Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Cottage on the Fells
Author: Stacpoole, H. De Vere (Henry De Vere)
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 Cottage on the Fells" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)



------------------------------------------------------------------------



THE
COTTAGE
ON THE
FELLS

                                                Illustration: Decoration



------------------------------------------------------------------------

                        THE COTTAGE ON THE FELLS

       ---------------------------------------------------------

                                  _By_
                               H. de VERE
                               STACPOOLE

                               AUTHOR OF
                         “THE CRIMSON AZALEAS,”
                           “THE BLUE LAGOON,”
                               etc., etc.



                               _Toronto_

                              HENRY FROWDE

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                        THE COTTAGE ON THE FELLS



                               CHAPTER I


“WELL,” said Comyns, “I can’t see for the life of me what makes you want
to linger on in this benighted hole.”

“There are a great many things in this world we can’t see,” replied
Hellier.

They were standing on the pier at Boulogne, the Folkstone boat was just
departing, the east wind was blowing, and over the cold, early spring
day the clouds drifted, grey as the cygnet’s feather.

Without wishing to paraphrase or parody a famous author, one may say
that if one goes over to Boulogne and stands long enough on the pier,
one will meet, most possibly, someone one knows—probably one’s tailor.

Hellier had come over to Boulogne a fortnight ago to recruit from an
attack of influenza; he was a briefless barrister, with two hundred and
fifty pounds a year of his own; his chambers were in Clifford’s Inn, and
he had a taste for that side of life which lends itself to romantic
literature.

The novels of Gaboriau, absorbed as a boy, had given him his first
impetus towards the law.

There is no manner of doubt in the world that housebreaking is the most
romantic of the professions; after housebreaking, the profession that
helps the housebreaker to escape the law.

A great criminal lawyer, with his armful of briefs, was the pictured
objective towards which Richard Hellier had set his face; he had been
called to the Bar eighteen months now, and his only client up to this
had been a dog thief (_item_, convicted).

“I suppose there are,” replied Comyns, “but there’s one thing I can, the
gangway is going, so long—”

He dashed down the gangway, the hawsers were cast off, and the screw
churned the steel grey waters of the harbour.

Hellier stood with his hands in his overcoat pockets, watching the boat
as she passed from sight, and wishing that he was Comyns.

Comyns was handsome, Comyns was wealthy. His father made bicycle lamps
and motor horns in Wolverhampton, his grandfather had been a platelayer.
He belonged to one of those families that go up in the world. Hellier
belonged to one of the families that go down. When Comyns’ grandfather
had been laying plate, Hellier’s had been eating off it. But the plate
of the Helliers’ had vanished as utterly as their past, and of all the
story there remained a single punch ladle, a speechless, yet eloquent
witness, to tell of the good times gone.

Hellier was a middle-sized man, and plain. Dark, clean-shaved,
pre-eminently a gentleman. Just as a rose is a rose, or a pansy a pansy.

Let the handsome and superficial Comyns walk with him down the street,
and out of a hundred and one women a hundred would have looked with
appreciation on the motor horn merchant’s son, but the hundred and first
would have looked with interest at Hellier.

He turned from contemplation of the harbour and came back down the pier
slowly, breathing the keen east wind and wishing he was Comyns.

He was in love for the first time in his life, and he was taking it
badly. He was only thirty-three years of age, yet he was already summing
up his life, looking back at his past, telling himself that had he not
fooled away his time in the by-ways of literature and stuck to the hard
high road of life, he might now have been well-to-do, like Comyns.

It is only when a man is really in love that he sees the defects in
himself and his position, sees them with a preternatural and startling
vividness—if he is a man.

So Hellier wished he was Comyns, utterly ignorant of the fact that if
some magician had converted him into the object of his admiration, the
woman he loved would not have looked at him twice.

He had only known her ten days. Her name was Mademoiselle Cécile
Lefarge, he had met her accidently at the Hotel des Bains, and had
fallen in love with her on sight.

When a man falls in love with a woman on sight, it is through his
desires that love comes to him. Her body takes possession of his mind.
This kind of love may fade away or endure for ever; as a rule it is
unfortunate, and fades; sometimes it becomes converted into hatred, when
the lover, after marriage, has discovered how the flesh has betrayed
him, what a base soul beauty has palmed off on him, wrapped in an
attractive wrapper.

A bad bargain in love. Those five words contain in them the plot and
essence of most of the tragedies in life.

Cécile Lefarge was twenty-eight, and looked, perhaps, twenty-six. Pale,
of medium height, voluptuously formed, dark, with blindish-looking
violet grey eyes, serious-looking as a priestess of Aphrodite, yet with
a nun-like spirituality, she was a woman to drive a sensualist mad with
desire, a woman to inspire the dreams of a poet or a saint.

This was the woman who had captured Hellier, heart, soul and body; and
the poignant, the terrible thing in his case, was the fact that he knew
his passion was partly returned, that he had awakened in this being,
that chance had caused to stray across his life, that something, that
magnetic response, that deep, vague interest, which in a woman’s mind
marks the beginning of love. That he had done this, but yet that
something stood in the way.

The girl was staying at the Hotel des Bains with her aunt, Madame de
Warens, a pale-faced, mild and most practicable old lady.

They had a suite of rooms, and were evidently very well-to-do people in
a worldly way. They had lived at the hotel for three years, they had no
relations in the visible universe, and what friendships they made were
chance friendships.

Hellier had not done badly, for he had gained the confidence of old
Madame de Warens, as well as the attention of her niece, and it was
mainly from the old lady’s rambling conversations that he had gained his
knowledge of their habits and their past. Also the hint of some
mysterious cloud in that past, whose shadow still hung over them, some
barrier that fate had slidden between them and society, causing them to
lead this aimless hotel life, divorced from friends and relations.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAPTER II


HE came through the town and up the Grand Rue.

When he reached the ramparts he took a seat, despite the nipping east
wind.

He looked at his watch.

Just about this hour every day it was the custom of Madame de Warens and
her niece to take a walk on the ramparts.

It seemed the only fixed thing, except meals, in their desolate lives,
this walk every day on the ramparts.

Hellier would meet them there. It was a sort of tacit appointment. No
person, unless they were curiously blind, could fail to see that it was
a rendezvous. The women came and the young man came and walked with them
up and down on this desolate place for half an hour or so, talked about
everything and nothing, returning to the hotel where he left them,
perhaps not to see them again till the following day.

This afternoon they were late. Hellier looked at his watch again, it was
ten minutes past the time of the usual meeting. He was rising to return,
with a desolate feeling at the heart, when, far off, coming towards him,
he saw the figure of a girl. It was Mademoiselle Lefarge, and she was
alone!

“My aunt was afraid of the east wind,” said the girl. “I came because I
thought you possibly might be here and waiting for us; we have got so
into the habit of meeting you that really it was like an
appointment—your society in this desolate place has become quite one of
our pleasures,” she said, “and it is bad to keep a friend who has given
one pleasure waiting in the cold east wind.”

This was plunging into the middle of things; she spoke with the
slightest foreign accent, and Hellier, an Englishman used to the
convention-bound female, could not find words, or thoughts, to reply to
her with for a moment.

It was not an awkward silence. They paused for a moment and looked over
the rampart wall at the peaceful country, just tinged by the early
spring, trees and fields, belfries and far-off hamlets, all under a sky
sad coloured and beautiful, like that sky which dwells for ever over the
“Avenue near Middleharnis.”

As they gazed, without speaking, the man was telling the woman that he
loved her, and the woman was telling the man that she cared for him.

It came quite naturally, when he took her hand and held it.

“I have wanted to tell you for a long time,” he said.

She sighed, but she let him hold her hand.

Then she said, as if in answer to some question.

“It can never be.”

“I love you,” he said, speaking in a plain, matter-of-fact tone, that
would have told little to a stander-by of the passion that was consuming
him. “You have come into my life suddenly, and if I lose you, if you
leave me, I will be for ever desolate—dear friend.”

Her eyes filled with tears.

“It can never be.”

There was a fatality, a hopelessness in her voice, that told him that
these words were no idle woman’s words. It could never be. Never could
he hold her in his arms as his own, never possess her. Paradise lay
before him, yet he could never enter in.

“Why?”

“Come,” said she, “and I will show you.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER III


THEY left the ramparts and returned to the hotel. She left him in the
hall for a moment, and then returned, and asked him to follow her.

He followed her to a door on the first floor landing; she opened it, and
led him into a sitting-room, where in an armchair beside a blazing wood
fire sat old Madame de Warens muffled up in a light shawl, with a novel
open upon her lap, asleep.

It was no ordinary hotel sitting-room, this daintily upholstered room.
It had, in fact, been entirely redecorated by a Parisian firm three
years before, when the two women had decided to take up their quarters
for good at the hotel.

The old lady by the fire awoke with a start when she heard them enter,
welcomed Hellier with a little old-fashioned bow, and relapsed into her
chair, whilst the girl, laying her gloves, which she had drawn off, upon
the table, went to a door leading into another room, opened it, and
motioned the young man to follow her.

He followed her into a bedroom. A woman’s bedroom. On the dressing-table
lay silver hair brushes and all the odds and ends of a woman’s toilet,
the little bed stood virginal-looking and white as snow, a row of tiny
boots and shoes stood by one wall.

On a table, in a corner near the bed, stood something dismal and dark.

Something veiled with _crêpe_. The girl went to this object and removed
the covering. She disclosed a bust.

The marble bust of a man. A marvellous piece of work.

A man of middle age with a pointed beard. A jolly-looking man, a
forceful face and a lovable face, roguish a bit, with that old Gallic
spirit that makes fun in public of the things that Englishmen laugh over
in private, yet benevolent.

The face of a man who begins life as a delightful companion, and ends it
as a delightful grandfather.

Looking at him one would say, “He might act foolishly, but he could do
no real wrong, I would trust him with my last shilling—”

“He was my father,” said the girl, as Hellier gazed upon the marble,
that, under the chisel of some masterhand, spoke, laughed and diffused
jollity around it.

“He was my father and he was a murderer—so the world says.”

Hellier turned slightly aside and placed his hand to the side of his
head; he could not speak.

The shocking statement was made in such a calm voice. A calmness that
spoke of what suffering endured, what shame, what ruin.

She arranged the dismal _crêpe_ around the joyous thing.

Then she turned to lead him back to the sitting-room, and as she turned,
unable to speak, unable even to think what to say, he took her hand and
pressed it.

“I know,” she replied.

He followed her into the sitting-room, and quite regardless of the old
lady by the fire, she led him to one of the windows.

Merridew’s library lay opposite, and as they stood and she talked to him
they watched the people entering the shop and the people walking on the
pavement.

“It was eight years ago,” she said. “I have not changed my name—you must
have heard of the case. It was the Lefarge case—ah no?” She paused for a
moment, “eight years ago. I cannot tell you the details, but it was in
the spring. An artist made that bust of my dear father. The artist’s
name was Müller; he had the face of a demon. I saw him twice, and his
face still haunts my dreams. I see it now before me as I talk to you. It
was a pale face, a weary face, the face of a man who has known all evil.

“He was a great artist, his name was Müller, a German, who lived in the
Quartier Latin. He was known as the madman. My dear father allowed him
to make that bust, gave him sittings, twice invited him to our house.

“When I saw this awful man,” went on the girl, her voice sinking lower,
“I felt as though I had seen evil itself. I implored my father to have
nothing to do with him. He laughed. He had no fear of evil. He was all
good.

“He called at Müller’s studio one day; listen to me, my friend, for this
is what the world says, he called at Müller’s studio one day and
murdered him.

“Listen to me, he murdered him, disappeared, and was never seen again.
He decapitated Müller, and the headless body was found in the studio.
That is what the world says. But he did not do it, I _know_, for I feel
it here where I place my hand.”

She placed her little hand, not to her side, but towards the centre of
the breast, where the heart really lies.

“It is terrible,” murmured Hellier.

“Terrible—oh, you cannot think!—and now you know why it can never be.”

“If his innocence were proved?” asked he.

“Ah, then—,” she replied.

Hellier took her hand and held it in both of his.

“Listen to me,” he said. “I have seen much of life and men, I do not say
it to please you or comfort you, but the face you have shown me is a
face incapable of—that. If I could stake my life, and if it were
possible for me to stake it upon your father’s innocence, I would do so.
I am a member of the English Bar; after what you have told me of the
barrier between us, a barrier which is no barrier to me, I will do all
that in me lies to remove it. Nothing may come of my efforts, everything
may. When a man works from love he goes doubly armed. Tell me, my
friend, where I can learn the details of your trouble, not from your
lips, for that would be too painful—have you no papers—”

“I have the _dossier_ of the case,” replied Mademoiselle Lefarge. “I
will place it in your hands; I have belief in you. When I first saw you,
something drew me towards you, perhaps it was the spirit of my
father—for I feel that he is no more—perhaps it was his spirit pointing
out to me his avenger, perhaps—” She paused.

“Yes,” said Hellier.

“Perhaps,” she said, “it was an instinct that told me that some day—”

“Yes.”

“Some day, I should love you.”

The next afternoon Hellier returned to London.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAPTER IV


IT was in the year 1600, or thereabouts, that the family of Gyde first
took its place in the history of Cumberland.

A family may be likened to a thistle; plant it here or there, and, if
left, it grows and flourishes, it casts its spores, like thistle-down on
the wind of chance, and the spores blown here or there fade or flourish,
as the case may be.

The wind of chance in the year 1600, blew Sir John Gyde to the wilds of
Cumberland, from the original home of the family in Pembrokeshire.

How splendidly they built in those old days may still be seen in the
house he made for himself.

Sir John was a gentleman of a very old school; had he lived in the
present day, and did the law take cognizance of his pleasantries and way
of life, he would have found himself, within twenty-four hours, in the
gaol of Carlisle, and he would have been hanged, to a certainty, after
the lapse of three clear Sundays following his conviction at the next
assizes.

In 1600, however, he was respected with that unalloyed respect which
fear of a bloody-minded and powerful scoundrel inspired in the medieval
mind.

For Cumberland, in 1600, was medieval to the core, and the core is
tinged, though ever so slightly, with medievalism still.

Sir John Gyde’s spirits, wine and tobacco, never paid duty, the
smugglers of Ravenglass knew why. He was the friend and protector of all
lawless scoundrels who put money in his pocket, and he hanged and
imprisoned all backsliders who didn’t. He had seduced other men’s wives,
betrayed other men’s daughters, he had killed three men in duel with his
red right hand, and he was a justice of the peace. Throstle Hall was the
name of the house he had built for himself, and Throstle Hall it remains
to this day, a formidable old pile, standing close up to the Fells of
Blencarn like an ancient malefactor, miraculously preserved for our
inspection; walls twenty-feet thick, a courtyard full of echoes,
dungeon-like cellars, interminable passages, intricate, like the
convolutions of a thief’s brain; little secret rooms, a picture gallery,
where the dead and gone Gydes stand still, despite the rigor of death,
confessing their sins by the expressions on their faces; their loves,
their hates, and, the fact, despite the beauty peeping here and there
from the gloom of a dusty canvas, that the Gydes were a sinister race.

A scarlet thread ran through the history of the family; there was
something appalling in the rapidity that marked the history of their
succession. Death had had a lot of dealings with the Gydes, and the
Gydes had dealt largely with death.

Sir Lionel Gyde had killed Sir Thomas Fiennes in a duel, and had been
killed in turn by Sir Thomas’s son. He stands, still, in effigy, does
Sir Lionel, dressed in faded violet velvet and Mechlin lace, staring
from the canvas straight before him, at the poplar trees waving in the
wind before the gallery windows. He has every point that goes to the
making of a handsome and debonair cavalier, but he has the pale blue
eyes of a murderer.

Near him there is a canvas blackened out. It has a history not to be
repeated. Beyond, another canvas exhibits a portly old gentleman. “Fox
hunter” is written upon his face across “Port wine,” and that was his
history.

They were not all bad, the Gydes; the scarlet thread only appeared in
the family texture here and there, but when it did appear it was vivid.

The fortunes of the family had been varied; the estates had been
confiscated once and given back, it had cast spores as far as London,
where Aldermanic Gydes had bloomed with great splendour.

In the Overend and Gurney business the family had, as nearly as
possible, come to ruin; it was saved only by the genius of finance
displayed by the present Sir Anthony Gyde’s father.

When Sir Anthony, the man we have to deal with in this extraordinary
story, came to his own, he found himself the possessor of half a million
of money—a poor enough heritage in these days—Throstle Hall in
Cumberland, a house in Piccadilly, and the reputation of being a fool.

He had gained the reputation at Christ Church.

The reputations gained and discarded at Oxford would make a very quaint
museum, could they be preserved, labelled and classified, and when plain
Anthony Gyde became Sir Anthony, and succeeded to the banking business,
founded by his grandfather, he left his reputation behind him at the
University in more senses than one.

The thing was as surprising as the bursting of a dragon fly from its
sheath.

It was in November that the University lost an undergraduate, noted
chiefly for a handsome face, effeminacy and a taste for collecting first
editions.

In the following January, Lombard Street became aware of a new hand in
the game of finance.

As a matter of fact Oxford had let loose, without knowing it (as she
sometimes does), a very great genius.

The young Sir Anthony had the gift of seeing the inwardness of a thing;
he had the gift of knowing what was going to appreciate; he had a nose
that could scent rotten security through all the rose leaves and
figments heaped upon it by the wiliest promoters of companies.

He would have succeeded as a small tradesman in a country town, but he
never would have made such a success as he did, with half a million of
money at his back, good credit and a hand in the European treacle-pot.

He was twenty-two when he succeeded to the banking business, and he was
forty-four at the date of this story. Twenty years, and he had done a
great deal in twenty years. He had made himself a name in finance, not
so great as the name of Rothschild or Schwab, but equally as great as
Hirsch.

He had a house in the Avenue Malakoff, in Paris, as well as his house in
London. Paris and London were the two foci of his business orbit.

It is impossible for an ordinary person to estimate the power and
influence that lie in the hands of a man like Sir Anthony Gyde; millions
do not, of a necessity, confer power upon their possessor, except the
power of spending; but a man of genius, with seven million in cash and
credit at his elbow, can command events.

Of the private life of this banker-millionaire, the least said the
better. He was a patron of Art, he was many things besides. As a man of
the world, that is to say, a man capable of fighting the world, he was
all but flawless.

He had one weak point, his temper. He rarely lost his temper, but when
he did, he quite lost control of himself and a demon, carefully hidden
at all other times, arose and spoke and acted.

A terrible and familiar spirit.

When under its influence the man was appalling.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAPTER V


STANDING on Gamblesby Fell you can see Throstle Hall away to the right,
its gables and the smoke of its chimneys above the tall elm trees, and
the great sweep of park surrounding it.

Gazing straight before one the eye travels over pasture-land and
corn-field, farm and village, to the far dim valley of the Eden beyond,
and far beyond, the hills of Cumberland stand like the ramparts of a
world dominated by the Saddle Back.

Carlisle to the right, twenty miles away, shows a tracery of smoke
against the sky.

The pasture-land and the corn-fields come right up to the fell foot,
where they cease suddenly, as though a line had been drawn between
civilization and desolation.

The whole sky-line of the fells is unbroken by a tree; here and there,
on the fell sides, you may come across a clump of stunted firs, a spread
of bushes, a larch or two, but on the upper land nothing may grow but
the short fell grass, and here and there, in the shelter of a hollow, a
few whortle bushes. The reason of this desolation is the helm wind.

The helm wind has never been explained. Of nights in Blencarn, or
Skirwith, or any of the villages in the plain below, the villagers,
waking from their sleep, hear a roar like the roar of an express train.
It is the helm wind.

Next morning the trees are in torment; in the plain below a high gale is
blowing, and, looking up at the fells, you see above them, ruled upon
the sky, a bar of cloud. It is the helm bar, under it the wind comes
rushing. When it is high, nothing can withstand its force on the fell
top; it will blow a farm cart away like a feather; the horned and
black-faced fell sheep lie down before it.

One afternoon towards the end of March a man on a big black horse came
riding through the little village of Blencarn.

He was a middle-sized man, dark, with a Vandyke beard; he wore glasses,
and he rode as though half the countryside belonged to him, which, in
fact, it did.

A farmer, leaning over his gate, touched his hat to the passer-by,
watched him turn a corner, and then, turning, called out to a man
working in a field beyond.

“Bill!”

“Ay.”

“Gyde’s back.”

“I seed’n.”

That was all, but the tones of the men’s voices spoke volumes.

Twice a year or so, once for the shooting in the autumn, and again in
spring, as a rule, Sir Anthony Gyde came down to Throstle Hall, bringing
with him his French valet, his cook, and in the autumn half a dozen
friends.

He was a good landlord, and open-handed enough, but he had never gained
the esteem of the country folks; they touched their hats to him, but
they called him a stracklin.[1]

Footnote 1:

   A bad un.


Certain incidents of his youth lingered in their memory. In the country
the past dies slowly; if you leave a reputation there to-day, you will
find it there ten years hence, not much the worse for the wear.

Leaving Blencarn, Sir Anthony struck over the lower fells; he did not
trouble about roads or gates, when he met with a wall of loose stones he
put his horse at it, and the horse, an Irish hunter, tipped it with his
fore hoofs and passed over.

On Gamblesby Fell he drew rein. It was a still grey day; there was
scarcely a sound on the breeze; one could hear the call of a shepherd,
the bark of his dog, and, far away, the drumming sound of driven sheep.

The master of millions sat with the reins hanging loose upon his horse’s
neck, gazing at the scene before him. Then, touching his horse with the
spur, he resumed his way, making towards the plain and home.

He had only come down from London the day before, and he intended
returning on the morrow; he had spent the day in going over the estate,
and he intended passing the evening in consultation with his land-agent,
Gristlethwaite.

Two miles from home he took a short cut, and struck across the fields
into a very strange and desolate place.

Here, in a large meadow, stands Long Meg, and here recline her
daughters.

They are a weird group, even by daylight, more so just now, for the dusk
was beginning to fall.

Long Meg is just a huge stone, standing erect and lonely, the relic of
some forgotten religion; her daughters, sixty or more, lie before her in
a circle. They are boulders, seen by daylight; but in the dusk, they are
anything your fancy wills. Hooded women, for choice, in all positions;
some crouched as if in prayer, some recumbent, some erect. He was
passing these things, which he had known from his childhood, when,
amidst them, and almost like one of them, he perceived a form seated on
a camp stool.

It was the form of a man wearing a broad-brimmed hat.

Now, what presentiment or curiosity stirred the mind of Sir Anthony Gyde
will never be known, but on perceiving this figure he reined in, then
turned his horse and rode towards it.

The man had been sketching, evidently, for a small easel stood before
him, but he seemed to have forgotten his work, forgotten the dusk that
had overtaken him, forgotten everything, in some reverie into which he
had fallen.

He must have heard the horse’s hoofs approaching, but he did not turn.

“You are sketching the stones?” said Sir Anthony, drawing rein a few
feet away.

The man on the camp stool turned and looked from under the brim of his
hat at the man on the horse.

There was just enough light to see his face.

It was a face that no man or woman would ever forget, once having seen.

It was not ugly, but it was thin, cadaverous, and under the shadow of
the hat brim, in some mysterious way dreadful. Now Sir Anthony Gyde was
a man who feared neither ghost nor devil, but when his eyes met the eyes
of this man his face fell away, and he sat in his saddle like a man who
has suddenly been stricken by age.

He sat for a moment like this, then, wheeling his horse, he put spurs to
it and fled, as a man flies for his life.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAPTER VI


HE struck into the high road.

A frost had set in with the evening, the road was like metal, and the
sound of the horse’s hoofs rang upon the air like the sound of a
trip-hammer on anvil.

A detour of several miles brought him to the main avenue gate of the
Hall.

A groom was waiting at the steps of the house; he took the horse, which
was lathered with foam, and the horseman, without a word, went up the
steps.

He entered a large galleried hall, hung with armour and trophies of the
chase; a great fire blazed cheerily on the immense hearth, and the soft
electric light fell upon the Siberian bear-skins, and lit with the light
of another age the quaint figures of the dark oak carvings that were
there when Charles was King.

Sir Anthony Gyde passed across the hall, opened a door, and entered the
library.

He paced up and down. To-morrow evening at this hour he was due to meet
Spain in the person of her Ambassador, and to discuss a loan that had
been entrusted to his hands.

But he was not thinking of Spain. For the moment the affairs of the
world were nothing to him.

For the moment his mind was driven into communication with his soul.

As he walked up and down, now with his hands in his pockets, now with
his arms crossed, his face wore that expression which a face wears when
its owner finds himself fronting his fate.

The most terrible experience in life is to meet the past, and to find
that it is still living.

What a helpless, vague, futile country seems the past; just a picture, a
voice, a dream. Yet what demons live there, active and in being.

Men fear the future, but it is in the past that danger lies. At any
moment one of those old vague pictures that lie beyond yesterday, may
become animated, and the woman we betrayed in the rose garden, or the
brother of the man we killed in the desert, may enter our lives through
some unseen door.

Gyde, having paced the room for some ten minutes, rang a bell by the
mantel and ordered the servant who answered it to summon Gristlethwaite,
the land-agent.

He was a short, thick-set man, Cumbrian by birth, but with little trace
of the accent.

Sir Anthony bade him be seated, ordered in cigars and whisky, and
plunged into business.

He was once more the level-headed business man, the man who could take
in the whole details of the management of a big estate in a few hours,
pick holes in it, point out errors, and show as deep a knowledge of
detail as though he lived there all the year round.

It was past dinner-time, but he apparently forgot the fact.

After several hours’ conversation and inspection of accounts, Sir
Anthony, who was standing with his back to the mantelpiece, suddenly, in
the middle of a confabulation about drainage, turned the conversation.

“By the way,” he said, “have you seen an artist fellow about here, man
in a broad-brimmed hat—”

“If he’s the man you mean,” replied the agent, “I believe it’s a man
with a German name, Klein, an artist. I let him have Skirle Cottage a
month ago.”

“Klein,” said the other, in a meditative tone.

“He took it for three months,” went on Gristlethwaite. “Paid in advance.
He brought some sticks of furniture from Penrith; he’s an ill-looking
chap, but his money is good; half-cracked I should think, coming here
this time of year.”

“He didn’t give you any references.”

“No, he paid in advance; I was in two minds about letting him have the
place, but since old Lewthwaite’s death it has been lying idle and going
to pieces.”

“Did you have any conversation with him?”

“Yes, sir,” said Gristlethwaite, “and his talk struck me as a bit daft.
I cannot remember all he said, but I remember he told he me had lived in
Paris and had seen you there.”

“What else did he say, try and think. I saw the fellow this evening
sketching the stones, and I don’t like the look of him; one never knows
in these days what burglars are about.”

“Oh, I don’t think he’s anything of that sort,” replied the other, “and
I can’t very well remember the words he said, except that he was
reckoned a great artist and that he had come down here to complete his
masterpiece.”

Sir Anthony made that movement of the shoulders of a person who, to use
a vulgar expression, feels a goose walking upon his grave.

“Well,” he said. “I suppose he has taken the cottage, and we can’t turn
him out.”

Then he went on conversing about the drainage, at the exact point where
he had left off, as though Klein, the cottage, and the masterpiece were
things of no account.

At ten Gristlethwaite departed.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER VII


THE next morning’s post brought some fifty or so letters to Throstle
Hall, forwarded on from London.

Letters from Russia, letters from Japan, letters from Paris,
Constantinople and Madrid; bills, circulars, lottery announcements,
touting letters, begging letters, letters from lunatics, financiers,
friends, politicians and enemies.

It was a post the receipt of which would have driven an ordinary man to
distraction, but it did not distract Sir Anthony Gyde.

He reviewed them sitting up in bed propped up with pillows, a cup of tea
by his side and his correspondence spread upon the coverlet.

He sorted them by the simple process of casting them upon the floor,
some on the right, some on the left. The ones on the right went to the
waste-paper basket, the ones on the left to his secretary. He had nearly
finished, when he came upon an envelope thin and narrow, poverty
stricken, stamped in the left-hand corner as if in defiance of
convention and addressed in a handwriting unique, in that it managed to
be both prim and fantastic.

There are letters, men, streets, and numerous other things in this life,
that produce upon the mind of the person who sees them for the first
time, an impression to be summed up in the one word—Bad.

The letter in Sir Anthony’s hand would have struck you or me, most
probably, with an unfavourable impression, but it did not seem to affect
him; he was used to all sorts of impressions.

When you possess a fortune to be reckoned in millions, derived from
possessions all over the world, you must accommodate your temper to the
receipt of more things than rents and felicitations. Gyde, for instance,
was accustomed to receive at least one letter in the course of every
month, threatening either his life or his reputation; so accustomed,
indeed, that he looked forward perhaps with interest to their receipt.

He opened the murderous and mean-looking letter in his hand, and came
upon neither skull nor cross-bones, nor coffin, nor threat, but simply,

          “Skirle Cottage,

            “Blencarn Fell,

    “I will be at home this afternoon at three o’clock. I must see you,
    without fail, at that hour.

              “KLEIN.”

Leloir, the valet, was in the bath-room stropping a razor, when he heard
a stifled cry from the bedroom adjoining; running in, he found his
master standing on the floor, holding the bedpost with one hand, whilst
with the other he held the letter we have just read.

His face was of that peculiar grey we associate with damp walls, mildew,
ruin. He was shaking in every member, and the bed shook, as if the
terror of the man, or his rage, had diffused itself even into the
inanimate.

Leloir withdrew; he had too intimate a knowledge of his master to
intrude upon him when he was in one of his takings.

I have said that when Gyde lost himself in one of his attacks of anger,
a devil stepped forth and was seen. Speaking less hyperbolically, the
man became a ravening beast, and he would as soon have struck Leloir to
the ground, or anyone else, indeed, when in one of these attacks, as
not.

Now, left to himself, with nothing to vent his anger upon, the attack
left him without an explosion, the shaking of the bed ceased, he called
his man to him, ordered his bath to be prepared, and whilst this was
being done, he examined the envelope in which the letter had arrived.

It bore the postmark “Skirwith,” and in the corner was written the word
“Local.”

It had evidently been posted at the village of Skirwith some time on the
day before, though the office stamp was half obliterated and quite
useless as an indication of the date.

Having examined the envelope carefully, he replaced the letter in it and
laid it on the mantelpiece, bathed, dressed, put the letter in his
pocket, and then sent for his secretary to the library, where he began
dictating letters in answer to the important ones he had received that
morning.

But he dictated no reply to the humble-looking epistle post-marked
Skirwith.

At half-past one he had luncheon.

Shortly after luncheon he ordered his motor-car to be got ready to take
him to the railway station at Carlisle, in time to catch the express to
London at five; also a second car to take his secretary, dispatch boxes
and odds and ends. The French cook was not given the dignity of a car.
The cook, who was a personage in his way, would be driven to Little
Salkeld station in the dogcart, and find his way to Carlisle by train.
Leloir would go with his master.

It was like the mobilization of a small army every time Sir Anthony Gyde
chose to change his residence, even for a few days.

At half-past two a small Arol-Johnston car, used for short distances,
was brought to the door.

Sir Anthony got into it, having given Leloir strict injunctions as to
the luggage, etc. He told the man that he was about to visit an outlying
farm on the estate, and that he would be back in time for the motor to
take him to the train. Then he started.

He was his own chauffeur.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER VIII


SKIRLE Cottage lies tucked away in a hollow of Blencarn Fell.

The fells, as I have before indicated, are one great sweep of low hills
facing the west; they are continuous and almost unbroken yet by the
local custom they are divided into sections, each with a name of its
own.

Blencarn Fell, so called, perhaps, from the village of Blencarn at its
foot, is as wild and, perhaps, in summer, as lovely as any other part of
the Pennine Range.

Skirle Cottage, lying in a depression of it, was as far removed from
human eye as it is possible for a house to be.

It was a fairly large cottage, a barn was attached to it in the
Cumberland fashion, so that the whole building was of one piece.

The hollow in which it lay, was, of a summer afternoon, perfumed with
the smell of those wild flowers that grow in Cumberland as they grow
nowhere else, and filled with the murmur of bees. At dusk of a summer’s
evening it was a veritable cup of twilight and silence.

Even in summer, when the sky was blue above, when the wild strawberries
were in their glory and the hills were hazy with heat, there was
something strangely melancholy about this tiny valley, with the little
cottage nestling in its heart.

There were days in the long winter of Cumberland when the valley and the
cottage seen from above, presented a picture dreary to the point of
being tragic.

The high road, at the foot of the fells, was scarcely a quarter of a
mile away, yet the cottage was quite invisible from it.

The Arol-Johnston car, with its single occupant, drew up on the road
level with the unseen cottage. Sir Anthony Gyde descended, and leaving
the car to take care of itself, opened the gate, passed through, and
struck up the rising ground.

There was not a breath of wind, the air was keen with frost, there was
not a living thing in sight, save in the sky, far up, under the cold
grey clouds, a hawk poised, now moving with a flutter of the wings, now
motionless as a stone.

One might stand here seemingly unseen; it would have appeared that one
might commit any act, unseen by eye, save the eye of God. Yet far up the
fell, so small a figure as to be unnoticeable, a boy, Robert Lewthwaite,
son of a shoe-maker in Blencarn, attracted by the hum of the approaching
car on the high road far below, was watching.

From that elevation he could see the car approaching; he saw it stop and
the occupant get out. He recognized him at once as Sir Anthony Gyde. He
saw him cross the field and enter the little valley.

Here Sir Anthony looked around him, sweeping the fell face as though to
see if he were observed. Apparently satisfied, he knocked at the cottage
door; the door was opened for him, he entered, and the door was closed.

All this vastly interested the boy. Klein, the German artist, had
greatly exercised the local mind. A man whose face and personality would
have drawn attention in a city, excited the deepest interest among these
primitive folk.

Primitive, perhaps, but full of imagination, and more than ordinarily
speculative.

He, too, like Sir Anthony Gyde, had been labelled a stracklin; besides
being a stracklin he was “Waugh.”

No boy in the village would have approached Skirle Cottage after dark.
There was something about its occupant that fascinated them, but it was
a fascination composed three parts of fear.

He cooked his own food, and though the food he cooked was the food he
bought from the village shop and the surrounding farms, there were
sinister suspicions in the minds of the young people in the
neighbourhood that he cooked and ate other things besides eggs and bacon
and fell mutton.

An old woman of the village, Mrs Braithwaite, called every day at noon
to clean up the place and make the bed (Klein was a late riser, another
suspicious point about him), and her tales about the artist and his
doings did not detract from the villagers’ pre-conceived impressions.

She declared, at times, that he was enough to “mak’ t’ flesh creep up
yan’s back to think on,” but he paid her five shillings a week, and as
money was scarce in the Braithwaite household, and the work to be done
at Skirle Cottage occupied only half an hour or so a day, she kept on
with the job.

There was, besides the money, a sort of eerie fascination about the
stranger that was not entirely distasteful to the old lady’s heart.

Once, a small boy named Britten, greatly daring, had peeped through the
window at the ogre. The door opened and the ogre came out, and Britten
ran, returning home drenched, and with the following lucid description
of the incident and the cause of his wetting. “He chased me an’ I rin,
ah catcht mi teea ower a cobble and down ah went, end-ower-end inta the
beck.” So it was not surprising that Bob Lewthwaite, seeing Sir Anthony
Gyde going in to the ogre’s cottage and the door closing upon him,
waited, forgetting everything else in the world, to see what was going
to happen.

He waited a long time, nearly three-quarters of an hour, then the door
opened and Sir Anthony Gyde came out.

He was carrying a black bag in his hand.

He closed the door and looked around him, just as he had done before
entering. Satisfied, apparently, that he was unobserved, he came down
the valley towards the road, got into the motor-car and drove off.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAPTER IX


SIR ANTHONY GYDE was a fearless horseman, but a somewhat timid motorist,
as motorists go.

He drove carefully, rarely exceeding fifteen miles an hour.

To-day, however, he cast his timidity aside.

He was lucky to-day, for on these roads of Cumberland it is nothing to
meet with a flock of five hundred sheep or so, or a string of farm
carts, each drawn by a horse terrified of motor-cars, as most of the
farm horses of Cumberland still are.

It was ten minutes to four when he reached Throstle Hall.

The Edinburgh express for London stops at Carlisle at five, so he had
plenty of time in which to catch it.

He descended from the car in a leisurely manner, with the black bag in
his hand, and entered the house. He crossed the hall and entered the
library, remained there for a minute or so, and then came out and went
into the dining-room. One could tell, by the man’s footsteps, that he
was full of unrest. He went upstairs and entered the rooms on the first
floor. Here he met his secretary, Mr Folgam, but he did not speak a
word.

In one of the corridors he met Leloir.

“The luggage has all been dispatched, sir,” said Leloir, “and the car is
waiting. When would you like to start?”

“Start,” said Sir Anthony, speaking like a person awakened from a dream,
“for where?”

“You ordered the car to take you to Carlisle, sir,” said the astonished
Leloir, “to catch the London express at five. I telegraphed this morning
for a special saloon carriage to be attached.”

“Ah, so I did,” said Sir Anthony, “so I did.” He chuckled, as if at some
obscure joke, known to him alone.

It was dusk in the corridor, and Leloir could not see his master’s face
distinctly, or the expression on it, but he heard the chuckle. He had
been in Gyde’s service for two years, and he thought that he knew every
phase of his master’s temperament and character, but this chuckle
alarmed him more than the wildest outbreak of rage would have done.

There was something inhuman in it, something horrible. It did not seem
the sound produced by a man’s voice, a great ape might have uttered it
or a devil.

Leloir was turning to go, in fact, he had made half a dozen steps, when
Gyde’s voice said:

“Stop.”

“Sir?” replied the valet.

“You have all my jewels.”

“Yes, sir, they are in this bag.”

“Right. Order the car to the door.”

The valet, glad to be gone, did as he was bid, and the master of
Throstle Hall continued his peregrinations about the house, as though to
make sure that everything was right before leaving.

A few minutes later he came downstairs, still carrying the bag. The
motor, a large brougham affair, was standing at the steps; he got in,
Leloir closed the door, mounted beside the chauffeur, and they started.

Ten minutes before the express was due they arrived at Carlisle station.

“Tell me when the train arrives,” said Gyde through the speaking tube to
his valet. “I am busy and don’t want to be disturbed.”

He sat reading over some papers he had taken from his pocket, whilst
Leloir busied himself, seeing that what luggage they had with them was
prepared for the train.

When it arrived Sir Anthony, leaving the motor, walked hurriedly down
the platform to the special saloon carriage that had been attached for
him, took his seat, and ordered his man to let nobody disturb him.

It was dusk when the great two-engined express drew out of Carlisle
station and took its way to London.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAPTER X


TWICE during the journey to London Leloir entered the compartment where
Sir Anthony was, once bringing him tea, and again, just after leaving
Normanton, bringing him the evening papers.

One of the dining-car attendants, who was a friend of Leloir’s,
afterwards deposed that there was something very strange about the man’s
manner.

“He looked startled and white,” ran his deposition, “looked like a man
who had seen a ghost. I’ve known him a year, met him first on the run to
Carlisle, then I met him in town by appointment and we went to a music
hall together. He was always a good companion, and spent his money
freely, but when he came into the car-kitchen for his master’s tea he
had no sense in him; I asked him how his master was, he took me by the
buttonhole and he says, ‘Parsons, do you believe in the supernatural?’

“‘No,’ I says, ‘I don’t. What makes you ask me?’

“‘Because,’ he says, and then he stopped, for the head attendant was
calling to me.

“I’d give a dollar,” concluded Mr Parsons, “to know what he did mean,
and I’d bet a dollar it was something queer.”

At St Pancras two broughams were waiting; Gyde got into the first,
Leloir got on the box, and they drove off; the secretary and the
dispatch boxes followed in the second brougham.

It was half-past eleven when they arrived at 110B Piccadilly.

Sir Anthony went to his own room, followed by his valet; the secretary
went to his own room and to bed, as did Raymond the butler who was a man
who kept early hours.

At midnight the house was as silent as the tomb.

Now, Mr Folgam’s apartments were on the same floor as Sir Anthony’s
bedroom, and he was lying in bed reading _The Count of Monte Cristo_,
when, very shortly after midnight, he heard a cry.

It was exactly like the howl of a dog. It was not like the sound a human
being would emit, he afterwards deposed; and in this Mr Folgam, who was
not a student of inarticulate sounds, was wholly wrong; for it was
exactly like the cry of a man in the extremity of terror or mental
agony. A sound which, fortunately, very few of us have ever heard.

But it was in the house, he was sure of that, and getting out of bed he
came down the corridor towards Sir Anthony’s room.

The electric lamps were shut off in the corridor, but the place was
dimly illuminated by the flood of light streaming through the
secretary’s bedroom door.

He had reached the door of Sir Anthony’s room, when it was opened, and
Sir Anthony himself, fully dressed and carrying a black bag in his hand,
appeared.

On seeing Folgam he started, like a person who has received a shock.

“I thought I heard a cry,” said Folgam. “I thought some one might be
ill, sir—”

“Ah!” said the other, “I heard nothing. Go to your room and tell them in
the morning not to awaken me till ten. I shall be at work till late.”

Folgam apologized for his mistake and withdrew, and Sir Anthony,
retiring into his room, shut the door.

Ten minutes later, had anyone been watching, they would have perceived
Gyde, bag in hand, passing down the corridor.

He was holding one of those small electric lamps that light on pressure
of a button. He came down the broad staircase, making as little sound as
a cat.

He unbarred and unchained the front door, and if the bars and chains had
been covered with velvet he could not have made less noise.

Closing the door behind him, he stood upon the steps.

A late hansom was passing; he hailed it, gave an address to the cabman,
and drove away.

The clocks chimed the hours away, and the night-prowler and the
policeman passed the house in Piccadilly, the house with the great
marble pillars on either side the door, which every habitué of the West
End knew to be the mansion of Gyde, the millionaire.

Two o’clock, three and four o’clock passed, and the dawn peeped into the
bedroom of Sir Anthony Gyde, where, on his back, upon the floor, lay the
valet, Leloir, dead, without scratch or wound, his arms outspread, and
upon his face an expression of horror, caught and made immutable by
death.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAPTER XI


IT was after ten the next morning that Raymond, the butler, made the
discovery. Knocking at the door of Sir Anthony’s room and receiving no
answer, he opened it, and found the body of the valet.

Had Raymond, instead of calling in the policeman on point duty at the
corner, telephoned instead to New Scotland Yard, he would have found
coming, as a reply, neither Inspector Alanson or Fairchild, both being
away on duty. He would have found a much younger man acting as their
locum tenens. A clean-shaved, almost boyish person, suggestive of a café
waiter in his Sunday clothes. In other words, he would have found
Gustave Freyberger, then unknown, now a European celebrity.

Freyberger, a naturalized Englishman, was exactly twenty-six years of
age when the Gyde case fell into his hands like a gift from heaven and
it fell into his hands at half-past ten in the morning, heralded by the
ringing of the bell of the telephone connecting Marlborough Street
Police Station and New Scotland Yard.

It was half-past ten exactly when the message came through, and the
Chief of the Criminal Investigation Department, who had just arrived,
received it in person.

“Who’s on duty?” he asked, and on being told “Freyberger,” sent for him.

“Take a cab,” he said, “and go at once to 110B Piccadilly—man dead
there—make your report to me personally here as soon as possible.”

“As soon as possible,” answered Freyberger, and, taking his hat and
overcoat from the waiting-room, he ran swiftly down the two flights of
stairs, across the hall, and into the street. There was nothing to
indicate that tragedy stood behind the solid and respectable oak doors
of No. 110B. They were opened by a policeman, and the detective, having
entered, they were immediately shut.

“You have touched nothing, altered nothing, meddled with nothing, I
hope,” said Freyberger, as he slipped out of his overcoat.

“Nothing,” replied the man in blue. “The corpse is just where it fell
when it expired.”

“Who sent for you?”

“The butler.”

“Call him up.”

The officer of the law disappeared for a moment, and then returned,
followed by Raymond. Raymond was very white and shaky, and had evidently
been fortifying himself with strong waters, but he was quite capable of
telling what he knew.

In a few words he told how Sir Anthony, his valet and secretary, had
arrived the night before; how the household had retired to rest; how he
had received instructions from the secretary, Mr Folgam, not to allow
him to be awakened till ten.

How he had searched for Leloir, without finding him, to tell him of this
order; how he had gone into the bedroom to find Leloir lying dead on the
floor, and Sir Anthony gone.

“Gone!” said Freyberger.

“The bed had not been slept in,” replied the other.

“Before proceeding further I will go up and see the body,” said the
detective. Raymond led the way, and Freyberger followed him to the fatal
bedroom; bending over the body was a tall, clean-shaved man.

“Dr Murrell,” said Raymond.

The doctor rose to his full height, and exposed what he had been bending
over. It was a sight that gave even Freyberger a thrill.

He introduced himself. “I can’t find a trace of injury,” said the police
surgeon.

“What do you think he died of?”

“Fright,” replied Dr Murrell. “Most possibly he had a weak heart, we
will see at the autopsy; but it was fright that killed him—look at his
face.”

Now Freyberger was a junior man at the Yard. He recognized at once that
this case was no ordinary case of a man being found dead. The position
of Gyde, his great place in the world, his absence, and the
extraordinary death of his valet, conspired to make it an affair of the
first importance.

A weak man might have sent for assistance, but he was not a weak man by
any manner of means, and as he stood looking at the object on the floor,
it seemed to him that he could hear the waters of that flood that leads
on to fortune.

In a moment he had made up his mind. Leaving the corpse exactly where it
lay, he withdrew downstairs to the dining-room, asking the people around
to accompany him.

He shut the dining-room door and began to interrogate Raymond.

“How many people slept in the house last night?”

“Sir Anthony, sir, myself, the secretary, Mr Folgam, Leloir and the
servants.” Then, answering the questions of the detective, he told
nearly all that we know.

As he was finishing, the door opened, and Mr Folgam came in; divining
the presence of the law he introduced himself, and told of the cry he
had heard and of how he had met Sir Anthony dressed, apparently, for
going out.

“In what state was the front door this morning,” asked Freyberger of
Raymond.

“The chain was undone, sir, all the bolts drawn, and the door held only
by the latch.”

“Had Sir Anthony any valuables in the house?”

“His jewels, sir, in the big Morocco case he always carries about with
him travelling; he keeps papers in it, but there are some very valuable
jewels.”

“Where is the case?”

“In the bedroom, sir.”

“Go with the constable and fetch it for me to see.”

Raymond departed, and returned with the case; it was open, at least it
was unlocked.

Freyberger opened it; there were no jewels in it, nothing but papers; he
gave it into the care of the constable. “How was Sir Anthony dressed
when you saw him at his bedroom door?” he asked, turning to Mr Folgam.

“Dressed for going out, even to his hat,” replied the secretary. “He had
a dark overcoat on; Sir Anthony nearly always dressed in dark things.”

“Did he seem excited?”

“Well, I could not see his face very well, and as to his manner, no, I
do not think it betrayed any excitement.”

Freyberger paused a moment in thought; Gyde vanishing from the house
without having slept in his bed, the vanishing of the jewels, the death
of Leloir, and the scream heard by Mr Folgam, all pointed towards the
sinister.

But it was all vague. Gyde might have gone out on some business of his
own at that late hour, taking his jewels with him; the scream heard by
Folgam might have been an illusion, the death of Leloir might have been
accidental. Each incident in itself was not impossible, viewed by the
light of natural causes, but the conjunction of the three spelt, in
lurid letters, crime.

There was work to be done, but it was not here.

“Who are Sir Anthony’s bankers?” asked Freyberger of Raymond.

“Coutts, sir.”

“Thanks, now I must be going. You will have the corpse removed to the
mortuary, and—should Sir Anthony return, you had better telephone us,
and we will send some one to interview him.”

Freyberger left the house with the doctor.

“It’s a queer case,” said the police surgeon.

“Very,” replied the other, hailing a passing hansom.

“I wonder what he saw before he died,” went on Dr Murrell.

“If we knew that,” replied the detective, “the case might not seem so
queer.”

“Or queerer?”

“Perhaps.”

“That man died of pure blank terror, I’ll stake my reputation on it,”
said Dr Murrell. “Out in Bulgaria, in the riot time, I saw a woman who
had died like that. I have made my mind up to try and find out.”

“What?”

“What he saw.”

“How?”

“I shall photograph the retina by Mendel’s process.”

“Ah!” said Freyberger.

“Whatever he saw was seen by electric light, for the lamps in the
bedroom were still alight when they found him. Electric light is more
favourable even than sunlight for retinal pictures; he died
instantaneously; the conditions could not well be more favourable.”

“You are a photographer?”

“Amateur,” replied the police surgeon, with a fine assumption of
modesty, considering that photography, its highways and byways, was the
hobby of his life.

“You will let me know if you are successful,” said the other, getting
into the cab.

“I will,” replied Dr Murrell.

When Freyberger reached the Yard, he had to wait for a full quarter of
an hour before being admitted to the presence of his chief.

He found the Chief of the Criminal Investigation Department seated in
that half cheerful, half sinister room, which is the central bureau of
an army for ever at war with crime.

The walls of this room are hung with pictures of noted criminals; over
the mantel, in a glass case, are weird-looking instruments of the expert
burglars’ art.

In the centre of the room, at a large table covered with papers and
documents, sat the chief; a young man, well dressed and groomed, with a
quiet manner and a calm, cool, steadfast eye.

Freyberger, without much preliminary, plunged into the business before
him, and told all we know. Occasionally the young man at the table made
a note. He listened attentively, asking a question now and then.

When his subordinate had finished he said, “Is that all?”

“Yes, sir, that is all I have to say.”

“Hum—well, since you went, there has been a warrant issued for the
arrest of Sir Anthony Gyde.”

“A warrant,” said Freyberger. “I beg your pardon, sir—”

“Issued by Sir James Coatbank, Justice of the Peace for the Division of
Carlisle.”

“What is the charge?” asked Freyberger.

“Murder,” replied the chief. “I have been in telephonic communication
with Carlisle for the last quarter of an hour and have received all the
details. He is accused of the murder of a man named Klein in a cottage
on the fells, near Blencarn.” He then methodically, yet quickly, began
to give the details of the case, omitting nothing, yet not using an
unnecessary word. What he told Freyberger here follows, but in other
words.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XII


BOB LEWTHWAITE, the child who had watched Sir Anthony Gyde entering and
leaving Skirle Cottage, was of a venturesome disposition. He feared few
things except “boggles.” He feared Klein a bit, but not nearly so much
as the other children of the village. The fact of Sir Anthony’s visit to
the cottage stirred his rustic imagination, and a great inspiration came
to him to do as young Britten had done, peep through the window.

He came down the fell side towards the cottage, half undecided in his
mind; at the fell foot he was half inclined to give up the business,
then, suddenly, he cast fear away, and crawling along by the cottage
wall reached the window, raised himself on tip-toe, and peeped.

What he saw he did not quite understand at first. Then it became
horribly clearer.

There was a great grey bundle on the white cottage-floor; then the
thing, on closer inspection, became a human body. But there was no head.
There was a pool of something dark near where the head ought to have
been.

It was Klein’s body; he recognized it, because of the clothes, a grey
homespun suit, that all the neighbourhood knew. It was Klein, but he had
no head.

Murder never occurred to the child; he only recognized the fact that the
man he had seen walking about the day before had suddenly lost his head,
and the horror of this fact, suddenly borne in on him, was greater than
he could well bear.

He ran he knew not whither, but presently he found himself sitting under
a wall shivering and shaking and very sick.

Then he went home, but he did not tell what he had seen.

He sat in a corner of his father’s cottage looking “waugh.” He would
take no tea, and he went to bed mum. But no sooner was he undressed and
between the sheets than suddenly, as if touched off, he began to bellow.

Then it all came out helter-skelter, and the horrified cottagers
listened to him as he told his gruesome tale.

There is scarcely a farm girl in Cumberland who has not a bicycle of her
own, and before the tale was well told Bob Lewthwaite’s eldest sister
had started to fetch the constable from Langwathby.

When he arrived, and when lamps were lit, the whole village, headed by
the policeman, made for Skirle Cottage.

The constable alone entered.

On the floor lay the body of Klein, headless and fearful to behold. It
was dressed in the well-known grey suit, but the clothes, for some
mysterious reason, were slashed, as if with a knife. The coat was open
and the waistcoat, but there were no wounds on the trunk that the
constable could see.

No knife or weapon of any sort was to be seen.

The room was furnished plainly, with a deal table, kitchen chairs and an
old horsehair sofa. Neither chairs or table were overset; there was no
mark at all of a struggle, nothing to hint of a tragedy enacted there,
nothing, that is to say, but the headless body lying upon the floor.

The constable, a man of great intelligence, closed the door on the
murmuring throng outside, and made a minute examination of the room.

He searched the floor carefully; there were no marks of footsteps, but
in a corner lay something white; he picked it up, it was a silk
handkerchief, marked with the initials “A.G.”

On the mantel, beside a tin candlestick, lay a letter, an envelope
containing the envelope and letter which Sir Anthony had received that
morning, and a sheet of paper on which was written:

      “Paris, Feb. 8th.

”You will not escape me; neither you or the secret you carry, which is
also mine. If necessary, I will follow you to the ends of the earth—and
beyond,

      “KLEIN.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XIII


“SO,” said Freyberger, when this detailed description of the affair had
been given to him by his Chief, “it is briefly this: Gyde was being
blackmailed by this man; he called on him, murdered him, and cut off his
head, put it in a bag, came to London with the bag and slipped out of
his London house, carrying with him his jewels. It is an extraordinarily
strange case.”

“It seems clear enough.”

“Not to me, sir—excuse me for saying so.”

The Chief of the Criminal Investigation Department had long had his eye
on Freyberger. He recognized genius in the man. He knew his temperament
also, and that, if given a full rein and let speak and act as he liked
he blossomed; but, if snubbed or kept in check he wilted, and became
just an ordinary detective.

“Just explain yourself,” he said. “Give me the points in your mind that
strike you.”

“Well, sir,” said the other, “why did this man leave those utterly
damning letters behind him on the mantelpiece?”

“You know as well as I do,” replied the Chief, “that in every criminal’s
brain there is a black spot, a vacant point that betrays him, and leads
him to do some act, some extraordinarily stupid act, which in turn leads
him—here.”

“Quite so. Why did he cut off his victim’s head—what in the name of
heaven did he want to burden himself with a human head for? The man was
known in the neighbourhood, his body was there to be identified; taking
the head away would seem to serve no known purpose, unless he intended
to keep it as a curiosity or memento.”

“I confess it puzzles me,” replied the other.

“On top of these two puzzling facts,” went on Freyberger, “we have the
death of Leloir the valet.”

“He may have opened the bag and come upon the head.”

“I have thought of that, but the explanation does not satisfy me, for,
from the expression of his face—” Freyberger stopped.

“Yes?”

“Well, I am convinced he saw something worse than an ordinary human
head.”

“Remember that to open a bag and find a grizzly thing like that would
give even the most stout-hearted man a shock.”

Freyberger shook his head. “There was a look of wild horror on his face
that was caused, by what I know not, by what I even fail to imagine, but
by something, I am very sure, much worse than the sight of a human head.
I can almost fancy—”

“Well?”

Freyberger gave a little laugh, as if at the idea that had struck him.
“I can almost fancy a man dying with an expression on his face like that
after he had seen the—unimaginable. Excuse me, I am a German by birth,
and we Germans have wild thoughts sometimes. Let me be practical. With
your permission I will telephone now to Coutts’s, they are Sir Anthony’s
bankers; it may be as well to see if they have any knowledge of his
movements.”

“Use the telephone,” replied the Chief.

Freyberger went to the instrument, spoke through it, received an answer,
and spoke again. Then he listened attentively, and as he listened a
faint smile stole over his face.

“He has been there at ten o’clock this morning, just as they opened,
taken the box containing his late wife’s jewels, given a receipt for it,
and departed. He evidently determined to collect all his resources. He
has done it with great coolness. No professional criminal could have
done it better.”

“You must remember he was a financier,” said the other.

“True,” replied Freyberger, “and now, if you will permit me, sir, I will
go about the business of finding the cabman who drove him this morning,
or last night. He is pretty certain—” He stopped, for at that moment a
knock came to the door and a sergeant appeared.

“Telephone from Vine Street, sir, relative to 110B Piccadilly. A
dismembered human head has been discovered.”

“Ha!” said the chief. “Any details?”

“No, sir, only the statement.”

The Chief went to his private telephone and spoke through, “Messenger
come with word, no details, go at once Freyberger and report.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XIV


FREYBERGER once told me that he often admired the fictional detective,
because of the ingenuity of his maker; but that the method of Lecocq,
Sherlock Holmes and Co., had a great defect if used in the pursuit of a
master criminal.

“You see,” said he, “that in a case like this you are not following the
traces of feet, but the working of a brain. Now the common criminal may
be taken by the methods of a Sherlock Holmes. The good Sherlock sees mud
of a certain character on a man’s boots, and concludes that the man has
been to Dulwich—or is it Leatherhead?—because mud of that description is
found there. Our Sherlock is all eyes, nothing escapes him. He is just
the sort of person I would choose to follow me if I were a criminal, for
I would leave traces behind me that he would be sure to follow and that
would eternally confound him. His methods would capture a bricklayer who
had murdered his wife, perhaps, but they would not capture me. I doubt
if I could capture myself,” said Freyberger, chuckling.

“My methods? Oh, in the ordinary cases ordinary methods, and in the
extraordinary cases extraordinary ones. I think there is a lot of
instinct in our work. I think a man’s mind works in ways we know little
of. Sub-consciously, we do a lot of real thinking.

“I have also some theories which I use; one especially.

“Every crime is a story containing a hero, often a heroine, and a large
or small collection of minor characters. The story ends with the
completion of the crime by the criminal hero.

“When I am called in to a really intricate case, I am like a person to
whom is handed the last chapter of the romance.

“If in that chapter subordinate characters left, it is generally enough
for me; one thing leads to another till the story is complete. I search
for mud on boots and stains on clothes, it is true, but I plunge, if
possible, into my hero’s mind and past. There lies the heart of the
mystery. If there is no hero to be found, there is a heroine. I have
dragged a murderer to the graveside through the mind and past of a
woman.

“I did so in the Gyde case. It is true I was helped by a man called
Hellier; but that has nothing to do with my theory.”

As he drove to Piccadilly he felt somewhat dissatisfied. Gyde, unable to
dispose of the head of his victim, had left it behind him at the house.
This showed a certain unresourcefulness in the man. Was he, after all,
on the track of a common, blundering assassin?

To Freyberger the chase was everything, the feeling in the dark for
another mind, and the gripping of it and the mastering of it.

A foeman worthy of his mettle, that was what he craved for and that was
what he was about to find. When he arrived, the door was opened for him
by a plain-clothes officer.

“Well, Jenkins,” said the detective, “what have we found?”

“The head of Sir Anthony Gyde, sir, I believe,” replied the officer.
Freyberger was taking off his overcoat; he paused with it half off.

“The head of Sir Anthony Gyde?”

“The butler, Raymond, says he can identify it,” replied Jenkins. “It was
found in a cupboard in the bedroom. I came directly from Vine Street
when the message arrived. They had not disturbed it, nor have I; just
left it exactly as we found it.”

“That’s perfectly right; come with me.”

They went upstairs.

A tall, narrow cupboard in the bedroom wall stood open; on one of the
shelves reposed the head of a bearded man. The skin of the face was
strangely brown and withered, the upper lip was drawn up as if in some
contortion of pain, exposing the teeth; one of these teeth was gold
crowned.

The thing was sufficiently frightful, but Freyberger took it down and
handled it as indifferently as though it had been a cabbage.

It was in this room that Leloir, on the night before, had died of
terror.

What had he seen, and how much had this head to do with the sight?

Freyberger wrapped a towel round the thing and gave it to the
plain-clothes officer to make a parcel of and remove to Vine Street.
Then he went down to interrogate Raymond.

He was seated in the servants’ parlour, white and shaken-looking. Was he
sure that the thing was the head of his master? Yes, only it looked
brown and to have been dead a long time. He was almost sure that the
thing was his master’s head.

Freyberger stood, with his eyes fixed upon the pattern of the drugget
carpet, lost in thought.

The case had suddenly, and at a stroke, become complex enough to satisfy
the most exigeant solver of riddles. If this was the head of Sir Anthony
Gyde, then the murderer of Klein had been in his turn murdered.

But Sir Anthony Gyde had been to his bankers that morning, and had
signed a receipt for his wife’s jewels and obtained them.

This being so, he must have been murdered in the interval.

It was now after one o’clock. He must, if this was indeed his head, have
been murdered and dismembered in the course of three hours, the head
conveyed to 110B Piccadilly, and placed where it was found.

Of course, this was absurd. Of one thing alone Freyberger felt sure.

If this were indeed the head of Sir Anthony, then the thing bore some
relation to the death of the valet Leloir. Whatever unthinkable tragedy,
whatever inconceivable transformation, had caused the valet to die of
terror, had some strong relationship to the presence of this head in the
place where it had been found.

The thing must be verified. He obtained the address of Sir Anthony’s
dentist from the butler, and having ordered a telegram to be sent to him
to call at Vine Street at his earliest convenience, he left the house.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAPTER XV


IT was now half-past one. He knew that the Chief would be at luncheon,
so he determined to have luncheon himself before returning to the Yard.

He turned into Blanchard’s in Beak Street.

During the meal he did not think once of the case.

He knew the advantage of allowing a problem to cool itself, and he had
the power of detaching his mind from any business on hand and attaching
it to another affair; especially when the other affair was of an edible
nature.

He was a frank gourmet. When he had finished he lit a poisonous-looking
green cigar and strolled down Regent Street towards his destination.

He was thinking now about the case; reviewing it, gazing at it with his
mind’s eye as a Jew gazes at a lustrous jewel.

The thing was as full of fire and cloud and mystery as an opal. He felt
that, live as long as he might, he would never again find himself face
to face with a case so full of strange possibilities.

It was just now, walking down the crowded street, digesting his luncheon
and smoking his cigar, it was just now, that he felt in himself that
strange sixth sense stirring which so few men possess. The sense that
allows us to see without eyes, hear without ears and feel without hands.
The sense which allows us to say to a man whom we have not seen for
years, and whom we meet at a street corner: “It is strange, I was
thinking of you to-day, and, somehow, I expected to meet you.”

Freyberger, just now, was beginning to feel that, somewhere, lost in the
darkness of the world, there existed a mind antagonistic to his own, an
appalling mind, a mind of giant stature and dwarf-like subtlety and
crookedness.

He had not yet come to grips with it, but he felt it to be there, as one
man feels the presence of another in a darkened room. When he arrived at
the Yard, he found a new development. A cabman had been found who had
driven Sir Anthony Gyde on the night before. The Chief was still absent,
so Freyberger took it upon himself to interrogate the man.

He had picked Sir Anthony up in Piccadilly at twelve-thirty on the night
before and driven him to Howland Street. Was he sure it was Sir Anthony?
Certain. He had driven him before. Nearly every cabman, accustomed to
the West End, knew him.

His cab had been coming along slowly by the kerb when he saw Sir Anthony
come out of No. 110B. The baronet walked a few paces, stopped, looked
around, saw the cab and hailed it.

He ordered himself to be driven to Howland Street, gave no number,
stopped the cab towards the middle of the street and paid his fare with
a five-shilling piece, asking for no change.

He then walked down the street, and, opening a house door with a
latchkey, entered and closed the door behind him.

“Could you identify the house again?” asked Freyberger.

The man believed he could. It was a dingy house beside one that had been
new painted.

“How was Sir Anthony dressed?” asked the detective.

“All in dark clothes, wearing a tall hat and carrying a black bag in his
hand.”

“That will do,” replied Freyberger. “Is your cab outside?”

“It is, sir.”

“Come on then, you can take me to Howland Street, and if you can
identify the house I will give you something over your fare.”

The cabman followed the detective to the street, where his cab was
waiting.

Freyberger got in, the man got on the box, and they drove off.

That a millionaire of Gyde’s somewhat dubious moral character should
have a second house in London, the address of which was not printed on
his visiting cards, was not at all an out-of-the-way fact. Yet one might
have thought he would have chosen a more cheerful neighbourhood than
Howland Street.

About the middle of the thoroughfare the cab drew up.

“That is the place, sir,” said the man, pointing to a gaunt,
grimy-looking house standing by one that had been new painted. “That is
the house, if I’m not very much mistaken.”

“Wait for me,” said Freyberger. He knocked at the door.

The door, the knocker, the bell-pulls, all were in the last stage of
neglect, an old rug hung over the area railings and a milk can stood on
the step.

The door opened after he had knocked several times and rung twice.

“Are you the landlady?” asked Freyberger of the unwashed and
wilted-looking woman who obeyed the summons.

“I am.”

“May I come in and speak to you for a moment?”

“No, you don’t,” said the woman. “If you’re after Mr Tidmus he’s gone
away, and won’t be back, goodness knows when. What’s your business?”

“I’m after no one especially. I wish to ask you a question which you
will be pleased to answer me, for I am a detective from Scotland Yard,
Inspector Freyberger. A gentleman called here last night some time
between half-past twelve and one; he let himself in with a latchkey. He
was a bearded man, wearing a tall hat and carrying a bag. What do you
know about him?”

“Well, to be sure,” said the woman, in an interested voice. “And what’s
he been doing?”

“I think we had better come in and I will explain things, thank you—”
She let him enter, closed the door and led him into a dingy parlour.
“What he has been doing is neither here nor there. I want to know about
him. Does he live here?”

“No,” replied the landlady. “If he’s the man you mean he came here with
a letter from Mr Kolbecker asking me to let him use Mr Kolbecker’s room
for the night.”

“Ah!”

“Somewhere about ten to one it was. I’d been sitting up waiting for Mr
Giles. He plays the trombone at the Gaiety and mostly comes home late
and not to be trusted with candles.

“I hears a latchkey fumbling and I comes into the passage, and there was
a gentleman such as you name.

“He said, ‘Mrs Stevens?’ and I says, ‘That’s my name, and who are you?’
He says, ‘Mr Kolbecker has lent me his latchkey and allows me the use of
his room to-night.’ I says, ‘Oh!’ ‘Yes,’ says he, ‘and here’s a letter
from him.’ He hands me a letter; it was from Mr Kolbecker, and it said
to let the bearer use his room for the night as he was a friend. ‘All
right,’ I says, ‘the sheets are aired; and what might your name be?’ He
laughed when I said that, leastways, it wasn’t so much a laugh, it was
more liker the noise a hen makes clucking, only not so loud. ‘Anthony,’
he says. ‘Anthony what?’ I asks him. ‘Mr John Anthony, that’s my name,’
he answers me, and I shows him up. He went at eight this morning and
give the servant girl a shilling.”

“Have you the letter he brought?”

“No; he kept it.”

“How long has Mr Kolbecker been here?”

“Some six months, off and on, but for the last six weeks he has been up
in Cumberland.”

“Ah!” said Freyberger, “in Cumberland! What is he, this Mr Kolbecker?”

“He’s an artist.”

“An artist?”

“Oh, he’s all right. He pays his way regular. Keeps on his room and
sends me the money for it every fortnit regular.”

“Have you any of his letters?”

“I b’lieve I’ve got the last.” She went to a drawer and hunted amidst
some odds and ends.

“Here it is; no, ’tis only the envelope.”

“Give me the envelope,” said Freyberger. It was a narrow, shabby-looking
envelope, addressed in a curious-looking handwriting. It was post-marked
“Skirwith,” “Carlisle” and “London, W.C.”

“This is Mr Kolbecker’s handwriting?” asked the detective.

“It is.”

“I must keep this envelope, please.”

“No, you don’t,” replied the landlady, suddenly waxing wroth. “Here, you
gimme that envelope back; you comes in and asks me questions which I
answer about my lodgers. You say you’re from Scotland Yard. How’m I to
know? Gimme that back.”

Freyberger put the envelope in his pocket.

“If you want my credentials,” he said, “call in a constable; every man
in this division knows me. Now listen. Mr Kolbecker left you six weeks
ago and went to Cumberland?”

“Yes.”

“You have not seen him since?”

“No.”

“Well, from information in our hands, Mr Kolbecker went to live in
Cumberland, took a cottage there under the name of Klein; he was
murdered yesterday evening in a cottage on Blencarn Fell.”

“Murdered!” said the woman, staring open-mouthed at the detective.

“Yes, murdered, and the man who called here last night and slept in his
room was, we believe, the man who murdered him.”

“Well, to be sure!” said the woman, sitting down on a chair, placing her
hands upon her knees and staring at Freyberger.

She was restrained in her exclamation of astonishment because her
vocabulary was limited, but her wonder was deep; it was also tinged with
a not unpleasant feeling of excitement. Regret, perhaps, she had none.

Freyberger, in giving her the information, had departed from the
ordinary rule of his trade, to say nothing.

It is rarely that you find a detective speaking of any point in the case
he is investigating, except the point immediately at issue.

But Freyberger’s object just now was to inspect Kolbecker’s room; he had
no search warrant, time was precious. He wanted to make this Gyde case
his own, and the quickest way to obtain access to the place desired was
by bringing the woman in line with himself and not into opposition.

“So, you see,” he went on, “I have come here for no idle purpose or to
waste your time; you will be called, no doubt, as a witness. I want to
see this Mr Kolbecker’s room. Of course, without a search warrant, I
have no legal right to enter it; but it will take me some hours to
obtain one, and that will mean the loss of precious time. You wish to
assist the course of justice, I am sure.”

“Oh,” said the woman, “you may see his room, and welcome, if that is
all; but there’s nothing much to see, for he took all his things with
him when he went to Cumberland.”

“Well,” said the other, pleasantly, “we will go up and see what is to be
seen—if you will lead the way.”

The landlady led the way up three flights of stairs, Freyberger noting
everything as he followed.

He knew the house, though he had never been in it before; knew it, that
is to say, by its species. It was a lower, middle-class lodging house of
the Bohemian type, a place infested by broken-down or unfledged artists,
second-rate musicians, young foreigners of more or less talent living on
ten shillings a week and hope; a place where anything might occur, in an
artistic-Bohemian way, from a suicide to the construction of an
oratorio.

The woman opened the door of the top floor front.

“This is the room,” she said. It was very bare; a bed stood in one
corner, and a chest of drawers, with a looking-glass on top of it, in
the window.

A table stood in the middle, covered with an old red cloth.

There were two cane-bottomed chairs, and on the carpetless floor in the
corner, diagonally opposite to the bed, an old horseskin covered trunk.

Over the mantelpiece hung a cheap oleograph.

Freyberger stood in the doorway before entering. He seemed trying to
catch, so to speak, the expression of the room; to surprise it suddenly
out of some secret.

But there was nothing at all to tell of the personality of the
individual who had last occupied it.

Everything was in order.

In a room just like this, some months ago, two chairs drawn close
together at a table, a hairpin lying on the floor between them, and the
envelope of a letter stuck in the support of the looking-glass to keep
it straight, had gived him a clue that had brought a forger and his
mistress to justice.

But there was nothing here of any description to build a clue upon.

He inspected the floor narrowly, then the grate; then he lifted the lid
of the trunk, it was empty.

The two top drawers of the chest of drawers in the window were empty;
but the large middle drawer was heavy, and difficult to pull out.

It was nearly filled with large pieces of marble.

Freyberger whistled.

“Mr Kolbecker said that wasn’t to be touched on no account,” said the
woman. “It’s an old marble thing he broke up ’fore he went into the
country.”

Freyberger did not reply. He was examining the pieces of marble
attentively.

They were not simply rough lumps of marble; each was rough in part, and
partly smooth, and he had not been examining them for more than half a
minute when he discovered the fact that they were portions of a bust
broken to pieces by Kolbecker, for some reason or other, before he made
his mysterious journey to Cumberland under the name of Klein.

He drew the drawer bodily out of the chest of drawers, placed it on the
bed and sat down beside it.

Yes, without doubt, these broken up pieces of marble once constituted
the bust of a man. Here was part of the nose with the nostrils
delicately chiselled, here the chin, here a piece of the forehead.

Freyberger, dropping back into the drawer the pieces he had taken out,
fell for a moment into a reverie.

Kolbecker, the man whom Gyde had murdered, had suddenly assumed large
proportions in his intuitive brain.

What was the mystery surrounding this man?

He had gone to Cumberland to blackmail Gyde, assuming the name of Klein,
that was perfectly understandable. But why, in the name of common sense,
had he left his blackmailing letters behind him?

Gyde, driven to desperation, had murdered him. That, too, was
understandable, but why the mutilation?

How was it that he had so conveniently given Gyde the letter of
introduction to his landlady, thus giving his murderer a burrow to hide
in for the night?

Lastly, why, before leaving for Cumberland, had he smashed the bust to
pieces?

All these queries suddenly had caused in the brain of Freyberger a new
and absorbing interest.

Kolbecker, this mysterious artist, now was the object of his undivided
attention.

In the past of Kolbecker, he felt, lay the solution of the mystery.

This bust had been destroyed for some powerful motive.

To find out the motive it would be necessary to reconstruct the bust and
find out whom it represented, if possible, or what it represented.

To put the thing together again would be an extraordinarily difficult
piece of work. One man alone could do it, and Freyberger knew that man.

In ordinary course of events this drawerful of marble fragments would be
taken to the Yard and there placed with the other material evidence. But
this involved loss of time. Freyberger felt, with a strange assurity,
that in the thing lay a clue that might cast a strong light on the case.

To take it direct to the Yard would mean loss of time.

He determined on his own responsibility to take it to the man he knew
direct.

“I wish to take this drawer and its contents with me,” he said to the
woman who stood looking on. “I am quite prepared to give you a receipt
for it and, what is more, I will place in your hands the value of the
piece of furniture I have taken it from.”

“Well,” said the woman, “I suppose I can’t stop you, seeing what’s
happened. I ain’t of the having sort, but that chest of drawers cost me
a sovereign—_item_, eleven shillings in the Tottenham Court Road—and
without the drawer it ain’t worth tuppence.”

Freyberger took out his pocket-book, wrote a receipt, and placed it,
with a sovereign and a five-shilling piece, in her hand.

“There’s a sovereign,” he said, “and the five shillings is for a sheet
to wrap the thing up in. I’ll take a sheet off the bed, if you’ll let
me; get me some string, too, as much as you have got in the house.”

She fetched the string, and between them, they did the thing up
securely, then carrying it in his arms as tenderly as if it were a baby,
he left the house, got into the cab, and gave the man an address in Old
Compton Street, Soho.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XVI


THE cab drew up at the address in Old Compton Street given by Freyberger
to the driver. It was a small shop, filled with antiques, old china,
statuettes, renovated pictures.

Here the art of Japan drew a sword or flirted a fan at you; the Middle
Ages spoke through the mouthpiece of a battle-dented morion.

Behind the counter, in the midst of his treasures, mostly spurious, sat
the owner of the shop I. Antonides, smoking a cigarette and apparently
lost in reverie.

An old man, a very old man, was Antonides. A Greek of the modern Greeks,
with the head of a prophet and the hand of a money changer.

Behind that parchment-coloured forehead lay a knowledge of ancient and
modern art—profound almost as the subject itself.

Beauty of craftsmanship appealed to Antonides. He worshipped the Venus
of Milo, not for the divine beauty of her form, but for the cunning of
the hand that wrought her. A rose had no power to move his soul, but a
goblin by Calot, were it in the best style of that master, made him cry
out with pleasure.

He worshipped art for the sake of art, and he worshipped money for the
sake of money.

His fortune was reputed to be half a million, and he lived on a pound a
week.

He was very frank, with that frankness which sometimes veils the deepest
and most profound deceit; he had no loves or hates, no heart, no wife,
no children or relations. Only his money and his profound knowledge of
men and art.

There were many curiosities for sale in the shop of Antonides, but the
most curious of them all was Antonides, also on sale—at a price.

He nodded to Freyberger.

“I want you to do a little job for me, Mr Antonides.”

“What is the little job, Mr Freyberger?”

“Oh, it’s simple enough to you, impossible to anyone else.”

“Ah!”

“I want you to restore a broken—what shall I say—well, I believe it is a
marble bust.”

“Yes?”

“I want you to do more than restore it, for I want you to do the job as
quickly as possible.”

“Possibility has its limits,” said Antonides. “Show me the article.”

Freyberger went out and took from the cab the drawer wrapped in the
sheet, brought it in and unwrapped it.

Antonides examined the fragments.

“I will restore it for you,” he said, after examining minutely several
of the pieces and gauging in his mind the total number.

“How long will it take?”

“Oh—three days.”

“That won’t do. I want it by to-morrow morning.”

Antonides raised his eyebrows and shrugged his shoulders.

“Look here,” said Freyberger. “What will you charge to do it in three
days?”

“You must understand,” replied Antonides, “that I do not restore marble.
I do not restore pictures now myself. I am getting old, Mr Freyberger.”

“We are all doing that. What will you charge—”

“Getting old,” continued Antonides, as though unconscious of the other’s
question, “costs money; one has to call in help. I have secured an
assistant, an Alsatian; his name is Lermina—”

“Yes, yes, but—”

“I taught him the art of restoration, the knowledge I have placed in
that man’s head,” said the old gentleman, suddenly pretending to turn
savage, “is worth a king’s ransom, and he has repaid me in the oldest
coinage of the world—ingratitude—”

“I know, but what will you charge—”

“One moment, I wish to explain my position. Lermina is a genius.”

“Yes, yes, I grant that—”

“You know what geniuses are, just spoiled children; well, he is also
about to get married—”

“What the devil has that to do with me—”

“One moment. A genius is bad enough to deal with, but a genius in love
is infinitely worse. I ask Lermina to restore this bust, he accepts the
commission, but he is in love and can’t be hurried. Three days, well,
with seven pounds in my hand I believe I could undertake to persuade him
to complete the thing in three days.”

“Well,” said Freyberger, who knew his man right to the place where his
heart ought to have been. “Three days won’t do for me. I must have the
thing completed by to-morrow morning at ten o’clock.”

Antonides said nothing, but, reaching down, produced an enormous
snuff-box from under the counter, took a pinch, tapped the box, and put
it back.

Then he smiled and shook his head.

“Come,” said Freyberger, patiently. “By ten o’clock to-morrow morning.”

“It’s impossible.”

“Nothing is impossible of this sort to you, if you are paid—”

“I would have to sit up all night—”

“Why, you said you had an assistant.”

“I would have to sit up all night helping him; it would be a two mans’
job.”

Then suddenly.

“Twenty pounds?”

“I’ll give you ten.”

“I never haggle.”

“I’ll give you ten.”

“Not a penny under twenty, not a brass farthing, not a denier under
twenty—look at my rent, look at my income-taxes to be paid. Five hundred
pounds they robbed me of this year in income-taxes alone.”

“Five hundred!”

“I mean fifty. I am a very poor man, Mr Freyberger—no, no, no, not a
penny under twenty.”

“All right,” said Freyberger. “If you won’t do the job I know a man who
will.”

He took the drawer and carried it to the door.

“Eighteen,” shrieked Antonides, as the detective fumbled with the door
latch.

“I tell you what,” said Freyberger. “I’ll give you fifteen, and that’s
my ultimatum.”

“Done,” said Antonides. As a matter of fact he would have done the job
for five pounds—for nothing. He divined, from the pieces he had
examined, that the thing was superexcellent and by a master’s hand, and
he would have been satisfied to have put it together on spec if he were
given a chance of purchasing it when completed.

Freyberger left the shop, and, getting into the cab, ordered the
cab-driver to take him to the Yard.

The War Office sometimes nods, and the Admiralty has been known to
indulge in reverie, but New Scotland Yard never sleeps.

The construction of the Criminal Investigation Department resembles the
construction of some beautiful and intricate piece of mechanism.

The detection of crime is its chief function, but it has others. It
keeps the eye of a stern father upon the law-breakers. There is not a
considerable criminal walking about free in London who is not known and
docketed at the Yard.

It knows more about him than he knows about himself; it knows his
height, weight and colour of his hair; it has the prints of his fingers
and the photograph of his face, it knows where he lodges and with whom
he associates, it knows the exact extent and bent of his moral twist.

When a crime of a special nature has been committed by some unknown
person, the Yard searches amongst the criminals who make that especial
crime their speciality.

One might fancy that in the case of a crime committed by a man in the
position of Sir Anthony Gyde, that the search for him would not be any
more difficult than the search for a professional criminal. As a matter
of fact, it is much more so.

Your non-professional law-breaker has no associates to betray him, and,
what is more, being a novice, he adopts no beaten methods. He will often
escape, because of his ignorance as to how he should hide, just as a
novice in fencing will sometimes, through his own stupidity and want of
knowledge, succeed in touching a master-at-arms.

There is nothing a detective dreads more than the ingenuous.

Whilst Freyberger had been pursuing his investigations, the Yard had not
been idle.

By eleven o’clock that morning an embargo had been laid upon all the
ports of England, as close as that which Buckingham laid in the case of
Anne of Austria’s jewels.

No person in the least like Sir Anthony Gyde could possibly have left
the Kingdom, unless by flight.

Every paper appearing after twelve carried his portrait far and wide. A
hundred and fifty detectives were at work upon the case, and not a train
left London for the north, south, east or west whose passengers were not
“filtered.”

The Yard knows the importance of acting promptly and efficiently in a
case like this. The first few hours are vital; it pours out money like
water. Should the required person escape the first furious rummaging of
the detective force the pursuit slackens, or seems to do so. In reality,
the nets are still out. Months pass, the suspected one feels himself no
longer searched for. “I am forgotten,” he says. Then one day he makes a
false move and feels a hand upon his shoulder.

When Freyberger returned to the Yard, he found his chief in consultation
with his subordinates.

When a crime of great magnitude or intricacy occurs, a council of the
brightest intelligences in the detective service is called.

It is technically known as the council of seven, which does not in the
least mean that the number of consultants are always seven, for
sometimes this or that member may be absent.

On this occasion there were only four men in consultation, including the
chief, but these four men constituted a galaxy of almost infernal
talent. They were seated about the room, and at the table, pen in hand,
sat the chief. Inspector Frost, a clean-shaved, youngish-looking man,
with a dark moustache twisted up at the ends, sat nearly opposite the
chief.

Standing at the table, hat in hand and preparing to go, stood a
medium-sized middle-aged man, with black hair, small black moustache,
fresh coloured face and an extraordinarily sharp and penetrating eye.

This was Professor Salt, the Home Office expert, the surgeon called in,
in all cases of murder, when the skill of a surgeon or pathologist can
be of any avail.

He had just been detailing the result of his examination of the head
found at 110B Piccadilly.

The dentist who attended Sir Anthony was, unfortunately, away on a
holiday in Cairo, so his evidence could not be obtained as to whether
the head was truly that of Sir Anthony or not. Several men who had known
him had examined the thing, and they all differed. Some said it most
certainly was; some recognized a strong likeness, but could not be sure;
several declared that, in their opinion, it wasn’t.

These people, who had been hurriedly summoned for the purpose of
identifying the thing, were of all grades and professions.

Club waiters, a nobleman or two, the servants of the house, and others.
When Freyberger, who was not a member of the high council, but who was
admitted on account of his being an active agent in the case, had closed
the door, saluted his chief and taken a modest seat in a corner of the
room, Professor Salt was just finishing the remarks he was making.

“You see,” he said, “it is a matter of extraordinary difficulty to say
exactly how long this head has been removed from the body; it has been
dipped in some agent or passed through some process, which has
discoloured the skin and shrunk the tissues. An acid might have done
this, but, unfortunately for that theory, the skin gives a slightly
alkaline reaction when touched with moist litmus paper. It has, to me,
the appearance of a head that had been dried just as you dry a ham, by
smoking it. Yet there is no trace of carbon to be found on the skin. I
confess I am somewhat at a loss, for a case of the kind has never come
before me up to this, and I believe it is unique in forensic medicine.
That head might have been removed from the body a year ago, so
dehydrated are the tissues. I do not say, having in view some unknown
preservative agent, that it may not have been removed twelve hours ago.
But I can say this, that whoever removed it was a most skilled
anatomist. I have had many cases of dismemberment; in all of them the
head has been hacked off through the cervical vertebra. This is quite
different, the head has been removed above the atlas, the ligaments
cleanly divided; no trace of hacking is discernible at the base of the
skull. The thing was not so much dismemberment as a surgical operation,
conducted with extraordinary skill, the most extraordinary skill. I do
not think,” he finished with a grim smile, “that I could have done the
thing so completely and artistically myself.” He buttoned up his
overcoat, bowed to the chief, nodded to the detectives and departed.

“Well, Freyberger?” said the chief, “what news have you brought?”

“First, sir, may I ask two questions? Has the dentist given his
decision? and have Coutts’s examined the handwriting of Sir Anthony
Gyde?”

“The dentist is absent and can’t be called,” replied the other. “And as
for the bankers, Sir Anthony went in, signed a receipt for the delivery
of the parcel containing his wife’s jewels, which receipt was handed to
the manager who released the jewels.

“The receipt was written before and handed to a man who knew Sir Anthony
Gyde perfectly well. He asked Sir Anthony would he care to see the
manager personally. Sir Anthony replied, no; that he was in a hurry. The
man, one of the chief clerks, is prepared to swear on oath that it was
Sir Anthony Gyde who signed the receipt, and no other. The chief cashier
received the receipt from the manager’s room, glanced at it, and passed
it. Not long ago, on our applying to him to glance at it again and make
sure, he has done so. He says he is sure that it is Sir Anthony’s
handwriting, but there is something about it that he can’t make out;
that it is not a forgery he is _certain_, but all the same, there is
something about it strange to him, some fine difference to the ordinary
writing of Sir Anthony.

“He says he would cash a cheque on the signature without a moment’s
hesitation; you know, in a forgery, it is the slavish imitation and
consequent cramping that marks the thing; no man’s handwriting is
exactly alike twice. Well, this thing is no slavish imitation of Gyde’s
handwriting; it is his, flowing and easy, and written under the eye of a
clerk. All the same, there is something about it strange. Gyde, it would
appear, must have been in a totally different frame of mind to what he
has ever been before in his life when he wrote that signature. I can
understand the cashier’s meaning, I think, for these men’s eyes and
brains are so wonderfully trained that they can tell from a signature
almost the emotions of the person to whom it belongs. Gyde may have been
under the influence of some extraordinary emotion, never felt by him
before, when he signed that receipt—as undoubtedly he was.”

Freyberger listened attentively, and then proceeded to give the results
of his investigations, speaking clearly and to the point.

He told how Gyde had hired the cab and driven to Howland Street,
presented a letter from Kolbecker and occupied his room; how Kolbecker
had lived in Cumberland for the last six weeks and had been paying for
his room in London, sending several postal orders to his landlady. “I
have secured the envelope of the last of these letters,” he said, taking
the envelope from his pocket.

“Give it to me,” said the chief.

He glanced at it, and a change came over his face.

“The Chief Constable of Cumberland has sent me, with splendid
promptitude, the blackmailing letters of Klein,” he said. “They arrived
only half an hour ago by special messenger. Here they are, and the
handwriting of Kolbecker is the handwriting of Klein.”

There could be no doubt; all three documents were in the same weird,
extraordinary hand.

“Gyde,” said Inspector Frost, “before he murdered his man must have got
him to write that letter. One can understand him, having the murder in
his mind, being wishful to have some hole or corner to hide in during
the night. He could not stay the night at Piccadilly, knowing that at
any moment he might be arrested.”

“Yet,” said Freyberger, “he went next morning to his bankers—an equally
dangerous proceeding.”

“The thing that strikes me,” said Inspector Dewhurst, “is, why did he go
to the Piccadilly house at all? We know he took his jewels with him, but
the jewels came up with him from the north. He could have easily taken
possession of his jewel case, sent his man on home with the rest of the
luggage, telling him that he would not be back till the morning, and
then have disappeared.”

“If he had done that,” said Freyberger, “the valet, Leloir, would now be
alive, and not dead of terror.”

There was a moment’s silence.

“Again,” said Inspector Long, a man with a black beard seated near one
of the windows, “that head found in the cupboard. It is not Klein’s, for
Klein was a clean-shaven man. We know, from the evidence of a
chambermaid, that there was nothing in the cupboard the day before. It
must have been put there during the night; therefore, it must have been
put there by either Gyde or his valet, for they alone were in the room,
therefore they must have brought it from the north. We know for certain
that a man was murdered and decapitated in the north by Sir Anthony
Gyde; there is not a hole in the evidence, the boy is perfectly
believable; he is borne out by half a dozen witnesses, who saw the
motor-car going and coming, and by the headless corpse of Klein. Well,
then, did Sir Anthony bring two heads in that bag with him, the head of
Klein and the one we found, which is so strangely like his own?”

There was another silence, and then Freyberger spoke, telling of the
pieces of marble he had found in the drawer and how he had taken them to
Antonides to be reconstructed.

“I did it on my own responsibility,” he said, “knowing the desperate
urgency of the matter; to-morrow we will see what the thing represents.”

“You did right,” said the chief. “In a case like this, seemingly most
intricate, it is often some by-bit of evidence that opens it up and
exposes everything to the light. One of the points that strike me most
is the anatomical knowledge and the dexterity shown in the removal of
the head.”

He ceased, for a knock came to the door and an officer entered with a
paper in his hand. “Report of the post-mortem examination of the body in
the Gyde case, sir, just telegraphed from Carlisle.”

“Give it me,” said the chief. He took the paper, and the officer
withdrew.

“‘Body of a fairly well-nourished man, dressed in grey tweed—clothes
slashed with a knife, but no wounds found on the body. _Head evidently
removed by a skilled anatomist_—Ha!—severed from neck where atlas meets
occipital bone, ligamentum nuchae divided at a single stroke.’ This, so
far from clearing matters, casts everything into a deeper darkness.” He
paused a moment, and then went on. “We have incontrovertible evidence
that yesterday afternoon Sir Anthony Gyde called upon the man Klein at a
cottage on Blencarn Fell, in Cumberland; that he stayed there an hour
and left with a black bag in his hand. Now, mark you, this boy,
Lewthwaite, had his eye on the cottage the whole time. A very few
minutes after Sir Anthony’s departure he peeped through the window, and
saw the murdered body of Klein lying upon the floor. The whole mass of
evidence goes to show that there were only two men concerned in this
tragedy, Gyde and Klein, for Lewthwaite saw no one in the room.”

“Might a third man have been in hiding in an upstairs room?” put in
Inspector Long.

“He might, but it is highly improbable. Besides, we have no use for a
third man, for the crux of the thing is this: Gyde murdered Klein and
decapitated him. The head found in the cupboard was the head he removed
from Klein’s body; we are almost bound to believe this, from the two
surgeons’ reports as to the manner of decapitation—well, the head
removed from the body of Klein was _not_ Klein’s head, for, leaving
small points aside, Klein was a clean-shaved man and the head was the
head of a bearded man.

“We can say now, almost for a certainty, that Klein has not been
murdered, and that the real victim is a man extraordinarily like Gyde,
the supposed murderer; more, several people have given evidence that the
head _is_ that of Gyde.”

“I for one agree with you, sir, that the head we have here in London and
the body that is lying in Cumberland are one a part of the other.”

It was Inspector Dewhurst who spoke.

“We know,” he continued, “that Sir Anthony went into the cottage and
went out, went to London, was recognized by numerous people; we know
that _he_ is alive; we know that a man very like him was murdered, a man
who, whatever he was, was not Klein. But we know that the only motive
for this deed was the blackmailing of Sir Anthony by Klein. Why, then,
did Sir Anthony murder this other man?”

“Why,” put in Freyberger, “were those blackmailing letters left behind.
We can imagine a novice capable of such a blunder, but the whole of this
affair has been conducted with such terrible precision and coolness that
we can scarcely consider its author capable of such a slip as that. May
I speak, sir?”

“It seems to me you are speaking,” said the chief, with a smile. “Go on,
Freyberger; I am always glad to hear your views.”

“Well, sir, it seems to me that there are many points in this case, each
giving the lie to the other, each extraordinary. I have never come
across such a chain of circumstances before. Accident might have cast
all these extraordinary circumstances together. Gyde may have gone to
murder his blackmailer, and found in the cottage, as well as his
intended victim, a man very like himself. Gyde may have murdered this
man for some reason or another and taken away his head; Gyde may have
left those letters behind him from some extraordinary blunder. Klein may
have given Gyde a written passport to his lodgings. Leloir, the valet,
may simply have died of heart-disease. Gyde may have been a skilled
anatomist, as well as a financier. All these are unlikely possibilities;
each, taken separately would not, in itself, cause us so very much
surprise, but taken _en masse_, the combination is almost impossible,
viewed as a combination caused by chance.

“If chance did not place these things in juxtaposition to confound our
powers of reasoning, what did?

“There is only one possible answer. The problem before us is the work of
some subtle and profound intelligence, that, for reasons of its own, has
committed a murder, and, for easily understandable reasons, has fouled
the traces, so that we are at fault and in confusion.” Freyberger paused
and then went on: “I believe, reviewing the facts, that this
intelligence, with which we are trying to grapple, is not that of Sir
Anthony Gyde.

“You see, if we admit him to be the murderer, we must admit him to have
committed so many self-condemning faults. Going openly to the cottage,
in a motor-car of all things; leaving the letters behind him to damn him
and expose his motive; removing his victim’s head yet leaving the body
behind; going to his house in Piccadilly; going to his bankers to take
away his jewels, when he could, if he chose, have removed his jewels,
collected his money, and, having made provision for his escape and his
future, then murdered Klein.”

“One moment,” said the chief. “Gyde was a passionate man; he may have
committed this murder in a fit of passion, and, in the upset of his
brain, left those letters behind.”

“Yes,” said Freyberger. “But the hand that did the decapitation did not
show any sign of brain-upset. Again, if a man murders another in hot
blood does he decapitate him? Not as a rule. Let us suppose this head
that of some unknown third party: of course, Gyde, if he were the
murderer, may have had some powerful reason for removing the head; but
why should he leave it in a cupboard in his own house in Piccadilly as
another damning piece of evidence against himself? You will excuse me,
sir, for speaking so long, but I wish to say this:

“The faults before us are the continuous chance blunders of an
unimaginable fool, if we view them as the faults committed by Sir
Anthony Gyde. Sir Anthony Gyde could not have committed them, we may say
_could not_, for they are too many to have been committed by a man with
any reason in his head, even though in criminal matters he is a fool.

“Well, then, we are driven upon the only other supposition; that Gyde
had nothing to do with the murder, and that these seeming faults are
really not faults, or in other words, they are faults committed
purposely by some keen intelligence to bring confusion into the case. I
think what I have said is almost mathematically demonstrable.

“I do not like to say any more, except this, that in my firm belief Sir
Anthony Gyde is innocent.”

There was a murmur from the other men present, a murmur of admiration
for the logical reasoning of the little German.

“Well,” said the chief, “your argument is clever. We must admit that, if
Gyde is the murderer, then Gyde has committed more faults in the
business than it is at all probable he would commit. If Gyde is not the
murderer, then, some other man is; if that is so, I am bound to admit
that this other man has not only successfully fouled his traces but has
cast, in some extraordinary manner, the onus of the affair upon Gyde.
The proof of that is,” he continued, with a short laugh, “he has made us
issue a warrant for Gyde’s arrest. Have you anything more to say,
Freyberger? What you have said already has been to the point.”

“Only this, sir. Dr Murrell is preparing the retina of the valet,
Leloir. He intends photographing it by Mendel’s process. He may, or may
not, succeed; the thing fails as a rule, or only gives the faintest blur
of a picture. But it seems that the rods and cones of the retina take a
far more powerful impression in a case like this, if the subject has
caught his last glimpse of earthly things by the electric light. It is
just possible that the retina of Leloir may give us a picture of what he
saw before he died.”

“The only two successful cases of the kind I have heard of,” said the
chief, “occurred in Germany.”

“That is true, sir,” replied Freyberger. “The case of Ludwig Baumer,
recounted by Casper; and the case of the courtesan, Gretchen Dreschfeld,
which Addeler, the professor of forensic medicine at Bonn, made such a
success of.”

“When did Dr Murrell say his results would be known?” asked the chief.

“He did not say, sir; but, with your permission, I will call upon him
now and see what hopes he can give us of a successful photograph.”

“Do so,” said the chief. And Freyberger departed.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XVII


DR GUSTAVUS MURRELL lived in Sackville Street, Piccadilly. He was a man
of private means, and he possessed a medical practice that brought him
in about a thousand a year. One of those pleasant practices, where the
lowest fee for looking at a tongue is a guinea, and for an operation
fifty.

He was a tall, well-groomed, handsome man of forty-five or so, with a
jovial blue eye and a hearty manner. You never would have imagined that
one of the chief hobbies of this healthy and happy-looking individual
was grubbing in the cesspit of crime. Yet it was.

Only one of his hobbies, for he had several, photography amongst the
rest.

Though a dilettante of criminal acts and possessed of a profound
penetrative power, as far as human motives were concerned, Dr Murrell
was no amateur detective. He studied criminals just as a botanist
studies fungi; they interested him, and he felt a sort of sympathy for
them, that sympathy which we all feel, more or less, for the things that
interest us.

He acted as police surgeon, because, in that position, he was brought
into contact with the people who helped to constitute his hobby. But he
never helped the police in the least, beyond the assistance that his
position bound him in duty to give.

On several occasions he could have given the police a clue that would
have helped them considerably in their work, yet he refrained. He was
the police surgeon, but he did not feel himself bound to help the police
beyond the help that his surgical knowledge was able to give.

In the case of the valet Leloir he did not care twopence whether the
result of his investigations brought a criminal to justice or cleared up
a mystery.

The thing was outside his province, and he embarked on it because he was
a photographer.

Freyberger arrived at Sackville Street about six, and found Dr Murrell
at home. The doctor was in his study, going over his case book, and he
bade his visitor be seated.

“You have called about the case I saw this morning, I suppose?” said Dr
Murrell. “Well, I have done what I said I would do. I have already
removed the right eye, stripped the retina, exposed it and got a result;
the picture is at present the size of a sixpence; my man is at work on
it now; it is being reproduced and magnified enormously, under the rays
of a five thousand candle-power arc-light. If you will call again
to-night I will show you the ultimate result, larger than a
cabinet-sized photograph.”

“You have got a picture?” said Freyberger.

“I have got a picture,” replied the other, “or fancy so, and, as I say,
you will be able to see it to-night.”

“What time shall I call?” asked the detective.

“Oh, about ten.”

“The body has been removed to the mortuary?”

“Yes, it was there I took the eye, substituting a glass one. The inquest
will be to-morrow, and, of course, the post-mortem. I expect the
post-mortem will show that the man had a weak heart.”

“You think he died of heart failure?”

“I have told you already he died of terror; but I think the heart
weakness was the secondary cause of his death. I see in the papers that
a warrant is out for Sir Anthony Gyde. Have you caught him yet?”

“No,” said Freyberger, “and we never will.”

The other looked surprised.

“I have only skimmed through the report in the paper,” he said. “From it
I gather that it is very clearly proved that he has murdered a man up in
Cumberland.”

“You have not seen the head, then, that was found in his house in
Piccadilly?”

“No, I was from home when they sent for me, and they called the Home
Office expert in.”

Freyberger gave him all the details we know, and the doctor sat
listening and tapping with his pencil on the desk.

“Well,” he said, when the other had finished, “you seem to have a pretty
tangled skein to unravel; what I can show you to-night may help you or
not. Call at ten; and now I must take leave of you, for I have another
patient to see before dinner.”

Freyberger bowed himself out. He had almost four hours to wait before
the appointment, and, having nothing particular to do, he determined to
make the best use he could of the time at his disposal, and have dinner.

He first telephoned to the Yard the result of his interview with Dr
Murrell, and then betook himself to a cheap restaurant in Soho, where he
proceeded to revel in Sauerkraut and beef, served with stewed plums,
slices of sausage and other Teutonic delicacies.

Throughout all the varied experiences of his life he had never felt so
much excitement as just now, waiting for the result of this sleight of
hand photography, this attempt to trick nature out of one of her darkest
secrets.

It was exactly ten o’clock when he reached the house in Sackville
Street, and was admitted.

The doctor was not at home, but he had given instructions that the
detective should be admitted to his private laboratory, there to await
him.

It was a large room at the back of the house, built on a space that had
once been a yard. It had a top light and something of the general aspect
of an artist’s studio.

Röntgen ray apparatuses, cameras, all sorts of odds and ends lay about,
speaking of the occupant’s bent.

Freyberger had not been waiting five minutes when the door opened, and
Dr Murrell, in evening dress, entered.

He held a small parcel in his hand.

“Good evening,” he said. “My assistant was called away half an hour ago,
and he left the result of his work for me; let’s see what it is.”

He undid the string from the parcel, and disclosed what at first sight
appeared to be a large cabinet photograph.

He approached an electric light, bearing it in his hand; in the full
glare of the light he examined it intently. Then he whistled softly to
himself. He seemed quite lost in contemplation of the thing.

Freyberger, unable to contain his curiosity, came up behind the doctor
and gazed over his shoulder at the photograph, mounted upon the card.

It was a large grey-coloured platinotype, showing a blurred and misty
picture; it was the picture of a human face.

It was the face, the sight of which had killed, from sheer terror, the
valet Leloir.

The arteries of the dead man’s retina had left their trace upon the
photograph, but they did not blur the face; their tracery could be seen
in the background, forming a sort of halo round the nebulous visage,
that held the two gazers with a witchery all its own.

“That is the result,” said the doctor, laying the photograph on a table
near by.

Freyberger moistened his lips.

“Scarcely pretty,” said Dr Murrell, taking a cigarette from a box near
by and offering his companion one.

“It is a face to give one pause,” said Freyberger, lighting his
cigarette in a meditative manner.

“I’m sure of this,” said Dr Murrell, leaning back against the
mantelpiece and glancing sideways at the thing on the table, “that half
of the impression that thing makes upon me is caused by the fact that I
have the knowledge of how it was obtained.

“The fact of finding a man dead of terror and then finding that picture
on his retina, is, I think, part of the reason why I feel—pretty sick.”

“It’s bad enough,” said Freyberger, bending over the table and staring
at the thing.

“The other part of the reason is the thing itself.”

Freyberger continued gazing without a word.

“You seem in love with it.”

“I am studying it, stripping it of all its accessories. This is the
portrait of a human face; it belonged to a person who was in the bedroom
of Sir Anthony Gyde just before the death of Leloir; the sight of it
killed Leloir, we may presume, from shock.”

“Yes.”

“Well, presumptions are sometimes wrong.”

“Explain yourself.”

“I am studying this face intently; it has all the features of an
ordinary human, though very evil, face; in repose one may fancy it
repulsive, but not especially alarming, certainly not alarming enough to
kill a man from shock.”

“Yes?”

“It is the expression of the thing that constitutes its chief feature.”

“Yes.”

“What is that expression? It is a compound of alarm and hatred.”

“Yes,” said the doctor, coming to the table and glancing at the thing,
and then returning to his post at the mantelpiece.

“Yes, I should say that is the expression—or at all events, a very good
imitation of it.”

“Well,” went on the other, “from the expression on this face I construct
the following hypothesis. Leloir suddenly entered his master’s bedroom
and found a stranger there, a stranger to whom the face whose picture we
see here belonged. He surprised him, perhaps, committing some act, to
which we have no clue; anyhow, he surprised him. Hence the expression.”

“I can understand that causing the expression of alarm. How about the
ferocious hatred we see here—”

“Mark you,” said Freyberger, “I did not say terror. I said alarm. If you
have ever alarmed a man and been attacked by him, you will understand
how closely allied alarm and hatred of the most ferocious description
may be. I have experienced the fact several times, I assure you, in the
course of my professional work.”

“I can imagine so.”

“Well, granting my supposition,” continued the other, “we may ask
ourselves, what was this man doing when Leloir surprised him? It was not
the face of the creature that killed Leloir with shock, we may presume,
but the act he was committing. What was that act?”

“Trying to murder Gyde, perhaps, since it is known that Gyde was in the
bedroom after the secretary heard that scream, which was evidently the
scream of Leloir dying.”

“I have quite cast Gyde out of my mind,” said Freyberger. “I have quite
come to the conclusion that Gyde has no more to do with this whole case
than the child unborn. I am firmly convinced—mind, I say this to you
privately—that the only criminal in this case is the man whom Gyde is
supposed to have murdered, that is to say, the artist Klein, _alias_
Kolbecker.

“I believe this face to be a portrait of Klein.

“I have no earthly idea yet of the full devilish ingenuity of the thing,
but I feel assured that, whoever was murdered in the cottage on the
fells of Cumberland, Klein is the murderer. Gyde may be alive, Gyde may
be dead, but I feel assured of this, that Klein murdered a man, and has
arranged matters so that the public believe that he is the victim and
Gyde the assassin. Now I must go, for there is much work to be done. May
I take this portrait with me; it is most important?”

“Certainly, if you will return it to me when you have done with it. I
want it for my museum.”

“I will return it,” said Freyberger. He did it up in the brown paper,
placed it in the pocket of his overcoat, and, bidding Doctor Murrell
good night, departed.

In Piccadilly he hailed a cab and drove to Howland Street, to the house
he had visited that afternoon.

On the way he reviewed many things in his mind.

He already had a theory. The theory that Gyde was innocent and Klein was
the assassin; he had also a suspicion that Gyde was dead.

That this theory and suspicion cast the whole affair into deeper
darkness was nothing if they were right.

Just now he felt that he was really coming to grips with that
intelligence which, earlier in the day, he had dimly felt to be in
antagonism with his own—the intelligence of the being whose terrible
portrait was in his pocket.

The landlady’s husband opened the door in response to his knock.

He was a colourless and apathetic individual, who, when Freyberger
introduced himself, showed him, without comment, into the fusty little
sitting-room.

“I am sorry to trouble you,” said Freyberger, when the woman appeared,
“but I have a portrait I wish to show you; it is, I believe, the
portrait of Mr Kolbecker.” He undid the covering of the parcel and
exposed the picture.

The woman looked at it.

“Do you recognize it?”

“No.”

Freyberger felt a chill of disappointment.

“And yet,” she said.

“Yes?”

“I dunno—I wouldn’t swear it wasn’t—but it’s different.”

“Yes, yes; of course, that picture would not represent him in his
ordinary state of mind; but if he were terribly angry about something,
might his face be like that?”

“I’ve never seen Mr Kolbecker put out; always most civil he was and paid
his way regular; he wasn’t a beauty, but I never found him anything but
a gentleman. Only just before he went away Mrs Stairs, who does the
rooms of the gentleman lodgers, said to me, ‘Mrs Summers, that man do
give me the creeps.’

“‘Which man?’ I says.

“‘The top-floor front,’ she replies.

“‘Mr Kolbecker?’ I said.

“‘Yes,’ she said, ‘the German.’

“‘Well,’ I replied to her, ‘as long as he don’t creep away without
settling his bill, it’s all I cares about him.’”

“You think this might possibly be a portrait of Mr Kolbecker?”

“Well, I couldn’t swear to it,” said she, fixing her gaze again upon the
thing. “At first, when you asked me, I’d have said not, but when I look
longer it seems to me there’s a likeness, but if you wish to see what he
was really like I can show you his photograph.”

“His photograph! Why did you not tell me you had one?”

“Because you never asked.”

“Of course, of course, it was my fault; but please, if you will be so
kind, let me see it.”

She left the room, and returned with a small photograph in her hand.
Freyberger almost snatched it from her, held it under the lamp and
examined it.

It was somewhat faded, and at the bottom of the card appeared the
photographer’s name and address.

“Gassard, 110 Boulevard St-Michel, Paris.”

He examined the face.

It was a face to give a physiognomist (to use Freyberger’s expression)
pause. A face quite impossible to describe. One might say that the cheek
bones were abnormally flat and the face very wide across them. That the
nose was terribly pinched at the root; that the eyes were somewhat of
the Mongolian type; all this would give no idea of the physiognomy upon
which Freyberger’s eyes were fixed.

It was a repulsive face, even in repose, and the most distinctive thing
about it was the expression, an expression cold and evil; a thoughtful
expression, that made one shudder in trying to conjure up the thoughts
that had given it birth; the expression of Osimandias, of the cruel and
cold and the diabolically clever.

Between this faded photograph and the retinal picture there lay a world
of difference, all the difference between a landscape seen in the calm
of a still winter’s day and the same landscape tempest torn; yet they
were pictures of the same person, and of this Freyberger felt sure.

He could fancy that brow suddenly contracted, those thin lips suddenly
puffed out, those nostrils expanded and the whole reptile hatred of the
demon-reptile brain suddenly writing itself in furious lines, speaking,
shrieking aloud.

A feeling of triumph filled his breast; he had got one step further
towards his antagonist.

He turned the back of the photograph to the light and examined it. There
was no writing upon it; and yet, on closer examination, there were some
indistinct scratches on the upper part, as though pencil writing had
once been there and erased. On closer examination still, he could just
make out what seemed a capital _M_, and close to the _M_ some letters
vaguely dented into the shiny card by the pressure of the pencil that
had written whatever had been written and erased.

“Thank you,” said Freyberger, when he had finished his inspection of the
thing. “This photograph is very interesting and it may help us
considerably in our work. May I keep it?”

“Well,” said the woman, “it is not mine to give; it was found in Mr
Kolbecker’s room by Mrs Stairs after he left for Cumberland, and she
brought it to me. It’s no value to me, and if it will help you to find
out who killed him you had better take it. Mind you, I look to you to
see me righted, and I don’t want this house brought into the papers;
it’s hard enough getting a living without getting a name for being mixed
up in murders.”

“I will see that you don’t suffer in any way,” replied the other, “and I
will give you a receipt for this photograph, just as I gave you one for
those pieces of marble this afternoon.”

He wrote out a receipt on a sheet of paper torn from his notebook, and
with the photograph in his possession left the house.

When he reached the Yard, it was a little after twelve.

The chief was absent, snatching a few hours’ sleep possibly, after a day
of fourteen hours’ solid work, in which the consideration of the Gyde
case had been only an item.

Inspector Dennison was in, and Freyberger found him and put the evidence
he had collected in his hands.

Freyberger had that tremendous advantage which helps a man along in the
world as much, or more, than industry or genius. He was a general
favourite. A favourite, not because he was all things to all men, or
gave the wall to any man, or truckled, or trimmed, or did anything
small, so as to make himself pleasing. He was a favourite because he was
straight and honest, always ready to help another man, ever ready to
praise what seemed to him praiseworthy or criticize what seemed to him
wrong. In fact, there was nothing small about him, except his person,
and even that was not particularly small, just a shade under the middle
size.

Inspector Dennison, a very big man, both physically and by reputation,
liked the little German, and when Freyberger showed him his results he
did not criticize them destructively. He went carefully through the
matter of the photographs without showing the slightest surprise at the
marvellous retinal picture.

He said he failed to see much resemblance between it and the French
photograph, but that possibly, allowing for the vast difference in
expression and the vagueness of the retinal picture, they might be
photographs of the same person.

He did not recognize so fully as Freyberger the possibility of connexion
between the hellish face and the subdued and self-contained face, but he
recognized it.

“There is something on the back of this photograph I want to examine
more attentively,” said Freyberger. “Something has been written with a
pencil; the writing has been rubbed out, but the dent remains. Have you
a lens, not a too powerful one?”

Dennison produced one from a drawer, and his companion took it and
proceeded to examine the marks.

“I can make out an _M_, there is then a space, over the space there are
two dots, a little further along occurs an _l_ followed by—is it a _t_
or an _l_? Ah! yes, it must be an _l_, though the loop is very
indistinct; then occurs an _i_ without a dot and an _r_. Thus:

“‘_M .. llir._’”

“That doesn’t tell much,” said Dennison.

“No,” replied Freyberger, “but it tells me one thing.”

“What is that?”

“That whatever was written was not written in English.”

“How so?”

“Those two accentuating dots are never used in English. They are used
sometimes—very rarely—in poetry, I believe, but we may suppose the
writing on this to have been in prose.”

“Let’s suppose so,” said Dennison. “Though I’ve seen poetry written on
the back of a photograph before this; it was in the case of a fellow
called Buckingham. He’d given it to his girl, and the next thing he did
was to murder her. His poetry hanged him.”

“I don’t know of any language,” said Freyberger, contemplatively, in
which the combination _llir_ might occur commonly; _lir_ is, of course,
common; _llir_ most uncommon; suppose it is an _e_, though there is no
perceptible loop—_ller_.

“That seems to me as uncommon as the other,” said Dennison.

“Ah!” cried Freyberger, suddenly, “I have it.”

“What?”

“See!”

Freyberger snatched a pen and wrote in large letters upon a sheet of
paper—

“_Müller._”

“By Jove, yes,” said Dennison, “that might be it.”

“I think it’s likely,” said the other. “First of all it’s a name, and a
name is the most likely thing to be written on a photograph. Then the
thing constructs itself easily. Dennison, without those two dots, the
idea would not have occurred to me. Those two dots may be the means of
finding our man. Another point, the writing, whatever it was, formed a
single word, and that word was erased.

“Now, what form of a single word is most likely to be carefully erased?
The name of a person, I think?”

“That is so.”

“I’m going home to bed now,” said Freyberger, “to get a few hours’
sleep, but before I go I will ring up Paris.”

“Yes,” said Dennison, “it’s well to give them all the facts now, and
they can make inquiries first thing in the morning.”

“The thing I’m bothered about,” said Freyberger, “is that I don’t know
whether Gassard is still in the Boulevard St-Michel. I was over there
two months ago on that bank-note forgery case, and I routed out all the
photographers in the Latin Quarter. I had a long list. If Gassard’s name
had been on that list, I almost think it would have sprung alive into my
head on reading it on this photo, for I have a memory that is not so
bad.”

He went to the telephone and rang up the Prefecture of Police. The reply
call did not come for five minutes. Then Freyberger put his ear to the
receiver.

A thin, acidulous voice came through the humming of the wires.

“I wish,” said Freyberger, speaking in excellent French, “to make some
inquiries as to M. Gassard, photographer, of Boulevard St-Michel. I wish
to know if he is still in business, and, if not, where he is to be
found,—Freyberger, Inspector, Scotland Yard.”

The answer did not come for ten minutes.

Then the bell rang and the thin voice replied.

“Gassard, of 110 Boulevard St-Michel, sold his business three years ago.
March 10, 19—, he left Paris. We have no trace of him. He was succeeded
by Madame——, a modiste.”

“Luck is against us,” said Freyberger, hanging up the receiver. “Never
mind, we have the name, and a name is a good deal in a case like this.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER XVIII


FREYBERGER was up betimes next morning, and having called at the Yard
and found his chief not yet arrived, and no further news concerning the
Gyde case, he betook himself to Old Compton Street, Soho.

In Old Compton Street you may buy a French newspaper or a German
sausage. You can get anything in an Italian way, from a pound of
macaroni to a knife in your back, if you know the right way to look for
it. It is a street of many nations and its kerb is trodden by all sorts
of celebrities, from the new tenor at the Italian opera in furs, to
Enrico Malatesta in rags.

A dingy looking Hebrew boy was just taking down the shutters of
Antonides’ dusty-looking shop, when Freyberger arrived a few minutes
after nine.

The boy asked him to be seated, whilst he apprised his master of the
presence of a customer.

“He ain’t down yet,” said the youth. “Never comes into the shop till
half after eleven. I’m lockin’ the shop door on you whilst I go up, for
Mr Antonides said no one was to be left alone in the shop, unless the
door was locked on them, for fear they’d be carryin’ off sumefin.”

He locked the door, went upstairs and presently returned, saying that Mr
Antonides would be down in a minute.

Freyberger sat looking about him at the various objects of art, the
cracked china, the dingy pictures, the dented armour.

The old Greek did not make much money out of these things; his fortune
was derived from the occasional great deal that his genius was able to
bring off. The Hermes, dredged up from the sea by fishermen off Cape
Matapan, and now in possession of Droch, the German manure-millionaire
of Chicago, passed through the hands of Antonides and left three
thousand pounds in his pocket. Half a dozen broken pieces of marble,
bought from a fellow Greek for a few pounds, and restored, had resulted
in an almost perfect bust of Clytie, worth—the value of the cheque it
brought him is unknown.

He was the prince of restorers, whether in marble or canvas.

As Freyberger sat looking around him, he suddenly became aware of a new
object in his purview, that was not an object of art.

Through the half-opened door leading from the shop to the house, a long,
lean, claw-like hand was beckoning to him.

He arose and came towards it. It was the hand of Antonides, and
Antonides himself was waiting for him in the passage beyond the door.

The passage was dark, and so were the stairs up which Antonides led him.

“It’s done,” said the old man, pausing in the middle of the stairs and
speaking backwards over his shoulder at Freyberger. “I have completed
it.”

“I’m glad to hear that, but don’t stop; this staircase of yours is not
cheerful.”

Antonides went up two more steps and stopped again.

“I think you said fifteen guineas, Mr Freyberger?”

“Pounds.”

“Guineas.”

“Pounds.”

“Mr Freyberger!”

“Go on—I don’t mean go on talking, go on up the stairs. I’m not going to
give you a penny more than the fifteen pounds.”

“Why, God bless my soul!” shouted the old fellow, falling into one of
his simulated rages, “guineas were what I bargained for, guineas were in
my head; they kept me alive all last night working for you, and now you
say pounds.” Then, suddenly falling calm, “Never mind; wait till you see
it and you won’t say ‘pounds.’”

He led the way across a dingy and dimly lit landing into a room that was
simply packed with all sorts of lumber. Canvases, six deep, with their
faces turned to the wall, a torso just restored, a lay figure, masks and
moulds, a huge mass of plasticine on a board, strange-looking
instruments, and, on a bench near the window, something over which a
cloth was thrown.

“That’s it,” said Antonides, pointing to the object under the cloth. “I
have covered it that the plaster of the joinings may not dry too
quickly. You are on the Gyde case, Mr Freyberger?”

“How did you know that?”

“I’ll tell you soon, and I’ll tell you something more.”

“Yes.”

“You’ve lost fifteen shillings by making me that answer. You should have
answered me, ‘What makes you think that?’ That would have been
non-committal. You have as good as told me you are on the Gyde case;
never give information away for nothing, Mr Freyberger, unless it is
false.”

“Or useless.”

“True information is never useless—see, here, there’s my work.”

He took the covering from the object on the table and disclosed to view
the bust of a man.

It was an extraordinarily fine piece of work, full of life and vigour.
It represented a bearded man of about fifty.

Even a person who had never seen the original would say, on looking at
it: “That must be a good portrait.”

It had individuality.

That is to say, it had, what nearly all modern sculpture lacks, Life.

In portraiture there is only one real medium—marble. Paint, photography,
Berlin woolwork, all are pretty much on the same level when compared to
marble, cut by the chisel of a master.

Whoever has seen the statue of Demosthenes, by Praxiteles, has heard
Demosthenes speak; has seen him as he once stood in the Agora.

A man’s face is individuality, expressed by a million curves; in a
portrait these curves are suggested; in a bust they are reproduced.

This bust, reconstructed and unveiled by Antonides, was a triumph of
art.

“Ah!” said the old Greek, forgetting even gold for a moment and staring
at the thing he had unveiled. “What Philistine smashed it? If he wanted
to use his hammer why did he not wait for the next opening of the
English Royal Academy? But if he had done that, of course, he would not
have been a Philistine, but a lover of art.”

“It is a fine piece of work,” said Freyberger, “and you have done the
restoration not badly.”

“Which reminds me of my fifteen shillings,” replied the other.

“How?”

“This way. Detective Freyberger brings me a bust to reconstruct. Now,
detective officers, however clever, do not as a rule call upon me with
busts to be reconstructed without a motive. Do you know whom that piece
of marble represents?”

“No.”

Antonides rubbed his hands together. “Would you give me fifteen
shillings to learn?”

“I would.”

“Well, I already know that you are on the Gyde case, which is in all the
papers.”

“Who told you?”

“That bust, and you confirmed my knowledge by admitting the fact.”

“It may be a speaking likeness of some one, but I doubt if it is so full
of speech as that.”

“Oh, yes, it is; now do you know whom it represents?”

“I tell you again, No.”

“It is a bust of Sir Anthony Gyde.”

“Hum,” said Freyberger, concealing the satisfaction that this
confirmation of his already formed suspicion gave him. “And how do you
know that?”

“Good Lord,” said Antonides. “How do I know that? Why, he has been in my
shop twenty times, if once.”

“Here’s your fifteen shillings,” said the detective.

“And how about my fifteen pounds?”

“Here they are.”

“Thanks, and remember the words of an old man. If you had kept your
mouth shut, it might have saved you fifteen shillings, if I hadn’t known
for a certainty that you were on the Gyde case. Then I would have said,
‘Oh, he knows whom the thing represents,’ and I would have talked about
it and given information for nothing. You wish to take the thing away?”

“Yes.”

“Well, you can’t till this evening, for the joinings will not be firmly
set till then. I will send it for you to the Yard. It will be quite safe
here.”

“Very well. But don’t send it; one of our men will call for it. Yes, you
have made a very good job of it and I congratulate you. I know something
about art.”

“You?” said Antonides, contemptuously, pocketing the notes. “And what
branch of art do you know something about?”

“Cookery. I am going over to the Itala to have some breakfast; come with
me.”

“You pay?”

“Yes.”

Antonides grinned, wriggled out of the gabardine he wore, got into an
old frock coat that was hanging from a nail on the wall, put on an old
top-hat, led the way downstairs, set the Jew boy to clean some bronzes,
locked him into the shop, and, pocketing the key, followed Freyberger
across the way to the restaurant.

During breakfast he talked and Freyberger listened. He talked of the
bargains he had made, of the sales he had attended, of the men he had
seen swindled, omitting, by some lapse of memory, the men he had
swindled. He talked of modern and ancient art. “Sculptors,” he said;
“the race has vanished. Except the unknown man who chiselled that bust I
have just repaired, I know of no living sculptor.”

“You knew Sir Anthony Gyde well?” asked Freyberger.

“I knew him for years,” replied the art dealer, through whose brains the
fumes of the chianti he had drunk were pleasantly straying; “for years;
and mark you this, Mr Freyberger, I don’t believe that man could have
committed a murder, unless he went mad.”

“Why not?”

“He had not the eyes of a murderer, the cheek bones of a murderer, or
the thumbs of a murderer.”

“Oh, you are evidently a dilettante in murder.”

“No, I am not, but I am a man of the world, and I have seen much of
people. Sir Anthony Gyde—God help me! I sold him a Corot once that
was—well, no matter. What was I saying? Oh yes! murderers, as a rule,
are men with blue eyes, pale blue eyes. A murderer ought to have broad,
flat cheekbones, it’s a desperate bad sign in a man; Gyde had neither of
these points, nor the thumbs. Tropmann had enormous thumbs, but it is
not so much the size of the thumb as the character of it. I can’t
describe a brutal thumb no more than I can describe a beautiful face,
but I know it when I see it. A glass of Benedictine, please. Murderers
come into my shop, I won’t say every day, but often. My dear friend, the
world is full of them. You will ask, if that is so why are so
comparatively few murders committed? For this reason, very few people
have the motive for slaying a fellow man or woman. I myself cannot
remember a single time in my life when the commission of a murder would
have benefited me much, and when that murder could have been committed
by me with reasonable chance of not being discovered.

“Yes, want of motive and fear of the gallows, which is stronger in man
than the fear of God, keeps numerous people from figuring in wax in the
Chamber of Horrors of Madame Tussaud’s. But want of motive chiefly—”

Freyberger paid the bill, and leaving the gruesome old man to his
cigarettes and Benedictine, returned to the Yard. He felt himself a step
nearer to that unseen adversary, whose subtleties he was disclosing
piecemeal.

Why had Kolbecker a bust of Sir Anthony Gyde in his possession, a bust
most possibly constructed by himself? Why had he destroyed it?

It was only another unanswerable question amidst the many unanswerable
questions contained in this mysterious case, but in it Freyberger felt,
by instinct, lay the answer to all the other questions and the solution
of the whole riddle.

So completely had the dominating mind with which he was at war succeeded
in its work, that every clue the case presented added confusion to
confusion.

Yet at any moment some spark of information might make all these
conflicting pieces of evidence fly together and form a whole, just as
the electric spark in an atmosphere of oxygen and hydrogen causes the
atoms of gas to fly together and form clear water.

The chief received Freyberger and his evidence, and complimented him on
what he had done.

“We have little else,” said he. “Nothing material has turned up, only
this. Gyde called at Smith and Wilkinson’s, the jewellers, in Regent
Street, yesterday, signed a cheque for ten pounds and got them to cash
it. He called shortly after ten. That is to say, a few minutes after he
left Coutts’s.”

“Good Heavens,” said Freyberger, “when will the wonders of this case
cease? He had just left Coutts’s, where he could have cashed a cheque
for five hundred, and he goes into a jeweller’s and cashes a cheque for
ten.

“Mind you, the man is in fear of his life; he has collected all his
jewels. One would suppose he wanted to collect all the money he could,
too, yet he makes a cheque out for ten pounds only, and adds to his
traces by cashing it at a jeweller’s, when he could easily have cashed
it at his bankers.”

“That is so,” said the chief. “Yet the fact remains. The manager of
Smith and Wilkinson’s called at Vine Street this morning with the news.
Go to their shop and see what you can discover.”

Freyberger did not need to be told twice.

He found the manager of Smith and Wilkinson’s in.

He was a stout, florid man, with a short manner.

His tale was that at ten-fifteen or ten-twenty a.m. on the preceding day
Sir Anthony Gyde, a customer well-known to the firm, entered the shop
and asked him (Mr Freeman the manager) to cash a cheque for ten pounds.
Sir Anthony took his cheque book from his pocket and wrote out a cheque
for ten pounds, payable to himself, endorsed it, and handed it to him,
Freeman, who cashed it, giving gold.

“I should like to see the cheque,” said Freyberger.

The manager produced it. It was uncrossed.

“Have you presented it for payment yet?” asked the detective.

“Of course not, else it would not be here.”

“I have a grim suspicion that it would.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that I believe it to be a forgery.”

“Nonsense,” said Freeman. There was an arrogance and a dash of impudence
in this man’s manner that irritated our friend Freyberger.

“You come with me to Coutts’s,” said he, “and we will see.”

“Yes,” said Freeman, “we will see.”

They took a hansom, and neither of them spoke a word till they drew up
at Coutts’s.

Freeman strutted in ahead of his companion and asked to see the manager
on important business; when the clerk showed the way to the manager’s
office, Freeman went first, Freyberger following humbly in his wake.
“Never mind,” thought Freyberger, “he’ll soon be playing another tune.”

The manager, an aristocratic-looking man with long white hands, side
whiskers and a bald head, turned over the cheque in a meditative manner.
“This cheque is perfectly in order,” he said.

“This gentleman seems to think otherwise,” said Freeman.

“Decidedly,” said Freyberger. “I am unacquainted with Sir Anthony Gyde’s
handwriting, but I have every reason to believe the signature on that
cheque to be a forgery.”

“Excuse me,” said the manager. “Er—your authority—you are?”

“Inspector Freyberger, of Scotland Yard.”

“Ah!” He rang the bell and ordered the chief cashier to be called. “Mr
S——,” said the manager, when that functionary appeared, “we have here a
cheque of Sir Anthony Gyde’s; cast your eye upon it and tell me, would
you cash it were it presented to you in the ordinary course of
business?”

The chief cashier cast his eye over the cheque just once.

“I would cash it,” he replied.

“It is, in your opinion, the writing of Sir Anthony Gyde?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Thank you,” said the manager, and the cashier withdrew.

Freeman gave a self-satisfied and contemptuous sniff.

There is more, sometimes, in a sniff than can be conveyed by any number
or combination of words, and this sniff of Freeman’s went to the
detective’s marrow; it contained quite a lot of things,
self-commendation and contempt for the intelligence of Freyberger
included.

“Considering,” said Freeman, “that I have the pen in my pocket with
which I saw Sir Anthony write the cheque, I would have been justified in
presenting the thing for payment, notwithstanding the doubt cast upon it
by this man,” indicating Freyberger; “but he was so sure, that I
accompanied him here, losing precious time in the transaction. I shall
take care that the matter is represented to his superiors at New
Scotland Yard.”

“Oh,” said Freyberger, who had been plunged for a moment in thought, and
who seemed quite oblivious to the insulting remark just uttered. “You
have the pen in your pocket, have you, with which Sir Anthony wrote this
cheque? Please produce it.”

Freeman produced it with a compassionate smile. He was beginning to feel
almost sorry for the man he had brought to confusion.

Freyberger’s steel grey eyes sparkled for a second when he saw the pen.
It was a stylograph, not a fountain.

He wrote a few words on a piece of paper with the pen and then handed
it, with Sir Anthony’s cheque, to the manager.

“Could those two writings have come from the point of the same pen?” he
asked.

“Oh, dear no,” said the manager. “This,” pointing to Freyberger’s
writing, “is written with a stylograph; this,” pointing to the cheque of
Sir Anthony, “is written with an ordinary pen. The writing varies in
thickness. It is quite clear.”

“Quite,” said Freyberger.

Freeman flew into a rage. “You mean to suspect me——” he cried.

“I suspect you of nothing,” said Freyberger; “if I did I would take you
into custody. You have been simply imposed upon. _That cheque of Anthony
Gyde’s is genuine._ This is what has happened. A person whom you took
for Sir Anthony Gyde entered your shop yesterday morning. He had in his
pocket a stolen cheque of Sir Anthony’s.

“He asked you to cash a cheque; you consented, and lent him your pen. He
took a cheque book from his pocket, and wrote or pretended to write out
a cheque for ten pounds. He never gave you that cheque; by a sleight of
hand, simple enough, he gave you the genuine cheque, and you cashed it.”

“But why,” said the manager, “did he go to all this trouble? Why did he
not simply walk into Mr er—Freeman’s place of business and say, ‘I have
a cheque of mine here for ten pounds, will you cash it for me?’”

“I suspect,” said Freyberger, “that he wished to confuse the police. He
wished to make us believe that Sir Anthony Gyde was alive and well at
ten-twenty a.m. yesterday morning. The fact that he wrote that cheque at
ten o’clock yesterday morning would, I confess, have helped to shake a
certain theory that I have concerning the case.”

“But surely,” said the manager, “Sir Anthony _is_ alive. It is a
dreadful business, but I gather, from the papers, that he is alive and
being searched for.”

“That is as may be,” said Freyberger. Then, suddenly, “Hullo! hullo!
what’s this?”

He seized the cheque from the table. “It only shows how limited our
powers of perception are, and how, in fixing one’s eyes upon one part of
a thing, one loses sight of another. To-day is the eighth of the month.
What day of the month was yesterday, Mr Freeman?”

“The seventh,” said Freeman, in a sulky tone.

“And this cheque is dated the sixth.”

It was so. In considering the signature they had overlooked the fact
that the cheque was anti-dated.

“I think,” said Freyberger, “that this fact confirms my suspicion that
the cheque was not written yesterday in Messrs Smith and Wilkinson’s
shop.”

“You may be right,” said Freeman, “but I will swear that the person who
gave me that cheque was Sir Anthony Gyde.”

“Ah, Mr Freeman,” said Freyberger, in a bitter tone of voice, “if you
had only examined that cheque properly, if you had only said to
yourself, ‘This could not possibly have been written with my
stylograph,’ if you had only jumped across the counter and seized Sir
Anthony Gyde, as you call him, you would have helped Justice a long way
down a difficult road. But you are a tradesman, suspicious towards the
needy, unsuspicious towards the rich. Well, no matter—we will require
your evidence at the proper time. Meanwhile, I will impound this cheque,
giving the bank a receipt for it.”

He did this.

“If you will apply to our cashier,” said the manager to Freeman, “you
will receive the amount due on the cheque, as it is in order, and we
have absolute belief in your integrity in the matter, and the cheque has
not been stopped by the only person capable of stopping it, Sir Anthony
Gyde.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XIX


FREYBERGER left the bank and betook himself to the Yard, there to report
proceedings.

Again he felt himself a step nearer this mysterious personage, whose
subtle and sinister processes he was slowly exposing to the light of
day, or rather to the light of reason. Not one, of all the things he had
discovered, would give in itself a clue. Collectively, they were
perplexing. But they had given to Freyberger this great advantage, he
was beginning to follow his adversary’s process of reasoning.

Their two minds, like two armies on a dark night, were already in touch.
Neither could see the other, except in occasional faint glimpses. But
any moment the moon might break through the clouds, giving light to
fight by, and the general action commence.

At the Yard no more information had come in of any worth. Several men
answering to the description of Sir Anthony Gyde had been arrested on
suspicion and had been released. Freyberger, off his own bat, had done
more to cast light on the case than the whole force of the Yard, and
though the light he had cast only showed a mass of confusion, the light
was not the less valuable for that. I have said that the chief, for some
time past, had recognized Freyberger as a coming man; this case had
already confirmed his judgement, and he was quite prepared to give him a
free hand and back him with all the colossal force at his disposal.

The power at the back of the Chief of the Criminal Investigation
Department is prodigious. He has the Treasury of England at his disposal
and the law officers of the Crown; an army of ten thousand picked men,
such men as are not to be found in the ranks of any other constabulary
in the world, and a general staff of the keenest detectives in Europe.
He can arrest and cast in prison, he can practically place an embargo on
ports. He holds the rod of the Wapentake, and there is only one living
man he may not touch with it—the King.

Freyberger, having detailed his actions, and given a hint of his private
opinions about the Gyde case, the chief fell into a reverie for a few
moments. Then he said:

“This man Klein, _alias_ Kolbecker; this man, whom you suppose also to
have figured under the name of Müller. Well, let us consider him a
moment. Since the hour when Sir Anthony Gyde called at the cottage,
since the hour Klein was supposed to be murdered in, we have had no hint
that Klein has been seen in the flesh, whereas we have numerous
witnesses who have incontestedly seen Gyde. If we suppose Klein to be
living and Gyde dead, this fact seems strange.”

“Excuse me, sir, but one man has seen Klein, _alias_ Kolbecker, _alias_
Müller—the valet Leloir. Witness the retinal photograph.”

“Yes, that is true, if we can consider the retinal photograph a true
picture of Klein. I have examined it in conjunction with the photo which
is incontestibly (from the landlady’s evidence) a photo of Klein; well,
I admit that the faces _may_ be photographs of the same person in
different moods of mind and taken under different conditions, but one
could not swear to the fact.”

“Sir,” replied the other, “there are many facts one cannot swear to—yet
they are facts. Instinct requires no affirmation, and some instinct
tells me that not only is Gyde guiltless of the murder of Klein, but
that Klein is the murderer of Gyde.

“The face of the man Müller, which is incontestably the face of the man
Klein, speaks to me in the old and long-written language of human
expression. It is a terrible face and full of evil, full of logic, and
subtlety and craft. It is the face of a mathematician, yet the face of a
satyr. It is cold as ice.

“The face in the retinal picture is filled with fire, the fire of the
infernal regions. I construct from the two pictures a personality rare
in the annals of crime. A criminal genius, actuated by more than
ordinary motives, using extraordinary precautions, inventing new ways.
The extraordinary folly of the ordinary criminal is nowhere to be found
in the mass of evidence before us. Even the cleverest criminal we know
of is clever only intermittently; his work is not, as a rule, a
masterpiece, thought out to the very last detail, if it is it is planned
on old-fashioned lines.

“I can say this of the Gyde case, that in my humble opinion it is a
flawless piece of criminal work carried out on entirely new-fashioned
lines. The work of a genius, and we must treat it as such. I have said
that I believe Klein is the active agent and is alive here in London
possibly. Well, I entreat you not to search for him in the ordinary way,
not to send his photograph to the papers. I could almost say not to
circulate his photograph amidst the force. Don’t search for him.”

“Why?”

“Because you will not find him. A man like that is not to be taken by
ordinary methods. Our one chance is to leave him lulled in security and
under the impression that Gyde is being pursued. Were he to see his
photograph in the papers, were he to imagine his photograph was in
circulation amongst the police, he would....”

“Yes?”

“Vanish, become some one else, or, at all events, his genius would not
nod in fancied security, but keep wide awake and watchful.”

“I will give you forty-eight hours, Freyberger,” said the chief,
“forty-eight hours to tackle this man in your own way; use all your
powers, do what you will. If, at the end of that time, you do not bring
me Klein or reasonable evidence that you are close on his track, I will
search for him in the ordinary way. I will drag London with a drag-net.”

“Forty-eight hours,” said Freyberger, “and only sixty minutes to every
hour; well, I can but try.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAPTER XX


FREYBERGER was now virtually in charge of the case.

He had forty-eight hours before him. He felt about the case just as an
engineer feels about some delicate piece of mechanism, which has not yet
been put in position, and which any jar or shock may destroy. He
shuddered to think of the brutal method of a dragnet search being
applied to the Gyde case.

It would be like chasing a moth with a pair of tongs. A million to one
the thing will not be caught and a certainty that if caught it will be
ruined.

He fancied the derision with which the dark spirit with which he was at
war would greet the efforts of the police.

It was half-past one now, the hour when he usually had luncheon, but
to-day he was not hungry. He went to a private room, got all the _pièces
de conviction_ together and then proceeded to go through the whole case,
incident by incident, item by item.

A few more details had come to light in the last few hours. The full
report of the post-mortem examination of the body found in the cottage
on the fells had come to hand.

There was mention of no mark upon it that might serve for
identification, the height before decapitation the surgeon judged would
have been about five feet eight inches. The underclothes were marked
“E.K.,” evidently Klein’s initials.

At five o’clock Freyberger had finished his review of the case, every
minutest detail was in his memory and ready to spring into position when
required.

He was just folding up his papers when a knock came to the door and an
officer entered with an envelope in his hand.

“From the chief,” said the messenger. Then he withdrew.

Freyberger opened the envelope. It contained a copy of a message just
received from Carlisle.

“Very sorry, one detail overlooked by some strange mischance in report
of Gyde case. Over second right costal cartilage of body found, are the
initials ‘E.K.,’ faintly tattooed.”

Freyberger gave a cry. The whole case for him had tumbled to pieces like
a house of cards. If “E.K.,” Klein’s initials, were tattooed on the
corpse, then the corpse was Klein’s, Gyde was a murderer, and Freyberger
a fool, so he told himself.

He paced the room rapidly in anger and irritation. The chance of his
life had not come then, he had been fighting air and all the time he had
fancied himself matched against a demon with the intellect of a Moltke!

Freyberger, so logical, so calm, so common-place-looking at ordinary
times, was terrible when in anger. His face quite changed and a new man
appeared; a ferocious and formidable individual, utterly destitute of
fear.

It was the second Freyberger who had arrested Macklin, the Fashion
Street murderer. Macklin, armed with a crow-bar, Freyberger, armed with
a walking-cane.

It was this second Freyberger who was now pacing the room, treading on
the fragments of his shattered theory. Suddenly he paused, placed his
hand, with fingers outspread, to his temples and stared before him at
the wall of the room, as though it were hyaline and through it he saw
something that fascinated, astonished and delighted him.

“Ah! what is this, what is this?” he murmured: “‘Two faint blue letters
tattooed over the second right costal cartilage’—The Lefarge case, the
bust, the man, the artist. My God! Why did not this occur to me before?
What is memory, what is memory, that she should hold such information
and yet withhold it till touched by a trifle? My theory is not
shattered. Though these letters, tattooed upon the corpse, plunges the
case into deeper depths, though they show a more profound mechanism,
what do I care for that, so long as they do not shatter my theory.”

He left the room, gave all the things he had been examining into the
safe keeping of the sergeant superintendent, and sought an interview
with the chief.

“I have received the information as to the tattooing, sir.”

“I think that disposes of Klein,” replied the chief.

“I beg your pardon, sir, but I imagine that in these two letters the
crux of the case lies. I believe these two letters are the point or
points for which I have been seeking. When I got your communication a
few minutes ago, I thought my theory shattered, but it has sprung to
life again, not only renewed, but added to. The complexity of the whole
thing has been increased doubly, but out of that complexity will now, I
believe, spring simplicity. I wish to go home and study some old notes;
if I may see you again, sir, in a few hours’ time I hope to put the Gyde
case before you in a new and most profoundly interesting light.”

“Do so,” replied the chief, “investigate in your own way and as deeply
as you will, but don’t be led away by your own imagination, Freyberger.”

“No, sir,” replied Freyberger, with the simplicity, or the apparent
simplicity, of a schoolboy replying to his master. Then he departed for
his own rooms that lay on the south side of the water.

I will lay it down as an axiom that a professional man is rarely of much
use if he be not acquainted with the literature of his profession. The
army man who knows little of the history of war, the doctor who cares
little for the history of medicine, the detective who knows nothing of
the history of crime, are members of society rarely rising to greatness.

Now Freyberger was a German, absorbed in his profession, and if you know
anything about Germans, you will agree with me that that statement
covers a great many things. He could speak four languages fluently:
English, German, French and Italian. Italian and French he had learned,
not for pleasure, but because he felt that they might be useful to him
in the pursuit of his vocation.

He read foreign newspapers and made notes of criminal cases that
interested him. He had done this for some ten years, and in his shabby
lodgings there were a series of notebooks containing the details of very
curious crimes. He knew as much about the poisoners, Palmer and
Smethurst, as though he had attended their trials, and from the
Brinvilliers case to the case of Monk Léothade, to the case of François
Lesnier, French criminal history was an open book to him.

The clocks were striking six when he arrived at his lodgings in Fox
Street, S.E.

He occupied a sitting-room and bedroom on the first floor. The walls of
the sitting-room were lined with books. It was a curious library. Any
general information you wanted you could find here, and a whole lot of
information by no means general. Amidst a host of books dealing with all
sorts of facts you might have found Schiller, and a first edition of
Heine’s lyrics stood upon a shelf above the last edition of _Casper’s
Forensic Medicine_.

Tea things were laid upon the table and a bright fire was burning upon
the hearth and it was an indication of the man’s nature, that, burning
as he was to be at his notes, he first had tea and fortified the inner
man with a meal that the inner man was badly in need of.

The notebooks, large volumes filled with press cuttings, were on a lower
shelf. He took a small ledger, looked up the letter L, found the
following entry: “Lefarge case, book B, page 115.”

Then he placed book B upon the table, opened it at page 115 and, drawing
up a chair, plunged into details.

He just scanned the columns of printed matter over first for names
before going through the case in detail. His heart bounded when he came
upon the name, “Müller,” and again upon the name Müller, and again and
again.

Müller had a lot to do with the business dealt with by all these columns
of printed matter.

That business was what is known in the annals of crime as the Lefarge
case; and it had occurred eight years previously in Paris, and the
details are as follows:

M. Lefarge, it appears, had owned a shop in the Rue de la Paix. He was a
jeweller and very wealthy. He was also a widower, and his family
consisted of one daughter, Cécile, whom we saw in the first pages of
this story, and who, at the time of the Lefarge tragedy, was just
sixteen years of age.

It appears that Lefarge had many friends south of the Seine; he was well
known in the Latin quarter as a patron of art and a merry companion when
the fit took him, and altogether as a good sort.

He did not make these excursions into the Quartier Latin entirely for
pleasure; he was a Norman, and had, even when engaged in the business of
pleasure, an eye to business.

The manufacturing of artistic jewellery stands amidst the highest of the
fine arts and amidst the Bohemians of the Boulevard St-Michel, M.
Lefarge had picked up more than one shabby individual with genius at his
finger tips and the mutual acquaintanceship had helped to enrich
considerably both the jeweller and the genius. Amongst these Bohemian
acquaintances of Lefarge there was a man named Müller. Müller was a
sculptor.

He was also without doubt a man of great genius. Without any doubt he
was also a great drinker, though no man had ever seen him drunk.

He had exhibited several bronzes at the Salon, one, “A Fight between two
Pterodactyls,” was of a ferocity to make one shudder. All his work was
stained by gloom and ferocity, yet all his work was the output of a
master. So said M. Le Notre in his funeral oration at the grave of
Müller, and the words, though spoken in the course of a funeral oration,
were strictly the truth.

Well, Müller one day made the acquaintance of M. Lefarge. The jeweller
was not only wealthy but vain, and before long he commissioned Müller to
execute a bust of himself (Lefarge) giving him numerous sittings for
that purpose.

He also wished for a bust of his daughter, but Cécile Lefarge positively
refused to sit. She had taken a dislike to the sculptor, one of those
dislikes that are born of instinct.

One dark day in October, Lefarge drove up to the house where Müller
lodged in the Rue de Turbigo. The concierge saw him enter. Müller was
in, he lived on the top floor, and up the stairs went Lefarge to visit
the sculptor.

An hour or so later he came down, carrying a black bag, got into his
carriage, and drove home to the Rue de la Paix. Here he collected all
his most valuable jewels. Jewels worth over a hundred thousand pounds.
He drove in his carriage with them to the corner of the Rue d’Amsterdam,
here he alighted. The coachman said he was carrying two bags, one the
bag he had brought from Müller’s house, the other the bag containing the
jewels. He told the coachman to wait for him, turned the corner of the
street, and was never seen again.

An hour later, in the Rue de Turbigo, Müller’s landlady took some coffee
up to him, she found his decapitated body lying on the floor. In the
pocket of Müller’s coat was a letter, the copy of a blackmailing letter
written by Müller to Lefarge some months before. In the description of
the dead body of Müller the existence was mentioned of two initials,
“W.M.” (the man’s initials) tattooed in pale blue ink over the second
right costal cartilage.

That no one had entered Müller’s room after Lefarge had left it was
indubitably proved by the concierge and several witnesses; proved so
conclusively that there could not be any manner of doubt that Lefarge
was the assassin. The collection of his jewels by Lefarge and his total
effacement after the event sealed the matter.

Freyberger, having gone carefully through the reports, took a pen and
began to draw up, for his own satisfaction, the points of similarity
between the Lefarge and the Gyde case. Roughly, they were these, each
assassin was a rich man, a man of pleasure and more or less dubious
morals. Each victim was an artist.

Müller, the victim of Lefarge, had made a bust of his assassin.

Klein, the victim of Gyde, had made a bust of his assassin.

Upon the body of Müller was found the copy of an old blackmailing letter
addressed to Lefarge.

In the room where Klein was found dead was found a copy of a
blackmailing letter addressed to Gyde.

Upon each of the murdered men’s chests were tattooed initials, exactly
in the same place, over the second right costal cartilage.

A strange similarity bound the two cases together, but the strangest
thing drawing the two cases together was the fact, the almost certain
fact, that Müller and Klein were one and the same person.

The fact that both men were artists of a high type, that both men were
blackmailers, that both men kept copies of old blackmailing letters in
their own handwriting—a most extraordinary blunder to commit—that both
men were decapitated in exactly the same manner, and that each man had
tattooed, in exactly the same place on his breast, his own initials, all
these facts crowned by the master fact that Klein had left behind him,
in his rooms in Howland Street, a portrait of himself with the name
“Müller” partly erased from the back. All these facts, I repeat, made it
quite clear to the mind of Freyberger that Klein and Müller were one and
the same person. If this was so, Lefarge could not have murdered Müller,
yet a frightful avalanche of evidence condemned him.

The evidence admitted of no cavil. No one else could have committed the
crime. The assassination of Müller by Lefarge was even more conclusively
proved than the assassination of Klein by Sir Anthony Gyde; for in the
cottage on the fells another person might conceivably have been hidden
at the time of the murder, but in the room in the Rue de Turbigo the
evidence conclusively proved that no one could have been there at the
critical moment but Lefarge and Müller.

The two cases, then, were connected together by many threads. At first
sight the fact of this intimate connexion between the Lefarge and the
Gyde case might seem to plunge the Gyde case into more profound
darkness, to heap perplexity on perplexity.

But to Freyberger the discovery of this connexion was a huge step
gained. Having verified the similarity of the incidents in the two cases
he did not bother about them for a moment, cast them aside, took a broad
view of the whole business and arrived at the grand conclusion that the
active criminal agent in the Lefarge case was also the active criminal
agent in the Gyde case.

“Now, if this is so,” argued Freyberger, “there are only four men to
pick our criminal agent from. He must be either Lefarge, Müller, Klein
or Gyde.

“Müller and Klein being the same person the case is reduced to a case of
three men from whom to pick our criminal.

“He cannot be Lefarge simply because Lefarge cannot be Gyde. He cannot
be Gyde simply because Gyde cannot be Lefarge. It must then be Klein,
_alias_ Müller.

“If my premise is correct, that Klein and Müller are one and the same
person, and that the active agent in both cases is the same man, then it
is mathematically proved that the criminal is Klein.

“It might be suggested that Lefarge, after murdering Müller, escaped,
changed his name became Sir Anthony Gyde, and murdered Klein in
precisely the same manner as he murdered Müller, that suggestion is at
once beaten to death by a hundred bludgeons in the form of records.

“Leaving aside the fact that it would be impossible for Lefarge to
masquerade as Gyde, we have the almost certain fact that Müller was
never murdered at all.

“The case is quite clear in my own mind. Nothing will shake my opinion.
I have the name of the man I am seeking for, I have his past history in
part.

“He is undoubtedly the greatest criminal the world has ever seen, and I
have not in the least fathomed his infernal method. The method by which
he has, I fully believe, murdered two men, making the world believe that
they have murdered him.

“What a strange thing is memory. I read the report of the Lefarge case
six months ago and more. The facts were in my brain, I never dreamt of
connecting them with the facts of the Gyde case until the words, ‘two
blue letters tattooed over the second right costal cartilage,’ rang the
bell and brought recollection to her duty.

“Those two letters seemed at first to shatter my theory. Behold! on
examination of what they recalled to my mind, they have been the means
of making my theory absolutely perfect, extending it, and sweeping the
real criminal towards my net.

“My theory before those letters were made known to me, consisted of the
idea that Gyde was innocent and that some one, presumably Klein, was
guilty of the murder in the cottage.

“Now my theory is that Gyde is innocent and that Klein is _certainly_
guilty not of the murder of some unknown man, but of Gyde. Yet the
mystery still remains of the tattooing. How is it that the initials of
Müller were tattooed on the breast of a corpse that could not have been
the corpse of Müller, and the initials of Klein on a corpse that I am
sure is not that of Klein? I cannot tell yet, but we shall see.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XXI


HE returned the big volume of press cuttings to their shelf, put on his
hat and overcoat, lit a cigar, and left the house, taking his way to the
Yard.

The chief was away and Inspector Dennison was on duty.

“Well, Freyberger,” said the inspector, “and how’s the case going on?”

“Oh, fairly well,” said the other, “as far as I am concerned. I have
struck, I believe, an important development. I want a man sent to Paris
to-night, it’s urgent, you can act in the absence of the chief?”

“Yes.”

“We have had that photograph of Müller reproduced?”

“Yes, that has been done.”

“Well, I want a man to take it to Paris. I want careful inquiries to be
made amongst the artists of the Latin Quarter as to whether that is the
portrait of an artist named Müller, who was murdered by a Monsieur
Lefarge eight years ago. Here are the dates. I believe the thing will be
easily verified. M. Le Notre, the sculptor, knew the man or seems to
have known him from the funeral oration he made at his graveside.”

“What’s the connexion?” asked Dennison.

“Deep and most important. It has cleared the Gyde case up a good deal in
my mind, but I can’t stop to tell you details, for it would take an
hour. Will you send?”

“Yes,” replied Dennison. He wrote out full instructions on a sheet of
official paper, ordered a reprint of the Müller photograph to be brought
him, ordered a certain officer to be summoned, and ten minutes later the
man had departed for Victoria to catch the night mail to Paris.

“Now I’m going to ring them up, with your leave, and ask them some
questions,” said Freyberger, and five minutes later, with the receiver
at his ear, he was in connexion with the Paris prefecture and the thin
acerbitous voice of the night before was talking to him as though it had
only ceased speaking a moment ago.

Dennison, listening, heard:

“I wish to make some inquiries as to the Lefarge case, November 9, 18—,”
“Yes,” “The murder of the man Müller, Rue de Turbigo, No.—.” “Yes.”
“Ah.” “I wish to inquire as to whether any close relative of M. Lefarge
is still living,” “Yes.” “The daughter you say?” “You have her address?”
“Well, I wish her to come to London and bring with her all possible
evidence of the case, also to find out the whereabouts of the bust
executed by Müller of her father. To bring it with her if possible, and
to communicate with us as to when she will arrive in London, and where
we may see her as soon as possible. Thanks. We are sending an agent to
you to-night with a photograph of a man named Müller. We wish it
verified if possible, believing it to be the portrait of the Müller in
the Lefarge case. He was well known in the Quartier Latin, and M. Le
Notre may be able to identify. Thanks.”

He hung up the receiver.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XXII


HELLIER’S chambers in Clifford’s Inn were a part of the past. So was the
staircase that led to them.

Generations of lawyers and rats and the fogs of two hundred or so
Novembers had left their traces on wall and ceiling, on floors that
sagged, and stairs that groaned, and doors that jammed, and chimneys
that smoked.

On windy nights one heard all sorts of quaint arguments in the chimney
and behind the wainscoting. Steps of defunct lawyers sounded in the
passage outside and sitting by the flickering fire-light before the lamp
was lit you might, were you an imaginative man, have heard or seen
pretty much anything your fancy willed.

The rooms had a smell of their own, quite peculiar to themselves and not
unpleasant to an antiquarian mind.

A smell of must, or was it rats, or was it dead and gone lawyers? a
faint, faint perfume, which, if one could bottle, one might label
“Clifford’s Inn,” just as M. Warrick labels his productions, “Ess
Bouquet,” or “New-mown Hay.”

Hellier’s sitting-room was a comfortable enough place despite the doors
that would not open except when kicked, or at their own caprice, the
skeleton-suggesting cupboards, the creaking floor and the sounds and
scents of age.

There were plenty of books for one thing, a few good engravings, a
comfortable easy chair, a hospitable-looking tobacco jar, a cigar
cabinet not too big and not too small, a bright brass kettle on the hob,
a canister of green tea in one of the musty-fusty smelling cupboards and
a tantalus case on the table where Archbald’s _Lunacy_ reposed from its
labours of teaching under a volume of Baudelaire.

Evidently it was the room of a barrister with tastes of his own.

Hellier, since leaving Boulogne some weeks ago, with the _dossier_ of
the Lefarge case in his pocket, had spent some days in Paris.

He had gone into the case with that thoroughness which a man only
exhibits when urged by either of the two great motive powers of life,
ambition or love.

He had obtained an introduction to M. Hamard, he had interviewed the
detectives who had been engaged on the case, he had pored over files of
newspapers, and from M. Hamard, from the detectives, from the printed
reports, he had obtained only the one dreary and reiterated statement:
“M. Lefarge is guilty. The case admits of no other verdict. The thing is
conclusively proved and the affair is closed.”

He had returned to London and there again carefully sifted the evidence
alone in his rooms in Clifford’s Inn. Reviewing the whole matter, he
could not but come to the conclusion arrived at by M. Hamard, the
detectives and the newspapers. He could not but say to himself: “However
much I wish to believe the contrary, I _must_ believe what is the fact.
M. Lefarge was guilty of as cruel and calculated and cold-blooded a
murder as was ever committed by man.”

This was bad, for his love for Cécile Lefarge had grown into a passion.
One talks and laughs about heartache, but heartache is a pain beside
which all other pains are trifles. To be possessed by the image of a
woman, to love her and to know that she returns one’s love, to be
separated from her, to live without her and without assured hope of
possessing her is the cruellest torture ever inflicted by an all-wise
Providence on man.

Love is not blind, it confers the brightest and clearest vision to the
person it possesses. Hellier knew quite well, knew for a certainty,
that, till this cloud was cleared from her father’s name, Cécile Lefarge
would never marry.

She was the daughter of an assassin. He was quite prepared to forget the
fact. She could never do so. It was a penalty laid upon her by fate and
she would not palter with the fact, and unless her father’s name was, by
some miracle, cleared, she would go to her grave as she was, upheld by
that iron determination which women alone possess when the passions are
concerned and which is at once the most beautiful and the most terrible
trait in women.

And the thing was hopeless, for M. Lefarge’s name could never be
cleared, so Hellier told himself, as he sat gloomily over the fire in
his sitting-room at Clifford’s Inn.

During his research in Paris he had come across several facts in
connexion with the case that struck him especially.

One was that the head of the murdered man, Müller, had never been
recovered.

Another was of a different nature. In a copy of the Petit Journal, dated
some weeks after the day upon which the Lefarge tragedy had occurred, he
had come across the details of a murder committed in the neighbourhood
of Montmartre. The victim was an old man named Mesnier; he had been
killed in a most brutal manner and for no object apparently.

Mesnier lived in the Rue d’Antibes, a squalid street near the Moulin
Rouge. A man had been seen leaving his room and, as Mesnier had no
visitors as a rule, and the man had been seen leaving the room within a
very short time after the assassination occurred, the man was presumably
the criminal.

Alphonse Karr, the witness, an ex-waiter of the Théâtre-Concert Européen
of Montmartre, said that he would have sworn that this man was Wilhelm
Müller, whom he had often seen at the _chat noir_, only for the fact
that he knew that Müller was dead.

This paragraph greatly interested Hellier and he searched on through the
files of the _Petit Journal_ in hopes of finding more details of the
case. He found none.

But he found a headline that interested him in a copy of the _Petit
Journal_, dated some days after the murder of Mesnier. It ran:

“Another motiveless murder.”

It related to the murder of a woman named Sabatier, who had been found
strangled in a field near Paris.

There was no possible motive for the crime, the woman had a purse in her
hand containing twenty-five francs. The purse had not been taken, no
violence had been done to her, if we except the fact that she had been
strangled as though by some violent maniac.

“This case,” said the _Petit Journal_, “recalls that of the old man,
Mesnier, recorded by us some days since, in each the victim was
strangled, evidently by the grip of a powerful hand; in each there was
no motive for the crime, for it will be remembered that Mesnier had
received his quarterly annuity and the money, a fairly large sum, was
lying intact upon the table.”

Hellier, just by chance before dropping the file of the paper, turned a
page, and came upon the detail of another crime.

A child had been strangled on the high road leading to Villeneuve St
George’s, in the broad light of day.

A labourer had seen the occurrence from a distance. He saw the figure of
a man, he saw the child. He thought the man was playing with the child.
Then he saw the child lying on the high road and the man running away
across a field. He could give no definite description of the man. He was
about the middle height and dressed in dark clothes.

The case recalled the Sabatier case and the case of Mesnier.

Hellier searched on through the files of the paper. There was nothing
more. The assassin had vanished and was never captured, no similar
crimes were recorded. All these crimes had most probably been committed
by the same man. They ceased suddenly and were not repeated, they had
been committed for no apparent reason, most probably by some lunatic,
whose mania was destruction.

What had become of the lunatic, why had this sudden mania seized him?
why had it suddenly ceased? These questions were never answered. The
thing was one of those unsolved mysteries, with which the pigeon-holes
of the prefecture are stocked.

Hellier searched no more. The fact that Karr, the ex-café waiter, had
fancied a resemblance between the supposed assassin and Müller, the fact
of the similarity between the three crimes lay in his memory but they
did not stir his imagination.

Even love could not hide from him the fact that Lefarge was guilty and
Müller dead, and Cécile Lefarge the daughter of an assassin.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER XXIII


ON the day after that upon which Freyberger had telephoned to the Paris
police requesting a personal interview with Mademoiselle Lefarge, London
awoke to find itself effaced by fog.

Mrs Hussey, the old woman who stole Hellier’s tea and whisky and coal,
made his bed, lit his fire, and attended generally to his wants and
discomforts, had set the breakfast things out for him, placed his eggs
and bacon in the fender to keep warm, and his letters by his plate.
Having attended to these duties she had departed, swallowed up in the
fog.

There were three letters on the table. Two small bills and an invitation
to a dance in Bayswater. A more depressing post could not have been
invented for him.

He had hoped to find an envelope post-marked Boulogne-sur-Mer and
addressed to him in a characteristic woman’s hand. He had received no
reply to his last letter, but there was the chance that one might come
by the second post.

London is a terrible place for the anxious heart expecting news by post.
There are so many posts; every hour you hear the double knock at some
one else’s door, every hour you see the man in blue passing, the man who
could bring you so much if the fates only willed.

The second post came and brought with it a circular.

Have you ever noticed in life the part played by the unexpected? You are
looking forward to some pleasure, some journey, some meeting, you,
perhaps, are full of doubt as to whether your finances will meet the
occasion, whether the carriage will come at the proper time, whether the
woman you are to meet will keep the appointment.

All your fears are groundless, the money arrives, the carriage is at the
door, the lady is waiting for you, and you are just getting into the
carriage with a bunch of violets in your hand and a fat cheque in your
pocket, when a messenger arrives to say that your aunt is dying.

You had never thought of that. On the other hand the cheque has not
arrived, the carriage has not come, you are in despair, and Providence
appears in the form of Jones, a debtor whom you had forgotten for years,
now a millionaire back from South Africa.

Hellier was leaving his rooms with his overcoat tightly buttoned up, a
muffler round his neck and a feeling of desolation at his heart, when,
on the stairs he knocked against a telegraph boy, took a telegram from
him, opened it and read by the light of the gas jet on the lower
landing:

      “Boulogne-sur-Mer.

“DEAR FRIEND: We arrive London to-day. Meet us Langham Hotel six
o’clock; important.

      CÉCILE LEFARGE.”

As Hellier walked across the courtyard of Clifford’s Inn with this
missive in his pocket, the sky above was sapphire blue, the sun was
shining brightly, also trees were blooming around him and nightingales
singing in their branches. At least, so it seemed to him till a
collision with Mr Crump, K.C., a portly gentleman, who was not in love,
brought him to his senses.

He did not ask himself what could possibly have happened to bring Cécile
to London. He only knew that she was coming, that she had telegraphed to
him and that he would meet her at six. As if nature had suddenly grown
kind as well as fate, towards noon the fog cleared away, the sun shone
out and the light of a perfect spring day was cast upon the world.

At six o’clock to the minute he presented himself at the Langham,
ascertained that Mademoiselle Lefarge and her aunt had arrived and were
expecting him and was shown to their private sitting-room.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XXIV


FREYBERGER, also, had received a telegram that morning, or, at least,
the Chief of the Criminal Investigation Department had received it and
communicated its contents to him.

“You can take the case entirely into your own hands, Freyberger,” he
said. “You have certainly done well in it heretofore, the connexion
between the two crimes seems to me almost made out, should the Paris
people identify the portrait we have sent them as that of the supposedly
murdered man, Müller, the connexion will be made certain. Your insight
has been very praiseworthy, and if the portrait is identified we can at
once place our finger upon the person who, if he is not the author of
the crime, we are investigating, is, at least, so bound up in it that
his capture must place the whole matter in a clear light.

“But will we be any nearer to his arrest? You object to his portrait
being published in the papers, yet you know very well the value of that
step.

“Take a big morning and evening paper; a portrait published in these
papers is a portrait, so to speak, placarded on the sky. A million pair
of eyes are at once placed at our service.”

“Quite so, sir,” replied Freyberger, “I am the last man to undervalue
the power of the Press. I quite know that if we were to publish the
portrait we should have half a million amateur detectives at our service
in half a dozen hours. Unfortunately, it is my firm conviction that in
an hour after publication, our man, who is now, I fancy, walking about
the world catchable, in the pride of his infernal genius, in an hour, I
repeat, he would be uncatchable. He would turn himself into air, into
water, into smoke. He would become some one else. He is illusion
materialized.

“Even if we circulate his portrait amidst the force, within a few hours
some man answering his description is sure to be arrested, sure to be
released, and the affair will get wind and our Jack-o’-lanthorn will
know that some one, not answering the description of Gyde, is being
sought for, and he will say to himself ‘they have found out something,
they suspect, perhaps they know,’ and he will dive, efface himself,
never be seen again.

“I believe the use of ordinary methods against this person will be of no
avail. We must trust to chance. And I have a strange belief, rather a
sort of instinct, that the chance will come to us through the Lefarge
case.”

He ceased, for at this moment a sergeant knocked at the door, bringing a
broad sheet of paper on which was some writing.

He handed it to the chief and withdrew. It was a message from Boulogne
and read:

      “Boulogne-sur-Mer.

“Have received communication through Hamard. Will be at the Langham
Hotel this evening at seven, bringing all evidence with me.

      CÉCILE LEFARGE.”

“The omen is good,” said the chief, with a slight smile.

Before Freyberger could reply the door opened and another officer
appeared with a message. It was from the prefecture.

“Photograph sent by your agent identified as that of Wilhelm Müller,
assassinated December 30, 18—, No. 110 Rue de Turbigo. Duplicate of
photo has been in this office since the crime was committed.—LEGENDRE,
Chief of Identification Bureau, Prefecture of Police.”

The chief’s eyes sparkled for a moment with pleasure. The way in which
Freyberger had connected and riveted the two cases, the manner in which
he had now, with terrible and mathematical certainty, proved Müller,
_alias_ Kolbecker, _alias_ Klein, the moving spirit in these two great
tragedies, and almost to a certainty the criminal, since Lefarge could
have no thinkable connexion with the Gyde case and Gyde no connexion
with the Lefarge case; all this pleased his artistic instinct. He said
nothing, but simply read the message, handed it to Freyberger, who read
it in turn and gave it back.

“Thank you, sir,” said Freyberger, “and now, if you will permit me, I
will go home. Nothing of importance is likely to happen between now and
seven o’clock. I have some pressing business to attend to.”

“And what may that business be?” inquired the chief.

“Sleep, sir. I have not closed my eyes for forty-eight hours.”

“Go and attend to your business, then,” replied the other, “and if
anything of vital importance turns up, I will send for you. I am pleased
with you, Freyberger, and with the way you have conducted this case. Go
and dream you have caught this will-o’-the-wisp, and may your dream turn
true.”

“I never dream, sir,” replied Freyberger, and, bidding the chief good
morning, he departed.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XXV


HE returned to his rooms.

The man who would command events must be able to command sleep. This, at
least, Freyberger was able to do. He cast himself upon his bed, closed
his eyes and was immediately lost in oblivion.

At half-past four he awoke, made himself some coffee, lit a cigar and
fell, for a moment, into meditation. There was one point wanting to him
in the case before it stood absolutely four square and to his
satisfaction.

That point was the proof that the bust of Sir Anthony Gyde was by the
hand of the same sculptor as the bust of M. Lefarge.

It was more than probable that Mademoiselle Lefarge would bring with her
to London this very material piece of evidence. It was in her possession
he knew, for, in the newspaper accounts of the tragedy it was numbered
amidst the _pièces de conviction_, and the statement was made that it
had been returned to the daughter of Lefarge, coupled with the statement
that Mademoiselle Lefarge wept when it was returned to her and expressed
her conviction of her father’s innocence and her determination to devote
her life to the task of clearing his name from the terrible stain upon
it. Antonides alone would be able to decide the question of the artist,
and at five Freyberger left his rooms and took his way to Old Compton
Street.

He did not call at the Yard on his way, knowing quite well that if
anything important had turned up in reference to the Gyde case, the
chief would have communicated with him immediately.

Antonides was in. He was eating a sausage roll behind his counter, or
rather finishing it, when Freyberger entered. The old man was killing
himself with indigestion. To save the price of a trustworthy assistant
he looked after his business entirely himself, with the exception of
what help a boy, hired at seven shillings a week, could give him. This
meant that whenever he required a meal properly cooked he had to go to a
café and lock the shop up till he returned, as this meant the possible
loss of a customer, he was condemned to live on sardines and sausage
rolls, sandwiches, anything, in fact, that did not require cooking or
service.

Of course he could have had dinner sent in from a café, but he would
have had to eat it on the counter for had he retired upstairs to devour
it he would have been compelled to close the shop.

Not for one moment did he leave it open during his absence upstairs,
save on very rare occasions, such as the morning before, when
Freyberger, calling to inspect the bust, had found the boy taking down
the shutters and the door open.

“Good day, Mr Freyberger,” said the old man.

“Good day,” said Freyberger.

“And what can I do for you Mr Freyberger,” asked Antonides, “any more
busts to restore?”

“Not to-day, thanks, I want your opinion on a work of art.”

“Produce it.”

“Do you think I carry it about with me in my pocket?”

“I have seen works of art produced from a pocket before now. I have seen
a snuff-box, worth a thousand guineas, and which I bought for,—no
matter.”

“Well this is not a snuff-box but a bust.”

“Another bust!”

“Yes, another.”

“The subject?”

“A man.”

“The artist?”

“Unknown, but supposed to be the same who executed the bust of Sir
Anthony Gyde.”

“Ha! ha!”

“Could you tell if it were the same artist?”

“Could I tell it in the dark by the touch of my fingers, could I not?”

“Well, I hope to show you it.”

“You know my fee for examining works of art?”

“No.”

“A guinea.”

“You shall have it.”

“At what hour will you bring it here?”

“That’s just the point, the thing can’t be brought here, you must go to
see it.”

“Where?”

“At the Langham Hotel.”

“You know my fee for leaving my shop to inspect works of art.”

“No.”

“Two guineas, Mr Freyberger.”

“You shall have them.”

“And the cab fare?” shrieked Antonides, his face becoming pinched with
excitement.

“And the cab fare.”

“There and back?”

“Yes, there and back, anything else? Mention it whilst we are about it,
don’t be bashful, drinks on the way and a red carpet on the steps when
you get there.”

“I never drink between meals. Three shillings is the cab fare. I never
cheat my customers, nor do I allow cabmen to cheat me. At what hour
shall I be at the Langham Hotel?”

“Oh, about half-past seven.”

“And the bust. If it is not asking an impertinent question, where is it
coming from?”

“Paris.”

“Ah!”

“By the way.”

“Yes.”

“Have you ever heard of an artist and sculptor, named Wilhelm Müller?”

“Wilhelm Müller, a sculptor?”

“Yes.”

“Murdered eight years ago?”

“Yes.”

“By a M.—”

“Lefarge.”

“Yes, yes, that is the name. Oh, yes, I remember Müller. I only saw him
once about nine years ago; I clearly recollect him for the fact of his
murder, which I read of in the papers shortly after impressed our
meeting upon me. It was at the _chat noir_. Oh, yes, I remember Wilhelm
Müller very well indeed.”

“You are a judge of men.”

“I am a judge of art primarily, modern man is mainly a production of
art, not of nature; yes, I am a judge of men.”

“What was your opinion of Müller?”

“You know my fee for examining and giving my opinion on works of art.”

“Yes, here, take a cigar and give me your opinion on Müller.”

“As a work of art or nature?”

“You said modern man was a work of art.”

“I said, mainly a work of art, there is a strong substratum of nature in
some men.”

“Well I want your opinion on Müller, both as a work of art and a work of
nature; cast some light on him for me out of your intelligence.”

“Give me a match.”

“There you are.”

“Thank you. As an artistic production, Müller was not so bad, for he
managed fairly well to conceal from his fellow-men what nature had made
him?”

“And what had nature made him?”

“A madman.”

“A madman?”

“Yes, and yet he was sane.”

“That sounds like a paradox.”

“Man is a paradox. I know twenty men in London who are as mad as
hatters, yet they are sane for all practical purposes.”

“Could you fancy Müller committing a murder?”

“Easily. He was of the intellectual criminal type.”

“Yet he was a great artist.”

“Though I have never seen any of his work—”

“Pardon me, you have, for that bust of Sir Anthony Gyde’s was, I
believe, from his chisel.”

“Though I had never seen any of his work, judging from my recollection
of the man, I would say he was a great genius. He had the brilliancy of
eye, the concentration of gaze, which one rarely meets with in
common-place people, and yet those eyes would, so to speak, fall apart,
the concentration relax, the gaze become turned inward. Then it was that
the essential madness of the man became visible to the man who could
see. How many men of your acquaintance can see, Mr Freyberger?”

Freyberger laughed and turned to leave the shop.

“Well,” he said, “seven-thirty at the Langham. Be sure you are there and
ask for Mademoiselle Lefarge.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XXVI


AT seven o’clock precisely, Freyberger drove up to the Langham.

Mademoiselle Lefarge had given instructions that anyone who called was
to be shown up.

Freyberger followed a waiter up the softly carpeted stairs; at the door
of a room on the first landing the man stopped.

“Whom shall I say, sir?”

“Mr Gustave Freyberger.”

The waiter opened the door and the detective found himself in the
presence of three people.

An old lady with white hair, a young woman whom he recognized by
instinct as Mademoiselle Lefarge, and a man of about thirty or perhaps
thirty-five, clean-shaved, English-looking, and with the stamp of a
barrister.

The detective’s quick eye and even quicker brain took in the room and
its occupants at a glance.

In a moment he comprehended the status of the two women before him, but
the man puzzled him.

The women were French to their fingertips, but the man was English.

Needless to say the man was Hellier.

Cécile Lefarge gazed at the newcomer for a moment and then advanced,
with hand out-stretched, in such a kindly and frank manner as quite to
captivate even the unemotional Freyberger.

“I need not ask you,” she said, “for I am quite sure you are the
gentleman mentioned by M. Hamard as having telegraphed to Paris for an
interview with me. I am Cécile Lefarge.”

“Mademoiselle,” replied the detective, with a charming modesty that was
half false. “The communication to M. Hamard came from the Chief of the
Criminal Investigation Department of Scotland Yard. I am but the humble
instrument deputed by him to inquire into a certain case. A crime has
been committed in England. In the investigation of the matter, I, by a
strange chance, came upon the records of a crime committed in Paris—”

“Eight years ago.”

“Pardon me, mademoiselle, eight years and five months ago.”

“You are exact.”

“I am exact, but before I proceed, I must ask you to excuse me. This is
an important matter. In speaking of it I wish to be sure of whom I am
addressing. You are Mademoiselle Lefarge, this lady—”

“Is my aunt, Madame de Warens.”

“Thank you, and this gentleman?”

Cécile Lefarge blushed slightly. “He is our very good friend, Mr
Hellier.”

Hellier produced his visiting card and handed it to Freyberger.

“That is my name and address,” said he. “I assure you that anything you
say before me will not pass beyond me. Mademoiselle Lefarge has
entrusted me with the painful details of the case that occurred in Paris
eight years ago, and I have made investigations myself in the matter. I
have spent some time in Paris studying the reports of the case, and I
may be able to assist you in an humble way, if my assistance would not
be out of place.”

Freyberger bowed very stiffly. He had a horror of the amateur detective,
the Gyde case was his own especial problem, he wished for no help in its
solution.

“Thank you,” he said. Then turning to Mademoiselle Lefarge:

“I like to be always perfectly frank, I have brought you a long journey,
my message was urgent, yet I can give you no word of hope on the
question that has troubled your heart for eight years.”

“Hope!”

“My meaning is this, I can give you no hope that M. Lefarge is alive.”

“Alive! Ah, no! He is dead, my dear father is dead, some instinct has
long told me that; all I hope for is revenge.”

“I may give you that,” said Freyberger quite simply.

They were standing opposite to one another. Mademoiselle Lefarge sank
down on a fauteuil near by and motioned the detective to take a chair.

“I must tell you first,” said he, taking a seat close to her, “that a
terrible crime has been committed in England, a crime almost exactly
similar to that which was committed in the Rue de Turbigo eight years
ago.”

“Ah!”

“We are investigating that crime, we believe the active agent in it to
be the active agent in the crime of the Rue de Turbigo. If we can prove
this incontrovertibly by the capture of the active agent for whom we are
seeking, your father’s name will be quite cleared of any imputation.”

Cécile Lefarge sighed deeply. She sat with her hands clasped across one
knee and her eyes fixed upon the man before her.

She divined, in this plain, clean-shaved, fresh-coloured and
youngish-looking man, whose face might have been that of a café waiter,
whose manner was yet so calm and authoritative and assured, and whose
eye was so full of steadfastness and energy, she divined in this person
the man for whom she had been seeking for years—her avenger.

“Go on, please,” she said.

“I must first,” said Freyberger, taking a parcel from his pocket, “ask
you to look at this.”

He handed a photograph to the girl.

She looked at it and gave a short, sharp cry, as though some one had
struck her.

“Müller!” she said, holding the thing away from her with a gesture of
terror.

Freyberger took it and replaced it in his pocket after Hellier had
glanced at it.

“You recognize it as the portrait—”

“Of the man who executed the bust of my father. Oh, yes, indeed, I
recognize it. His face is burnt upon my brain. Were I to live a thousand
years, it would be there still.”

“Now,” said Freyberger, “I do not wish to pain you, yet I must say some
unpleasant things. You know that in the eyes of the world at the time of
this affair, M. Lefarge appeared guilty.”

“Alas!” said she, “in the eyes of the world my dear father must appear
as guilty as he did then.”

“You know the terrible mass of evidence that was produced against him?”

“Yes.”

“You have weighed it logically yourself?”

“Yes.”

“Have you ever believed your father to have been guilty of the crime
imputed to him?”

“Never.”

“Have you any special reason for this disbelief?”

“No.”

“Yet—”

“Yet I know him to have been innocent. Ah, M. Freyberger! logic is not
everything in this world, instinct with some people counts for much
more. I know my dear father to have been innocent, and you ask me how I
know it. I can only answer, ‘how do I know that the sun shines,’ the
thing is plain before me, and we will not speak of it again.”

“We will speak, then, of this man, Müller. He impressed you.”

She looked around as if seeking for a metaphor.

“He impressed me with horror, he filled me with the terror of a
nightmare.”

“You saw him several times?”

“Yes, my dear father brought him to our house. My father was so good, so
pleasant, so genial, he saw no harm in anyone. If a man were only
clever, that was enough for him. Many an artist who is now well-to-do in
the world owes everything to the help received from him.”

Freyberger had been studying Mademoiselle Lefarge from the first moment
of his entering the room. This was no woman of the ordinary type.

This was an individual of spirit and sense and intellect, who had been
studying the Lefarge case for eight years. He determined to put the
whole matter of the Gyde case before her and its connexion with the case
of Lefarge.

This he did in the space of ten minutes, clearly and concisely and with
that precision that never misses a necessary or includes an unnecessary
word.

“If what you have told me is correct,” said Mademoiselle Lefarge, when
he had finished, “it only confirms my belief that Müller by some
horrible alchemy, known only to himself, destroyed my father both in
body and reputation, just as he has destroyed Sir Anthony Gyde.”

“That, too, is my belief,” said Hellier, who had been listening, amazed
at the tale of Freyberger, and full of admiration at his process of
reasoning.

“Now,” said the detective, “have you the bust this man executed of M.
Lefarge?”

“Yes,” replied Cécile, “I have it in the next room, I brought it with me
to-day, hoping it might be of use.”

Freyberger looked at her with admiration.

“It will be of great use, and I must thank you for bringing it. I would
like to see it and to show it to a friend whom I expect here shortly. He
is a Greek who has reconstructed the Gyde bust, and his opinion is
necessary to me in the case.”

Mademoiselle Lefarge passed into an adjoining room, from which she
presently emerged, carrying something in her arms; something wrapped in
a white cloth.

She placed this object on a table and, removing the cloth, exposed the
bust of M. Lefarge, which we have already seen.

Freyberger examined the thing attentively, murmuring to himself as he
did so. Mademoiselle Lefarge, watching him narrowly, imagined that he
seemed pleased.

“Well,” she said at last, “do you think it will be of service to you in
your investigations? What do you think of it?”

“Ah, mademoiselle,” he replied, “my opinion on a work of art is,
perhaps, of no great value and for that reason I have sent for a friend
who is a magician where these matters are concerned, but,” looking at
his watch, “he is late, this magician.”

Scarcely had he spoken than a knock came to the door and a waiter
appeared bearing a salver, on which reposed a filthy-looking visiting
card.

Cécile took the thing, on which was scrawled:

“I. Antonides, art dealer, 1006 Old Compton Street.”

“Gentleman is outside, miss,” said the waiter, whose cast-iron face was
struggling with a grin and conquering it.

“Show him in,” said Cécile, and I. Antonides entered.

Dressed in a shabby old fur-lined coat, from which half the buttons were
gone, and holding a shabby old silk hat in one hand he stood for a
moment in the doorway, blinking and then, catching sight of Freyberger,
he beckoned.

Freyberger went to him and Antonides, catching him by the lapel,
whispered, “A word in your ear, Mr Freyberger.”

“Well, what is it?” asked the detective, following the old man into the
corridor.

“Am I dealing in this matter with you, or the young woman?”

“I suppose by the young woman you mean Mademoiselle Lefarge?”

“Yes.”

“Well, you are dealing with me. Why do you ask?”

“Only this,” said Antonides, who, from one brief glimpse, had summed up
the financial position of this girl, who was able to afford a private
suite of rooms on the first floor of the Langham.

“It’s nothing to you, here or there, a pound or two in my pocket, so
long as it doesn’t come out of your pocket, won’t make _her_ pocket any
the lighter. Mr Freyberger, consider our bargain off, like a good friend
and let me do the skinning.”

“Now look here,” said Freyberger, “you bargained to come here and view
the thing for two pounds.”

“Guineas.”

“And the cab fare, that’s what you’ll get and not a penny more.
Skinning, indeed! Do you take me for an—art dealer? See here, I have the
money for you, here’s two pounds, here’s two shillings, and what’s the
cab fare?”

“Five.”

“Three, you mean; anyhow, here’s five. What a funny man you are.”

“I am never funny in business, but in return for your compliment, I will
give you a piece of advice—never, never, stir a foot in business without
settling your terms in advance. Once I lost eight shillings and a
halfpenny, the single fare to Leicester by omitting to carry out that
precept. It was seven years ago, Mr Freyberger, seven years, and I have
never got that eight and a halfpenny back from the world yet, and never
will. Now to our consultation.”

They returned to the sitting-room, Freyberger introduced the old man in
a word or two and then pointed to the bust.

The Greek took a spectacle case from his pocket, drew forth a pair of
steel-rimmed spectacles and adjusted them upon his nose. Then he
examined the bust attentively.

“Well?” asked Freyberger.

“Well,” answered the other, quite disregardless of the other people
present. “Where are your eyes, could you not see that this bust is, from
an artistic point of view, the twin brother of that which I repaired for
you?”

“I was sure of it,” said Freyberger.

“Then why did you ask my opinion?”

“Because I wanted to make doubly sure.”

“Well, you have done so,” said Antonides, taking his spectacles off and
replacing them in his pocket. “You may take my word for it that the man
who executed this bust was also the author of that admirable piece of
work which some Philistine smashed with his coal hammer.”

Antonides bowed slightly to the ladies, seized his old hat, which he had
placed on a chair, and, escorted by Freyberger, left the room.

When Freyberger returned, Mademoiselle Lefarge was still standing in
exactly the same place where she had stood whilst the old man was giving
his opinion on the bust.

Hellier was still seated in the background; he had not spoken a word,
content to listen and leave the case entirely in the capable hands of
the detective.

The girl took a seat and motioned Freyberger to do the same.

He took the chair which she had pointed out, then he sat for a moment in
thought. At last he said.

“You have told me everything that you know?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I want you to tell me something more. I want you to tell me, more
precisely, what you think.”

She looked puzzled.

“Your knowledge of the facts of this case,” said he, “does not, perhaps,
exceed my own. Your memory may not be able to cast new light on the
matter, but your imagination may. You have pondered over it, you have
dreamt of it, for eight years and more it has been with you. What does
your imagination say? what have you fancied about it?”

“I have fancied this,” said she, “or, rather, I have been assured of
this. That whoever was murdered in the Rue de Turbigo, it was not
Müller. I know all the evidence, and of the tattooed marks upon the
body. The two letters ‘W.M.,’ which were his initials. But might they
not have been the initials of some other man? No one gave evidence to
say that such marks had ever been seen upon Müller. No matter. I believe
that Müller was _not_ murdered; I believe that Müller was the assassin
of whoever _was_ murdered, and I have felt that he was such a terrible
man that he was sure to repeat his crime, murder some one else, and
probably get caught. God help me! I have hoped so. For years it has been
my hope that this demon might act again as he acted in the Rue de
Turbigo, and fall into the hands of justice, just as a tiger who eats
men returns to his feeding place and falls into the hands of the
hunters.

“Was my belief correct? Look at the case of Sir Anthony Gyde, of which
you told us to-night.”

“Your belief was, I am convinced, correct,” answered Freyberger.

“I believe,” went on Mademoiselle Lefarge, speaking as if under the
influence of an inspiration, “that this man has not limited his hand to
Sir Anthony Gyde, I believe that he has committed many murders. He is a
_murderer_. I can fancy him strangling a fellow creature from pure
hatred and the lust of blood or money.”

“Ah! Good heavens!” cried Hellier, striking himself on the forehead.

Every one turned towards him.

“What is it?” asked the girl.

“I have been a fool, forgive me. I remember now; listen to me.”

“Yes, yes.”

“I undertook to investigate this case. I went to Paris, I saw every one
who could in the least throw light on it, I went into all the evidence.
I said to myself, the case is hopeless; forgive me for having said this
even to myself. Well, one day, by chance, in an old file of the _Petit
Journal_, I saw the case of an old man named Mesnier; he had been
strangled for no apparent reason, and an important witness said that he
had seen a man leaving Mesnier’s room shortly after the time the tragedy
must have taken place, and he said that he would have sworn that this
man was Müller, only for the fact that Müller was known to be dead.”

“Ah, ah!” said Freyberger, who was listening intently. “How long after
the Lefarge affair was this?”

“A few days. Then a few days later a woman was strangled in a field for
no apparent motive save murder, and a few days later a child was also
killed upon the high road near Paris in a similar manner. I read these
things, but though they made an impression upon me, I said to myself,
Müller is dead, they can have no relationship to the crime in the Rue de
Turbigo. Now I have heard of the Gyde case, it proves that Müller is
still alive, and now I feel convinced that these crimes were committed
by this demon. Can you forgive me, my friend, for having for a moment
doubted the innocence of your father?”

“There is nothing to forgive,” said the girl, gazing at the young man
with an expression that spoke volumes of her feelings towards him, “and
if there were I would forgive you a hundred times, for you have
struggled against the disbelief caused by terrible and crushing
evidence. What you say proves to me again that this man is alive; but,
alas! of what use to us can these other crimes be? He was not caught,
they occurred years ago and can give justice no thread.”

Freyberger did not seem to fall in with this opinion. He had risen from
his chair and was pacing up and down, a sure sign that he was deeply
excited or disturbed.

“You are sure of what you say?” he said, suddenly turning on Hellier.

“Certain.”

“You saw these crimes reported in the _Petit Journal_?”

“Yes.”

“Have you files of the papers?”

“No. I read it in Paris. I can supply you with the dates.”

“No use; I don’t want to know details. Simply the fact that these crimes
were committed suffices me.”

“Do you think the fact will be of use to you?” asked the girl.

Freyberger laughed hoarsely. He had let his excitement get away with
him. In a flash he had seen the means and the method of laying his hand
upon the man he wanted. This was what he had been waiting for, just this
accidental sidelight. “Chance will give him to us,” he had told the
Chief of the Criminal Investigation Department, and now he felt that the
chance had come. But he was not going to show his hand, especially
before Hellier. He wanted to keep the Gyde case to himself till it was
completed, just as a sculptor keeps a statue from view till the moment
of unveiling.

“It may and it may not,” he replied. “And now, Mademoiselle, I will take
leave of you. There is much work to be done and I am required elsewhere.
I will keep you informed of our progress, that is to say, as far as it
is in my power. You are staying at the hotel?”

“Yes, for some time.”

“Thank you; good evening.” He bowed to old Madame de Warens, who had
been a somewhat unintelligent spectator of all that had passed, he gave
a slight, stiff bow to Hellier and left the room.

Hellier rose to his feet. “I must speak to that man,” he said, taking
Cécile Lefarge’s hand in both his. “I must catch him before he leaves
the hotel. May I see you to-morrow?”

“Yes, come early.”

He left the room with something in his hand. It was a small bunch of
violets she had taken from her breast.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER XXVII


IN the entrance hall of the Langham Freyberger drew a long, black,
poisonous-looking cheroot from his pocket and lit it.

Then he buttoned his overcoat and prepared to depart. He felt jubilant.
The whole of the pieces of the puzzle had fallen into their places under
the influence of his intellect, and now this new sidelight had pointed
at the possible road to the absolute and final move, which would allow
him to place his hand upon the creator of the puzzle, and say: “You are
mine.”

He was just going down the steps when a voice from behind said, “Excuse
me.”

He turned and saw Hellier.

“I would like a moment’s conversation with you,” said the barrister.

“Certainly, certainly,” said the other, in a not too amiable voice.
“What can I do for you?”

“If you will allow me to walk a few hundred yards with you, I will
explain myself. Please don’t think I want to interfere in this case, but
I have sworn to give all the help in my power, and I think I may be able
to make a suggestion to you that may be useful.”

“Humph.”

“I have made a special study of forensic medicine and criminology, and
this has occurred to me.

“I will tell you what I think in a few words. This Müller accomplished a
deeply reasoned out and intricate crime in Paris eight years ago. Well,
having done that, his reason withdrew herself, exhausted possibly, but
the lust for killing excited by the crime, remained and grew and had to
be satisfied. He strangled three people.

“We know of lots of cases where a lunatic has a grudge against the whole
female or male sex, and kills for the pleasure of killing. It is rarer
for a man of this description to have a grudge against the whole of
humanity and to murder indiscriminately, but it occurs.

“We find these people perfectly sane in other ways; they are just tigers
let loose when their reason becomes weakened.

“So we have Müller, a man of profound intellect, suddenly, under the
thirst of blood, turned into a killing machine. He kills three people,
no more, for the fit passes. He is gorged for years, till he commits a
new murder and the fit returns.”

“Proceed,” said Freyberger, in a hard voice; for what Hellier had just
said was the very thing he had been thinking to himself.

“Well, as Müller did eight years ago, so, in all probability, he will do
again. He has murdered a man in Cumberland. The thirst for blood, or
rather human life, will most probably seize him again. And all you have
to do to catch him is to wait. I will wager my reputation that this
beast will repeat his actions like some horrible automaton, and that
within the next few days you will have a case of motiveless murder to
investigate, and that if you catch the criminal it will be Müller.”

Freyberger did not reply. What Hellier had just said was exactly what he
(Freyberger) had been thinking.

It is not pleasant to find one’s astuteness matched. He had put all his
energy and mind into the Gyde case, and here was a stranger pointing out
to him the course to take for the completion of the affair; and, worst
of all, the right course.

He quite forgot that it was due to Hellier’s researches that these
subsidiary crimes had been connected with the Lefarge case.

He was, in fact, human, and he was jealous.

“What you have said,” he replied, “may have something in it.”

“I think, myself, it may have a good deal in it,” replied Hellier,
nettled somewhat at the other’s assumed indifference and the chilliness
of his tone.

“Well,” said Freyberger, “the matter is in our hands, and you may be
sure everything will be done that is needful. We do not, as a rule,
require outside help or suggestions in our work. I wish you good night.”

“That’s the professional detective all over,” thought Hellier, as he
watched the departing figure of Freyberger. “They work in one set
groove, they have ideas handed down from generation to generation. I was
amazed at this man’s perspicuity at first, and now I find him just one
of a class. Well, if he doesn’t see much in my idea I do, and I will
keep my eyes open, and if I see a chance I will profit by it.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER XXVIII


IF Hellier could only have seen into the consciousness of our friend
Freyberger, he would have admitted that the latter, although a
professional detective, had an open mind, and was not entirely bound up
in self-conceit.

Freyberger, as in duty bound, took a cab and made as fast as a London
cab-horse could carry him, through London traffic, towards the Yard. At
the Yard the Chief was just getting into his motor-car, when he saw
Freyberger he beckoned to him.

“Come with me,” he said, “I am going on a case.”

Freyberger knew what that meant.

Some crime of extra magnitude had just taken place.

When the chief went in person like this, it meant big things.

He got into the _tonneau_ without enthusiasm, for he had so much on his
mind that he did not relish the prospect of an additional burden, and
the car started.

It passed up Regent Street and then up Oxford Street in the direction of
the Marble Arch, and straight on towards Notting Hill Gate. At Notting
Hill Gate it turned down Silver Street, and turning the corner into High
Street, Kensington, headed for Hammersmith.

It had not gone more than a couple of hundred yards in this direction
when it slowed, and a mounted constable, who had been slowly patrolling
the street, turned his horse, and putting it to the trot led the way,
turning sharply to the right from the High Street up St James’s Road.

St James’s Road, not far from the grounds surrounding Holland House, has
a touch of the provincial town suburb about it; every house has a garden
in front of it, and every garden has one or more trees. It is a good
middle-class neighbourhood; a few of the houses are let out in furnished
apartments, though no bill or sign indicates the fact, but the majority
of the inhabitants are of the professional or retired business class.

About the middle of the road, by the right-hand kerb, a crowd of people
could be made out.

The car slowed down and stopped a few yards from the crowd, the chief
and Freyberger alighted, and, led by a constable, passed through the
throng up a garden path.

The hall door, at which they knocked, was opened by a constable.

“You have the body here?” asked the chief.

“Yes, sir,” replied the man, saluting.

“Bring us to it.”

The constable opened a door on the right of the passage, disclosing a
comfortably furnished sitting-room. A man was standing with his back to
the mantelpiece. It did not require the tall hat, standing on the table
with the stethoscope beside it, to indicate his profession. A
middle-aged woman, evidently recovering from some great agitation, was
standing by the table, and on the floor lay something covered with a
sheet.

“Shut the door,” said the chief to the constable; then turning to the
man:

“You are a doctor?”

“Yes,” replied the other. “I was summoned nearly an hour ago, and have
waited at the request of the police till your arrival. Life was extinct
when I came.”

“Thank you,” said the chief. “Sit down, Freyberger. A pen, ink and
paper, please. Thanks.” Then to the constable, “Were you the officer
called?”

“I was called at ten-fifteen, being on point duty, arrived to find
deceased lying on the pavement in front of his house. He was black in
the face; and, thinking it was a case of a fit, I unbuttoned his collar
and attempted artificial respiration on the pavement, as he lay, but
without success. This lady, here, was standing by the corpse; there was
also a crowd of some ten or twelve people.

“This lady told me deceased lodged with her and that she believed he had
been murdered.

“I had him conveyed into this room, sending messengers for a doctor, and
to the High Street, Kensington, Police Station. I again attempted
artificial respiration, and was so engaged when this gentleman arrived.”

“That all?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Thanks. Now, sir,” turning to the doctor, “may I ask you just to state
the facts within your knowledge?”

“I was called at ten-thirty, about. I live in the High Street. My name’s
Mason. I found deceased here upon the floor and the constable attempting
artificial respiration. Life was extinct.”

“How long had the man been dead?”

“A very short time; possibly not more than half an hour, perhaps less.”

“Cause of death?”

“Strangulation. The man has been, in my opinion, garrotted, seized from
behind by the throat and literally strangled. The thyroid cartilage has
been broken, and there are the marks of fingers upon the skin of the
neck.”

“No other marks or wounds?”

“I have found no other.”

“Thanks. Constable, remove the sheet.”

The officer stripped away the sheet, revealing a terrible spectacle.
Upon the floor lay the body of a middle-aged man, judging from the
scanty hair streaked with grey; the face was of a dull purple, the
tongue and eyes were protruding.

The body was well dressed in a frock coat and grey pepper and salt
coloured trousers.

“Had he been robbed?” asked the chief of the constable.

“No sir; the watch and chain, valuable ones evidently, were intact, also
the money in his pockets.”

“Now,” said the chief, turning to the woman, “what do you know about
it?”

She told her tale in a broken voice.

Deceased had lodged with her for some years. His name was Goldberg, a
retired City man and well-to-do. Always of an evening he went out before
retiring to rest, and took a short walk up and down the road, rarely
being absent more than ten minutes.

This evening he had gone out as usual. She was in the front bedroom
upstairs, closing the window and about to pull down the blind, when she
heard a stifled cry from the street, and looking out saw two men
struggling on the pavement just before the garden gate.

She could not tell in the least what the men were like, for the light
was very indistinct.

She ran downstairs. Her husband was out, and she had no one in the house
with her.

She put the hall door on the chain and, opening it as far as possible
with the chain on, she peeped through the opening.

She saw a dark form on the pavement beyond the garden gate. It did not
move.

There was no sound to be heard, and, plucking up courage after awhile,
she opened the hall door and came down the garden path towards the gate.

Mr Goldberg was lying on the pavement, “all of a heap.” She screamed,
and a woman from over the way came across the road. The woman ran into
the High Street for assistance, and a policeman came. The woman across
the way had seen nothing of the two men or the struggle.

“Had Mr Goldberg any enemies, to your knowledge?”

“No, sir, he was the best and kindest of men.”

“Had he any relatives?”

“No, sir, only a brother in Australia.”

“Has he heard lately from his brother, do you know?”

“Yes, sir; he had a letter only yesterday.”

“Well, Freyberger,” said the chief, “have you any question to ask?”

“None, sir; but, if you will permit me, I will have that crowd cleared
away from the street outside. I would like to examine the road.”

“How many men have you outside?” asked the chief of the constable.

“Four, sir.”

“Go and clear the crowd away. Send for assistance, if necessary.”

“If you will permit me, sir,” said Freyberger, “I will go with the
constable.”

“Do so; I will wait here until your return.”

Freyberger left the room. He did not return for some twenty minutes.

“Well?” asked the chief, when he returned.

“I would like to have a moment’s conversation with you in private, sir.”

The doctor had already gone, the chief asked the landlady to withdraw,
and Freyberger and he found themselves alone in the room with the
corpse.

“I have found nothing, sir,” said Freyberger, “I went as a matter of
routine. I have, of course, searched narrowly the pavement, the gutter
and the road for any possible trace, any dropped article that might
possibly furnish a clue. I did not expect to find anything.

“Why?”

“Because, sir, the man who has murdered Mr Goldberg is not a man to
leave clues behind him.”

“You know him, then?”

“I believe I do, sir. I believe the man who has just committed this
crime is no other than Klein, _alias_ Kolbecker, _alias_ Müller.”

The chief made an impatient movement.

“You must have that man on your brain,” said he. “What on earth
connexion can you make between this and the Gyde case?”

“One moment, sir; you have had a large experience. Have you ever come
across an exactly similar case to this, that is to say, the case of a
harmless, elderly gentleman strangled openly in the street for no
apparent reason?”

“No, I can recall no such case.”

“The fact of strangulation alone marks it as a crime by itself.
Murderers use every sort of weapon save their own hands.”

“The hand, as a rule, is the weapon of the madman.”

“Yes?”

“Well, sir, I will tell you, in a few words, why I connect this crime
with the case of Sir Anthony Gyde.”

He then detailed the facts he had learned about the crimes that had
followed the murder in the Rue de Turbigo.

The chief listened attentively.

“So you think—?” he said.

“I think, sir, that the ravening beast roused in Klein’s brain by the
murder committed in Cumberland is now beginning to show itself by its
actions. I think if we do not seize Klein over this business another
murder of the same sort is sure to occur. Maybe several more. Our main
hope is to track him now. If we miss him now, we will have several more
chances, but that will mean several more victims. With your permission,
I will not return with you to the Yard to-night, I will remain in this
neighbourhood. There is a strong possibility that he has a den somewhere
round here, in the shape of a furnished room. I wish to remain about the
spot. I will take a room here for the night, if the woman of the house
will let me have one. I must get a list of all known lodging-houses in
the neighbourhood, and I must be on the spot here early in the morning.”

“Very well,” replied the chief; “act as you think fit. I give you a free
hand in the matter.”

Freyberger accompanied him outside. He got into the motor-car and drove
off, and the detective was returning to the house when a stranger, who
had just come up, accosted him.

“I am on the General Press Association,” said the stranger; “you are, I
believe, Inspector Freyberger. Can you give me any details of the crime
just committed?”

“Certainly,” replied Freyberger, with suspicious alacrity. He gave a
short account of the murder, which the pressman entered eagerly in his
notebook.

“Any details known as to the appearance of the murderer?” asked the
representative of the General Press Association.

“The landlady says that, as far as she could see, the assailant was a
tall man with a black beard,” replied Freyberger.

“Thanks,” replied the other, “good night.” He hurried off jubilantly to
get his copy in and Freyberger went up the garden path to the house.

“When Klein reads that description of himself in the morning papers,”
said Freyberger, to himself, “he will smile, if that face could ever
smile. It will make him feel even more secure than if the truth were
told that the landlady could not describe the assassin at all. Of
course, the coroner’s inquest will contradict what I have said. Well, we
must get hold of the reporter at the inquest and doctor his account.
Damn the Press, for one criminal it catches it assists in the escape of
twenty.

“Now, what will Klein do first thing to-morrow morning? He will most
possibly buy a newspaper, therefore every newspaper shop in the
neighbourhood must be watched.

“I say, most possibly. I would have said, most probably, were Klein an
ordinary criminal.

“However, we must leave no stone unturned.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XXIX


WHEN Hellier opened his paper next morning, he read the following
head-lines:

                     Terrible Murder in Kensington!
              City man assassinated upon his own doorstep!
                         Clue to the murderer!

He read the report hurriedly through, then he read it slowly, dwelling
on all the details.

After his prediction to Freyberger the night before, this thing came
horribly pat; it had been happening, perhaps, just as he was talking to
the detective.

He felt the triumph of the man who has prophesied and whose prophecy has
come true.

The only thing that troubled him was the description of the murderer:
“Tall man, with black beard.”

Klein was clean-shaven and of middle height; but the disguise of a beard
was the commonest disguise of all; and as for the height, the assassin
was seen in semi-darkness, which enlarges, and the observer was a
frightened woman.

Hellier well knew the magnifying effect of terror.

Yes, without doubt, this was the expected crime. Just as an astronomer
predicts the appearance of a comet, he had predicted the commission of
this crime.

The fact of strangulation clinched the matter.

He breakfasted hurriedly, debating in his own mind as to what course he
would pursue.

There is nothing which blinds the intellect more than a pre-conceived
idea. Hellier’s opinion of the professional detective was as favourable
as most people’s, but he held the idea, rightly or wrongly, that the
professional detective was a person of machine-made methods. Freyberger
was a professional detective.

Little knowing that Freyberger was at the moment hot on the trail of the
murderer of Mr Goldberg, the idea came to him of calling at the Yard and
attempt to interview Freyberger.

He dismissed the idea almost as soon as it was conceived, for, whatever
he knew of detectives, he had sufficient knowledge of men to understand
that the little German would brook no interference, and take advice more
as a personal insult than as a compliment.

He determined to act on his own initiative, to find out what he could
for himself; but first he had to call upon Mademoiselle Lefarge.

He arrived at the Langham about ten o’clock.

His interview with her did not last more than twenty minutes. He said
nothing of the murder of Mr Goldberg; the thing was such a horrible
basis to build hope upon that he shrank from mentioning it.

Besides, he had other things to talk of.

Cécile Lefarge, in Boulogne, even at their first meeting, had been
attracted by Hellier. When he left Boulogne, she had told herself that
she cared very much for him, telling herself at the same time that it
was useless, that love for her was not. She told herself this with a
certain philosophic calmness.

Meanwhile, her love for him was growing. The philosophic calmness
vanished and gave place to pain, a dull, aching pain, almost physical.

A pain that only Hellier could relieve. He, in London, was suffering
from an exactly similar pain, that only she could relieve, which
condition, affecting two people at the same time, constitutes the
disease—love.

He left the Langham about half-past ten, and, taking a cab, drove in the
direction of Kensington.

He wished to see the place of the tragedy; he had no earthly idea of
what he should do when he got there, he had only the fixed determination
to do something. Often, when we have no idea of what we are going to do,
a whole host of ideas on the subject in question are forming themselves
in the sub-conscious part of our brains.

He dismissed the cab in the High Street and took his way on foot to St
James’s Road.

A small crowd, constantly drifting away and as constantly renewed, stood
before the house.

Hellier mixed with it and listened to its comments. Then, walking up St
James’s Road, he examined the houses with a critical eye.

Klein was an artist. Great as his talents might be, he was unknown, a
Bohemian; and these upper middle-class houses, these little gardens so
carefully tended, the road itself and the atmosphere of the place were
the very antithesis of everything Bohemian.

He turned from St James’s Road into Lorenzo Road, which, did places
breed and multiply, might have been St James’s Road’s twin brother.

Pursuing Lorenzo Road, he arrived at St Ann’s Road.

St Ann’s Road has slightly gone to decay.

We find, sometimes, in the most prosperous districts, roads or streets
that do not prosper; for some mysterious reason they go down in the
world, premature age touches them, lichen and shabby-genteel people
invade them, milk cans hang like tin fruit on the iron railings, and
barrel organs infest them as buzz-flies infest carrion.

The houses in St Ann’s Road were semi-detached, with considerable
gardens back and front; drunken-looking notice boards leaned here and
there over the railings, setting forth the fact that here and there a
house was to let.

Hellier was coming along the road, seeking an exit to the High Street,
and determining in his own mind to make inquiries of all the house
agents in the neighbourhood as to the studios to be let and the streets
where such studios might be found.

He was feeling acutely the almost utter hopelessness of this wild-goose
chase, when, coming out of one of the shabby-genteel gardens just in
front of him, he saw a man.

The man looked up and down the road. He must have seen Hellier, but he
showed no sign of having done so. Then he walked rapidly away in the
direction in which Hellier was going.

Hellier walked rapidly too, although he found some difficulty in doing
so, for, at the sight of the man’s face, which he beheld for only a few
seconds, his heart paused in its beating and then became furiously
agitated.

St Ann’s Road just here is cut by Malpas Road, leading down to the High
Street.

The stranger turned the corner into Malpas Road and was lost to sight.

Hellier ran.

Just as he doubled the corner he saw the stranger turn his head and then
walk on rapidly.

If the stranger had noticed Hellier at first and the distance he was
off, he must have noticed now that the distance was strangely decreased,
in other words that Hellier had run after him and was in pursuit.

When the stranger reached the High Street a motor-omnibus was just
passing. He jumped on board, and the omnibus pursued its way.

Hellier hailed the omnibus, but the conductor was not looking and it
pursued its course. There was not a cab to be seen. If there had been,
of what use could he have made of it? He had no warrant of arrest in his
pocket. He had done mischief, if anything, for the stranger most
probably had recognized the fact of the pursuit.

This last was a bitter thought, for, in Hellier’s mind, lay the firm
conviction that the stranger was Klein.

He had seen the photograph of Klein. It was a face that once seen could
not easily be forgotten. The likeness, at all events, was strong enough
to have acted on.

It is true, he had no warrant of arrest in his pocket; well, what of
that?

He told himself now that he should have acted instantaneously regardless
of all consequences, pursued the stranger at full speed, called upon him
to stop, raised the hue and cry, accused him of theft, even, done
anything to get him safely into a police cell, whilst the Yard was being
rung up and the central authorities communicated with.

Of course, if the man had turned out to be not Klein, but some one else,
he, Hellier, would have found himself in a very serious position.

What of that? The future of the woman he loved was involved. _She_ would
have forgiven him, and what did he care for all the rest of the world,
for the sneers of the papers, the chaffing of his brother barristers,
the fines or imprisonment that might have followed?

He had lost a chance.

The capacity to sum up a great situation, weigh everything and act
instantaneously, is a gift possessed by not one man in a million, and
the man that possesses it is generally a millionaire, a proved leader of
armies, a captain of men.

These thoughts were passing through Hellier’s mind as he walked slowly
back along the High Street, casting about him for some means by which he
might repair his blunder.

He, at least, knew the house from which the stranger had come, and he
felt that the best possible course to pursue was to find Freyberger and
inform him of the occurrence.

But where was the detective to be found?

He might call at New Scotland Yard and try to interview him there, but
that meant a loss of time. He knew that all the London police stations
were telephonically connected with the Yard, and he determined to go to
the nearest and state his case to the inspector on duty, asking him to
communicate with the central authorities.

The nearest station was that of High Street, Kensington, and he was just
turning down the archway that leads to it when he almost cannoned
against the man for whom he was seeking.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XXX


FREYBERGER had slept scarcely three hours during the night, yet he
looked quite fresh.

He had done a tremendous lot of work in the way of putting out nets.

He had as complete a list as could be obtained of the lodging-houses in
the neighbourhood, every early morning coffee stall in Kensington and
Bayswater had been kept under surveillance, also the newspaper shops.
The tube stations at Notting Hill Gate, Holland Park, Shepherd’s Bush,
and Queen’s Road, Bayswater, had been watched, and the result, up to
this had been the arrest of one man who had easily proved his identity
and the fact of his innocence.

The bother was that Klein’s description as to dress could not be given.
Only the fact that he was pale, clean-shaven, of the middle height and
spoke with a German accent.

“How fortunate,” cried Hellier; “you are the very person I wished most
to see.”

“Mr Hellier, I believe,” replied the other, who did not seem at all
enthusiastic at the meeting. “What can I do for you?”

“Will you walk a few paces down the street?”

“Certainly.”

“It’s this way,” said Hellier. “I read in the papers this morning of a
crime.”

“Which?”

“The murder of Mr Goldberg.”

“Yes, yes.”

“You remember what I said to you last night?”

“Perfectly.”

“Well, it occurred to me that this was the crime we were waiting for.”

“I was unaware that I was waiting for any crime,” said the other.

“Well, you remember my predicting that a crime of this nature would
occur?”

“An easy prediction in London, where we have a murder every second day.”

“Not strangulation without an apparent motive.”

“Well, well; what do you wish to say about it?”

“Well, convinced in my own mind that the author of this crime was also
the criminal in the Gyde and Lefarge cases, I determined to come up here
and look about.”

“To play the rôle of an amateur detective, in short.”

“Yes, but please don’t misunderstand me. My object is not curiosity. I
will be frank with you. I love Mademoiselle Lefarge, and I can never
hope to marry her till her father’s name is cleared.”

“You wish to marry this lady and cannot do so till her father’s name is
cleared. Is that what I understand you to say?”

“Yes.”

“Well, shall I tell you how you can best help to clear her father’s
name?”

“Yes.”

“Go home and forget about it all; leave the matter in the hands of
professional men who know how to act. Nothing interferes so much with us
as interference.”

“Perhaps, but you know chance sometimes gives a clue where intelligence
fails to find any. What would you say if I told you that I believed I
had seen Klein, the man you are looking for, this morning?”

Freyberger started, but recovered himself instantly.

“I would say that I believed you to be mistaken.”

“Yet I have seen a man whose face closely resembled that portrait you
showed us last night.”

“Where?”

“In St Ann’s Road, close to St James’s Road. I strolled along it by
chance this morning, after visiting the scene of the murder, and, coming
out of one of the houses, I saw this man.”

“Yes?”

“I followed him to the High Street. There he got on to a motor-omnibus
and I lost him.”

“You lost him!”

“It was not my fault, for I could not stop the omnibus and there were no
cabs.”

“It does not in the least matter,” said Freyberger, in a tone of assumed
indifference, “for it was a thousand to one you were mistaken.”

“If that is your opinion,” said Hellier, angry at the other’s tone,
“there is no use in our discussing the matter further. I wish you good
day.”

“Stay a moment,” said Freyberger.

“Yes.”

“You say you saw this man coming out of a certain house. Can you
recognize the house again?”

“Yes.”

“Well, as a matter of form, I will accompany you there.”

Hellier hesitated a moment, then he conquered his sense of pique and
turned in the direction of Hammersmith.

They walked, scarcely exchanging a word. Freyberger’s mind was filled
with anxiety, expectancy and a sense of deep irritation.

There was something exasperating to him about Hellier. This outsider had
already cast so much light on the case; was it destined that he should
cast more?

“This is the house,” said Hellier, when they had reached the place.

“Empty,” replied Freyberger, looking over the railings.

It was the only detached residence in the road, all the other houses
were semi-detached.

The garden was neglected and the front windows blindless and dusty.

Freyberger opened the gate and, followed by Hellier, walked up the path
to the front door. He knocked and rang, but there was no reply.

“Let’s try the back,” said Freyberger; “some people live in the back
premises and only keep a hall door for ornament.”

But no one, apparently, lived in the back premises of No. 18 St Ann’s
Road.

A glassed-in verandah ran along the whole of the back.

Freyberger tried the verandah door, it was locked. Some green shelves,
containing a few empty flower-pots, were visible; against one of the
shelves stood a hoe, on the blade of the hoe some dark brown traces of
earth proclaimed to the eye of the detective that the instrument had
been used quite recently, and not for hoeing but for digging.

“There is no one here,” said Freyberger.

“No one now,” replied Hellier, “but there has been some one.”

“Oh, yes, no doubt; one might say the same of Sodom and Gomorrah, or
Pompeii.”

“If Klein has been here, if this is one of his hiding places, he may
come back.”

“If,” replied Freyberger.

They were walking back down the garden path.

At the gate Hellier made one last attempt to infect the detective with
his own idea.

“Could you not get a search warrant and search the place?”

This remark completely broke Freyberger’s temper down, and the German
came out.

“Search warrant! You talk like a child, not like a man. Warrant to
search for what? Flower-pots? What I will do in the case I will do. I
wish for no interference. I wish you good day.”

He turned to the left, towards Malpas Road. Hellier to the right.

“Fool,” thought Hellier, “pig-headed ass; no matter—wait.”

“Swine-hound,” thought Freyberger; “directing _me_ what to do! Search
warrant!”

Freyberger turned the corner, walked a hundred yards down Malpas Road
and then came back.

Hellier was not in sight. The detective waited for a moment or two to
make sure, and then approached No. 18.

He entered the gate, closed it behind him, and made for the back garden.

Here he stood for a moment, looking about him with eager eyes. Then he
began searching about on the ground attentively, as a person searches
who has dropped a coin.

There was a fairish sized grass plot, on which the grass was rank and
long. A gravelled walk lay round it, and a flowerless flower bed between
the walk and the garden wall.

There was no sign of a bootmark anywhere, though the ground was soft and
there had been no frost on the previous night.

The gravel was disturbed on the walk leading to the verandah, but that
was nothing.

In that portion of the garden where digging was possible there was no
sign. Yet the hoe had been used quite recently, and a sure instinct told
him that it had not been used in the front garden, where observation was
possible, but here, in this place that was overlooked by nothing but
blind walls and the back windows of an empty house.

Suddenly his eye was struck by an object upon the flower bed by the rear
wall.

A half-withered cabbage leaf. There were withered leaves and to spare in
the garden, but this was the only cabbage leaf. Nothing looked more
natural or in keeping with the general untidiness of the place. A
thousand men hunting for traces would have disregarded it.

Freyberger walked towards it and picked it up.

The bit of ground it had covered had been disturbed.

In a moment, digging with his naked hand, he had unearthed a flat,
morocco leather-covered box. He opened it, it was a jewel case and
empty. Upon the silk lining of the cover was the name and address:

“Smith and Wilkinson, Regent Street.”

Smith and Wilkinson, Sir Anthony Gyde’s jewellers.

He unearthed another box, and yet another.

The sweat stood out in beads upon his forehead.

There was something in the Gyde case that affected him as he had never
been affected before. Perhaps it was some effluence from the obscure and
diabolical mind with which he felt himself at war; perhaps it was the
extraordinary intricacies of the pursuit, and the foreknowledge that the
creature against whom he had pitted himself was at once a demon, a
genius and a madman. Perhaps it was on account of all these reasons
that, when he unearthed these recent traces, his soul turned in him and
a furious hunger and hatred filled his heart.

The hound hates the thing he is pursuing. The lion hates the buck. All
hunting is an act of vengeance; not for food alone does the pursuer
chase the pursued, but from some old antipathy begotten when the world
was young.

At times Freyberger, in his unravelling of the Gyde case, was seized by
an overmastering desire to have his hands upon the creature he was
pursuing and to drag him to his death.

It is one of the laws of mind that the ferocity of the pursuer increases
at each double and shift of the pursued.

Carefully searching with his hands in the soft earth and finding nothing
else, Freyberger smoothed the soil, replaced the cabbage leaf and
carefully effaced his traces on the gravel of the walk. Then, with the
jewel cases in the pocket of his overcoat, he approached the house.

He examined the lock of the verandah door. The affair was so shaky that
he could have burst it in with a kick, but violence was the last thing
to be used. He drew from his pocket what the thieves of Madrid term a
“matadore”; what the Apachés of Paris term a “nightingale”; what an
honest man might call a piece of thick wire about a foot long, but of
such material as to be fairly easily bent or straightened without danger
of fracture.

He bent one end of this piece of wire and introduced it into the lock,
just as a surgeon introduces a probe into a sinus. Having explored the
mechanism, he drew out the wire, rebent it, introduced it, and with a
turn of his wrist opened the door.

Then he carefully pushed the bolt of the lock back, entered and pulled
the door to.

There was nothing in the verandah, with the exception of the
flower-pots, the hoe, and an old watering pot that had lost its rose.

The door leading into the house gave upon a passage floored with
linoleum. On the right lay a room entirely destitute of furniture, on
the left a sitting-room decently furnished, with the embers of a fire
still smouldering in the grate.

The remains of some food lay upon the table in the middle of the room,
also upon the table a copy of _The Daily Telegraph_ of that day.

This, then, was the den of the beast, the home of the demon. Nothing at
all pointed to the fact. It was just the sitting-room of a man in
somewhat reduced circumstances, an honest man, or a rogue, as the case
might be.

There was a tobacco jar on the mantelpiece, and in it tobacco and a
bundle of cigarette papers; a pair of old slippers stood beside the
armchair on the right of the fireplace.

A pile of newspapers stood in one corner of the room, and in another lay
an old valise.

Freyberger opened the valise. There was a suit of clothes in it, nothing
else—a frock coat and waistcoat and a pair of trousers.

They were evidently the production of a first class tailor, though the
little squares of glazed linen, bearing the customer’s name, which all
good London tailors affix to their productions, both under the collar of
the coat and inside the strap of the waistcoat, had been removed.

Freyberger returned the things to the valise and replaced it in the
corner, then he began a minute inspection of the room.

He examined the pile of newspapers. They were all recent and dating from
the day after the murder committed in the Cottage on the Fells. _Daily
Telegraphs_, _Daily Mails_, _Westminster Gazettes_, every sort and
condition of newspaper, and in each of them was a report, more or less
full, more or less varying, of the Gyde mystery.

He returned them to their corner and resumed his search of the room,
examining every hole and cranny, lifting the hearthrug and fender,
exploring the contents of the trumpery vases on the chimneypiece and
finding nothing of much importance, if we except the sheath of a case
knife lying behind one of the vases.

He left the room and went upstairs to the bedrooms. They were all empty,
clean swept and destitute of anything to hold the eye.

The person he was in pursuit of, if he lived in this house, evidently
slept upon the old couch in the sitting-room, and did not trouble much
about the conveniences of life.

Freyberger returned to the sitting-room, sat down in the armchair, just
as though he were at home, took a cigar from his pocket and lit it.

He was in the tiger’s den. At any moment it was quite within the bounds
of possibility that the door might open and the terror, having let
himself in by the verandah, enter the room. This was not what made
Freyberger feel uneasy, but rather the thought that the unknown might
have noticed Hellier following him and taken fright.

Freyberger was quite unarmed; yet, had his sinister opponent entered the
room at that moment, he would have arrested him just as he had arrested
the Fashion Street murderer, and borne him, without doubt, in the same
manner, to justice.

But though absolutely destitute of fear, he was by no means destitute of
caution; and as he sat smoking and waiting, he was revolving in his mind
the question of calling in help.

That involved leaving the house, and that might involve total failure.

At any moment the quarry might return. He decided to wait.

The door of the room and the door leading to the verandah were open, so
that he could easily hear the approach of anyone from the back premises
and quite as easily the approach of anyone from the hall door.

It was after half-past two now. The house was deathly still; there was
not even the ticking of a clock, the whisper of a breath of wind from
the garden outside or the movement of a mouse behind the wainscotings to
break the silence.

Occasionally the rumble of a passing vehicle came from the road, nothing
more.

It was after three when the watcher suddenly started, sat straight up in
the armchair and listened intently.

The front garden gate had been opened and shut with a clang, a step
sounded on the gravel and a loud double rap at the hall door brought
Freyberger to his feet.

He sprang from the room, came down the passage, undid the chain and
bolts of the hall door, unlatched it, flung it open and found on the
steps a telegraph boy.

“Gyde?” said the boy, holding out a telegram.

“Yes,” said Freyberger, taking it.

The boy turned and went off whistling, and the detective, having
rebolted the door, returned to the sitting-room with the telegram in his
hand.

He tore it open.

“Handed in, London Street, Paddington, 2.15. Received, High Street,
Kensington, 2.40.

“Be sure to meet me at six.”

That was all; no name, no address. Freyberger sat down in the armchair,
with the telegram in his hand; he was thunderstruck.

He reread it, then looked at the envelope.

It was addressed:

“Gyde, 18 St Ann’s Road, Kensington.”

This thing quite upset his calculations. It was addressed simply to
“Gyde.” It is not a common name; yet, of course, there were thousands of
people of that name beside Sir Anthony. But, taking into account the
jewel cases discovered, this telegram could have been sent to no one
else but Sir Anthony.

That meant that he was alive. Freyberger was convinced that the man seen
by Hellier was Klein. If Gyde were alive, then he must have been staying
here at No. 18 St Ann’s Road. Klein had also been staying here.
Therefore Gyde and Klein were working in collusion.

That would mean that Sir Anthony Gyde had entered into a partnership
with this man, Klein—for what purpose?

For the purpose of murdering some unknown man in a cottage on the Fells
of Cumberland, and doing it in such a manner that Klein would appear to
be the victim and he, Sir Anthony Gyde, the murderer.

By extension it would mean that Lefarge, long ago, had entered into a
similar partnership with Müller. The thing was preposterous.

What, then, was the reason of this telegram?

All at once an explanation of it flashed across Freyberger’s mind. Could
it be a “blind?” Could Klein, suspecting Hellier of following him,
suspecting a trap of the police, have sent this message?

Freyberger had constructed Klein in his own mind from all sorts of
fragments—the two photographs, his handwriting, his methods. The man, if
he was a man and not a demon, was a master of subterfuge.

The momentary insanity which had caused him to strangle Mr Goldberg
would not in the least interfere with his reason.

“Now,” said Freyberger to himself, “if he noticed Hellier following him,
his reasoning would have run like this:

“I left a man dead in a road close by here last night; I came out this
morning and was followed by a man who was very much alive and who had
something of the cut of a detective.

“No one saw me last night. Why, then, did this man follow me? Can it be
that they suspect that I, who was supposed to be murdered in Cumberland,
am alive? Can they have circulated my description? It will be safer for
me not to go back to No. 18 St Ann’s Road, and, to confuse Messieurs the
Police, should they set a trap there, I will send a telegram to Gyde at
that address, so that they may be reconfirmed in their idea that Gyde is
still in the land of the living and Klein in the land of the dead.

“No one saw me last night but the landlady, and her description will
scarcely help the police against me: a tall man with a black beard.

“Oh, damnation!”

Freyberger suddenly leapt to his feet.

“What possessed me! What possessed me to use such a simple artifice in
the pursuit of this man, who, whatever else he may be, is half a
logician, half a magician?

“When he read that description in _The Daily Telegraph_ this morning,
what said he to himself? He said ‘Why this exact description of a man
who was not there?

“‘It is either the landlady’s terror that caused her to see what was
not, or it is a device of the police. Now the police never use a device
like that, which, after all, clouds a case to a certain extent, unless
they have some important reason.

“‘Of course, it may be simply due to the terror of the landlady, yet
this false description, widely circulated, coupled with the fact that I
have been followed, is, to say the least, suspicious.’

“That would be the line of his argument. Double fool that I was to
forget that I was dealing, not with a criminal but a genius in crime.

“This man forgets nothing, foresees everything.

“I have been a fool, and yet—” Freyberger’s face unclouded a bit. “Is
there another man in London who would have dug into his plans so deeply
as I have done, connected the Lefarge case with the Gyde case and proved
him indubitably the prime mover in both?

“A few days ago I knew nothing about this man whom Sir Anthony Gyde is
supposed to have murdered. What do I know now? What have I discovered by
the aid of my own intelligence? I know his name, his face, his mind in
part. I know that he has not been murdered by Gyde; I am almost assured
that he has murdered Gyde.

“I know that, under the name of Müller, he was not murdered by Lefarge;
I am almost assured that he murdered Lefarge. I know that he is a
homicidal maniac, whose pet method is strangulation.

“I know that he has about him Gyde’s jewellery, of which he is sure to
try to dispose. I know that he has lived here; I know the address where
he lived in Howland Street. But my most important knowledge is the
knowledge of the statue and the bent of his mind.

“I have accumulated a mass of evidence that will damn him and crush him
whenever I catch him, a mass of evidence that will clear two innocent
men and expose to the world’s gaze the greatest and most complete
villain that the world has ever beheld. Come, it is not so bad. I have
committed a fault; I tried to match him at his own game of subterfuge,
and that telegram was my answer. Alas! I am not so clever as he. But I
have this in my favour, that I know much about him and he knows nothing
about me.

“I have seen his hand, he has not seen mine.

“The question remains, what shall I do now? Remain here or go? Remain by
all means, even if I have to remain till to-morrow morning. If he comes
back I will seize him. If he does not come back, then I will know
definitely that he has taken fright, that he suspects, and that he is,
indeed, the murderer of Goldberg.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XXXI


THERE was some coal in the coal-box and a bundle of wood in the grate.
The weather was chilly and a fire would have been very acceptable, but
the flicker of it when dusk was drawing on might have been observed from
outside. So he determined to do without a fire.

He would also be condemned to fast, for the remains of food upon the
table he could not touch. One does not eat where a leper has fed, or an
unclean beast.

He had his pipe with him, however, and plenty of tobacco.

Time wore on and dusk fell, gradually the room grew darker and the
silence of the house more oppressive.

Nothing could be more nerve-straining than a vigil like this in the
cold, in the darkness, in the silence; sitting with every sense alert,
waiting for the coming of a being far more terrible than a ghost.

Passing Freyberger in the street, you would not have looked at him
twice. You would never have fancied him a man of more than ordinary
strength. But, were you to have seen him stripped of his clothes, you
would have recognized the proportions of a trained athlete.

He had the physical basis of courage, that is to say, a great chest
measurement.

He had also the mental basis of courage, that is to say, an almost total
disregard for danger.

Danger blindness.

This same mental basis of courage is not always a desirable asset, for
it is often the basis, also, of a low intelligence. It nearly always
bespeaks want of imagination and ideality.

In Freyberger’s case, however, it was by no means the basis of a low
intelligence, and as for imagination and ideality, he had quite
sufficient for a man engaged in his profession.

The darkness deepened until it became absolute.

Time ceased as far as the watcher was concerned.

This sepulchral house seemed even deserted by mice, the movement of one
behind the wainscoting would have come as a relief.

Now and then, for a moment, the watcher in the chair, to obtain relief
from the absolute negation of sound, pressed his hands over his ears; it
was as though he were attempting to shut out the silence.

How long he had been waiting like this it would have been hard to say,
probably an hour, possibly less, when he heard the front gate gently
opened and as gently shut. Freyberger wore shoes; he had loosened the
laces of them, and now he kicked them off.

With incredible swiftness, considering the fact that he was moving in
black darkness, he was out of the room and in the passage.

At the end of the passage a pale, dim oblong of light indicated the
position of the door leading on to the verandah. Freyberger came down
the passage towards the door, and then, himself plunged in utter
darkness, he stood, like fate, waiting. He could see the squares of
glass forming the verandah wall and, dimly, the garden beyond.

Presently, moving with sinister gentleness and silence, the vague
silhouette of a man came gliding along the verandah side till it reached
the outside door.

The man was, as far as Freyberger could see, muffled up in a great coat;
he wore a slouch hat and he was about the middle height.

When he reached the door, he paused and drew from his pocket something,
the form of which the detective could not distinguish.

Freyberger had left the door, it will be remembered, simply closed. He
could easily have locked it from the inside by the same method as he had
opened it, but he had determined to leave it as it was.

The man turned the handle of the door, found that it opened easily, made
a slight exclamation of surprise and slipped into the verandah with the
rapidity of a lizard.

He closed the door behind him.

Freyberger, standing in the passage as motionless as a corpse, scarcely
breathed. The man stood for a moment, glancing around him, then, leaving
the verandah, he came down the passage.

The next moment Freyberger was upon him.

A man attacked in this fashion does not cry out; if he emits any sound
it is the gasp of a person who has received a douche of cold water.

The attack of Freyberger was ferocious, overpowering, unexpected, yet it
was received as if by a rock. After the first shock, which nearly bore
him to the ground, the intruder stiffened; to the grip of iron he
responded by a grip of steel, and then, in the dark, between the narrow
walls of the passage, a terrible struggle began.

A listener in the verandah would have heard very little. Just the hard
breathing of the two antagonists and the sound of their bodies hurled
from side to side against the passage walls. The detective was a heavier
man than his antagonist, but they were equally matched in science.

Now and then Freyberger succeeded in lifting him from his feet and, with
desperate efforts, attempted to bear him backwards and throw him; but
the feet always came to ground again, and the body turned from the
helpless bundle that a man is who has lost possession of his feet, into
an inflexible statue of steel.

Freyberger, failing in this, relaxed, or seemed to relax, his efforts
for a moment; the other automatically responded, a second later. With a
crash they were on the floor, the detective with his knees on the arms
of his fallen antagonist. He had cross-buttocked him.

There is no position on earth where a man is more utterly helpless than
when lying upon the ground, with another man kneeling upon his arms. He
may kick and struggle as much as he pleases, the only result is to wear
out his strength.

The fallen one recognized this fact, apparently, for he lay still.

Freyberger, breathing hard from his exertions, took a matchbox from his
waistcoat pocket, lit a match and cast its light upon the face of the
man beneath him.

The man was Hellier.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER XXXII


“MY GOD!” said Freyberger. “_You!_”

“Let me get up,” said the other. “Yes, it is I; we have both been
mistaken it seems.”

Freyberger said nothing, but rose to his feet and flung the extinguished
match away. They were again in darkness, but the detective did not
strike another light.

For a moment he was too angry for speech. Certain in his own mind that
he was dealing with Klein, triumphant at having captured him, his
feelings may be imagined when he found beneath him, not the criminal for
whom he had been seeking, but the interloper, Hellier.

Hellier had also risen to his feet.

“Strike a light,” he said, “and let me see where I am. I am giddy from
that fall.”

“I will strike no light,” replied the other, in a hard voice “you can
explain yourself in the darkness. You have cast enough darkness on this
business already. You ought to be used to darkness; come, explain
yourself.”

“Explain what?” said Hellier, in an irritable voice. “It seems to me the
explanation is clear enough.”

“Make it clearer. What are you doing here? What are you meddling in
police affairs for? Eh! You are one of those confounded people who fancy
themselves, one of those people who will not see where their own
business lies. What are you doing here?”

“Seems to me, I’m talking to a fool,” replied the other. “You know well
enough why I am here. I came here to find a mutual acquaintance of ours
named Klein. If not to find him, at least, to find traces of him and to
inspect the premises. You told me this morning you did not think he had
been here, yet I find you here on the same job as myself; if you had
only been frank this would not have happened.”

“Well,” replied the other, “you have been here and have not found him,
so you had better go. I will give him your kind regards when I see him,
which will not be to-night. You have spoilt the affair as far as
possible.”

“How?”

“How? You have frightened him, that is all.”

“How?”

“How?” shouted Freyberger, “By your d—d silly attempt to follow him this
morning, that is how.”

“If I had not seen him, should we have known of his connexion with this
house?”

“A thousand times better never to have known, considering the price we
have paid for our knowledge. He was unsuspecting, now he suspects. So
long as he was unsuspecting, all the chances were in our favour. Now
they are all against us. Go, tell your young lady that. Say Inspector
Freyberger told you to tell her, and say anything else you please.”

Hellier did not reply. He felt deeply mortified, for he felt there was
truth in the words.

He re-entered the verandah and opened the door leading to the garden.

“Are you going to remain?” he asked.

“I am.”

“Well, all I can say is I am very sorry. What I did was for the best.”

“It will be a lesson to you in future,” replied the other, “to trust
people who are to be trusted, and let the police do their own work.”

“Good night,” said Hellier. Freyberger grumbled some reply and the young
man departed.

Now Hellier had committed no great fault; he had even supplied
information that might have brought the whole case to a satisfactory
termination. But Freyberger was not in a frame of mind to do justice to
the barrister.

He was jealous, and that is the fact of the matter, as jealous of the
Gyde affair as any old man has ever been of his young wife.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER XXXIII


HELLIER returned, slowly and sadly, to the High Street.

Assured in his own mind that Klein inhabited the house in St Ann’s Road,
hopeless of any help from Freyberger, whom he had put down as a
self-conceited man of not very luminous intelligence, he had undertaken
the desperate venture of going himself to the house, tackling the
occupant if he were at home, and if he were absent exploring the place.

He had provided himself with a powerful chisel to prise the verandah
door open. He had not to use it, however, for, as we have seen, the door
was only held by the catch.

It had been an expedition requiring a very great deal of pluck,
considering the appalling man with whom he would have had to contend had
his suspicions been correct. And it had ended in such a miserable
fiasco!

When he had lain on the floor of the passage with Freyberger on top of
him, he imagined that his last moment had come. He had not even cried
out for help, knowing that before help could arrive he would be dead.

He had not come badly out of the business, yet he felt depressed with a
miserable sense of failure.

It was striking nine when he passed the High Street, Kensington,
Station; just at the entry a flower-seller, with a basket of early roses
and Nice violets, caught his eye. He bought a great bunch, and, calling
a passing cab, ordered the driver to take him to the Langham.

Violets were Cécile Lefarge’s favourite flowers.

Love may be a liar, love may be blind, love may be anything you please,
but, whatever else he may be, love is a courtier. No frilled marquess of
the old regime, by long study, ever knew his monarch’s predilections as
a lover by instinct knows the predilections of his mistress.

Hellier bought violets instead of roses, instinctively and not from
choice.

At the Langham he found that Mademoiselle Lefarge was in, and a few
moments later he was in her presence.

She advanced to meet him, with hand outstretched.

“I have brought you these,” he said, sinking into a chair, whilst she
took a seat near him, “and some news—bad news, I am afraid.”

“I am used to that,” replied she, “but any news coming from you can not
be entirely bad. You, who have done so much and thought so much for me.”

“I wish I could have done more,” he replied. Then he told her the events
of the day, suppressing nothing, altering nothing.

She listened to him attentively. When he had finished she said:

“Is that all?”

“I think,” he said, “I have told you a good deal. I wish I could have
told you less, or more.”

“It is a good deal,” she replied. “And you went, alone and unarmed, to
face that fearful man?”

“Yes, and you see the result. I have spoiled everything.”

“You have not spoiled my regard for you,” she replied. “You are very
brave, and you know, or perhaps you do not know, how a woman can admire
bravery in a man. But you are better than brave, you are single-hearted.
And you let yourself be depressed by what that man, Freyberger, said to
you to-night?”

“It has depressed me, for he spoke the truth. He had no motive for
speaking otherwise.”

Cécile smiled.

“Not a motive, perhaps, but a half motive.”

“How?”

“What makes a woman depreciate the good looks of another woman?
Jealousy, my friend.”

“But Freyberger—”

“Is not a woman. No, but are men never jealous? I watched him last night
when you were speaking to him. I could read his mind. The information
you gave made his eyes sparkle with pleasure and excitement. Yet he was
displeased. He spoke to you almost as if you were an antagonist. He said
to himself, ‘This is a professional rival, a clever man who will,
perhaps, take from me some of the honour should I bring this case to a
successful termination.’

“I believe in this Mr Freyberger. He has great qualities, he has
perception and determination, but he is human. It is human to be
jealous. You have committed no fault that I can see; but, then, I am not
Freyberger. Had I met you in the passage of that house to-night, I would
have said to you, ‘Your coming here makes no difference if the bird has
flown; if the bird has not flown then remain with me, and help to
capture him on his return.’ But then, you see, I am just a woman, not a
jealous detective.

“Do not be depressed, and, above all, do not relax your vigilance, for
something tells me that, clever though our friend the detective may be,
you will materially help in the completion of this terrible case. The
only thing I regret is—”

“Yes?”

She sighed. “I regret that I have been instrumental in casting the
shadow of so much crime and wickedness upon so true a heart as my friend
Hellier.”

He left her, carrying with him the perfume of her hair and the warmth of
her lips.

She loved him entirely, and told him so without a word. He could have
made her his mistress that night. He would as soon have spat upon the
pyx.

The only love that is worth a name is the love that builds up barriers,
the love that can take yet withholds its hand.

The fatal, fatal mistake of the woman who gives herself up to a man
before marriage, the fatal mistake is not so much perhaps in yielding to
nature as in entertaining the idea that she is loved.

To Hellier the idea of love was inseparable from the idea of marriage.
He could not think of the woman he loved in any other position than
exactly on the same pedestal as himself. His wife before all the world,
on a par with his mother and his sisters, respected by them and received
as one of themselves.

And she was the daughter of an assassin. A cold-blooded murderer, whose
crime had shocked Europe.

It was not her fault. Leprosy is not the leper’s fault; is it any the
less a barrier, shutting happiness out for ever from the afflicted one?

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER XXXIV


FREYBERGER remained at his post all that night.

It was the bitterest experience he had ever known.

Without food, without fire, without light, half worn out from his
struggle with Hellier and depressed by the result, the chance of the
capture of Klein reduced to the barest possible, he still remained on
guard, watchful and ready to spring.

With the full light of day he left the place, bearing with him the only
scrap of evidence that could be any use, that is to say, the small
valise containing the suit of clothes and the jewel cases and the knife
sheath.

He had some food at an early morning coffee-stall in the High Street,
and then he proceeded on his way to the Yard.

The great Kalihari Desert is not a more desolate place than London in
the early morning.

There are no cabs, there are no omnibuses; there are no shops, no
people. You hear that which is the voice of a city’s desolation, the
echo of your own footsteps. The High Street of Kensington was empty from
end to end, experiencing the hiatus in traffic which comes between the
passing of the last market gardener’s cart and the passage of the first
cab.

Freyberger, with the valise in his hand, had made up his mind to walk to
his destination, when an early hansom turned out of one of the side
streets, and, getting in, he told the driver to take him to the Yard.

Here he delivered up the valise and the jewel cases, directed that a man
should be sent to St Ann’s Road to take charge of the house and make
inquiries, also that Sir Anthony Gyde’s tailor should be discovered and
the clothes submitted to him.

Then he returned to his lodgings, south of the water, to obtain a few
hours’ sleep.

“Well, Freyberger,” said the chief to the detective, when at four
o’clock that afternoon they found themselves together, “what have you to
report?”

Freyberger reported everything that we know as having taken place in St
Ann’s Road.

Had you been listening to his report, you would have admitted that if he
were jealous he was also honest, for he minimized nothing, nor did he
magnify anything or attempt to cast the blame for his failure on
Hellier.

He just told the truth. Freyberger loved the truth, not from any exalted
reason, but simply because it was the tool by which he earned his living
and made his reputation. The golden measuring rod by which he measured
statements, the crucible from which he distilled deductions, the glass
mask which he wore tied over his face to prevent himself being poisoned
by the fumes of misapprehension.

“You have missed him this time,” said the chief; “but never mind, you
are driving him back, you are getting him slowly into a corner. Another
move may mean checkmate.”

“If I had taken him yesterday,” replied Freyberger, “it would have meant
a life saved—who knows? Perhaps several lives saved. He is loose now,
like a wild beast, and the question we have to consider is this. If he
is seriously alarmed, if he suspects that we know of his monomania, may
fear overcome his madness and cause him to withhold his hand?”

“What is your opinion on that point?” asked the chief. “You have
considerable knowledge of the psychology of crime.”

“Well, sir, it is my belief that, if he is really alarmed, fear will
cause him to withhold his hand—for awhile.

“But fear, though checking, will not stay his desire to kill. He will at
first be careful, then, as time goes on and he gets farther away from
this murder, his caution will slacken and the desire become unchained.”

“You think fear is a check upon lunacy?”

“Not much. But I conceive the mind of this man to be essentially not the
mind of a lunatic.

“If I might use a simile, I would liken this man’s mind to a country
peopled with evil persons, and possessing one town peopled with
devils—that is the lunatic spot.”

“You almost speak as though you believe lunacy to be possession by
devils.”

“Absolutely, I believe that,” replied Freyberger. “Firstly, from a
prolonged study of lunacy; secondly, because my Bible bids me believe
it. I am a Protestant.”

“You have heard the report we have had about those clothes you brought
here this morning in the valise?”

“No.”

“Smalpage is, or should we say was, Sir Anthony Gyde’s tailor. He
identifies the measurements as being those of Sir Anthony Gyde, and his
chief cutter identifies the garments as his work, though, of course, he
cannot say for certain for whom he cut them.”

“That is evidence enough,” replied Freyberger; “the clothes are Gyde’s.”

“Yes, I think so. Then, again, Smith and Wilkinson, the jewellers,
identify the jewel cases as having been supplied to Sir Anthony; the
bank identify them as similar to those withdrawn by Sir Anthony.”

“That is evidence enough,” again replied Freyberger. “The things are
Gyde’s; the evidence is, unhappily, of little use at present. It will
help to hang our man when we catch him. There is nothing for us now to
do but wait.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XXXV


TIME passed, and April came to London, lighting the crocuses like little
lamps along the borders of the parks. Nothing could have been kindlier
than her coming or more cruel than her going, for it froze hard during
the last few days of her month; buds were brought to untimely ruin and
the ice on the ponds was sufficiently thick almost for skating.

But the first of May broke cloudless and warm, the herald of three weeks
of perfect weather.

Mademoiselle Lefarge had gone back to France, and Hellier ought to have
been on circuit.

But he was not in the mood for business. His mind was occupied by one
thing, the Gyde case. A month had passed since the murder of Mr Goldberg
and the occurrence in St Ann’s Road, yet not a word of the solution of
the mystery had come to the public ears as to Sir Anthony Gyde; the
public were beginning to forget him.

Occasionally some old clubman, a once friend of his, would remember the
fact of his existence, wonder why the police had not caught him, and
damn them for their inefficiency.

Up in Cumberland, where things, little or big, are not so easily
forgotten, the affair was still being discussed in market-square and
village ale-house. The Cottage on the Fells was deserted, and not for
many decades could the most astute land-agent hope to let it again.

One night, it was the 8th of May, exactly a month and ten days after the
murder, or the supposed murder, of Klein, a strange thing occurred.

A man named Davis, journeying from Alston to Langwathby on foot, lost
his way upon the fells, at dusk, and wandered for several hours, till
the rising moon showed him a few broken walls and remains of houses, and
he knew that he had come to the old ruined fell village of Unthank.

In the time of the Plague a fugitive from London sought refuge in this
village, and the inhabitants of it showed their hospitality by moving
out of it _en masse_ and leaving the plague-stricken one in undisputed
possession. They built themselves another village, lower down, which
they also labelled Unthank and which remains to this day.

Davis, recognizing the ruins, took them for a point of departure, and at
last struck the road at the foot of the fells, which runs through
Gamblesby and Melmerby to Blencarn.

Hopeless of reaching Langwathby that night, he determined to make for
Blencarn and put up with a relation of his who lived there.

He was nearing the place and the moon was high in the sky, making the
roadway as clear as if viewed by daylight, when, on the road right
before him, he saw the figure of a man walking also in the direction of
Blencarn.

It was just now that Davis remembered that he was close to the cottage
where the murder was committed, and he increased his pace, hoping to
overtake the man and walk with him for company’s sake. As he drew
closer, he recognised that the person before him was not an ordinary
countryman or farmer, but evidently a man used to the pavement of a town
and seemingly well dressed.

Then, to his astonishment, Davis saw the stranger pause at a gate on the
left of the road, unchain it and walk through, carefully putting the
chain up again.

Instantly Davis recognized the gate, and the fact that it was the gate
that gave entrance to the field beyond which, hidden by a dip of the
fells, lay the cottage of the murder.

He was passing the gate, when the stranger, who was only twenty paces or
so away in the field, turned, saw Davis and beckoned to him to follow
him.

The moonlight was full on the stranger’s face, and, horrified, Davis
recognized that the man before him in the field was Sir Anthony Gyde.

As he stood spellbound, gazing at the murderer, a cloud passed over the
moon, and the shadow of the cloud, like a black handkerchief, swept over
the field and seemed to sweep Sir Anthony Gyde away. For when the moon
returned he was gone.

Then Davis ran, and he did not stop running until he reached the door of
his relative. The accounts he gave of the occurrence were so confused as
to cast discredit on his narrative, and he was put down as a liar for
the strange reason that he was not gifted with the power of
story-telling.

Had he seen, or pretended to have seen, the ghost of Klein, every one
would have believed him, for every one knew that Klein was dead. But Sir
Anthony Gyde was alive, and the countryside were waiting to see him
caught and hanged, and no one wished to believe in his ghost for that
very reason.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER XXXVI


IT was May 9, the day after that on which Mr Davis, away up in
Cumberland, had seen what he had seen upon the road to Blencarn.

It had been a glorious day, but the beauty of the weather did not appeal
to Freyberger.

The Gyde case had hit him badly; after all his researches and
calculations, after all the energy he had spent upon it, it had slipped
away and left him.

He had proved so much, yet he had done so little.

That is perhaps the most exasperating thing about detective work. You
have your case complete; the whole thing is reasoned out, plotted and
planned; you have built round your man a complete structure, a prison
that will hold him, you only want one little brick of evidence to
complete it; you find your brick, put it in its place, and then open the
door of your structure expecting to find your man inside and to lead him
out to justice.

He is gone.

The warrant for his arrest is in your pocket; he has been shadowed for
days past by your subordinates; he lodged last night at such and such a
place and was shaved this morning by such and such a barber; he was
having luncheon an hour ago at such and such a café; your subordinate
tells you he is still there. You go to find him, and he is gone.

He has scented arrest.

Again, you may have your structure of evidence complete only for the one
little brick.

That brick is nowhere to be found. There are a dozen murderers known to
the police, a dozen assassins walking the pavements of London convicted
in the eyes of justice, yet they are immune. Their tombs are already
constructed, but are incomplete, wanting just one, or maybe two, little
bricks.

In the words of the police, “No jury would convict.”

In the case of Klein it was different. The case was complete against him
of having been a prime mover in the Gyde and Lefarge affairs. Once
safely lodged in gaol, Freyberger felt that the whole truth would be
extracted from him. What a case it would be! What a triumph for the man
who had worked in it and completed it single-handed. Whatever Klein’s
diabolical methods might be, Freyberger was certain of one thing—that
their extraordinary nature would astonish Europe.

All that had to be done now was to capture this man—and he had vanished.

It will be remembered that Freyberger had objected strongly to the
publication of Klein’s photograph.

Even still he upheld this objection, and the chief had not pressed the
matter, having much respect for the opinion of his subordinate. But as
week followed week, without sign or movement on the part of the man they
were after, the patience of the chief began to give.

On the evening of May 9 it snapped.

“We have given him now a very considerable time,” he said, during a
conversation with his subordinate. “We have given him a good long rope
to hang himself with.”

“Yes, sir,” replied the other, “and I know it has been by my advice.”

“Well, what is your advice now?”

“To give him a little more. Who knows, he may be, even at this moment,
making the noose for his own neck.”

“I will give him three days more.”

“Three days?”

“If he does not show himself in that time his portrait and description
will be published broadcast. We have waited too long.”

“I am sorry you think that, sir?”

“Oh, I am not casting any reflection on your judgement. I believe with
you that this man will efface himself, or try to efface himself, fully,
when he sees his portrait in every news-sheet, but there is the chance
that he will fail. Besides, Freyberger, I am not sure that the course we
have already taken is one absolutely moral.”

“How so, sir?”

“We have refrained from alarming this man.”

“Yes.”

“By doing so we have, well, to put it plainly, given him the incentive
to commit another murder.”

“That is what I have been waiting for, sir, and I have no qualms at all
in the matter. If this man lives, it is inevitable that he must murder.
Far better is it that he should commit one more crime and be taken, than
that he should escape now, take warning that he is watched, amend his
methods and enter on a new campaign of infamy.

“Besides, it is not at all inevitable that he should commit another
murder. An attempt is quite sufficient. His next victim may be more
fortunate than Mr Goldberg. His next victim may turn the tables upon
him. Who knows? He may fall upon a sheep and find that he has tackled a
wolf.”

The chief smiled.

“Look at his past,” he replied. “Old men, women and children were his
victims.”

“That is true, but old men sometimes go armed, and women are sometimes
heroic, and there is always the chance of a third person coming on the
scene.”

“If,” said the other, “in three days from now the man is not arrested I
will do what I have said.”

Freyberger bowed, and the interview terminated.

He left the Yard with great depression at his heart. Three days more. It
was against all probability that anything would happen during the next
three days, unless Providence, watching from above, chose to bring
matters to a conclusion.

Freyberger felt, for the first time in his life, discouraged; this
discouragement remained with him all night and the next day, which he
had to spend at the Central Criminal Court, in connexion with a bank
forgery case.

On leaving the Courts very late he repaired to his own rooms, only to
find a telegram from the chief desiring his immediate attendance at the
Yard.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER XXXVII


A QUARTER of an hour later he was standing in the presence of his
superior.

“Good evening, Freyberger,” said the chief.

“Good evening, sir.”

“There is an express to Birmingham from Paddington at a quarter past
midnight.”

“Yes, sir.”

“I want you to catch it.”

“Yes, sir.”

“The train stops at Reading.”

“So I believe, sir.”

“You must get out at Reading and spend the night there. I want you early
on the spot to-morrow morning. A murder has been committed.”

“At Reading?”

“No, at Sonning.”

“The village of Sonning-on-Thames?”

“Precisely. Do you know it?”

“Slightly. I have in fact—”

“Yes?”

“Well, it is a pleasure resort, a place where young couples—”

“Precisely—where a young man might take a young woman.”

Freyberger smiled discreetly.

“Well,” continued the chief, “I am sending you down there hoping you may
meet some one more interesting than a girl.”

“And who may that be, sir?” asked Freyberger, a sudden glitter coming
into his eye.

“Klein.”

“Ah!”

“Müller, Kolbecker—call him what you will.”

“So!”

“You do not seem as jubilant as one might expect.”

“I am not jubilant, sir; I would swear not to laugh again until I have
this man by the shoulder, only the oath would be unnecessary. I am not
jubilant, but I am glad. May I have the details of this crime?”

“A man named Bronson, a farm-labourer, fifty years of age, has been
found stabbed to death in a field at Sonning.”

“Stabbed!”

“Stabbed; there was no apparent motive for the crime, and the body was
hacked as if by a maniac.”

“That is he!” said Freyberger.

“I suspect so. The only thing that makes me feel doubtful is the use of
the knife. A strangler once a strangler always.”

“He is frightened,” said Freyberger. “He must assuage his passion for
murder, and he has changed his method.”

“Do you think you will find him in the neighbourhood of Sonning?”

“I think it probable.”

“Probable?”

“Yes.”

“We have a few minutes to spare before you need start to catch your
train,” said the chief, who always liked to get at Freyberger’s line of
reasoning. “So you can just tell me why you think it probable. I would
have put it down only as possible.”

“In this way, sir. Why has this murder (if it is one of Klein’s), why
has it taken place at Sonning rather than anywhere else? Sonning is a
pleasant place enough to spend a day, it would be pleasant enough to
spend a week there, but that fact is not an inducement to a murderer. I
believe this man commits his crimes within easy reach of some den of
his. We know from the house-agent that a man, similar to him, took a
house in St Ann’s Road. We have seen that he only furnished one room,
and had no servant or help of any sort. He does not want to be spied on.

“We may suppose he left London, and for some reason or another took
probably a cottage near Sonning, just as he took a cottage on the Fells
of Cumberland.”

“Yes, we may suppose that.”

“Well—when was this murder committed—?”

“Yesterday morning.”

“Then it is probable he is still in the neighbourhood. Leaving aside the
assumption that this murder was a sudden affair, the impulse of a
moment, and that he had not made plans for leaving Sonning, there is the
fact that a murderer of this type has a tendency to cling to the
neighbourhood of his crime. Well, we will see. There is one thing I
would like to have before I start.”

“What is that?”

“The sheath of the knife I found at St Ann’s Road.”

“You shall have it.”

The chief rang, and ordered the officer who answered the summons to
bring the article in question, and Freyberger, placing it in his pocket,
departed.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER XXXVII


HE caught the Birmingham express that leaves Paddington at 12.15, and
arrived at Reading nine minutes after one.

Here he took a bed at the Vastern Hotel, and went to sleep.

At eight o’clock the next morning he was in consultation with the Chief
of the Berkshire Constabulary.

“It is a most extraordinary case,” said that gentleman. “Of course, it
can be nothing else but the work of a lunatic. The body was found at
three o’clock yesterday in a turnip field, close to the river. The man
had no enemies, a simple, inoffensive creature, with a wife and five
children. Our surgeon says that the murder must have taken place some
time early in the morning. The throat was cut from ear to ear, most
extraordinary case—mutilated too, but you will see the body for
yourself.”

“Have you the knife?”

“Yes.”

“May I see it?”

“By all means.”

The chief constable opened a drawer and produced something wrapped up in
brown paper.

He unwrapped the paper and produced a savage-looking knife with a green
shagreen handle.

“It is a case knife,” said the chief constable. “The case will be
perhaps a clue when we come upon it.”

“I believe I have it in my pocket,” said Freyberger, and he produced the
sheath he had found in the house in St Ann’s Road.

The chief constable took the sheath and fitted the knife into it.

It fitted exactly.

“But how did you get it?” asked the chief constable in considerable
surprise. “We found the knife in the body; it was fixed by such a
ferocious blow between the ribs that the murderer could not extricate
it. How did you come upon the sheath? You came from London only last
night; did you find it here or in London?”

“I have not time to tell you, sir, the whole history of the case. I
found that sheath more than a month ago in a house in London. If that
knife could speak, its tale would, perhaps, turn your hair grey with
horror. We must act at once, or the game will escape us. We are after a
person who is more than a man, a person infinitely more in the shape of
a devil, a person who can change his form. I tell you, I would sooner
tackle a tiger than this man; yet I am going to tackle him and take him,
too. Have you a map of Sonning?”

The chief constable produced an Ordnance map.

“This,” said he, “is the field where the murder was committed.”

He placed his finger on the spot.

“Is there a pathway across the field?”

“Yes, here between these two roads.”

“There is a cottage here,” said Freyberger, pointing to a spot so marked
at the angle where the path met the road.

“Yes, Bronson’s cottage. He was murdered a hundred yards away from his
home. There is a great heap of refuse in the middle of the field, and
the body lay behind it and so was not discovered for some hours. There
are no back windows to the cottage and no back door.”

“Are there any strangers lodging at Sonning?”

“Yes, a few, but no one at all of a suspicious nature, or likely to have
anything to do with the crime.”

“I imagine,” said Freyberger, “that the murderer is still in the
neighbourhood of Sonning. Of course, I may be wrong, still I intend to
go there and make some observations. I would prefer to go alone; you are
known in the neighbourhood and I am not.”

“How shall you go?”

“I—Oh, I shall go as if I were going for pleasure, not business. I shall
hire a boat and go by river.”

“Have you any arms?”

“No; if I had a pistol, and if I were so fortunate as to find my man, I
might be unfortunate enough to shoot him. Pistols have a habit of going
off in struggles. Besides, I have a nervous horror of them.”

“I remember you arrested that man in Fashion Street, and he was a pretty
tough customer.”

“I have met others worse, but I have never had fire-arms about me. A
walking-stick is the only weapon I ever carry.”

“You have lots of pluck.”

“Lots, but I tell you, all the same, this man I am after now almost
frightens me. No matter, what is, is, and what will be, will be. Can you
tell me where I can get a butterfly net?”

“What do you want that for?”

“To catch butterflies; this warm weather has brought them out in flocks.
I want, also, a flannel coat, such as boating people wear; one does not
go butterfly-hunting in a tall hat.”

“I see; come down town and I will rig you out; but, first, shall we go
to the mortuary?”

“Yes,” replied Freyberger. “Before meeting the murderer I should like to
see the victim.”

They repaired to the mortuary, and there the detective inspected the
body of the unfortunate Bronson.

“It is a most extraordinary case,” said the chief constable. “He was a
most inoffensive creature; he had never, to any man’s knowledge, made an
enemy. He had committed no fault.”

“I beg your pardon, but I imagine he had.”

“How?”

“He had committed the fault of being alive. The man we are after is a
fault-finder when the fit seizes him. A temporary lunacy. Some periodic
lunatics have objections. I knew one who, perfectly sane on other
points, flew into a paroxysm of rage when a musk-melon was brought
within his purview. He objected to musk-melons because they were round.

“He wanted them square. God Almighty, however, preferred that they
should be round. Hence the trouble.

“Another quarrelled with grey cats when he met them, simply because they
were grey. He quarrelled with them by covering them with paraffin and
setting them on fire.

“The man who did this quarrelled with the thing that lies here because
it was alive. He has remedied the defect.”

He had indeed.

It is needful only to say that the body exhibited twenty wounds, each in
itself sufficient to have caused death.

But the master wound was in the throat. It was evidently the first
given. The rest were needless, and the result of maniacal fury on the
part of the murderer.

They left the place and went to a clothier’s, where Freyberger bought a
mulberry-coloured blazer and a straw hat with a striped ribbon.

Having purchased a butterfly net he returned to the hotel and dressed.
When his toilet was complete, he looked at himself in a glass and felt
satisfied.

He looked, in fact, like a shopboy whose taste for entomology had
devoured his taste in dress.

Smug and plump, you never would have suspected this shopboy or café
waiter out for a holiday, to be a detective destined to European fame. A
chilly-blooded calculator, a profound thinker, with an intimate
knowledge of all the most terrible abysses of crime. A man merciless and
fearless as a sword.

An hour later, at the boat-slip just above the bridge, Freyberger stood
bargaining for a boat.

It was a lovely day, soft and warm with a cloudless sky.

He was not a very good oarsman, but good enough to scull a boat safely
on a smooth river. After he had passed the bridge and East’s boat-slip,
he rested on his oars for a minute.

“If I had not questioned her imagination,” he said to himself, “that man
Hellier would not have remembered those other crimes, and I would not
have come near the bull’s-eye like this. How terribly right she was. She
divined this devil, she knew his construction, his capacity for murder
without a motive. She is an innocent woman, yet she knew this demon as
well as if she had constructed him—sub-consciously. Ah, the
sub-consciousness of women, what does it not hide? A woman who loves is
a terrible thing, more keen-scented than a hound, more dangerous than a
tiger.

“My friend, Klein, if I miss you here it will not be the fault of
Mademoiselle Lefarge. If I miss you here, I shall find you again, but if
I find you here, I will be the means of saving the lives of perhaps two
more men, perhaps three.”

He resumed his sculls.

The warm weather had brought boats out as well as butterflies and
butterfly-hunters, girls in summer dresses and men in flannels, who
little dreamt that tragedy was passing them in the form of the little
man in the mulberry-coloured coat.

At Sonning Lock he managed to get through without drowning himself or
upsetting his boat. It was the first time he had negotiated a lock, and
he was not sorry when his cockle-shell was safely moored to the
landing-stage of the White Hart Hotel.

There were several people in the gardens, men in flannels and girls in
boating costumes, seated in the arbours.

He passed them and entered the hotel by the backway.

There was no one in the hall, and he took a cane-bottomed easy chair by
the bar window, put his butterfly net in a corner and called for a stone
ginger-beer.

He intended to make a thorough examination of Sonning, and his plan
would be very much simplified by the fact that he could eliminate all
residents, all people who kept servants. What he was looking for was a
man living in a cottage alone.

“Had good sport?” asked the young lady who served him, speaking in a
perfunctory manner and twisting a hairpin straight that had somehow got
loose, whilst she gazed over Freyberger’s head at the sunlit garden as
if she were addressing some one there.

“Oh, the butterfly net?” said he, “it’s not mine. I brought it down for
a friend, he promised to meet me here, a Mr Rogers—you haven’t seen
anything of him, I suppose?”

“What was he like?” asked the lady behind the bar in a disinterested
voice.

Freyberger drew a word picture of Klein.

She shook her head and settled herself down behind the bar to resume the
perusal of a Trumper’s penny story, a compound of love, murder, arson
and religion wonderfully mixed.

Freyberger sipped his drink. He looked around him admiring the place,
for the hall of the White Hart is one of the prettiest and pleasantest
little hotel halls in the world.

“You have had a murder down here they tell me,” he said, lighting a
cigar.

“Yes,” said the girl behind the bar, “Jim Bronson. I saw him brought by,
covered with a sheet. Hacked about horrid they said he was.” She looked
up like an ogre, and then relapsed into _Tracked by a Stain_ just at the
part where the parson in the dogcart is approaching the murderer, who is
hidden behind the hedge.

“It’s not often you have those sort of occurrences here?” said
Freyberger.

“No,” replied the girl, with her eyes glued to the book.

“Very quiet neighbourhood, as a rule, I should think.”

“Yes.”

“Artists and people come here, I suppose, a good deal.”

“A good deal.”

Just at this moment a shadow darkened the doorway.

An old gentleman had entered the hall of “The White Hart.” He walked,
leaning on a stick.

He was dressed in well-worn grey tweed, and wore a felt hat,
fawn-coloured and rather broad of brim.

He came to the bar and called for an absinthe, and his voice caused
Freyberger to examine him more attentively.

There were many things about this voice, and they all conspired to mark
it out as a distinctive voice. A voice in a million.

It was the voice of an educated man, and it would be very hard to say
what there was in it repellent and chilling, but repellent and chilling
it was.

But it was the face of the newcomer that fascinated Freyberger.

“Where have I seen that face before?” he thought.

And then all at once came the reply born of the question.

“It is the face of Klein grown old.”

For a moment Freyberger was seized by a feeling of physical sickness.
The horrors and perplexities of the Gyde case had culminated in this
last horror and perplexity.

This could not be the man who, eight years ago, had sat for his portrait
to the photographer in Paris; this could not be the man whom Hellier had
followed on account of the likeness to that photograph.

This was an old, old man.

Had he aged then in the course of a few weeks? Had premature decay
fallen upon him, turning him almost at a stroke from a man of forty or
so to a man of seventy and more?

Was he himself mistaken?

No. This was indeed the face of the photograph, the face that had left
its imprint on the retina of Leloir, the same face seen through the veil
of age.

Yet if that were so, one would have to believe that this old man, who
seemed scarcely strong enough to harm a child, had a few hours ago
killed, with brutal ferocity, a fellow being.

As Freyberger sat examining the newcomer, he became aware that the
newcomer was examining him.

The young lady behind the bar had relapsed into _Tracked by a Stain_,
the shopboy with the butterfly net, the old gentleman sipping his
absinthe were of no interest to her.

Freyberger yawned. He felt that he was being observed, and he fancied
that he was being observed with approbation—the approbation with which a
butcher observes a fat sheep.

If this were so, the situation was not without its humour. The humour of
it did not, however, strike him. He was deficient in that sense.

He was on the point of making a remark upon the weather in the hope of
starting a conversation when the old man forestalled him.

You never know a man’s face properly till you talk to him, and
Freyberger, as the conversation proceeded, sat drinking in with his eyes
the details and the _tout ensemble_ of the countenance before him.

What a strange, weary, wicked and altogether mysterious face it was!

One said to oneself, “If blood circulates behind it, that blood must
surely be grey in colour.”

They conversed, and it was wonderful how the old man drew Freyberger
out, and in the course of ten minutes or so, without seeming at all
inquisitive, learned most of his private affairs and much about his
life.

Freyberger told him frankly and freely how he had come to England only a
few weeks ago from Bremen in search of a job as book-keeper, how he had
no friends in England, how he had a maiden aunt living in Cologne, and a
widowed sister living Düsseldorf, how he had wandered down to Sonning in
search of the picturesque.

The girl behind the bar here put down her book to answer a call from the
coffee-room, and they found themselves alone.

“You are fond of nature?” asked the old man, sipping the remains of his
absinthe.

“It is my passion,” replied Freyberger.

“Well, if you will allow me to be your guide, I will conduct you to a
spot the most beautiful in England, quite close here, it lies.”

“Ah!”

“Indeed, yes, the most beautiful in England.”

“I shall be happy.”

“We will walk together,” continued the other. “A cigar, please,” to the
young lady who had just returned.

He held out the box to Freyberger, who took one and thanked him.

That the stranger was Klein, despite his miraculous ageing, he felt
almost certain. But to arrest him there and then for no other reason
than lay in an unconfirmed belief was not to be thought of. To let a
murderer escape is bad, but to arrest a man who, if he is not innocent,
still, has no stains or proof of guilt is worse. It is what the Criminal
Investigation Department calls a “serious mistake,” and Freyberger did
not fancy such a tag to his reputation.

The only other course was to leave the protection of houses and people,
to go with this satanic criminal where no eye could see what happened,
to be attacked by him and to master him.

“Are you ready?” asked the old man.

“I am ready,” replied Freyberger. The girl, who was putting the
cigar-box back on its shelf, turned round.

“If your friend calls, shall I say you will come back?” she asked.

“My friend?” said Freyberger, who saw across the grey face of his awful
companion a shadow pass.

“Your friend, Mr Rogers,” said the girl. “He you brought the butterfly
net for.”

He had distinctly told the stranger that he knew nobody in England, and
that he had come down to Sonning moved by impulse and for no especial
purpose save the search after the picturesque. In his surprise at the
old man’s likeness to the man he was in search of he had quite forgotten
the butterfly net—a serious mistake, as he was about to find out.

Another man might have entered into explanations or attempted to do so.
Freyberger laughed in a brutal and cynical manner.

His whole being seemed to change in one swift moment.

He turned his back on the girl and, without vouchsafing an answer, said
to the stranger, “Come.”

It was almost as if he had said, “I arrest you.”

They passed out together into the garden. The day was clouding over, and
the last rays of sunshine fled as if from their presence as they
followed the rose-bordered path to the little gate opening upon the
road.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER XXXIX


“WHERE do you live?” asked Freyberger when they were on the road.

“We shall pass the place, and I will show you,” replied the other.

They turned to the left towards the village and walked for a moment in
silence.

The stranger, despite his age and apparent infirmity, walked with a
brisk step. Freyberger did not lag behind.

Then this conversation began between them, Freyberger speaking first:

“So you have had a murder here?”

“Is that so?”

“It is so, and I have come down here to arrest the murderer.”

“You are——”

“I am Gustave Freyberger.”

“Indeed!”

“When I was talking to you in the bar, I fancied that some one was
listening to me, and so I told you of my aunt—in Bremen was it? and of
my sister in Düsseldorf.”

Freyberger, as they walked, took side glances at the terrible profile of
his companion rigid as the profile of the Sphinx; at a sign or movement
indicative of guilt he was prepared to act. He was waiting for the
psychological moment.

But the stranger made neither sign nor movement, and they passed through
the little village, past the post office, past the cottage, which serves
as a police station. Then they turned a corner, and a lonely country
road lay before them.

Lonely-looking would, perhaps, be a better term, for the roads about
here are by no means destitute of travellers on a summer’s day.

“You do not live in the village, then?” said Freyberger.

“No,” replied the other, “I live a little way down this road.”

“That is convenient,” said Freyberger, “for if I am not mistaken we are
going to have a storm.”

“So it would seem.”

“We can shelter at your cottage, for you live in a cottage, at least I
fancy you told me so.”

“I live in a cottage, but I am unaware that I mentioned the fact.”

“Ah, it must have been my imagination. It plays one tricks. I am full of
imaginations and fancies to-day. For instance, in the bar a moment ago I
fancied I knew your face.”

“Indeed!”

“Yes. I fancied there was a resemblance between you and an artist named
Müller, no, no, an artist named Kolbecker. Ah! there I am again, my
memory is playing me false. Upon my word, if this goes on I shall resign
my position and my trade, which, after all, is a dirty trade, seeing
that it is the trade of catching murderers and delivering them to the
hangman. KLEIN was the name of the artist, he was a sculptor.”

The other said nothing, his face was still immobile, but a great drop of
sweat was coursing down the side of it.

The clouds were rolling in funereal masses over Reading and spreading
towards the southern sky. A few large drops of rain fell on the dust of
the road and the occasional grumbling of thunder sounded as if from a
vast distance.

The road took a turn upon itself, and there, a hundred yards or so away
in front of them, well set back from the highway and half hidden by a
hedge, lay a cottage.

Freyberger was only waiting now to discover the living place of the man
beside him before arresting him.

They were nearly level with the cottage gate, when, unperceived by
Freyberger, the old man’s left hand stole into the old man’s pocket.

Next moment Freyberger, with a gasping cry and hands outspread, fell
face forward in the dust of the road—sandbagged.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAPTER XL


WHEN he awoke it was with a sensation of pain extending all over his
body. He was lying on the tiled floor of a small room, which was
evidently the kitchen and living room of a labourer’s cottage. A door
wide open showed the glimpse of a garden gone to ruin and overgrown with
a monstrous growth of weeds.

By the door, holding a spade in one hand, stood Klein.

Freyberger tried to move, but failed. His body was absolutely rigid.
From the nape of his neck to his heels ran a board, to which he was
splinted by turn upon turn of rope. He tried to speak—he was gagged.

Klein stood and looked at him.

After the first glance round, Freyberger saw nothing but Klein. He could
scarcely see his withered face in the shadow cast by the doorpost, but
the hand holding the spade stood out awful in its energy and brutality,
lit by the storm-light illuminating the doorway.

Then the old man, assured that his victim was awake and in full
possession of his senses, began to speak in pantomime.

He pointed to his own lips and to the barred front door as if to
indicate secrecy and the fact that the terrible things about to take
place would never be known to the world.

Freyberger was not deaf, and the old man was not speechless, yet he
never uttered a word, though he chuckled at times, making that sound
which had frozen Leloir’s heart when he had heard it issue from the lips
of Sir Anthony Gyde in the corridor at Throstle Hall.

Then the demon at the doorway began, in pantomime, to dig with his
spade, shovelling up imaginary earth from an imaginary grave; without a
word he went through the postures necessary in dragging a heavy body to
the graveside and flinging it in. Then he spat three times into the
imaginary grave, and closed it in. All this without a word.

Then turning from his victim he went into the garden and began to dig
the real grave.

Freyberger’s eyes travelled about the floor of the room; they lit upon
an object, it was a sandbag. He knew now what had happened to him.
Sandbagged on the road, dragged into this cottage, bound and gagged, he
lay now waiting for the last act in the tragedy—his own burial.

The service for the burial of the dead would not be required over his
grave, for, that Klein would bury him alive, he felt certain.

He lay listening to the patter of the rain on the leaves in the garden
and the sound of the spade.

Incessant, rhythmical, it seemed wielded by a giant.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XLI


THAT night in London the Chief of the Criminal Investigation Department
sat in his office. It required ten minutes to midnight, and he had just
laid down his pen after several hours’ hard work over official
correspondence and reports.

The Goldberg case was still exercising the public mind, and several
editors were asking the world from editorial easy chairs what the police
were paid for.

The night was warm, and through the open window came vague and fugitive
sounds from the city that never sleeps; voices, the bells of passing
hansoms and the clop, clop of the horses’ hoofs, the hum of distant
traffic.

A little draught of wind suddenly stirred the papers on the desk before
him; he turned, the door was open, and Freyberger stood before him,
pale, haggard and bearing a black bag in his hand. Behind Freyberger
stood a stranger.

“I knocked, sir,” said Freyberger.

“Ah! I was thinking. I suppose I did not hear you. Sit down—this
gentleman——?”

“This gentleman’s name is Hellier, sir,” replied Freyberger. “I have
ventured to bring him with me as he has assisted me in clearing up the
Gyde case.”

“Ah! what’s that you say?”

“The Gyde case, sir. Also he has saved my life to-day—”

“Sit down, sit down,” said the chief, indicating chairs. “This is good,
if it is as you say. I want details; but first tell me, is Sir Anthony
Gyde alive?”

“No, sir, he was murdered in the Cottage on the Fells.”

“Good God! by whom?”

“Klein.”

“Is Klein alive?”

“No, sir, he is dead. He died to-day, and his body lies in the mortuary
at Reading. Let me say at once, and with the humility of a man who has
just escaped a terrible death, that all my assumptions were absolutely
correct. Klein, _alias_ Kolbecker, _alias_ Müller, was the author of the
Lefarge tragedy, the Gyde tragedy and all the subsidiary murders,
concluding with the murder of Bronson yesterday. Look at this.”

He produced a black notebook from his pocket. The chief examined the
book; it was a volume of some hundred pages or so, every page covered
with close writing.

“This book,” said Freyberger, taking back the volume, “contains the life
history of the greatest criminal who ever lived. It is the diary of
Ludwig Spahn, _alias_ Müller, _alias_ Kolbecker, _alias_ Klein. I
mastered it in the train to-night, and from it I will sketch you the
story of which the murder of Sir Anthony Gyde is but a chapter.

“Spahn was born in Munich, sixty-five years ago.”

“Sixty-five?”

“Yes, sir. He was an old man.”

“But the man in the photograph was a man of middle age.”

“Yes, sir. He seemed of middle age, but I will explain the matter as I
go on. Spahn, at seventeen, left the business to which he was
apprenticed and went to Rome to study art, or, to speak more correctly,
to teach it, for this strange genius had ideals of his own, and very
soon he had a little following, a cult. Vicious to the core, he never
could keep money. He was always in debt. One day he murdered a banker,
was caught red-handed, sentenced to death and allowed to escape the
extreme penalty by that infernal law which allows murderers to escape
unexterminated. He was condemned to imprisonment for life and released
after twenty-five years.

“He was fifty when he left prison, full of hatred towards society and a
determination to be revenged.

“He went to Paris.

“The art which was born with him remained with him, and the love of
pleasure.

“He refused to be old, and, with the aid of the art of the chemist and
the maker-up, he appeared to the world as a man at least twenty years
younger than he was.

“He lived for years in Paris in the Latin Quarter, a notoriously vicious
character, yet forgiven for the sake of his genius. His sculptures were
marvellous, but his vice and laziness were to match, so he made little
profit of his art and did little work.

“His hatred of the rich and well-to-do amounted to a monomania, and he
was always searching around for some means by which he might avenge
himself upon them.

“To the man who hates a class, an individual of that class will serve as
a butt for his revenge.

“One day, walking along a street in Paris, he saw coming towards him
what seemed a little old man wearing a pinafore. It was a child wearing
a mask.

“The occurrence gave him food for thought. ‘If,’ said he to himself, ‘a
man who makes these paper masks for five sous a dozen, can produce an
even momentary illusion, what could not a genius do in the same
direction were he to give all his mind to the matter?’

“He played with the subject in his mind.

“‘If I wanted to make the mask of a man,’ thought he, ‘a mask that would
deceive everybody by its resemblance to the flesh, how would I proceed?

“‘I would first have to procure a cast of his face, or execute a bust of
him exactly identical with the reality. Only very slightly larger.

“‘I would then rub that face of marble with a very fine powder, and I
would apply a coating of the finest caoutchouc, over that a layer of
stiffening varnish.

“‘I would remove the whole, and paint the interior of the caoutchouc
with the flesh tints, thus giving the true appearance of life, _for the
human face is painted_ from the inside.

“‘I would then back the thing with a thicker layer of rubber and remove
the stiffening varnish from the outside.

“‘If my art did not fail me, I would now have a facsimile of my friend
or my enemy’s face. Could I wear it and masquerade as him? Only on two
conditions (1) that I could make the inside of the mask a perfect mould
of my own face (2) that he was a man, a man of my own height and a man
who wore glasses and a beard, for the joining at the eyes and at the
neck would present an insuperable difficulty were I to imitate a
clean-shaven man who did not wear glasses.’

“He brooded over the thing.

“One day he fell in with M. Lefarge, a rich jeweller, who was at times a
frequenter of the Latin Quarter, and the whole diabolical plan of the
Lefarge case was conceived in a flash.

“The plan of robbing and murdering a rich man in such a manner that the
world would fancy that the rich man was the assassin, not the victim.

“He made a bust of Lefarge, from the bust he made Lefarge’s face.
Lefarge wore a beard and glasses. The making of the exterior of the mask
was a bagatelle; the real difficulty was the interior, which had to be a
perfect adaptation to his own features, but he did it.

“Whilst this was going on, he made a most profound study of Lefarge
himself: his walk, his manner, his voice, his handwriting.

“He was, in fact, preparing to be Lefarge’s understudy for an hour or
two upon the stage of life.

“For three hours every day, during a space of four months, he wore the
mask, conversing with himself, laughing and talking before a
looking-glass, so that the thing might gain the lines and wrinkles of
life.

“One day he asked Lefarge to call upon him.

“Lefarge called. Muller murdered him, and stripped him of his clothes
and decapitated him.

“Then he dressed the body in his own clothes, put on the clothes of his
victim, put on his face, put on his hat, his manner, his walk and his
voice.

“Then, with his victim’s head in a black bag, he ran down the stairs,
got into his victim’s carriage, drove home, collected a hundred thousand
pounds’ worth of jewels, drove to the corner of the Rue d’Amsterdam and
disappeared.

“But Nemesis followed him. The murder of Lefarge had wakened up the lust
for killing that lay like a spectre in the darkness of his soul. He
killed three people to satiate this madness, as we have seen. Then he
was at peace.

“Six years passed. Then, in Vienna, he met Sir Anthony Gyde.

“He was living in Vienna under the name of Klein; living extravagantly
on the proceeds of the Lefarge business. He belonged to a very vicious
circle, amidst whom Gyde became implicated, and he was in low water
financially.

“Klein looked at Gyde, and saw that here was another chance of playing
the old comedy of masks and faces. For Gyde’s face and figure lent
themselves entirely to the trick.

“He obtained a hold over Gyde and blackmailed him to a considerable
amount, but this did not satisfy him.

“His hatred of the rich and well-to-do and respected had to be satiated.

“He made a bust of Gyde and his face, he studied him profoundly. He
could reproduce his handwriting with absolute and marvellous precision,
and his voice.

“The bust was made in London; he took rooms in Howland Street, broke up
the bust and came to Cumberland.

“Took the Cottage on the Fells and awaited the coming of Sir Anthony.

“Sir Anthony called upon him, as we have seen.

“Klein stunned him with a sandbag, stripped him and decapitated him;
dipped the head in a solution of chlorine which shrunk the skin and
preserved it, placed the head in a black leather bag, dressed himself in
his victim’s clothes, assumed his face and personality, dressed his
victim in his own clothes and departed.

“We know the rest. But one or two points may be made clearer.

“On his arrival in London the supposed Gyde went to his bedroom. There
was one weak point about the mask. Its prolonged use caused insufferable
torment to the wearer, on account of the skin irritation it caused.

“He had removed the mask for a moment when Leloir, who had left the
room, returned, and saw reflected in a looking-glass his master removing
his own face. Klein, hearing the footstep of Leloir, turned.

“The expression on Klein’s face at that moment is preserved for us in
the retinal photograph taken from the eye of the valet, who, beholding
this monstrosity, gave vent to the awful cry heard by the secretary and
fell dead.

“Klein, in his hurry and the confusion caused by this incident,
collected all the jewellery he could find. Having no immediate plan he
thought it safest to leave his victim’s head behind him, trusting it
would not be discovered for some time. He passed the night at Howland
Street, going there disguised as Gyde. Next morning, early, under the
same disguise, he withdrew the jewels at the bank and cashed the cheque
at the jewellers. It was a cheque he had found in the pocket of his
victim, and he cashed it, not so much for the money as to foul his
traces and prove to the police, by extra evidence, the existence of
Gyde.

“Then he destroyed the mask and became Klein again, taking the house in
St Ann’s Road, and moving in there with a few sticks of furniture
hastily bought.

“Mr Goldberg’s murder followed.

“Then this gentleman, Mr Hellier, saw him and followed him. And Klein
suspected that he was at last suspected.

“He determined to disguise himself. How? Simply by becoming his own age.

“He flung away all artifice, and became the old man he was. The removal
of his false teeth alone gave him twenty years of age.

“He took the cottage at Sonning, determining to lie close. But the
murder instinct was too strong for him, and he killed Bronson.”

Then Freyberger told his own story.

“I was lying in the cottage listening to this monster digging my grave,
when, suddenly, I heard him fall crash amidst the weeds. I fainted, I
believe. Mr Hellier will tell you the rest.”

“I had a reason for mixing myself up in this affair,” said Hellier;
“and, reading of the murder of Bronson I came down to Sonning to make
inquiries. I asked, had anyone come to live there lately? and I was told
by a woman that a gentleman had taken a cottage on the Henley Road.
Fortunately, she did not say an old gentleman, or I should not have gone
there.

“I went to the cottage, knocked, could get no answer, and went round the
backway.

“In the back garden, by a newly-dug grave, I found a man lying, with a
spade clutched in his hand; he was dead. I found Mr Freyberger bound in
the cottage, and I released him.”

“Klein must have dropped dead then?” said the chief.

“Yes,” replied Freyberger. “He died of heart-disease, accelerated by the
excitement of digging my grave.”

“One last question,” said the Chief, “How about those initials tattooed
on the body of Gyde?”

“They were tattooed after death,” replied Freyberger, “and as a blind.
He had the art of tattooing _post mortem_ and, strangely enough, it was
this piece of cleverness that connected the cases in my mind and gave us
our man.”

                             --------------

As Hellier left the Yard that night, somebody, who had followed him,
touched him upon his shoulder. It was Freyberger.

“I want to tell you,” he said, “just this. If you hadn’t mixed up in the
affair and scented out those subsidiary murders I wouldn’t have caught
Klein.”

“You mean,” said Hellier, laughing, “Klein would not have caught you.”

“Yes, that is the better way of putting it, for Klein was the real hero
of this business; and if all criminals were made like Klein—”

“Why, then,” said Hellier, “society would be lost, unless all detectives
were made like Freyberger.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XLII


NEXT evening, at nine o’clock, Hellier called at the Langham.

Mademoiselle Lefarge, who had come to England in response to a telegram,
was waiting for him.

“Well?” she asked, as she held both of his hands in hers.

“It is done,” said Hellier. “To-morrow your father’s name will be
cleared in the sight of all men. You have suffered and waited a long,
long time, but yesterday you were avenged.”

                             --------------

Throstle Hall, up in Cumberland, still lies empty, waiting a tenant, for
Sir Anthony’s heir, a distant cousin, has no fancy for the place.

And men walk at night on the Blencarn road in couples, if they have to
walk there at all, for fear of the ghost of Sir Anthony Gyde, which
waits, so the legend runs, at the gate of the field leading to the
Cottage on the Fells.

                                THE END.



------------------------------------------------------------------------



 ● Transcriber’s Notes:
    ○ Missing or obscured punctuation was corrected.
    ○ Unbalanced quotation marks were left as the author intended.
    ○ Typographical errors were silently corrected.
    ○ Spelling and hyphenation were made consistent when a predominant
      form was found in this book; otherwise it was not changed.
    ○ Text in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_); text in
      bold by “equal” signs (=bold=).





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Cottage on the Fells" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home