you.  You
must live with us.  I have had two rooms made ready for you here in
Villa Ballarat."

Mr. Howell said he thought he would avail himself of the invitation for
one or two months; he was a keen sportsman, and had long ago made up his
mind to have a look at, and a try at, ski-running.

"That’s right," cried old Frick, clinking his champagne glass against
that of the Englishman. "The whole house and all that I possess is at
the disposal of my old friend’s son.  After dinner you shall hear what I
owe him.  I don’t suppose I need offer to assist you with any money, for
in his last letter to me your father wrote that he would leave you
everything he possessed, for your mother died when you were a little
boy, and you were the only child.  Your father was not so very rich, but
I think he wrote something about £1200 a year."

"Yes, thereabouts," replied the young man, good-naturedly, and smiling
at the kind old man’s loquacity; "and that is more than enough for me."

"Then perhaps I had better strike out your name from my will; it has,
until now, been standing beside those of Sigrid and Einar."

We all laughed heartily and rose from the table.

When we were drinking our coffee, and had lighted our cigars, old Frick
began the story of his friendship with Howell the elder, and the
adventures which had bound these two so closely together.

To tell the truth, I tried my best to slip away, hoping for a chat alone
with Sigrid; but that couldn’t be managed, and after having heard old
Frick’s story, I must confess that only a man in love could dream of
anything more interesting than his account of it.

I should like to give it in all its detail, and in old Frick’s words,
but I cannot, and I must restrict myself to giving you the main points
in his story.

Bartholomew Frick had left Norway and run away to sea in 1830; his
desire for adventure and his dislike for the schoolroom had driven him
to this.

For many years he roamed about in the great East, in India, South
Africa, and Australia, sometimes as a sailor, and sometimes as a hunter
and adventurer on shore.

Then, at the end of the forties, he found himself in Australia when the
gold fever was just beginning to rage.  Soon after, a party of three
people started for Melbourne to proceed to the gold districts.  One was
Frick, who was the eldest of them, and two Englishmen, Howell and Davis.

The acquaintanceship of these three men—they were adventurers, but all
of good family—was not of long standing; but it developed, in the course
of the following year, into strong friendship and most faithful
comradeship.

They led the usual life of gold diggers for many years, and sometimes,
when they were lucky, they would go off to Melbourne and spend their
money in a few days’ time.

Having gone through many ups and downs in the course of seven years,
they at last came across a rich find of gold, and realized a fortune in
a couple of months.

The partnership was then dissolved.  Howell, who was the quietest and
most level-headed of them, bought a large piece of land and took to
sheep farming.  In this way he was able to preserve his fortune and even
to add to it, although he had not been one of the most fortunate.

On the other hand, Frick and Davis did not think they had enough.  The
money they had made enabled them to carry out a plan which Frick had
thought of, and which for a long time they had been anxious to carry
out.

In the middle of the thirties Frick, when quite a young man, had been in
South Africa.  He then followed the settlers who trekked to the north
across the Orange River, and who had joined in raids across the river
Vaal, and still farther to the north.

When on these expeditions Frick himself had found diamonds, and had
heard wonderful stories from the natives of the great quantities of
these stones which were to be found in caverns of a peculiar formation,
reminding one more of deserted mines than anything else.

Frick had obtained the report through a source which did not admit of
doubt that there was at least some truth in it; and the location given
with regard to the place seemed to be efficient. But he could not then
get any companions to form an expedition, as the supposed place lay far
away in the desert, blocked by wild and hostile negro tribes. Nor had he
at that time the means to fit out an expedition by himself, and he was
therefore obliged to give up all thoughts of it.  These were the
diamonds in search of which Frick and Davis decided to go.

"Davis seemed to me to be just the right sort of a man," remarked old
Frick, when he had gone thus far in his narrative; "he was at least
double as greedy about finding the diamonds as I."

Now that they were able, the two companions journeyed at once to the
Cape, bought themselves an excellent outfit, and hired people sufficient
for a large expedition.

The money which they did not spend on the outfit they sent to the bank
in London.

It was Davis who managed all that; he was the most businesslike of the
two.

This expedition got as far as the Vaal, but did not return, and this is
how it happened.

When they had got so far that, according to Frick’s and Davis’s
calculations, they should be only a day’s journey from the diamond
caves, they let the natives, with the ox wagons, camp, while they
themselves continued their journey alone.

They were lucky enough to find what Frick maintained must have been
Solomon’s deserted mines, and they filled a whole sack with diamonds.
But when they reached the camp they found it had been plundered, and all
the members of the expedition killed by a hostile negro tribe.

Frick and Davis were also captured after a hard struggle.

In the night Davis, who was uninjured, succeeded in escaping, but Frick,
who had received an arrow in his thigh, could not follow him.

Davis, with Frick’s consent, took with him the bag of diamonds, and
promised immediately on reaching civilization to prepare a new
expedition for the release of Frick.

In the meantime, the blacks dragged him with them farther and farther
inland, where it was impossible for him to think of flight, and so he
lived with them for three years.

At last a gang of European pioneers turned up far in the interior of the
dark continent where the tribe lived, and before the blacks had thought
of keeping guard on Frick, he had joined the whites and followed them to
their own settlements.

In all probability the blacks had, after such a long time, come to look
upon Frick as one of themselves.

When Frick reached civilization the first thing he did was to ask after
his friend Davis.

Yes, he had returned safely to the Cape Colony, but had not mentioned a
word about any relief expedition for Frick.  On the contrary, he had
given out that Frick was dead, and had gone straight to England.  He had
mentioned that he had some diamonds with him, but he had not shown them
to any one.

Frick was not very well pleased with this information, as you can
imagine.  He still had a few small diamonds with him, which he had found
during his stay among the blacks.  These he sold for a couple of hundred
pounds, and set out for England to find Davis.

Here he discovered that the latter had drawn all the money out of the
bank, had sold all the diamonds, and having bought a large country
estate, was now living, a landed proprietor, in Yorkshire. Frick set off
to visit Davis at his country house, but was not even allowed to enter.
Davis refused to deliver up any part whatsoever of the money that had
been deposited in the bank, or any of that which he had received from
the sale of the diamonds.

When Frick became furious and tried to force his way in to the
scoundrel, he was turned away by the servants.

Frick then applied to the police, but they advised him to take legal
proceedings.  He would have to engage a lawyer in order to proceed
against his old comrade.

It was not a difficult matter to find a lawyer, or even lawyers, but
none of them would take up the case unless Frick would guarantee them
their fees and expenses first.  Davis was rich and powerful, and would
naturally use all the weapons with which the English law so lavishly
favours those who have few scruples and plenty of money.

Frick raged awhile like a lion in a cage, but happily he pulled himself
together and shipped to Australia before he had become quite "mad from
anger," as he expressed it himself.

In Australia he was well received by the third member of the late
partnership, and when Howell got to learn of the story, he became just
as furious over Davis’s rascality as Frick himself.  It was, however, an
unfortunate period with Howell.  His farm had just been visited by a
huge flood, and the larger part of his flock of sheep had been drowned.

But Howell did not give in.  He would not hear of Frick’s remonstrances,
but raised, with much difficulty, a loan of £5000 on his property. This
money he forced upon Frick, and when the latter saw that his friend
would not listen to reason, he no longer hesitated, but went back to
England with the money.

There was now no difficulty in getting the affair taken up.  A clever
lawyer was engaged, and the case against Davis was carried on with all
possible despatch.

Frick himself thought he should never succeed in bringing him to bay.
Davis had understood how to make use of the time to guard himself well,
and had employed all means to delay the case.

Frick’s £5000 was fast disappearing, when his lawyer was fortunate
enough to discover some dark doings in Davis’s life before the time when
Frick had learnt to know him.

These doings were of such a character that Davis, who in the meantime
had been elected M.P. for his county, had to, at any price, prevent them
being made public.  He was therefore obliged to agree to a compromise,
and to pay Frick half of what he was worth, which, after all, was only
what was Frick’s due.

"In the end, I got such a good hold of the rascal," continued old Frick,
"that he not only offered to pay all I asked for, but he even wrote me a
humble letter, and begged me, for God’s sake, not to make the affair
public.  ’It would completely ruin him,’ he wrote.

"As Davis had invested all the cash in his estate, it was difficult to
get ready money.  But the affair was at last settled, and I have not
told the story to any one.  I did not give any promise to this effect,
but it’s just as well that you, who have now heard it, also keep it
quiet.  If it can help the scoundrel to repent of his sins in peace and
comfort for the rest of his days, it is no doubt the best.

"It was not possible to get your father, Mr. Reginald, to accept
anything more than the £5000 he had lent me, although I was now much
richer than he.  No, he was as proud as Lucifer, just as proud as he was
faithful."

With the exception of Mr. Howell, we had all listened with the greatest
interest to old Frick’s long story.  In spite of Mr. Howell’s good
manners, his impatience had several times been noticeable, even to the
story-teller himself.

The latter remarked: "Yes, you have, of course, heard the story several
times before from your father, Reginald; so for your sake it was hardly
necessary to tell it.  But I am anxious that those who stand nearest to
me in the world should know what a friend your father was to me."

Mr. Howell smiled, somewhat embarrassed; "Yes, of course, I have heard
the story from my father two or three times.  But you can understand he
did not lay so much stress upon the help he gave you.  It was no more,
he said, than a man’s duty to a friend; and that’s what I think also."

"He is his father’s son!" exclaimed old Frick, and was not satisfied
until he had seized the Englishman’s hand and shaken it vigorously,
although the latter modestly tried to avoid it.

"Did you ever hear anything later about Davis?" he asked after a pause.

"No, not much!" answered old Frick.  "He was already married when I took
proceedings against him, but I don’t think it was a very happy marriage;
his wife took care to see that a good deal of the punishment he so well
deserved was carried out.  Later on, I also heard that he had much
trouble in managing his large property, after he had been obliged to
take out so much capital. Ah, well, that’s his own lookout; we have,
thank God, something else to talk about than that scoundrel.  One thing,
however, I forgot to mention, is, that when Davis was forced to pay me
back half the money, I took the black diamond in its present setting,
the one we call ’the tortoise.’  I took that over for £2000, which would
be about its value in its uncut condition.  We found it, just as it is,
up in Solomon’s mines.  It was the only one of the diamonds that Davis
had not sold."



                              *CHAPTER IV*

                       *THE BLACK TORTOISE AGAIN*


I have little to relate about the months which followed after that
Sunday at Mr. Frick’s.

Young Mr. Howell still lived in the house; he took a fancy to "ski"
sport, and learnt it in a surprisingly short time.

He accepted Frick’s pressing invitation to remain in Christiania till
the summer, when he intended visiting Finland and Spitsbergen.

Einar Frick and Reginald Howell became good friends, in spite of the
difference in age, much to the satisfaction of old Frick.  They were
always together, and I fancy old Frick was not very strict during this
time with regard to his nephew’s office hours.

A detective, however, incidentally gets to know a good many things, and
I soon discovered that the two young men did not always pursue the most
innocent pleasures.  Even in Christiania, there are always to be found
at least a dozen young good-for-nothings, who have plenty of money and
nothing to do.  Einar and Mr. Reginald became regular visitors in this
circle, where later it became the fashion to gamble, and not for very
low stakes, either.

I became uneasy about this, and one day I spoke to Einar and gave him a
serious warning.

By the young man’s blushing and frank confession, I saw that he had not
as yet entirely fallen a victim to evil influence.  Besides, he added
that he had latterly had more pocket money from his uncle, and didn’t
play higher than he could afford. Mr. Howell had several times prevented
him from playing for high stakes.  He also promised to withdraw
altogether from the gambling circle, which Mr. Howell had said he also
was inclined to do.

This reassured me, and on the whole I must confess that Mr. Howell’s
behaviour was in every respect that of a gentleman.  That I, in spite of
this, entertained a shadow of antipathy or suspicion about him, is one
of those things which cannot be explained.

One thing I cannot pass over in my story: one fine day, when I summoned
up courage and put the all-important question to Miss Frick, I received
as satisfactory an answer as any man could wish.

She desired that we should, for a time, keep our engagement secret, for
she shrunk from telling her uncle, who would scarcely take the prospect
of losing her with composure.  Old Frick was remarkably fond of his
brother’s children.  The old man had lived his life for many years
without having felt the sunshine of tenderness other than that of
comradeship; now he seemed to be making up for it in the fond relations
between him and the two young people who were tied to him by the ties of
blood as well as by those of gratitude.

I have, all the same, a suspicion that the old fox had an idea of what
had passed between Sigrid and me; and at the same time, I also think
that I had been fortunate enough to win his respect, so that if he were
to lose his niece, he would rather have given her to me than to any one
else.

                     *      *      *      *      *

It was the tenth of May, and a beautiful day; the spring had come
unusually early that year, and the trees were already covered with
leaves.

My work was finished.  It had been a long and troublesome day, and I was
just standing in my room, wondering if, as a reward, I should give
myself an evening off and spend it at Villa Ballarat. I had not had time
to visit Sigrid for several days.

Just then I heard the telephone bell.

"Hello! is that you, Monk?"

It was old Frick’s voice; I knew it well; it was the same voice that,
eight months ago, had asked me for the first time to come to Villa
Ballarat.

"Yes, it is I."

"Can you come out here at once?  Something has happened!"

"I shall be with you in ten minutes."

At St. Olaf’s Place I took a carriage; I didn’t want to lose a minute.

An uncomfortable feeling possessed me that some misfortune was pending,
or had already occurred.  I do not know if one can really have a
presentiment without some material cause; in this case the feeling had
sufficient ground by old Frick’s abrupt message.

At the outer gate stood Frick himself, holding it open for me.  He
locked the gate carefully after us, stuck the key in his pocket, and
then said, as he stopped in front of me, with his hands in his pockets:—

"The black tortoise is gone again!"

"Gone?"

"Yes, gone!  Stolen, I say," and he raised his voice.

I asked him not to speak so loudly and to explain the matter.  It was a
relief for me to hear that it was nothing worse.  Little did I suspect
that anything worse could have happened.

"There is no one about who can hear us," said Frick.  "It is as I say;
the black tortoise has been stolen again, and within the last few hours.
Since five o’clock."

I looked at my watch; it was exactly twenty-five minutes to eight.

"How can you be sure it happened after five o’clock?  Didn’t the black
tortoise lie in the case with the iron shutters, in the museum?"

"Yes, of course; but now you shall hear.  Old Jurgens, the lawyer, you
know him, of course?  He who has that collection of curios, the old
idiot! Well, he dined with us, and afterward we drank our coffee out in
the museum, as we often do.  At five o’clock Jurgens left, and we all
went over to the house.  For some reason, as I shall presently explain,
I forgot to lock the door of the museum and cupboard.  In about half an
hour’s time I suddenly remembered this.  I then had a look into the
cupboards before I locked them, and so discovered that the tortoise was
gone."

"Are you sure it was there at five o’clock?"

"Yes; we had been looking at it just before we all left the museum; I
was the last who went out, and I had put it in its place before I left."

"Have you told any one that the tortoise is gone?"

"No; the first thing I did when I was sure of what had happened was to
telephone to you; since then I have watched and seen that no one has
gone in or out of the gate."

A long life rich in changes and events had taught this old man
expediency and presence of mind.

He had done just the right thing, and his information and answers were
clearer than nine-tenths of those which detectives are accustomed to get
under similar conditions.

"Is Miss Sigrid, or your nephew, at home?"

"No, Einar went to Hamburg on business for me the day before yesterday;
he will be there about a week, and Sigrid went for a walk about half an
hour ago.  It was while accompanying her to the gate that I came to
remember the door of the museum wasn’t locked."

"Haven’t you missed anything else in the museum but the tortoise?"

"Not so far as I can see; in any case, there are still a number of small
and costly articles which would be much easier to turn into ready money
than the tortoise.  It could not have been any ordinary thief, or if so,
it must have been an unusually stupid one!"

"Has the black tortoise any special value to you or to any one else
apart from the worth of the gold and the stone?"

"No, that I can gladly swear!  You mean, I suppose, is there anything
about this diamond, as one reads of in the English detective stories,
where black and yellow people sneak about with daggers in their belts
and vengeance in their eyes! No! there is nothing of that kind in this
case.  We found it in the cavern, as I told you, together with all the
other diamonds.  Man had not set foot there for thousands of years; and
the negroes who live thereabouts do not care a fig for diamonds.  For
that reason they let Davis keep the bag, which he took with him when he
escaped in the night.  It is only when negroes have learned to know the
blessing of civilization that they get a taste for diamonds."

"One thing must be done," I said, "while it is yet light.  Will you take
care that no one passes in or out through the gate, while I meanwhile
find out if any one has got into the garden over the railing?"

As already mentioned, the whole of Frick’s property, which was about
three or four acres and laid out in a garden, was closed in by a high
iron railing.

The distance between the rails was so little that even a child could not
squeeze himself through.  It was not altogether improbable, though
difficult enough, that a daring and agile man might have climbed over
the railings, notwithstanding the spikes.

It was, however, easy to find out if any one had got over in that way.
It had lately rained a good deal, and the ground on either side of the
railing was soft.  Any footstep would therefore leave a trace,
especially on the outer side, where there was a newly ploughed field.

I went all round the garden; no one had come that way.

Old Frick was patrolling to and fro at the gate, when I returned.

"Nobody has got over the fence to-day," said I.

"No," he answered thoughtfully; "that has been my belief the whole time.
I fear that we must have thieves in the house,—but here comes Sigrid!"

He was quite right, for there was the dear girl walking at a rapid pace
toward the gate.

A warm blush overspread her face when she saw me, but it disappeared
quickly, and I noticed she looked very pale and fatigued.

We opened the gate for her, and I gave a sign, to Frick that I wished
first to speak with her.

I went up to her, took her hand, and whispered some words which had
nothing to do with the theft.  Then, as we came nearer her uncle, I
remarked aloud and as carelessly as possible:—

"Your uncle cannot find the black tortoise; he thinks he must have
mislaid it in some place or another."

I said this purposely to arouse her attention, in case the diamond
really had been mislaid.  I was afraid that if I mentioned at once that
it might have been stolen, she would have become too excited to think
quietly over the matter.

"But, dear me, isn’t it in the cupboard?  I myself saw you put it in its
place before we followed Mr. Jurgens through the garden."

I could not help noticing that Sigrid spoke in a very absent-minded
manner; she looked fagged out, like a person who had gone through some
physical or mental exertion.

We told her not to mention anything for the present to the servants
about the disappearance of the diamond, and then she left us and went
into the house.  It struck me as remarkable that the affair should
interest her so little.

The next thing I did was to telephone to the police station, and order
two of my men to come out immediately to Villa Ballarat.  I then asked
old Frick to take a walk with me in the garden until they arrived; in
this way we could see that nobody went in or out of the house without
our knowledge.

"Where is Mr. Howell?" I asked.  I suddenly began to wonder why I had
not seen or heard anything of this gentleman.

"Oh, he went by rail to Osterdalen this afternoon. He was invited by a
man called Varingson, I think, who owns large forests up there.  They
are going to shoot capercailzie; it is only four days, I think he said,
before close time begins."

"What time in the afternoon did he go?"

"He had sent his luggage down to the station before mid-day; but the
train was not going before six or seven.  We can hear from Iverson when
he left.  Besides, you know, everybody goes and comes as they like in
this house."

Iverson was Frick’s trusted man; he was formerly a sergeant in the army,
an unusually trustworthy and clever fellow, whom Frick had taken into
his service at my recommendation.  He was generally known as the
gardener, but he took his turn as gatekeeper, and with the coachman he
kept the yard in order; was joiner, smith, and many other things, and
received from old Frick a very liberal salary. Both he and the coachman
were unmarried; they lived in quite a small lodge near the gate, but had
their meals up at the house.

In the meantime my two men arrived at the gate, and I gave them my
instructions.  One of them was to keep watch outside the villa and
arrange that he should be relieved, so that the house and garden should
not be unwatched.  If the diamond was still within the iron railings,
the thief would at once try to get it out of the house.

The other constable got orders to instruct pawnbrokers and all others to
whom the diamond might be offered that, should this occur, they must
inform the police without loss of time, and that the person bringing it
must be followed and watched.

At supper I received a long detailed account from old Frick and Sigrid
of all that occurred in the house that day.  Their statement as to time,
etc., corroborated exactly.  Sigrid had, however, a bad headache, and
looked very poorly.  Both Frick and I advised her to go to bed, which
she did, soon after.

Then I had a conference with Iverson.  The coachman was away for the
day.

Lastly, I had a talk with the housemaid and cook. Sigrid’s maid,
Evelina, had been away that afternoon to visit her mother.  She had,
however, been at Villa Ballarat about six o’clock, but had gone out
again immediately, and not yet returned.

What results or conjectures I arrived at after all these investigations,
I shall later on return to; for the present, I can only add they were
not very satisfying; I began to be afraid that this affair would cause
me more trouble and worry than any other business of the kind had
hitherto done.

Before I parted from old Frick I got him to write an official
notification of the robbery to the police; without this I could not take
up the case in earnest.



                              *CHAPTER V*

                        *AT THE POLICE STATION*


The next morning at eleven o’clock I stood in the police
superintendent’s office; he had told me to be there at that hour.

I had, for some weeks, figured as chief of the detective department,
during my superior’s holiday. The latter was applying for a position in
another department, and I had had the chief superintendent’s assurance
that I would be appointed in his place. "I have already spoken to the
Minister of the Interior about it, and you can consider the matter as
good as settled," were the words with which my superior officer, some
days before, had concluded a conversation which had given me great
satisfaction. It was soon after I had been fortunate enough in clearing
up the celebrated Bjornernd case, and in getting the murderer arrested.

My chief had always been very friendly to me, and treated me, especially
of late, almost as a comrade; that is to say, as far as his
old-fashioned dignified and solemn manners would allow of it.

He shook me by the hand as soon as I came in, and said:—

"Good morning, take a seat."  He beckoned to a constable, standing
stiffly in a corner, who then pushed a large armchair toward me.  "You
can go into the anteroom for the present, Strukstad; I have something to
talk over with Mr. Monk.

"You are a lucky fellow, Monk, to have got another interesting affair in
hand.  I mean the diamond robbery at old Frick’s, in Drammen Road. If I
know you rightly, you have already made up your mind about the case.
From what I have heard you are a friend of the family.  Indeed, if I am
not very much mistaken, it is not only the diamond which attracts you to
the house."

I must confess I was much surprised that my chief should know a secret
which I, like all other people in love, believed to be well guarded.

Naturally, I did not enter upon that part of the story, neither did my
superior seem to expect it; but I began, as shortly and briefly as
possible, to explain to him a little about the state of affairs in the
house, and among the occupants.

I afterward gave him an account of the previous day’s events.

"As you may know, sir, there was a guest at the house yesterday to
dinner.  It was old Jurgens, the lawyer; you know him, his collection
and his mania for collecting!  I have heard that his relations are
trying to prove that he is incapable of looking after his own affairs.
He is getting imbecile from old age, and is squandering his large
fortune by buying up all the world’s curios.

"But he is still sharp enough not to let any one pawn off any trash upon
him; but if there is an object of real value, one way or another, then
he will pay the largest sums without blinking.

"He dined with old Frick.  He came, of course, only to see his
collection, and he nearly worried the life out of Frick with his
importunate requests to be allowed to buy this and that.

"The party at dinner consisted of Jurgens, Frick, Miss Frick, and Mr.
Howell.  Young Frick had gone away two days before.  There were in the
house, besides, the cook, the housemaid, and the gardener.  The coachman
was on a visit to his family at Moss.  I have already telephoned to the
police there and ascertained that he reached there in the morning and
left by the evening train at eight o’clock.

"Miss Frick’s maid, Evelina, was also away during the afternoon; she had
got permission to go home to her mother, who was ill.

"After dinner they all went into the museum, as the people of the house
call the building which I told you about some time ago,—the one which
Mr. Frick, upon my advice, had erected out in the garden between the
main building and the Drammen Road.

"When they have guests at Villa Ballarat, it is often the custom to
serve the coffee in the museum, especially when the guests wish to see
the curiosities.

"Jurgens, the lawyer, had then for the twentieth time asked to see the
black tortoise, and was persistently pressing Frick to sell it him.

"’I will pay £500 cash for it!’ shouted the old man.

"’In the first place it is worth four times as much, my dear Jurgens,’
old Frick had replied, ’and besides, I wouldn’t sell it at any price.’

"Jurgens then had to relinquish all hopes of obtaining the diamond; but
he continued asking to be allowed to buy some of the other curiosities.
He was especially struck with a little elephant carved in ivory with a
clock in its forehead.  The clock-works lie in the animal’s body, and
the trunk acts as the pendulum.  The swinging backward and forward of
the trunk has a most comical effect.

"He had no better success with the elephant than he had had with the
tortoise; and it was rather a relief to the family when the tiresome old
man was taken away by his servant.  You know he has some difficulty in
walking, and has to be carried about in a wheeled chair, pushed by his
servant.

"Frick said good-by to Mr. Jurgens, and was just going to lock the
cases, after having put everything in its place, when a cry was heard
outside.

"The clumsy servant, who had apparently been drinking, had nearly upset
the old man on to one of the flower beds.

"All rushed out from the museum into the garden.

"After having got Mr. Jurgens righted again, and safely outside the
gate, they all went into the house.  Thus it came about that old Frick
forgot to lock both the cupboard with the iron shutters and the door to
the museum.

"It was then exactly five o’clock in the afternoon.

"Old Frick went up to his room and took his after-dinner nap.  Miss
Sigrid went out for a walk; she had been suffering from headache the
whole day.

"At six o’clock they met again; she had been back a quarter of an hour,
and awaited her uncle with afternoon tea in the sitting-room.

"The two sat together till seven o’clock, drank tea, and went through
Sigrid’s household accounts.

"At seven the young girl went again for a little walk, as her headache
was no better.

"When Frick had seen her to the gate, he suddenly remembered that the
door of the museum was not locked, and then he made the discovery that
the diamond was gone.

"The gate-keeper Iverson had spent the time between five and half-past
seven in the little lodge; he had been busy with some carpentering, and
stood at the windows, which looked out on the gate and the road.

"I asked him if any one had passed in or out during that time.  The key
to the gate hung in the room where he was working, and he had himself
let every one in and out.

"Yes, first there was Miss Sigrid, who went out at five and came home in
about half an hour or three quarters.

"About six Evelina came home, but went out again at about half-past six.

"About seven o’clock Mr. Howell went out; he had a gun and game-bag, and
took a four-wheeler which was passing at the time.

"Soon after, Miss Sigrid again went out, accompanied to the door by Mr.
Frick.

"The cook and the housemaid had been in the kitchen or their bedroom the
whole time."

"I must say yours is a model of a preliminary report, Mr. Monk; you seem
to have got it all by heart, and not even to have made any notes."

"I believe I have a special talent in that respect, sir.  I only get
confused, if I take down anything except what is absolutely necessary.
I can see it much clearer when I’ve got it in my head."

"Yes, oh yes, each one has his own method!  It is at any rate a very
useful talent for a detective. But tell me one thing; how can you be so
sure that the different times you mention are correct?  It is not always
that the people in a house are so exact in regard to time."

"As it happens, my statements have been confirmed on that point.  Old
Frick has a remarkably good pocket chronometer, and he takes a pride in
always keeping it correct to the minute.

"Just before Jurgens left, a remark was made how correctly the little
watch in the elephant’s head kept time.  It stands on a shelf just over
the cupboard where the diamond had its place. Although it had not been
regulated for a long while, it showed the right time to a minute; which
was verified by comparing it with the chronometer.

"And thus we have a safe starting-point: the time was five minutes past
five.

"Then Mr. Frick takes his afternoon tea precisely at six each day.  The
servants have got into the habit of being most exact in that respect, as
the old man is very particular.

"Finally, Iverson looked at the clock when Mr. Howell left, to see if he
would be in time for the train.  Mr. Howell had made the remark as he
was passing out that the time was ten minutes to seven, which agreed
exactly with Iverson’s watch.

"As you see, the different times which I have mentioned cannot be far
wrong—not more than a minute or two."

"Yes, I see that.  I suppose your inquiries at the pawnbrokers’ and
jewellers’ have been so far without result?"

"Yes; up till now they have led to no result, and I think they never
will."

The superintendent nodded.  Neither of us said as much, but we were both
agreed that the thief who could steal an article like the tortoise,
which would be so difficult to dispose of, whilst he had plenty of other
salable articles to select from, must have had his special reasons, and
would not have rushed to his own destruction by trying to dispose of the
stolen jewel to a pawnbroker.

"Of course I know," said the superintendent, cheerily, "that you haven’t
by a long way finished with your investigations.  But it would really be
interesting to make a few guesses as to who could have taken the
diamond.  Who can have taken it, do you think?"

I saw that my august superior wanted to discuss the case; and I could
not refuse, although I had no mind for it at this stage of the inquiry.

"As far as I can see," I answered, "there are only five persons who
could have taken the diamond; the gardener Iverson, Mr. Howell, the maid
Evelina, the cook, or the housemaid.  All these people had the entry to
the garden between five and half past-seven, and also into the museum."

"You forget two people, Mr. Monk."

I stared at him.

"You forget old Frick and Miss Frick."

The superintendent smiled, and I tried also, but it was a sorry attempt,
and a most unpleasant feeling crept over me.

The superintendent evidently took notice of this.

"Yes, I speak, of course, from quite a theoretical standpoint.  It is
part of a policeman’s ABC that he must suspect every one as long as the
guilty party is not discovered."

"Not every one, sir!"  I felt I spoke with an earnestness which was not
in harmony with the situation, or with the genial tone of my superior;
but I could not get rid of the unpleasant feeling which the mentioning
of Sigrid’s name had caused me.

"Perhaps you are right, Mr. Monk; in any case, this will not prove the
opposite.  But tell me, what is really your opinion of Mr. Howell?"

It was obvious that the superintendent wanted to get away as quickly as
possible from the subject, which I had been foolish enough to discuss in
rather a disagreeable manner, and I felt not a little ashamed of my want
of tact.

"It is only right, sir, that you should direct my attention to him.
From five o’clock till ten minutes to seven he had the opportunity of
taking possession of the diamond and getting away with it from the
house.  There would be no risk for him to enter the museum; if any of
the servants had seen him do it, it would have attracted no attention;
he is just like a member of the Frick family.

"That is one side of the case; the other side is that Mr. Howell in
every respect gives the impression of being a gentleman, that he is tied
by the bond of friendship to the Frick family, and finally that
pecuniarily he is so situated that he need not steal either diamonds or
anything else."

"Are you sure of this?"

"Yes; I go by what he and old Frick have said; besides, at half-past
nine this morning, I called on Wendel, the banker.  I myself recommended
this highly respected firm to Mr. Howell, and I asked the chief, quite
confidentially, how Mr. Howell’s account stood.

"He informed me that the latter at the present moment had from three to
four hundred pounds standing to his account.  It was the remainder of a
sum of money he had brought with him in cash and deposited with the
banker; besides which, instructions had been received from Messrs.
Hambeo and Son, the London bankers, to open an account for Mr. Howell to
the amount of two thousand pounds."

"Well, I should be glad if I had such an account at the bank!  It does
not seem probable that the Englishman should have taken the diamond.  By
the bye, Mr. Monk, I must not detain you any longer; go on with the
matter as you yourself think best; you have, of course, not had much
time for inquiries, and I ought, perhaps, not to have been so
inquisitive at such an early stage of the investigations; but you must
rather look upon our conversation as a kind of refreshment, which I take
between the dustbins and the demonstration in the theatre.  Well, good
luck to you, and let me hear from you as soon as you have anything of
interest to report."

The superintendent shook me by the hand.

"Strukstad, let the manager of the theatre come in," he said resignedly,
as I went out at the back door.

Later in the day a letter was handed me from the superintendent, marked
"Private," which read as follows:—

DEAR MR. MONK,—I have not been able to dismiss old Frick’s diamond from
my mind.  Couldn’t it have been lost in quite an ordinary way; fallen on
the floor, put on a wrong shelf, or in some such way got astray?

One might also imagine that some one for fun has hidden it, to play old
Frick a trick.

I confess it is not likely, but it is still more unlikely that any one
should have stolen it—the most unsalable article of all the valuables
which you say lay in that cupboard.

I ask you to take this into consideration, and apply the greatest
caution in your investigations.

The disappearance of the diamond will soon be the general talk of the
town.

It is of the greatest importance that the police should not make fools
of themselves.  That is to say, they must not let themselves be deceived
by people’s extraordinary stupidity.

I know your good sense, and in all probability these lines are
superfluous.

Yours, etc.



                              *CHAPTER VI*

                           *A MORNING VISIT*


I did not forget the superintendent’s good advice. Immediately after the
disappearance of the diamond I searched the whole of Villa Ballarat most
carefully.

The servants behaved with exemplary resignation, and offered to open all
their trunks.  I even took the liberty of searching Mr. Howell’s rooms.
All his drawers and trunks were open, but contained nothing of interest.
My investigations also made it clear that this gentleman had proceeded
direct to the station on the day the diamond disappeared, and from there
took the train to Elverum.

I don’t know how it was, but I always had a misgiving that this young
Englishman might have had something to do with the disappearance of the
diamond.  This, perhaps, was the reason that made me feel, more acutely
than ever, that not one of us really knew the young man, in spite of his
having been several months in Villa Ballarat.  His manners were free and
open; but—one did not learn to know him.

I soon placed Iverson, the gardener, the cook, and the housemaid _hors
de concours_.  Iverson had for many years shown himself to be a most
respectable and reliable person.  He was a bachelor, had a nice little
sum in the bank, and it was easy to find out about his antecedents.  He
was the son of well-to-do peasants in Smaalenene, and when quite young
had gone into the non-commissioned officers’ school and followed a
military career, until he entered Frick’s service.  He had always borne
a most irreproachable character.

Last of all, we now come to the lady’s-maid, Evelina; and should you
have a suspicion that she is likely to play an important part in the
lamentable events which now followed, one upon the other, you will not
be far wrong.

From the first, or, more correctly, from the second day I entered old
Frick’s house, this young girl had struck me as being strange.  There
was something mysterious about her, perhaps on account of her reserved
and even sulky manners.

Sigrid also considered her unusually silent, more so by nature than most
young girls are.  She thought that she was a girl of strong character,
and liked her, in spite of her reticent ways.

During the latter days she had been still more reserved than before, and
had not given one the impression of being in good health, although there
was little change noticeable in her appearance on account of her
naturally pale complexion.

The afternoon of the disappearance of the diamond, Evelina had spent in
the following manner (her explanation tallied exactly with that of
others): She had, soon after dinner, when the family had retired to the
museum, served the coffee there.  When that was finished, she had left
Villa Ballarat to visit her sick mother, just before the time Jurgens
had left the house.  At six o’clock she had returned to the villa again
to fetch something she had forgotten, and had, at the same time, put on
another dress on account of a change in the weather; but she had been
scarcely half an hour in the house.

It struck me as strange that Evelina had suddenly become more lively
than I had ever seen her, and Sigrid also thought that she looked better
and more cheerful since the day when the diamond disappeared.

As regards Evelina’s mother, Madame Reierson, I found out that she made
her living by washing and ironing, and by letting a couple of her rooms;
but it was said that she was fond of drink, and that her principal
income evidently consisted in what her daughter allowed her.  Miss
Frick’s generosity no doubt enabled Evelina to give her mother
considerable help.

Madame Reierson’s specialty lay in talking of times gone by, when
Reierson was alive and was a well-to-do turner in Grönland; "she too had
had her own house and a horse and trap."

As you see, I had not gained much by my investigations, but my opinion
regarding the loss of the diamond had, however, begun to take shape,
which made it desirable that I should make Madame Reierson’s
acquaintance.

                     *      *      *      *      *

At half-past nine the next morning, when the May sun was shining warmly,
a gentleman entered the courtyard of 44 Russelök Street.

The gentleman was not very elegantly dressed; his coat was somewhat
shabby, and his trouser-bottoms a little the worse for wear, but still
he might pass as quite a respectable person; for instance, as a poor
theological student of middle age.

I hoped, at least, that my appearance was something like this, for this
was the rôle I intended to play.

In the courtyard a woman was standing rinsing clothes under a pump.  I
asked for Madame Reierson, and learned that she was living in the fourth
story on the right-hand side of the staircase.

"I mean the woman who takes in washing."

"Well, I don’t think there’s much washing done, but there’s only one
Madame Reierson in this house, at any rate," was the surly answer.

"I think you’re right about the washing.  In any case, the clothes I
last got home were only half washed," I remarked.

My depreciatory remark about her neighbour’s work evidently appealed to
the woman; she deigned to let go the wet clothes she had in her hand,
and turned round to me.

"Ah, indeed!  Really!  So she has been washing for you, has she, and you
don’t like her washing? Well, you’re not the first as says that.  It’s a
shame that such a drunken wretch should take the bread out of other
people’s mouths, and live in grand style, and enjoy herself."

"Well, I, for my part, have been thinking of giving her up as my
washerwoman."

"Ha! ha! you give her up?" said the worthy woman, with a scornful laugh.
"A lot she’ll care about that!  As long as she’s got that fine daughter
of hers in service at old Frick’s, in the Drammen Road, she can live in
grand style, and enjoy herself without washing a rag.  But I should say
it’ll all come to a terrible end some day; when people begin to run
after them actors I wouldn’t give you a thank you for ’em!"

And with that our short but pleasant conversation ended.

I tried to find out a little more about the actor who had suddenly been
introduced upon the scene, but I was sharply sent about my business by
the woman, who "did not go about telling tales, let alone to strangers."

There was nothing more to be done, so I mounted up to the fourth story.

On a door with glass panes were fastened two visiting-cards.  I read:
Ludwig Frederiksen, actor; Tho. Herstad, medical student.

To the left I found an ordinary kitchen door. As I knocked at this a
stout woman appeared. Madame Reierson was clad in what I would call a
simple morning toilet.  I can hardly describe the various articles of
her dress; all of them, however, appeared to be too tight-fitting for
her buxom figure, and to have seen better days.

I lifted my large, broad-brimmed, low-crowned, clerical hat to her, and
then explained that the object of my visit was to ask madame to do some
washing for me.

She seemed greatly surprised that any one, unsolicited, should intrust
his clothes to her to wash, and asked rather suspiciously who had
recommended her.

"Perhaps we might go inside," said I.  "I would like to sit down a
little.  I’m not quite well, and the stairs trouble me."

She mumbled something about "_she_ didn’t mind," and showed me through
the kitchen into a disorderly room, filled with foul air.  This served
as her parlour and her bedroom.

I sat down heavily and laid my hand on my heart.

She didn’t seem, however, to be troubled with any sympathetic feelings,
for I heard her mumble something about, "Why do folks climb stairs when
they can’t manage ’em?"

"But who has shown you up to me, then," she continued.

I could see it would be difficult for me, if not impossible, to get into
conversation with this unpleasant woman, as she apparently had not yet
had her "morning drop," and was therefore not amenable to any friendly
approach.

I decided to come to the point at once.

"Miss Frick has recommended me to come to you, as I wanted a good
washerwoman,—Miss Frick, who lives in Drammen Road."

The woman sat herself down in a chair right opposite me, and looked
rather astonished.

"Do you go to the Fricks’?—You?" was the unflattering answer, as she
critically surveyed me.

I regretted the plain attire, which I had thought would be suitable for
my supposed errand; but there was no help for that now; I had to get
along as best I could.

"I am studying for the church," I said with dignity, "and I am secretary
to the women’s mission, and we generally have the committee meetings at
Miss Frick’s."

"Oh, indeed!  Really!"  Suddenly there was a gleam in the woman’s eyes.
She had evidently got an idea into her head, because from that moment
her manner was affable and insinuating.

"Oh, indeed!  Now really!  So you are going to be a parson?  That was
what our eldest son was also to be.  Reierson wanted him to become a
doctor, but I swore that he should become a parson.  Well, I expect you
meet a lot of grand ladies there, then! Have you seen my daughter at
Miss Frick’s?"

"What, your daughter?"

"Oh, well; that’s no matter;" she evidently did not find it very
opportune to say anything about her daughter, since I myself didn’t
appear to know her position in Frick’s house.  "But as you go to old
Frick’s, you have, of course, heard summat of his big diamond which he
has lost."

I knew, of course, that the town had already begun to talk of the
diamond affair, but it came quite unexpectedly upon me to hear this
woman talking of it.  Did she want to know what suspicions they had at
Frick’s house?  Did she know anything about it?  Had she her own
suspicions, or was it only curiosity?

"Yes, fortunately, they have got hold of the thief."

"No! now you don’t say so!"

Just at this interesting point of the conversation we heard the kitchen
door open.

Madame Reierson left me, and quickly disappeared.

Then began a lively conversation in almost a whisper, but the door was
rickety and my hearing sharp; it was Madame Reierson’s voice and another
woman’s voice.  I recognized it; it was her daughter’s.

"—Not home?—not come home yet, do you say?—been out the whole night—"

I heard the mother mumble something, that "he" must soon come home.

"And he has not even left any message?  He promised that I should meet
him at ten o’clock to-day.—A strange gentleman, do you say, whom Miss
Frick has recommended to come to you—?"

The mother must have spoken of my presence, but the daughter seemed to
have a legitimate suspicion about the recommendation from Miss Frick.
Perhaps she was inquisitive, and wanted to see the phenomenon who came
to Madame Reierson with his washing; for the door immediately opened,
and I stood face to face with Evelina, the lady’s-maid.

She stood there, tall and erect, pretty and tastefully dressed as usual.
When she recognized me, her pale face became still paler, and it seemed
to me she tottered a little.  She only pressed her thin lips together
and looked calmly at me.

"Are you here?  I did not know the police were here."  She looked at my
garb and smiled a little scornfully.

At these words, Madame Reierson forced herself past her daughter and
surveyed me angrily.

"Police, do you say?  Does he belong to the police?  Well, I might have
guessed it, since he sneaked in here and began to talk of the stolen
diamond and suchlike."

I looked at the daughter, but her features were immovable.  Either she
had nothing to do with the diamond robbery, or she had a stronger will
power than most people.

"You forget, Madame Reierson," said I, "that it was you who began to
talk to me of the robbery at Mr. Frick’s."

Was I mistaken, or was it really so?  It seemed to me that the young
girl’s look was directed for a second or two at her mother with great
displeasure.

"Well, if it was I who began the talk, it must have been because you
fooled me on to do it," said Madame Reierson, jumping up from her chair;
"else why did you come here?  Perhaps you fancy we have stolen Frick’s
diamond!  Be so kind as to look for yourself, and see if it is to be
found in my house."

The worthy dame began to pull out her chest of drawers, and to open her
cupboards, while her tongue went on with startling rapidity.

"I hadn’t thought of making any investigations in your house, my dear
madame," said I, trying to pacify her; "I came really to find out a
little about your lodger, the actor, Frederiksen."

This time the daughter’s self-control did not serve her; for some
seconds her face was overspread with a deep flush, and she went away and
looked out of the window.

"Frederiksen is old enough to answer for himself," said Mrs. Reierson,
curtly.  "He is not at home now, and I don’t know when he is likely to
be."

As I had nothing further to do there, I took my hat, nodded to the
woman, and left without ceremony.  The young girl still stood at the
window, and did not turn round when I went out.  Either she did not
notice it, or she did not wish to show her face.

When I had descended to the next floor, I heard the sound of heavy steps
coming up.  First of all a ruffled silk hat appeared on the stairs,
afterward a pale, dissipated-looking face, with clean-shaven cheeks,
luxuriant curly hair under the brim of the hat, a black frock coat of
faultless cut but with spotted silk revers, light trousers somewhat
frayed at the bottoms, and cracked patent-leather shoes with large bows.
The apparition stared at me stupidly and disappeared through the door
leading to his apartments.  It was Ludwig Frederiksen, who had little or
no reputation as an actor, but was well known as a Don Juan, now
somewhat on the decline, but worshipped, nevertheless, by the fair sex,
not only of the better classes, but also of the demi-monde.

He possessed the happy gift of being able to easily forget
unpleasantness, for at this moment he evidently did not recognize me,
while less than a month before we had had a not very pleasant
conversation at my office.

The cause of this conversation was a respectful application from the
artist for a loan of some thousand of kroners, directed to one of the
merchants of the town.  This document the merchant in question found
best to deliver into the hands of the police, although the bewitching
artist had offered to deposit, as security, several pink and perfumed
notes, billets-doux, from the merchant’s own daughter to the owner of
the curly locks.

"We shall probably have another interesting conversation," I thought, as
my eyes followed the form of the artist as he mounted upward and
disappeared; "but not now."

The fact was that in the course of the last half hour, certain ideas,
which earlier had begun to dawn in my mind, now assumed a more solid
form, and fitted together, so that they formed a chain.

I thought I had hold of one end of the chain, and I was determined to
fumble my way to the other end; or perhaps it would be better with a
resolute pull to try and grasp it without fumbling at all.

The chain had, however, begun to link itself in this way, and when I
left Mrs. Reierson’s parlour, I felt convinced that Evelina knew
something about the diamond, and very likely her mother also.

As I had passed through the little kitchen my elbow knocked against a
dirty coffee-service which stood there,—a pot and two cups with dried-up
grounds at the bottom.  This accident was sufficient to set going a
train of thoughts which, no doubt, had already been unconsciously
developing in my mind; but which would never have been started into
active life if Mrs. Reierson’s objectionable coffee-cups had not been
standing there.

They brought to my mind an expression in Evelina’s explanation the other
day:—

"I went home to my mother as soon us I had served the coffee in the
museum."

She had served the coffee in the museum; she had seen that the diamond
had been shown about; had seen Jurgens’s imbecile greediness to become
possessed of it; she had heard him bid ten thousand kroners for it!
Later on she had passed the museum, when all were gone, and seeing the
door standing open, knew she had only to stretch out her hand to become
possessed of a large sum of money.

Perhaps she had some use or another for the latter, of which I, as yet,
had no certain knowledge,—but of which I had a suspicion.

If this train of thought was correct, then Mr. Jurgens had now the
diamond in his possession.

The improbability that this worthy old man should have become the
receiver of stolen goods did not concern me.  I knew that the mania for
collecting sweeps away all moral considerations like chaff before the
wind, especially when second childhood has already begun to obscure the
mind.



                             *CHAPTER VII*

                            *LAWYER JURGENS*


My decision was taken.  I would pay a visit to the lawyer without loss
of time.  The difficulty lay in getting the old man to speak out the
truth, if he really was in possession of the black tortoise.

I dared not use strong means; it was a weakly old man I had to do with,
but to get the better of him was not so easy.  He was possessed of not a
little cunning, and his firmness, when it was a question of preserving
any of his treasures, was quite incredible; of this I was already aware.

Mr. Jurgens knew me well.  I had had to do with him twice before on
official business, when some one had tried to rob him.  Besides, we had
met each other several times at Frick’s, and finally, I had now and then
gone, like so many other interested people in the town, to see if he had
any remarkable increase in his line collection.

Of course you know the Jurgens collection in the national museum?  It
has a whole department to itself.  Some time before his death he
presented all of it to the public.

While I called at my lodgings to change clothes I laid my plan of
campaign.

It was neither particularly subtle nor cunningly conceived—only a common
trick, as you will see; but, as you will also see, it was good enough
for the occasion.

I rang at Mr. Jurgens’s house in Munkedam Road.  He lived on the first
floor.

At the back lay a kitchen and servants’ room, where his cook and
housekeeper lived; on the other side of the hall was a room which
belonged to the servant-man.  Jurgens himself lived in a room looking
out on the street, and the remaining three rooms, which likewise looked
to the street, gave him ample space for his collection of antiquities
and other curiosities.

By my advice, he had taken a lot of precautions to protect himself
against thieves.  There were strong doors provided with patent locks,
iron bars before the windows, and some fire-proof iron safes as a place
of deposit for the most costly articles.

The man-servant opened the door to me.  The reason why the lawyer had a
man-servant was, as I have already mentioned, because his feet were
almost lame.  He could just manage to get along from one room to
another, with much difficulty; but in the street he was obliged to be
wheeled in a chair.  Otherwise the lawyer was a man of small
pretensions, and notwithstanding his large fortune, was very economical.
That is to say, in everything possible, except what concerned his
collection. In this respect he was, as already mentioned, irresponsibly
extravagant.

The old lawyer got up with difficulty from his armchair and tottered
toward me.

He shook me by the hand, fumbling a long gold chain, which he wore round
his neck, with the other hand, and himself began the conversation.

His voice was a little shaky, and he seemed to be uneasy when he saw me;
but it was difficult to say if these symptoms were a natural consequence
of the man’s age, or if he really had something to hide, and felt uneasy
at my appearance.

"Well, really, Mr. Monk," he said, "it is a long time since I had the
honour of seeing you at my house.  May I perhaps have the pleasure of
showing you some rare curiosities which I have lately acquired?  You
have generally so little time that I believe you have really never seen
my collection properly."

These words proved to me that if the old man had the diamond in his
possession, he had it in a safe hiding place, and of these there were
plenty. The old furniture was full of the most extraordinary corners,
secret places, drawers, and such-like.

"Many thanks, Mr. Jurgens," I answered promptly, "but this time I am
here on official business, and have still less time than usual."

"What a pity," grumbled the old fellow, letting himself fall back into
his chair, and taking a pinch of snuff with his shaky hands.  "Any
snuff?  No, young fellows nowadays don’t take snuff; but take a seat,
Mr. Monk, take a seat!"

"Thanks!"  I brought a chair forward in front of the old man and leaned
toward him.  "The fact is, that an audacious robbery has been committed;
an unusually costly article has been stolen, and the superintendent has
sent me to inquire about it."

"You don’t suppose I buy stolen goods, sir?"

The lawyer’s eyes blinked, and his hands and shrivelled fingers moved up
and down the watch chain.

"No, of course not; but you know that it has happened once or twice
before, that stolen goods have been offered to you for sale, and that
you have been of inestimable value to us in giving the thief’s
description; therefore—"

"No, this time I cannot help you; no, not at all!"

"But you haven’t yet heard what it is."

"No—but—but—I have not bought anything for a long time; nothing of
consequence, or anything that could be of interest to you."

"That is tiresome—most tiresome!  Our last hope is gone; if only the
bracelet is not sent abroad! It would then be very difficult to get."

"Bracelet, you say; was it a bracelet, you said?"

"Yes, it was a bracelet, an uncommonly costly bracelet, set with
precious stones, which disappeared from Adelina Patti’s dressing-room in
the theatre yesterday.  You know she is appearing here for a few days.
She had had it given her by the Emperor of Brazil."

"Indeed!  What a pity!  But as I said, no one has tried to sell anything
of the kind to me lately."

There was no doubt that the old fellow felt very much relieved.  He took
hold of the bell rope and ordered his man-servant to bring in wine and
cigars.

"Take a glass of wine with me, sir; both old and young need a good glass
of wine, and you’ll not get better than this: I brought it myself from
Oporto in ’47."

We each drank a glass, and I must admit that the wine was good.

The lawyer had hastily left the subject of the stolen gem, and had begun
upon several interesting reminiscences from the year 1820 or so.

But it was not my plan to let him have his own way; I had opened my
trenches, and I wished to advance to the attack.

"It is a nuisance," said I, "all these robberies of curiosities and
costly jewels, which have taken place in the town of late.  No one knows
what bother they cause the police."

"I can understand," said the lawyer, unwilling again to approach the
same theme; and he filled the glasses again with a shaking hand.

"Yes," I continued, "every one who possesses such things should be just
as careful as old Frick of Drammen Road."

On hearing old Frick’s name, the old fellow almost jumped out of his
chair, but I continued mercilessly.

"This last robbery at old Frick’s is a laughable affair."  I then burst
into long and hearty laughter, which evidently affected Jurgens’s nerves
in the most unpleasant manner.

"Haven’t you heard about it?  Well, as you know, old Frick possesses a
whole lot of curiosities, and many of them are of gold, silver, and
precious stones, and all are very valuable.  People are always coming
there, some as guests of the house, and some to visit his collection.
Old Frick got tired of always having to watch them so carefully, and so
he had imitations made of all his most valuable objects,—gilt-brass
mounts instead of gold, and glass instead of precious stones.  This is,
however, a great secret, so much so, that even his best friends think
they are the real things they see, while these are lying securely in the
cellar of the bank."

"Eh, what do you say?"  The old fellow stretched out his neck like a
vulture.

"Yes, indeed—but listen: a few days ago the most costly of all his
curiosities disappeared; I fancy it was a black diamond in gold setting.
It was called the ’black tortoise.’  We expect the thief has gone abroad
with his treasure.  Ha! ha! just sixpenny worth of brass, and half a
crown’s worth of cut glass!"

I again burst into a peal of hearty laughter.  The old man sank back,
but tried to raise himself, gasping for breath.  I thought he was going
to have a fit, and in a minute I got his necktie undone, and rang for
the servant.

We soon brought him round again; he was a tough old bit of humanity,
that I must admit.

I knew now what I wanted to know; the lawyer had the diamond in one of
his hiding places.  The difficulty was to get him to give it up without
being obliged to resort to unpleasant means.

For this reason I took leave, as soon as I saw he had got over his
little attack, and without suggesting anything as to what the cause
might be.

The servant followed me into the hall to open the door for me.

Having reached the hall, I asked hastily, "Do you know who I am?"

"Yes, sir, you are Inspector Monk," answered the man in surprise, and
somewhat tardily.

"All right, let me then remain here in the hall, but open the door and
then shut it, so that your master can hear it and think I am gone."

The man hesitated a little and looked doubtfully at me.

"Quick!  What I do, I do in the name of the law, but I have no time for
further explanations. Now then!"

He did as I told him and went in again to his master.

Everything happened as I had foreseen.  The servant came out soon
afterward, sent away by his master, and disappeared at a sign from me
into his own room.

I took off my shoes and opened the door stealthily to the lawyer’s room.
As I had expected, he had gone into one of the other rooms, where he
kept his collection.

Without making any noise I followed him.

In the innermost room the old man stood before the open door of one of
his iron safes.  His shaky hands were busy trying to adjust a pair of
spectacles with round glasses to his nose.

I took my time, until he had taken out from a secret drawer an object
which he held close up to his eyes.  The next minute my hand lay on his
shoulder, and immediately after the black tortoise was safe in my
pocket!

I led the old fellow carefully across the room to a chair.  He had never
uttered a word.

He remained seated, gasping for breath with half-shut eyes, and his
withered hands dancing up and down in his lap.

I made him drink a glass of wine, and after a little while he found his
speech again.

"What right have you to sneak in upon me and take my property?  The
diamond is mine—I have honestly bought it—" and he stretched out his
hands, as if to get it back.

"The diamond is stolen property," I said, "and will be delivered by me
into the hands of the authorities.  I am sorry I have been obliged to
play a trick upon you to get it from you; but I understood at once that
you wouldn’t give it up of your own free will."

"I have bought it and paid for it, and it is not stolen property; your
conduct will cost you dear, Mr. Monk."

"No more talk about that, if you please, Mr. Jurgens," I said firmly.
"From whom did you buy the diamond?"

"I bought the diamond from Miss Frick, and she got it from her uncle."

The old man could not say another word, for my hands were round his
throat.  Only for a moment, however.  I remembered myself, and let go my
hold, but remained standing in front of him quivering with rage.

"What is it you dare say about the young lady, about Sigrid, about my—I
mean about Mr. Frick’s niece?  Mr. Frick himself has given information
of the robbery, and now you say that Miss Frick has sold the diamond to
you; that is the same as saying that she has stolen it.  You can thank
your stars that you are an old man, otherwise—"

The old man stretched out his hand, as if to ring; but no bell was near.
His eyes wandered wildly.

Then it stood clearly before me that I had nearly frightened the life
out of him, and I at once became calmer.

"Be sensible, sir, and take the matter quietly.  It was imprudent of you
to buy the diamond, but we all know, of course, that you did it in good
faith. But it will be necessary that you give a truthful account of how
you got it, and from whom.  If not, it may become a disagreeable
business for you. That you can well understand."

"I only understand that I have bought the diamond from a young lady and
given five thousand kroners for it.  She did not ask for more," said the
old man, trembling, while his eyes began to look brighter.  "When you
say it was not Miss Frick, perhaps, after all, it was not she; but then
it must have been the other young girl in the house.  I believe they
call her Evelina.  Yes, it was she, if you absolutely must know it."

"Well, that is far more probable, sir," I said encouragingly, for I felt
a little ashamed of my violent conduct to the old man, "and you must
excuse me if I was a little rough with you."

I rang myself for the servant, and with him as a witness, I gave the
lawyer a receipt for the tortoise, which I took with me, and left.

                     *      *      *      *      *

The superintendent was not a little surprised when I put the diamond
before him on the table; and when I had given my report, he
congratulated me at the result, and complimented me on the manner in
which I had conducted the affair.

I found it unnecessary to mention Jurgens’s wretched attempt to prove
that it was Miss Frick who had sold him the diamond.

The superintendent did not lay much stress on the part Jurgens had
played in the matter.

"The man must soon be pronounced incapable of managing his own affairs,
and be placed under proper control.  He will, of course, be declared
irresponsible by the court, if the public prosecutor should proceed
against him."

In this I fully concurred.  Then I gave the superintendent a detailed
account of my visit to Mrs. Reierson, and of how the actor’s name was
mentioned, and of my hurried meeting with the latter.

"Do I understand you aright," said the superintendent, "that you have a
suspicion that the pretty maid and the fascinating actor are intimate?"

"Yes, I have."

"And you go still farther; in this, you seek the reason why the unhappy
girl has committed the robbery, isn’t that so?"

"Yes, indeed, I cannot deny that something of the sort was in my mind;
only it seemed strange to me that a girl like Evelina, who not only has
the best of characters from Miss Frick, as a good and honest girl, but
who, after all I have been able to ascertain, also possesses a certain
amount of character and love of truth, can have fallen in love with such
a man, or given herself into his power!"

"Why, my dear Monk!" broke in the superintendent, with a smile, which
could have made those who did not know him take him for a heartless
cynic, "do you, after so many years in the police service, still nourish
illusions with regard to the fair sex?"

"I have, of course, in my day seen a good deal of—"

"Yes, you have seen a good deal; which shows you that the greatest Don
Juan is also the greatest liar, and that a man with a smooth face, who
can flatter and deceive, has greater power over the fair sex than any
honest man whatsoever.  Isn’t that so?"

I was accustomed to my superior’s humorous exaggerations, and could not
deny that my experiences as a detective in the police force to a
considerable degree went in the same direction.

"Well," continued the superintendent, "when you have been in the police
force for a generation, you will certainly not have much respect for
women’s ideals.  But let us return to this affair about the diamond.
You shall at once have a warrant, and then you had better arrest the
young girl as soon as possible.  The sooner it’s done the greater the
prospect of getting back the money which she got from the lawyer."

"Pardon me, sir," I answered, "Evelina is most probably at this moment
at Mr. Frick’s house, and will remain there over night.  It would be
very unpleasant for the Fricks if the arrest took place in the house.
Have you any objection to my waiting until to-morrow?  Then she will
probably visit her mother, and we can avail ourselves of the opportunity
and make a domiciliary visit at the same time.  If Mrs. Reierson is an
accomplice, we might succeed in taking her by surprise, and in getting
her to give up the money.  I have an idea that it will be easier to take
her than the daughter by surprise."

"But are you not afraid that one of them can make use of the time to get
the money out of the way, if it has not already been taken to some place
or other?"

"On the contrary, I believe it will be of advantage to leave them in
peace to-night.  I shall have them watched by some of my best men
meanwhile."

"And the actor?"

"He is already in good hands.  Detective Kolstad has orders to follow
him like a shadow, and arrest him if he should attempt to leave the
town."

"Well, that will do!  Do as you think right, Monk.  I begin to think you
are the better detective of us two.  If you should meet old Frick
to-night, give him my compliments, and tell him I shall keep his diamond
until the case has been settled in court; but in the meantime it will be
in good hands."

It was not with a light heart, however, that I walked along the Drammen
Road, after having given the constable the necessary orders.  I knew
that the news I had to bring would greatly distress both old Frick and
Sigrid.

After having proceeded some distance, it struck me that after all I had
nothing to do at Villa Ballarat that night.  It ought not to be known in
the house that the diamond had been found—not so long as Evelina was
there.  Old Frick and Sigrid would naturally ask me if I had any news,
and I should be obliged to tell a lie and keep back from them what had
happened.

Although I was very anxious to see Sigrid, yet I was sensible enough to
turn back, and, after having had some supper at a café, I went home to
my lodgings.

I telephoned to the police office, and asked if there was any news from
the constables who had to watch the three persons before mentioned.

No, there was no news.  Evelina was quite safe inside Villa Ballarat,
and the house was being watched.

I lighted a cigar, and gave myself up to thinking over the day’s events.
I had been successful in everything, and yet I felt far from satisfied;
it must have been due to a certain feeling of pity for poor Evelina, and
the concern it would occasion her master and mistress.  Or—?

If you believe in presentiment, or that great misfortunes—without our
being able to divine the cause—throw their shadows before, you will have
to attribute it to such a cause.  But enough,—I felt unwell and
depressed, and when I had lain down it was a long time before I went to
sleep.



                             *CHAPTER VIII*

                              *THE ARREST*


"The actor has vanished, sir!"

These were the words with which I was awakened at seven o’clock next
morning.

Before the bed stood my trusty constable, Kolstad, with a face
considerably longer than usual.

"What do you say?  Have you let him slip through your fingers?  That was
a—"

"Yes; but who could possibly imagine that—"

"All right, go into the next room a bit and get yourself a cup of
coffee; I shall make haste and get dressed, and then we can talk it
over."

It was not long before I had finished dressing and was ready to continue
the discussion.

My landlady had in the meanwhile tried to serve the worthy officer with
a good breakfast, but disappointment had evidently taken away his
appetite; it was impossible to get him to continue his meal after my
appearance.

"It is just as well that I give my report at once, sir, and tell you how
shamefully I have been made a fool of.  Yes; that such a pomatummed
lady-killer should befool me—I who have been in the service of the
police these twenty-seven years!"

"Don’t trouble yourself about that, Kolstad," I said reassuringly, for
the man was so excited that he apparently had some difficulty in
explaining himself; "we shall soon get hold of him, if we want him.  I
am sure it is not your fault that he has disappeared temporarily: have
another cup of coffee, and let us hear about it."

"No, thanks, no more coffee; but here is the report, sir.  You remember
that it was yesterday, at dinner time, that I got orders to watch the
actor and arrest him if he should try and leave the town?  Well, it was
not difficult to keep my eye on him for the first few hours, for he was
sitting in a room on the first floor of the Tivoli Restaurant, together
with eight or ten other actors and actresses.  They had the best dinner
one could get and drank so much champagne that it was simply disgusting
to see all the empty bottles being taken out—I know the head waiter
there, you see, and went and spoke to him while the carousing was going
on.  Frederiksen paid for it all."

"You are sure it was he who paid?"

"Yes, that I am; the head waiter showed me the bill: it was 142 kroners.
By that I knew, sir, that you, as usual, were on the right track.  If
only I had not been so stupid, well—you must excuse me, sir, if I am a
little excited—it is the first time it has ever happened to me
that—but—"

"Now, now, let us come to the point, my good Kolstad," I answered, with
assumed severity, as the best means of "bringing him to."

It helped, for he pulled himself together, and from then on he did not
attempt to diverge from the dry style of an ordinary report.

"Well, sir, I telephoned to the station for assistance, and got one of
our new men.  We took it in turn to keep watch while the actors were
eating and drinking.  After dinner they had coffee and all kinds of
liquors, and went on like that until six o’clock in the evening.  Then
Frederiksen went home to No. 44 Russelök Street, and there he remained
till nine o’clock.  He must have slept during that time, for he looked
quite sober when he came out again, and he had been not a little muddled
when he got home after the carousal at the Tivoli. He had a large
hand-bag in his hand, but no other luggage.  He wore the same clothes he
had had on in the afternoon."

"Was the hand-bag new?"

"Yes, it was brand new; and now you shall hear how sly the fellow was.

"He went up to the cab-stand at the corner of Drammen Road, and there he
took a carriage.  I and the young officer took another carriage and
drove after him.  Whether he knew that any one was following him or not,
I can’t say.  We were obliged to keep a little behind, so that he should
not be suspicious.

"He drove to the Victoria Hotel, and there we saw him go in at the door,
and the carriage drive away empty.  Soon after I went in and asked the
porter what was the name of the gentleman who had just entered the
hotel, and what room he had obtained. The porter, who was a new man and
not one of my acquaintances, answered that the servant was just then
upstairs with the visitor’s book, but that the new arrival had taken
room No. 47.  He had not said anything about how long he intended to
remain, or anything of significance.

"Now, for the time being, I felt entirely sure of my bird.  After
telling him who I was, I got the porter to promise to telephone to me if
the stranger should be getting ready to leave; then I set my young
officer to watch outside, and went home to take a nap.

"It was just about half-past ten when the porter rang up and said that
the gentleman in No. 47 had just ordered a carriage, as he was going by
the midnight train to Sweden.  As you know, sir, the train goes eleven
five, so I had only just time to dress and go to the station; but I was,
of course, sure that the young officer would follow the actor so that we
could arrest him together.  I got to the station seven minutes before
eleven; but there was no sign of the actor or the officer.

"A minute before the train started, I went for the last time through all
the carriages and had a railway official with me.  There was not a sign
of the actor! In the first class there sat only one personage.  It was
Mr. D——, the ambassador from Paris, said the official.  I went in and
looked at him—yes, quite right, it was he."

"Do you know the ambassador, then?"

"Yes, of course, I know him by sight; it is he who is so like Peer Gynt
on the stage,—not, perhaps, in the beginning of the piece, but in the
third and fourth acts."

I couldn’t help laughing.  "There, you see, Kolstad! it’s not an easy
thing to have to do with an actor.  It was just by playing his old rôle
of Peer Gynt in the fourth act that the actor made a fool of you!"

"Yes, of course it was; but who the devil could imagine—"

"No, you are right there; but how was it that your assistant didn’t
follow him from the hotel?"

"Well, it happened like this.  The constable saw a servant beckoning for
a carriage from the stand.  He went up to the servant and asked who was
going away.  It was Mr. D——, the ambassador, he answered, and when the
constable saw a fine old gentleman with grey whiskers step into the
carriage he suspected nothing, but continued to keep his watch outside,
as before."

"That is all right, so far; but I can’t understand that the man’s
hand-bag did not betray him. Both you and your assistant knew it well.
Besides, it seems to me that the porter must have been astonished to see
a young, smooth-shaven man come into the hotel, and then leave it as a
’fine old gentleman,’ as you say, ’with grey whiskers.’"

"Yes; but I have not yet told you all, sir.  You shall hear how clever
the rascal was.  Inside the large hand-bag which he carried, he had
another suit, a false beard, and all his apparatus, besides a smaller
travelling bag to carry in the hand.  It was in the carriage that he
transformed himself into an ambassador; the hood was well pulled down,
as it rained a little.  The hotel porter had, therefore, only seen him
as the elderly gentleman the whole time; and we, who only saw him step
out of the carriage with his back toward us, several hundreds of yards
off, could have no idea that he had thus changed his appearance.  It did
not enter into our minds to ask the porter about the appearance of the
man whom we had followed the whole time."

"But the large hand-bag?"

"Well, he let that remain in the carriage, and gave the coachman orders
to take it back to his lodgings early to-day.  I got hold of the driver
at last, and heard how all had happened.  He himself thought it was a
little strange that the man should disguise himself during the drive;
but as far as I could understand, he was a little tipsy on this
occasion, and as he got two kroners as a tip he presumed it was no
business of his.  Now you know all, sir, and can see how cleverly I was
taken in by that vagabond of an actor; only—"

I did not let him dilate further upon this subject, but sent him away.
I had heard enough.

It will also be sufficient for this narrative, if I explain that the
actor, on the same day, after telegraphic instructions from us, was
arrested at Gothenburg, where he arrived next morning, and that he, when
arrested, was only in possession of a very small sum of money.  He was
taken back to Christiania, and it was soon ascertained that he had been
or was engaged to Evelina.  Also, that the day before his journey he had
been very flush with his money; but it was impossible to prove any
complicity in the theft, and he was set free in a few days, with the
warning not to leave town, as he would have to appear as witness at the
trial of Evelina Reierson.

                     *      *      *      *      *

In the meantime I must return to my account of what happened later on
that day, which began with the melancholy apparition of the disappointed
constable beside my bed.

As I have already stated, it was my intention to have Evelina arrested
that day.  There was no longer anything to wait for after the actor had
disappeared; and when I, in addition, received information from one of
my men that she had left Villa Ballarat to visit her mother, I decided
to avail myself of the opportunity.  As before mentioned, I wished to
prevent the arrest taking place at old Frick’s.

I have no liking for this sort of work, but this time I decided to take
it in hand myself, for several reasons.

It appeared to me, beyond all doubt, that Evelina’s motive for the
robbery must be sought for in her relations to the actor.  In any case,
I felt she deserved some pity, and I wished therefore to make the arrest
myself in order that it might be effected as gently and considerately as
possible.

It occurred to me to be quite likely that the mother might be an
accomplice, or in any case be cognizant of the crime and the place where
Jurgens’s money was to be found.  To get hold of this was now my chief
aim, and I hoped to take the woman by surprise and get her to reveal it.

It was not later than nine o’clock in the morning when I drove to
Russelök Street with a policeman in plain clothes.

We told the driver to wait outside the gate; the constable remained
behind in the yard, and I went up alone.

I stopped outside Mrs. Reierson’s door and listened.  I heard voices
within, but very indistinctly. As I opened the door, I saw the first
room was empty; then I heard the voices still more plainly in the inner
room, although the door was shut.

"You should have done as your mother told you, you unlucky child; then
we should have been able to take things as easy as any one—but—"

It was Mrs. Reierson’s shrill angry voice.  It was interrupted by a
sound of suppressed sobbing, and then by a youthful voice rendered
hoarse by passion and sorrow.  I stepped nearer to the door and
listened, although the task before me was most repulsive to my feelings.

"Don’t talk to me any more, mother! you know that what you wanted me to
do I could never have done, never in this world! and what I already have
done cannot now be undone—I have nothing more to do now but to put an
end to myself—if only I had the strength to—"

Here the unhappy girl’s words were interrupted by loud sobbing, and some
angry exclamations from her mother.

Soon after the door was opened, and the ugly old woman appeared in the
doorway, while her daughter could be seen lying across the bed with her
head buried in the pillows.

I have seldom felt so uncomfortable.

The mother’s shrill imprecations against the police in general, and me
in particular, passed me by unheeded.  I only saw the young girl’s
deadly pale face, as she lifted it to me, and the hopeless expression of
her eyes.

She was gifted, however, with a strength of mind which few persons
possess.  She got up hurriedly, stroked back her hair from her face, and
was the first to speak.

Her voice was low, but wonderfully calm; every drop of blood seemed to
have fled from her lips.

"You have come to arrest me, Mr. Monk, because I have stolen Mr. Frick’s
diamond.  Well, I have been expecting it both yesterday and to-day.
Yesterday I should probably have denied it, but to-day I don’t!  I have
stolen the diamond—let me be taken to prison and be sentenced as soon as
possible, only let it be done quickly."

Her mother had become purple in the face on hearing what her daughter
said, and tried several times to interrupt her; but there was a dignity
in her daughter’s words and bearing which stayed her.

"Don’t lose courage, Evelina," I said, and I hope my voice was
sympathetic.  "There are probably extenuating circumstances which may
make your guilt less than it seems.  If you are only frank, and confess
all, your punishment will be less,—perhaps even—"

The young girl interrupted me.  "Thank you very much for your kindness,
Mr. Monk.  You are a good man; but I don’t wish my punishment to be
lessened.  I have told you I have stolen the diamond.  More than that I
shall not say, even if you put me on the rack."

"For God’s sake don’t talk like that, Evelina."

Her mother could now control herself no longer, and began:—

"What are you saying, Evelina, you stupid fool! Just fancy!—That one
should hear one’s own flesh and blood tell lies about herself and get
herself convicted!  You can see very well, sir, that she is out of her
senses, and doesn’t know what she is saying."

"You had better look after yourself, Mrs. Reierson, and help us to get a
full confession and the money back.  The diamond has been sold for five
thousand kroners, and perhaps you have got the money yourself."

I shan’t weary you by recalling the scene which followed; suffice it to
say that the mother raged like a fury, and denied knowing anything
whatever about the diamond or the money.  The young girl did not utter a
single word from this moment until she was taken to the police station.
I let her mother accompany us in the carriage, to which she seemed to
have no objection.

Before the examining magistrate the same scene was gone through.  The
young girl confessed she was guilty of the robbery, but refused to give
any further explanation.  She only asked that there might be no delay in
passing sentence upon her. The mother declared her daughter was mad, and
denied all knowledge of the matter.

At the domiciliary visit to Mrs. Reierson’s, no trace could be found of
the money.

I informed Mr. Frick, by letter, that the diamond was found, and of
Evelina’s arrest and confession; at the same time, I asked him for the
present not to mention the matter to Mr. Howell, who was expected back
about this time.

Mr. Jurgens was declared by his relations incapable of looking after his
affairs, and the authorities decided to drop the proceedings against him
for having bought stolen goods.

It was discovered that the money for the diamond had been paid in
thousand kroner notes.  Next day a person had changed five of these in
one of the banks in the town.  But the cashier had not taken any
particular notice of the appearance of the person.  He declared it might
possibly be Frederiksen the actor, but he could not say anything
definitely about it.

No trace of the remaining notes could be discovered.



                              *CHAPTER IX*

                            *THE PHOTOGRAPH*


The next morning, as I was sitting in my office, writing a note to Mr.
Howell—it was on the day he was expected back—to request the favour of
an interview with him, the constable came in with a visiting card.  A
gentleman desired to speak to me. I read:—

[Illustration: Visiting card of Mr. Reginald Howell]

"Ask him to step in."

Mr. Howell entered and shook my hand in his free-and-easy English
manner.

"Glad to see you."

"Welcome back again."

He had quickly mastered Norwegian, and we always talked together in that
language.

"I was just writing a note to you, Mr. Howell, to request the favour of
an interview with you; you have forestalled me, perhaps for the same
purpose."

"I—suppose so," answered the Englishman, hesitating. "I should like to
say a few words to you in confidence, with regard to the robbery at Mr.
Frick’s."

He looked round as if to assure himself that we were alone.

"You can speak freely: we are alone; I was wishing to ask you a few
questions about this same matter.  You were, of course, in the house on
the day, right up to seven o’clock."

"Quite right; but tell me, Mr. Monk, shall I be called as a witness in
this case?"

"When the case comes before the court, there is every probability that
you will be called to give testimony."

"But am I bound to appear and answer?"

"Yes, you are!  I hope you have no objection."

There was something in the young man’s manner which caused me to pay the
greatest attention to his words and behaviour.

"But can the matter come before the court before you have found the
thief?"

"As soon as we have got sufficient evidence against some person, that
person will be charged and brought before the court."

"But before this happens it is not necessary for me to reply to any
questions about the affair?"

"When the police, who are conducting the inquiries into the matter, ask
you, you should certainly answer.  To refuse to answer would be
considered somewhat strange, and might even lead to unpleasantnesses for
you."

"Many thanks for your information," answered Mr. Howell; he had got up
and was walking restlessly up and down the room.  "It is not pleasant
for a man to contribute to the ruin of some wretched creature, but
perhaps it is impossible to avoid it."

From the words which bad been exchanged between us, I felt sure the
young Englishman did not know of Evelina’s arrest.  As you remember, I
had requested old Frick and Sigrid not to speak to him about the affair.
I could also see that my answers to the questions he put to me had not
told him anything which he did not know before; he was not altogether so
ignorant about the matter.  He must have put these questions to me as a
feint, for some purpose or another.  I was almost certain that he knew
something of importance to the discovery of the robbery.

I decided at once to inform him of Evelina’s arrest but not of her
confession.  It would, indeed, be strange if he did not betray how far
the knowledge he had of the matter did not point in the same direction.

"Besides," I continued, "you need not be afraid that your evidence will
be of such fatal significance. We have already got the diamond back, and
the guilty party arrested.  It is Evelina, Miss Frick’s maid.
Circumstantial evidence is so strong that a confession is unnecessary."

"Well," said Mr. Howell, quietly, "I can just as well tell you now what
I know, as later on.  It was on the afternoon when the diamond
disappeared, after the old crank, Jurgens, had dined at Villa Ballarat.
Soon after we had had some coffee in the museum I went up to my room and
loaded some cartridges, for I was going to Osterdal for some shooting,
you know."

"Yes; I know what took place in the house that afternoon.  Please go
on."

"Well, when I was ready with the cartridges, I went down into the garden
to smoke a cigar.  The other people had gone to their rooms, I suppose,
for I did not see any of them.  As I went by the museum it seemed to me
that the door wasn’t shut, and when I touched it it slid right up.  You
know it is a large iron door, but so well balanced and oiled that it
moves quite noiselessly.  Well, I glanced into the museum, and there I
saw a lady standing before the cupboard on the opposite side of the
room, with her back toward me.  With one hand she held up the iron lid,
and in the other she had an article which she seemed to have just taken
from the case, and which she was examining.  It did not occur to me to
think it was anybody but Miss Frick; I thought I recognized the light
spring jacket with dark braid."

I looked up suddenly and met Mr. Howell’s gaze; his eyes did not impress
me pleasantly, and it appeared to me that their expression was dark and
cunning.

"Continue," I said hurriedly, and, I believe, rather roughly.

"Well, you know, Mr. Monk, that I am very fond of photography, and that
I always go about with a little snap-shot camera.  You know it, of
course,—we have often had fun at Villa Ballarat photographing people
when they least expected it!"

I nodded.

"I had the apparatus with me, and so it struck me that I would
photograph Miss Frick as she stood there, without her knowing it.  I
went hurriedly and softly inside the door, took the photograph, and went
out again without her seeing me.  She stood quite still, as if she was
wondering what she should do with what she had in her hand."

The Englishman paused, as if to give me an opportunity to speak.  But as
I did not even look up, but went on drawing figures on the paper before
me, with as careless an expression as possible, he continued:—

"Later in the afternoon I took a carriage outside and drove to the
station.  On the way I took some negatives to the photographer, amongst
them the picture of which I have just spoken, as there were some of them
that I wanted to get developed by the time I got back.  On my return
from Osterdal I heard that the diamond had disappeared, and then I
remembered the photograph.  I naturally said nothing about it to Mr.
Frick or his niece, but I called for the prints.  Would you like to see
the one from the museum?"

This was the second time that Sigrid’s name had been mentioned in
connection with the disappearance of the diamond.  It awoke the most
unpleasant feelings in me; but as I felt Mr. Howell’s searching look
resting upon me, I assumed perfect calmness, and took what he handed me.

It was quite a small photograph on thin prepared paper, and placed
between two glass plates held together by an india-rubber band.

I took it with me to the window to examine it closely.

It was, as before said, a small picture, only two or three inches high
and very narrow, but exceedingly clear.

A young girl stood before the well-known cupboard in old Frick’s museum.
Her position was exactly as Mr. Howell had described it.

The one hand held the lid open, the other held an article which was
hidden by the shoulder; the head and neck were bent somewhat forward,
examining the object.

It was a tall, fine figure in a light walking costume, trimmed with dark
braid.

There was not much to be seen of the room.  One saw part of the cupboard
on both sides, a chair, the arm of another chair, but nothing else.
Over the cupboard, at about the same height as the young girl, was a
shelf.  Part of this shelf, on which could be seen several small curios,
was included in the picture.

One glance was enough for me to be certain who the young girl was.

I turned round to Mr. Howell.  "It is Evelina, as I suspected."

"Yes, of course; I am only astonished that I could have taken her for
Miss Frick when first I saw her.  It must have been the costume which
deceived me.  Miss Frick has worn it all the spring."

"Yes, I know," I answered curtly.  It was irritating always to have to
return to Sigrid in this manner.

"Very well; on this occasion I also played the detective, Mr. Monk.  I
have privately found out from the other servants that Miss Frick had,
that same afternoon, given the costume to Evelina.  You see everything
is quite clear in that respect."

"Will you allow the police to keep the photograph, Mr. Howell, and is
there anything else you can tell us about the matter?"  My manner was,
perhaps, somewhat abrupt.

"Wait a little," he answered; "I hope you understand now the reason for
the question which I put to you at the beginning of our conversation?"

"Yes; you would rather not appear as a witness, as far as I could
understand."

"Exactly; and, as you yourself say, the person in question is already
arrested, and the circumstantial evidence is so strong that my evidence
cannot be of much importance one way or other.  This being the case,
would it not be possible for me to avoid appearing in court? and could
you not consider what I have said as confidential, so that I might take
the photograph and destroy it? Otherwise I shall appear very much in the
light of a spy or a thief-catcher, Mr. Monk.  Also, it would be most
objectionable to me to have to testify against the unfortunate woman."

"Your sentiments do you all honour, Mr. Howell; but I cannot, all the
same, prevent your being called as a witness.  Neither can I, of course,
keep your photograph against your will; but I must mention it in my
report, and most earnestly request you to preserve it.  What you have
said to me in my office, with respect to a matter concerning which
inquiries are now being conducted, I cannot, in my capacity as a police
official, consider confidential."

"Well, Mr. Monk, I see it cannot be helped, and I ought, perhaps, to
have denied all knowledge of the matter.  But you can, at any rate, bear
evidence that I appear most reluctantly; I would like both the unhappy
girl and the Frick family to understand this."

"I can only confirm what you yourself say, Mr. Howell," I answered
stiffly, for I began to be more and more convinced that the man was
playing a part.  "You will leave the photograph then in the hands of the
police?" I continued..

"Yes, I may just as well leave it; I cannot see that I can do any one
any good by not doing so. You police deal with people in your own
way,—we speak and do just as you want us to do."

"Allow me one question, Mr. Howell,"—I had again taken the photograph in
my hand,—"this photograph is very small; it looks as though it had been
clipped at the sides.  Was the photograph originally broader, and did it
include nothing more of the room?"

"Yes, it was originally broader, but only the middle part was clear and
distinct.  Either side of it was, for some reason or another, very
foggy, so I cut it off to get the picture to fit between the two glass
plates.  I had, besides, no interest for anything but what you see
there.  The young girl is, of course, the principal object of
interest,"—he sighed gently.

"What time could it have been when you took the photograph?"

"Well, that question I cannot answer very exactly. I thought, of course,
at the time, that I should never be asked about it, but—let me see—it
can’t have been far off six o’clock, for it was not long after that I
left for the railway station, and that was somewhere about seven."

                     *      *      *      *      *

The next minute Mr. Howell was gone, and I sat beside my desk in deep
thought.

The Englishman’s visit had made an unpleasant impression upon me, and I
could not make out what his purpose in making it really was.

The man wished to come forward as a witness—that I felt sure about.  All
the rest was mere dissimulation; but for what purpose?  What could be
his motives?

It puzzled me at the time, and it puzzles me still!

                     *      *      *      *      *

During the whole of this long story, Monk had remained calm.  He had
been speaking evenly and dispassionately, as if he had been reading a
police report.  But now he changed in expression and manner.  He began
to pace up and down the floor with contracted eyebrows, and I saw that
the perspiration stood on his brow.

                     *      *      *      *      *

You look astonished at me (he continued). After what you have heard,
does the whole affair seem clear to you?  It will, perhaps, seem still
clearer when you have heard me for a few minutes longer: and you will
not be able to understand how it could become an enigma!  Yes, an enigma
which I would give half or the whole of my life to solve!—But wait a
bit!  When you have heard the rest of my story, you will join with me in
asking, "Who stole old Frick’s diamond?"  And you will likewise
understand that upon that question my fate has depended from that day to
this.  But I shan’t proceed any longer in that strain; I will continue
as impartially as I can.  On that will, perhaps, depend how far you or
anybody else can help me—alone I can do nothing.  I, who was so proud of
my own acuteness and ability to penetrate where others failed to see a
way!—No, don’t interrupt me.  We shall discuss it afterward, when I have
finished my story.

I had got as far as Evelina’s arrest and that Mr. Howell had called on
me with the photograph. So far, everything was in order.  The accused
had confessed, and the stolen article had been brought to light.  But it
had been impossible to discover where the five thousand kroners had
disappeared.

Evelina refused positively to say a word beyond the confession, and as
we were not able to prove any complicity against the actor and Mrs.
Reierson, they were discharged.

The state of affairs in Mr. Frick’s house was anything but satisfactory.
Sigrid had been suffering from nervous headaches ever since a few days
before the robbery.  Old Frick was in a rage, and spent the whole day in
swearing at the duplicity and untrustworthiness of mankind.  I believe,
however, that sympathy for the wretched Evelina was the true cause of
his anger.  The young girl’s arrest had, in fact, brought gloom and
sadness into the house.  Einar Frick was still absent on business.  Mr.
Howell decided to go to Spitzbergen as soon as the case against Evelina
was settled.

It vexed me that I could not trace the money, or obtain any proof of the
actor’s complicity; and I took it for granted that the sly fellow had
succeeded in getting it safely put away in Gothenburg, before he was
arrested.

But although we had a clever officer there, and got all possible
assistance from the Swedish police, we did not succeed in obtaining any
proofs, and as long as Evelina would not speak we could proceed no
further in the affair.

Thus matters stood, and I think that all the actors in this drama were
only wishing that it would come to an end as soon as possible.

Suddenly one day I received the most astonishing news—Evelina had
demanded to be brought before the examining magistrate, and had
retracted before him her confession in full.  She had declared that when
she confessed she had not been herself, and that she was really innocent
and knew nothing of the robbery.  She would not say anything further,
and refused to answer any questions.

Of course, those who knew the ins and the outs of the case only shook
their heads at this unexpected development, and began to doubt her
reason. The doctors, however, who examined her, could not discover any
signs of a deranged mind.

The proofs were otherwise very strong against her; and as there was no
prospect of any new evidence in the matter, the hearing of the case was
fixed for the first sitting of the court.

I visited the young girl in prison and found her taciturn, depressed,
and pale; but she gave me the impression of being entirely normal.  I
tried earnestly, and in a friendly way, to prevail upon her to adhere to
her confession and to give a full explanation; but she only smiled
sadly, and begged to be left alone.  What could have caused her to
retract her confession?  The more I pondered over this, the more sure I
became that this step must be due to some outside influence; that she
must have received some message or communication from without.  She did
not wish to receive any visitors in her cell.  Only the mother had
obtained permission to visit her once, and then the conversation had
been quite short, and had taken place in the presence of a constable.

The mother had, on that occasion, until interrupted by the constable,
tried to continue her reproaches against her daughter, because she had
confessed something which she had not done.

But her daughter had contemptuously turned away from her, and soon after
the mother was taken away without the robbery having been further
discussed between them.

I felt sure that these reproaches from the mother, which the daughter
seemed to treat with disgust and contempt, had had no effect, and that
the explanation must be sought for elsewhere.

By closely examining the jailer, he at last told me that he one day
surprised the young girl while she had a small piece of paper in her
hand, but that she immediately turned away and had probably put the
paper in her mouth and swallowed it.  The man declared, however, that it
all happened so quickly that he could hardly be quite certain about the
matter, and Evelina, as usual when I spoke to her about it, took refuge
in an obstinate silence.

My suspicion that Evelina acted on other people’s advice was now
strengthened.  How far this circumstance can have any influence upon
your opinion, when you have heard me out, I don’t know.  To me, all is
dark; but I shall try to tell my story in such a way, that nothing of
what I know shall be hidden from you.

Fortunately, I have got on so far with it that I can now let others
speak for me—at least for a while.  The next great event in my story is
the trial of Evelina, which took place about three weeks after her
arrest.

The proceedings are to be found fully reported in all the papers at that
time, and you will get a more complete idea of the case by reading one
of these reports, than if I give you a verbal account.

                     *      *      *      *      *

Monk opened a drawer in his writing-table, and took out a locked
portfolio, from which he produced a large grey envelope.  The envelope
proved to contain several cuttings from the _Morning News_, which Monk
laid before me.

"But," I objected hurriedly, "I would much rather hear the account from
your own lips. Otherwise I should miss your impressions, which, to me,
have much more value than a newspaper reporter’s idiotic and irrelevant
remarks.  And even if he does report the bare facts, such a report
cannot possibly be as satisfactory as your own account."

"There is a difference in newspaper reporters," was Monk’s dry reply.
"As you will see, the _Morning News_ man has not only reported carefully
and judiciously, but his remarks are impartial, and show good sense and
power of observation."

"That’s all very well; but I depend, however, more upon your power of
observation."

"In this case, you cannot do so.  If a detective ever has made a great
fiasco, I did so on that occasion, as you yourself will learn.  Don’t
you understand that I am afraid that you are beginning to look at the
events with my eyes?  I am afraid to lead you into the labyrinth in
which I, myself, am lost, and which I probably have myself built up!"

It struck me that Monk’s reasoning was correct, and I made no further
comment.

"Only one question," I said; "have you any objection to Clara hearing
your story?"

"No; on the contrary, it was my intention to ask you to tell her
everything, when we are finished. I hope for help from her; she is an
unusually intelligent woman, and besides, women have, in many respects,
much finer feelings,—instinct, or what you call it,—than we men."

"Then I have a proposal to make to you.  We shall not continue to-night,
but I shall tell Clara all that you have now told me.  Clara and I will
read the newspaper account together, and then we will see you again."

"I gladly accept your proposal," said Monk, a little hesitatingly; "but
if I could be allowed, I would ask you both to read the account in the
paper in my presence.  Of course I have read it, not once, but ten
times, to myself, without any result; but now it has struck me that the
whole affair might appear to me in a new light, if I heard some one else
read an exact account of what happened on that fateful day."

"Yes, with pleasure," I exclaimed.  "I promise to do this, both on my
own and on Clara’s behalf."

Monk shook me by the hand, and asked if Clara and I would come up to him
one day, when I had told her all I had heard from him.

"You shall see us here to-morrow," I answered quickly, and so we parted
that evening or, more correctly, that night.  It was half-past one when
I reached my home.

I had had a busy day, and the intense interest with which I had listened
to Monk’s account had tired me.  I only longed to get to sleep as
quickly as possible.  But then happened what a more experienced man than
I might perhaps have foreseen.

When I got home Clara was sitting up waiting for me.  So I explained to
her, as casually as possible, that next day she should hear Monk’s
remarkable story,—a story, the continuation of which we were to read
together; well—what further happened I cannot remember, but I am sure it
was past four that night before I got to sleep, and then Clara had heard
everything that the reader knows of Monk’s history.

"Pshaw! it isn’t difficult to understand how the story will end!  The
horrid Englishman naturally managed things so that Miss Frick should be
suspected of having stolen her uncle’s diamond; and—"

These were the last words I heard Clara utter as sleep overcame me.
"Yes, if there must be a villain in the drama, Clara must be right in
thinking that the Englishman must have played that rôle," I thought with
my last efforts, before my senses were entirely bedimmed.

                     *      *      *      *      *

The next day we all three were sitting in Monk’s study.

"We mustn’t lose any time," said Clara, as she smartly cleared aside the
tea and cakes to which Monk’s kindly landlady had treated us.
"Remember, Mr. Monk, that we now change rôles.  It is you who seek
advice and help, while Frederick and I represent the detective firm.
Well! we had got so far that the case was on for trial,—my husband has
told me everything,—and here are the newspaper accounts of the case,
which you want Frederick to read aloud, isn’t that so?  So set to work,
Frederick!"



                               *PART II*



                              *CHAPTER I*

                              *THE TRIAL*


In the _Morning News_ of June 2, 189-, appeared the following, under the
heading:—


                      THE BLACK TORTOISE IN COURT

The court to-day was filled to overflowing, and a large number were
unable to gain admittance.

The disappearance of old Frick’s diamond—we hope our respected
fellow-citizen will excuse our using the familiar name by which he is so
well known—has been eagerly discussed and commented upon by the
newspapers for the last few weeks.

The case did not promise to become a particularly difficult or
complicated one, although it was known that the accused had retracted
her confession; but the stolen article was of such an unusual kind, and
of such great value, and the persons who were to appear in the case were
so well-known, that it was only to be expected that the proceedings
would attract as many people as the court would hold.  One could hardly
imagine anything more sadly interesting than the pale and pretty girl
who stood charged before the court with the theft of the now famous
diamond.  By her side sat her counsel, a young advocate who is already
known in legal circles as a most able and successful counsel for the
defence.

Among the witnesses was the well-known figure of old Frick, and by his
side his niece, Miss Frick. Not far off stood Mr. Monk, acting chief of
the detective department, already a well-known and popular figure in our
town, as much appreciated for his acuteness and boldness as for his
tactful conduct when in the execution of his duty as a police official.

The dark distinguished-looking man beside Miss Frick was the Englishman,
Mr. Howell, who, as everybody knows, has been compelled by a strange
coincidence to appear as a witness in the case, and who, it is said,
will give the most remarkable evidence ever heard in our courts of
justice.  The Englishman did not appear particularly edified with his
task.  From what I hear, it seems he has tried to escape giving
evidence.  It is anything but a pleasant duty to give evidence against a
young woman when one feels that it will mean conviction for her.

                     *      *      *      *      *

The presiding judge of the court took his seat, the case for the
prosecution was stated, and the usual questions asked of the accused as
to her name, age, etc.

She did not look up, but answered in a fairly audible voice.  Then she
was asked whether she was guilty or not guilty.

All waited anxiously for the answer.

Her voice was this time so low that the judge had to lean toward her and
request her to speak more loudly.

The silence was so intense that the answer, although scarcely more than
a whisper, was heard all over the court: "Not guilty."

Had the public expected anything else?  Perhaps—perhaps not....

The public prosecutor then began his charge:—

The crime with which the accused was charged was not of a particularly
complicated nature with regard to the question as to how, or by whom,
the theft had been committed.  But it was a different matter with regard
to the motives and the circumstances under which it had taken place, and
he was willing to admit that in this respect little or no light had been
thrown upon the matter.  An uncommon article, an object of great value,
in other words, the black diamond, which now lay on the judge’s table,
was stolen on May 10 from Mr. Frick, who was now present in court as a
witness.  The police were at once informed of the theft, and they
succeeded not only in recovering the stolen object, but also in
providing such information that the public prosecutor was able to prove
fully before the court, both how the theft had been perpetrated, by
whom, and how the thief had disposed of the stolen object.

He would call witnesses to prove at what time the theft had been
committed, that the accused at that time had been at least half an hour
in the house, that she during that time had the opportunity of going
into the room where the diamond was kept, and at a time when the
cupboard was not locked.  He could prove by a means which seldom fell to
the lot of the authorities, that the accused, in the time during which
the theft had taken place, had been into the room and even opened the
case where the diamond was kept.  He could next prove that the accused
at an earlier hour of the same day had had an opportunity of hearing an
assurance from a rich man that he would pay a large sum of money to
become possessed of the diamond.  She thus knew beforehand that she
could sell the stolen article without any difficulty.

Finally, he could prove that the diamond was actually sold by the
accused on the same day to the man just mentioned.

Thus far the chain of evidence was as complete as any could be, and in
order to substantiate the guilt of the accused it was of no consequence
that she had retracted her confession, and had hitherto refused to give
any explanation whatsoever; every experienced judge would know exactly
what value to put on circumstantial evidence of such a character. It was
just as good, if not surer, than a confession.

What still had to be explained was, what had become of the money which
the accused had received for the diamond and what could be the
particular motives for this criminal act.

Some information might possibly be obtained during the examination of
the witnesses; but if this was not the case, the prosecutor would be
obliged to maintain that the punishment be in accordance with the utmost
rigour of the Law.  The public prosecutor would, therefore, conclude
with the request to the judge that he ask the accused most earnestly to
give a full explanation.  If she still persisted in her refusal to give
this explanation, he must warn her that it would be with detriment to
her cause, and possibly to that of justice.

It was so quiet in the court, when the public prosecutor sat down, that
one could hear a pin drop.

The judge then turned and addressed the young girl.  In calm,
considerate words he called her attention to the fact that she had the
right, in any case, to do as she pleased—either to speak or to keep
silent; and that no pressure would be brought to bear upon her, least of
all to make her confess. This much, however, he felt it his duty to tell
her, that she was certainly not acting in her own interests by
maintaining silence.  If she were innocent, which he still hoped, then
her own explanations would only serve to show it: and if she were
guilty, they would enable the court to consider her case in the most
lenient manner possible.

Every eye in the room was turned on the unhappy girl, but her face
remained as impassive as that of a statue; her lips were pressed
together, and her eyes cast down.

Her counsel leaned toward her and whispered something in her ear.  She
did not raise her eyes; her only answer was a slight inclination of the
head.

"I must request," said the young advocate, "that my client’s wish to
make no further statements shall be respected.  She has decided to say
nothing; and I know that her resolution in this respect is not to be
shaken.  Whether this decision is wise or no, and whether or no it is
taken by my advice, is not for the moment a subject for discussion.  It
is enough to say that whatever appeals were directed toward her to state
what she knows of the case would, however well meant, only prolong the
proceedings."

No sooner had the counsel sat down than a murmur went around the court,
giving expression to nearly all the different feelings which move the
human heart.  Some feared that the accused would damage her own cause,
others admired her firmness, while many expressed astonishment at her
audacity. As all the papers have already published detailed accounts of
what happened at Villa Ballarat upon the day that the robbery was
committed, it will be sufficient to mention that the evidence of all the
witnesses only served to corroborate what the public already knew,
thanks to the unremitting zeal of the newspaper reporters.

It also seemed as if the counsel for the defence understood that it
would be hopeless to upset that part of the evidence.

He certainly tried to make it appear possible that some strange person
might have crept into the garden of the villa between five and half-past
seven in the afternoon; but this attempt was stranded, upon the
gardener’s definite assurance that the gate had been locked the whole
time, and on the evidence of the chief of the detective police with
regard to the examination he had made of the railing and the ground
round the garden.

The counsel for the defence was more fortunate in his attempt to obtain
evidence of good character and behaviour for the accused.  Mr. Frick and
his niece were especially unremitting in their praise of the young girl.

Miss Frick caused much excitement when, in answer to a question by the
counsel for the defence, she answered:—

"Evelina has for several years had all my trinkets and jewels in her
custody.  Thanks to my uncle’s generosity, I have more of those kinds of
things than I need, and it would have been very easy for her to take any
one of many of these, without fear of discovery.  Her mere assertion
that something had been lost would have been enough.... No! she is
honesty itself!  She could never steal my uncle’s diamond, of that I am
convinced, however much appearances are against her!..."

There was great sensation in court when Mr. Howell was called as
witness.  Every one, of course, knew of the strange circumstances under
which he had been involved in the matter.

He began by asking the judge if he might be excused from appearing as
witness.  The judge asked him to give his reasons for this request. Mr.
Howell explained that he was a private gentleman and not a police spy.
It was quite by an accident he had come to play a rôle in this affair—a
rôle which did not please him.  He had already given his explanation to
the police, and had hoped that would have been sufficient.

The judge answered that none of these explanations could exempt him from
appearing as witness.  One could not help respecting his feelings; but
since no lawful reasons could be given, they must request him to give
what evidence he could.

Mr. Howell, who spoke the Norwegian language fluently, submitted to the
inevitable, and gave a short and clear account of how he came to
photograph the accused, so to speak, "in flagrante."

The papers have already published an account of this scene, so that I
shall not repeat his evidence "_in extenso_."  I shall only reproduce
the following of the examination.

_Public prosecutor_: "What did you do with the film after you had taken
the photograph?"

_Witness_: "I went to my room with it, took the films out of the
apparatus, and took them to the photographer’s to be developed.  I
called at the photographer’s on my way to the railway station."

_Public prosecutor_: "You maintain, then, that it is the accused whom
you have photographed, but without your being aware of it?  Are you sure
it is the accused?"

_Witness_: "Any one who has seen the accused a few times will see that
she is the person in the photograph."

_Public prosecutor_ (taking an object from the judge’s table): "Is this
the photograph in question, which you, yourself, delivered up to the
police?"

_Witness_ (taking the photograph in his hand and carefully examining
it): "Yes, it is."

The public prosecutor declared himself satisfied, and the counsel for
the defence began: "Now, are you quite sure that when you photographed
the accused you did not believe her to be some one else—for instance,
Miss Frick?"

_Witness_: "Yes, I believe I have already explained myself sufficiently
clearly on that point."

_Counsel for the defence_: "I cannot understand how you can now be so
sure that the picture represents my client, while you believed quite
otherwise when you had the living person before you.  What is the reason
for this?"

_Witness_: "I have before explained I was in a great hurry at the time.
I wanted to get away before the person should turn round—it was all done
in fun on my part.  Besides, I thought I recognized Miss Frick’s
jacket,—she had been in the habit of wearing a jacket trimmed with
braid.  Later, I got to hear that Miss Frick that same day had given it
to her maid as a present, and on looking at the photo I became convinced
it was the maid."

_Counsel for the defence_: "Good!  Are you also quite sure that the
picture you now see here is the same as that you took on that occasion?
The film has been several days out of your keeping, and in other hands."

The young Englishman seemed rather impatient at this examination.  "If
the film has not been tampered with at the photographer’s," he exclaimed
quickly, "it is the picture of what I saw in the museum.  Whether it has
been tampered with or not, I see here before me the same person, in the
same position, and in the same room—others must now decide which is most
probable."

He took up the picture again, examined it carefully, and handed it back
to the public prosecutor.

"I have only wanted to show," said the counsel for the defence, quietly,
"that you yourself at one time have doubted the identity of the person
who stands in front of Miss Frick’s cupboard in the photograph.  I have
now only two other questions to ask you.

"What was the time when you took the photograph?"

_Witness_: "About six."

_Counsel for the defence_: "Are you not able to give the time more
exactly?  Might it not just as well have been half-past six?"

_Witness_: "I cannot give the exact time.  I didn’t attach much
importance to the incident. When I had taken the photograph I went up to
my room, and was busy there for some time before I left.  It was then
about seven, so from that I conclude that the photograph was taken about
six."

_Counsel_: "Might it not have been a little over half-past six?"

_Witness_: "No!  I can be quite certain it was not over half-past six."

_Counsel_: "Could you see that the person held the diamond in her hand?
In the photograph the object which she holds is hidden by her shoulder."

_Witness_: "When first I caught sight of her, she held the diamond
somewhat higher, so that I was able to see it; afterward she lowered her
arm, and while in that position she was photographed."

The counsel for the defence seemed to be satisfied.

Then Mr. Rodin, the photographer, was called as witness.

The well-known artist, whose pleasant manners have obtained for him so
many customers and friends, bowed to the judge and court, and, the usual
formalities having been observed, he answered quickly and decisively the
questions which the public prosecutor put to him.

Public prosecutor: "Do you recognize this photograph?  Has it been in
your hands before?"

_Witness_: "Yes; this film, together with some others, was given me to
develop, by Mr. Howell, on the evening of the 10th of May, about seven
or half-past."

Public prosecutor: "And are you sure that this photograph is an exact
reproduction of the negative?"

_Witness_ (smiling): "The photograph cannot lie, sir!  Even if I had
wished it, I could not have produced anything else than what was to be
seen in front of the apparatus at the moment it was opened to take the
photograph."

The public prosecutor finished his examination, and the counsel for the
defence began his.

_Counsel_: "Can you be certain that this photograph is the same one
which you developed several weeks ago for Mr. Howell?  It has not been
in your possession since?"

_Witness_: "Yes, sir, I am quite sure; you can see for yourself that my
initials are written on the back;—look, O.R. 10/5, H. 10.  The first are
my initials, then follows the date it was received, then the initial of
Mr. Howell’s name, from whom I received it, and lastly, the number in
the series. The roll which he brought me that day consisted of ten
films; this was number ten, the last photograph he had taken."

_Counsel_: "You cannot, however, be quite certain that this is the same
picture which Mr. Howell brought you.  During the work, some of your
people might have mixed Mr. Howell’s pictures together with other
people’s.  Such a thing might happen, might it not?"

_Witness_: "No, sir; I develop all Mr. Howell’s films with my own hands.
He is very particular about them.  As you will see, this picture is very
clear and distinct, and I flatter myself that all the pictures which
have passed through my hands are the same,—that is to say, when such an
expert snap-shot taker as Mr. Howell has taken them."

_Counsel_: "Is there any reason, Mr. Rodin, why one could not photograph
first the room, then a person, and then transfer that person to the
first picture, so that a person appears in the room on the picture?"

The public had remained unusually silent and attentive during the whole
of the proceedings; at this question the silence became still more
intense. Every one understood the counsel’s object in putting this
question—that each one of his questions was an attempt to clutch at a
last straw in the interest of his client; but all understood also that
each straw slipped out of his hand, one by one.  The same happened to
this question.  The witness answered, without any hesitation, "It is
possible, sir; but every experienced photographer would tell you that
this has not been attempted in the present case."

The young advocate looked disappointed.  He made a motion like one who
washes his hands, and allowed the witness to step down.

The photograph was sent round among the members of the jury and the
court, while the next witness was being called.  It was the young chief
of the detective police, Charles Monk.  The public hailed his appearance
with murmurs of approbation which must be just as much attributed to his
winning appearance as to the reputation he had already gained as a
police officer.  His evidence was calm, clear, and concise, as befits a
policeman, and all listened with breathless attention to the account of
how the young chief had taken upon himself the rôle of detective, and
had not rested until Mr. Frick’s diamond was in the hands of the police.
When Mr. Monk, in his evidence, came to speak of his visit to Jurgens,
and of the stratagem he had used to deceive the old man, many of the
spectators began to clap their hands and shout, Bravo!  The judge’s
authority for the moment had to be called into account to produce
silence.

Although there was scarcely a person in the court who did not wish that
the young girl in the dock should be acquitted, so paradoxical is human
nature that the same people applauded the great skill with which the net
had been drawn around her.

The last hope for the prisoner seemed to vanish at the evidence of the
detective.

The counsel for the defence had not many questions to ask.  He tried to
show that both on her arrest and upon Mr. Monk’s first visit to her
mother’s home, she had been in an irresponsible condition, and for that
purpose he had no doubt summoned her mother and her lover, the actor, to
give evidence. Although their evidence was a voluntary matter, owing to
the relation in which they stood to the accused, they both declared
themselves willing to tell what they knew.  Their evidence did not,
however, throw any new light on the matter.  Both were convinced of the
young girl’s innocence, and asked the court not to believe her, even if
she should again confess.  She had always been of a nervous temperament,
and often a little strange.

Neither the loquacious woman with the ruddy complexion, nor the
pomatummed Don Juan, whose shady character is so well known in the town,
made a good impression; and the counsel for the defence concluded their
examination as soon as possible.  The general impression was that he,
for the defence, had originally intended to prove that his client was
irresponsible, but that during the proceedings before the court he had
abandoned this line of defence.

                     *      *      *      *      *

I had proceeded thus far in my reading when I stopped and looked at my
friends.  Clara was listening with her mouth open, and did not seem as
if she would tolerate any interruption.  Monk sat silently in an
armchair in the darkest corner of the room.

"Shall I continue?" I asked, "or will you allow me to ask a question?"

"I would rather you read the newspaper account to the end, first," was
Monk’s answer; and I heard by the tone of his voice that he was
unusually agitated.

"Yes, go on reading, and let us hear what happens," said Clara, trying
to look over my shoulder.

I read as follows:—

... The examination of the witnesses for the defence was concluded, and
the public prosecutor rose.  His speech was short and pithy.

He thought all must agree that the charge he had preferred against the
accused had been fully proved by the evidence given in court.

With regard to the responsibility of the accused, he also believed that
this had been asserted beyond all doubt; the opinion of the medical men
was definite, and the evidence by which the defence had attempted to
weaken these were but of little value. He did not believe for a moment
the counsel for the defence would seriously question the responsibility
of the accused.  That the feeling of having committed a great crime, and
of having to answer for it, might have caused the conduct of the accused
to appear strange, and to some degree self-contradictory, was only
natural.

That the accused had retracted her first confession, and later on had
refused to give any explanation whatever in the court, might perhaps
surprise some, but it could in no way weaken the clear and distinct
proofs of her guilt.  It was perhaps to be regretted that the police had
not succeeded in ascertaining where the money for the stolen object had
disappeared to, as this circumstance prevented any possible accomplices
being brought to justice.  It was likewise to be regretted that motives
for the crime could not be sufficiently explained; but the accused was
no doubt herself principally to be blamed for this, through her
persistent silence.  None of these circumstances ought, however, to have
any influence upon the answer of the jury to the question, "Guilty or
not guilty?"

The counsel for the accused rose to begin his speech for the defence.
He seemed at first to be somewhat uncertain, but he soon decided upon
the line he would take.

He did not want to conceal, he said, that he was in a very difficult
position, and the one who made his position most difficult of all was
his client.

All had heard that the young girl who was charged with having stolen the
diamond, which was now lying upon the table in court, had at first
confessed, but had afterward retracted her confession, and otherwise
refused any information whatsoever in the matter.  But what every one,
in all probability, did not know, was that she had maintained the same
silence with regard to him, her counsel and adviser.  He had not
succeeded in getting a single word from her lips, except the assurance
that she would say nothing, would answer no questions, and would give no
information.  "I thought it only right," continued the young advocate,
"to make this open declaration, in order that my inability to give
information which might be to the advantage of my client, should not be
misunderstood.  You must not believe that I have received any
information from her, and that I have not found it to her advantage to
make use of it.

"It appears to me, and I hope the gentlemen of the jury will agree with
me, that the unfortunate girl, paralyzed by the terrible blow of
suspicion which has fallen upon her, and feeling how terribly hopeless
her case is, through the strong appearances against her at almost every
step, has found it expedient to draw within herself and keep silence,
just as the hunted deer withdraws to its cave, even if death awaits it
there.  No one has a right to construe my client’s silence as a
confession, or the result of a consciousness of guilt.

"The diamond was stolen in the interval between five and half-past seven
in the afternoon.  Of these two hours and a half my client spent only
half an hour’s time within the walls of Villa Ballarat, while many
persons were present there during the whole time.  It has been proved,
says the public prosecutor, that no stranger could have gained admission
there during that time; but can we be so sure of that?  An agile man can
easily climb over the railings—no one will deny that.  The police
examined the ground round about, and no trace was found, may be said in
objection.  But we know that expert criminals are often very dexterous
in destroying all traces after them; and no one will maintain that the
police are so infallible that a trace cannot have escaped them.

"One need not be gifted with great acuteness in order to guess what is
passing through the minds of the gentlemen of the jury at this moment:
what can be the use of all this?  The main proofs against the accused
still remain unassailable.  But let us look into some of these proofs
which, according to the opinion of the public prosecutor, are so strong
that they are even more reliable than a confession. The old man who
bought the diamond has himself said that he bought it of the young girl
whom I defend, and there can be no doubt about this, although he has not
appeared in court as witness; we have the evidence of the head of the
detective department with regard to it, and that must be sufficient.
But—here is also a ’but,’ just as there is a ’but’ in all the so-called
infallible circumstantial evidence against the accused—is, then, the
word of an imbecile man in his second childhood to be fully depended
upon—a man who immediately afterward is declared incapable of managing
his own affairs; who is so infatuated with his mania that he, whose
honesty is otherwise not for a moment to be doubted after a long life of
spotless integrity, buys a diamond which he knows must have been stolen?
Shall the evidence of such a man decide the fate of a human being?  And
besides, is this man’s evidence quite impartial?  We have heard, from
the account of the chief of the detectives, that the old man tried to
conceal the fact that he was in possession of the diamond; in his
imbecility he is, however, conscious that he has done something wrong,
and is, to a certain degree, cunning, and on his guard.  What, then, is
more probable than that he, who sees that he has been discovered, is
wily enough to give an explanation which makes it probable that a
servant would have the disposal of the diamond at her command?  Who
dares maintain that the old man spoke the truth on this occasion?  It
is, however, just as much, if not more probable, that he resorted to
telling the first untruth that came into his head!

"And what has become of the five thousand kroners, which he says he has
paid for the diamond?

"It has not been possible to ascertain, says my opponent; but on the
whole he seems to lay little stress upon the circumstance.

"It seems to me that this circumstance—that no trace whatever has been
discovered of the money—is quite an important one.  We know that the
most able detectives have been engaged in tracing it—even the fiancé of
my client was arrested in Copenhagen in consequence thereof; both she
and her mother have been watched most closely—but still no clue. Are not
these circumstances important?  Is there not more than one proof that
the police have been on the wrong track, that the thief is not the one
who has been arrested, and that they have been investigating in a
direction where there was nothing to look for?

"But it may be said that the principal proof still remains unshaken; the
accused has, by a remarkable coincidence, been photographed in the act
of committing the theft, that cannot be denied or explained away; yes—I
venture to maintain there is no proof of the guilt of the accused in
this.  I admit that most probably it is the young girl who has been
photographed on this film.  The hat and the jacket which she wears were
given to her by Miss Frick about six o’clock in the afternoon of the
same day: this we know from the evidence; likewise that she wore the
same clothes when she called on her mother between half-past six and
seven.  I admit there is a probability which approaches to certainty,
that it is my client who, in the photograph here, is standing in front
of Mr. Frick’s cupboard in the so-called museum.  One can also see that
she is holding some object in her hand.  Yes, I even go so far as to
admit that she is most likely looking at the black diamond.  But from
this moment my conclusions cease to coincide with those of the public
prosecutor.

"Why should it follow that she also took the diamond with her?

"What if my client, on passing through the garden and seeing the door
open to the museum, goes inside, and out of curiosity has a look at the
black diamond about which there has been so much talk among the people
of the house while she was serving the coffee in the afternoon, and then
puts it back again and passes out through the garden, on her way to her
mother?  What if she, later on, after hearing of the robbery,
understands that she has been imprudent, and then does a still more
imprudent thing by trying to conceal her visit to the museum, and
finally, when almost crushed under the shame and fear of being arrested,
acts as she afterward did?

"I ask any person of common sense, is there anything more improbable
than that this young girl, who has always shown the most exemplary
honesty, should commit this daring theft without any special motive?
This young girl, who was not in need, and who in her master’s house had
found a home almost as if she were one of the family—this young girl who
knew that if she were in want of money for any special object her young
mistress would not deny her it, even if it were a considerable sum!

"Is this more probable than that her presence in the museum was due to
an accidental circumstance of no significance, and that the theft has
afterward been committed by some one else?"

The counsel for the defence was here interrupted in a manner which was
no doubt flattering to him; from the audience came the sound of more
than one hearty _Bravo!_ while a hoarse voice, full of sincere
conviction, exclaimed, "Ah! he’s about right there."

Silence was soon obtained, and the counsel concluded his speech thus:
"It is an old experience of the court that the chain of evidence which
seems strongest, and in which the links seem to fit exactly into each
other, is in reality most often the weakest. I will ask the jury to bear
this in mind.  And I believe that I have at least shown you that in the
chain of the public prosecutor which seemed to fit so beautifully there
is not one link which can be called faultless."

The counsel resumed his seat, and the public made an attempt to applaud
him, but the judge quickly imposed silence, and the public prosecutor
rose to reply.

He had followed the speech of the counsel for the defence with interest
and approval, the latter no doubt arising from the same cause which had
dictated the applause of the public—that is to say, admiration of the
counsel’s ability to make something out of nothing, or of an
inconvenient subject.  At this point the public prosecutor nodded in a
friendly way across to the counsel for the defence, who smiled in
return.

He found, on the whole, his chain of evidence so little weakened by what
the defence had brought forward, that he did not think it necessary to
go through it again.  He had such great confidence in the intelligence
of the jury that he would take it for granted they would have remarked,
without his pointing it out to them, that where he had produced facts,
or probabilities which almost amounted to facts, the counsel for the
defence had only set up possibilities, and even improbable
possibilities—with this, he would leave the matter in the hands of the
jury.

The counsel for the defence then proceeded to make his final speech.

The public prosecutor had himself admitted that there were possibilities
that the theft had not been committed in the way the prosecution had
asserted. It would be the duty of the jury to decide as to the
probability or improbability of the possibilities. He would conclude by
saying that when to these possibilities was added the stainless life of
his client, and the good character she bore from all quarters—no one had
brought forward anything to the contrary—as well as the circumstance
that no one had been able to show any particular motive for the young
girl’s suddenly committing a criminal act; and finally, that it had not
been possible, in spite of the most energetic exertions of the police,
to show that his client had been in possession of, or disposed of the
money which was to have been the reward of the crime of which she was
accused—then he did not doubt that the conscientious jury would not
pronounce the fateful "Yes" to the question "Guilty?"

The counsel sat down, but no applause was heard this time from the
public.  All seemed to be convinced that his exertions had been in vain.

The time approached when the jurymen had to retire.  All seemed to feel
that their deliberations would be short, and the result an unanimous
verdict of guilty.

Of what avail could be the eloquence or the cunning subterfuges of a
counsel, against proofs and facts as clear as those which the public
prosecutor had produced?

The judge asked the accused if she had anything to say.  Her counsel
leaned toward her, and appeared to be urging something earnestly upon
her; but she only shook her head, as before, and the young man sat down
with an air of resignation.



                              *CHAPTER II*

                      *THE PHOTOGRAPH CANNOT LIE*


The public prosecutor had begun to read the questions which were to be
laid before the jury, when he was interrupted by a noise from the back
of the court.  Many of the public rose from their seats in order to see
better.

What could be the matter?

A messenger of the court had forced his way through the crowd to the
counsel for the defence, and handed him a letter, saying a few words,
which those nearest to him could hear.  The messenger said, "You must
read it at once, sir; it has to do with the case now before the court."

The counsel tore open the envelope, read, passed his hand across his
forehead, and read the letter again.

He crushed the paper in his hand, stepped quickly forward, and as the
public prosecutor had not resumed his reading, he addressed himself to
the judge, saying, "I must ask that an hour’s postponement be granted to
my client; in that time I believe I can bring before you, gentlemen,
evidence which will throw a new light upon the case."

                     *      *      *      *      *

An hour passed by, perhaps a little more, and the court was again
sitting.  The room was, if possible, even more crowded than before; no
one had been willing to give up his seat, and there were new arrivals.

The silence which reigned showed the excitement that possessed
everybody.

The counsel for the defence asked to be allowed to examine the chief of
the detective staff once more.

The young officer stepped forward, and took his place in the witness box
in his usual quiet manner, although astonishment was plainly written on
his face.

_The counsel_: "You have already told us that when you paid a visit to
Mr. Jurgens and so skilfully got him to give up the diamond, he then
told you that he had bought it from the accused, Evelina Reierson.
Isn’t that so?"

"Yes."

_Counsel_: "Did he seem to be in any doubt as to whom he had bought the
diamond from?"

The detective blushed at this question, but his answer was as
unconstrained and calm as before.

"No, he gave me the impression that he was sure it was the accused."

_Counsel_: "Did he name any one else who could possibly have sold him
the diamond?"

"At first he began, with some confused nonsense, to excuse himself, but
it was of no significance to the case."

_Counsel_: "I must ask you, however, to give the name or the names which
Mr. Jurgens mentioned in connection with the diamond."

One could see that the officer was angry at the importunate examination,
and that he had to exert himself to the utmost, in order to answer
calmly.

"Mr. Jurgens seemed at first to be somewhat frightened at the
consequences of his transaction, and in order to excuse himself, he
began with some nonsense about having bought the diamond from—from a
person who is nearly related to Mr. Frick, and who was supposed to have
received the diamond from him as a present."

_Counsel_: "What did you do to get him to speak the truth?"

The detective hesitated a moment, and grew redder still in the face.  At
last he answered firmly and distinctly:—

"He first mentioned Miss Frick as having sold him the diamond, and that
she had said she had got it as a present from her uncle.  This was as
much as to say that the young lady, for whom I have—have the greatest
respect, is a thief and a liar, as information of the robbery was given
to the police by her uncle; and I then forgot myself for the moment and
seized hold of the old man—but of course only for a moment!"

_Counsel_: "It was after you let go of him that he gave the name of
Evelina Reierson?"

"Yes; but as you will understand—"

_Counsel_ (interrupting): "I have for the present nothing further to ask
you."

"Well, I never heard such—" exclaimed a powerful voice.  It was old
Frick who rose, red as a turkey cock in the face; the judge himself had
to call him to order.

Mr. Monk still stood in the same place, biting his lips.  Miss Frick
stared at him with an astonished expression.  As yet she suspected
nothing.

But the attention of the public was soon engrossed by a new witness whom
the counsel for the defence brought forward.  He was a tall,
squarely-built man, with broad round shoulders, and black hair and
beard; he was dressed in shiny, threadbare black clothes.

The examination was begun by the judge.  The witness seemed quite
unwilling to be examined.

"Your name?"

"Abraham Abrahamson."

"How old are you?"

"Fifty-three years old."

"What is your calling?"

"Pawnbroker and commission agent."

"Where do you live?"

"Bishop Street, No. 75."

"Do you know anything about the case which is before the jury to-day?"

"I have read about it in the papers."

"Have you had anything to do with any of the persons in the case, or
have you in any other way obtained any information which may be of
importance in this matter?"

"I know several persons here by sight"—the witness looked round the
court with his sharp, dark eyes—"but I did not believe I could give any
information which could be of use to the court, until I was sent for
half an hour ago."

The judge concluded, and left the further examination to the counsel for
the defence.

_Counsel_: "Do you know this young girl, Evelina Reierson?"

_Witness_: "She has been once or twice to my place, on business."

_Counsel_: "On what sort of business?"

_Witness_ (unwillingly): "To pawn a few small things."

_Counsel_: "What sort of small things?"

_Witness_: "As far as I can remember, they were some rings and a pair of
earrings."

Suddenly Miss Frick’s voice was heard—not loud, but clear and distinct:—

"The rings and earrings she got from me.  They were presents, and she
could do as she liked with them."

The judge enjoined the young lady in a friendly but decided tone not to
speak until she was questioned, and the young lady sat down, blushing.

_Counsel_: "Had you a visit from the young girl on the 10th of May
last?"

_Witness_: "Yes, most likely."

_Counsel_: "Most likely?  Be good enough to explain yourself more
clearly; or does it mean that you remember nothing about that day?"

_Witness_: "Well, yes, I can well enough explain what I mean.  I have
nothing to hide—the law and the police I have always esteemed and
respected"—here an ironical voice was heard exclaiming:—

"You are about right there, Abrahamson!" which was followed by loud
laughter.

The witness, with a scornful glance at the corner where the interruption
came from, continued: "No, I have nothing to hide.  On the 10th of May a
lady came to me and asked if I would lend her some money on some
jewelry,—a lot of rings, brooches, and bracelets with precious stones in
them.  She had a veil over her face; but I thought I recognized the
young girl whom you call Evelina Reierson."

_Counsel_: "Was it not, then, the young girl who sits here?"

_Witness_: "I don’t know."

_Counsel_: "Don’t know?"

_Witness_: "If you will give me time, you shall hear.  I said at once
that I could not accept such valuable things, unless she could show she
was authorized to pawn them.  Then she answered that if we came to an
understanding, she would prove she was the owner of the jewelry.  I
looked at the things, and said that if everything was all right, I could
lend her two thousand kroners on them.  She knew that the things were
worth five thousand kroners, she said, and if I could give her four
thousand, I could buy them of her.  I must have time to examine them, I
explained.  But she would not let me.  She seemed on the point of
crying, and asked me for God’s sake to give her four thousand kroners
immediately; she would willingly give me a few more valuable things
later on, or pay me something back.  Then I thought the matter looked
rather suspicious, and did not like to have anything more to do with
her, so she left."

_Counsel_: "Didn’t you try to find out if it was the girl, Evelina
Reierson, or not?"

_Witness_ (after hesitating awhile before answering): "Yes, I did; for I
am a law-abiding man, who likes to give the police a helping hand."

_Counsel_: "Yes, we know that, but what did you do?"

_Witness_: "I sent a boy in my office after her.  He sat up behind the
carriage—for she had come in a hired carriage which waited outside—and
he saw her go into a house in Drammen Road."

_Counsel_: "Was it Mr. Frick’s house?"

_Witness_: "Yes, so the boy said."

_Counsel_: "But you took it as a proof that it really was Evelina
Reierson?"

_Witness_: "Yes, but I am not sure that it was she, after all, for she
had a veil on, and then I don’t know Evelina Reierson so very well."

_Counsel_: "How was the lady dressed?"

_Witness_: "She had on a green hat with a feather in it, and a jacket
braided in front and at the back."

_Counsel_: "Do you remember this distinctly?"

_Witness_: "Yes, I am not so unaccustomed to using my eyes, and I
thought it best to notice her dress, in case the police should ask me
about the matter, later on."

_Counsel_: "What time was it when the lady visited you?"

_Witness_: "It must have been twenty minutes past five when she came,
for she was with me a quarter of an hour, and when she left it was
twenty-five minutes to six."

_Counsel_: "Was it also with regard to the possibility of inquiries from
the police that you looked at the clock when the lady left you?"

_Witness_: "Yes."

_Counsel_: "You are quite certain about the time, then?"

_Witness_: "Yes, quite certain; I conferred with my clerk."

The case had proceeded thus far when a great commotion in the court
caused the examination to be interrupted.  It is superfluous to remark
that the two last witnesses had made a deep impression upon all who were
present at the hearing of this remarkable case, and the excitement among
the audience rose as the examination progressed.

The pawnbroker’s last words fell in complete silence, but only to be
followed by murmurings and noise.

The alarm threatened to throw the court into confusion, when suddenly a
cry was heard, "She is fainting!"  A large crowd had gathered round Miss
Frick, and old Frick was seen in the middle of it, gesticulating wildly,
while the young girl leant back on the seat with a handkerchief over her
face. Mr. Monk forced his way up to her, and with the consent of the
judge conducted her out of the court.

The judge then proceeded to call for order. It did not take him long,
for the threat to have the court cleared had immediate effect.  No one
wished to lose the last act of the drama.

The counsel for the defence did not wish to examine the pawnbroker any
further.  The public prosecutor had, in the meantime, nothing to comment
upon, and the young counsel was called upon to proceed.

He began with thanking the court for giving him the postponement he had
asked for,—a postponement which had enabled him not only to obtain
valuable evidence, but which had also given him positive means of
proving his client’s innocence of the robbery of the diamond.  He
continued:—

"If any one believes that my purpose in calling the witness Abrahamson,
and in putting new questions to the chief of the detective force, was to
throw the guilt of the robbery upon another, he is mistaken. It is
certainly unavoidable that at the same time my client’s innocence is
brought to light, so at the same time the attention is led into another
direction, and the ministers of justice have perhaps already found a new
object in their search after the guilty person. But that is a matter
which does not concern me. It only goes to prove that the young girl
whose defence has been intrusted to me is innocent—that the
circumstantial evidence which appeared so strong against her, on the
contrary speaks in her favour when seen in the right light.

"The object of my last examination of the chief detective and the
witness Abrahamson was only to show that mistakes can be made, and in
this case have been made with regard to the identity of the accused.
Mr. Jurgens said at first it was another person who had sold the diamond
to him, and it was only after the chief detective had treated the old
man in, let us call it, a less polite manner, that he mentioned the name
of the accused.  The witness Abrahamson believed he received a visit
from the accused on the same day the diamond was stolen.  It appeared,
however, that the lady whom he supposed was his client was dressed in
clothes which she only became possessed of later in the day.  We have
Miss Frick’s sworn evidence to the effect that she herself wore the
braided costume between five and six o’clock, and only made a present of
these clothes to the accused at about six o’clock.

"It is, as I have already said, not my object to accuse any other
person, and I will give up the inquiry as to whether it was Miss Frick
herself who visited the pawnbroker that day; my object is only to show
that if Mr. Jurgens has mistaken another woman for my client, Evelina
Reierson, it is not at any rate the first time that day that she was the
object of a mistaken identity.

"What I have now adduced ought in itself to be sufficient to change the
opinion of the jury, if they have hitherto considered my client to be
guilty.  But I am in the fortunate position of being able to prove that
what has hitherto appeared to be the most weighty evidence against my
client is, on the contrary, the clearest proof of her innocence. I refer
here to the circumstance that the witness, Mr. Howell, has declared that
he, at the time when the theft must have been committed, had seen the
accused in front of the cupboard where the diamond was kept, and that he
had even photographed her in this position.  The photograph, in which
all will recognize my client, is now here in court.  When I say that I
can prove that this circumstantial evidence is false, I mean that here,
also, we have a case of mistaken identity, and I can prove that the
person who is photographed here (he took the photograph in his hand) is
not, and cannot be, the accused.  The proof is a simple one, although I
must confess that only an accident has enabled me to produce it.  (The
young counsel here pulled out a large magnifying glass from his pocket,
and handed it, together with the photograph, to the judge.)  Will the
court, and the gentlemen of the jury, and I would ask my colleague, the
public prosecutor, to do the same, look at the photograph through the
magnifying glass?  You will then, gentlemen, see that the person who has
been photographed wears a ring on the ring finger of the left hand.

"Will you next examine the hand of the accused? When she was a little
girl, she broke the ring finger of her left hand in a fall.  The bone
did not set properly, so that there is now a protuberance, which
prevents her from wearing a ring on that finger."

The counsel then raised the young girl’s hand so that all could see it,
to which she quietly submitted, but without lifting her eyes from the
floor and without a change of expression on her waxen face.

"All will be able to convince themselves of the truth of this.  I do not
think that any declaration from a medical authority is necessary.  And,
gentlemen, let the magnifying glass show you yet another thing.  You
will at once see on the left of the lady’s head an object on the shelf
above.  It is the little ivory elephant with the clock, of which mention
has already been made in the course of evidence.  The glass, gentlemen,
will enable you not only to see the clock in the forehead of the
elephant, but also to plainly discover the position of the hands.  What
time do the hands show?  They show the time to be twenty minutes to six.

"Where was my client at that time?  On this point we have full
information from the evidence before us.  She had not returned by this
time.  She only came in through the garden gate at five minutes to six.
And she could not, under any circumstance, be dressed at twenty minutes
to six in the jacket which she only received from Miss Frick at six
o’clock, or shortly afterward!

"Gentlemen, when you have assured yourselves as to the correctness of
what I have told you, you will perhaps remember what the witness, Mr.
Rodin, the able photographer, said in court:—

"’The photograph cannot lie!’

"With the permission of the court, I will postpone any further remarks
till the jury have convinced themselves that everything is as I have
stated."

                     *      *      *      *      *

For the first minute or so neither the judge’s voice nor his hammer was
of any avail; he had to submit to the loud applause which the public
bestowed upon the young counsel, who bowed and smiled like an actor who
is called before the curtain.

                     *      *      *      *      *

But the space of a newspaper is limited, and I must conclude my report
as quickly as possible.

The examination of the photograph took some time, as the judge and the
jury had personally to assure themselves as to what the photograph could
tell.  To all appearances, they seemed to be satisfied with their
investigations under the magnifying glass.

Mr. Rodin and another well-known photographer, both of whom had been
summoned as experts, declared with the greatest confidence that the
evidence of the photograph could be relied upon, and when a medical
witness declared that no ring of the usual dimension could be worn on
the finger of the accused, the affair was settled.

The jury disappeared, only to return at once, and the voice of the
foreman rang out clearly when he pronounced the words "Not guilty" to
the question, "Guilty or not guilty?"

                     *      *      *      *      *

Thus ends the account of the proceedings in one of our modern judicial
dramas.  No one can doubt that we shall hear of an epilogue which will
probably result in a tragedy.

Last night we received information that as soon as the proceedings in
court were over, Miss Sigrid Frick was arrested, and charged with the
theft of her uncle’s diamond.

                     *      *      *      *      *



                             *CHAPTER III*

                             *IN THE DARK*


I put the newspaper cutting on the table, and looked at my listeners.
Clara sat with her chin resting on her folded hands, and her elbows on
the table, staring straight in front of her.  Monk, who had again
retired to the darkest corner of the room, now came forward.  He was
very pale, but his voice was calm as he said:—

"Now I will continue.  You must pardon me, if the rest of my story seems
dry and businesslike, but it is the only way I can persuade myself to
speak of it at all.  There is, however, not much more to tell."

"Yes, but tell me, Monk,—was Sigrid—Miss Frick, I should say—"

It was Clara who spoke.  She got up eagerly and went across to Monk.

"No, excuse me, Mrs. Viller, allow me to continue—in any case, for a
little while.  You have promised to hear me, in order, if possible, to
advise and help me, so you must bear with my whim and not interrupt me
just now.  Later, I will answer anything that you want to ask me."

Well, there are several things that happened in court, which the
reporter did not mention; though I do not think that his report,
together with what I have told you, has left you in the dark with regard
to anything that could be of any help in the clearing up of the mystery
in which the diamond robbery at old Frick’s ended.

There is only one thing which I must mention, since the reporter of the
_Morning News_ did not include it.  When the judge summed up, he took
the opportunity to censure the conduct of the police in the case.  He
referred, he said, to the detective’s conduct with regard to lawyer
Jurgens.  He was certainly convinced that it had never been his
intention to exercise pressure on the old man, but that he had in a
passion laid hands on him, a circumstance which, at the turn events had
taken in the case, appeared in a very unfavourable light.  The detective
had also committed another error in not mentioning the incident when he
gave evidence in court.  The judge felt himself obliged to declare that
this conduct might have aided the condemnation of an innocent person.

Any one can understand in what a painful situation I found myself.  The
worst of it was, that I was obliged to admit that the judge was
right,—painfully right.  Also, the way in which I had conducted the case
had contributed, to a great extent, in throwing a terrible suspicion
upon the one who was the dearest to me in the world.  So far, I did not
as yet foresee the result of the turn which the affair had taken, and
which in itself was so surprising, that one hardly had time to reflect
before the judgment was given.

I went home immediately, and tried to think over my position; but even
then I saw only darkness around me.  So I pulled myself together and
went to the chief superintendent’s office.  He still sat there, although
it was rather late in the evening. He was very serious.

"I have already been informed of what has taken place in court," he
said; "and it pains me greatly to hear what has happened.  My purpose in
speaking of this, is to spare you giving any account of it. Wait!  I
have one thing to tell you before you answer—one thing which you ought
to know as soon as possible.  I have given orders for the arrest of Miss
Frick."

I had expected that some such thing must happen, and I succeeded in
assuming an indifference which was anything but what I felt.

"I knew this must happen, sir," I answered, "and I have no doubt what I
ought to do; I have come to ask you to accept my resignation in the
police service.  My written application I have not as yet made out, but
you shall have it to-morrow. I ask you to consider it as already in your
hands."

The superintendent looked at me in a friendly way, pressed my hand, and
said:—

"I am sorry, more sorry than you can imagine; but I neither can, nor
will, ask you to take back your resignation.  What you have now said was
just what I was prepared to hear from you."

"Have you heard, sir, everything that took place in the court to-day?"

"Yes, I have obtained a verbatim report from the officer who was present
the whole time."

"And what is your opinion?"

"My opinion?  I understand you do not refer any longer to yourself; you
are thinking of the young girl whom I have been obliged to arrest,—well,
what shall I say to you?  If I say that no one but Miss Frick could have
taken the diamond, then you will be angry with me; and if I say the
contrary, you will think I am speaking against my conviction—isn’t that
so?"

He was right, and I remained silent.

As I moved to go, the superintendent took my hand again.

"You have met with a great misfortune, Monk,—a little carelessness on
your part, a bagatelle which, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred,
would have resulted in nothing, has, by force of circumstances, driven
you from a post which you have filled with much energy and ability.  And
if I am not mistaken, a greater misfortune has befallen, or, in any case
is likely to befall, one whom you hold dear.  With regard to the first,
you are a man of energy, and it is hardly necessary to ask you not to
lose courage; you have done nothing wrong, and the world is wide and
generally repays one for one’s labour.  As for the latter, I have also
some advice.  Wait patiently!  I read plainly in your face what you
intend doing—you will use all your strength and energy in trying to
prove this lady’s innocence, against whom everything now seems to tell,
and it is far from my intention to dissuade you in this—perhaps you will
succeed.  This much, experience has taught me,—that nothing is
impossible.  But should you not succeed—and who can tell?  do not make
the mistake of ruining your life for the sake of a woman—kinder to
yourself and to her to break and have done with, it at once, before it
shall be too late.  Remember, too, that what is, is inevitable, and that
one cannot build a house of bricks which are already crumbled to dust;
break with it, the earlier the better—before it is too late—and do not
attempt to produce the impossible from a thing which has already proved
to be dust.  If I can ever help you, now or later, then come to me
without hesitancy."

These were my superior’s friendly and fatherly words.  In the years
which have passed by I have only spoken with him once since then upon
this matter.

                     *      *      *      *      *

I was at that time twenty-seven years old, and when the next day dawned,
my courage and energy had returned.

The superintendent was right when he had read in my face the
determination to leave no stone unturned, in order to prove the
innocence of my fiancée—for she was still my fiancée.  But I was not to
proceed far in the matter before I discovered that my position at the
time—for I was no longer at the head of a large detective department of
the police—made my work both difficult and unremunerative.  It seemed as
if an inexorable fate had decided that the drama, as it had begun,
should be played out to the end, and that no human intervention would be
tolerated.

"Didn’t you see Sigrid at once?" asks Clara, suddenly.

"No, it was impossible; I’ll tell you just how matters stood: the very
next day all the papers in the town began to speak of the conduct of the
police as it was called.  Some even hinted that I should be prosecuted,
as my concealment of the truth had almost led to an innocent person
being convicted. This, however, soon passed over, as my resignation was
accepted without delay.  But the result was that in many places I was
received with distrust, and that the superintendent, with whom I had
corresponded about the matter, dared on no account to give me permission
to see the young girl who was under arrest."

I have here some notes from my diary, following from that time on; let
me read them to you.  It is not my habit to keep a diary; that kind of
self-confession has never been to my taste, but at that time I did it
from purely professional reasons—in order to have notes to help me in my
work.

Monk pulled out a small thick note-book and began to turn over the
leaves.

"Oh no, don’t," said Clara, at the sight of it; "put away the book.  I
would rather you told it to us instead."

Monk could not help smiling.  "I shall not use the book for long, Mrs.
Viller; but I think it is best to get to the end of the story—the sooner
the better. And it will save me much time if I may be allowed to read a
few pages."  So Clara gave her permission and Monk read:—

"_June_ 23.—Not possible to obtain permission to see Sigrid.—Tried,
therefore, to see old Frick. Ill! couldn’t see me—I don’t believe much
in that illness. In the afternoon went to see Evelina’s counsel, and
asked him about the letter which had been delivered to him in court at
the time when he asked for postponement.  He refused again to give me
any information about the letter or its contents; he was bound to
secrecy, he said.  I think very much hangs on this letter; some one must
have given the lawyer weapons to use, not only in defence of Evelina,
but against Sigrid.  Who can it be?  What can the motive be, and what is
the object?"

I then spoke to the court attendant.  He had received the letter from a
commissionaire, with injunctions to deliver it to the counsel for the
defence, without delay.  I shall try to find the commissionaire, but
that will perhaps take some days—in the meantime, time flies.

_June_ 25.—Now I have spent two days in looking for the commissionaire.
I began with No. 1, and only when I had got up to 87 did I find the
right man.  He had had the letter from a little newspaper boy outside
the grand café.  At last I got hold of the little newspaper boy.  He had
received it from a "gentleman," but whether the gentleman was old or
young, fair or dark, he could not remember—in fact, nothing—and there I
stand!

I tried again to see old Frick.  He said he was not at home, but in the
afternoon he sent me the following letter:—


HONOURED SIR,—I had better at once inform you that I do not consider we
two can any longer have any pleasure in each other’s acquaintance.
Neither Einar nor Sigrid Frick will ever again set foot in my house, and
your name will never be mentioned here.

Your part, Mr. Monk, in the latter month’s events, I am not so sure
about, and I do not intend to trouble myself about it any further.

It is sufficient for me to know that you have assisted in the attempt to
conceal the criminal conduct of my brother’s children.  That there may
be circumstances which render your conduct excusable, I know well
enough; but at any rate, I do not see why we should meet or see each
other again.

Yours truly,
       BARTHOLOMEW FRICK.


Monk looked up from his notes.  "Since then I have never spoken to old
Frick."

"But you surely tried to get some explanation from him?"

"I tried, yes; but it was easier said than done. Since that time he has
scarcely spoken with any one, least of all with me.  He is as obstinate
as an old goat.  But let me proceed, for the sooner I get to the end of
these miserable reminiscences the better."

_June_ 28.—I spent the day in keeping my eye on the actor, Evelina, and
her mother—a difficult task now, since I have to manage without my
trusted constable, and exclusively rely upon myself or some wretched
hireling.  Evelina never goes out; she is said to be ill.  Her mother
enjoys greatly the rôle of martyr on her daughter’s behalf.  She is said
to have received a considerable sum of money from old Frick.  The actor
continues his gay life.  He seems to have a little money, but nothing
extraordinary.

I have spoken with Mr. Howell.  He behaves and speaks like a gentleman,
but ... I have no belief in him.  He expressed the greatest regret in
having been mixed up in the case.  Nothing could have persuaded him that
it was not Evelina he had photographed in front of the cupboard with the
diamond in her hand.  (Yes, but what does that help, when the hands of
the clock and the dress tell another story.)  He was going to England in
a few days he said, whatever the police might say or do.  He would not
appear in court; but they had, of course, his evidence from the last
proceedings.

I asked what old Frick had to say against his nephew Einar.  Mr. Howell
said he could not understand; he had in vain tried to bring the old
fellow round.  Mr. Howell apparently speaks very openly; but I have
learned nothing new from him. Does he know nothing? or does he conceal
something?

_July_ 5.—-A whole week gone, and I have done nothing!  The time draws
near when the case will come again before the court, and every one seems
to be of the opinion—though it is dreadful to have to write it down—that
Sigrid will be found guilty.

I have written twice to Einar Frick in Hamburg, but have not received
any reply, although by telegraphing to his hotel, I have found out that
he has been there and has received my letters.

It seems as if I am beating my head against a stone wall.

I have been to the pawnbroker, Abrahamson.  At first I only saw a
humpbacked clerk, who stared at me with a derisive smile, but afterward
Abrahamson himself appeared.  He said he had told everything he knew in
court, and had no time to talk with me.  It is very different now from
the time when I was chief of the detective force!

The day before yesterday an important thing happened.  The actor
Frederiksen left by the night train for Copenhagen.  I couldn’t keep him
back, and the police wouldn’t stop him; and now I suspect that with him
has disappeared one of the few possible chances of getting the robbery
cleared up.

_July_ 6.—All the morning papers announce to-day in big type the news
that Evelina Reierson has committed suicide; she has hanged herself in
her own room in her mother’s house.  All agree that she committed
suicide while insane.  After her arrest she had several times betrayed
signs of insanity, which at last resulted in this deplorable act—so say
the reports.  All the papers speak in regretful terms of the event, and
the _Truthseeker_ and several other papers are untiring in expatiating
upon the responsibilities which the "real culprit" and the police must
take upon themselves for what has happened.

I hardly understand how I, in the long run, am going to hold out,
powerless as I am to do anything.

_July_ 7.—I went to-day to Mrs. Reierson’s to see if I could possibly
find out if the dead girl had left behind her any message or confession.
As I had expected, however, I was received by the worthy dame with a
shower of curses and abuse.  It was impossible to do anything in that
quarter.

Old Frick seems entirely overwhelmed by his niece’s guilt, and does not
allow her name to be mentioned.  He has, however, engaged the best
lawyer in Christiania as her counsel.  Will that be of any use?

_July_ 9.—Only three days before the court meets, and not a step more
forward!  Yes, I have done something.  I have spoken with the lawyer who
will take up Sigrid’s case.  He confided to me that Sigrid had informed
him that it was really she who had visited the pawnbroker that
afternoon, to get him to lend her money on her trinkets; but she refused
to explain how she wanted to use the money.  The lawyer had impressed
upon her that it was absolutely necessary that she should explain
herself on that point, but the young girl was obdurate.

What can this mean?

What use could Sigrid have for four thousand kroners? and why couldn’t
she explain what she wanted them for?  This has given me much food for
reflection.

In the meantime, I asked the lawyer if he had taken note of the fact
that the pawnbroker’s time by the clock had made it impossible that Miss
Frick could be back at Villa Ballarat at the time when the photograph
was taken.  According to the pawnbroker’s account, she drove from there
twenty-five minutes to six, and the clock in the photograph showed it to
be twenty minutes to six.  The way from Bishop Road to Villa Ballarat
cannot be covered in five minutes.

The lawyer promised to prove this—but what could Sigrid want with four
thousand kroners? What could she have to hide?


Monk closed his note-book.

Yes, thus far go my notes, and the rest is quickly told.

Three days afterward the case came before the court.  I was myself
called as witness, but my recollections of that day are very indistinct.
I felt as if I were walking in my sleep or in the throes of a dreadful
dream.  If I had been the accused I should have acted calmly and with
presence of mind, I am sure.  But I was not accused, though guilty of
having been the cause of bringing the young girl whom I loved more than
my life before a court of justice, and having her accused of having
committed a despicable theft from her benefactor.  It was some time
afterward that I, through reading the accounts in the paper, got some
idea of what had taken place that day in the court.

Nearly all the witnesses who appeared against Evelina were also summoned
on this occasion.  The evidence threw no new light on the case, so I do
not think it necessary to go more than is absolutely necessary into the
events of that terrible day.

When I gave my explanation of my visit to Mr. Jurgens, the public
attempted to assail me with terms of abuse and derision.  The judge soon
called them to order, but I was subjected to the most offensive glances
while I told the story of my own folly.

Sigrid did not attempt to hide her visit to the pawnbroker, but refused
to explain for what purpose she required the money.  On the other hand,
she absolutely denied having set foot in the museum between five and
half-past seven.

The public prosecutor in his address especially laid stress upon the
following:—

The accused had herself admitted that she, on the day of the robbery,
had taken most unusual steps to become possessed of a large sum of
money, but that she had not succeeded in this at the pawnbroker’s.  It
was clear that it was of the greatest importance for her to obtain at
least four thousand kroners that day, and that all other ways out of the
difficulty seemed to be closed against her.

She was one of the few who could, without creating suspicion, go in and
out of the museum where the diamond was kept.

Then there was the photograph taken by Mr. Howell of her standing with
the diamond in her hand at twenty minutes to six that afternoon. That
the photograph represented Miss Frick, although she denied having
visited the museum during that time, there was no longer any doubt,
after an examination with the magnifying glass.

Finally, there was the evidence of the late chief detective, that Mr.
Jurgens at the beginning had declared he had bought the diamond of the
accused. Only later had the old man, frightened by the detective’s
improper behaviour, changed his statement.

These were, in brief, the chief points in the public prosecutor’s
address, and it is not necessary to add that after the evidence and his
speech, there was scarcely a person in the court who doubted but that
Miss Frick was guilty.

The counsel for the accused had no other defence than the point which I
mentioned in my diary; but this he turned to account beyond all
expectation. It appeared that the time when Miss Frick left the
pawnbroker’s could be substantiated to the minute, by the circumstance
that the pawnbroker on this occasion had looked at his watch and asked
his clerk if the time was not twenty-five minutes to six.  The clerk had
then leant out of the window, looked at the clock in the church tower,
and answered in the affirmative.

The counsel had also examined the driver who had driven Miss Frick,—I
have perhaps forgotten to tell you that meanwhile I had been able to
trace this person,—and he could clearly remember that on this occasion
he had driven at his usual pace, neither more quickly nor more slowly.

The counsel had, as experiments, taken several drives with the same
horse and carriage, and had found that the distance was never made in
less than fifteen minutes, when driving at the usual pace, and at a more
rapid pace not less than ten minutes.

He had thereby shown, he said, that if Miss Frick was the lady who had
left the pawnbroker’s at twenty-five minutes to six—which was now an
established fact—it could not be she who had been photographed with the
diamond in her hand at twenty minutes to six!  That the little clock in
the elephant’s head was right to the minute, had been proved by Mr.
Frick’s evidence.

The public prosecutor, in the reply, stated that it was a well-known
fact that there was often a difference of several minutes in the clocks
of the town.

The counsel maintained that such a great difference as would be
necessary in such a case, at least ten minutes, was scarcely possible.
Altogether, he utilized this circumstance to the utmost, and made his
final appeal to the jury so impressive that when the jury retired, there
was great uncertainty as to the result.

Here Mr. Monk opened his memorandum book and produced a newspaper
cutting, from which he read the conclusion of the counsel’s address:—

"It would be foolish of me to maintain that I have proven that my client
is not guilty of the theft of which she is accused.  But I have the
right to ask: Is there any one who believes that the public prosecutor
has proved her guilt?  I have, at any rate, shown that in order that the
assertion of the prosecution may hold good, the young lady must have
been in two places at the same time.  If she had been at the
pawnbroker’s at the time when all the evidence went to show she was
there, then she cannot be the person who was photographed by Mr. Howell
with the stolen diamond in her hand.

"I admit that there is weighty circumstantial evidence against the young
lady; but have I not also shown that there is also weighty
circumstantial evidence in contradiction?  All will agree that this is
an unusual case.  This robbery, which has now been twice before the
court, in the form of two different charges against two different
persons, will remain a mystery, whatever the verdict of the jury may be
to-day.

"I venture to say, that whatever your judgment may be to-day, we shall
to-morrow hear that half of the public approve of it, and the other half
disapprove.

"The theft is, and will remain, a mystery.

"Any one who was present at the former trial, will remember that when
the case was nearly concluded, in fact, just before the jury retired,
there was scarcely a person in court who was not convinced that the case
was as clear as any could be, and that the conscience of the jurymen
would not be troubled in any way by pronouncing a verdict of ’Guilty.’
But an hour or two afterward all were agreed that they might with just
as easy a mind pronounce a verdict of ’Not guilty.’  Might not the same
thing happen to-day?

"I am not so fortunate, it is true, as my colleague, who was the counsel
for the defence on the first occasion.  I have not, at any rate,
succeeded in producing evidence which would compel the prosecution to
drop the case,—but I have at least succeeded in showing that if the
public prosecutor is correct in his statements, then my client must be a
super-natural being!"

The counsel concluded with a passionate appeal to the jury on behalf of
his client, and sat down.

"The jury consulted for three hours," continued Monk, and when they at
last returned into court, their answer to the question of "Guilty or not
guilty" was: "No!  Not guilty."

A sigh of relief escaped simultaneously from Clara and myself, and Monk
looked up with a strange melancholy smile.

"Yes, I understand.  I felt just as you now feel when the verdict was
made known.  The first impression was one of infinite joy and relief;
but it was not to last long.  The verdict was received by the public
with deep silence; and when Sigrid was liberated, and about to leave the
court, she was received with hooting and hissing by the large crowd
which in an incredibly short time had collected outside.  Stones were
thrown after her carriage, and it was with the greatest difficulty that
the police got her safely away."

"How terrible!" said Clara.  "How could any one have the heart to
torture the poor girl any further.  Did they believe then that she was
guilty?"

"Guilty!" exclaimed Monk, with another melancholy smile.  "I don’t
believe there were ten people in Christiania the next day who were not
convinced that Sigrid Frick had stolen her uncle’s diamond, and that
there were dark pages in her life which were the cause of her being in
need of money.  Then, besides this, she was looked upon as the cause of
Evelina’s suicide."

The next day the papers contained accounts of what had happened the day
before in the court, and the trial was the general topic of
conversation.  No one seemed to doubt that Miss Frick was guilty. The
suicide of Evelina had especially tended to inflame the minds of the
public.  Most people were convinced that the cause of the suicide was,
as I have already mentioned, the treatment to which she had been exposed
while being accused of a crime of which she was innocent.

In one paper appeared a furious leader with the heading: "Is there one
law for the rich, and another for the poor?"  It dwelt at some length
upon the position of the poor young girl in the service of the rich
young lady.  How the rich lady had stolen the diamond in order to use
the money for—well, I will not repeat the words;—how the poor girl was
arrested by the police, driven out of her wits, and eventually to
suicide.  How the police, who apparently seemed to be on a friendly
footing with the rich lady, tried to screen her guilt, and how riches
had eventually succeeded in getting the wealthy criminal acquitted.

The result of this article was that a large mob proceeded next day to
Frick’s villa, in the belief that Sigrid was still there, and broke all
the windows, hooting and hissing all the time.

Old Frick naturally became furious, and, armed with his revolver and his
sabre, he single-handed attacked the mob which surrounded the house.

He was no doubt under the impression that he was followed by a force
consisting of the coachman and the gardener; but these cautious warriors
did not follow him further than the gate.

Fortunately, old Frick had forgotten to load his revolver, so no great
mischief was done.  He was at once surrounded and forced up against his
railings. He managed, however, to use his sword, if not with dexterity,
at least with such fury that it took some time before any one ventured
to come near him.

He had succeeded in wounding several half-tipsy roughs, who attempted to
close with him, when finally an ingenious young cattle driver caught up
a garden seat and rushed at him, using this as a shield.  Old Frick’s
sword got jammed in the seat; he was disarmed, and struck on the head
with an empty bottle, and thrown to the ground.  Some mounted police at
last appeared on the scene, charged the crowd, and saved the old man,
after which the mob dispersed quietly.

The blow which old Frick received on his head resulted in concussion of
the brain.  For several days he lingered between life and death, and
has, since that time, owing to paralysis in his legs, not been able to
leave his chair without assistance.



                              *CHAPTER IV*

                          *MONK’S EXAMINATION*


I haven’t much more to tell you now, (continued Monk).  A few days
afterward, Sigrid left to join her brother in Hamburg, whence they both
sailed for America, and I have not seen either of them since.  With
regard to the life I have led these last few years, you, Frederick, know
about as much as I do myself.  If I have not left the country, it was
because an irresistible impulse forced me to haunt the place where my
happiness and my expectations had been overthrown, and to try again and
again to clear up the mystery which had destroyed the happiness of so
many.

My profession of private detective has provided me with sufficient
means, both in finances and other respects, to continue my
attempts—attempts which up to now have unfortunately brought no results
whatever.

At first I had many difficulties to contend against, before I could
attain to the position I now occupy. The part I played in the diamond
case had made me unpopular with the public, and all my friends advised
me to leave the country.

Still, the public does not remain of the same opinion from one day to
another.  The feeling against me gradually subsided.  I fancy people had
an idea that a hard and entirely undeserved fate had befallen me and
others concerned in this matter. I was fortunate in being able to clear
up one or two mysterious affairs, and now, in short, I can no longer
complain of want of sympathy from the public.

I have nothing more to add than that I still consider it the object of
my life to unravel this mysterious affair.  I have not followed the
superintendent’s advice, and I intend continuing as I have begun, if
necessary, to the end of my days.  All the people who have played a part
in the events which I have told you of, I keep well under my
surveillance, either personally, or through my agents. Sometimes I feel
as if I could give up everything in despair, for, as I have told you, up
till now I have no result to show.  Then again my common sense and my
experience—not my presentiments—tell me that the solution must come in
time, perhaps before I expect it.


"But why have you decided so suddenly to go to America?"  This time it
was I who spoke.

"Some days ago," he replied, "I received the notice of Einar Frick’s
death.  I shall once again speak to Sigrid.  I have certain things to
ask her about; perhaps she will now answer me."

We were all silent.  Monk went over to the bookcase and began to put
some books to rights which were disarranged on the shelf.

Clara got up and crossed over to him, but he did not turn round,
although he must have heard her steps.  He did not even look when she
laid her hand on his shoulder.

"But even now, you have not told us everything!"

"Yes, everything that can be of interest to others."

"No, you are wrong, Monk," said my wife, in a friendly tone, not
removing her hand from his shoulder.  "Did you not ask us to help you?"

"Yes, I did."

"Well, and however strange it may seem, yet I believe that one of these
little mice can this time help the lion.  But you must first tell us
everything. When Miss Frick left, why didn’t you go with her?  Perhaps
you thought then that she had stolen the diamond?"

"No, I didn’t—but—well, how can I explain myself; you will not
understand me—I believe in her, and yet there are moments when—"

"You men are a miserable lot of creatures when it comes to a question of
trust," said Clara, with unction.  "You, Monk, and very likely you,
Frederick, would do the same.  You do not hesitate to assure a woman
that you respect and love her above everything in the world; but if only
there comes a wretched photograph, or some accidental coincidence, then
you believe the same woman to be capable of committing the lowest and
most degrading of crimes.  Yes, I speak not so much with regard to the
robbery, as that she, if she were guilty, allowed another to suffer in
her place!  Let me tell you what passed between you and Sigrid, and then
you shall tell me if I am right?"

Monk only nodded, with his face half turned away, and my wife continued
in a severe tone:—

"You went to Sigrid and assured her that you believed in her innocence,
in spite of all, and you proposed that you should get married at once
and go abroad!"

Monk nodded again.

"But she answered that she read doubt at the bottom of your heart, and
that it was better that you should both part; isn’t that so?"

"Yes," answered Monk, turning round to us—he was dreadfully pale—"I
tried hard to get her to tell me why she had attempted that day to get
money at the pawnbroker’s.  If it could clear the matter and prove my
innocence, she said, then she would do it; but as the affair stands, it
would not serve any purpose, and only bring disgrace upon another.

"’It was to get your brother out of some difficulty,’ I urged.

"’It is of no use talking about it,’ she said.  ’It will not take away
the doubt from your heart.  Even if you fancy it gone, it will come
again and again; and do you think we can get away from people’s talk and
malice?  No, the world is too small for that! And if we got married, and
had children, could we be sure that they would never get to know of
their mother’s past?  I have also a duty to fulfil to my brother; and in
that you could not take part. To you he would always be the one who had
poisoned our life.’

"Such were her words, as near as possible.  I felt I had only empty and
meaningless words to say in reply to them, and so we parted."

"There, didn’t I tell you so!" exclaimed Clara. "It is your own doubt
which is the cause of your weakness.  That is the reason you have not
been able to penetrate the darkness."

"I think you are wrong there, Mrs. Viller," answered Monk, gently, "but
the work has been too much for my strength.  I fancy it would have been
too much for any man.  Mention anything I ought to have done, and I
think I can answer you that it has already been tried."

"Don’t be angry," were Clara’s next words, and this time they were as
gentle as Monk’s own.  "I know you have as much feeling as you have
common sense, and perhaps more feeling than most people; but with you
men, reason always comes off victorious in the end.  You cannot alter
your natures, I suppose.  Now we must see how we can help Monk,
Frederick, as he can’t help himself; isn’t that so?"

"Yes," I answered as cheerfully as I possibly could; "it would be
strange if we three, when we have put our heads together, should not be
able to clear up the mystery.  You have here what you hitherto have
lacked, Monk—the experience of an expert in many branches, as
represented by me, and a woman’s intuition and instinct, as represented
by Clara.  But as a preliminary, Monk will have to be examined.  Have
you anything to ask Monk, Clara?  You shall be the first, then my turn
comes."

"Yes, I must begin," answered Clara, looking in a very friendly manner
at Monk, as if to appease him if she had wounded him with her remarks.
"Tell me, was not the Englishman, Howell, as he was called, in love with
Sigrid?  Didn’t he pay his attentions to her, and wasn’t he rejected?"

Monk began to smile.  "I fancy he did try a little at first, but he soon
saw that I had forestalled him, and so, with a good grace I’ll admit, he
left the field clear.  If he had made any definite advances, I think
Sigrid would have told me."

"Are you quite sure about that?" answered Clara, with an air of
superiority.  "One is not of course father confessor to one’s fiancée.
But can you tell me any other reason why he should hate both of you?"

"Are you sure he hated us?"

"Yes, I am quite sure about it; he is the cause of the whole mischief.
The photograph was of course nothing but humbug."

Monk smiled resignedly.  "The photograph was only too genuine."

"And then there was that wretched actor," continued Clara; "he left, I
understand, just before Evelina committed suicide.  Have you heard
anything of him since?  It was of course on his account that the young
girl killed herself.  I believe he first of all got her to steal the
diamond, and then left her.  That was the reason of the poor girl
committing suicide."

"I also thought of that," was Monk’s answer, "and I had him watched
after he left Christiania. He went first to Gothenburg and later to
Copenhagen.  But it is not probable that the money which Jurgens paid
for the diamond has at any time been in his hands.  He lived the whole
time from hand to mouth, and often in the greatest misery."

"Are you quite certain of this?" I asked.  "If the actor didn’t get the
money, all my theories are upset."

"Yes, isn’t that so?" said Monk, smiling again, in the same resigned
way.  "And you would have had the same experience, not only in one, but
in ten points of the case, if you had weighed them and turned them over
in your head as long as I have done."

"But there must be one theory which is right," I exclaimed.  "Some one
must have stolen the diamond!"

"Yes, that’s the dreadful part of it all!" groaned Monk.  "There is only
one theory which can be applied to all that has happened in this
dreadful affair, and that is—" here his voice sank almost to a
whisper,—"and that is, that—that Sigrid took the diamond to help her
brother, was photographed by Mr. Howell, and then sold the diamond to
Mr. Jurgens.  No, don’t say what you want to say, Mrs. Viller.  Rather
bear in mind that it is my fixed determination, in a few days to go to
America, and again offer Sigrid my hand.  Can I better show my faith in
her?"

Clara did not answer.

"Where is the actor now?" I asked.

"He died in delirium tremens, in a public hospital in Denmark.  I had an
agent there for some time, who tried to get something out of him, but it
was of no use.  The agent was under the impression that the actor knew
nothing of the diamond robbery,—nothing of any importance to us, at
least."

"And Mrs. Reierson—have you tried her?"

"By all possible means, through a third person. She will not see me.  If
I show myself to her, she swears and curses me for having brought about
her daughter’s death.  Old Frick gives her a yearly pension; but as she
has completely given herself over to drink, it does not last very long,
and between each quarterly payment she lives in the greatest
destitution."

"And Mr. Howell?"

"I have not lost sight of him, although it is often difficult enough to
keep an eye on him.  He leads the life of so many rich Englishmen.  He
spends the season in London, the autumn in the country, and the rest of
the year in travelling.  He has a yacht, and has several times visited
Norway in the summer.  He has, however, been only three or four times in
Christiania all these years, and then only for a short time.  He has on
these occasions stayed at Villa Ballarat with old Frick.  My agent in
England informs me that he is well known as a gambler and as a man who
spends more money than he can afford.  He has for many years paid
frequent visits to a country house in Yorkshire,—Ashton Hall,—belonging
to a rich gentleman, Mr. Ashton. They say it will end in his marrying
the gentleman’s eldest daughter, a lady who is no longer young.  The
reason for this long courtship no one can explain.  They think he’ll not
swallow the bitter pill until he is obliged.  Here, people believe that
he will inherit old Frick’s money.  Very likely that is the reason he
goes on courting so long. Very likely, too, the old man’s death might
put him on his legs again, and save him from marrying the lady in
Yorkshire."

"You seem no longer to like the Englishman!"

"I have never liked him particularly, and, as I have told you earlier,
his conduct frequently appeared to me to be suspicious.  Yet I cannot
very well account for the reason of my distrust for him. I have an idea
that he played a part in the drama, which I do not comprehend.  I
believe your wife’s instinct tells her the same."

"_Instinct!_" repeated Clara, witheringly.  "We women must always hear,
when we in some way or other hit upon a right solution, that it is our
instinct which has come to our aid—never a word is said about logical
deduction!  Look here, Mr. Monk. What I mean to say is, that I am sure
that Mr. Howell tampered with the photograph in order to ruin Sigrid.
This result I arrive at from the following reasoning.  If the photograph
is to be relied upon, Sigrid must have had the diamond in her hand that
day; but she denied this absolutely.  No, don’t try to avoid it, Monk!
You are afraid to tell me that now I am illogical—isn’t that what you
call it?—like all women, and so you won’t even look at me.  But I
haven’t finished yet.  Suppose Sigrid could and would tell a lie, what
could have been easier for her than to admit she had that afternoon been
into the museum, had taken out the diamond and looked at it for a
moment, and then put it back in its place again? No one could have said
a word against this explanation as to how the photograph was taken.  No!
Sigrid was not a fool; and you must admit that if she wanted to tell a
lie, she would not do it in such a foolish way.  Admit that I am right,
Monk!  All probabilities go to prove that Sigrid spoke the truth. She
had not set foot in Mr. Frick’s museum that day between five and
half-past seven, and—the photograph was tampered with."

Monk could not help smiling; but it was the same smile—the hopeless
smile with which the giant who has in vain attempted to lift a burden
watches the dwarf endeavouring to lift it for him.

He went across to a small iron safe in the corner of the room, and came
back at once with a little object which he laid on the table before us.
It was a small photograph placed between glass plates, which were held
together by india-rubber bands.

"This is the photograph."

Both Clara and I stretched out our hands at the same moment, and Monk
laid it on the table between us, together with an oblong magnifying
glass of unusual size.

"Now you can look at it for yourselves.  What cannot be seen with the
naked eye can be easily discerned through the magnifying glass."

Clara and I used it in turn.

"I have to thank my old friend, the chief superintendent, that I am in
possession of the photograph," continued Monk.

"At my earnest request he gave it up to me, but not till two years after
the trial.  He made me promise, however, that I should keep it in a
fire-proof safe, and take the greatest care of it. Heavens! it was
hardly necessary to request me to do that."

The photograph answered to the brief description which Monk had already
given of it.  It was three or four inches in height, but very narrow, so
much so that little was to be seen but the girlish figure in front of
the open cupboard with the shelves.  These shelves were filled with all
sorts of curiosities, which appeared most distinctly on the plate.  On
the whole, the photograph was unusually clear and distinct.

"Look at the girl’s left hand," said Monk.

I held the magnifying glass over the photograph. "Yes, I see, she has a
ring on the ring finger."

"Yes; and the finger is quite normal—not at all deformed."

"No, it is quite well shaped."

"You see the little elephant on the shelf over the cupboard, and the
clock in its forehead? What time does it show?"

"Let me see!  It is twenty-one minutes to six. The figures are not easy
to distinguish, but the position of the hands is plain enough."

"Yes, although the elephant is scarcely three inches high, that and the
other small things on the shelf over the cupboard are the masterpieces
of an ivory carver in Naples.  Do you see, for example, a little copy of
Venus de Milo at the side of it?"

"Yes, I see it.  But tell me, Monk, who does the girl in the photograph
resemble, Miss Frick or Evelina?"

"Oh, Evelina!  I was, of course, accustomed to see Sigrid in that
costume—the braided jacket and the little hat with the bird’s wing on
it—so at first glance I might have doubted; but after a more careful
inspection I should never have hesitated in saying that it was
Evelina,—she and no one else, if only this question of the finger hadn’t
cropped up."

"The photograph was examined, wasn’t it?"

"If any photograph in this world has been examined, this is the one.  As
you may remember, the photographer Rodin and another expert gave their
opinion upon it at the first trial.  Later on it was examined at the
physical laboratory of the university.  All were of one mind in saying
that no attempt had been made either to tamper with or to make any
alteration in it,—neither by retouching nor by any other means."

While I continued to converse with Monk, Clara took possession of the
picture.  I handed her the magnifying glass, but she pushed it aside,
and continued studying the photograph without once looking up.

"You must be quite tired," I said to Monk, "with all our questioning,
but if it will not be too tedious to you to answer me, I should like to
examine you a little."

"On the contrary, I would prefer nothing better than listening to your
remarks.  What I wish is to get out of this vicious circle in which my
thoughts have run during the last six years."

"Have you any guarantee that this photograph was taken that
afternoon—the 10th of May—between five and half-past seven?"

"Yes, only too positive proof; but the report in the _Morning News_ is
perhaps not sufficiently clear. The facts are these: The snap-shot
apparatus used by Mr. Howell had a roll of prepared paper sufficient to
take ten photographs.  I suppose you have seen these apparatus.  For
every new picture you want to take you turn a little screw outside,
which is connected with the roller, until a new number appears on the
indicator.  When all the paper on the roll has been used, it is taken
out, in order to get the pictures developed, and a new roll is inserted.
On the back of this photograph you will find number ten printed.  Number
nine, which was also produced in court, was a group which Mr. Howell had
taken in the museum before Jurgens left.  The next, that is to say,
number ten, must therefore have been taken in the interval before the
roll was handed over to the photographer,—in other words, between five
and seven o’clock. You will at once see that even if Mr. Howell had
wanted to deceive us, it would not have been possible."

"Yes, I fear, it is only too true.  I have now nothing else to ask,
except whether the hands of the watch in the elephant’s forehead might
not have been moved backward, or forward, by some one, either
accidentally or purposely?"

"You ask the same question which I have been asking myself for many
years.  What we do know is that the watch was right at five o’clock, and
again at half-past seven.  It is impossible that it could have been
altered in the meantime.  It appears that the glass which covers the
dial is not movable.  If the watch has to be regulated, the whole of the
clockwork must be exposed by removing a small metal plate under the
stomach of the elephant.  On examining the elephant, two days after
Evelina’s acquittal, it was found that there were no marks whatever to
be found in the thin layer of dust which had settled in the joint
between the ivory and this plate."

"But then we have the question of the time to settle," I said.  "It
proves that Miss Frick could not have returned from the pawnbroker at
the time which the watch in the photograph shows.  As far as I
understand you, it was this circumstance alone which saved her at the
trial."

"I’ll tell you exactly what I think.  It was that fact which saved her
as far as it gave the jury a pretext to answer ’No’ to the question
whether she was guilty or not—or, more correctly, an excuse for not
answering ’Yes’ to it.  I do not believe there was a person in the court
who, in their heart of hearts, did not believe that Sigrid was guilty.
But her counsel very cleverly laid stress on the obscurity which
enveloped the whole matter, and the possibility that they might give an
unjust verdict and that the truth afterward might transpire.  They, or,
more correctly, five of them, chose, therefore, so the rumour goes, and
I think it is correct, to answer ’No,’ as the discrepancy with regard to
the time gave them the opportunity to do.  You understand what I mean?"

"Yes, I understand; but what is your personal opinion with regard to the
discrepancy in the time?"

"Well, for my own part, I cannot deny that those who believed in
Sigrid’s guilt were right in saying: Supposing that the driver had
driven rather more quickly than ordinarily, then the discrepancy in the
time would not be greater than five minutes. It might easily happen that
this difference in the time was due to the fact that the clocks in the
different parts of the town did not tally."

"May I take the photograph home with me?"

It was Clara who interrupted us.  She had sat staring hard at the
picture, and now she stood before Monk with it hidden in her hand.

Monk reflected a moment.

"If you will promise me to keep it in Frederick’s safe when you have not
got it in your hand."

"I promise everything," was Clara’s answer; "and among other things,
that the photograph has been tampered with!!!"

There was such conviction in my wife’s voice that Monk’s cheeks flushed
with excitement.  This time I saw nothing of the hopeless smile.  He did
not have a chance of replying, however, for Clara began hurriedly to put
on her hat and cape.

"Come now, Frederick, it is past three in the morning, and to-morrow we
have still another day’s work."

"Goodnight, Monk."

"Goodnight."

"Stop a minute; two things I must ask you before we go.  Where does Mrs.
Reierson live?"

"She lives in her old den in Russelök Street, No. 44."

"Where could one find the clothes which Evelina had on that day when the
robbery was committed? I mean the hat and jacket which she wears in the
photograph."

"Very probably Mrs. Reierson still has them, if she hasn’t sold them.
They were produced in court, but were later on naturally given back to
the unhappy girl’s mother.  But why do you ask about them?  You know, of
course, that—"

"That is my business for the present; good night, once more."

The last conversation was carried on between Clara and Monk.  I listened
to them in astonishment. What in all the world did Clara mean by these
questions?

As we wandered homeward in the moonlight, with Clara on my arm, I tried
to find out what her purpose had been with regard to her last questions
to Monk.

"You surely don’t intend to visit Mrs. Reierson?"

"I don’t intend to tell you," was the reply; "but even if I do, what
harm is there in that?"

"No, of course there’s no harm; but according to Monk’s description,
there was nothing very prepossessing about Mrs. Reierson six years ago,
and in the course of these years she is not likely to have changed for
the better."

"Don’t let us talk about it any more.  Remember I have been to less
prepossessing houses before in my life, on mysterious errands.  Do you
remember that time when I paid my fruitless visit to the pawnbroker,
and, in my despair, had to go to Monk?"

"Yes, you were lucky that time," I answered gayly.  "If you hadn’t gone
that day to Monk, you would never have met me, and then perhaps you
would never have been married."

"Of course I do not want to keep any secrets from you, either big or
small," said Clara.  "It is my intention to go to Mrs. Reierson
to-morrow morning.  But you shall not go with me; first, because I
consider it will serve my purpose better if I go alone.  Men are such
blunderers, you know. She is naturally suspicious about men, and would
perhaps recognize you as a friend of Monk’s, and secondly, I am very
anxious to carry out my little plan all by myself.  Fancy, if I can help
him, as he once helped me,—wouldn’t that be a triumph!"



                              *CHAPTER V*

                *THE MOST IMPORTANT CHAPTER IN THE BOOK.
                       CLARA ACTS THE DETECTIVE*


"It’s time to get up, sir.  Missus said as ’ow I must get you up by
half-past nine."

I looked up in astonishment.  In the doorway stood our red-faced country
servant girl nodding good-humouredly at me.

"Where is your mistress gone?"

"Missus went out at half-past eight, and said as ’ow I must wake you up
and have the breakfast ready by ten o’clock."

There was no mistaking this order, so I hurried up, a little ashamed at
having slept so long.

No sooner was I dressed, than there was a ring at the front doorbell,
and in stepped Monk with a very serious face.

He was not one of those who are much affected by one or even two nights
of sleeplessness, but to-day he looked unusually tired and weary.

"I’m afraid you haven’t had a good night.  It was dreadfully late when
we left you; we shouldn’t have kept you up so long!"

"It was rather I who kept both of you up so late. But where is your wife
gone?"

"Clara went out at half-past eight, the girl says; but she is sure to be
home soon.  Why do you ask?"

"She telephoned to me a quarter of an hour ago. She told me to come here
at once, as she had something of importance to tell me."

"She must have telephoned from some place in town," I answered, somewhat
surprised.

"Your wife made some very sensible remarks about the photograph,
yesterday," said Monk, hesitatingly.  "Has she said anything more on the
subject?"

"Hullo, Monk," I answered, laughing; "so you’ve come to consult Clara
Viller, the private detective!"

Monk hadn’t time to answer, for in came the very person we spoke of.
Her cheeks were rosy with the sharp morning air.  In her hand she
carried an untidy, badly packed, brown paper parcel.

"Please excuse me, Mr. Monk, for keeping you waiting; but I was obliged
to call in at the charcuterie establishment and get something tasty for
Frederick’s breakfast.  Such a gourmand as he is! For you, I have got
something else.  But take a seat at the table and have a cup of coffee;
I will just run and slip off my things—I shan’t be gone a minute."

She vanished from the room just as suddenly as she had appeared.

Monk and I sat down at the breakfast table, and Clara soon joined us.
Both she and I did good justice to the viands, but Monk only played with
his knife and fork.

When we were finished, Clara asked me for the key to the safe in my
office.

She returned with the photograph and the magnifying glass, and laid them
beside Monk on the table. Monk and I looked at her in astonishment.  She
also placed the brown paper parcel near.

"Yesterday I promised to show you that the photograph had been tampered
with.  I could have done it at the time, but I was anxious to refute all
the objections which I knew you and Frederick would bring forward, and
that is why I waited until to-day.  The matter is soon settled; the lady
who stands in the photograph has on a little hat with a feather in it.
On which side is the feather?"

Monk glanced at the photograph.  "On the right side!"

"Yes, quite so; now do you think that any lady wears feathers on the
right side of her hat?"

"No,—now I come to think of it, ladies usually wear feathers on the left
side of their hats," Monk said, looking uncertainly at us both.

"_Usually_, do you say?  Not at all!  No lady ever wears feathers on the
right side."

"There may be something in what you say, Mrs. Viller," Monk’s voice was
still somewhat uncertain; "but this is of course only the little wing of
a woodcock, and Evelina—Miss Frick—I mean the lady in the
photograph—might for once have placed it on the other side."

"Not to mention," I added, "that the lady in a hurry might have put on
the hat the wrong way."

"That is exactly the argument I expected!" shouted Clara, triumphantly.
"That’s just the way men argue; but see here!  Here is the selfsame hat
which Evelina and Sigrid wore that day the diamond was stolen.  Now you
can see for yourselves!"

She tore the paper off the parcel and drew out a little green felt hat
with a brown wing in it, and showed it to Monk.

Monk jumped up and clutched the hat greedily. His hands trembled with
excitement.

"I have bought it from Mrs. Reierson to-day," continued Clara.  "I
pretended that a rich English lady was collecting curiosities from
celebrated trials. As it was fortunately rather far on in the quarter, I
could see that Mrs. Reierson was apparently in great need of money.  She
was even sober."

Monk sat with the hat in his hand, staring at it; I went up to him.

"The feather is sewn fast," he muttered, "and there are no signs that it
has ever been fixed on the other side."

"But what if she had put on the hat the wrong way?"

Clara laughed heartily.

"Here, you shall see for yourselves!"  She snatched the hat out of
Monk’s hand and set it on her own head.

I collapsed.

The feather slanted backward as it did in the photograph when the hat
was put on properly. But if it was turned back to front, as Clara now
had it, it slanted forward in a ridiculous manner.

There could be no mistake—the photograph had been tampered with!

"Are you both convinced?" exclaimed Clara.

"Yes," I answered, "it is all fraud and trickery."

"This is a very strange affair," said Monk, and began again to examine
the hat which Clara had put in front of him.

In the meantime I took the photograph and the magnifying glass and began
again to examine it. Perhaps there’s something else to discover, I
thought to myself.

Suddenly I laid down the magnifying glass and leant back in my chair,
roaring with laughter.  The other two thought, no doubt, that I had gone
mad.

"That’s a bit too much!" I exclaimed.  "The person who has got up this
photograph must have been audacity or ignorance personified; just
imagine that such a thing as this hasn’t been found out before!  Look at
Venus de Milo! ha, ha, ha, ... ha! Do you know the Venus de Milo, Monk?"

"Do you mean the little copy in ivory which stands in Frick’s museum,
and which has come out in the photograph you have there?"  Monk’s voice
was gentle enough; but I saw by his face that he was full of excitement
and expectation.

"Let me see!" Clara rushed forward and snatched the photograph and the
magnifying glass out of my hand.

"What is the matter, then, with this Venus? As far as I can see by the
photograph the little ivory copy must be quite a work of art, but I
can’t see anything remarkable about it."

"No, because she has got no hat or clothes on her.  But look here—" I
turned round to Monk—"how many arms has Venus de Milo?"

"Only half an arm on the right side, and none on the left."

"But this one has half an arm on the left side and nothing on the right.
I can’t understand it," remarked Clara.  She had kept hold of the
picture, but now passed it on to Monk, and looked at me sceptically.

"There, you can see!" I said triumphantly. "When a woman has fixed a
feather on the wrong side of her hat, you can detect it at once; but
when a woman has her only arm placed on the left side, instead of the
right, then you don’t notice it.  But what is the matter with Monk?"

He had been looking at the picture for a moment through the magnifying
glass, when he suddenly let both fall and jumped up from his seat. He
placed one hand over his eyes, and kept it there for some time.  Then he
let it fall and stared into space, muttering: "What a fool and an idiot
I have been!  I pretend to be a detective! I am blind—completely blind!
I tried to judge others, and yet have not been able to see before my own
nose!  I am not worth the dust I eat!"

"Hold hard!" I shouted, laughing, "you don’t seem to eat much dust; you
live plainly, we may say, but well.  I suppose you mean the dust beneath
your feet."

To my astonishment, Monk still remained standing and staring into space,
while he repeated:—

"The dust beneath my feet."

I often think of that scene, and how strangely we may act when the brain
is really at work.  Monk afterward told me that he hadn’t the faintest
idea what words he had uttered at the time, but that during the few
seconds which elapsed, the whole story of the affair which had taken up
so many years of his life again passed through his brain—not in its old
guise, but in quite a new form; in a new light, which helped him to see
clearly through the veil of mystery which had hitherto enveloped the
thing.

But suffice it to say that Monk soon became himself again, or, better
still, an improved edition of the depressed and resigned man we had seen
for the last few days.  His eyes sparkled and his lips trembled with
joyous emotion, as he stood before Clara and me, and alternately shook
our hands.

"All is clear now!  I can prove that Sigrid is innocent.  It is as clear
as the day; and I can also prove who the scoundrel is"—here a dark
shadow overspread his face—"who is the author of all this wretched
treachery."

"But how?"

"It is soon explained," answered Monk.  "Tell me, why was it that
Evelina was acquitted? Because it was proved that she could not be the
person who appeared in the photograph—do you remember?"

"Yes, of course!  First of all, because the person in the photograph has
a ring on the third finger of the left hand, while Evelina, on account
of an injury to her finger when a child, could not get a ring on this
finger."

"Yes, quite right; and then?"

"Then the photograph showed the time to be twenty-one minutes to six;
and at the time, it was proved that Evelina was at her mother’s."

"Quite so; but in the photograph, as you and your wife have shown me, a
feather appears on the right side of the hat, although it should appear
on the left, and the Venus de Milo has an arm on the side where there
should be none—but no arm where there ought to be one.  If, then, the
person in the photograph in the same way has also her left arm where her
right should be, and vice versa, then the great point raised by the
prosecution falls to the ground.  Isn’t that so?  It is her right-hand
finger which bears the ring."

"Yes, you are right; but the time?  The clock in the elephant’s
forehead?"

Instead of answering, Monk went over to a little alarm clock which stood
on the writing table.

He first set to work to move the hands, carefully shielding the dial
from us; then he signed to us to follow him, and he led the way over to
a long mirror at the other end of the room.  He placed Clara and me in
front of the mirror, he himself standing behind us, holding up the
clock.

"Look in the mirror now, and tell me what the time is."

"Twenty-one minutes to six," answered Clara and I at the same moment.

"Now turn round and look at the clock—well, what do you say now?  It is
twenty-one minutes past six, isn’t it?"

It was now Clara’s and my turn to make our deductions.  "You mean, then,
that the picture is altogether a fraud?  It is just as if everything had
been turned about, so that left becomes right and right becomes wrong."

"I mean," answered Monk, briskly, "that the photograph itself is all
right, and the person who is in the photograph is Evelina Reierson.  At
the moment when she was photographed, she wore a feather on the left
side of her hat, in her left hand she held the diamond, and on the right
hand she wore a ring.  The time was twenty-one minutes past six."

"But how—?"

"I’ll soon tell you.  The whole secret lies in the fact that _the
photograph was taken from a reflection in a mirror!_"

"In a mirror?"

"Yes, in a mirror."

"You are right!  That explains all!"

"Yes, all; and even a little more which, perhaps, you have not thought
of.  Thank heaven the scales have fallen from my eyes, and I can see
once more!"

"This is no time for Biblical language, my dear Monk; let us hear what
you mean by ’even a little more.’"

"You are right!  Well, we have got so far that we know the picture has
been taken in a mirror; but in what mirror?"

"Well, that is for you to find out; both Clara and I have done our
duty."

"You certainly have; and I shall manage the rest—at least I hope so.  On
the wall just opposite the cupboard in the museum—the one which appears
here in the photograph—there is, right enough, a mirror, a tolerably
large one, and it is in that mirror that the photograph was taken."

"But then, the person who took it must have stood right beside Evelina,
and he could not very well have avoided being included in the
photograph."  It was Clara who made this remark.

"You are quite right, Mrs. Viller; but he stood so much to one side that
he did not come within the frame of the mirror.  To prevent the frame
from showing in the photograph, he has clipped it on both sides.  That
is why the picture is so narrow."

"This is all very well," I felt compelled to remark, "but there is one
thing which upsets the whole of your fine theory.  Is it at all likely
that Evelina would allow any one to stand beside her and photograph her
in the mirror, while she was about to steal a diamond, or, more
correctly, would she choose the moment to steal the diamond while she
was being photographed?"

"Yes, it was just that point which I found to be the most difficult, a
little while ago, when I was building up my theory, so to speak; but I
have happily solved that question, and the solution opens up a still
larger vista to us."

"When you were building up your theory, you say?  Do you mean those
seconds a little while ago, when you stood with staring eyes, and
muttering something about eating dust?"

"It is possible that I behaved rather strangely," laughed Monk; "and I
haven’t an idea how long I was away from this world.  But even if it was
for only a few seconds, they were, at any rate, more than sufficient to
reveal to me what had really taken place behind the scenes, and which I,
until now, have been quite deceived about.  Just listen!  If you
remember my description of the little house in Frick’s garden, of which
the museum was a part, you will remember that from the museum there is a
door leading to the fire-proof room.  This door is just at the side of
the cupboard which we have referred to so often.  The only way in which
one could, by aid of the mirror, photograph a person without being
noticed in front of the cupboard, would be by standing inside the
fire-proof room, leaving the door of the museum ajar."

"Do you mean that the Englishman had been inside old Frick’s fire-proof
room?  The door of that surely wouldn’t be open?"

"No, it is a strong iron door of which old Frick had the key; but for a
clever man, whose time was his own, it would not be a difficult matter
to procure a false key.  You remember that Howell had had the entrée to
the museum whenever he liked, for many months."

"But what business had the Englishman in there? He must have been a
great scoundrel; and there is no reason why he should not help himself
to what he could find.  But perhaps there was not much cash there, and
besides, you have not said anything about old Frick being robbed of
any."

"You are right.  I cannot yet quite see what he wanted in old Frick’s
fire-proof room.  But one thing you can be certain of, and that is, that
he was there for no good.  In some way or other we must get old Frick’s
permission to visit the room, as you call it.  I fancy that is where we
shall find the key to the mystery.  But how shall we be able to see him?
He won’t receive me, and I am afraid he will have heard of our
friendship, and so refuse to see you, Frederick."

"I shall manage to see old Frick," said Clara, "and get you admitted, as
well.  But I am ashamed of you, Monk!  Have you quite forgotten Sigrid?"

"Forgotten Sigrid!" answered Monk, blushing like a peony.

"Yes, forgotten her, I say.  What was the exact time by the clock when
the photograph was taken in the mirror?"

"It must have been twenty minutes past six."

"And the whole of the time between six and seven Sigrid sat with her
uncle, drinking tea with him.  Wasn’t that so?"

"Yes."

"Then her innocence is proved, whether the Englishman had been inside
old Frick’s fire-proof room, or not.  Why don’t you telegraph to Sigrid
at once?  Why haven’t you done so half an hour ago?  Rather than marry a
detective, I would see myself—"

Monk tried to answer this terrible volley, but was scornfully sent about
his business.

So it was arranged that Clara should go to old Frick, and as soon as
Monk and I had telegraphed to New York, we were to go to Villa Ballarat
and wait outside till Clara gave a signal that the siege was raised.



                              *CHAPTER VI*

                           *OLD FRICK AGAIN*


As Monk had told us, old Frick had been for many years lame, and a
prisoner to his invalid chair.

Imagine, then, Monk’s and my surprise when we, on entering Villa
Ballarat, after having been sent for from our post outside, found the
master of the house standing in the middle of the room, and Clara
sitting smiling in a chair.

It is not necessary to describe the meeting between him and Clara,
although my wife, at the time, gave a full account of it.

Suffice it to say that she boldly entered the lion’s den and, without
much ceremony, began upbraiding old Frick with his hard treatment of his
brother’s children.

"If your nephew has erred," she said, "he was young at the time, and in
bad company—that I can vouch for."  She was thinking, no doubt, of Mr.
Howell.  "As far as your niece is concerned, you have judged her, as the
whole world has judged her, on suspicion, without taking into
consideration her character."

Old Frick had got red in the face at these words, and his arms and legs
had begun twitching violently.

Clara was a little afraid the old man would have a fit, but remembering
the old saying, "Joy does not kill," she continued, quite undisturbed:
"Something has, however, happened, which you have not deserved, Mr.
Frick.  Monk and two friends, my husband and myself, have discovered, as
we shall prove, that she has had nothing whatever to do with the
disappearance of the diamond; it is the scoundrel Mr. Howell who is at
the bottom of it all.  In fact, in a short time you may have your niece
back again, and for the remainder of your life you’ll have an
opportunity of making amends for your mistake."

There is no doubt Clara was most successful in her appeal; for instead
of old Frick having a fit, he suddenly rose from his chair, stumbled
across to Clara, and in a trembling voice asked her for a fuller
explanation.  The excitement had cured his lameness; and though he never
entirely regained the full use of his legs, yet from that moment he was,
at any rate, able to move about by himself.

I shall not dwell on the meeting between old Frick and Monk and myself.
Many minutes had not elapsed before we seemed to have known each other
for many years.  He had gained a respect for Clara which, I think, will
last to the end of his life.

Only the most necessary explanations were given,—happily Monk was a man
who expressed himself briefly and clearly,—and so it was decided to
adjourn to the museum in the garden.  Old Frick took with him a large
bunch of keys which lay on the table beside his invalid chair, at which
he now cast a scornful glance, as well as at the servant who came
forward to wheel his master.  There was no necessity for more witnesses,
so the servant, greatly to his surprise, was dismissed, and with Frick
leaning upon Monk’s and my arm, we set out for the museum.

It was with very mixed feelings that Clara and I saw the scene of the
events which had for three days entirely engrossed our thoughts.  I do
not doubt that Monk and old Frick were just as much affected, even if
their feelings were of quite another kind.

We entered the pavilion in the garden and proceeded through the museum.
Everything was in exactly the same state, old Frick and Monk said, as it
was six years before.

Old Frick pulled out a key and opened the door into the fire-proof room.

As if by a tacit understanding Clara went across and stood in front of
the cupboard in which the black tortoise glistened—which was opened by
old Frick—while we others went into the room and pulled the door almost
to, after us.  There, sure enough, through the opening, our gaze
involuntarily fell on the large mirror just opposite, and in the glass
we saw the reflection of the cupboard and the shelf above it, with the
little elephant and the Venus de Milo, and Clara’s figure with her back
to us.

"Confound it all!" shouted old Frick, "it is just as Monk says.  The
rascal has been standing in here and photographing her!"

Clara said she must also see it; she went into the room, while I took
her place.

But Monk did not allow us to lose any more time.

"Have you missed anything from the fire-proof room, Mr. Frick?" he
asked.  "The Englishman must have had some reason for providing himself
with a key to fit it."

"No," answered old Frick, after having considered a moment, "I keep
nothing in here but documents and papers, which only concern me.  Money
I always kept in the iron safe in the office."

"There are two iron safes here," said Monk.

"Yes," answered old Frick, "in the larger safe I keep family papers,
etc., which are of no value to any one.  In the small one over
there—which is of course nothing but an iron box, but is provided with
an unusually ingenious lock—I keep my will, and a list of what I
possess."

The large safe was opened, and a lamp was brought in from the museum.
The safe, with its contents, was carefully examined, but nothing unusual
could be discovered.

"Now comes the turn of the box," said Monk. "Will you help me to bring
it out into the museum, Frederick?"

Although the whole thing was not more than sixteen or twenty inches
square, it was so massive that we had to use all our strength to move it
out into the daylight.

It was a handsome steel box, the four sides and the lid being ornamented
with chased arabesques.

Old Frick brought out a key of unusual shape.

"Wait a bit, Mr. Frick," said Monk, holding up his arm; "when was the
last time this box was opened?"

"Six years ago," said Frick, slowly, "when I altered my will—God be
praised that I can alter it yet once again!"

"Did Mr. Howell know anything about the will?"

"Yes, of course.  I made him my heir to all which does not go to
charities, and legacies, and suchlike. It is about £30,000.  At first I
had divided it equally between Sigrid, Einar, and him, but
then—then—well I don’t think it necessary to explain the rest; but then
came this business, and I struck Sigrid’s and Einar’s names out."

"And he knew where you kept it?"

"Yes; a day or two before he left, I read it to him, here in the museum,
and put it in the box, while he was looking."

Monk was all the time examining the box most carefully, and some time
passed before he spoke.

"I thought as much!" he exclaimed, with his old genial smile.  "Look
here!"

We stooped down to see the better.  He had turned the box over so that
the side which had stood against the wall in the fire-proof room was
uppermost.  A number of artistically interwoven spirals were chased in
the steel.  With a penknife he scraped away the rust and dirt from one
of them,—it was about five or six inches in diameter.  A number of
small, round spots could then be seen. He took a pin, placed its point
on one of the spots, and pressed it, when, to our great surprise, the
needle appeared to sink into the steel.

"Is there a hammer here?" He looked around, and his eye rested on an old
axe from the bronze age.  "That will do."

A strong blow in the centre of the circle—and to our great astonishment
the round steel dial disappeared into the box.

"Well, hang it all!" shouted old Frick; "but how in all the world—?"

"It is simple enough, but none the less ingeniously done," answered
Monk, dryly.  "Mr. Howell couldn’t manage the lock, and so he bored a
number of small holes in one of the spirals, and afterward, with a
watch-saw, he sawed through the space between them.  He has shown
himself to be a clever craftsman—that can’t be denied.  When he had done
what he wanted to do with the contents, he replaced the piece, filled
the holes with putty, and smeared them over with rust and dirt."

"Then he must have stolen the deeds!" said old Frick, pressing forward
and putting his big fist through the hole in the box.  "No; here are
both the envelopes, at any rate!"

He managed, though perhaps with some difficulty, in dragging out two
envelopes—one was very thick, the other somewhat thinner.

"No, here is the will," he muttered, pointing to the thin packet, "and
here are the deeds.  Both with my seal unbroken."

"A seal is easily broken and put right again," answered Monk; "but tell
me one thing before we examine the packets.  Has any one else except Mr.
Howell seen the will and list of your possessions?"

"No," exclaimed old Frick, with decision; "lawyers have only been sent
into the world by the devil, to do mischief.  I wouldn’t have anything
to do with them.  I went to the sheriff and got him to draw up the
formula for me, and then I wrote the will myself.  Howell knew that, as
well, confound him!  That such a father should have such a son!" he
muttered, in quite another tone of voice.

"Well, let us open the packets, then," said Monk; "we shall perhaps find
more traces of Mr. Howell’s fingers."

The small packet was opened, and we all leant over to look at the will.

It was drawn in the usual legal form, and told briefly that Frick
bequeathed his curiosities and collections to the state, all his movable
property—ready money, bank shares, etc., etc.,—to Mr. Reginald Howell;
house property, mortgages, etc., to the university, the Royal Society
for Science, and other institutions.

Everything was fully specified, and the sums either given exact, or
reference was made to a list appended.

"Well, everything here seems all right; it is exactly as I wrote it
myself.  The coachman and gardener have signed as witnesses.  I gave
them each five thousand kroners cash, to avoid including them among the
legatees."

"Are you quite sure, Mr. Frick?" said Monk, as he leant over the paper.
"Here is a figure which looks as if it had been erased."

"Let me see!  Yes—what the devil is this?  My house, property, shares,
etc.," he read, "which, according to the list, amount to about 1,000,000
kroners,—but, bless me!  I possess nearer 1,900,000, which is nearly the
double, and that was what I wrote—"

"There you are!  We shall get at it, little by little," said Monk, with
his most genial smile.  I hadn’t seen him in such a good humour for a
long time.

"But I don’t understand," grumbled old Frick. "What motive can he have
in making me out to be poorer than I am?  He doesn’t get the 900,000
kroners which have been erased!"

"Let us look at the list and the mortgages," answered Monk, just as
genially.  "We shall be sure to find the solution."

The other envelope was opened.

I read out the list, and old Frick opened the mortgages and deeds in the
order I read:—

"No. 177 Drammen Road, ’deed.’"

"Yes, here it is."

"Karl Johans Street, 77, ’deed.’"

"Yes, that’s all right."

Etc., etc.

"Mortgages to the amount of 27,000 kroners, in the farm Hoff, in
Hedemarken."

"Yes, here it is."

And so we went on.

"It was a long business," I said; "but we’ve come to the end at last."

"End!" shouted old Frick.  "But it hasn’t come to an end!  The plum is
always at the bottom, and a fine plum it is too!"

"What do you mean?  There’s nothing more on the list."

Old Frick fumbled about in the empty envelope.

"And nothing more here, either!  He has stolen the mortgage deed in
Ashton Abbey, and—"  Old Frick tore the list out of my hand.  "Just look
here!  Confound him!  If he hasn’t cut off the bottom part of the list,
so that the last item is missing!  But bless me, if I can understand
what satisfaction he can get out of this mortgage."

"Nor I," I muttered; "mortgages are not papers payable to bearer, so any
one can make them into ready money.  You need only write to England to
get a new copy of the mortgage."

"Monk knows very well what it all means," exclaimed Clara; "he is only
raising our curiosity. If I had known that you would so soon begin with
your superior detective ways, I wouldn’t have helped you so quickly with
the photograph,—that you may be quite sure about."

She glanced with comic exasperation at Monk, who, in return, only smiled
pleasantly.

"I must admit that at this moment all is clear to me; but the last knot
has only been unloosened two minutes ago.  Tell me, Mr. Frick, what
mortgage is it that you now speak of, and what was the amount of it?"

"Don’t you remember," answered Frick, testily, "I once told you of an
old rascal, Davis by name, and how I was lucky enough at last to get at
him and make him pay me my share of the money which he had stolen?"

"Yes, of course I remember."

"Yes; and I, also."

"And I, also."

Old Frick looked at Clara and me in astonishment.

"I have told them all about the affair," remarked Monk.  "Let us just
hear some more about Mr. Davis."

"Well, there isn’t much more to say about it.  He was to pay me £50,000,
but he had no ready money, as he had invested all his funds in a large
estate, and was quite willing to take a mortgage on it.  It suited me
just as well as ready money, for the estate was worth more than double
that.  This is the mortgage which has been stolen and cut off the list."

"Well, then, the total sum of 1,000,000 kroners would be right, instead
of 1,900,000 kroners," said Monk; "for £50,000 is just 900,000 kroners."

"Yes, that is true; but he can’t do much with it. As Mr. Viller says, he
can’t sell the mortgage without my signature."

"Did any one know you were in possession of that mortgage?" asked Monk.

"No, no one in this country: those rascally lawyers I have always kept
at a distance, and no one has had a chance of meddling with my papers."

"No one except Mr. Howell," was Monk’s dry reply.  "But listen here, my
friends!  I will put a question to you.  But excuse me, Mr. Frick, if I
first ask you to answer me.  If all this had not happened to-day, do you
think you would ever have opened these envelopes again?"

"No," said old Frick, decidedly; "when my last hours approached, I might
perhaps have had the iron box opened to see that the envelopes were
there and the seals in order, but nothing more.  I should have been
satisfied that all was as it should be."

"Very well.  Now let me put my question to you two.  If Mr. Frick had
died without having discovered the theft of this mortgage, no one, of
course, would have known of the existence of such a mortgage, and the
owner of Ashton Abbey would not be obliged to pay any interest.
Wouldn’t that be a clear saving for Davis, or his heirs, of about £2500
a year?"

"By Jove, so it would!" exclaimed old Frick; "but why young Howell
should help Davis to £2500 a year, I cannot understand.  He may be a big
rascal,—that I now can very easily see, although his father was the best
man under the sun,—but he isn’t exactly stupid."

"All the same, he resembles his father in that—"

"Stop!" I cried.  "Now I can see it all.  Ashton Abbey!  Ashton Abbey!
Now I understand! Young Howell must be the son of old Davis!"

"Yes, that is also my opinion," answered Monk, not at all offended that
I had taken the word out of his mouth.  "He must have travelled from
Australia with the real young Howell.  All must have lost their lives
except young Davis, who must have possessed himself of young Howell’s
papers, and later on, played his rôle in the old world.  That, I think,
explains all."

"Yes, he is the son of old Davis, there’s no mistake about that!"
exclaimed Frick in great spirits. "Upon my soul it was the best
discovery of all, for now I need not mourn that my old friend had such a
son.  But what was it you said about Ashton Hall?  It is the
neighbouring estate to Ashton Abbey.  Once they were both one estate."

"Monk told us earlier to-day that his agent had informed him that Mr.
Howell, or rather Davis junior, often visited that estate.  It was, of
course, in order to confer with his worthy father, old Davis. I suppose
that was what set you on the track, Monk."

"Just so!"



                             *CHAPTER VII*

                        *THE YACHT "DEERHOUND"*


Monk kept his word.  The following Friday he sailed for America; but our
hope that he would soon return was not fulfilled.

When he arrived in New York he found Sigrid laid up with a dangerous
illness.  Sorrow, and over-exertion in nursing her brother, had
completely prostrated her.  I believe Monk’s telegram, which we sent
directly the discovery about the photograph was made, saved her life.

She had made great progress toward recovery by the time Monk arrived,
but she was still exceedingly weak.

It was a month afterward before they were able to get married; but the
crossing over the Atlantic was not to be thought of during the stormy
winter months.

At last, in the beginning of May, we heard from them.  They had sailed.
And fourteen days afterward we welcomed them in Christiania.

The lady we saw on Monk’s arm on the steamer’s deck was remarkably
pretty, and looked exceedingly happy; although sorrow and trouble had
imparted a sad and serious expression to her face, which is never likely
to leave it.

Before the gangway could be properly adjusted, Clara had jumped on board
and taken her in her arms, a proceeding which seemed to both to be the
most natural thing in the world, although they had never seen each other
before.

Old Frick hobbled restlessly about on the quay, like a large dog which
has done something wrong, and is not quite sure whether it will be
forgiven or no.

He could not speak a word when his niece clasped her arm round his neck
and sprinkled his white hair with joyous tears.  But his eloquence was
the greater, when we were all gathered in the evening at Villa Ballarat.
It was there that the newly married couple were to stay for the present.

                     *      *      *      *      *

About a week after their return home, Monk came to me with a face more
serious than usual. "I have still a duty to fulfil in the matter of the
black tortoise," he said.  "You won’t come with me to Stavanger
to-morrow, I suppose?  I hope to meet Mr. Howell there, or more
correctly speaking, Mr. Davis, junior."

"Monk, Monk!" I exclaimed threateningly. "Is the detective on the
warpath again?  Will you desert your wife already?"

Monk blushed slightly.

"No, this time it is not the detective.  But it is my duty to justice
and to my wife to get at the bottom of the diamond affair.  Remember
that more than half of what we believe we have discovered is only the
fruits of guesswork and putting two and two together."’

"You are right.  I shall come with you.  May I ask how you intend to
proceed in the matter against the Englishman?  There are not, I suppose,
sufficient proofs to get a warrant of arrest?"

"No, I am afraid not; and I haven’t got my plans quite ready yet.  But I
fancy we must content ourselves with compelling him to give us a
complete proof of Sigrid’s innocence, and letting him off from any
further unpleasantness.  It is hard; but Sigrid is now very nervous, and
shudders at the thought of appearing before the court, and all that kind
of thing, you know."

"Well, let us start to-morrow evening on the west coast steamer.  I
shall be ready.  But are you sure to meet him there?"

"Yes, my agent in London writes that he has already sailed from England
in his yacht _Deerhound_, and is bound for the Ryfylke fjord to fish for
salmon, but in Stavanger he’ll await a party which will arrive here by
the mail steamer in a few days."

                     *      *      *      *      *

It was on a morning in the beginning of June that the steamer glided
into Stavanger harbour. We had had rain and southerly wind the whole
way, and the night outside Jædren had been anything but pleasant,
although neither Monk nor I suffered from seasickness.

Toward the morning, the wind sprung around to the north, and drove rain,
fog, and clouds in front of it, out into the North Sea.  The sun shone
on the small rippling billows, which merrily splashed against the
gaudily painted coasting vessels and warehouses in the harbour.

Among the ships in the harbour, there were two which attracted our
attention.  One was a pretty English cutter—her blue flag flying at her
stern. She had only one mast, although her tonnage must have been about
fifty; but the lofty lower mast and the big boom betrayed that she, on
this one mast, could carry a sail, the mainsheet of which would be no
easy matter to haul in, when the wind had filled it.  She seemed to have
a numerous crew in proportion to her size—for six or eight men were seen
busily engaged in hoisting the wet sails to be dried.  She was riding by
one of her anchors, and had boats hanging on their davits; while only a
small jolly-boat was lying at her stern.

The other ship was painted light grey, and had a large yellow funnel.
The Norwegian naval flag waved at the stern, and on the bow could be
seen the name, "Viking."

"We are in luck!" exclaimed Monk.  "There is the gunboat, _Viking_.  The
commander on board is Captain Holst; you know him, of course, Trygive
Holst?"

"Yes, I know him; but how can he help?  Surely you don’t want to get him
to sink the Englishman?"

"Not exactly that; but none the less he will be of use to us."

Monk had again taken the lead.  I had sunk down into my modest rôle of
historian, and allowed him to have his way.

Our first business, after leaving the steamer, was to visit the gunboat
and pay our respects to the officers.

Monk went below into the captain’s cabin, where they spent a quarter of
an hour together.

I knew they were good friends of old, and I could very well understand
he wished to be alone with his friend and inform him of the turn events
had taken.

Then we went on land, and gave ourselves good time to visit the
remarkable cathedral and one or two other places of interest.

"Shall we visit Mr. Howell now?" I asked.

"Yes, but not before twelve o’clock," was Monk’s reply.

"Why not?"

"Isn’t it a fact that you love a bit of excitement?"

"Yes, but—"

"Then you had better not ask any further questions, and you will
probably have plenty of it."

At last it was twelve o’clock, and a one-eyed, weather-beaten boatman
rowed us out to the yacht. Abaft the mast stood a tall, handsome man,
with a heavy black mustache.

Monk was the first to go on board.  He went right up to the owner of the
yacht—for it was he. I followed behind.

Mr. Howell—-we must still call him so—did not appear particularly
pleased at the visit.  He stepped back involuntarily, and his face
became dark, but only for a moment; then he smiled and exclaimed in good
Norwegian:—

"What a surprise!  Have I at last the pleasure of seeing you, after so
many years, Mr. Monk?"

"Yes, the world contains many surprises, Mr. Howell," was Monk’s dry
reply, while he did not appear to notice the hand which the Englishman
stretched out to him.  "Allow me to present an engineer friend, Mr.
Frederick Viller, Mr. Howell."

The Englishman bowed stiffly, and gave me a searching look.  "Engineer?"
he repeated inquiringly.  In his own mind he no doubt added, "Probably a
police official."

"Yes, an engineer.  Here in Norway we must all be something, we cannot
only be gentlemen."

The Englishman did not seem to appreciate Monk’s humour.  He frowned,
and made no reply.

"We have a few words to say to you," said Monk, quietly; "will it be
convenient to take us down to your cabin?"  He cast a glance full of
significance at the two sailors who were busy near us.

The Englishman seemed to consider for a moment. He looked out over the
sea and up at the rigging; then he put a little silver whistle to his
mouth, and a man who appeared to be the steward appeared.

"Show these gentlemen down into the saloon—I am coming directly.  I have
just a word or two to say to the captain.  He has to keep a lookout for
the English steamer, and to fetch my party on board here."

His expression appeared to me to be somewhat strained and peculiar, and
I cast a questioning glance at Monk; but as he seemed to be quite
unconcerned, I had nothing else to do but to follow him and the steward
below.

We went first along a corridor with two cabins on each side, then
through a small saloon, which took up the whole width of the yacht, and
then into a smaller one with a cabin on each side.  The place was
lighted by a skylight of opaque glass.

This was apparently the owner’s private cabin. The size of the yacht did
not admit of any large dimensions, but the cabin was luxuriously fitted,
and four or five people could sit down in it very comfortably.

The owner of the yacht came down soon after; his face wore a friendly
smile.

"May I offer you anything to drink, gentlemen? Shall I get my steward to
make you a cocktail?  I can assure you, he is a master of the art.  Or
would you prefer a glass of champagne?"

We refused any refreshments, and the Englishman smiled resignedly.

"We shall not keep you long," began Monk, looking the Englishman in the
face.  "It will rest with yourself whether the proceedings are long or
short."

"You have, perhaps, come to bring me a greeting from dear old Mr. Frick,
his charming niece, or the gay Einar?"

"Yes, I have come with greetings from them all, but—"

"Have a cigar?"  The Englishman rose, took a box from a shelf, and
handed it to us.  "Not even a cigar?  Then you will, at any rate, allow
me to light one.  Tell me, you who are Norwegians, and who understand
the weather here, do you think we shall have good weather for the next
few days?  I and my friends think of going to the Ryfylke fjord, and—"

"It will be all the worse for yourself if you waste time," said Monk, in
a sharp and threatening voice. "You had better listen to what I have to
say, and answer quickly."

"Ho, ho!  Have you come on board to threaten me?  You, Mr. Viller, who
seem to be a gentleman, ought to tell your friend that he should not
make himself unpleasant to an Englishman on board his own yacht."

I wisely left it to Monk to answer for himself, and only glanced
contemptuously at him; the thought of what he had done filled me with
disgust. I would rather have taken him by the neck and given him a good
thrashing.

"You can’t get away from us, Mr. Howell," continued Monk, undisturbed.
"We are come to settle an account with you, and we don’t intend to leave
here before it is done."

A peculiar smile passed over Howell’s face at Monk’s last words.

"Go on, then," he said.  "I must, at any rate, know what it is all
about.  I don’t know that I have any business with Mr. Monk, the private
detective,—for you are, I understand, no longer in the service of the
police."

"What I am or am not has nothing to do with the case.  You remember the
diamond robbery at Mr. Frick’s, in Christiania, six years ago?  Well, by
a shameful deception, you succeeded in throwing suspicion on Miss Frick.
She is now my wife—"

The Englishman interrupted with a long, low whistle.  Monk’s face
crimsoned, and for the moment I thought he would have thrown himself
upon the rascal; but he continued quietly: "No, it is not necessary for
you to fumble about in your drawer for the revolver.  I am not so stupid
as to give you an opportunity of shooting me in self-defence.  It would
suit you too well."

The Englishman uttered a horrible oath, and we heard a heavy object fall
back into the drawer.

"Go on with your business, then," he shouted; "but I shall teach you
what it costs to insult me on board my own yacht.  Do you hear?  Go on!"

I got the impression that his noisy anger was to a great extent assumed,
and while Monk continued, he seemed to be listening to something quite
different.

"We demand of you," said Monk, "that you give a full account of the
deception which was practised on the occasion which I refer to and that
you enable me to prove my wife’s innocence."

"Yes, I’ll give you a full account,—you may take your oath on that, you
wretched police spy, trying to threaten a gentleman!  You haven’t yet
mentioned how much money you intend to blackmail me for."

He got up and struck the table so that the cigar boxes and ash trays
jumped about.

"Why do you make all this noise?"

"Noise?  May I not do what I like on board my own yacht?  Wait a bit,
and you’ll see something which will perhaps astonish you."

The Englishman laughed triumphantly, and got up.

I also got up.  I had a suspicion that our host, if I may call him so,
was evilly disposed toward us. I had for some time felt that the ship
was in motion; first, I thought it was the effect of the small waves
which the passing steamers caused; but the last few minutes made it
clear to me that the yacht was steadily leaning over on one side, and
when both the Englishman and I got up, we could clearly hear the
rippling sound that water makes when it is being forced aside by a ship
in motion. "What do you think now, gentlemen?"  The Englishman threw
open the door to the cabin on the starboard side, opened the port-hole,
and pointed out.

It was as I had suspected.  The yacht had got under way, and was sailing
out of the harbour to eastward, between the islands, as the wind did not
admit of steering in a northerly direction.  We were already about a
quarter of a mile away from the anchorage.

"On our next tack we shall clear Tungendess," continued Mr. Howell, "and
then you know for yourselves how far it is out to sea."

I looked at Monk, and I must confess my heart beat quicker than usual;
but Monk smiled back in a manner which plainly said that nothing
unexpected had happened.

Presently a great whining sound cut through the air and forced its way
through the open porthole in the cabin.  Monk, with a friendly nod to
the Englishman, asked:—

"What do you think that is?"

"It is the grey gunboat, which is trying her steam whistle; but I
promise we shall not be long troubled by her infernal noise; the wind
freshens."

The Englishman threw himself comfortably into a chair.

"This won’t do any longer, Mr. Howell," said Monk, and this time his
voice was again sharp and stern.  "I suspected you would try and play us
this trick, and so make your position worse, and so I allowed you to try
it."

"What the devil do you mean?"

"Be silent, and listen to me.  It is time we came to the serious part of
the business.  The noise we heard comes, as you say, from the gunboat,
and it was the signal which to me means that at this moment she is
getting under way and making for this yacht.  When she is alongside us,
she will, by persuasion or force, compel you to turn back to Stavanger
harbour.  With this wind the yacht makes five or six knots, while the
gunboat makes sixteen; so you can calculate for yourself how long it
will take before she is alongside us."

It was a study to watch the Englishman’s face as Monk spoke; it became
pale and green with anger and disappointment.  But he still tried to
hold the position.

"Do you mean to tell me that a Norwegian gunboat dares stop an English
yacht which has done nothing unlawful?  It will cost the captain his
position, if no more; you know that, as well as I do."

"This morning, at nine o’clock," answered Monk, quietly, "I was on board
the gunboat, and after having stated my case, the captain gave orders to
fire up.  At twelve the steam would be up, and until then I postponed my
visit to your yacht.  I informed the captain that I had business on
board here, but that it was not improbable we might be exposed to
violent treatment.  It was arranged that if we did not leave the yacht
within two hours, the captain was to send a boat and fetch us; and if
the yacht weighed anchor without our having left, the gunboat was to
follow and compel the yacht to return.  Do you think the captain, will
hesitate at stopping the yacht, when he knows that two Norwegian
subjects are retained on board by force?  Give orders to tack about, and
let the yacht again anchor, and the gunboat will not trouble us.  That’s
the only way in which you can avoid a scandal.  Do you understand me?"

The Englishman did not at first answer a word, but he made a wry face.
After a short pause he violently pulled a bell rope, which hung beside
his chair, and the captain of the yacht entered, with his gold-braided
cap in hand.

"Let her tack about again and anchor where she was lying, Captain
Watkins.  These gentlemen have forgotten something: we must put off our
little cruise till to-morrow."

"I am glad to see you have come back to your senses, Mr. Howell; you
know your attempt to carry me and my friend away has made your case
still worse.  I will openly admit that I have no warrant of arrest
against you, but the result of this little escapade will be that neither
the captain of the gunboat nor the police will hesitate in detaining you
here until such a warrant can be obtained from Christiania."

"What do you demand of me?"

"I have told you once before—a clear and concise account of all you know
about the diamond robbery in Mr. Frick’s house six years ago."

There was again a pause for some seconds.  The Englishman then threw his
cigar on the floor with an oath.  "You can put the questions, and I will
answer.  But it must be also understood that you take no proceedings
against me for any part in the case."

"It is very wise of you to make that condition. You have deceived the
court, and committed perjury.  It would cost you many years of your
liberty if the arm of the law reached you.  But we undertake not to
proceed against you, if you will provide us with proof that Miss Frick,
as she was then, had nothing to do with the robbery."

"Very well, I am willing.  Ask, and I will reply."

"Who was it you photographed in the museum in front of the cupboard with
the black diamond in her hand?  I mean the photograph which you later on
handed over to the court."

"It was the maid,—Evelina Reierson; wasn’t that her name?"

"And you saw that she took the diamond and went away with it?"

"Yes."

"Was it quite accidentally that you happened to take the photograph?  It
was taken from the reflection in a mirror, was it not?"

"Yes, it was taken in a mirror.  I came quite by accident into the
museum, and she was so taken up with examining the diamond, that she did
not notice my presence until I had already photographed her.  I knew she
was doing something wrong, and thought there would be no harm in
photographing her."

"Why did you turn toward the glass, instead of taking the photograph
direct?  You stood behind her, did you not?"

"Well, yes," said the Englishman, looking suspiciously at Monk, whose
face was immovable. "Yes, I did.  It was by mere chance I turned my
apparatus toward the glass."

"How did the diabolical idea enter your head to make use of the
photograph as evidence against Miss Frick?"

"Diabolical or not diabolical, she had offended me, no matter how, and I
revenged myself.  I had never taken a photograph in a mirror before, and
so I examined the picture with the magnifying glass. You know how
interested I am in snap-shots."

"Oh, yes; and then you observed all that about the clock—the right and
left hands, and all the rest of it?"

"Exactly; it occurred to me that it might turn out unpleasant enough for
Miss Frick.  So I waited till the case came before the court, and then I
sent a note to the counsel for the defence, which told him how he could
get his client off."

"How did you know Miss Frick had been to the pawnbroker’s?  Speak out;
for the sooner this is over, the better."

"Well, I knew young Frick had got into difficulties—the young greenhorn
would insist on playing high with me and my friends—and I knew, too,
that he had written his uncle’s name on a bill for four thousand
kroners."

"And you did not help him?  It would have been an easy matter for you."

"That’s nothing to do with the matter.  The sooner we are finished, the
better.  Wasn’t that what you said?  Well, he wrote from Hamburg to his
sister, and begged her to pay in the four thousand kroners to a
well-known bill-discounter.  That is why she tried to raise money on her
jewels.  That failed, and so the bill-discounter applied to old Frick,
who, without saying a word, paid the bill.  He guessed at once that his
nephew had forged his name."

"How did you get to know all this?"

"Well, that’s nothing to do with the matter.  It is enough for you to
know that I had my interests to look after, and that one always finds
helpers when one has got money."

"And then what about your relation with Evelina? How do you explain
that?"

"To hell with you and your questions!  Is it necessary for you to know
any more?  Well, never mind!  I got to know of her relations with the
actor; I surprised them once in the garden at Ballarat.  After the
arrest I sent her a letter wherein I professed deep sympathy with her
case, and told her if she would deny everything and keep silent I would
do my best to get her acquitted so that she could marry her lover.

"It was, then, to get money for him that she stole the diamond?"

"The actor, as you may guess, had seduced her, but refused to marry her
unless she would provide money so that they could leave the country. He
made a fool of her twice.  I fancy, however, it was more for the sake of
giving the child a father, than anything else, that made her so anxious
to marry that fellow."

"He got the five thousand kroners, then?  What did he do with them?"

"He succeeded in depositing them with a friend in Gothenburg, before he
was arrested; but when he came there again his friend had vanished.  In
any case, he wrote to that effect, when he afterward tried to get money
out of me.  I told him, of course, to go to the devil."

"Will you write down what you have told us, and put your name to it?
Remember, we must have a positive proof of my wife’s innocence. That was
the condition upon which we were to let you go, without mixing up the
police in the matter."

We heard the noise and trample of feet on the deck, and the rattling of
the chain cable when the anchor fell.

We were again in Stavanger harbour.  Soon after a grating sound, was
heard alongside the yacht, and the sound of many oars which were
shipped.

"There is the boat from the gunboat," exclaimed Monk.  "You have not
much time for considering."

"You shall have the proof.  I have something which is just as good as a
written declaration."

"Wait a bit," said Monk, quickly.  "I must go up on deck and tell the
boat to wait.  If the quartermaster does not see we are safe, he will no
doubt search the yacht.  If I know my good friend, Captain Holst,
rightly, he must have already given some such order."

Monk went up on deck.

"Your friend, the detective, seems to think he is a devil of a fellow,
since he has got the better of me this time," grumbled the Englishman,
when we were alone; "but we shall meet again sometime, perhaps, when we
are more equally placed, and then I shall pay him out."

"Monk knows well enough how to take care of himself," I answered
reluctantly.  I felt disgusted with the cold-blooded scoundrel.  "You
ought rather to hope you will never see him again."

The subject of our conversation appeared again at this moment.

"Now, Mr. Howell, where is the proof you speak of?  You will no doubt
agree that the sooner this interview comes to an end, the better."

The Englishman opened a cupboard, rummaged awhile in a drawer, and came
back to the table with something which looked like a folded letter in
his hand.

"Everything may be of use in time—that is the reason I did not burn it.
Here is a letter from Evelina, written the same day she hanged herself.
It will be more than sufficient for you.  But it’s understood that no
difficulty will be placed in my way to leave, if I give up the letter?"

"You have our word of honour that no information will be given to the
police, and that nothing shall hinder your departure if you furnish us
with sufficient proofs of my wife’s innocence."

The Englishman threw the letter across the table. Monk opened it and
read it aloud:—


DEAR MR. HOWELL,—You are the only one who has shown any kindness to me
in my misfortune, but all your kindness is wasted on a creature who is
doomed to destruction.  You warned me, long ago, against the wretch whom
I believed in so blindly, but more than that was necessary to open my
eyes.

He first persuaded me to steal in order to find the means for our
marriage, and then he deserted me with the fruits of my crime.  All the
same, I was glad of your offer to get me acquitted, and thus enable me
to marry the man I loved, not so much for my own sake, as for—

Then he deceived me again.  I know that yesterday he left the country,
and at the same time I learnt that my benefactress, Miss Frick, is
accused of the crime which I have committed.

I know of course you will not let her suffer—you, who are her friend,
and that of her family.  But how can you prove her innocence without
revealing that you deceived the court in order to help me, a poor girl
whom you pitied?

I do not understand much of this kind of thing; but I see that my life
is useless, and that there is one way in which I can prove Miss Frick’s
innocence without being imprisoned myself.

When you get to hear I am no longer alive, then cut off the lowest slip
of this letter and send it to the authorities.  I cannot rely on my
mother.  She has a suspicion it was I who took the diamond, and worries
me every day to tell her what has become of the money.


At the bottom was written in large, but irregular letters:—


_I and no one else stole Mr. Frick’s diamond, and sold it to Mr. Jurgens
for five thousand kroners.  I, and no one else, shall suffer for my
crime!_

EVELINA REIERSON.

June, 18—.


I could not control myself any longer.  "You are the greatest scoundrel
that ever walked in shoes, Mr. Howell, or Davis, or whatever you call
yourself!" I shouted, and rushed at him.  I believe I should have
knocked him down, if Monk had not quickly intervened.

It was hardly necessary, however, to strike him, for at my words he
staggered back, as if stupefied, and leant against the wall.

Monk was the first to speak.

"You may thank my friend you have been warned, Mr. Davis; otherwise it
had been my intention to let you find out for yourself that your
forgeries and frauds have been discovered."

The Englishman was deadly pale.  He opened a cupboard with trembling
hands, took out a bottle, and poured himself out a large glass of
cognac.

"Have you anything more to say to him?  If not, let us go; I can no
longer stand the sight of the scoundrel."

"All right," answered Monk, and we went quickly up the cabin stairs and
into the long-boat which awaited us.

"You weren’t going to tell him, then, that all his rascality had been
discovered?"

"No, I wanted him to fall into the hands of the English police.  But now
he’ll take good care not to put his foot on English soil any more."

"You ought to have warned me beforehand."

"It is not worth bothering about.  For the rest of his life he will be a
wretched exile, without money and without friends; I know he has already
ruined his father, old Davis.  He possesses nothing now but his yacht.
It was by the skin of his teeth that he got away from his creditors in
England this time."

                     *      *      *      *      *

Some months later, the following paragraph appeared in the paper:—


                ANOTHER VICTIM TO THE DEMON OF GAMBLING

The well-known yacht _Deerhound_, which last year won the queen’s cup at
the Cowes regatta, has just arrived at Monaco.  The owner, a certain Mr.
Howell, sold the yacht, as he had lost all his money at the tables.  He
afterward continued to play, with the result that this morning he was
found in the park with a bullet-hole in his head and a discharged pistol
in his hand.

                     *      *      *      *      *

It was full summer, and the fruit trees stood white with blossoms, in
the garden of Villa Ballarat.

A party of five people sat in the cool shade of the museum, while the
warm summer air blew in at the open door.

"The hand of justice reached him sooner than we had expected," said I,
when Monk had read these lines aloud.

"Peace be with his bones!" said old Frick, with unction.  "Old Davis was
a big scoundrel; but upon my soul, I think the son was worse."

"But what are you going to do now?" said Clara. "Cannot the matter be
taken up again?  I think it would be a great shame if the world did not
get to know of all that has taken place; especially those who at the
time threw stones at Sigrid."

"No one was found guilty," said Monk; "and I do not believe we could get
the matter taken up again, except—"  Here Monk glanced at his wife.

"All the people whose opinion I value," answered Mrs. Monk, softly,
"know my story as well as I know it myself, and I shudder at the thought
of appearing again in court."

"I have an idea," I exclaimed, "which solves the difficulty.  I will
write a novel about old Frick’s diamond!  The whole town will read it,
of course. And then everybody will know about the affair."





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