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Title: The Charing Cross Mystery
Author: Fletcher, J. S. (Joseph Smith)
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 Charing Cross Mystery" ***

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



THE CHARING CROSS MYSTERY


BY

J. S. FLETCHER



HERBERT JENKINS LIMITED

3 YORK STREET, LONDON, S.W.1



A HERBERT JENKINS' BOOK



Sixth printing completing 46,825 copies



Printed in Great Britain by Butler & Tanner Ltd., Frome and London



CONTENTS


CHAPTER

     I.  THE LAST TRAIN EAST
    II.  WHOSE PORTRAIT IS THIS?
   III.  THE POTENTIAL FORTUNE
    IV.  THE DIAMOND NECKLACE
     V.  THE POLICE RETURN
    VI.  SAMPLES OF INK
   VII.  BLACK VELVET
  VIII.  FLIGWOOD'S RENTS
    IX.  THE MEDICINE BOTTLE
     X.  THE MYSTERIOUS  VISITOR
    XI.  LADY RIVERSREADE
   XII.  _ALIAS_ MADAME LISTORELLE
  XIII.  WHO WAS SHE?
   XIV.  IS IT BLACKMAIL?
    XV.  REVELATIONS
   XVI.  STILL MORE
  XVII.  THE TORN LABELS
 XVIII.  THE TELEGRAM
   XIX.  THE LONDON ROAD
    XX.  CONVERGING TRACKS
   XXI.  THE ORDER IN WRITING
  XXII.  THE HIGHLY-RESPECTABLE SOLICITOR
 XXIII.  THE LANDLADY OF LITTLE SMITH STREET
  XXIV.  THE HOUSE IN THE YARD
   XXV.  DEAD!
  XXVI.  WATERLOO
 XXVII.  THE ASSURANCE



THE CHARING CROSS MYSTERY


CHAPTER I

THE LAST TRAIN EAST

Hetherwick had dined that evening with friends who lived in Cadogan
Gardens, and had stayed so late in conversation with his host that
midnight had come before he left and set out for his bachelor chambers
in the Temple; it was, indeed, by the fraction of a second that he
caught the last east-bound train at Sloane Square.  The train was
almost destitute of passengers; the car which he himself entered, a
first-class smoking compartment, was otherwise empty; no one came into
it when the train reached Victoria.  But at St. James's Park two men
got in, and seated themselves opposite to Hetherwick.

Now Hetherwick was a young barrister, going in for criminal practice,
in whom the observant faculty was deeply implanted; it was natural to
him to watch and to speculate on anything he saw.  Because of this, and
perhaps because he had just then nothing else to think about, he sat
observing the new-comers; he found interest, amusement, and not a
little profit in this sort of thing, and in trying to decide whether a
given man was this, that, or something else.

Of the two men thus under inspection, the elder was a big, burly,
fresh-coloured man of apparently sixty to sixty-five years of age.  His
closely cropped silvery hair, his smartly trained grey moustache, his
keen blue eyes and generally alert and vivacious appearance, made
Hetherwick think that he was or had been in some way or other connected
with the army; this impression was heightened by an erect carriage,
square-set shoulders and something that suggested a long and close
acquaintance with the methods of the drill-yard and the parade ground.
Perhaps, thought Hetherwick, he was a retired non-commissioned officer,
a regimental sergeant-major, or something of that sort; this idea,
again, was strengthened by the fact that the man carried a handsome
walking-cane, the head of which, either of gold or of silver-gilt, was
fashioned like a crown.  There was something military, too, about the
cut of his clothes; he was a smartly dressed man, from his silk hat,
new and glossy and worn a little rakishly on the right side of his
head, to his highly polished boots.  A well-preserved, cheery-looking,
good-humoured sort of person, this, decided Hetherwick, and apparently
well satisfied with himself and full of the enjoyment of life, and
likely, from all outward sight, to make old bones.

The other man came into a different category.  The difference began
with his clothes, which, if not exactly shabby, were semi-shabby, much
worn, ill-kept and badly put on: he was evidently a careless man, who
scorned a clothes-brush and was also indifferent to the very obvious
fact that his linen was frayed and dirty.  He was a thin, meagre man,
of not one-half the respectable, well-fed bulk of his companion; his
sallow-complexioned face was worn, and his beard thin and irregular:
altogether he suggested some degree of poor circumstances.  Yet, in
Hetherwick's opinion, he was a person of something beyond ordinary
mental capacity; his eyes were large and intelligent, his nose was
well-shaped, his chin square and determined.  And his ungloved hands
were finely moulded and delicate of proportion; the fingers were long,
thin and tapering.  Hetherwick noticed two facts about those fingers:
the first, that they were restless; the second, that they were much
stained, as if the man had recently been mixing dyes or using
chemicals.  And then he suddenly observed that the big man's hands and
fingers were similarly stained--blue and red and yellow, in patches.

These men were talking when they entered the compartment; they
continued to talk as they settled down.  Hetherwick could not avoid
hearing what they said.

"Queerest experience I've ever had in my time!" the big man was saying
as he dropped into a corner seat.  "Tell you, I knew her the instant I
clapped eyes on that portrait!  After--how many years will it be, now?
Ten, I think--yes, ten.  Oh, yes!  Knew her well enough.  When we get
to my hotel, I'll show you the portrait--I cut it out and put it
aside--and you'll identify it as quick as I did--lay you aught you like
on it!  No mistaking that!"

This was said in a broad North Country accent, in full keeping, thought
Hetherwick, with the burly frame of the speaker.  But the other man
replied in tones that suggested the born Londoner.

"I think I shall be able to recognise it," he said softly.  "I've a
very clear recollection of the lady, though, to be sure, I only saw her
once or twice."

"Aye, well, a fine-looking woman--and a beauty!--like that's not soon
forgotten," declared the other.  "And nowadays the years don't seem to
make much difference to a woman's age.  Anyway, I knew her!--'That's
you, my fine madam,' says I to myself, as soon as ever I unfolded that
paper.  But, mind you, I kept it to myself!  Not a word to my
granddaughter, though she was sitting opposite to me when I made the
discovery.  No--not to anybody!--till to-night.  Not the sort of thing
to blab about--that!"

"Just so," said the smaller man.  "Of course, you'd remember that I was
likely to have some recollection of her and of the circumstances.
Odd!--very.  And I suppose the next thing is--what are you going to do
about it?"

"Oh, well!" replied the big man.  "Of course, ten years have elapsed.
But as to that, it wouldn't matter, you know, if twenty years had
slipped by.  Still----"

At that point he sank his voice to the least of a whisper, bending over
to his companion, and Hetherwick heard no more.  But it seemed to him
that the little man, although he appeared to be listening intently,
was, in reality, doing nothing of the sort.  His long, stained fingers
became more restless than ever; twice, before the train came to
Westminster, he pulled out his watch and glanced at it; once, after
that, Hetherwick caught the nervous hand again shaking towards the
waistcoat pocket.  And he got an idea that the man was regarding his
big, garrulous companion with curiously furtive glances, as if he were
waiting for some vague, yet expected thing, and wondering when it would
materialise: there was a covert watchfulness about him, and though he
nodded his head from time to time as if in assent to what was being
whispered to him, Hetherwick became convinced that he was either
abstracted in thought or taking no interest.  If eyes and fingers were
to be taken as indications, the man's thoughts were elsewhere.

The train pulled up at Westminster, lingered its half-minute, moved
onward again; the big man, still bending down to his companion, went on
whispering; now and then, as if he were telling a good story or making
a clever point, he chuckled.  But suddenly, and without any warning, he
paused, coming to a dead, sharp-cut stop in an apparently easy flow of
language.  He stared wildly around him: Hetherwick caught the flash of
his eye as it swept the compartment, and never forgot the look of
frightened amazement that he saw in it; it was as if the man had been
caught, with lightning-like swiftness, face to face with some awful
thing.  His left hand shut up, clutching at his breast and throat; the
other, releasing the gold-headed cane, shot out as if to ward off a
blow.  It dropped like lead at his side; the other arm relaxed and
fell, limp and nerveless, and before Hetherwick could move, the big,
burly figure sank back in its corner and the eyes closed.

Hetherwick jumped from his seat, shouting to the other man.

"Your friend!" he cried.  "Look!"

But the other man was looking.  He, too, had got to his feet, and he
was bending down and stretching out a hand to the big man's wrist.  He
muttered something that Hetherwick failed to catch.

"What do you say?" demanded Hetherwick impatiently.  "Good heavens!--we
must do something!  The man's--what is it?  A seizure?"

"A seizure!" answered the other.  "Yes--that's it--a seizure!  He'd had
one--slight giddiness--just before we got in.  A--the train's stopping,
though.  Charing Cross?  I--I know a doctor close by."

The train was already pulling up.  Hetherwick flung open the dividing
door between his compartment and the next--he had seen the conductor
down there and he beckoned to him.

"Quick!" he called.  "Here!--there's a man ill--dying, I think!  Come
here!"

The conductor came--slowly.  But when he saw the man in the corner, he
made for the outer door and beckoned to men on the platform.  A
uniformed official ran up and got in.

"What is it?" he asked.  "Gentleman in a fit?  Who's with him?
Anybody?"

Hetherwick looked round for the man with the stained fingers.  But he
was already out of the carriage and on the platform and making for the
stairs that led to the exit.  He flung back a few words, pointing
upward at the same time.

"Doctor!--close by!" he shouted.  "Back in five minutes!--get him out."

But already there was a doctor at hand.  Before the man with the
stained fingers had fairly vanished, other men had come in from the
adjoining compartments; one pushed his way to the front.

"I am a medical man," he said curtly.  "Make way, please."

The other men stood silently watching while the new-comer made a hasty
examination of the still figure.  He turned sharply.

"This man's dead!" he said in quick, matter-of-fact tones.  "Is anyone
with him?"

The train officials glanced at Hetherwick.  But Hetherwick shook his
head.

"I don't know him," he answered.  "There was another man with him--they
got in together at St. James's Park.  You saw the other man," he
continued, turning to the conductor.  "He jumped out as you came in
here, and ran up the stairs, saying that he was going for some doctor,
close by."

"I saw him--heard him, too," assented the conductor.  He glanced at the
stairs and the exit beyond.  "But he ain't come back," he added.

"You had better get the man out," said the doctor.  "Bring him in to
some place on the platform."

A station policeman had come up by that time; he and the railwaymen
lifted the dead man and carried him across the platform to a
waiting-room.  Hetherwick, feeling that he would be wanted, followed in
the rear, the doctor with him.  It struck Hetherwick with grim irony
that as soon as they were off it, the train went on, as if careless and
indifferent.

"Good heavens!" he muttered, more to himself than to the man at his
side.  "That poor fellow was alive, and, as far as I could see, in the
very best of health and spirits, five minutes ago!"

"No doubt!" observed the doctor dryly.  "But he's dead now.  What
happened?"

Hetherwick told him briefly.

"And the other man's--gone!" remarked the doctor.  "Um!  But I suppose
nobody thought of detaining him.  Now--if he doesn't come back--eh?"

"You don't suspect foul play?" exclaimed Hetherwick.

"The circumstances are odd," said his companion.  "I should say the man
just died!  Died as suddenly as man can die--as if he'd been shot dead
or literally blown to fragments.  That's from what you tell me, you
know.  And it may be--a case of poisoning.  Will that other man come
back?  If not----"

By that time Hetherwick was beginning to wonder if the other man would
come back.  He had not come at the end of ten minutes; nor of fifteen;
nor of thirty.  But other men had come, hurrying into the drab-walled
waiting-room and gathering about the table on which the dead man had
been laid.  They were mostly officials and police, and presently a
police surgeon arrived and with him a police inspector, one
Matherfield, who knew Hetherwick.  While the two doctors made another
examination, this man drew Hetherwick aside.  Hetherwick retold his
story; this time with full details.  Matherfield listened and shook his
head.

"That second man won't come back!" he said.  "Gone half an hour now.
Do you think he knew the man was dead before he cleared out?"

"I can't say," replied Hetherwick.  "The whole thing was so quick that
it was all over before I could realise what was happening.  I certainly
saw the other man give the dead man a quick, close inspection.  Then he
literally jumped for the door--he was out of it and running up the
stairs before the train had come to a definite stop."

"You can describe him, Mr. Hetherwick?" suggested the inspector.

"Describe him?--yes.  And identify him, too," asserted Hetherwick.  "He
was a man of certain notable features.  I should know him again,
anywhere."

"Well, we'll have to look for him," said Matherfield.  "And now we'll
have to take this dead man to the mortuary and have a thorough
examination and see what he's got on him.  You'd better come, Mr.
Hetherwick--in fact, I shall want you."

Hetherwick went--in the tail of a sombre procession, himself and the
two medical men walking together.  He had to tell his tale again, to
the police surgeon; that functionary, like all the rest who had heard
the story, shook his head ominously over the disappearance of the
sallow-faced man.

"All an excuse, that," he said.  "There's no doctor close by.  You
didn't get any idea--from their conversation, I mean--of the dead man's
identity?  Any name mentioned?"

"I heard no name mentioned," answered Hetherwick.  "They didn't address
each other by name.  I've no idea who the man is."

That was what he wanted to know.  Somewhere, of course, this dead man
had friends.  He had spoken of his hotel--there, perhaps, somebody was
awaiting his coming; somebody to whom the news of his death would come
as a great shock, perhaps, and terrible trouble.  And he waited with a
feeling that was little short of personal anxiety while the police
searched the dead man's pockets.

The various articles which were presently laid out on a side-table were
many.  There was a purse, well stocked with money; there was loose
money in the pockets.  There was a handsome gold watch and a heavy
chain and locket.  There was a pocket-book, stuffed with letters and
papers.  And there were all the things that a well-provided man
carries--a cigar-case, a silver matchbox, a silver pencil-case, a
pen-knife, and so on; clearly, the dead man had been in comfortable
circumstances.  But the articles of value were brushed aside by the
inspector; his immediate concern was with the contents of the
pocket-book, from which he hastened to take out the letters.  A second
later he turned to Hetherwick and the two doctors, nodding his head
sidewise at the still figure on the table.

"This'll be the name and address," he said, pointing to the envelopes
in his hand.  "Mr. Robert Hannaford, Malter's Private Hotel, Surrey
Street, Strand.  Several letters, you see, addressed there, and all of
recent date.  We'll have to go there--there may be his wife and people
of his there.  Wonder who he was?--somebody from the provinces, most
likely.  Well----"

He laid down the letters and picked up the watch--a fine gold-cased
hunter--and released the back.  Within that was an inscription,
engraved in delicate lettering.  The inspector let out an exclamation.

"Ah!" he said.  "I half suspected that from his appearance.  One of
ourselves!  Look at this--'_Presented to Superintendent Robert
Hannaford, on his retirement, by the Magistrates of Sellithwaite_.'
Sellithwaite, eh?--where's that, now?"

"Yorkshire," replied one of the men standing close by.  "South-West
Riding."

Matherfield closed the watch and laid it by.

"Well," he remarked, "that's evidently who he is--ex-Superintendent
Hannaford, of Sellithwaite, Yorkshire, stopping at Malter's Hotel.
I'll have to go round there.  Mr. Hetherwick, as you were the last man
to see him alive, I wish you'd go with me--it's on your way to the
Temple."

Something closely corresponding to curiosity, not morbid, but
compelling, made Hetherwick accede to this request.  Presently he and
Matherfield walked along the Embankment together, talking of what had
just happened and speculating on the cause of Hannaford's sudden death.

"We may know the exact reason by noon," remarked Matherfield.
"There'll be a post-mortem, of course.  But that other man!--we may get
to know something about him here.  And I wonder whom we shall find
here?  Hope it's not his wife...."



CHAPTER II

WHOSE PORTRAIT IS THIS?

Malter himself opened the door of his small private hotel; a quiet,
reserved man who looked like a retired butler.  He was the sort of man
who is slow of speech, and he had not replied to Matherfield's guarded
inquiry about Mr. Robert Hannaford when a door in the little hall
opened, and a girl appeared, who, hearing the inspector's question,
immediately came forward as if in answer.

Hetherwick recognised this girl.  He had seen her only the previous
afternoon in Fountain Court, in company with a man whom he knew
slightly--Kenthwaite, a fellow-barrister.  Kenthwaite, evidently, was
doing the honours--showing her round the Temple; Hetherwick, in fact,
in passing them, had overheard Kenthwaite telling his companion
something of the history of the old houses and courts around them.  And
the girl had attracted him then.  She was a pretty girl, tall, slim,
graceful, and in addition to her undoubted charm of face and figure,
she looked to have more than an average share of character and
intelligence, and was listening to her guide with obvious interest and
appreciation.  Hetherwick had set her down as being, perhaps, a country
cousin of Kenthwaite's, visiting London, maybe, for the first time.
Anyhow, in merely passing her and Kenthwaite he had noticed her so
closely that he now recognised her at once; he saw, too, that she
recognised him.  But there was another matter more pressing than
that--and she had gone straight to it.

"Are these gentlemen asking for my grandfather?" she inquired, coming
still nearer and glancing from the hotel proprietor to the two callers.
"He's not come in----"

Hetherwick was glad to hear that the dead man was the girl's
grandfather.  Certainly it was a close relationship, but, after all,
not so close as it might have been.  And he was conscious that the
inspector was relieved, too.

"We're asking about Mr. Robert Hannaford," he said.  "Is he your
grandfather--ex-Superintendent Hannaford, of Sellithwaite?  Just
so--well, I'm very sorry to bring bad news about him----"

He broke off, watching the girl keenly, as if he wanted to make sure
that she would take the news quietly.  And evidently reassured on that
point, he suddenly went on definitely:

"You'll understand?" he said.  "It's--well, the worst news.  The fact
is----"

"Is my grandfather dead?" interrupted the girl.  "If that's it, please
say so--I shan't faint, or anything of that sort.  But--I want to know!"

"I'm sorry to say he is dead," replied Matherfield.  "He died suddenly
in the train at Charing Cross.  A seizure, no doubt.  Was he well when
you saw him last?"

The girl turned to the hotel proprietor, who was standing by, evidently
amazed.

"Never saw a gentleman look better or seem better in my life than he
did when he went out of that door at half-past six o'clock!" he
exclaimed.  "Best of health and spirits!"

"My grandfather was quite well," said the girl quietly.  "I never
remember him being anything else but well--he was a very strong,
vigorous man.  Will you please tell me all about it?"

Matherfield told all about it, turning now and then to Hetherwick for
corroboration.  In the end he put a question.

"This man that Mr. Hetherwick saw in your grandfather's company?" he
suggested.  "Do you recognise anyone from that description?"

"No!--no one," answered the girl.  "But my grandfather knew people in
London whom I don't know.  He has been going about a good deal since we
came here, three days ago--looking out for a house."

"Well, we shall have to find that man," remarked Matherfield.  "Of
course, if you'd recognised the description as that of somebody known
to you----"

"No," she said again.  "I know nobody like that.  But now--do you wish
me to go with you--to him?"

"It's not necessary--I wouldn't to-night, if I were you," replied
Matherfield.  "I'll call again in the morning.  Meanwhile, leave
matters to us and the doctors.  You've friends in London, I suppose?"

"Yes, we have friends--relations, in fact," said the girl.  "I must let
them know at once."

Matherfield nodded and turned to the door.  But Hetherwick lingered.
He and the girl were looking at each other.  He suddenly spoke.

"I saw you this afternoon," he said, "in Fountain Court, with a man
whom I know slightly, Mr. Kenthwaite.  Is he, by any chance, one of the
relations you mentioned just now?  Because, if so, he lives close by
me.  I can tell him, if you wish."

"No," she answered, "not a relative.  We know him.  You might tell him,
if you please, and if it's no trouble."

"No trouble at all," said Hetherwick.  "And--if I may--I hope you'll
let me call in the morning to hear if there's anything I can do for
you?"

The girl gave him a quick, responsive glance.

"That's very kind of you," she said.  "Yes."

Hetherwick and the police inspector left the little hotel and walked up
the street.  Matherfield seemed to be in a brown study.  Somewhere up
in the Strand and farther away down Fleet Street the clocks began
striking.

"Seems to me," exclaimed Matherfield suddenly, "seems to me, Mr.
Hetherwick, this is--murder!"

"You mean poison?" said Hetherwick.

"Likely!  Why, yes, of course, it would be poison.  We must have that
man!  You can't add to your description of him?"

"You've already got everything that I can tell.  Pretty full and
accurate, too.  I should say you oughtn't to have much difficulty in
laying hands on him--from my description."

Matherfield made a sound that was half a laugh and half a groan.

"Lord bless you!" he said.  "It's like seeking a needle in a bundle of
hay, searching for a given man in London!  I mean, of course,
sometimes.  More often than not, in fact.  Here's this chap rushes up
the stairs at Charing Cross, vanishes--where?  One man amongst seven
millions of men and women!  However----"

Then they parted, and Hetherwick, full of thought, went home to his
chambers and to bed, and lay equally thoughtful for a long time before
he went to sleep.  He made a poor night of it, but soon after eight
o'clock he was in Kenthwaite's chambers.  Kenthwaite was dressing and
breakfasting at the same time--a ready-packed brief bag and an open
time-table suggested that he was in a hurry to catch a train.  But he
suspended his operations to stare, open-mouthed, wide-eyed at
Hetherwick's news.

"Hannaford!--dead!" he exclaimed.  "Great Scott!--why, he was as fit as
a fiddle at noon yesterday, Hetherwick!  He and his grand daughter
called on me, and I took 'em to lunch--I come from Sellithwaite, you
know, so of course I knew them.  Hannaford had to go as soon as we'd
lunched--some appointment--so I showed the girl round a bit.  Nice
girl, that--clever.  Name of Rhona.  Worth cultivating.  And the old
man's dead!  Bless me!"

"I don't think there's much doubt about foul play," observed Hetherwick.

"Looks uncommonly like it," said Kenthwaite.  He went on with his
double task.  "Well," he added, "sorry, but I can't be of any use to
Miss Hannaford to-day--got to go down to a beastly Quarter Sessions
case, my boy, and precious little time to catch my train.  But
to-morrow--perhaps you can give 'm a hand this morning?"

"Yes," answered Hetherwick.  "I'm doing nothing.  I'll go round there
after a while.  I'm interested naturally.  It's a queer case."

"Queer!  Seems so, rather," assented Kenthwaite.  "Well--give Miss
Hannaford my sympathy and all that, and tell her that if there's
anything I can do when I get back--you know what to say."

"She said she'd relations here in London," remarked Hetherwick.

"Cousins--aunts--something or other--over Tooting way, I think," agreed
Kenthwaite.  "Twenty past eight!--Hetherwick, I'll have to rush for it!"

He swallowed the last of his coffee, seized the bag and darted away;
Hetherwick went back to his own chambers and breakfasted leisurely.
And all the time he sat there he was pondering over the event of the
previous midnight, and especially upon the sudden disappearance of the
man with the stained fingers.  To Hetherwick that disappearance seemed
to argue guilt.  He figured it in this way--the man who ran away at
Charing Cross had poisoned this other man in some clever and subtle
fashion, by means of something which took a certain time to take
effect, and, when that time arrived, did its work with amazing
swiftness.  Hetherwick, in his war service, had seen men die more times
than he cared to remember.  He had seen some men shot through the
brain; he had seen others shot through the heart.  But he had never
seen any of these men--some of them shot at his very side--die with the
extraordinary quickness with which Hannaford had died.  And he came to
a conclusion: if the man with the stained fingers had poisoned
Hannaford, then he was somebody who had a rare and a profound knowledge
of poisons.

He went round to Surrey Street at ten o'clock.  Miss Hannaford, said
the hotel proprietor, had gone with her aunt, a Mrs. Keeley, who had
come early that morning, to see her grandfather's dead body--some
police official had fetched them.  But she had left a message for
anyone who called--that she would not be long away.  And Hetherwick
waited in the little dingy coffee-room; there were certain questions
that he wanted to put to Rhona Hannaford, also he wanted to give her
certain information.

"Very sad case this, sir," observed the hotel proprietor, hovering
about his breakfast-tables.  "Cruel end for a fine healthy gentleman
like Mr. Hannaford!"

"Very sad," agreed Hetherwick.  "You said last night--or, rather, this
morning--that Mr. Hannaford was in good health and spirits when he went
out early in the evening?"

"The best, sir!  He was a cheery, affable gentleman--fond of his joke.
Joked and laughed with me as I opened the door for him--never thinking,
sir, as I should never see him again alive!"

"You don't know where he was going?"

"I don't, sir.  And his granddaughter--clever young lady, that,
sir--she don't know, neither.  She went to a theatre, along of her
aunt, the lady that came early this morning.  We wired the bad news to
her first thing, and she came along at once.  But him--no, I don't know
where he went to spend his evening.  Been in and out, and mostly out,
ever since they were here, three days ago.  House-hunting, so I
understood."

Rhona Hannaford presently returned, in company with a motherly-looking
woman whom she introduced as her aunt, Mrs. Keeley.  Then Hetherwick
remembered that he had not introduced himself; rectifying that
omission, he found that Kenthwaite had told Rhona who he was when he
passed them the previous afternoon.  He delivered Kenthwaite's message
and in his absence offered his own services.

"It's very good of you," said Rhona.  "I don't know that there's
anything to do.  The police seem to be doing everything--the inspector
who was here last night was very kind just now, but, as he said,
there's nothing to be done until after the inquest."

"Yes," said Hetherwick.  "And that is--did he say when?"

"To-morrow morning.  He said I should have to go," replied Rhona.

"So shall I," observed Hetherwick.  "They'll only want formal evidence
from you.  I shall have to say more.  I wish I could say more than I
shall have to say."

The two women glanced at him inquiringly.

"I mean," he continued, "that I wish I had stopped the other man from
leaving the train.  I suppose you have not heard anything from the
police about him--that man?"

"Nothing.  They had not found him or heard of him up to just now.  But
you can tell me something that I very much want to know.  You saw this
man with my grandfather for some little time, didn't you?"

"From St. James's Park to Charing Cross."

"Did you overhear their conversation, or any of it?"

"A good deal--at first.  Afterwards, your grandfather began to whisper,
and I heard nothing of that.  But one reason I had for calling upon you
this morning was that I might tell you what I did overhear, and another
that I might ask you some questions arising out of what I heard.  Mr.
Hannaford was talking to this man, now missing, about some portrait or
photograph.  Evidently it was of a lady whom he, your grandfather, had
known ten years ago; whom the other man had also known.  Your
grandfather said that when they got to his hotel he would show the
portrait to the other man who, he asserted, would be sure to recognise
it.  Now, had Mr. Hannaford said anything to you?  Do you know anything
about his bringing any friend of his to this hotel last night?  And do
you know anything about any portrait or photograph such as that to
which he referred?"

"About bringing anyone here--no!  He never said anything to me about
it.  But about a photograph, or rather about a print of one--yes.  I do
know something about that."

"What?" asked Hetherwick eagerly.

"Well, this," she answered.  "My grandfather, who, as I dare say you
know by this time, was for a good many years Superintendent of Police
at Sellithwaite, had a habit of cutting things out of
newspapers--paragraphs, accounts of criminal trials, and so on.  He had
several boxes full of such cuttings.  When we were coming to town the
other day I saw him cut a photograph out of some illustrated paper he
was reading in the train, and put it away in his pocket-book--in a
pocket-book, I ought to say, for he had two or three pocket-books.
This morning I was looking through various things which he had left
lying about on his dressing-table upstairs, and in one of his
pocket-books I found the photograph which he cut out in the train.
That must be the one you mention--it's of a very handsome,
distinguished-looking woman."

"If I may see it----" suggested Hetherwick.

Within a couple of minutes he had the cutting in his hand--a scrap of
paper, neatly snipped out of its surrounding letterpress, which was a
print of a photograph of a woman of apparently thirty-five to forty
years of age, evidently of high position, and certainly, as Rhona
Hannaford had remarked, of handsome and distinguished features.  But it
was not at the photograph that Hetherwick gazed with eyes into which
surmise and speculation were beginning to steal; after a mere glance at
it, his attention fixed itself on some pencilled words on the margin at
its sides:

"_Through my hands ten years ago!_"


"Is that your grandfather's writing?" he inquired suddenly.

"Yes, that's his," replied Rhona.  "He had a habit of pencilling notes
and comments on his cuttings--all sorts of remarks."

"He didn't mention this particular cutting to you when he cut it out?"

"No--he said nothing about it.  I saw him cut it out, and heard him
chuckle as he put it away, but he said--nothing."

"You don't know who this lady is?"

"Oh, no!  You see, there's no name beneath it.  I suppose there was in
the paper, but he cut out nothing but the picture and the bit of
margin.  But from what he's written there, I conclude that this is a
portrait of some woman who had been in trouble with the police at some
time or other."

"Obvious!" muttered Hetherwick.  He sat silently inspecting the picture
for a minute or two.

"Look here," he said suddenly, "I want you to let me help in trying to
get at the bottom of this--naturally you want to have it cleared up.
And to begin with, let me have this cutting, and for the present don't
tell anyone--I mean the police or any inquirers--that I have it.  I'd
like to have a talk about it to Kenthwaite.  You understand?  As I was
present at your grandfather's death, I'd like to solve the mystery of
it.  If you'll leave this to me----"

"Oh, yes!" replied Rhona.  "But--you think there has been foul
play?--that he didn't die a natural death?--that it wasn't just heart
failure or----"

The door of the little coffee-room was opened and Matherfield looked
in.  Seeing Hetherwick there, he beckoned him into the hall, closing
the door again as the young barrister joined him.  Hetherwick saw that
he was full of news, and instantly thought of the man with the stained
fingers.

"Well?" he said eagerly, "laid your hands on that fellow?"

"Oh, him?--no!" answered Matherfield.  "Not a word or sign of him--so
far!  But the doctors have finished their post-mortem.  And there's no
doubt about their verdict.  Poisoned!"

Matherfield sank his voice to a whisper as he spoke the last word.  And
Hetherwick, ready though he was for the news, started when he got
it--the definiteness of the announcement seemed like opening a window
upon a vista of obscured and misty distances.  He glanced at the door
behind him.

"Of course, they'll have to be told, in there," said Matherfield,
interpreting his thoughts.  "But the thing's certain.  Our surgeon
suspected it from the first, and he got a Home Office specialist to
help at the autopsy--they say the man was poisoned by some drug or
other--I don't understand these things--that had been administered to
him two or three hours before he died, and that when it did work,
worked with absolutely lightning-like effect."

"Yes," muttered Hetherwick thoughtfully.  "Lightning-like effect--good
phrase.  I can testify that it did that!"

Matherfield laid a hand on the door.

"Well," he said, "I'd better tell these ladies.  Then--there are things
I want to know from the granddaughter.  I've seen her--and her
aunt--before this morning.  I found out that Hannaford brought up and
educated this girl, and that she lived with him in Sellithwaite since
she left school, so she'll know more about him than anybody.  And I
want to learn all I can.  Come in with me."



CHAPTER III

THE POTENTIAL FORTUNE

Elder and younger woman alike took Matherfield's intimation quietly.
Rhona made no remark.  But Mrs. Keeley spoke impulsively.

"There never was a more popular man than he was--with everybody!" she
exclaimed.  "Who should want to take his life?"

"That's just what we've got to find out, ma'am," said Matherfield.
"And I want to know as much as I can---I dare say Miss Hannaford can
tell me a lot.  Now, let's see what we do know from what you told me
this morning.  Mr. Hannaford had been Superintendent of Police at
Sellithwaite for some years.  He had recently retired on his pension.
He proposed to live in London, and you and he, Miss Hannaford, came to
London to look for a suitable house, arrived three days ago, and put up
at this hotel.  That's all correct?  Very good--now then, let me hear
all about his movements during the last three days.  What did he do?
Where did he spend his time?"

"I can't tell you much," answered Rhona.  "He was out most of the day,
and generally by himself.  I was only out with him twice--once when we
went to do some shopping, another time when we called on Mr. Kenthwaite
at his rooms in the Temple.  I understood he was looking for a
house--seeing house agents and so on.  He was out morning, afternoon
and evening."

"Did he never tell you anything about where he'd been, or whom he'd
seen?"

"No.  He was the sort of man who keeps things to himself.  I have no
idea where he went nor whom he saw."

"Didn't say anything about where he was going last night?"

"No.  He only said that he was going out and that I should find him
here when I got back from the theatre, to which I was going with Mrs.
Keeley.  We got back here soon after eleven.  But he hadn't come in--as
you know."

"You never heard him speak of having enemies?"

"I should think he hadn't an enemy in the world!  He was a very kind
man and very popular, even with the people he had to deal with as a
police-superintendent."

"And I suppose he'd no financial worries--anything of that sort?  Nor
any other troubles--nothing to bother him?"

"I don't think he'd a care in the world," said Rhona confidently.  "He
was looking forward with real zest to settling down in London.  And as
to financial worries, he'd none.  He was well off."

"Always a saving, careful man," remarked Mrs. Keeley.  "Oh, yes, quite
well off--apart from his pension."

Matherfield glanced at Hetherwick, who had listened carefully to all
that was asked and answered.  Something in the glance seemed to invite
him to take a hand.

"This occurs to me," said Hetherwick.  He turned to Rhona.  "Apart from
this house-hunting, do you know whether your grandfather had any
business affair in hand in London?  What I'm thinking of is this--from
what I saw of him in the train, he appeared to be an active, energetic
man, not the sort of man who, because he'd retired, would sit down in
absolute idleness.  Do you know of anything that he thought of
undertaking--any business he thought of joining?"

Rhona considered this question for a while.

"Not any business," she replied at last.  "But there is something that
may have to do with what you suggest.  My grandfather had a hobby.  He
experimented in his spare time."

"What in?" asked Hetherwick.  Then he suddenly remembered the stained
fingers that he had noticed on the hands of both men the night before.
"Was it chemicals?" he added quickly.

"Yes, in chemicals," she answered with a look of surprise.  "How did
you know that?"

"I noticed that his hands and fingers were stained," replied
Hetherwick.  "So were those of the man he was with.  Well--but this
something?"

"He had a little laboratory in our garden at Sellithwaite," she
continued.  "He spent all his spare time in it--he'd done that for
years.  Lately, I know, he'd been trying to invent or discover
something--I don't know what.  But just before we left Sellithwaite, he
told me that he'd solved the problem, and when he was sorting out and
packing up his papers he showed me a sealed envelope in which he said
were the particulars of his big discovery--he said there was a
potential fortune in it and that he should die a rich man.  I saw him
put that envelope in a pocket-book which he always carried with him."

"That would be the pocket-book I examined last night," said
Matherfield.  "There was no sealed envelope, nor one of which any seal
had been broken, in that.  There was nothing but letters, receipts and
unimportant papers."

"It is not in his other pocket-books," declared Rhona.  "I went through
all his things myself very early this morning--through everything that
he had here.  I know that he had that envelope yesterday--he pulled out
some things from his pocket when we were lunching with Mr. Kenthwaite
in a restaurant in Fleet Street, and I saw the envelope.  It was a
stout, square envelope, across the front of which he had drawn two
thick red lines, and it was heavily sealed with black sealing-wax at
the back."

"That was yesterday, you say?" asked Matherfield sharply.  "Yesterday
noon?  Just so!  Then as he had it yesterday at noon, and as it wasn't
in his pockets last night and is not among his effects in this house,
it's very clear that between, say, two o'clock yesterday and midnight
he parted with it.  Now then, to whom?  That's a thing we've just got
to find out!  But you're sure he wasn't joking when he told you that
this discovery, or invention, or whatever it was, was worth a potential
fortune?"

"On the contrary, he was very serious," replied Rhona.  "Unusually
serious for him.  He wouldn't tell me what it was, nor give me any
particulars--all he said was that he'd solved a problem and hit on a
discovery that he'd worked over for years, and that the secret was in
that envelope and worth no end of money.  I asked him what he meant by
no end of money and he said: 'Well, at any rate, a hundred thousand
pounds--in time.'"

The two men exchanged glances; silence fell on the whole group.

"Oh!" said Matherfield at last.  "A secret worth a hundred thousand
pounds--in time.  This will have to be looked into--narrowly.  What do
you think, Mr. Hetherwick?"

"Yes," answered Hetherwick.  "You've no idea, of course, as to whether
your grandfather had done anything about putting this discovery on the
market--or made any arrangement about selling it?  No!  Well, can you
tell me this: What sort of house did your grandfather want to rent here
in London?  I mean, do you know what rent he was prepared to pay?"

"I can answer that," remarked Mrs. Keeley.  "He told me he wanted a
good house--a real good one--in a convenient suburb, and he was willing
to go up to three hundred a year."

"Three hundred a year," said Hetherwick.  He exchanged a meaning glance
with Matherfield.  "That," he added, "looks as if he felt assured of a
considerable income, and as though he had already realised on his
discovery or was very certain of doing so."

"To be sure," agreed Matherfield.  "Of course, I don't know what his
private means were, but I know what his retiring pension would be--and
three hundred a year for rent alone means--a good deal!  Um!--we'll
have to endeavour to trace that sealed envelope."

"It seems to me, Matherfield," observed Hetherwick, "that the first
thing to do is to trace Hannaford's movements last night, from the time
he left this hotel until his death in the train."

"We're at that already," replied Matherfield.  "We've a small army of
men at work.  But as we want all the help we can get, I'm going to stir
up the newspaper men, Mr. Hetherwick--the Press, sir, is always
valuable in this sort of thing!--and I want Miss Hannaford, if she's
got one, to give me a recent photograph of her grandfather so that it
can appear in the papers.  Somebody, you know, may recognise
it--somebody who saw him last night with somebody else."

Rhona had a new photograph of the dead man, taken in plain clothes just
before he left Sellithwaite, and she gave Matherfield some copies of
it.  Reproductions appeared in the _Meteor_ and other evening papers
that night, and in some of the dailies next morning.  And, as a result,
a man came forward at the inquest, a few hours later, who declared with
positive assurance that he had seen Hannaford early in the evening of
the murder.  His appearance was the only sensational thing about these
necessarily only preliminary proceedings before the coroner; until he
stepped forward nothing had transpired with which Hetherwick was not
already familiar.  There had been his own evidence; somewhat to his
surprise neither coroner nor police seemed to pay much attention to his
account of the conversation about the woman's portrait; they appeared
to regard Hannaford's observations as a bit of garrulous reminiscence
about some criminal or other.  There had been Rhona's--a repetition of
what she had told Matherfield and Hetherwick at Matter's Hotel: police
and coroner evidently fixed on the missing sealed envelope and its
mysterious secret as a highly important factor in the case.  Then there
had been the expert testimony of the two doctors as to the cause of
death--that had been confined to positive declarations that Hannaford
died from the administration of some subtle poison, the exact details
being left over until experts could tell more at the adjourned
proceedings.  And the coroner was about to adjourn for a fortnight when
a man, who had entered the court and been in conversation with the
officials, was put into the witness-box to tell a story which certainly
added information and, at the same time, accentuated mystery.

This man was a highly-respectable person in appearance, middle-aged,
giving the name of Martin Charles Ledbitter, manager of an insurance
office in Westminster, and residing at Sutton, in Surrey.  It was his
habit, he said, to travel every evening from Victoria to Sutton by the
7.20 train.  As a rule he arrived at Victoria just before seven and
took a cup of tea in the refreshment-room.  He did this on the night
before last.  While he was drinking his tea at the counter, an elderly
man came in and stood by him, whom he was sure beyond doubt was the
same man whose photograph was reproduced in some of last night's and
some of this morning's newspapers.  He had no doubt whatever about
this.  He first noticed the man's stained fingers as he took up the
glass of whisky-and-soda which he had ordered; he had, at the time,
wondered at the contrast between those fingers and the general
spick-and-spanness of the man and his smart attire; also he had noticed
his gold-headed walking-cane and that the head was fashioned like a
crown.  They stood side by side for some minutes, then the man went
out.  A minute or two later he saw him again--this time at the
right-hand side bookstall; he was there obviously looking out for
somebody.

This was the point where the interest really began; everybody in court
strained eyes and ears as the coroner put a direct question.

"Looking out for somebody?  Did you see him meet anybody?"

"I did!"

"Tell me what you saw."

"I saw this.  When I approached the bookstall, to buy some evening
papers, the man whom I had seen in the refreshment-room was standing
close by.  He was looking about him, but chiefly at the entrances to
the big space between the offices and the platforms.  Once or twice he
looked at his watch.  It was then--by the station clock--about ten
minutes past seven.  He seemed impatient; he moved restlessly about.  I
passed him and went to the bookstall.  When I turned round again he was
standing a few yards away, shaking hands with another man.  From the
way in which they shook hands, I concluded that they were old friends,
who perhaps had not seen each other for some time."

"Their greeting was cordial?"

"I should call it effusive."

"Can you describe the other man?"

"I can describe a sort of general impression of both.  He was a tall
man, taller than Hannaford, but not so broadly built.  He wore a dark
ulster overcoat, with a strap at the back; it was either a very dark
blue or a black in colour.  He had a silk hat--new and glossy.  He gave
me the impression of being a smartly-dressed man--smart boots and
gloves and that sort of thing--you know the general impression you get
at a quick glance.  But as to his features, I can't tell you anything."

"Why not?" asked the coroner.

"Because, to begin with, he wore an unusually large pair of blue
spectacles, which completely veiled his eyes, and to end with, his
throat and chin were swathed in a heavy white muffler, which covered
the lower part of his face as well.  Between the rim of his hat and the
collar of his coat it was all muffler and spectacles!"

The coroner looked disappointed.  His interest in the witness seemed to
evaporate.

"Did you notice anything else?" he asked.

"Only that the new-comer took Hannaford's arm and that they walked away
towards the left-hand entrance hall, evidently in earnest conversation.
That was the last I saw of them."

"There's just one question I should like to put to you in conclusion,"
said the coroner.  "You say that you are confident that the photograph
in the newspapers is that of the man you saw at Victoria.  Now, have
you seen the dead man's body?"

"I have.  The police took me to see it when I volunteered my evidence."

"And you recognised it as that of the man you saw?"

"Without doubt!  There is no question of that in my mind."

Five minutes later the inquest stood adjourned, and those chiefly
concerned gathered together in the emptying court to discuss the
voluntary witness's evidence.  Matherfield manifested an almost
cheerful optimism.

"This is better!--much better," he declared, rubbing his hands as if in
anticipation of laying them on something.  "We know now that Hannaford
met, at any rate, two men that night.  It's easier to find two men than
one!"

Rhona, whom Hetherwick had escorted to the coroner's court, looked her
astonishment.  "How can that be?" she asked.

"Mr. Hetherwick understands," answered Matherfield with a laugh.
"He'll tell you."

But Hetherwick said nothing.  He was always wondering--always
wondering--about the woman whose picture lay in his pocket.



CHAPTER IV

THE DIAMOND NECKLACE

The conviction that there was more than met the eye in Hannaford's
cutting out and putting away the handsome and distinguished woman's
photograph grew mightily in Hetherwick's mind during the next few days.
He recalled all that Hannaford had said about it in the train in those
few short minutes before his sudden death.  Why had he been so keen
about showing it to the other man?  Was he taking the other man
specially to his hotel to show it to him--at that time of night?  Why
did the recollections which his possession of it brought up afford
him--obviously--so much interest and, it seemed, amusement?  And what,
exactly, was meant by the pencilled words in the margin of the
cutting?--_Through my hands ten years ago_!  Under what circumstances
had this woman been through Hannaford's hands?  And who was she?  The
more he thought of it, the more Hetherwick was convinced that there was
more importance in this matter than the police attached to it.  They
had proved utterly indifferent to Hetherwick's account of the
conversation in the train--that, said Matherfield, with official
superiority, was nothing but a bit of chat, reminiscence, recollection,
on the ex-superintendent's part; old men, he said, were fond of talking
about incidents of the past.  The only significance Matherfield saw in
it was that it seemed to argue that whoever the man who had disappeared
was, he and Hannaford had known each other ten years ago.

At the end of a week the police had heard nothing of this man.  Nor had
they made any discovery in respect of the other man whom Ledbitter
swore he had seen with Hannaford at Victoria.  The best Scotland Yard
hands had been hard and continuously at work, and had brought nothing
to light.  Only one person had seen the first man after he darted up
the stairs of Charing Cross calling out that he was going for a doctor;
this was a policeman on duty at the front of the Underground Station.
He had seen the man run out; had watched him run at top speed up
Villiers Street, and had thought no more of it than that he was some
belated passenger hurrying to catch a last bus in the Strand.  But with
that, all news and trace of him vanished.  Of the tall man in the big
blue spectacles and white muffler there never was any trace, nor any
news beyond Ledbitter's.  Yet Ledbitter was a thoroughly dependable
witness, and there was no doubt that he had seen Hannaford in this
man's company.  So, without question, Hannaford, during his last few
hours of life, had been with two men--neither of whom could be found.
Within twenty-four hours of his death several men came forward
voluntarily who had had dealings or conversation with Hannaford since
his arrival in London.  But there was a significant fact about the news
which any of them could give--not one knew anything of the tall man
seen by Ledbitter, or of the shabby man seen by Hetherwick, or of the
secret which Hannaford carried in his sealed packet.  The story of that
sealed packet had been told plentifully in the newspapers--but nobody
came forward who knew anything about it.  And when a week had elapsed
after the ex-Superintendent's burial, the whole mystery of his
undoubted murder seemed likely to become one of the many which are
never solved.

But Hetherwick was becoming absorbed in this affair into which he had
been so curiously thrown head-first.  He had leisure on his hands;
also, he was well off in this world's goods, and much more concerned
with the psychology of his profession than with a desire to earn money
by its practice.  From the moment in which he heard that the doctors
had found that Hannaford had been poisoned, he felt that here was a
murder mystery at the bottom of which he must get--it fascinated him.
And all through his speculations and theorisings about it, he was
obsessed by the picture in his pocket.  Who was that woman--and what
did the dead man remember about her?

Suddenly, one morning, after a visit from Matherfield, who looked in at
his chambers casually, to tell him that the police had discovered
nothing, Hetherwick put on his hat and went round to Surrey Street.  He
found Rhona Hannaford busy in preparing to leave Maker's Hotel: she was
going to live, for a time at any rate, with Mrs. Keeley.  Hetherwick
went straight to the matter that had brought him.

"That print of a woman's photograph which your grandfather had in his
pocket-book," he said, "and that's now in mine.  Out of what paper did
he cut it?--a newspaper, evidently."

"Yes, but I don't know what paper," answered Rhona.  "All I know is
that it was a paper which he got by post, the morning that he left
Sellithwaite.  We were just leaving for the station when the post came.
He put his letters and papers--there were several things--in his
overcoat pocket, and opened them in the train.  It was somewhere on the
way to London that he cut out that picture.  He threw the paper
away--with others.  He had a habit of buying a lot of papers, and used
to cut out paragraphs."

"Well--I suppose it can be traced," muttered Hetherwick, thinking
aloud.  He glanced at the evidences of Rhona's departure.  "So you're
going to live with your aunt?" he said.

"For a time--yes," she answered.

"I hope you'll let me call?" suggested Hetherwick.  "I'm awfully
interested in this affair, and I may be able to tell you something
about it."

"We'd be pleased," she replied.  "I'll give you the address.  I don't
intend to be idle though--unless you call in the evening, you'll
probably find me out."

"What are you thinking of doing?" he asked.

"I think of going in for secretarial work," she answered.  "As a matter
of fact, I had a training for that, in Sellithwaite.  Typewriting,
correspondence, accounts, French, German--I'm pretty well equipped."

"Don't think me inquisitive," said Hetherwick, suddenly.  "I hope your
grandfather hasn't forgotten you in his will--I heard he'd left one!"

"Thank you," replied Rhona.  "He hasn't.  He left me everything.  I've
got about three hundred a year--rather more.  But that's no reason why
I should sit down, and do nothing, is it?"

"Good!" said Hetherwick.  "But--if that sealed packet could be found?
What was worth a hundred thousand to him, would be worth a hundred
thousand to his sole legatee.  Worth finding!"

"I wonder if anything will be found?" she answered.  "The whole thing's
a mystery that I'm not even on the edge of solving."

"Time!" said Hetherwick.  "And--patience."

He went away presently, and strolled round to Brick Court, where
Kenthwaite had his chambers.

"Doing anything?" he asked, as he walked in.

"Nothing," replied Kenthwaite.  "Go ahead!"

Hetherwick sat down, and lighted his pipe.

"You know Sellithwaite, don't you?" he asked when he had got his
tobacco well going.  "Your town, eh?"

"Born and bred there, and engaged to a girl there," replied Kenthwaite.
"Ought to!  What about Sellithwaite?"

"Were you there ten years ago?" demanded Hetherwick.

"Ten years ago?  No--except in the holidays.  I was at school ten years
ago.  Why?"

"Do you remember any police case at Sellithwaite about that time in
which a very handsome woman was concerned--probably as defendant?"

"No!  But I was more interested in cricket than in crime, in those
days.  Are you thinking about the woman Hannaford spoke of in the train
to the chap they can't come across?"

"I am!  Seems to me there's more in that than the police think."

"Shouldn't wonder.  Let's see: Hannaford spoke of that woman as--what?"

"Said she'd been through his hands, ten years ago."

"Well, that's easy!  If she was through Hannaford's hands, as
Superintendent of Police, ten years ago, that would be at Sellithwaite.
And there'll be records, particulars, and so on at Sellithwaite."

Hetherwick nodded, and smoked in silence for awhile.

"Think I shall go down there," he said at last.

Kenthwaite stared, wonderingly.

"Keen as all that!" he exclaimed.

"Queer business!" said Hetherwick.  "Like to solve it."

"Oh, well, it's only a four hours' run from King's Cross," observed
Kenthwaite.  "Interesting town, too.  Old as the hills and modern as
they make 'em.  Excellent hotel--'White Bear.'  And I'll tell you what,
my future's brother is a solicitor there--Michael Hollis.  I'll give
you a letter of introduction to him, and he'll show you round and give
you any help you need."

"Good man!" said Hetherwick.  "Write it!"

Kenthwaite sat down and wrote, and handed over the result.

"What do you want to find out, exactly?" he asked, as Hetherwick
thanked him, and rose to go.

"All about the woman, and why Hannaford cut her picture out of the
paper," answered Hetherwick.  "Well--see you when I get back."

He went off to his own chambers, packed a bag, and drove to King's
Cross to catch the early afternoon train for the North.  At half-past
seven that evening he found himself in Sellithwaite, a grey,
smoke-laden town set in the midst of bleak and rugged hills, where the
folk--if the railway officials were anything to go by--spoke a dialect
which, to Hetherwick's southern ears, sounded like some barbaric
language.  But the "White Bear," in which he was presently installed,
yielded all the comforts and luxuries of a first-class hotel: the
dining-room, into which Hetherwick turned as soon as he had booked his
room, seemed to be thronged by a thoroughly cosmopolitan crowd of men;
he heard most of the principal European languages being spoken--later,
he found that his fellow-guests were principally Continental business
men, buyers, intent on replenishing exhausted stocks from the great
warehouses and manufactories of Sellithwaite.  All this was
interesting, nor was he destined to spend the remainder of his evening
in contemplating it from a solitary corner, for he had scarcely eaten
his dinner when a hall-porter came to tell him that Mr. Hollis was
asking for Mr. Hetherwick.

Hetherwick hastened into the lounge, and found a keen-faced,
friendly-eyed man of forty or thereabouts stretching out a hand to him.

"Kenthwaite wired me this afternoon that you were coming down, and
asked me to look you up here," he said.  "I'd have asked you to dine
with me, but I've been kept at my office until just now, and again, I
live a good many miles out of town.  But to-morrow night----"

"You're awfully good," replied Hetherwick.  "I'd no idea that
Kenthwaite was wiring.  He gave me a letter of introduction to you, but
I suppose he thought I wanted to lose no time.  And I don't, and I dare
say you can tell me something about the object of my visit--let's find
a corner and smoke."

Installed in an alcove in the big smoking-room, Hollis read
Kenthwaite's letter.

"What is it you're after?" he asked.  "Kenthwaite mentions that my
knowledge of Sellithwaite is deeper than his own--naturally, it is, as
I'm several years older."

"Well," responded Hetherwick.  "It's this, briefly.  You're aware, of
course, of what befell your late Police-Superintendent in London--his
sudden death?"

"Oh, yes--read all the newspapers, anyway," assented Hollis.  "You're
the man who was present in the train on the Underground, aren't you?"

"I am.  And that's one reason why I'm keen on solving the mystery.
There's no doubt whatever that Hannaford was poisoned--that it's a case
of deliberate murder.  Now, there's a feature of the case to which the
police don't seem to attach any importance.  I do attach great
importance to it.  It's the matter of the woman to whom Hannaford
referred when he was talking--in my presence--to the man who so
mysteriously disappeared.  Hannaford spoke of that woman as having been
through his hands ten years ago.  That would be some experience he had
here, in this town.  Now then, do you know anything about it?  Does it
arouse any recollection?"

Hollis, who was smoking a cigar, thoughtfully tapped its long ash
against the edge of his coffee-cup.  Suddenly his eyes brightened.

"That's probably the Whittingham case," he said.  "It was about ten
years ago."

"And what was the Whittingham case?" asked Hetherwick.  "Case of a
woman?"

"Of a woman--evidently an adventuress--who came to Sellithwaite about
ten years ago, and stayed here some little time, in this very hotel,"
replied Hollis.  "Oddly enough, I never saw her!  But she was heard of
enough--eventually.  She came here, to the 'White Bear,' alone, with
plenty of luggage and evident funds.  I understand she was a very
handsome woman, twenty-eight or thirty years of age, and she was taken
for somebody of consequence.  I rather think she described herself as
the Honourable Mrs. Whittingham.  She paid her bills here with
unfailing punctuality every Saturday morning.  She spent a good deal of
money amongst the leading tradesmen in the town, and always paid cash.
In short, she established her credit very successfully.  And with
nobody more so than the principal jeweller here--Malladale.  She bought
a lot of jewellery from Malladale--but in his case, she always paid by
cheque.  And in the end it was through a deal with Malladale that she
got into trouble."

"And into Hannaford's hands!" suggested Hetherwick.

"Into Hannaford's hands, certainly," assented Hollis.  "It was this
way.  She had, as I said just now, made a lot of purchases from
Malladale, who, I may tell you, has a first-class trade amongst our
rich commercial magnates in this neighbourhood.  Her transactions with
him, however, were never, at first, in amounts exceeding a hundred or
two.  But they went through all right.  She used to pay him by cheque
drawn on a Manchester bank--Manchester, you know, is only thirty-five
miles away.  As her first cheques were always met, Malladale never
bothered about making any inquiry about her financial stability; like
everybody else he was very much impressed by her.  Well, in the end,
she'd a big deal with Malladale, Malladale had a very fine diamond
necklace in stock.  He and she used to discuss her acquisition of it:
according to his story they had a fine old battle as to terms.
Eventually, they struck a bargain--he let her have it for three
thousand nine hundred pounds.  She gave him a cheque for that amount
there and then, and he let her carry off the necklace."

"Oh!" exclaimed Hetherwick.

"Just so!" agreed Hollis.  "But--he did.  However, for some reason or
other, Malladale had that cheque specially cleared.  She handed it to
him on a Monday afternoon; first thing on Wednesday morning Malladale
found that it had been returned with the ominous reference to drawer
inscribed on its surface!  Naturally, he hurried round to the 'White
Bear.'  But the Honourable Mrs. Whittingham had disappeared.  She had
paid up her account, taken her belongings, and left the hotel, and the
town, late on the Monday evening, and all that could be discovered at
the station was that she had travelled by the last train to Leeds,
where, of course, there are several big main lines to all parts of
England.  And she had left no address: she had, indeed, told the people
here that she should be back before long, and that if any letters came
they were to keep them until her return.  So then Malladale went to the
police, and Hannaford got busy."

"I gather that he traced her?" suggested Hetherwick.

Hollis laughed sardonically.

"Hannaford traced her--and he got her," he answered.  "But he might
well use the expression that you mentioned just now.  She was indeed
through his hands--just as a particularly slippery eel might have
been--she got clear away from him."



CHAPTER V

THE POLICE RETURN

Hetherwick now began to arrive at something like an understanding of a
matter that had puzzled him ever since and also at the time of the
conversation between Hannaford and his companion in the train.  He had
noted then that whatever it was that Hannaford was telling, he was
telling it as a man tells a story against himself; there had been signs
of amused chagrin and discomfiture in his manner.  Now he saw why.

"Ah!" he exclaimed.  "She was one too many for him.  Then?"

"A good many times too many!" laughed Hollis.  "She did Hannaford
completely.  He strove hard to find her, and did a great deal of the
spade-work himself.  And at last he ran her down--in a fashionable
hotel in London.  He had a Scotland Yard man with him, and a detective
from our own police-office here, a man named Gandham, who is still in
the force--I'll introduce you to him to-morrow.  Hannaford, finding
that Mrs. Whittingham had a suite of rooms in this hotel--a big West
End place--left his two men downstairs, or outside, and went up to see
her alone.  According to his own account, she was highly indignant at
any suspicions being cast upon her, and still more so, rose to a pitch
of most virtuous indignation when he told her that he'd got a warrant
for her arrest and that she'd have to go with him.  During a brief
interchange of remarks she declared that if her bankers at Manchester
had returned her cheque unpaid it must have been merely because they
hadn't realised certain valuable securities which she'd sent to them,
and that if Malladale had presented his cheque a few days later it
would have been all right.  Now, that was all bosh!--Hannaford, of
course, had been in communication with the bankers; all they knew of
the lady was that she had opened an account with them while staying at
some hotel in Manchester, and that she had drawn all but a few pounds
of her balance the very day on which she had got the necklace from
Malladale and fled with it from Sellithwaite.  Naturally, Hannaford
didn't tell her this--he merely reiterated his demand that she should
go with him.  She assented at once, only stipulating that there should
be no fuss--she would walk out of the hotel with him, and he and his
satellites could come back and search her belongings at their leisure.
Then Hannaford--who, between you and me, Hetherwick, had an eye for a
pretty woman!--made his mistake.  Her bedroom opened out of the
sitting-room in which he'd had his interview with her; he was fool
enough to let her go into it alone, to get ready to go with him.  She
went--and that was the very last Hannaford ever saw of her!"

"Made a lightning exit, eh?" remarked Hetherwick.

"She must have gone instantly," asserted Hollis.  "A door opened from
the bedroom into a corridor--she must have picked up hat and coat and
walked straight away, leaving everything she had there.  Anyway, when
Hannaford, tired of waiting, knocked at the door and looked in, his
bird was flown.  Then, of course, there was a hue-and-cry, and a fine
revelation.  But she'd got clear away, probably by some side door or
other exit, and although Hannaford, according to his own account, raked
London with a comb for her, she was never found.  Vanished!"

"And the necklace?" inquired Hetherwick.

"That had vanished too," replied Hollis.  "They searched her trunks and
things, but they found nothing but clothing.  Whatever she had in the
way of money and valuables she'd carried off.  And so Hannaford came
home, considerably down in the mouth, and he had to stand a good deal
of chaff.  And if he found this woman's picture in a recent
paper--well, small wonder that he did cut it out!  I should say he was
probably going to set Scotland Yard on her track!--for, of course,
there's no time-limit to criminal proceedings."

"This is the picture he cut out," observed Hetherwick, producing it
from his pocket-book.  "But you say you never saw the woman?"

"No, I never saw her," assented Hollis, examining the print with
interested curiosity.  "So, of course, I can't recognise this.
Handsome woman!  But you meet me at my office--close by--to-morrow
morning, at ten, and I'll take you to our police-station.  Gandham will
know!"

Gandham, an elderly man with a sphinx-like manner and watchful eyes,
laughed sardonically when Hollis explained Hetherwick's business.  He
laughed again when Hetherwick showed him the print.

"Oh, aye, that's the lady!" he exclaimed.  "Not changed much, neither!
Egad, she was a smart 'un, that, Mr. Hollis!--I often laugh when I
think how she did Hannaford!  But you know, Hannaford was a
soft-hearted man.  At these little affairs, he was always for sparing
people's feelings.  All very well--but he had to pay for trying to
spare hers!  Aye, that's her!  We have a portrait of her here, you
know."

"You have, eh?" exclaimed Hetherwick.  "I should like to see it."

"You can see it with pleasure, sir," replied the detective.  "And look
at it as long as you like."  He turned to a desk close by and produced
a big album, full of portraits with written particulars beneath them.
"This is not, strictly speaking, a police photo," he continued.  "It's
not one that we took ourselves, ye understand--we never had the chance!
No!--but when my lady was staying at the 'White Bear,' she had her
portrait taken by Wintring, the photographer, in Silver Street, and
Wintring was that suited with it that he put it in his window.  So, of
course, when her ladyship popped off with Malladale's necklace, we got
one of those portraits, and added it to our little collection.  Here it
is!--and you'll not notice so much difference between it and that
you've got in your hand, sir."

There was very little difference between the two photographs, and
Hetherwick said so.  And presently he went away from the police-office
wondering more than ever about the woman with whose past adventures he
was concerning himself.

"May as well do the thing thoroughly while you're about it," remarked
Hollis, as they walked off.  "Come and see Malladale--his shop is only
round the corner.  Not that he can tell you much more than I've told
you already."

But Malladale proved himself able to tell a great deal more.  A grave,
elderly man, presiding over an establishment which Hetherwick,
unaccustomed to the opulence of provincial manufacturing towns, was
astonished to find outside London, he ushered his visitor into a
private room, and listened to the reasons they gave for calling on him.
After a close and careful inspection of the print which Hetherwick put
before him, he handed it back with a confident nod.

"There is no doubt whatever--in my mind--that that is a print from a
photograph of the woman I knew as the Honourable Mrs. Whittingham," he
said.  "And if it has been taken recently, she has altered very little
during the ten years that have elapsed since she was here in this town."

"You'd be glad to see her again, Mr. Malladale--in the flesh?" laughed
Hollis.

The jeweller shook his head.

"I think not," he answered.  "No, I think not, Mr. Hollis.  That's an
episode which I had put out of my mind--until you recalled it."

"But--your loss?" suggested Hollis.  "Close on four thousand pounds,
wasn't it?"

Mr. Malladale raised one of his white hands to his grey beard and
coughed.  It was a cough that suggested discretion, confidence,
secrecy.  He smiled behind his moustache, and his spectacled eyes
seemed to twinkle.

"I think I may venture a little disclosure--in the company of two
gentlemen learned in the law," he said.  "To a solicitor whom I know
very well, and to a barrister introduced by him, I think I may reveal a
little secret--between ourselves and to go no further.  The fact of
this matter is, gentlemen--I had no loss!"

"What?" exclaimed Hollis.  "No--loss?"

"Eventually," replied the jeweller.  "Eventually!  Indeed, to tell you
the truth plain, I made my profit, and--er, something over."

Hollis looked his bewilderment.

"Do you mean that--eventually--you were paid?" he asked.

"Precisely!  Eventually--after a considerable interval--I was paid,"
replied Mr. Malladale.  "I will tell you the circumstances.  It is, I
believe, common knowledge that I sold the diamond necklace to Mrs.
Whittingham for three thousand, nine hundred pounds, and that the
cheque she gave me was dishonoured, and that she cleared off with the
goods and was never heard of after she escaped from Hannaford.  Well,
two years ago, that is to say, eight years after her disappearance, I
one day received a letter which bore the New York postmark.  It
contained a sheet of notepaper on which were a few words and a few
figures.  But I have that now, and I'll show it to you."

Going to a safe in the corner of his parlour, the jeweller, after some
searching, produced a paper and laid it before his visitors.
Hetherwick examined it with curiosity.  There was no name, no address,
no date; all that appeared was, as Malladale had remarked, a few words,
a few figures, typewritten:--

  Principal  . . . . . . . . . . £3,900
  8 years' Interest @ 5% . . . .  1,560
                                 ------
                                 £5,460

  Draft £5,460 enclosed herein: kindly acknowledge in
  London _Times_.


"Enclosed, as is there said, was a draft on a London bank for the
specified amount," continued Mr. Malladale.  "£5,460!  You may easily
believe that at first I could scarcely understand this: I knew of no
one in New York who owed me money.  But the first
figures--£3,900--threw light on the matter--I suddenly remembered Mrs.
Whittingham and my lost necklace.  Then I saw through the
thing--evidently Mrs. Whittingham had become prosperous, wealthy, and
she was honest enough to make amends; there was my principal, and eight
years' interest on it.  Yet, I felt somewhat doubtful about taking
it--I didn't know whether I mightn't be compounding a felony?  You
gentlemen, of course, will appreciate my little difficulty?"

"Um!" remarked Hollis in a non-committal tone.  "The more interesting
matter is--what did you do?  Though I think we already know," he added
with a smile.

"Well, I went to see Hannaford, and told him what I had received,"
answered the jeweller.  "And Hannaford said precisely what I expected
him to say.  He said 'Put the money in your pocket, Malladale, and say
nothing about it!'  So--I did!"

"Each of you feeling pretty certain that Mrs. Whittingham was not
likely to show her face in Sellithwaite again, no doubt!" observed
Hollis.  "Very interesting, Mr. Malladale.  But it strikes me that
whether she ever comes to Sellithwaite again or not, Mrs. Whittingham,
or whatever her name may be nowadays, is in England."

"You think so?" asked the jeweller.

"Her picture's recently appeared in an English paper, anyway," said
Hollis.

"But pictures of famous American ladies appear in English newspapers,"
suggested Mr. Malladale.  "I have recollections of several.  Now my
notion is that Mrs. Whittingham, who was a very handsome and very
charming woman, eventually went across the Atlantic and married an
American millionaire!  That's how I figured it.  And I have often
wondered who she is now."

"That's precisely what I want to find out," said Hetherwick.  "One
thing is certain--Hannaford knew!  If he'd been alive he could have
told us.  Because in whatever paper it was that this print appeared
there would be some letterpress about it, giving the name, and why it
appeared at all."

"You can trace that," remarked Hollis.

"Just so," agreed Hetherwick, "and I may as well get back to town and
begin the job.  But I think with Mr. Hollis," he added, turning to the
jeweller, "I believe that the woman is here in England: I think it
possible, too, that Hannaford knew where.  And I don't think it
impossible that between the time of his cutting out her picture from
the paper and the time of his sudden death he came in touch with her."

"You think it probable that she, in some way, had something to do with
his murder--if it was murder?" asked Mr. Malladale.

"I think it possible," replied Hetherwick.  "There are strange features
in the case.  One of the strangest is this.  Why, when Hannaford cut
out that picture, for his own purposes, evidently with no intention of
showing it to anyone else, did he cut it out without the name and
letterpress which must have been under and over it?"

"Queer, certainly!" said Hollis.  "But, you know, you can soon
ascertain what that name was.  All you've got to do is to get another
copy of the paper."

"Unfortunately, Hannaford's granddaughter doesn't know what particular
paper it was," replied Hetherwick.  "Her sole recollection of it is
that it was some local newspaper, sent to Hannaford by post, the very
morning that he left here for London."

"Still--it can be traced," said Hollis.  "It was in some paper---and
there'll be other copies."

Presently he and Hetherwick left the jeweller's shop.  Outside, Hollis
led his companion across the street, and turned into a narrow alley.

"I'll show you a man who'll remember Mrs. Whittingham better than
anybody in Sellithwaite," he said, with a laugh.  "Better even than
Malladale.  I told you she stayed at the 'White Bear' when she was
here?  Well, since then the entire staff of that eminent hostelry has
been changed, from the manager to the boots--I don't think there's a
man or woman there who was there ten years ago.  But there's a man at
the end of this passage who was formerly hall-porter at the 'White
Bear'--Amblet Hudson--and who now keeps a rather cosy little saloon-bar
down here: we'll drop in on him.  He's what we call a bit of a
character, and if you can get him to talk, he's usually worth listening
to."



CHAPTER VI

SAMPLES OF INK

Hollis led the way farther along the alley, between high, black,
windowless walls, and suddenly turning into a little court, paused
before a door set deep in the side of an old half-timbered house.

"Queer old place, this!" he remarked over his shoulder.  "But you'll
get a glass of as good port or sherry from this chap as you'd get
anywhere in England--he knows his customers!  Come in."

He led the way into a place the like of which Hetherwick had never
seen--a snug, cosy room, panelled and raftered in old oak, with a
bright fire burning in an open hearth and the flicker of its flames
dancing on the old brass and pewter that ornamented the walls.  There
was a small bar-counter on one side of it; and behind this, in his
shirt-sleeves, and with a cigar protruding from the corner of a pair of
clean-shaven, humorous lips, stood a keen-eyed man, busily engaged in
polishing wine-glasses.

"Good morning, gentlemen!" he said heartily.  "Nice morning, Mr.
Hollis, for the time o' year.  And what can I do for you and your
friend, sir?"

Hollis glanced round the room--empty, save for themselves.  He drew a
stool to the bar and motioned Hetherwick to follow his example.

"I think we'll try your very excellent dry sherry, Hudson," he
answered.  "That is, if it's as good as it was last time I tasted it."

"Always up to standard, Mr. Hollis, always up to standard, sir!"
replied the bar-keeper.  "No inferior qualities, no substitutes, and no
trading on past reputation in this establishment, gentlemen!  As good a
glass of dry sherry here, sir, as you'd get where sherry wine comes
from--and you can't say that of most places in England, I think.
Everything's of the best here, Mr. Hollis--as you know!"

Hollis responded with a little light chaff; suddenly he bent across the
bar.

"Hudson!" he said confidentially.  "My friend here has something he'd
like to show you.  Now, then," he continued, as Hetherwick, in response
to this, had produced the picture, "do you recognise that?"

The bar-keeper put on a pair of spectacles and turned the picture to
the light, examining it closely.  His lips tightened; then relaxed in a
cynical smile.

"Aye!" he said, half carelessly.  "It's the woman that did old
Malladale out of that diamond necklace.  Of course!--Mistress
Whittingham!"

"Would you know her again, if you met her--now?" asked Hollis.

The bar-keeper picked up one of his glasses and began a vigorous
polishing.

"Aye!" he answered, laconically.  "And I should know her by something
else than her face!"

Just then two men came in, and Hudson broke off to attend to their
wants.  But presently they carried their glasses away to a snug corner
near the fire, and the bar-keeper once more turned to Hollis and
Hetherwick.

"Aye!" he said confidentially.  "If need were, I could tell that party
by something else than her face, handsome as that is!  I used to tell
Hannaford when he was busy trying to find her that if he'd any
difficulty about making certain, I could identify her if nobody else
could!  You see, I saw a deal of her when she was stopping at the
'White Bear.'  And I knew something that nobody else knew."

"What is it?" asked Hetherwick.

Hudson leaned closer across the counter and lowered his voice.

"She was a big, handsome woman, this Mrs. Whittingham," he continued.
"Very showy, dressy woman; fond of fine clothes and jewellery, and so
on; sort of woman, you know, that would attract attention anywhere.
And one of these women, too, that was evidently used to being waited on
hand and foot--she took her money's worth out of the 'White Bear,' I
can tell you!  I did a deal for her, one way or another, and I'll say
this for her: she was free enough with her money.  If it so happened
that she wanted things doing for her, she kept you fairly on the go
till they were done, but she threw five-shilling pieces and half-crowns
about as if they were farthings!  She'd send you to take a sixpenny
telegram and give you a couple of shillings for taking it.  Well, now,
as I say, I saw a deal of her, one way and another, getting cabs for
her, and taking things up to her room, and doing this, that, and
t'other.  And it was with going up there one day sudden-like, with a
telegram that had just come, that I found out something about
her--something that, as I say, I could have told her by anywhere, even
if she could have changed her face and put a wig on!"

"Aye--and what, now?" asked Hollis.

"This!" answered Hudson with a knowing look.  "Maybe I'm a noticing
sort of chap--anyhow, there was a thing I always noticed about Mrs.
Whittingham.  Wherever she was, and no matter how she was dressed,
whether it was in her going-out things or her dinner finery, she always
wore a band of black velvet round her right forearm, just above the
wrist, where women wear bracelets.  In fact, it was a sort of bracelet,
a strip, as I say, of black velvet, happen about two inches wide, and
on the front a cameo ornament, the size of a shilling, white stone or
something of that sort, with one of these heathen figures carved on it.
There were other folk about the place noticed that black velvet band,
too--I tell you she was never seen without it; the chambermaids said
she slept with it on.  But on the occasion I'm telling you about, when
I went up to her room with a telegram, I caught her without it.  She
opened her door to see who knocked--she was in a dressing-gown, going
to change for dinner, I reckon, and she held out her right hand for
what I'd brought her.  The black velvet band wasn't on it, and for just
a second like I saw what was on her arm!"

"Yes?" said Hollis.  "Something--remarkable?"

"For a lady--aye!" replied Hudson, with a grim laugh.  "Her arm was
tattooed!  Right round the place where she always wore this black
velvet band there was a snake, red and green, and yellow, and blue,
with its tail in its mouth!--wonderfully done, too; it had been no
novice that had done that bit of work, I can tell you!  Of course, I
just saw it, and no more, but there was a strong electric light close
by, and I did see it, and saw it plain and all.  And that's a thing
that that woman, whoever she may be, and wherever she's got to, can
never rub off, nor scrub off!--she'll carry that to the day of her
death."

The two listeners looked at each other.

"Odd!" remarked Hollis.

Hetherwick turned to the bar-keeper.

"Did she notice that you saw that her arm was tattooed?" he asked.

"Nay, I don't think she did," replied Hudson.  "Of course, the thing
was over in a second.  I made no sign that I'd seen aught particular,
and she said nought.  But--I saw!"

Just then other customers came in, and the bar-keeper turned away to
attend to their wants.  Hollis and Hetherwick moved from the counter to
one of the snug corners at the farther end of the room.

"Whoever she may be, wherever she may be--as Hudson said just now,"
remarked Hollis, "and if this woman really had anything to do with the
mysterious circumstances of Hannaford's death, she ought not to be
difficult to find.  A woman who carries an indefaceable mark like that
on her arm, and whose picture has recently appeared in a newspaper,
should easily be traced."

"I think I shall get at her through the picture," agreed Hetherwick.
"The newspaper production seems to have been done from a photograph
which, from its clearness and finish, was probably taken by some
first-class firm in London.  I shall go round such firms as soon as I
get back.  It may be, of course, that she's nothing whatever to do with
Hannaford's murder, but still, it's a trail that's got to be followed
to the end now that one's started out on it.  Well! that seems to
finish my business here--as far as she's concerned.  But there's
another matter--I told you that when Hannaford came to town he had on
him a sealed packet containing the secret of some invention or
discovery, and that it's strangely and unaccountably missing.  His
granddaughter says that he worked this thing out--whatever it is--in a
laboratory that he had in his garden.  Now then, before I go I want to
see that laboratory.  As he's only recently left the place, I suppose
things will still be pretty much as he left them at his old house.
Where did he live?"

"He lived on the outskirts of the town," replied Hollis.  "An
old-fashioned house that he bought some years ago--I know it by sight
well enough, though I've never been in it.  I don't suppose it's let
yet, though I know it's being advertised in the local papers.  Let's
get some lunch at the 'White Bear,' and then we'll drive up there and
see what we can do.  You want to get an idea of what it was that
Hannaford had invented?"

"Just so," assented Hetherwick.  "If the secret was worth all that he
told his granddaughter it was, he may have been murdered by somebody
who wanted to get sole possession of it.  Anyway, it's another trail
that's got to be worked on."

"I never heard of Hannaford as an inventor or experimenter," remarked
Hollis.  "But there, I knew little about him, except in his official
capacity: he and his granddaughter, and an elderly woman they kept as a
working housekeeper, were quiet sort of folk.  I knew that he brought
up his granddaughter from infancy, and gave her a rattling good
education at the Girls' High School, but beyond that, I know little of
their private affairs.  I suppose he amused himself in this laboratory
you speak of in his spare time?"

"Dabbled in chemistry, I understand," said Hetherwick.  "And, if it
hasn't been dismantled, we may find something in that laboratory that
will give us a clue of some sort."

Hollis seemed to reflect for a minute or two.

"I've an idea!" he said suddenly.  "There's a man who lunches at the
'White Bear' every day--a man named Collison; he's analytical chemist
to a big firm of dyers in the town.  I've seen him in conversation with
Hannaford now and then.  Perhaps he could tell us something on this
point.  Come on!  this is just about his time for lunch."

A few minutes later, in the coffee-room of the hotel, Hollis led
Hetherwick up to a bearded and spectacled man who had just sat down to
lunch, and having introduced him, briefly detailed the object of his
visit to Sellithwaite.  Collison nodded and smiled.

"I understand," he said, as they seated themselves at his table.
"Hannaford did dabble a bit in chemistry--in quite an amateur way.  But
as to inventing anything that was worth all that--come!  Still, he was
an ingenious man, for an amateur, and he may have hit on something
fairly valuable."

"You've no idea what he was after?" suggested Hetherwick.

"Of late, no!  But some time ago he was immensely interested in aniline
dyes," replied Collison.  "He used to talk to me about them.  That's a
subject of infinite importance in this district.  Of course, as I dare
say you know, the Germans have been vastly ahead of us as regards
aniline dyes, and we've got most, if not all, of the stuff used, from
Germany.  Hannaford used to worry himself as to why we couldn't make
our own aniline dyes, and I believe he experimented.  But, with his
resources, as an amateur, of course, that was hopeless."

"I've sometimes seen him talking to you," observed Hollis.  "You've no
idea what he was after, of late?"

"No.  He used to ask me technical questions," answered Collison.  "You
know, I just regarded him as a man who had a natural taste for
experimenting with things.  This was evidently his hobby.  I used to
chaff him about it.  Still, he was a purposeful man, and by reading and
experiment he'd picked up a lot of knowledge."

"And, I suppose, it's within the bounds of possibility that he had hit
on something of practical value?" suggested Hetherwick.

"Oh, quite within such bounds!--and he may have done," agreed Collison.
"I've known of much greater amateurs suddenly discovering something.
The question then is--do they know enough to turn their discovery to
any practical purpose and account?"

"Evidently, from what he told his granddaughter, Hannaford did think he
knew enough," said Hetherwick.  "What I want to find out from a visit
to his old laboratory is--what had he discovered?"

"And as you're not a chemist, nor even a dabbler," remarked Hollis,
with a laugh, "that won't be easy!  You'd better come with us after
lunch, Collison."

"I can give you a couple of hours," assented Collison.  "I'm already
curious--especially if any discovery we can make tends to throw light
on the mystery of Hannaford's death.  Pity the police haven't got hold
of the man who was with him," he added, glancing at Hetherwick.  "I
suppose you could identify him?"

"Unless he's an absolute adept at disguising himself, yes--positively!"
replied Hetherwick.  "He was a noticeable man."

An hour later the three men drove up to a house which stood a little
way out of the town, on the edge of the moorland that stretched towards
the great range of hills on the west.  The house, an old-fashioned,
solitary place, was empty, save for a caretaker who had been installed
in its back rooms to keep it aired and to show it to possible tenants.
The laboratory, a stone-walled, timber-roofed shed at the end of the
garden, had never been opened, said the caretaker, since Mr. Hannaford
locked it up and left it.  But the key was speedily forthcoming, and
the three visitors entered and looked round, each with different
valuings of what he saw.

The whole place was a wilderness of litter and untidiness.  Whatever
Hannaford had possessed in the way of laboratory plant and appliances
had been removed, and now there was little but rubbish--glass, whole
and broken, paper, derelict boxes and crates, odds and ends of
wreckage--to look at.  But the analytical chemist glanced about him
with a knowing eye, examining bottles and boxes, picking up a thing
here and another there, and before long he turned to his companions
with a laugh, pointing at the same time to a table in a corner which
was covered with and dust-lined pots.

"It's very easy to see what Hannaford was after!" he said.  "He's been
trying to evolve a new ink!"

"Ink!" exclaimed Hollis incredulously.  "Aren't there plenty of inks on
the market?"

"No end!" agreed Collison with another laugh, and again pointing to the
table.  "These are specimens of all the better-known ones--British, of
course, for no really decent ink is made elsewhere.  But even the very
best ink, up to now, isn't perfect.  Hannaford perhaps thought, being
an amateur, that he could make a better than the known best.
Ink!--that's what he's been after.  A superior, perfectly-fluid,
penetrating, permanent, non-corrosive writing-ink--that's been his
notion, a thousand to one!  I observe the presence of lots of stuffs
that he's used."

He showed them various things, explaining their properties and adding
some remarks on the history of the manufacture of writing-inks during
the last hundred years.

"Taking it altogether," he concluded, "and in spite of manufacturers'
advertisements and boasting, there isn't a really absolutely perfect
writing-fluid on the market--that I know of, anyway.  If Hannaford
thought he could make one, and succeeded, well, I'd be glad to have his
formula!  Money in it!"

"To the extent of a hundred thousand pounds?" asked Hetherwick,
remembering what Rhona had told him.  "All that?"

"Oh, well!" laughed Collison, "you must remember that inventors are
always very sanguine; always apt to see everything through
rose-coloured spectacles; invariably prone to exaggerate the merits of
their inventions.  But if Hannaford, by experiment, really hit on a
first-class formula for making a writing-ink superior in all the
necessary qualities to its rivals--yes, there'd be a pot of money in
it.  No doubt of that!"

"I suppose he'd have to take out a patent for his invention?" suggested
Hetherwick.

"Oh, to be sure!  I should think that was one of his reasons for going
to London--to see after it." assented Collison.  He looked round again,
and again laughed.  "Well," he said, "I think you know now--you may be
confident about it from what I've seen here--what Hannaford was after!
Ink--just ink!"

Hetherwick accepted this judgment, and when he left Sellithwaite later
in the afternoon on his return journey to London, he summed up the
results of his visit.  They were two.  First, he had discovered that
the woman of whom Hannaford had spoken in the train was a person who
ten years before had been known as Mrs. Whittingham, appeared to be
some sort of an adventuress, and, in spite of her restitution to the
jeweller whom she had defrauded, was still liable to arrest,
conviction, and punishment--if she could be found.  Second, he had
found out that the precious invention of which Hannaford had spoken so
confidently and enthusiastically to his granddaughter and the
particulars of which had mysteriously disappeared, related to the
manufacture of a new writing-ink, which might, in truth, prove a very
valuable commercial asset.  So far, so good; he was finding things out.
As he ate his dinner in the restaurant car he considered his next
steps.  But it needed little consideration to resolve on them.  He must
find out all about the woman whose picture lay in his pocketbook--what
she now called herself; where she was; how her photograph came to be
reproduced in a newspaper; and, last, but far from least, if Hannaford,
after seeing the reproduction, had got into touch with her or given
information about her.  To the man in the train Hannaford had remarked
that he had said nothing about her until that evening--yes, but was
that man the only man to whom he had spoken?  So much for that--and the
next thing was to find out somehow what had become of the sealed packet
which Hannaford undoubtedly had on him when he went out of Malter's
Hotel on the night of his death.



CHAPTER VII

BLACK VELVET

Next morning, and before calling on either Kenthwaite or Rhona
Hannaford, Hetherwick set out on a tour of the fashionable
photographers in the West End of London.  After all, there were not so
many of them, so many at any rate of the very famous ones.  He made a
hit and began to work methodically.  His first few coverts were drawn
blank, but just before noon, and as he was thinking of knocking off for
lunch, he started his fox.  In a palatial establishment in Bond Street
the person to whom he applied, showing his picture, gave an immediate
smile of recognition.

"You want to know who is the original of this?" he said.  "Certainly!
Lady Riversreade, of Riversreade Court, near Dorking."

Hetherwick had no deep acquaintance with Debrett nor with Burke, nor
even with the list of peers, baronets and knights given in the ordinary
reference books, and to him the name of Lady Riversreade was absolutely
unknown--he had never heard of her.  But the man to whom he had shown
the print, and who now held it in his hand, seemed to consider that
Lady Riversreade was, or should be, as well known to everybody as she
evidently was to him.

"This print is from one of our photographs of Lady Riversreade," he
said, turning to a side table in the reception-room in which they were
standing and picking up a framed portrait.  "This one."

"Then you probably know in what newspaper this print appeared?"
suggested Hetherwick.  "That's really what I'm desirous of finding out."

"Oh, it appeared in several," answered the photographer.  "Recently.
It was about the time that Lady Riversreade opened some home or
institute--I forget what.  There was an account of it in the papers,
and naturally her portrait was reproduced."

Hetherwick made a plausible prearranged excuse for his curiosity, and
went away.  Lady Riversreade!--evidently some woman of rank, or means,
or position.  But was she identical with the Mrs. Whittingham of ten
years ago--the Mrs. Whittingham who did the Sellithwaite jeweller out
of a necklace worth nearly four thousand pounds and cleverly escaped
arrest at the hands of Hannaford?  And if so...

But that led to indefinite vistas; the main thing at present was to
find out all that could be found out about Lady Riversreade, of
Riversreade Court, near Dorking.  Hetherwick could doubtless have
obtained considerable information from the fashionable photographer,
but he had carefully refrained from showing too much inquisitiveness.
Moreover, he knew a man, one Boxley, a fellow club-member, who was
always fully posted up in all the doings of the social and fashionable
world and could, if he would, tell him everything about Lady
Riversreade--that was, if there was anything to tell about her.  Boxley
was one of those bachelor men about town who went everywhere, knew
everybody, and kept himself fully informed; he invariably lunched at
this particular club, the Junior Megatherium, and thither Hetherwick
presently proceeded, bent on finding him.

He was fortunate in running Boxley to earth almost as soon as he
entered the sacred and exclusive portals.  Boxley was lunching and
there was no one else at his table.  Hetherwick joined him, and began
the usual small talk about nothing in particular.  But he soon came to
his one point.

"Look here!" he said, at a convenient interval.  "I want to ask you
something.  You know everybody and everything.  Who is Lady
Riversreade, who's recently opened some home or institution, or
hospital or something?"

"One of the richest women in England!" replied Boxley promptly.  "Worth
a couple of millions or so.  That's who she is--who she was, I don't
know.  Don't suppose anybody else does, either.  In this country,
anyhow."

"What, is she a foreigner, then?" asked Hetherwick.  "I've seen her
portrait in the papers--that's why I asked you who she is.  Doesn't
look foreign, I think."

"I can tell you all that is known about her," said Boxley, "and that's
not much.  She's the widow of old Sir John Riversreade, the famous
contractor--the man who made a pot of money building railways, and dams
across big rivers, and that sort of thing, and got a knighthood for it.
He also built himself a magnificent place near Dorking, and called it
Riversreade Court--just the type of place a modern millionaire would
build.  Now, old Sir John had been a bachelor all his life, until he
was over sixty--no time for anything but his contracts, you know.  But
when he was about sixty-five, which would be some six or seven years
ago, he went over to the United States and made a rather lengthy stay
there.  And when he returned he brought a wife with him--the lady
you're inquiring about."

"American, then?" suggested Hetherwick.

"Well, he married her over there, certainly," said Boxley.  "But I
should say she isn't American."

"You've met her--personally?"

"Just.  Run across her once or twice at various affairs, and been
introduced to her, quite casually.  No, I don't think she's American.
If I wanted to label her, I should say she was cosmopolitan."

"Woman of the world, eh?"

"Decidedly so.  Handsome woman--self-possessed--self-assured--smart,
clever.  I think she'll know how to take care of the money her husband
left her."

"Leave her everything?"

"Every penny!--except some inconsiderable legacies to charitable
institutions.  It was said at the time--it's two years since the old
chap died--that she's got over two millions."

"And this institution, or whatever it is?"

"Oh, that!  That was in the papers not so long since."

"I'm no great reader of newspapers.  What about it?"

"Oh, she's started a home for wounded officers near Riversreade Court.
There was some big country house near there empty--couldn't really be
sold or let.  She bought it, renovated it, fitted it up, stuck a staff
of nurses and servants in, and got it blessed by the War Office.  Jolly
nice place, I believe, and she pays the piper."

"Doing the benevolent business, eh?"

"So it appears.  Easy game, too, when you've got a couple of millions
behind you.  Useful, though."

Boxley went away soon after that, and Hetherwick, wondering about what
he had learned, and now infinitely inquisitive about the identity of
Lady Riversreade with Mrs. Whittingham, went into the smoking-room, and
more from habit than because he really wanted to see it, picked up a
copy of _The Times_.  Almost the first thing on which his glance
lighted was the name that was just then in his thoughts--there it was,
in capitals, at the head of an advertisement:


"LADY RIVERSREADE'S HOME FOR WOUNDED OFFICERS, SURREY.--Required at
once a Resident Lady-Secretary, fully competent to undertake accounts
and correspondence and thoroughly trained in shorthand and typewriting;
a knowledge of French and German would be a high recommendation.
Application should be made personally any day this week between 10.0
and 12.0 and 3.0 and 5.0 to Lady Riversreade, Riversreade Court,
Dorking."


Hetherwick threw the paper aside, left the club, and at the first
newsagent's he came to bought another copy.  With this in his hand he
jumped into a taxi-cab and set off for Surrey Street, wondering if he
would find Rhona Hannaford still at Malter's Hotel.  He was fortunate
in that--she had not yet left--and in a few minutes he was giving her a
full and detailed account of his doings since his last interview with
her.  She listened to his story about Sellithwaite and his discoveries
of that morning with a slightly puzzled look.

"Why are you taking all this trouble?" she asked suddenly and abruptly.
"You're doing more, going into things more, than the police are.
Matherfield was here this morning to tell me, he said, how they were
getting on.  They aren't getting on at all!--they haven't made one
single discovery; they've heard nothing, found out nothing, about the
man in the train or the man at Victoria--they're just where they were.
But you--you've found out a lot!  Why are you so energetic about it?"

"Put it down to professional inquisitiveness, if you like," answered
Hetherwick, smiling.  "I'm--interested.  Tremendously!  You see--I,
too, was there in the train, like the man they haven't found.  Well,
now--now that I've got to this point I've arrived at, I want you to
take a hand."

"I?  In what way?" exclaimed Rhona.

Hetherwick pulled out _The Times_ and pointed to the advertisement.

"I want you to go down to Dorking to-morrow morning and personally
interview Lady Riversreade in response to that," he said.  "You've all
the qualifications she specifies, so you've an excellent excuse for
calling on her.  Whether you'd care to take the post is another
matter--what I want is that you should see her under conditions that
will enable you to observe her closely."

"Why?" asked Rhona.

"I want you to see if she wears such a band as that which Hudson told
Hollis and myself about," replied Hetherwick.  "Sharp eyes like yours
will soon see that.  And--if she does, then she's Mrs. Whittingham!  In
that case, I might ask you to do more--still more."

"What, for instance?" she inquired.

"Well, to do your best to get this post," he answered.  "I think that
you, with your qualifications, could get it."

"And--your object in that?" she asked.

"To keep an eye on Lady Riversreade," he replied promptly.  "If the
Mrs. Whittingham of ten years ago at Sellithwaite is the same woman as
the Lady Riversreade of Riversreade Court of to-day, then, in view of
your grandfather's murder, I want to know a lot more about her!  To
have you--there!--would be an immense help."

"I'm to be a sort of spy, eh?" asked Rhona.

"Detective, if you like," assented Hetherwick.  "Why not?"

"You forget this," she remarked.  "If this Lady Riversreade is
identical with the Mrs. Whittingham of ten years ago, she'd remember my
name--Hannaford!  She's not likely to have forgotten Superintendent
Hannaford of Sellithwaite!"

"Exactly--but I've thought of that little matter," replied Hetherwick.
"Call yourself by some other name.  Your mother's, for instance."

"That was Featherstone," said Rhona.

"There you are!  Go as Miss Featherstone.  As for your address, give
your aunt's address at Tooting.  Easy enough, you see," laughed
Hetherwick.  "Once you begin it properly."

"There's another thing, though," she objected.  "References!  She'll
want those."

"Just as easy," answered Hetherwick.  "Give me as one and Kenthwaite as
the other.  I'll speak to him about it.  Two barristers of the Middle
Temple!--excellent!  Come!--all you've got to do is to work the scheme
out fully and carry it out with assurance, and you don't know what we
might discover."

Rhona considered matters awhile, watching him steadily.

"You think that--somehow--this woman may be at the back of the mystery
surrounding my grandfather's murder?" she suddenly asked.

"I think it's quite within the bounds of probability," he answered.

"All right," she said abruptly.  "I'll go.  To-morrow morning, I
suppose?"

"Sooner the better," agreed Hetherwick.  "And, look here, I'll go down
with you.  We'll go by the 10.10 from Victoria, drive to this place,
and I'll wait outside while you have your interview.  After that we'll
get some lunch in Dorking--and you can tell me your news."

Next morning found Hetherwick pacing the platform at Victoria and on
the look-out for his fellow-companion.  She came to him a little before
the train was due to leave, and he noticed at once that she had
discarded the mourning garments in which he had found her the previous
afternoon; she now appeared in a smart tailor-made coat and skirt, and
looked the part he wanted her to assume--that of a capable and
self-reliant young business woman.

"Good!" he said approvingly, as they went to find their seats.
"Nothing like dressing up to it.  You're all ready with your lines,
eh?--I mean, you've settled on all you're going to say and do?"

"Leave that to me," she answered with a laugh, "I shan't forget the
primary object, anyway.  But I've been wondering--supposing we come to
the conclusion that this Lady Riversreade is the Mrs. Whittingham of
ten years ago?  What are you going to do then?"

"My ideas are hazy on that point--at present," confessed Hetherwick.
"The first thing, surely, is to establish identity.  Don't forget that
the main thing to do at Riversreade Court is to get a good look at Lady
Riversreade's right wrist, and see what's on it!"

Riversreade Court proved to be some distance from Dorking, in the Leith
Hill district; Hetherwick charted a taxi-cab and gave his companion
final instructions as they rode out.  Half an hour's run brought them
to the house--a big, pretentious, imitation Elizabethan structure, set
on the hill-side amongst a grove of firs and pines, and having an
ornamental park laid out between its gardens and terraces and the high
road.  At the lodge gates he stopped the driver and got out.

"I'll wait here for you," he said to Rhona.  "You ride up to the house,
get your business done, and come back here.  Be watchful now--of
anything."

Rhona nodded reassuringly and went off; Hetherwick lighted his pipe and
strolled about admiring the scenery.  But his thoughts were with Rhona;
he was wondering what adventures she was having in the big mansion
which the late contractor had built amidst the woods.  And Rhona kept
him wondering some time; an hour had elapsed before the cab came back.
With a hand on its door, he turned to the driver:

"Go to the 'White Horse' now," he said.  "We'll lunch there, and
afterwards you can take us to the station.  Well?" he continued, as he
got in and seated himself at Rhona's side.  "What luck?"

"Good, I should say," answered Rhona.  "She wears a broad black velvet
band on her right wrist, and on the outer face is a small cameo.  How's
that?"

"Precisely!" exclaimed Hetherwick.  "Just what that bar-keeper chap at
Sellithwaite described.  Wears it openly--makes no attempt at
concealment beneath her sleeve, eh?"

"None," answered Rhona.  "She was wearing a smart, fashionable,
short-sleeved jumper.  She'd a very fine diamond bracelet on the other
wrist."

"And she herself," asked Hetherwick.  "What sort of woman is she?"

"That's a very good photograph of her that my grandfather cut out of
the paper," replied Rhona.  "Very good, indeed!  I knew her at once.
She's a tall, fine, handsome, well-preserved woman, perhaps forty,
perhaps less.  Very easy, accustomed manner; a regular woman of the
world I should think.  Quite ready to talk about herself and her
doings--she told me the whole history of this Home she's started and
took me to see it--it's a fine old house, much more attractive than the
Court, a little way along the hillside.  She told me that it was her
great hobby, and that she's devoting all her time to it.  I should say
that she's genuinely interested in its welfare--genuinely!"

"She impressed you?" suggested Hetherwick.

"I think, from what I saw and heard, that she's a good-natured,
probably warm-hearted, woman.  She spoke very feelingly of the patients
she's got in her Home, anyhow."

"And the post--the secretaryship?"

"I can have it if I want it--of course, I told her I did.  She examined
me pretty closely about my qualifications--she herself speaks French
and German like a native--and I mentioned you and Mr. Kenthwaite as
references.  She's going to write to you both to-day.  So--it's for you
to decide."

"I suppose it's really for you!"

"No!--I'm willing, eager, indeed, to do anything to clear up the
mystery about my grandfather's murder.  But--I don't think this woman
had anything to do with it.  In my opinion--and I suppose I've got some
feminine intuition--she's honest and straightforward enough."

"And yet it looks as if she were certainly the Mrs. Whittingham who did
a Sellithwaite jeweller to the tune of four thousand pounds!" laughed
Hetherwick.  "That wasn't very honest or straightforward!"

"I've been thinking about that," said Rhona.  "Perhaps, after all, she
really thought the cheque would be met, and anyway, she did send the
man his money, even though it was a long time afterwards.  And
again--an important matter!--Lady Riversreade may not be Mrs.
Whittingham at all.  More women than one wear wristlets of velvet."

"But--the portrait!" exclaimed Hetherwick.  "The positive identity!"

"Well," answered Rhona, "I'm willing to go there and to try to find out
more.  But, frankly, I think Lady Riversreade's all right!  First
impression, anyhow!"

The cab drew up at the "White Horse," and Hetherwick led Rhona into the
coffee-room.  But they had hardly taken their seats when the manager
came in.

"Does your name happen to be Hetherwick, sir?" he inquired.  "Just
so--thank you.  A Mr. Mapperley has twice rung you up here during the
last hour--he's on the phone again now, if you'll speak to him."

"I'll come," said Hetherwick.  "That's my clerk," he murmured to Rhona
as he rose.  "I told him to ring me up here between twelve and three if
necessary.  Back in a minute."

But he was away several minutes, and when he came to her again, his
face was grave.  "Here's a new development!" he said, bending across
the table and whispering.  "The police have found the man who was with
your grandfather in the train!  Matherfield wants me to identify him.
And you'll gather from that that they've found him dead!  We must lunch
quickly and catch the two-twenty-four."



CHAPTER VIII

FLIGWOOD'S RENTS

Hetherwick went to the hotel telephone again before he had finished his
lunch, and as a result Matherfield was on the platform at Victoria when
the two-twenty-four ran in.  He showed no surprise at seeing Hetherwick
and Rhona together; his manifest concern was to get Hetherwick to
himself and away from the station.  And Hetherwick, seeing this, said
good-bye to Rhona with a whispered word that he would look in at
Malter's Hotel before evening; a few minutes later he and Matherfield
were in a taxi-cab together, hastening along Buckingham Palace Road.

"Well?" inquired Hetherwick.  "This man?"

"I don't think there's any doubt about his being the man you saw with
Hannaford," replied Matherfield.  "He answers to your description,
anyway.  But I'll tell you how we came across his track.  Last night a
man named Appleyard came to me--he's a chap who has a chemist's shop in
Horseferry Road, Westminster--a middle-aged, quiet sort of man, who
prefaced his remarks by telling us that he very rarely had time to read
newspapers or he'd have been round to see us before.  But yesterday he
happened to pick up a copy of one of last Sunday's papers, and he read
an account of the Hannaford affair.  Then he remembered something that
seemed to him to have a possible connection with it.  Some little time
ago he advertised for an assistant--a qualified assistant.  He'd two or
three applications which weren't exactly satisfactory.  Then, one
evening--he couldn't give any exact date, but from various things he
told us I reckoned up that it must have been on the very evening on
which Hannaford met his death--a man came and made a personal
application.  Appleyard described him--medium-sized, a spare man,
sallow-complexioned, thin face and beard, large dark eyes, very
intelligent, superior manner, poorly dressed, and evidently in low
water----"

"That's the man, I'll be bound!" exclaimed Hetherwick.  "Did he give
this chemist his name?"

"He did---name and address," answered Matherfield.  "He said his name
was James Granett, and his address Number 8, Fligwood's Rents, Gray's
Inn Road--Holborn end.  He told Appleyard that he was a qualified
chemist, and produced his proofs and some references.  He also said
that though he'd never had a business of his own he'd been employed,
as, indeed, the references showed, by some good provincial firms at one
time or another.  Lately he'd been in the employ of a firm of
manufacturing chemists in East Ham--for some reason or other their
trade had fallen off, and they'd had to reduce their staff, and he'd
been thrown out of work, and had had the further bad luck to be
seriously ill.  This, he said, had exhausted his small means, and he
was very anxious to get another job--so anxious that he appeared to
come to Appleyard on very low terms.  Appleyard told him he'd inquire
into the references and write to him in a day or two.  He did inquire,
found the references quite satisfactory, and wrote to Granett engaging
him.  But Granett never turned up, and Appleyard heard no more of him
until he read this Sunday paper.  Then he felt sure Granett was the
man, and came to me."

"I shouldn't think there's any doubt in the case," remarked Hetherwick.
"But before we go any further, a question.  Did Appleyard say what time
it was when this man came to him that evening?"

"He did.  It was just as he was closing his shop--nine o'clock.
Granett stopped talking with him about half an hour.  Indeed, Appleyard
told me more.  After they'd finished their talk, Appleyard, who doesn't
live at the shop, locked it up, and he then invited Granett to step
across the street with him and have a drink before going home.  They
had a drink together in a neighbouring saloon bar, and chatted a bit
there; it would be nearly ten o'clock, according to Appleyard, when
Granett left him.  And he remembered that Granett, on leaving him, went
round the corner into Victoria Street, on his way, no doubt, to the
Underground."

"And in Victoria Street, equally without doubt, he met Hannaford,"
muttered Hetherwick.  "Well, and the rest of it?"

"Well, of course, as soon as I learnt all this, I determined to go
myself to Fligwood's Rents," replied Matherfield.  "I went, first thing
this morning.  Fligwood's Rents is a slum street--only a man who is
very low down in the world would ever dream of renting a room there.
It's a sort of alley or court on the right-hand side of Gray's Inn
Road, going up--some half-dozen squalid houses on each side, let off in
tenements.  Number 8 was a particularly squalid house!--slatternly
women and squalling brats about the door and general dirt and
shabbiness all round.  None of the women about the place knew the name
of Granett, but after I'd described the man I wanted they argued that
it must be the gentleman on the top back; they added the further
information that they hadn't seen him for some days.  I went up a
filthy stair to the room they indicated; the door was locked and I
couldn't get any response to my repeated knockings.  So then I set out
to discover the landlord, and eventually unearthed a beery individual
in a neighbouring low-class tavern.  I got out of him that he had a
lodger named Granett, who paid him six shillings a week for this top
back room, and he suddenly remembered that Granett hadn't paid his last
week's rent.  That made more impression on him than anything I said,
and he went with me to the house.  And to cut things short, we forced
the door, and found the man dead in his bed!"

"Dead!" exclaimed Hetherwick.  "Dead--then?"

"Dead then--yes, and he'd been dead several days, according to the
doctors," replied Matherfield grimly.  "Dead enough!  It was a poor
room, but clean--you could see from various little things that the man
had been used to a better condition.  But as regards himself--he'd
evidently gone to bed in the usual way.  His clothes were all carefully
folded and arranged, and by the side of the bed there was a chair on
which was a half-burnt candle and an evening newspaper."

"That would fix the date," suggested Hetherwick.

"Of course, it did--and it was the same date as that on which Hannaford
died," answered Matherfield.  "I've made a careful note of that
circumstance!  Everything looked as if the man had gone to bed in just
his ordinary way, read the paper a bit, blown out his light, dropped
off to sleep, and died in his sleep."

"Yes!--and from what cause, I wonder?" exclaimed Hetherwick.

"Precisely the same idea occurred to me, knowing what I did about
Hannaford," said Matherfield.  "However, the doctors will tell us more
about that.  But to wind up--I had a man of mine with me, and I left
him in charge while I got further help, and sent for Appleyard.
Appleyard identified the dead man at once as the man who had been to
see him.  Indeed, on opening the door, we found Appleyard's letter,
engaging him, lying with one or two others, just inside.  So that's
about all, except that I now want to know if you can positively
identify him as the man you saw with Hannaford, and that I also want to
open a locked box that we found in the room, which may contain
something that will give us further information.  Altogether, it's a
step forward."

"Yes," admitted Hetherwick.  "It's something.  But there's spade-work
to be done yet, Matherfield.  I don't think there's any doubt, now,
that Granett encountered Hannaford after he left Appleyard--and that
indicates that Granett and Hannaford were old acquaintances.  But,
supposing they met at, or soon after, ten o'clock--where did they go,
where did they spend their time between that and the time they entered
my compartment at St. James's Park?"

"That would be--what?" asked Matherfield.

"It was well after midnight--mine was the last train going east,
anyway," said Hetherwick.  "I only just caught it at Sloane Square.
But we can ascertain the exact time, to a minute.  Still, those two,
meeting accidentally, as I conclude they did, must have been together
two or three hours.  Where?--at that time of night.  Surely there must
be some way of finding that out!  Two men, each rather
noticeable--somebody must have seen them together, somewhere!  It seems
impossible that they shouldn't have been seen."

"Aye, but in my experience, Mr. Hetherwick, it's the impossible that
happens!" rejoined Matherfield.  "In a bee-hive like this, where every
man's intent on his own business, ninety-nine men out of a hundred
never observe anything unless it's shoved right under their very eyes.
Of course, if we could find out if and where Hannaford and Granett were
together that night, and where Granett went to after he slipped away at
Charing Cross, it would vastly simplify matters.  But how are we going
to find out?  There's been immense publicity given to this case in the
papers, you know, Mr. Hetherwick--portraits of Hannaford, and details
about the whole affair, and so on, and yet we've had surprisingly
little help and less information.  I'll tell you what it is, sir--what
we want is that tall, muffled-up chap who met Hannaford at Victoria!
Who is he, now?"

"Who, indeed!" assented Hetherwick.  "Vanished!--without a trace."

"Oh, well!" said Matherfield cheerfully, "you never know when you might
light on a trace.  But here we are at this unsavoury Fligwood's Rents."

The cab pulled up at the entrance to a dark, high-walled, stone-paved
alley, which at that moment appeared to be full of women and children;
so, too, did the windows on either side.  The whole place was sombre
and evil-smelling, and Hetherwick felt a sense of pity for the
unfortunate man whose luck had been bad enough to bring him there.

"A murder, a suicide, or a sudden death is as a breath of heaven to
these folk!" said Matherfield as they made their way through the ragged
and frowsy gathering.  "It's an event in uneventful lives.  Here's the
place," he added, as they came to a doorway whereat a policeman stood
on guard.  "And here are the stairs--mind you don't slip on 'em, for
the wood's broken and the banisters are smashed."

Hetherwick cautiously followed his guide to the top of the house.
There at another door stood a second policeman, engaged when they
caught sight of him in looking out through the dirt-obscured window of
the landing.  His bored countenance brightened when he saw Matherfield;
stepping back he quietly opened the door at his side.  And the two
new-comers, silent in view of the task before them, tiptoed into the
room beyond.

It was, as Matherfield had remarked, a poor place, but it was clean and
orderly, and its occupant had evidently tried to make it as habitable
and comfortable as his means would allow.  There were one or two good
prints on the table; half a dozen books on an old chest of drawers; in
a cracked vase on the mantelpiece there were a few flowers, wilted and
dead.  Hetherwick took in all this at a glance; then he turned to
Matherfield, who silently drew aside a sheet from the head and
shoulders of the rigid figure on the bed, and looked inquiringly at his
companion.  And Hetherwick gave the dead man's face one careful
inspection and nodded.

"Yes!" he said.  "That's the man!"

"Without doubt?" asked Matherfield.

"No doubt at all," affirmed Hetherwick.  "That is the man who was with
Hannaford in the train.  I knew him instantly."

Matherfield replaced the sheet and turned to a small table which stood
in the window.  On it was a box, a square, old-fashioned thing, clamped
at the corners.

"This seems to be the only thing he had that's what you may call
private," he observed.  "It's locked, but I've got a tool here that'll
open it.  I want to know what's in it--there may be something that'll
give us a clue."

Hetherwick stood by while Matherfield forced open the lock with an
instrument which he produced from his pocket, and began to examine the
contents of the box.  At first there seemed little that was likely to
yield information.  There was a complete suit of clothes and an outfit
of decent linen; it seemed as if Granett had carefully kept these in
view of better days.  There were more books, all of a technical nature,
relating to chemistry; there was a small case containing chemical
apparatus, and another in which lay a pair of scales; in a third they
found a microscope.

"He wasn't down to the very end of his resources, or he'd have pawned
these things," muttered Matherfield.  "They all look good stuff,
especially the microscope.  But here's more what I want--letters!"

He drew forth two bundles of letters, neatly arranged and tied up with
tape.  Unloosing the fastenings and rapidly spreading the envelopes out
on the table, he suddenly put his finger on an address.

"There you are, Mr. Hetherwick," he exclaimed.  "That's just what I
expected to find out--though I certainly didn't think we should
discover it so quickly This man has lived at Sellithwaite some time or
other.  Look there, at this address--_Mr. James Granett, 7, Victoria
Terrace, Sellithwaite, Yorkshire_.  Of course!--that's how he came to
know and be with Hannaford.  They were old acquaintances.  See, there
are several letters."

Hetherwick took two or three of the envelopes in his hand and looked
closely at them.  He perceived at once what Matherfield had not noticed.

"Just so!" he said.  "But what's of far more importance is the date.
Look at this--you see?  That shows that Granett was living at
Sellithwaite ten years ago--it was of that time that Hannaford was
talking to him in the train."

"Oh, we're getting at something!" assented Matherfield.  "Now we'll put
everything back, and I'll take this box away and examine it thoroughly
at leisure."  He replaced the various articles, twisted a cord round
the box, knotted it, and turned to the dead man's clothes, lying neatly
folded on a chair close by.  "I haven't had a look at the pockets of
those things yet," he continued.  "I'll just take a glance--you never
know."

Hetherwick again watched in silence.  There was little of interest
revealed until Matherfield suddenly drew a folded bit of paper from one
of the waistcoat pockets.  Smoothing it out he uttered a sharp
exclamation.

"Good!" he said.  "See this?  A brand new five pound note!  Now, I'll
lay anything he hadn't had that on him long!  Got it that night,
doubtless.  And--from whom?"

"I should say Hannaford gave it to him," suggested Hetherwick.

But Matherfield shook his head and put the note in his own pocket.

"That's a definite clue!" he said, with emphasis.  "I can trace that!"



CHAPTER IX

THE MEDICINE BOTTLE

Hetherwick went away from the sordid atmosphere of Fligwood's Rents
wondering more than ever at this new development; he continued to
wonder and to speculate all the rest of that day and most of the next.
That Granett's sudden death had followed on Hannaford's seemed to him a
sure proof that there was more behind this mystery than anybody had so
far conceived of.  Personally, he had not the slightest doubt that
whoever poisoned Hannaford had also poisoned Granett.  And he was not
at all surprised when, late in the afternoon of the day following upon
that of the visit to Dorking, Matherfield walked into his chambers with
a face full of news.

"I know what you're going to tell me, Matherfield," said Hetherwick,
motioning his visitor to an easy chair.  "The doctors have held a
post-mortem on Granett, and they find that he was poisoned."

Matherfield's face fell; he was robbed of his chance of a dramatic
announcement.

"Well, and that's just what I was going to tell you," he answered.
"That's what they do say.  Same doctors that performed the autopsy on
Hannaford.  Doesn't surprise you?"

"Not in the least," replied Hetherwick.  "I expected it.  They're sure
of it?"

"Dead certain!  But, as in Hannaford's case, they're not certain of the
particular poison used.  However--also as in his case--they've
submitted the whole case to two big swells in that line, one of 'em the
man that's always employed by the Home Office in these affairs, and the
other that famous specialist at St. Martha's Hospital--I forget his
name.  They'll get to work; they're at work on the Hannaford case now.
Difficult job, I understand--some very subtle poison, probably little
known.  However, I believe we've got a clue about it."

"A clue--about the poison?" exclaimed Hetherwick.  "What clue?"

"Well, this," answered Matherfield.  "After you'd gone away from
Fligwood's Rents yesterday afternoon, and while I was making
arrangements for the removal of the poor chap's body, I took another
careful look round the room.  Now, if you noticed things as closely as
all that, you may have observed that Granett's bed was partly in a sort
of alcove--the head part.  In the corner of that alcove, or recess,
just where he could have set them down by reaching his arm out of bed,
I found a bottle and a glass tumbler.  The bottle was an ordinary
medicine bottle--not a very big one.  It had the cork in it and about
an inch of fluid, which, on taking out the cork, I found to be whisky,
and, I should say by the smell, whisky of very good quality.  But I
noticed that there was the very slightest trace of some sort of
sediment at the bottom.  There was a trace of similar sediment in the
bottom of the tumbler.  Now, of course, I put these things up most
carefully, sealed them, and handed them over to the doctors.  For it
was very evident to me--reconstructing things, you know--that Granett
had mixed himself a drink, a nightcap, if you like to call it so, from
that bottle on getting into bed, and then had put bottle and glass down
by his bed-head, in the corner.  And just as I mean to trace that
five-pound note, Mr. Hetherwick, so I mean to trace that bottle!"

"How?" asked Hetherwick, closely interested.  "And to what, or whom?"

"To the chemists where it came from," answered Matherfield.  "It came
from some chemist's, and I'll find which!"

"There are hundreds of chemists in London," said Hetherwick.  "It's a
stiff proposition."

"It's going to be done, anyway," asserted Matherfield.  "And it mayn't
be such a stiff job as it at first looks to be.  See here!  There were
labels on that bottle, both of 'em torn and defaced, it's true, but
still with enough on them to narrow down the field of inquiry.  I've
had the face of the bottle photographed--here's a print of the result."

He brought out a photographic print, roughly finished and mounted on a
card, and handed it over to Hetherwick, who took it to the light and
examined it carefully.  It showed the front of the medicine bottle,
with a label at the top and another at the bottom.  Each had been torn,
as if to obliterate names and addresses, but a good deal of the
lettering was left.



    +-----------------------------+
    |    C. A     , Esq.,         |
    |    The mix  re as before    |
    |    No. A.1152               |
    +-----------------------------+

    +-----------------------------+
    |  _Note_.--This medicine has |
    |  been dispensed by a fully  |
    |  qualified Chemist with the |
    |          to possible drugs  |
    |              is guaranteed  |
    |                  wishes of  |
    |                  the Pres-  |
    |                             |
    |                  M.P.S.     |
    |                    St. W.C. |
    +-----------------------------+


"That bottom label's the thing, Mr. Hetherwick," remarked Matherfield.
"Let me get that hiatus filled up with the name and address of the
chemist, and I'll soon find out who C. A. blank, Esquire, is!  The
chemist is one in the West Central district; he's a member of the
Pharmaceutical Society; he'll have somebody whose initials are C. A. on
his books; he'll recognise the number A.1152 of the prescription.  It's
a decided clue; and even if there are, as there undoubtedly are, scores
of chemists in the West Central district, I'll run this one down!"

Hetherwick handed back the photograph and began to pace up and down the
room.  Suddenly he turned on his visitor, his mind made up to tell him
what he himself had been doing.

"Matherfield," he said, dropping into his chair again and adopting a
tone of confidence, "what do you make of this?  I mean--what's your
theory?  Is it your opinion that the deaths of these two men are--so to
speak--all of a piece?"

"That is my opinion!" answered Matherfield with an emphatic nod.  "I've
no more doubt about it than I have that I see you, Mr. Hetherwick.  All
of a piece, to be sure!  Whoever poisoned Hannaford poisoned Granett!
I'll tell you how I've figured it out since the doctors told me, only a
couple of hours since, what their opinion is about Granett.  This way:
Hannaford and Granett knew each other at Sellithwaite ten years ago.
That night when Granett left Appleyard in Horseferry Road and turned
into Victoria Street, he met Hannaford--accidentally."

"Why accidentally?" asked Hetherwick.

"Well, that's what I think," said Matherfield.  "I've figured in that
way.  Of course, it may have been by appointment.  But anyway, they
met--we know that.  Now then, where did they spend their time between
then and the time they got into your carriage at St. James's Park?  We
don't know.  But here comes in an unknown factor--what about the
strange man at Victoria, the man muffled to his eyes?  Two things
suggest themselves to me, Mr. Hetherwick.  Did Hannaford take Granett
to see that man, or did Hannaford and Granett meet at that man's?  For
I think that man, whoever he is, is at the bottom of every thing."

"Why should they meet at that man's?" asked Hetherwick.



"Well," answered Matherfield, "I think that secret of Hannaford's has
something to do with it.  He had the sealed packet on him when he left
Malter's Hotel; it had disappeared when we searched his clothing after
his death.  Now, the granddaughter says it had to do with chemicals.
Suppose the tall, muffled man was a chap whose business opinion on this
secret Hannaford wanted, and that they met at Victoria and went to the
man's rooms somewhere in that district?  Suppose Granett--another man
in the chemistry line--came there, knowing both?  Supposing the muffled
man poisoned both of 'em, to keep the secret to himself?  Do you see
what I'm after?  Very well!  There you are.  The thing is to hunt out
that man, whoever he is.  I wish I knew what Hannaford's secret was,
though--its precise nature."

"Matherfield," said Hetherwick, "I'll tell you!  You've been very
confidential with me; I'll be equally so with you, on condition that we
work together from this.  The fact is, I've been at work.  I'm
immensely interested in this case.  Ever since I saw Hannaford die in
that train and in that awfully mysterious fashion it's fascinated me,
and I'm going to the very end of it.  Now I'll tell you all I've been
doing, and what I've discovered.  Listen carefully."

He went on to tell his visitor the whole details of his visit to
Sellithwaite, of the results of his investigations there, and of
Rhona's doings and observations at Riversreade Court.  Matherfield
listened in absorbed silence.

"Is Miss Hannaford going to this secretaryship, then?" he demanded
abruptly, at the end of Hetherwick's story.  "Is it settled?"

"Practically, yes," replied Hetherwick.  "I heard from Lady Riversreade
this morning; so did Mr. Kenthwaite.  We gave Miss Hannaford--to be
known to Lady Riversreade as Miss Featherstone--very good
recommendations for the post, and I expect that as soon as she's had
our letters, Lady Riversreade will telephone to Miss Hannaford that
she's to go at once.  Then--she'll go."

"To act as--spy?" suggested Matherfield.

"If you put it that way, yes," assented Hetherwick.  "Though, from what
she saw of her yesterday, Miss Hannaford formed a very favourable
opinion of Lady Riversreade.  However, I'm so certain that somehow or
other, perhaps innocently, she's connected with this affair, that we
mustn't lose any chance."

"And Miss Hannaford will report anything likely to you?" asked
Matherfield.

"Just so!  Miss Hannaford's duties don't include any Sunday work; on
Sunday she'll come to town, and if there's anything to tell, she'll
tell it--to me.  She's a smart, clever girl, Matherfield, and she'll
keep her eyes open."

Matherfield nodded, and for a while sat silent, evidently lost in his
own thoughts.

"Oh, she's a clever girl, right enough!" he said suddenly.  "Um!  I
wonder who this Lady Riversreade really is, now?"

"This Lady Riversreade!" laughed Hetherwick.  "A multi-millionairess!"

"Aye, just so; but who was she before her marriage?  If she is the
woman who was known as Mrs. Whittingham----"

"Can there be any doubt about it after what I found out?"

"You never know, Mr. Hetherwick!  Lord bless you! they talk about the
long arm of coincidence.  Why, in my time I've known of things that
make me feel there's nothing wonderful about the most amazing
coincidence!  But--if Lady Riversreade used to be Mrs. Whittingham,
then I'd like to know all about Mrs. Whittingham until she became Lady
Riversreade, and who she was before she was Mrs. Whittingham, if she
ever was Mrs. Whittingham!"

"Stiff job, Matherfield," said Hetherwick.  "I think we shall have
enough to do to keep an eye on Lady Riversreade."

"You anticipate something there?" suggested Matherfield.

"I think something may transpire," replied Hetherwick.

Matherfield got to his feet.

"Well," he said, "keep me informed, and I'll keep you informed.  We've
something to go on--Lord knows what we shall make out of it!"

"You're doing your best to trace the tall man?" asked Hetherwick.

"Best!" exclaimed Matherfield with an air of disgust.  "We've done our
best and our better than best!  I've had special men all round that
Victoria district; I should think every tall man in that part's been
eyed over.  And I believe that Mr. Ledbitter has so got the thing on
his brain that he's been spending all his spare time patrolling the
neighbourhood and going in and out of restaurants and saloons looking
for the man he saw--of course, without result!"

"All the same," said Hetherwick, "that man is--somewhere!"

Matherfield went away, and except at the inquest on Granett--whereat
nothing transpired which was not already known--Hetherwick did not see
him again for several days.  He himself progressed no further in his
investigations during that time.  Rhona Hannaford betook herself to
Riversreade Court, as secretary to its mistress's Home, and until the
Sunday succeeding his departure Hetherwick heard nothing of her.  Then
she came up to town on the Sunday morning and, in accordance with their
previous arrangement, Hetherwick met her at Victoria, and took her to
lunch at a neighbouring hotel.

"Anything to tell?" he asked, when they had settled down to their soup.
"Any happenings?"

"Nothing!" answered Rhona.  "Everything exceedingly proper,
business-like, and orderly.  And Lady Riversreade appears to me to be a
model sort of person--her devotion to that Home and its inmates is
remarkable!  I don't believe anything's going to happen, or that I
shall ever have anything to report."

"Well, that'll have its compensations," said Hetherwick.  "Leave us all
the more time for ourselves, won't it?"

He gave her a look to which Rhona responded, shyly but unmistakably;
she knew, as well as he did, that they were getting fond of each
other's society.  And they continued to meet on Sundays, and three or
four went by, and still she had nothing to tell that related to the
mystery of Hannaford and Granett.

Three weeks elapsed before Matherfield had anything to tell, either.
Then he walked into Hetherwick's chambers one morning with news in his
face.

"Traced it!" he said.  "Knew I should!  That five-pound note--brand
new.  Only a question of time to do that, of course."

"Well?" inquired Hetherwick.

"It was one of twenty fivers paid by the cashier of the London and
Country Bank in Piccadilly to the secretary of Vivian's," continued
Matherfield.  "Date--day before Hannaford's death.  Vivian's, let me
tell you, is a swell night club.  Now then, how did that note get into
the hands of Granett?  That's going to be a stiff 'un!"

"So stiff that I'm afraid you mustn't ask me to go in at it," agreed
Hetherwick good-humouredly.  "I must stick to my own line--when the
chance comes."

The chance came on the following Sunday, when, in pursuance of now
established custom, he met Rhona.  She gave him a significant look as
soon as she got out of the train.

"News--at last!" she said, as they turned up the platform.
"Something's happened--but what it means I don't know."



CHAPTER X

THE MYSTERIOUS VISITOR

The head-waiter in the restaurant to which Hetherwick and Rhona
repaired every Sunday immediately upon her arrival now knew these two
well by sight, and forming his own conclusions about them, always
reserved for them a table in a quiet and secluded corner.  Hither they
now proceeded, and had scarcely taken their accustomed seats before
Rhona plunged into her story.

"I expect you want to know what it's all about, so I won't keep you
waiting," she said.  "It was on Friday--Friday morning--that it
happened, and I half thought of writing to you about it that evening.
Then I thought it best to tell you personally to-day--besides, I should
have had to write an awfully long letter.  There are things to explain;
I'd better explain them first.  Our arrangements down there at
Riversreade, for instance.  They're like this: Lady Riversreade and I
always breakfast together at the Court, about nine o'clock.  At ten we
go across the grounds to the Home.  There we have a sort of formal
office--two rooms, one of which, the first opening from the hall, I
have, the other, opening out of it, is Lady Riversreade's private
sanctum.  In the hall itself we have an ex-army man, Mitchell, as
hall-porter, to attend to the door and so on.  All the morning we are
busy with letters, accounts, reports of the staff, and that sort of
thing.  We have lunch at the Home, and we're generally busy until four
or five o'clock.  Got all that?"

"Every scrap!" replied Hetherwick.  "Perfectly plain."

"Very well," continued Rhona.  "One more detail, however.  A good many
people, chiefly medical men and folk interested in homes and hospitals,
call, wanting to look over and to know about the place--which, I may
tell you in parenthesis, costs Lady Riversreade a pretty tidy penny!
Mitchell's instructions as regards all callers are to bring their cards
to me--I interview them first; if I can deal with them, I do; if I
think it necessary or desirable, I take them in to Lady Riversreade.
We have to sort them out--some, I am sure, come out of mere idle
curiosity; in fact, the only visitors we want to see there are either
medical men who have a genuine interest in the place and can do
something for it, or people who are connected with its particular
inmates.  Well, on Friday morning last, about a quarter to twelve, as I
was busy with my letters, I heard a car come up the drive, and
presently Mitchell came into my room with a card bearing the name _Dr.
Cyprian Baseverie_.  Instead of being an engraved card as, by all the
recognised standards, it should have been, it was a printed card--that
was the first thing I noticed."

"Your powers of observation," remarked Hetherwick admiringly, "are
excellent, and should prove most useful."

"Thank you for the compliment!--but that didn't need much observation,"
retorted Rhona with a laugh.  "It was obvious.  However, I asked
Mitchell what Dr. Baseverie wanted; Mitchell replied that the gentleman
desired an interview with Lady Riversreade.  Now, as I said before, we
never refuse doctors, so I told Mitchell to bring Dr. Baseverie to me.
A moment later Dr. Baseverie entered.  I want to describe him
particularly, and you must listen most attentively.  Figure, then, to
yourself a man of medium height, neither stout nor slender, but
comfortably plump, and apparently about forty-five years of age,
dressed very correctly and fashionably in a black morning coat and
vest, dark striped trousers, immaculate as to linen and neckwear, and
furnished with a new silk hat, pearl-grey gloves and a tightly rolled
gold-mounted umbrella.  Incidentally, he wore a thin gold watch-chain,
white spats and highly polished shoes.  Got that?"

"I see him--his clothes and things, I mean," assented Hetherwick.
"Fashionable medico sort, evidently!  But--himself?"

"Now his face," continued Rhona.  "Imagine a man with an almost
absolutely bloodless countenance--a face the colour of old
ivory--lighted by a pair of peculiarly piercing eyes, black as sloes,
and the pallor of the face heightened by a rather heavy black moustache
and equally black, slightly crinkled hair, thick enough above the ears
but becoming sparse and thin on the crown.  Imagine, too, a pair of
full, red lips above a round but determined chin and a decidedly hooked
nose, and you have--the man I'm describing!"

"Um!" said Hetherwick reflectingly.  "Hebraic, I think, from your
description."

"That's just what I thought myself," agreed Rhona.  "I said to myself
at once, 'Whatever and whoever else you are, my friend, you're a Jew!'
But the creature's manner and speech were English enough--very English.
He had all the well-accustomed air of the medical practitioner who is
also a bit of a man of the world, and I saw at once that anybody who
tried to fence with him would usually come off second-best.  His
explanation of his presence was reasonable and commonplace enough: he
was deeply interested in the sort of cases we had in the Home, and
desired to acquaint himself with our methods and arrangements and so
on.  He made use of a few technical terms and phrases which were quite
beyond my humble powers, and I carried in his card to Lady Riversreade.
Lady Riversreade is always accessible when there's a doctor in the
case, and in two minutes Dr. Baseverie was closeted with her."

"That ends the first chapter, I suppose?" said Hetherwick.
"Interesting--very!  A good curtain!  And the next?"

"The events of the second chapter," replied Rhona, "took place in Lady
Riversreade's room, and I cannot even guess at their nature.  I can
only tell of things that I know.  But there's a good deal in that.  To
begin with, although Dr. Baseverie had said to me that he desired to
see the Home--which, of course, in the ordinary way meant his being
either taken round by Lady Riversreade or by our resident house
physician--he was not taken round.  He never left that room from the
moment he entered it until the moment in which he left it.  And he
remained in it an entire hour!"

"With Lady Riversreade?"

"With Lady Riversreade!  She never left it, either.  Nor did I go into
it; she hates me to go in if she has anybody with her at any time.
No!--there those two were together, from ten minutes to twelve until
five minutes to one.  Yet the man had said that he wanted to look
round!"

"Is there any other way by which they could have left that room?"
suggested Hetherwick.  "Another door--or a French window?"

"There is nothing of the sort.  The door into my room is the only means
of entrance or exit to or from Lady Riversreade's.  No--they were there
all the time."

"Did you hear anything?"

"Nothing!  The house in which Lady Riversreade set up this Home is an
old, solid, well-built one--none of your modern gimcrack work in
it!--it's a far better house than the Court, grand as that may be.  All
the doors and windows fit--I never heard a sound from the room."

"Well," asked Hetherwick, after due meditation, "and at the end of the
hour?"

"At the end of the hour the door suddenly opened and Dr. Baseverie
appeared, hat, gloves and umbrella in hand.  He half turned as he came
out and said a few words to Lady Riversreade.  I heard them.  He said,
'Well, then, next Friday morning at the same time?'  Then he nodded,
stepped into my room, closed the door behind him, made me a very
polite, smiling bow as he passed my desk, and went out.  A moment later
he drove off in the car--it had been waiting at the entrance all that
time."

"I suppose that's the end of chapter two," suggested Hetherwick.  "Is
there more?"

"Some," responded Rhona.  "During the hour which Dr. Baseverie had
spent with Lady Riversreade I had been very busy typing letters.  When
he had gone I took them into her room, so that she could sign them.  I
suppose I was a bit curious about what had just happened and may have
been more than usually observant--anyway, I felt certain that the visit
of this man, whoever he is, had considerably upset Lady Riversreade.
She looked it."

"Precisely how?" inquired Hetherwick.

"Well, I couldn't exactly tell you.  Perhaps a man wouldn't have
noticed it.  But being a woman, I did.  She was perturbed--she'd been
annoyed, or distressed, or surprised, or--something.  I saw signs
which, as a woman, were unmistakable--to a woman.  The man's visit had
been distasteful--troubling.  I'm as certain of that as I am that this
is roast mutton."

"Did she say anything?"

"Not one word.  She was unusually taciturn--silent, in fact.  She took
the letters in silence, signed them in silence.  No, on reflection, she
never spoke a word while I was in the room.  I took the letters away
and began putting them in their envelopes.  Soon afterwards Lady
Riversreade came through my room and went out, and I saw her go across
the grounds to the Court.  She didn't turn up at the usual luncheon at
the Home, and I didn't see her again that afternoon.  In fact, I didn't
see her again that day, for when I went home to the Court at five
o'clock, Lady Riversreade's maid told me that her mistress had gone up
to town and wouldn't be home until late that night.  I went to bed
before she returned."

"Next morning?" suggested Hetherwick.

"Next morning she was just as usual, and things went on in the usual
way."

"Did she ever mention this man and his visit to you?" asked Hetherwick.

"No--not a word of him.  But I found out something about him myself on
Friday afternoon."

"What?  Something relevant?"

"May be relevant to--something.  I was wondering about him--and his
printed card.  I thought it odd that a medical man, so smartly dressed
and all that, should present a card like that--not one well printed, a
cheap thing!  Besides, it had no address.  I wondered--mere
inquisitiveness, perhaps--where the creature came from.  Now, we've a
jolly good lot of the usual reference-books there at the Home--and
there's a first-class right up-to-date medical directory amongst them.
So I looked up the name of Dr. Cyprian Baseverie.  I say, looked it
up--but I didn't do that--for it wasn't there!  He's neither an
English, nor a Scottish, nor an Irish medical man."

"Foreigner, then," said Hetherwick.  "French, perhaps, or--American."

"May be an Egyptian, or a Persian, or a Eurasian, for anything I know,"
remarked Rhona.  "What I know is that he's not on the list in that
directory, though from his speech and manner you'd think he'd been
practising in the West End all his life!  Anyway, that's the story.  Is
there anything in it?"

Hetherwick picked up his glass of claret by its stem and looked
thoughtfully through the contents of the bowl.

"The particular thing is--the extent and quality of Lady Riversreade's
annoyance, or dismay, or perturbation, occasioned by the man's visit,"
he said at last.  "If she was really very much upset----"

"If you want my honest opinion as eye-witness and as woman," remarked
Rhona, "Lady Riversreade was very much upset.  She gave me the
impression that she'd just received very bad, disconcerting, unpleasant
news.  After seeing and watching her as she signed the letters I had no
doubt whatever that the man had deliberately lied to me when he said he
wanted to see the Home and its working--what he really wanted was
access to Lady Riversreade."

"Look here!" exclaimed Hetherwick suddenly "Were you present when this
man went into Lady Riversreade's room?"

"Present?  Of course I was!  I took him in--myself."

"You saw them meet?"

"To be sure!"

"Well, then, you know!  Were they strangers?  Did she recognise him?
Did she show any sign of recognition whatever when she set eyes on him?"

"No, none!  I'm perfectly certain she'd never seen the man before in
her life!  I could see quite well that he was an absolute stranger to
her."

"And she to him?"

"Oh, that I don't know!  He may have seen her a thousand times.  But
I'm sure she'd never seen him."

Hetherwick laid down his knife and fork with a gesture of finality.

"I'm going to find out who that chap is," he answered.  "Got to!"

"You think his visit may have something to do with this?" asked Rhona.

"May, yes.  Anyway, I'm not going to let any chance go.  There's enough
mystery in what you tell me about the man to make it worth while
following him up.  It must be done."

"How will you do it?"

"You say he said that he was going there again next Friday at the same
time?  Well, the thing to do, then, is to watch and follow him when he
goes away."

"I'm afraid I'm no use for that!  He'd know me."

"Nor am I!--I'm too conspicuous," laughed Hetherwick.  "If I were a
head and shoulders shorter, I might be some use.  But I've got the very
man--my clerk, one Mapperley.  He's just the sort to follow and dog
anybody and yet never be seen himself.  As you'll say, when you've the
pleasure of seeing him, Mapperley's the most ordinary, commonplace chap
you ever set eyes on--pass absolutely unnoticed in any Cockney crowd.
But he's as sharp as they make 'em, veiling a peculiar astuteness under
his eminently undistinguished features.  And what I shall do is
this--I'll give Mapperley a full and detailed description of Dr.
Cyprian Baseverie: I've memorised yours already; Mapperley will
memorise mine.  Now Baseverie, whoever he may be, will probably go down
to Dorking by the 10.10 from here; so will Mapperley.  And after
Mapperley has once spotted his man, he'll not lose sight of him."

"And he'll do--what?" asked Rhona.

"Follow him to Dorking--watch him--follow him back to London--find out
where he goes when he returns--run him to earth, in fact.  Then he'll
report to me--and we shall know more than we do now, and also what to
do next."

"I wonder what it's all going to lead to?" said Rhona.  "Pretty much of
a maze, isn't it?"

"It is," agreed Hetherwick.  "But if we can only get a firm hold on a
thread----"

"And that might break!" she laughed.

"Well, then, one that won't break," he said.  "There are several loose
ends lying about already.  Matherfield's got a hold on one or two."

He went to see Matherfield next morning and told him the story that he
had heard from Rhona.  Matherfield grew thoughtful.

"Well, Mr. Hetherwick," he said, after a pause, "it's as I've said
before--if this Lady Riversreade is mixed up in it, the thing to do is
to go back and get as full a history as can possibly be got of her
antecedents.  We'll have to get on to that--but we'll wait to see what
that clerk of yours discovers about this man.  There may be something
in it--in the meantime I'm hard at work on my own clues."

"Any luck?" asked Hetherwick.

"Scarcely that.  But, as I say, we're at work.  The five-pound note is
a difficult matter.  Given in change, of course, at Vivian's Night
Club--but they tell me there that it's no uncommon thing to change ten,
twenty, and even fifty-pound notes for their customers--it's a swell
lot who forgather there--and of course they've no recollection whatever
about that particular note or night.  Still, the fact remains--that
note came through Vivian's, and through one of its frequenters, to
Granett, and I'm in hopes."

"And the medicine bottle?" suggested Hetherwick.

"Ah, there is more chance!" responded Matherfield, with a lightening
eye.  "That's only a question of time!  I've got a man going round all
the chemists in the West Central district--stiff job, for there are
more of 'em than I believed.  But he's bound to hit on the right one
eventually.  And then--well, we shall have a pretty good idea, if not
positive proof, as to how Granett got hold of the stuff that poisoned
him."

"I suppose there's no doubt that there was poison in that bottle?"
inquired Hetherwick.

"According to the specialists, none," replied Matherfield.  "And in the
glass too.  What sort of poison, I don't know--you know what these
experts are--so mysterious about things!  But they have told me
this--the stuff that settled Granett was identical with that which
finished off Hannaford.  That's certain."

"Then it probably came from the same source," said Hetherwick.

"Oh, my notion is that the man or men who poisoned one man poisoned the
other," exclaimed Matherfield.  "And at the same time.  At least, I
think Granett got his dose at the same time--probably carried it off in
his pocket and drank it when he got home.  But--we shall trace that
bottle!  Let me know what you find out about this man Baseverie, Mr.
Hetherwick--every little helps."

Hetherwick duly coached Mapperley in the part he wanted him to play,
and Mapperley, with money in his pockets and a pipe in his mouth,
lounged off to Victoria on the following Friday morning.  His principal
saw nothing and heard nothing of him all that day.



CHAPTER XI

LADY RIVERSREADE

As Hetherwick was breakfasting next morning, Mapperley, outwardly
commonplace and phlegmatic as ever, walked into his room.

"Brief outline first, Mapperley," commanded Hetherwick, instinctively
scenting news.  "Details later.  Well?"

"Spotted him at once at Victoria," said Mapperley.  "Followed him down
there.  He was at Riversreade an hour.  Then went back to Dorking--had
lunch at 'Red Lion.'  He stopped there till four o'clock, lunching and
idling.  Went back to town by the 4.29, arriving 6.5.  I followed him
then to the Café de Paris.  He dined there and hung about till past
ten.  And then he went to Vivian's Night Club."

Hetherwick pricked up his ears at that.  Vivian's Night Club!--here, at
any rate, seemed to be a link in the chain of which Matherfield
believed himself to hold at least one end.  The five-pound note found
on Granett had been traced to Vivian's Night Club: now Mapperley had
tracked Lady Riversreade's mysterious visitor to the same resort.

"To Vivian's Night Club, eh, Mapperley?" he said.  "Let's see?--where
is that?"

"Entrance is in Candlestick Passage, off St. Martin's Lane," replied
Mapperley with promptitude.  "Club's on first floor--jolly fine suite
of rooms, too!"

"You've been in it?" suggested Hetherwick.

"Twice!  Not last night, though.  You didn't give me any further orders
than to see where he went finally, after returning to town.  So, when
I'd run him to earth at Vivian's, I went home.  I argued that if he was
wanted further, Vivian's would find him."

"All right, Mapperley.  But before that?  You followed him to
Riversreade Court?"

Mapperley grinned widely.

"No!--I did better than that.  I was there before him--much better
that, than following.  I spotted him quick enough at Victoria, and made
sure he got into the 10.10.  Then I got in.  As soon as we got to
Dorking, I jumped out, got outside the station and chartered a taxi and
drove off to Riversreade Court.  I made the driver hide his cab up the
road: I laid low in the plantation opposite the entrance gates.
Presently my lord came along and drove up to the house.  He was there
the best part of an hour; then he drove off again towards Dorking.  I
followed at a good distance: kept him in sight, all the same.  He got
out of his conveyance in the High Street: so did I.  He went into the
Red Lion: so did I.  He had lunch there: so had I.  After that he
lounged about in the smoking-room: I kept an eye on him."

"I suppose he didn't meet anybody?"

"Nobody!"

"Well, and at the Café de Paris?  Did he meet anybody there?"

"He exchanged a nod and a word here and there with men--and women--that
came in and went out.  But as to any arranged meeting, I should say
not.  I should say, too, that he was well known at the Café de Paris."

"Did he seem to be a man of means?  You know what I mean?"

"He did himself very well at lunch and dinner, anyway," said Mapperley,
with another grin.  "Bottle of claret at Dorking, and a pint of
champagne at the Café de Paris--big cigars, too.  That sort of man, you
know."

Hetherwick considered matters a moment.

"How do you get in to this Vivian's Night Club?" he asked suddenly.

"Pay!" answered Mapperley laconically.  "At the door.  Some nonsense
about being proposed, but that's all bosh!  Two of you go--say Brown
and Smith.  Brown proposes Smith and Smith proposes Brown.  All rot!
Anybody can get in--with money."

"And what goes on there?"

"Dancing!  Drinking!  Devilry!  Quite respectable, though," replied
Mapperley.  "Been no prosecutions, anyway--so far."

"What time does it open?"

"Nine o'clock," answered Mapperley, with a suggestive grin.  "In the
old days it didn't open till after the theatres.  But now--earlier."

"Really not a night-club at all--in the old acceptation of the term,"
suggested Hetherwick.  "Evening, really?"

"That's about it," agreed Mapperley.  "Anyhow, it's Vivian's."

For the second time in the course of his investigations, Hetherwick's
thoughts turned to Boxley.  Boxley's love of intimate acquaintance with
all sides of London life had doubtless led him to look in at Vivian's:
he would ask Boxley for some further information.  And he looked up
Boxley at the club.

Boxley knew Vivian's well enough--innocent and innocuous now, said
Boxley, what with all these new regulations and so on: degenerated,
indeed--or improved, just whichever way you regarded it--into a supper
club and that sort of thing.  Dancing?--oh yes, there was dancing, and
so on--but things had altered--altered.

"Well, I don't want to dance there, nor to go there at all, for that
matter, unless I'm obliged to," said Hetherwick.  "What I want to know
is something about a man who, I believe, frequents the place--a
somewhat notable man."

"Describe him!" commanded Boxley.

Hetherwick retailed Rhona's description of Baseverie: Boxley nodded.

"I know that man--by sight," he said.  "Seen him there.  I believe he's
something to do with the proprietorship: that place is owned by a small
syndicate.  But I don't know his name.  I've seen him outside
too--round about Leicester Square and its purlieus."

Hetherwick went from Boxley to Matherfield and told him the result of
Mapperley's work.

"I know Vivian's, of course," said Matherfield.  "Been in there two or
three times lately in relation to this five-pound note.  Don't remember
seeing this man, though.  But in view of what your clerk says, I'd like
to see him.  Come with me.  We'll go to-night."

"Make it Monday," suggested Hetherwick.  "To-morrow, Sunday, I shall be
meeting Miss Hannaford again, and before we go to Vivian's I'd like to
know if she has anything to tell about the last visit of Baseverie to
Riversreade Court--the visit that Mapperley watched yesterday.  She may
have."

"Monday night then," agreed Matherfield.  "I don't know what we can
expect, but I'd certainly like to know who this man is and why he goes
to Lady Riversreade."

"No good, you may be sure!" said Hetherwick.  "But we'll ferret it
out--somehow."

"Odd, that things seem to be centring round Vivian's!" mused
Matherfield.  "The fiver--and now this.  Well--Monday evening
then?--perhaps Miss Hannaford can supply a bit of extra news to-morrow."

Hetherwick, meeting Rhona at Victoria next day, found his arm grasped
in Rhona's right hand and himself twisted round.

"If you want to see Lady Riversreade in the flesh, there she is!"
whispered Rhona.  "Came up by the same train--there, going towards the
bookstall; a tall man with her!"

At that moment Lady Riversreade turned to speak to a porter who was
carrying some light luggage for her, and Hetherwick had a full and good
view of her face and figure.  A fine, handsome, capable-looking woman,
he said to himself, and one that once seen would not easily be
forgotten.

"Who's the man?" he asked, looking from Lady Riversreade to her
companion, a tall, bronzed man of military appearance, and apparently
of about her own age.

"Major Penteney," replied Rhona promptly.  "He's a friend of hers, who
takes a tremendous interest in the Home--in fact, he acts as a sort of
representative of it here in town.  He's often down at the Court--I
believe he's in love with her."

"Well-matched couple," observed Hetherwick, as the two people under
notice moved away towards the exit.  "And what's Lady Riversreade come
up for?"

"Oh, I don't know that," replied Rhona.  "She never tells me anything
about her private doings.  I heard her say that she was going to Town
this morning and shouldn't be back until Tuesday, but that's all I
know."

"That man, Baseverie, came again on Friday?" suggested Hetherwick.
"But I know he did--Mapperley watched him.  Anything happen?"

"Nothing--except that Lady Riversreade told me that if Dr. Baseverie
called he was to be brought in to her at once," answered Rhona.  "He
came at the same time as before, and was with her an hour."

"Any signs on her part of being further upset?" asked Hetherwick.

"No--on the contrary she seemed quite cool and collected after he'd
gone," said Rhona.  "Of course she made no reference to his visit."

"Has she never mentioned him to you?"

"Never!  In spite of the fact that his professed object was to see the
Home and the patients, he's seen neither."

"Which shows that that was all a mere excuse to get speech with her!"
muttered Hetherwick.  "Well--we're going to find out who this Dr.
Baseverie is!  Matherfield and I intend to get in touch with him
to-morrow night."

But when the next night came Hetherwick's plans about the visit to
Vivian's were frustrated by an unexpected happening, and neither he nor
Matherfield as much as crossed the threshold of the night-club in
Candlestick Passage.  They went there at ten o'clock: that, said
Matherfield, was a likely hour--between then and eleven-thirty the
place would be full of its habitual frequenters: the notion was to
mingle unobtrusively with whatever crowd chanced to be there and to
keep eyes and ears open for whatever happened to transpire.

Candlestick Passage, unfamiliar to Hetherwick until that evening,
proved to be one of the many narrow alleys which open out of St.
Martin's Lane in the neighbourhood of the theatres.  It wore a very
commonplace, not to say shabby complexion, and there was nothing in its
atmosphere to suggest adventure or romance.  Not was there anything
alluring about the entrance to Vivian's, which was merely a wide,
double doorway, ornamented by two evergreen shrubs set in tubs and
revealing swing-doors within, and a carpeted staircase beyond.
Hetherwick and Matherfield, however, never reached swing-doors or
staircase: as they approached the outer entrance a tall woman emerged,
and without so much as a look right or left turned down the passage
towards the street.  She paid no attention to the two men as she walked
quickly past them--but Hetherwick softly seized his companion's arm.

"Lady Riversreade, by all that's wonderful!" he exclaimed under his
breath.  "That woman!"

Matherfield turned sharply, gazing after the retreating figure.

"That," he said incredulously, "coming out of here?  Certain?"

"Dead sure!" affirmed Hetherwick.  "I knew her at once--I'd had a
particularly good look at her, yesterday.  That's she!"

"What's she doing at Vivian's?" muttered Matherfield.  "Queer, that!"

"But she's going away from it," said Hetherwick.  "Come on!--let's see
where she goes.  We can easily come back here.  But why not follow her
first?"

"Good!" agreed Matherfield.  "Come on then! easily keep her in sight."

Lady Riversreade at that moment was turning out of the passage, to her
left hand.  When the two men emerged from it, she was already several
yards ahead, going towards St. Martin's Church.  Her tall figure made
her good to follow, but Matherfield kept Hetherwick back; no use, he
said, in pressing too closely on your quarry.

"Tall as she is and tall as we are," he whispered, as they threaded in
out of the crowds on the pavement, "we can spot her at twenty yards.
Cautiously, now--she's making for the cab rank!"

They watched Lady Riversreade charter and enter a taxi-cab: in another
minute it moved away.  But it had scarcely moved when Matherfield was
at the door of the next cab on the rank.

"You saw that cab go off with a tall woman in it?" he said to the
driver.  "There!--just rounding the corner, know its driver?
Right!--follow it carefully.  Note where it stops, and if the woman
gets out.  Drive slowly past wherever that is, and then pull up a bit
farther on.  Be sharp, now--this is----" he bent towards the man and
whispered a word or two: a second later he and Hetherwick were in the
cab and across the top side of Trafalgar Square.

"This is getting a bit thick, Mr. Hetherwick," remarked Matherfield.
"Your clerk tracks his man to Vivian's on Friday night, we find Lady
Riversreade coming out of Vivian's on Monday night.  Now I shouldn't
think Lady Riversreade, whom we hear of chiefly as a humanitarian, a
likely sort of lady to visit Vivian's!"

"She came out of Vivian's, anyway!" replied Hetherwick.

"Then, of course, she'd been in!" said Matherfield.  "But why?  I
should say--to have a meeting with Baseverie, or with somebody
representing him, or having something to do with the business that took
him to Riversreade Court.  What business is it?  Has it anything to do
with our business?  However, there's Lady Riversreade in that cab in
front, and we'll just follow her to find out where she goes--no doubt
she's bound for some swell West End hotel.  And that knowledge will be
useful, for I may want to see her in the morning--to ask a question or
two."

"Somewhat early for that, isn't it?" suggested Hetherwick.  "Do we know
enough?"

"Depends on what you call enough," replied Matherfield dryly.  "What I
know is this: that man Granett was poisoned.  He had on him a brand new
five-pound note.  That note I've traced as far as Vivian's, where it
was certainly paid to some customer in change on the very day before
Granett and Hannaford's deaths: Vivian's is accordingly a place of
interest.  Now I hear of a mysterious man visiting Lady
Riversreade--the man is tracked to Vivian's--I myself see Lady
Riversreade emerging from Vivian's.  I think I must ask Lady
Riversreade what she knows about Vivian's and a certain Dr. Baseverie,
and, incidentally, if she ever heard of a place called Sellithwaite and
a police-superintendent named Hannaford?  Eh!  But we're leaving the
region of the fashionable hotels."

Hetherwick looked out of the window, what he saw seemed unfamiliar.

"We're going up Edgware Road," said Matherfield.  He leaned out of the
cab and gave some further instructions to the driver.  "I don't want to
arouse any suspicion there in front," he remarked, dropping into his
seat again.  "The probability is that she's going to some private
house, and I don't want her to get any idea that she's followed.
Ah!--now we turn into Harrow Road."

The cab went away by Paddington Green, turned sharply at the Town Hall,
and made up St. Mary's Terrace.  Presently it slowed down; proceeded
still more slowly; passed the other cab which had come to a standstill
in front of a block of high buildings; a few yards farther on it
stopped altogether.  The driver got down from his seat and came to the
door.

"That tall lady!" he said confidentially.  "Her as got into the other
cab.  She's gone into St. Mary's Mansions--just below."

"Flats, aren't they?" asked Matherfield.

"That's it, sir," answered the driver.  He looked down the street.
"Cab's going off again, sir.  Porter came out and paid."

"That looks as if she was going to stay here awhile," remarked
Matherfield in an undertone.  "Well, we'll get out, too, and take a
look round."  He paid and dismissed the driver, and crossing over to
the opposite side of the roadway, pointed out to Hetherwick the block
of flats into which Lady Riversreade had disappeared.  "Big place," he
muttered.  "Regular rabbit-warren.  However, no other entrance than
this--the old burial ground's at the back, no way out there, I do know
that!  So she can't very well vanish that way."

"You're going to wait, then?" asked Hetherwick.

"I don't believe in starting out on any game unless I see it through,"
replied Matherfield.  "Yes, I think we'll wait.  But there's no
necessity to hang around in the open street.  I know this
district--used to be at the police station round the corner.  You see
all these houses on this side, Mr. Hetherwick?  They're all
lodging-houses, and I know most of their keepers.  Wait here a minute,
and I'll soon get a room that we can watch from, without being seen
ourselves."

He left Hetherwick standing under the shadow of a neighbouring high
wall, and went a little way down the street.  Hetherwick heard him open
the gate of one of the little gardens and knock at a door.  There some
little delay.  Hetherwick passed the time in staring at the long rows
of lighted windows in the flats opposite, wondering to which of them
Lady Riversreade had gone and what she was doing there at all.  It was
clear to him that this was some adventure connected with the mysterious
Baseverie and with Vivian's Night Club--but how, and of what nature?

Matherfield came back presently, cheerful and reassuring.

"Come along, Mr. Hetherwick!" he whispered.  "There's a man
here--lodging-house keeper--who knows me.  We can have his front
parlour window to watch from.  Far better that than patrolling the
street.  We shall be comfortable there."

"You're intent on watching, then?" said Hetherwick as they moved off.

"I'm not coming all that way for nothing," replied Matherfield.  "I'm
going to follow her up till she settles for the night.  That won't be
here; she'll be off to some hotel or other before long."

But Matherfield's prediction proved to be faulty.  Time dragged slowly
by in the stuffy and shabby little room in which he and Hetherwick took
up a position and from the window of which Matherfield kept a constant
watch on the entrance of the flats, exactly opposite.  Midnight came
and went, but nothing happened.  And at half-past twelve Hetherwick
suggested that the game wasn't worth the candle, and that he should
prefer to depart.

"You do as you like, Mr. Hetherwick," said Matherfield, stifling a
suspicious yawn.  "I'm sick enough of it, too.  But here I stop till
she comes out--whether it's this side of breakfast or the other side!"

"And what then?" asked Hetherwick, half derisively.

"Then we'll see--or I'll see, if you're going--where she goes next!
Don't believe in half measures!" retorted Matherfield.

"Oh, I'll see it out!" said Hetherwick.  "After all, it'll be daylight
soon."

Daylight came over the house-tops at four o'clock.  They had seen
nothing up to then.  But at twenty minutes to five Matherfield tugged
his companion's arm.  Lady Riversreade, in a big ulster travelling-coat
and carrying a small suit-case, was emerging alone from the opposite
door.



CHAPTER XII

_ALIAS_ MADAME LISTORELLE

The woman thus observed marched swiftly away down the deserted street
in the direction of the Town Hall at the corner, and Matherfield, after
one more searching look at her, dropped the slat of the Venetian blind
through which he had been peeping, and turned on his companion.  At the
same instant he reached a hand for his overcoat and hat.

"Now, Mr. Hetherwick," he said sharply, "this has got to be a one-man
job!  There'll be nothing extraordinary in one man going along the
streets to catch an early morning train, but it would look a bit
suspicious if two men went together on the same errand and the same
track!  I'm off after her!  I'll run her down!  I'm used to that sort
of thing.  You go to your chambers and get some sleep.  I'll look in
later and tell you what news I have.  Sharp's the word, now!"

He was out of the room and the house within the next few seconds, and
Hetherwick, half vexed with himself for having lingered there on a job
which Matherfield thus unceremoniously took into his own hands,
prepared to follow.  Presently he went out into the shabby hall; the
man of the house was just coming downstairs, stifling a big yawn.  He
smiled knowingly when he saw Hetherwick.

"Matherfield gone, sir?" he inquired.  "I heard the door close."

"He's gone," assented Hetherwick.  "The person he wanted appeared
suddenly, and he's gone in pursuit."

The man, a smug-faced, easy-going sort of person, smiled again.

"Rum doings these police have!" he remarked.  "Queer job, watching all
night through a window.  I was just coming down to make you a cup of
coffee," he continued.  "I'll get you one in a few minutes, if you
like.  Or tea now?  Perhaps you'd prefer tea?"

"It's very good of you," said Hetherwick.  "But to tell you the truth
I'd rather get home and to bed.  Many thanks, all the same."

Then, out of sheer good nature, he slipped a treasury note into the
man's hand, and, bidding him good morning, went away.  He, too, walked
down the street in the direction taken by Lady Riversreade and her
pursuer.  But when he came to the bottom and emerged into Harrow Road
he saw nothing of them, either to left or right.  The road, however,
was not deserted; there were already workmen going to early morning
tasks, and close by the corner of the Town Hall a roadman was busy with
his broom.  Hetherwick went up to him.

"Did you see a lady, and then a gentleman, come down here, from St.
Mary's Terrace, just now?" he asked.  "Tall people, both of them."

The man rested on his broom, half turned, and pointed towards
Paddington Bridge.

"I see 'em, guv'nor," he answered.  "Tall lady, carrying a little
portmantle.  Gone along over the bridge yonder.  Paddington station
way.  And, after her, Matherfield."

"Oh, you know him, do you?" exclaimed Hetherwick, in surprise.

The man jerked a thumb in the direction of the adjacent police station.

"Used to be a sergeant here, did Matherfield," he replied.  "I knows
him, right enough!  Once run me in--me an' a mate o' mine--for bein' a
bit festive like.  Five bob and costs that was.  But I don't bear him
no grudge, not me!  Thank 'ee, guv'nor."

Hetherwick left another tip behind him and walked slowly off towards
Edgware Road.  The Tube trains were just beginning to run, and he
caught a south-bound one and went down to Charing Cross and thence to
the Temple.  And at six o'clock he tumbled into bed, and slept soundly
until, four hours later, he heard Mapperley moving about in the
adjoining room.

Mapperley, whose job at Hetherwick's was a good deal of a sinecure, was
leisurely reading the news when his master entered.  He laid the paper
aside, and gave Hetherwick a knowing glance.

"Got some more information last night," he said.  "About that chap I
tracked the other day."

"How did you get it?" asked Hetherwick.

"Put in a bit of time at Vivian's," answered Mapperley.  "There's a
fellow there that I know.  Clerk to the secretary chap, named Flowers.
That man Baseverie has a share in the place--sort of director, I think."

"What time were you at Vivian's?" inquired Hetherwick.  "Late or early?"

"Early--for them," answered Mapperley.

"Did you see the man there?"

"I did.  He was there all the time I was.  In and about all the time.
But at first he was in what seemed to be serious conversation with a
tall, handsome woman.  They sat talking in an alcove in the lounge
there some time.  Then she went off--alone."

"Oh, you saw that, did you?" said Hetherwick.  "Well, I may as well
tell you, since you know what you do, that the woman was Lady
Riversreade!"

"Oh, I guessed that!" remarked Mapperley.  "I figured in that at once.
But that wasn't all.  I found out more.  That dead man, Hannaford--from
what I heard from Flowers--I've no doubt whatever that Hannaford was at
Vivian's once, if not twice, during the two or three nights before his
death.  Anyway, Flowers recognised my description of him--which I'd
got, of course, from you and the papers."

"Hannaford.  There, eh?" exclaimed Hetherwick.  "Alone?"

"No--came in with this Baseverie.  They don't know him as Dr. Baseverie
there, though.  Plain Mister.  I'm quite sure it was Hannaford who was
with him."

"Did you get the exact dates--and times?" asked Hetherwick.

"I didn't.  Flowers couldn't say that.  But he remembered such a man."

"Well, that's something," said Hetherwick.  He turned into another room
and sat down to his breakfast, thinking.  "Mapperley, come here!" he
called presently.  "Look here," he went on as the clerk came in.
"Since you know this Vivian place, go there again to-night, and try to
find out if that friend of yours knows anything of a tall man who
corresponds to the description of the man whom Hannaford was seen to
meet at Victoria.  You read Ledbitter's account of that, given at the
inquest?"

"Yes," replied Mapperley.  "But of what value is it?  None--for
practical purposes!  He couldn't even tell the shape of the man's nose,
nor the colour of his eyes!  All he could tell was that he saw a man
muffled in such a fashion that he saw next to nothing of his face, and
that he was tall and smartly dressed.  There are a few tens of
thousands--scores, perhaps--of tall, smartly-dressed men in London!"

"Never mind--inquire," said Hetherwick, "and particularly if such a man
has ever been seen in Baseverie's company there."

He finished his breakfast, and then, instead of going down to the
Central Criminal Court, after his usual habit, he hung about in his
chambers, expecting Matherfield.  But Matherfield did not come, and at
noon Hetherwick, impelled by a new idea, left a message for him in case
he called, and went out.  In pursuance of the idea, he journeyed once
more to the regions of Paddington and knocked at the door of the house
wherein he and Matherfield had kept watch on the flats opposite.

The lodging-house keeper opened the door himself and grinned on seeing
Hetherwick.  Hetherwick stepped inside and nodded at the door of the
room which he had left only a few hours before.

"I want a word or two with you," he said.  "In private."

"Nobody in here, sir," replied the man.  "Come in."

He closed the door on himself and his visitor, and offered Hetherwick a
chair.

"I expected you'd be back during the day," he said, with a sly smile.
"Either you or Matherfield, or both!"

"You haven't seen him again?" asked Hetherwick.

"No; he's not been here," replied the man.

"Well, I wanted to ask you a question," continued Hetherwick.  "Perhaps
two or three.  To begin with, have you lived here long?"

"Been here since before these flats were built--and that's a good many
years ago; I can't say exactly how many," said the other, glancing at
the big block opposite his window.  "Twenty-two or three, anyway."

"Then I dare say you know most of the people hereabouts?" suggested
Hetherwick.  "By sight, at any rate."

The lodging-house keeper smiled and shook his head.

"That would be a tall order, mister!" he answered.  "There's a few
thousand of people packed into this bit of London.  Of course, I do
know a good many, close at hand.  But if you're a Londoner you'll know
that Londoners keep themselves to themselves.  May seem queer, but it's
a fact that I don't know the names of my next-door neighbours on either
side--though to be sure they've only been here a few years in either
case."

"What I was suggesting," said Hetherwick, "was that you probably knew
by sight many of the people who live in the flats opposite your house."

"Oh, I know some of 'em by sight," assented the man.  "They're a mixed
lot over in those flats!  A few old gentlemen--retired--two or three
old ladies--and a fair lot of actresses--very popular with the stage is
those flats.  But, of course, it is only by sight--I don't know any of
'em by name.  Just see them going in and coming out, you know."

"Do you happen to know by sight a tall, handsome woman who has a flat
there?" asked Hetherwick.  "A woman who's likely to be very well
dressed?"

The lodging-house keeper, who was without his coat and had the sleeves
of his shirt rolled up, scratched his elbows and looked thoughtful.

"I think I do know the lady you mean," he said at last.  "Goes out with
one o' those pesky little poms--a black 'un--on a lead?  That her?"

"I don't know anything about a dog," replied Hetherwick.  "The woman I
mean is, as I said, tall, handsome, distinguished-looking, fair hair
and a fresh complexion, and about forty or so."

"I dare say that's the one I'm thinking of," said the man.  "I have
seen such a lady now and then--not of late, though."  Then he gave
Hetherwick a shrewd, inquiring glance.  "You and Matherfield after
her?" he asked.

"Not exactly that," answered Hetherwick.  "What I want to find
out--now--is her name.  The name she's known by here, anyway."

"I can soon settle that for you," said the lodging-house keeper with
alacrity.  "I know the caretaker of those flats well enough--often have
a talk with him.  He'll tell me anything--between ourselves.  Now then,
let's get it right--a tall, handsome lady, about forty, fair hair,
fresh complexion, well dressed.  That it, mister?"

"You've got it," said Hetherwick.

"Then you wait here a bit, and I'll slip across," said the man.  "All
on the strict between ourselves, you know.  As I said, the caretaker
and me's pals."

He left the room, and a moment later Hetherwick saw him cross the road
and descend into the basement of the flats.  Within a quarter of an
hour he was back, and evidently primed with news.

"Soon settled that for you, mister!" he announced triumphantly.  "He
knew who you meant!  The lady's name is Madame Listorelle.  Here, I got
him to write it down on a bit o' paper, not being used to foreign
names.  He thinks she's something to do with the stage.  She's the
tenant of flat twenty-six.  But he says that of late she's seldom
there--comes for a night or two, then away, maybe for months at a time.
He saw her here yesterday, though; she hadn't been there, he says, for
a good bit.  But there, it don't signify to him whether she's there or
away--always punctual with her money, and that's the main thing, ain't
it?"

Hetherwick added to his largess of the early morning, and went away.
He was now convinced that Lady Riversreade, for some purpose of her
own, kept up a flat in Paddington, visited it occasionally, and was
known there as Madame Listorelle.  How much was there in that, and what
bearing had it on the problem he was endeavouring to solve?



CHAPTER XIII

WHO WAS SHE?

Late that night, when Hetherwick was thinking things over, a pounding
on his stairs and a knock on his outer door heralded the entrance of
Matherfield, who, with an expressive look, flung himself into the
nearest easy chair.

"For heaven's sake, Mr. Hetherwick, give me a drop of that whisky!" he
exclaimed.  "I'm dead beat--and dead disappointed, too!  Such a day as
I've had after that woman!  And what it all means the Lord only
knows--I don't!"

Hetherwick helped his evidently far-spent visitor to a whisky and soda,
and waited until he had taken a hearty pull at it.  Then he resumed his
own seat and took up his pipe.

"I gather that you haven't had a very successful day, Matherfield?" he
suggested.  "Hope it wasn't exactly a wild-goose chase?"

"That's just about what it comes to, then!" exclaimed Matherfield.
"Anyway, after taking no end of trouble she got clear away, practically
under my very nose!  But I'll tell you all about it; that's what I
dropped in for.  When I went out of that house in St. Mary's Terrace,
she was just turning the corner to the right, Bishop's Road way.  Of
course I followed.  She went over the bridge--the big railway
bridge--and at the end turned down to Paddington Station.  I concluded
then that she was going up by some early morning train.  She entered
the station by the first-class booking office; I was not so many yards
in her rear then.  But instead of stopping there and taking a ticket
she went right through, crossed the station to the arrival platform and
signalled to a taxi-cab.  In another minute she was in it, and off.
Very luckily there was another cab close by.  I hailed that and told
the driver to keep the first cab in sight and follow it to wherever it
went.  So off we went again, on another pursuit!  And it ended at
another terminus--Waterloo!"

"Going home, I suppose," remarked Hetherwick, as Matherfield paused to
take up his glass.  "You can get to Dorking from Waterloo."

"She wasn't going to any Dorking!" answered Matherfield.  "I soon found
that out.  Early as it was, there were a lot of people at Waterloo, and
when she went to the ticket office I contrived to be close behind
her--close enough, at any rate, to overhear anything she said.  She
asked for a first single to Southampton."

"Southampton!" exclaimed Hetherwick.  "Um!"

"Southampton!" repeated Matherfield.  "First single for Southampton.
She took the ticket and walked away, looking neither right nor left;
she never glanced at me.  Well, as I said yesterday, I don't believe in
starting out on anything unless I go clean through with it.  So after a
minute's thought I booked for Southampton--third.  Then I went out and
looked at the notice board.  Southampton, 5.40.  It was then 5.25.  So
I went to the telephone office, rang up our head-quarters and told 'em
I was after something and they needn't expect to see me all day.  Then
I bought a time-table and a newspaper or two at the bookstall, just
opening, and went to the train.  There were a lot of people travelling
by it.  The train hadn't come up to the platform then; when it came
down a minute or two later I watched her get in; she was good to spot
because of her tall figure.  I got into a smoker, a bit lower down, and
in due course off we went, me wondering, to tell you the truth,
precisely why I was going!  But I was going--wherever she went."

"Even out of the country?" asked Hetherwick, with a smile.

"Aye, I thought of that!" assented Matherfield.  "She might be slinging
her hook for anything I knew.  That made me turn to the steamship news
in the paper, and I saw then that the _Tartaric_ was due to leave
Southampton for New York about two o'clock that very afternoon.  Well,
there were more improbable things than that she meant to go by it, for
reasons of her own, especially if she really is the Mrs. Whittingham of
the Sellithwaite affair ten years ago.  You see, I thought it out like
this--granting she's Mrs. Whittingham, that was, she'll be astute
enough to know that there's no time-limit to a criminal prosecution in
this country, and that she's still liable to arrest, prosecution, and
conviction; she'd probably know, too, that this Hannaford affair has
somehow drawn fresh attention to her little matter, and that she's in
danger.  Again, I'd been working out an idea about her and this man
Baseverie.  How do we know that Baseverie wasn't an accomplice of hers
in that Sellithwaite fraud?  In most cases of that sort the woman has
an accomplice somewhere in the background--Baseverie may have been
mixed with her then.  And now he may have information that has led him
to warn her to make herself scarce, eh?"

"There's something in that, Matherfield," admitted Hetherwick.
"Yes--decidedly something."

"There may be a good deal," affirmed Matherfield.  "You see, we've let
those newspaper chaps have a lot of information.  I'm a believer in
making use of the Press; it's a valuable aid sometimes, perhaps
generally, but there are other times when you can do too much of it:
it's a sort of giving valuable aid to the enemy.  I don't know whether
we haven't let those reporters know too much in this case.  We've let
'em know, for instance, about the portrait found in Hannaford's
pocket-book, and about the sealed packet in which, we believe, was the
secret of his patent: all that's been in the papers, though, to be
sure, they didn't make much copy out of it.  Still, there was enough
for anybody who followed the case closely.  Now, supposing that
Baseverie was Mrs. Whittingham's accomplice ten years ago, and that
he'd read all this and seen the reproduction of the portrait, wouldn't
he see that she was in some danger and warn her?  I think it likely,
and I wish we hadn't been quite so free with our news for those paper
chaps.  I'm glad, anyhow, that there's one thing I haven't told 'em
of--that medicine bottle found at Granett's!  There's nobody but me,
you, and the medical men know of that, so far."

"You think this woman--Lady Riversreade as she is, Mrs. Whittingham as
she used to be--was making off to Southampton, and possibly farther, on
a hint from Baseverie?" said Hetherwick ruminatively.

"Put it this way," replied Matherfield.  "Of course, you've got to
assume a lot, but we can't do without assuming things in this business.
Lady Riversreade was formerly Mrs. Whittingham.  Mrs. Whittingham did a
clever bit of fraud at Sellithwaite, and got away with the swag.
Baseverie was her accomplice.  Now then, ten years later Mrs.
Whittingham has become my Lady Riversreade, a very wealthy woman.
She's suddenly visited by Baseverie at Riversreade Court, and is
obviously upset by his first visit.  He comes again.  Three nights
later she's seen to come out of a club which he frequents.  She spends
most of the night in a flat in a quiet part of London, and next morning
slopes off as early as five o'clock to a port--Southampton.  What
inference is to be drawn?  That her visit to Southampton has certainly
something to do with Baseverie's visits to her and her visit to
Vivian's!"

"I think there's something in that, too," said Hetherwick, "But--we're
on the way to Southampton.  Go on!"

"Very good train, that," continued Matherfield.  "We got to Southampton
just before eight--a minute or two late.  I was wanting something to
eat and drink by that time, and I was glad to see my lady turn into the
refreshment-room as soon as she left her carriage.  So did I.  I knew
she'd never suspect a quiet, ordinary man like me; if she deigned to
give me a glance--she's a very haughty-looking woman, I observed--she'd
only take me for a commercial traveller.  And we were not so far off
each other in that room; she sat at a little table, having some tea and
so on: I was at the counter.  Of course, I never showed that I was
taking any notice of her--but I got in two or three good, comprehensive
inspections.  Very good-looking, no doubt of it, Mr. Hetherwick--a
woman that's worn well!  But of course you've seen that for yourself."

"You must remember that I've only seen her twice," remarked Hetherwick,
with a laugh.  "Once at Victoria, when Miss Hannaford pointed her out;
once night before last, when it was by a poorish gaslight.  But I'll
take your word, Matherfield.  Well, and what happened next?"

"Oh, she took her time over her tea and toast," continued Matherfield.
"Very leisured in all her movements, I assure you.  At last she moved
off--of course I followed, casually and carelessly.  Now, as you may be
aware, Southampton West, where the train set us down, is a bit out of
the town, and I expected her to take a cab.  But she didn't; she walked
away from the station.  So did I--twenty or thirty yards in the rear.
She took her time; it seemed to me she was purposely loitering.  It
struck me at last why--she was waiting until the business offices were
open.  I was right in that: as soon as the town clocks struck nine she
quickened her pace and made a beeline for her objective.  And what do
you think that was?"

"No idea," said Hetherwick.

"White Star offices!" answered Matherfield.  "Went straight there, and
walked straight in!  Of course, I waited outside, where she wouldn't
see me when she came out again.  She was in there about twenty minutes.
When she came out she turned to another part of the town.  And near
that old gateway, or bar, or whatever it is that stands across the
street, I lost her--altogether!"

"Some exceptional reason, I should think, Matherfield," remarked
Hetherwick.  "How was it?"

"My own stupid fault!" growled Matherfield.  "Took my eye off her in a
particularly crowded part--the town was beginning to get very busy.  I
just happened to let my attention be diverted--and she was gone!  At
first I made certain she'd gone into some shop.  I looked into
several--risky as that was--but I couldn't find her.  I hung about; no
good.  Then I came to the conclusion that she'd turned down one of the
side streets or alleys or passages--there were several about there--and
got clean away.  And after hanging around a bit, and going up one
street and down another--a poor job in our business at the best of
times and all dependent on mere luck!--I decided to make a bold stroke
and be sure of at any rate something."

"What?  How?" asked Hetherwick.

"I thought I'd find out what she'd gone to the White Star offices for,"
replied Matherfield.  "Of course, I didn't want to raise any suspicion
against her under the circumstances.  But I flatter myself I'm a bit of
a diplomatist, and I laid my plans.  I went in there, got hold of a
clerk who was a likely looking chap for secret keeping, told him who I
was and showed my credentials, and asked him for the information I
wanted.  I got it.  As luck would have it, my man had attended to her
himself and remembered her quite well.  Of course, little more than an
hour and a half had passed since she'd been in there."

"And--what had she been in for?" asked Hetherwick.  "What did you hear?"

Matherfield nodded significantly.

"Just what I expected to hear," he answered.  "She'd booked a
second-class passage for New York in the _Tartaric_, sailing that
afternoon, in the name of H. Cunningham.  As soon as I found that out,
I knew I should come across her again--there'd be no need to go raking
the town for her.  I ascertained that passengers would be allowed to go
aboard from two o'clock; the boat would sail between five and six.  So,
having once more admonished the clerk to secrecy and given him
plausible excuses for my inquisitiveness, I went off to relax a bit,
and in due time sat down to an early and comfortable lunch--a man must
take his ease now and then, you know, Mr. Hetherwick."

"Exactly, Matherfield--I quite agree," said Hetherwick.  "But I dare
say your brain was at work, all the same, while you ate and drank?"

"It was, sir," assented Matherfield.  "Yes--I made my plans.  I wasn't
going to New York, of course; that was out of the question.  But I was
going to have speech with her.  I decided that I'd watch for her coming
aboard the _Tartaric_--being alone, she'd probably come early.  I
proposed to get her aside, accosting her, of course, as Lady
Riversreade, tell her who I was and show my papers, and ask her if she
would give me any information about a certain Dr. Cyprian Baseverie.  I
thought I'd see how she took that before asking anything further; if I
saw that she was taken aback, confused, and especially if she gave me
any prevaricating or elusive answer, I'd ask her straight out if before
her marriage to the late Sir John Riversreade she was the Mrs.
Whittingham who, some ten years ago, stayed for a time at the White
Hart Hotel at Sellithwaite.  And I practically made up my mind, too,
that if she admitted that and I saw good cause for it, I'd detain her."

"You meant to go as far as that?" exclaimed Hetherwick.

"I did!  I should have been justified," replied Matherfield.  "However,
that's neither here nor there, for I never saw her!  I was down at the
point of departure well before two, and I assured myself that nobody
had gone aboard the _Tartaric_ up to that time.  I kept as sharp a look
out as any man with only one pair of eyes could, right away from ten
minutes to two until five-and-twenty past five, when the boat sailed,
but she never turned up.  Of course you'll say that she must have
slipped on unobserved by me, but I'm positive she didn't.  No, sir!
It's my opinion that she thought better of it and didn't go--forfeiting
her passage money, or a part of it, would be nothing to a woman of her
means--or that she was frightened at the last minute of showing herself
on that stage!"

"Frightened!  Why?" asked Hetherwick.

Matherfield laughed significantly.

"There were two or three of our men from Scotland Yard about," he
answered.  "I'm not aware of what they were after; I didn't ask 'em.
But I did ask them to give me a hand in looking out for a lady whom I
fully described--which is why I'm dead certain she never went aboard.
Now, it may have been that she came down there, knew--you never
know!--some of those chaps and--made herself scarce!  Anyway--I never
set eyes on her.  Never, in fact, saw her again after I lost her in the
morning.  So--that's where I am!"

"You came back--defeated?" remarked Hetherwick.

"Well, if you like to call it so," admitted Matherfield.  "Yes, I came
back by the seven thirty-eight.  Dog tired!  But I'm not through with
this yet, Mr. Hetherwick, and I want you to do something for me.  This
Miss Hannaford, now, is down at Riversreade Court.  They'll be on the
telephone there, of course.  I want you to ring her up early to-morrow
morning, and ask her if she can meet you on important private business
in Dorking town at noon.  Where shall we say?"

"'White Horse' would do," suggested Hetherwick.

"Very well--White Horse Hotel, at noon," agreed Matherfield.  "We'll go
down--for I'll go with you--by the 10.10 from Victoria.  Now please be
very careful about this, Mr. Hetherwick, when you telephone.  Don't say
anything of any reason for going down to Dorking.  Don't on any account
mention Lady Riversreade, in any way.  Merely tell Miss Hannaford that
you have urgent reasons for seeing her.  And--fix it up!"

"Oh, I can fix it up all right," answered Hetherwick.  "Miss Hannaford
can easily drive down from Riversreade Court.  But I don't know what
you want her for."

"Wait till morning," replied Matherfield, with a knowing look.  "You'll
see.  I'll meet you at Victoria at ten o'clock, sharp."



CHAPTER XIV

IS IT BLACKMAIL?

Hetherwick was still in ignorance of the reason of Matherfield's desire
to see Rhona when, just before noon next day, Matherfield and he walked
up from Dorking Station into the High Street, and made for the "White
Horse."  Matherfield halted a few yards away from its door.

"Let's wait outside for her," he said.  "Till I've asked her a question
or two.  I don't want to even run the risk of being overheard."

Rhona came along in a car a few minutes later, and seeing the two men
advanced to meet them.  Matherfield lost no time in getting to business.

"Miss Hannaford," he said, with a cautious look round, and in a low
voice, "just tell me--is Lady Riversreade up there at the Court?  She
is!" he continued, as Rhona nodded.  "When did she come back, then?"

"Very early yesterday morning," answered Rhona promptly.  "By the 7.45
from Victoria.  She was up at the Court by 9.30."

Matherfield turned an utterly perplexed face on Hetherwick.  Then he
stared at Rhona.

"Up at Riversreade Court at 9.30 yesterday--Tuesday--morning!" he
exclaimed.  "Impossible!  I saw her at Southampton at 9.30 yesterday
morning with my own eyes."

"I'm quite sure you didn't!" replied Rhona, with a satirical laugh.
"You're under some queer mistaken impression, Mr. Matherfield.  Lady
Riversreade was in her own house, here, with me at 9.30 yesterday
morning.  That's a fact that I can vouch for!"

The two men looked at each other.  Each seemed to be asking the other a
silent question.  But Matherfield suddenly voiced his, in tones full of
wonder and of chagrin.

"Then who on earth is that woman that I followed to Southampton?"

Matherfield's question went without answer.  Rhona, who had no idea of
what he was talking about, turned a surprised and inquiring look on
Hetherwick.  And Hetherwick saw that the time had come for a lot of
explanation.

"Look here!" he said.  "We've got to do some talking, and we can't keep
Miss Hannaford standing in the street.  Come into the hotel--we'll get
a private room for lunch, and then we can discuss matters all to
ourselves.  You're a bit puzzled by all this," he continued a few
minutes later, turning to Rhona when all three were safely closeted
together, and lunch had been ordered.  "And no wonder!  But I'd better
tell you what Matherfield and I were after on Monday night, and what
Matherfield was doing all yesterday.  You see," he concluded, after
giving Rhona an epitomised account of the recent proceedings, "I was
absolutely certain that the woman whom we saw coming out of Vivian's on
Monday night was the woman you pointed out to me on Sunday morning at
Victoria as Lady Riversreade--she was dressed in just the same things,
I'm positive!--in short I'm convinced it was Lady Riversreade.  Then,
Matherfield and I are both equally sure that that was the same woman we
saw coming out of St. Mary's Mansions shortly before five o'clock
yesterday morning, and whom Matherfield followed to Southampton, Up to
now, we've never had a doubt that it was Lady Riversreade--not a doubt!"

"Well," said Rhona, with an incredulous laugh, "I can't say, of course,
that you didn't see Lady Riversreade come out of Vivian's on Monday
night.  Lady Riversreade was certainly in town from Sunday noon to
yesterday morning, and she may have gone to Vivian's on Monday night
for purposes of her own.  I know nothing about that.  But I do know
that she was not in Southampton yesterday, for, as I told you, she was
back home at Riversreade Court, about half-past nine in the morning,
and she's never left the house since.  That's plain fact!"

"It's beyond me, then!" exclaimed Matherfield.  "And I say again, if
that wasn't Lady Riversreade that I tracked to Southampton, who was it?
I'll say more--if that really was Lady Riversreade that we saw coming
out of Vivian's, and followed to Paddington, and if she wasn't the
woman who came out of those flats yesterday morning, and that I went
after, well, then, Lady Riversreade has a double--who lives in St.
Mary's Mansions!  That's about it!"

"As regards that," remarked Hetherwick.  "I didn't tell you last night,
Matherfield, that I went back yesterday to that house from which we
watched, and made some cautious inquiries about the tall, handsome
woman who has a flat opposite.  I got some information.  The woman whom
we followed there, and whom you were running after yesterday is known
there as a Madame Listorelle.  She's very little at her flat, though
punctual with its rent.  She's sometimes away altogether for long
periods--in fact, she's rarely seen there.  And she's believed to be
connected with the stage.  The caretaker who supplied this information
saw her at the flat on Monday."

Matherfield smacked one hand on the open palm of the other.

"It's an alias!" he exclaimed.  "Bet your stars she's Lady Riversreade!
Away from her flat for long periods?  Of course--because she's down
here, at her big house.  Keeps that flat up for some purpose of her
own, and calls herself--what is it?--sounds French."

"But supposing that's so," remarked Hetherwick, with a sly glance at
Rhona.  "It's utterly impossible that Lady Riversreade could be at
Riversreade Court yesterday, and in Southampton at the same time!
Come, now!"

"Well, I tell you it beats me!" muttered Matherfield.  "I know what I
saw!  If there's anything gone wrong, it's your fault, Mr. Hetherwick!
I don't know this Lady Riversreade!  All I know is that you said the
woman we saw coming out of that club was Lady Riversreade.  That, sir,
is the woman I followed!"

"The woman I saw coming out of Vivian's was the woman pointed out to me
by Miss Hannaford as Lady Riversreade," affirmed Hetherwick quietly.
"That's certain!  But----"

He was interrupted at this stage by the arrival of lunch.  Nothing more
was said until all three were seated, and the waiter had been sent
away.  Then Rhona looked at her companions and smiled.

"You both seem to have arrived at a very promising stage!" she said.
"At first I thought it a regular impasse, but----"

"Isn't it?" asked Hetherwick.  "At present I don't see any way through
or over it."

"Oh, I think you're getting towards something!" she retorted.  "All
these things, puzzling as they are, are better than nothing.  I've got
some news, too--if you're sure there are no eavesdroppers about."

"Oh, we're all right!" said Hetherwick.  "Good stout old doors,
these--close-fitting.  What next?"

Rhona leaned across the table a little, and lowered her voice.

"There was a sort of row at the Court; at least, at the Home,
yesterday," she said.  "With that man Baseverie!"

"Ah!" exclaimed Hetherwick.  "That's interesting!  Tell about it."

"Well, I told you that Lady Riversreade arrived from London yesterday
morning about nine-thirty," continued Rhona.  "Major Penteney arrived
with her."

"Who's Major Penteney?" demanded Matherfield.

"He's a retired Army man who's greatly interested in Lady Riversreade's
Home, and looks after its affairs in London," replied Hetherwick.  "And
Miss Hannaford thinks he's in love with the foundress.  I've seen
him--saw him with Lady Riversreade on Sunday.  Yes," he added, turning
to Rhona, "Major Penteney came back with her?  Go on."

"As soon as they arrived--I saw them come, from my office window--they
came across to the Home," continued Rhona.  "It struck me that they
both looked unusually grave and serious.  They talked to me for a few
minutes on business matters: then they went into Lady Riversreade's
private office.  They were there for some little time; then Lady
Riversreade came out and went away; I saw her cross to the Court.
Presently Major Penteney came to me, and told me that he wanted to have
a little private talk with me.  He said--as near as I can
remember--'Miss Featherstone----'"

Matherfield looked up quickly from his plate.

"Eh?" he said.  "Miss--Featherstone?"

"That's the name Miss Hannaford's known by--there," said Hetherwick.
"Her mother's name.  I told you before, you know."

"True, true!" assented Matherfield, with a groan.  "You did--I remember
now.  I'm muddled--with yesterday's affair."

"'Miss Featherstone,' Rhona went on--'I believe you're aware that Lady
Riversreade has lately been visited--twice--by a man who called himself
Dr. Cyprian Baseverie?'

"'Yes,' I answered, 'I am, Major Penteney.  I saw Dr. Baseverie on both
occasions.'  'Well,' he said--'I don't suppose you were at all
impressed by him?' 'Not at all impressed, Major Penteney,' I replied,
'except very unfavourably.'  'Didn't like his looks, eh,' he asked with
a smile.  'Do you?' I inquired.  'I've never seen the fellow,' he
answered.  'But I expect to--this very morning.  That's what I want to
talk to you about.  I believe he'll turn up about noon--as, I
understand, he did before, wanting, of course, to see Lady Riversreade.
I want you to tell the doorkeeper, Mitchell, to bring him straight in
when he comes, and Mitchell is not to say that Lady Riversreade is not
in--she won't be in--he's to admit him immediately; and you, if you
please, are to show him straight into the private office.  Instead of
finding Lady Riversreade there, he'll find--me.  Is that clear?'
'Perfectly clear, Major Penteney,' I replied.  'I'll see to it.'
'Well, there's something else,' he said.  'After I have had a little
plain-spoken talk with this fellow, I shall ring the bell.  I want you
to come in, and to bring Mitchell with you.  And--that's all, at
present.  You understand?'  'I understand, Major Penteney,' I answered.
'I'll see to it.  But as you've never seen this man there's one thing
I'd like to say to you--he's the sort of man who looks as if he might
be dangerous.'  He smiled at that.  'Thank you,' he said.  'I'm
prepared for that, Miss Featherstone.  You show him right in.'"

Rhona paused for a moment, to attend to the contents of her plate.  But
Hetherwick's knife and fork had become idle; so had Matherfield's; each
man, it was plain, was becoming absorbed.  And Matherfield suddenly
brightened, and gave Hetherwick an unmistakable wink.

"Good!--good!--good!" he muttered, with something like a chuckle.  "I'm
beginning to see a bit of daylight!  Excellent!--when you're ready,
Miss Featherstone----"

"Well," continued Rhona, after a few minutes' pause, "about noon, Dr.
Cyprian Baseverie drove up.  I had already given Mitchell his
instructions, and he brought Baseverie straight into my office.
Baseverie was evidently in the very best of spirits--he bowed and
grimaced at sight of me as if he expected to find me dying to see him.
I made no answer to his flowery greetings; I just got up, ushered him
to the door of the private room, and closed it after him as he stepped
across the threshold.  Then I laughed--he wouldn't see who was awaiting
him until he got right into the room, and I'd already gathered from
Major Penteney that his reception couldn't be exactly pleasant or
agreeable."

Matherfield rubbed his hands together.

"Good!--good!" he chuckled.  "Wish I'd been in that room!"

"It wasn't long before I was there, Mr. Matherfield," said Rhona.  "I
was, of course, tremendously curious to know what was going on there,
but the door fits closely, and I heard nothing--no angry voices or
anything.  However, in less than ten minutes the bell rang sharply.  I
called Mitchell--he's a big, strapping, very determined-looking
ex-Guardsman--and in we went.  I took everything in at a glance, Major
Penteney sat at Lady Riversreade's desk.  On the blotting-pad, his
right hand close to it, lay a revolver----"

"Hah!" exclaimed Matherfield.  "To be sure!  Just so!  Fine!"

"Opposite the desk stood Baseverie, staring first at Major Penteney,
then at us.  It's difficult for me to describe how he looked.  I think
the principal expression on his face was one of intense surprise."

"Surprise?" ejaculated Hetherwick.

"Surprise!  Astonishment!  He looked like a man who had just heard
something that he has believed it impossible to hear.  But there was
also such a look of anger and rage--well, if Major Penteney hadn't had
that revolver close to his finger-ends, and if Mitchell hadn't been
there, I should have screamed and run.  However, it was not I who was
to do the running.  As soon as Mitchell and I entered, Major Penteney
spoke--very quietly.  He nodded at Baseverie.  'Miss Featherstone and
you, Mitchell--you see this man?  If ever he comes here again, you,
Mitchell, will deny him entrance, and you, Miss Featherstone, on
hearing from Mitchell that he's here, will telephone for the police
and, if he hangs about, will give him in charge.'  Then he turned to
Baseverie.  'Now, my man!' he continued, pointing to the door.  'You
get out--quick!  Go!'  Of course, I looked at Baseverie.  He stood
staring almost incredulously at Major Penteney.  It seemed to me that
he could scarcely believe his ears--he gave me the impression of being
unable to credit that he could be so treated.  But he was also livid
with anger.  His fingers worked; his eyes blazed; it was dreadful to
see his lips.  He got out some words at last----'"

"Give me the exact ones, if you can," interrupted Matherfield.

"I can--I'm not likely to forget them," said Rhona.  "He
said--'What--you defy me, knowing what I know--knowing what I know!'"

"'Knowing what I know!'" muttered Matherfield.  "Knowing what he knew!
Um!--and then?"

"Then Major Penteney just pointed to the door.  'Get out, I tell you!'
he said.  'And look in the papers to-night.  Be off!'"

"'Look in the papers to-night,' eh?" said Matherfield.  "Um--um!  And
then, I suppose, he went?"

"He went without another word then," assented Rhona.  "Mitchell
escorted him out and saw him off.  Major Penteney looked at me when
he'd gone.  'There, Miss Featherstone,' he said, 'you've seen one of
the biggest scoundrels in London--or in Europe.  Let's hope you'll
never see him again, that that's the end of him here.  I think he's had
his lesson!'  I made no answer, but I was jolly glad to see Baseverie's
car scooting away down the drive!"

Matherfield picked up the tankard of ale at his side and took a hearty
pull at its contents.  He set the tankard down again with an emphatic
bang.

"I know what this job is!" he exclaimed triumphantly.  "Blackmail!"

"Just so!" agreed Hetherwick.  "I've been thinking that for the last
ten minutes.  Baseverie has been endeavouring to blackmail Lady
Riversreade.  But that's not our affair, you know.  What we're after is
the solving of the mystery surrounding Hannaford's death.  And--does
this look likely to fit in anywhere?"

"I should say it decidedly does look likely!" answered Matherfield.
"In my opinion it's all of a piece; at least, it's a piece out of a
piece, one of many pieces, like a puzzle.  The thing is to put these
pieces together.  And there are two things we can try to do at once.
First, find out more about this man Baseverie; the other, get hold of
more information about the lady in St. Mary's Mansions."

"What about approaching Lady Riversreade for information--or Major
Penteney?" suggested Hetherwick.

"Yes--why don't you?" said Rhona, almost eagerly.  "Do!  I'm a bit
tired of being there as Miss Featherstone.  I want to tell Lady
Riversreade the truth, and all the whys and wherefores of it."

But Matherfield shook his head.  The time for that was not yet, he
declared; let them wait awhile.  And after more conversation he and
Hetherwick returned to London.



CHAPTER XV

REVELATIONS

The late afternoon edition of the evening papers were just out when
Hetherwick and Matherfield reached Victoria.  Matherfield snatched one
up; a moment later he thrust it before Hetherwick, pointing to some big
black capitals.

"Good God!" he exclaimed.  "Look at that!"

Hetherwick looked, and gasped his astonishment at what he read.

  MURDER OF ROBERT HANNAFORD.
  FIVE THOUSAND POUNDS REWARD.


Hetherwick turned on his companion with a look that was both
questioning and surprised.

"This is probably--no, certainly!--what Penteney referred to when he
told Baseverie to look in the newspapers!" he said.  "That was
yesterday; it must have been in last night's papers, and this
morning's.  I saw neither."

"Wait!" said Matherfield.  He hurried back to the bookstall and
returned with an armful of papers, turning the topmost over as he came.
"It's here--and here!" he continued.  "Let's get a quiet corner
somewhere and look this thing carefully over!"

"Come into a waiting-room, then," said Hetherwick.  "Odd!" he muttered,
as they turned away.  "Who should offer a reward--like that, too!--who
isn't concerned in the case?"

"How do we know who isn't concerned in the case?" exclaimed
Matherfield.  "Somebody evidently is!--somebody who can not only afford
to offer five thousand pounds, but isn't afraid to spend no end in
advertising.  Look at that--and that--and that," he went on, turning
over his purchases rapidly.  "It's in every paper in London!"

"Let's read it carefully," said Hetherwick.  He spread out one of the
newspapers on the waiting-room table and muttered the wording of the
advertisement while Matherfield looked over his shoulder.  "Mysterious,
very!" he concluded.  "What's it mean?"

But Matherfield was re-reading the advertisement.


Whereas Robert Hannaford, formerly Superintendent of Police at
Sellithwaite, Yorkshire, died suddenly in an Underground Railway train,
near Charing Cross (Embankment) Station about 1.15 a.m. on March 19th
last, and expert medical investigation has proved that he was poisoned,
and there is evidence to warrant the belief that the poison was
administered by some person or persons with intent to cause his death,
this is to give notice that the above-mentioned sum of Five Thousand
Pounds will be paid to anyone first giving information which will lead
to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons concerned in
administering the said poison and that such information should be given
to the undersigned, who will pay the said reward in accordance with the
above-stated conditions.

PENTENEY, BLENKINSOP & PENTENEY,
  Solicitors.

April 22nd, 1920.
  853, Lincoln's Inn Fields,
    London, W.C.


Matherfield pointed to the names of the signatories.

"Penteney," he remarked.  "That's the name of the man Miss Hannaford
mentioned as having given Baseverie his dismissal."

"Of course--Major Penteney," said Hetherwick.  "Probably a junior
partner in the firm.  I know their names, but not much about them."

"I thought he was a soldier," said Matherfield.  "Major, she called
him."

"Very likely a Territorial officer," replied Hetherwick.  "Anyway, it's
very plain what this is, Matherfield, considering all we know.  This
advertisement has been issued on behalf of Lady Riversreade.  Penteney,
Blenkinsop & Penteney are no doubt her solicitors.  But--why?"

"Aye, why?" exclaimed Matherfield.  "That's just what beats me!  What
interest has she in Hannaford's murder?  Why should she want to bring
his murderer to justice?  If his granddaughter had offered, say, a
hundred pounds for information, I could understand it--she's his flesh
and blood.  But Lady Riversreade!  Why, if she's really the woman who
was once Mrs. Whittingham, you'd have thought she'd have been rather
glad that Hannaford was out of the way!  And, after all, this mayn't
come from her."

"I'm absolutely certain it does," asserted Hetherwick.  "Putting
everything together, what other conclusion can we come to?  It comes
from Lady Riversreade--and her adviser--Major Penteney, and it's
something to do with that man Baseverie.  But--what?"

"It ought to be looked into," muttered Matherfield.  "They've never
approached us on the matter.  It's a purely voluntary offer on their
part.  They've left the police clean out."

"Well, I make a suggestion," said Hetherwick.  "I think you and I had
better call at Penteney's to-morrow morning.  We can tell them
something--perhaps they'll tell us something.  Anyway, it's a foolish
thing to divide forces; we'd far better unite in a common effort."

"Um!" replied Matherfield doubtfully.  "But these lawyer chaps--they've
generally got something up their sleeves--some card that they want to
play at their own moment.  However, we can try 'em."

"Meet me at the south-east corner of Lincoln's Inn Fields at half-past
ten to-morrow morning," said Hetherwick.  "Penteney's offices are close
by.  We'll go together--and ask them straight out what this
advertisement means."

"All right--but if they won't tell?" suggested Matherfield.

"Then, in that case, we'll introduce Lady Riversreade's name, and ask
them if Lady Riversreade of Riversreade Court and Mrs. Whittingham,
formerly of Sellithwaite, are one and the same person," replied
Hetherwick.  "Come!  I think we can show them that we already know a
good deal."

"We have certainly a card or two to play," admitted Matherfield.  "All
right, Mr. Hetherwick!  To-morrow morning, then, as you suggest."

He was waiting at the appointed place when Hetherwick hurried up next
morning.  Hetherwick immediately turned him down the lower side of the
Fields.

"I've found out something about these people we're going to see," he
said.  "My clerk, Mapperley, told me a bit; he's a sort of walking
encyclopædia, Old, highly respectable firm this.  Penteney, senior, is
retired; the firm is now really Blenkinsop & Penteney, junior.  And
Penteney, junior, is the Major Penteney who takes such an interest in
Lady Riversreade's Home--and in Lady Riversreade.  As I suggested last
night, he was a Territorial officer--so now he's back at his own job.
Now then, Matherfield, let's arrange our plan of campaign.  You, of
course, have your official credentials--I'm a deeply interested person,
the man who chanced to witness Hannaford's death.  I think you'd better
be spokesman."

"Well, you'll come in when wanted?" suggested Matherfield.  "You're
better used to lawyers than I am, being one yourself."

"I fear my acquaintance with solicitors is, so far, extremely limited,
Matherfield," replied Hetherwick with a laugh.  "I have seen a
brief!--but only occasionally.  However, here we are at 853, and a
solid and sombre old house it is."

The two callers had to wait for some time before any apparent notice
was taken of their cards by the persons to whom they had been sent in.
Matherfield was beginning to chafe when, at last, an elderly clerk
conducted them up to an inner room wherein one cold-eyed,
immobile-faced man sat at a desk, while another,, scarcely less stern
in appearance, in whom Hetherwick immediately recognised the Major
Penteney pointed out by Rhona, stood, hands in pockets, on the
hearthrug.  Each stared silently at the two callers; the man at the
desk pointed to chairs on either side of his fortress.  He looked at
Matherfield.

"Yes?" he asked.

"Mr. Blenkinsop, I presume?" began Matherfield, with a polite bow to
the desk.  "And Mr. Penteney?" with another to the hearthrug.

"Just so," agreed Blenkinsop.  "Precisely!  Yes?"

"You have my card, gentlemen, and so you know who I am," continued
Matherfield.  "The police----"

"A moment," interrupted Blenkinsop.  He picked up Hetherwick's card and
glanced from it to its presenter.  "Mr. Guy Hetherwick," he remarked.
"Does Mr. Hetherwick also call on behalf of the police?  Because," he
added, with a dry smile, "I think I've seen Mr. Hetherwick in wig and
gown."

"I am the man who was present at Robert Hannaford's death," said
Hetherwick.  "If you are conversant with the case----"

"Quite!--every detail!" said Blenkinsop.

"Then you know what I saw, and what evidence I gave at the inquest,"
continued Hetherwick.  "I have followed up the case ever since--and
that's why I am here."

"Not as _amicus curiæ_, then?" remarked Blenkinsop with a still dryer
smile.  "You're not a disinterested adviser.  I see!  And Mr.
Matherfield--why is he here?"

"I was saying, Mr. Blenkinsop, that the police have seen the
advertisement signed by your firm, offering five thousand pounds
reward--_etcetera_," answered Matherfield.  "Now, I have this Hannaford
case in hand, and I can assure you I've done a lot of work at it.  So,
in his way, has Mr. Hetherwick.  We're convinced that Hannaford was
murdered by poison, and that whoever poisoned him also poisoned the man
Granett at the same time.  Now, as either you or some person--a client,
I suppose--behind you is so much concerned in bringing Hannaford's
murderer to justice as to offer a big sum for necessary information, we
think you must know a great deal, and I suggest to you, gentlemen, that
you ought to place your knowledge at our disposal.  I hope my
suggestion is welcome, gentlemen."

Blenkinsop drummed the blotting-pad before him with the tips of his
fingers, and his face became more inscrutable than ever.  As for
Penteney, he maintained the same attitude which he had preserved ever
since the visitors entered the room, lounging against the mantelpiece,
hands in pockets, and his eyes alternately fixed on either Hetherwick
or Matherfield.  There was a brief silence; at last Blenkinsop spoke
abruptly.

"I don't think we have anything to say," he said.  "What we have to say
has been said already in the advertisement.  We shall pay the offered
reward to the person who gives satisfactory information.  I don't think
that interferes with the police work."

"That doesn't help me much, Mr. Blenkinsop," protested Matherfield.
"You, or your client, must know more than that!  There must be good
reasons why your client should offer such a big sum as reward.  I think
we ought to know--more."

"I am not prepared to tell you more," answered Blenkinsop.  "Except
that if we get the information which we think we shall get, we shall
not be slow to hand it over to the police authorities."

"That might be too late," urged Matherfield.  "This is an intricate
case--there are a good many wheels within wheels."  Then, interpreting
a glance which he had just received from Hetherwick as a signal to go
further, he added: "We know what a lot of wheels there are--no one
better!  For example, gentlemen, there is the curious fashion in which
this affair is mixed up with Lady Riversreade!"

In spite of their evidently habitual practice of self-control, the two
solicitors could not repress signs of astonishment.  Blenkinsop's face
fell; Penteney started out of his lounging attitude and stood upright.
And for the first time he spoke.

"What do you know about Lady Riversreade?" he demanded.

"A good deal, sir, but not so much as I intend to know," answered
Matherfield firmly.  "But I do know this--that Hannaford, just previous
to his sudden death, was in possession of a portrait of Lady
Riversreade, and believed her to be identical with a certain Mrs.
Whittingham who was through his hands on a charge of fraud, ten years
ago, at Sellithwaite, in Yorkshire.  I, too, believe that this Mrs.
Whittingham is now Lady Riversreade, and I may tell you that I'm in
full possession of all the facts relating to the Sellithwaite
affair--an affair of obtaining a diamond necklace, worth about four
thousand pounds, by means of a worthless cheque, and----"

Blenkinsop suddenly rose from his chair, holding up a hand.

"A moment, if you please!" he said.  "Penteney," he continued, turning
to his partner, "a word with you in your room."

Matherfield glanced triumphantly after the retreating pair, and laughed
when a door had closed on them.

"That's got 'em, Mr. Hetherwick!" he exclaimed.  "They see that we know
more than they reckoned for.  In some way or other, it strikes me, this
advertisement is a piece of bluff!"

"Bluff!" said Hetherwick.  "What do you mean?"

"What I say," answered Matherfield.  "Bluff!  Done to prevent somebody
from bringing up that old Sellithwaite affair.  Lay you a thousand to
one it is.  You'll see these two lawyers will be more communicative
when they come back.  Now they shall talk--and we'll listen!"

"If you have to do any more talking, Matherfield," said Hetherwick,
"keep Miss Hannaford's name out of it.  She's in a rather awkward
position.  She went there, of course, to find out what she could, and
the result's been that she's taken a fancy to Lady Riversreade, got a
genuine interest in the work there, and wants to stop.  Bit of a
bother, all that, and it'll need some straightening out.  Anyway, keep
her name out of it here."

"As I say, sir, when these chaps come back to us, they'll do the
talking!" answered Matherfield, with a chuckle.  "You'll see!  If you
want to keep Miss Hannaford's name out, so do they want to keep Lady
Riversreade's name out--I know the signs!"

Blenkinsop and Penteney suddenly came back and seated themselves,
Blenkinsop at his desk and Penteney close by.  And Blenkinsop
immediately turned to his callers.  His manner had changed; he looked
now like a man who is anxious to get a settlement of a difficult
question.

"We have decided to talk freely to you," he said at once.  "That means,
to tell you everything we know about this matter.  You, Mr.
Matherfield, as representing the police, will, of course, treat our
communication confidentially.  I needn't ask you, Mr. Hetherwick, to
regard all that's said here, as--you know!  Now, to begin with--just
get one fact, an absolutely irrefutable fact, into your minds at once.
Lady Riversreade is not the woman who was known as Mrs. Whittingham at
Sellithwaite ten years ago, nor did Hannaford believe that she was
either!"

"What?" exclaimed Matherfield.  "But----" he turned to Hetherwick.
"You hear that?" he went on.  "Why, we know----"

"Let Mr. Blenkinsop go on," said Hetherwick quietly.  "He's explaining,
I think."

"Just so," agreed Blenkinsop.  "And I'm beginning by endeavouring to
clear away a few mistaken ideas from your minds.  Lady Riversreade is
not Mrs. Whittingham.  Hannaford did not think she was Mrs.
Whittingham.  It was not Lady Riversreade's portrait that Hannaford cut
out of the paper."

Hetherwick could not repress a start at that.

"Whose was it, then?" he demanded.  "For I certainly believed it was!"

Blenkinsop stooped and drew out a drawer from his desk.  From a bundle
of documents he produced a newspaper, carefully folded and labelled.
Opening this, he laid it before the two visitors, pointing to a picture
marked with blue pencil.  And Hetherwick at once saw that here was a
duplicate of the portrait in his own pocket-book.  But there was this
important difference--while Hannaford had cut away the lettering under
his picture, it was there in the one which Blenkinsop exhibited.  He
started again as he read it--_Madame Anita Listorelle_.

"That's the picture which Hannaford cut out of the paper," said
Blenkinsop.  "It is not that of Lady Riversreade."

"Then it's that of a woman who's her double!" exclaimed Matherfield.
"I'll lay anything that if you asked a hundred men who've seen Lady
Riversreade if that's her picture, they'd swear it is!"

"I see," said Hetherwick, disregarding his companion's outburst, "that
this purports to be a portrait of a Madame Listorelle, who is described
in the accompanying letterpress as a famous connoisseur of precious
stones.  Now, in relation to what we're discussing, may I ask a plain
question?  Who is Madame Listorelle?"

Blenkinsop smiled--oracularly.

"Madame Listorelle," he replied, "is the twin sister of Lady
Riversreade!"



CHAPTER XVI

STILL MORE

Blenkinsop's sudden announcement, not altogether unexpected by
Hetherwick as a result of the last few minutes' proceedings, seemed to
strike Matherfield with all the force of a lightning-like illumination.
His mouth opened; his eyes widened; he turned on Hetherwick as if,
having been lost for a while in a baffling maze, he had suddenly seen a
way pointed out to him.

"Oh, that's it, is it?" he exclaimed.  "A twin sister, eh?  Then--but
go on, Mr. Blenkinsop; I'm beginning to see things."

"The matter is doubtless puzzling--to outsiders," responded Blenkinsop.
"To clear it up, I shall have to go into some family history.  Lady
Riversreade and Madame Listorelle are, I repeat, twin sisters.  They
are the daughters of a man who in his time was captain of various
merchant ships--the old sailing ships--and who knocked about the world
a good deal.  He married an American woman, and his two daughters were
born in Galveston, Texas.  They were educated in America--but there's
no need to go into the particulars of their early lives----"

"There's a certain particular that I should like to have some
information about, if you please," interrupted Hetherwick.  "The Mrs.
Whittingham who was at Sellithwaite ten years ago had the figure of a
snake tattooed round a wrist, in various colours.  She wore a black
velvet band to cover it.  Now----"

Blenkinsop turned to his partner with a smile.

"I thought that would come up," he said.  "Well Mr. Hetherwick, if you
want to know about that matter, both sisters are tattooed in the same
fashion.  That was a bit of work of the old sea-dog, their father--a
fancy, and a very foolish one, of his.  He had the children tattooed in
that way when they were quite young, much to their disgust when they
grew older.  Each lady wears a covering velvet armlet--as I know."

"Proceed, if you please," said Hetherwick.  "That's cleared up!"

"I gather that you've been making inquiries on your own account,"
observed Blenkinsop.  "Well, since we're determined to tell you
everything, we'll be as good as our word.  So let's come to the
Sellithwaite affair.  You've probably heard only one version--you may
have got it from Hannaford; you may have got it from old newspapers;
you may have got it on the spot--it's immaterial to us.  But you
haven't heard the version of the lady who was then Mrs. Whittingham.
That puts a rather different complexion on things.  For reasons of her
own, with which we've nothing to do, Mrs. Whittingham--her proper and
legal name at that time--stayed at Sellithwaite for a while.  She had
various transactions with a jeweller there; eventually she bought from
him a diamond necklace at a price--three thousand nine hundred pounds.
She gave him a cheque for the amount, fully expecting that by the time
it reached her bankers in Manchester certain funds for her credit would
have reached them from America.  There was a hitch--the funds didn't
arrive--the cheque was returned.  The jeweller approached the
police--Hannaford, their superintendent there, got out a warrant and
tracked down Mrs. Whittingham.  He arrested her, and she got away from
him, left England, and returned to America.  For some time she was in
financial straits.  But she did not forget her liabilities, and
eventually she sent the Sellithwaite jeweller the agreed price of the
diamond necklace, and eight years' interest at five per cent. on the
amount.  She holds his formal receipt for the money she sent him.  So
much for that episode--whether Hannaford ever knew of the payment or
not, I don't know.  We are rather inclined to believe that he didn't.
But--the necklace was paid for, and paid for handsomely."

"I may as well say that I'm aware of that," remarked Hetherwick.  "I
have been informed of the fact at first hand."

"Very good.  I see you have been at Sellithwaite," said Blenkinsop with
another of his shrewd smiles.  "Now then, we come to what is far more
pertinent--recent events.  The situation as regards Lady Riversreade
and Madame Listorelle some little time ago--say, when Hannaford came to
town--was this: Lady Riversreade, widow of Sir John Riversreade, had
inherited his considerable fortune, was settled at Riversreade Court in
Surrey, and had founded a Home for wounded officers close by, of which
my friend and partner, Major Penteney there, is London representative.
Her sister, Madame Listorelle, had a flat at Paddington and another in
New York.  She was chiefly in New York, but she was sometimes in London
and sometimes in Paris.  As a matter of fact, Madame Listorelle is an
expert in precious stones, and a dealer in them.  But she has recently
become engaged to be married to a well-known peer, an elderly, very
wealthy man--which possibly has a good deal to do with what I am going
to tell you."

"Probably, I think, Blenkinsop--not possibly," suggested Penteney.
"Probably!--decidedly."

"Probably, then--probably!" assented Blenkinsop.  He leaned forward
across his desk towards the two listeners.  "Now, gentlemen, your
closest attention, for I'm coming to the really important points of
this matter--those that affect the police particularly.  About a
fortnight ago Lady Riversreade, being in her private office at her
home, close by Riversreade Court, was waited upon by a man who sent in
a card bearing the name of Dr. Cyprian Baseverie.  Lady Riversreade
thought that the presenter of this card was some medical man who wished
to inspect the Home, and he was admitted to see her.  She soon found
out that he had come on no such errand as she had imagined.  He told
her a strange tale.  He let her know, to begin with, that he was fully
conversant with that episode in her sister's life which related to
Sellithwaite and the diamond necklace.  Lady Riversreade, who knew all
about it, felt that the man's information had been gained at first
hand.  He also let her know that Madame Listorelle's whereabouts and
engagement were familiar to him; in short, he showed that he was well
up in the present family history, both as regards Lady Riversreade and
her sister.  Then he let his hand be seen more plainly.  He told Lady
Riversreade that a certain gang of men in London had become acquainted
with the facts of the Sellithwaite matter, the warrant, the arrest, the
escape, and that they were also aware of Madame Listorelle's engagement
to Lord--we will leave his name out at present, or refer to him as Lord
X--and that they wanted a price for their silence.  In other words,
they were determined on blackmail.  If they were not paid their price,
they were going to Lord X, with all the facts, to tell him that he was
engaged to a woman who, as they would put it, was still liable by the
law of the land to arrest and prosecution for fraud."

"Isn't she?" asked Matherfield suddenly.  "No time-limit in these sort
of cases, I think, Mr. Blenkinsop.  Liable ten or twenty or thirty
years after--I think!"

"I've already said that the Sellithwaite affair was one of account,"
replied Blenkinsop.  "There was no intent to defraud, and the full
amount and interest on it was duly paid.  But that's not the
point--we're dealing with the presentment of this to Lady Riversreade
by the man Baseverie.  Of course, Lady Riversreade didn't know how the
law might be, and she was alarmed on her sister's account.  She asked
Baseverie what he wanted.  He told her plainly then that he could
settle these men--if she would find the money.  He had, he said, a
certain hold over them which he could use to advantage.  Lady
Riversreade wanted to know what that hold was; he wouldn't tell her.
She then wanted to know how much the men wanted; he wouldn't say.  What
he did say was that if she would be prepared to find the money to
silence them, he, during the next week, would exert pressure on them to
accept a reasonable amount, and would call on her on the following
Friday and tell her what they would take.  She made that appointment
with him."

"And, I hope, took advice in the meantime," muttered Matherfield.
"Ought to have handed him over there and then!"

"No--she took no advice in the meantime," continued Blenkinsop.
"Madame Listorelle was in Paris--Major Penteney was away on business in
the country.  Lady Riversreade awaited Baseverie's next coming.  When
he came he told her what his gang wanted--thirty thousand pounds.  He
specified, too, the way in which it was to be paid--in a fashion which
would have prevented the payment being traced to the people who
received it.  But now Lady Riversreade was more prepared--she had had
time to think.  She expected Major Penteney next day; she also knew
that her sister would return from Paris on the following Monday.  So
she told Baseverie that she would give him an answer on Monday evening
if he would make an appointment to meet her at some place in London.
Eventually they made an appointment at Vivian's, in Candlestick
Passage.  Baseverie went away; next day Lady Riversreade told Major
Penteney all that had happened.  As a result, he went with her to
Vivian's on Monday evening.  They waited an hour beyond the fixed time.
Baseverie made no appearance----"

"Just so!" muttered Matherfield.  "He wouldn't--the Major being there!"

"Perhaps," assented Blenkinsop.  "Anyway, he didn't materialise.  So
Lady Riversreade went away, leaving Major Penteney behind her.  I may
say that he stopped there for some further time, keeping a sharp
look-out for the man whom Lady Riversreade had described in detail--a
remarkable man in appearance, I understand.  But he never saw him."

"No!" exclaimed Matherfield cynically.  "Of course he didn't!  But she
would ha' done--if she'd gone alone!"

"Well, there it was," continued Blenkinsop.  "Now for Lady Riversreade.
She drove to her sister's flat in Paddington, and found Madame
Listorelle just returned from Paris.  She told her all that had
happened.  Madame Listorelle determined to go to New York at once and
get certain papers from her flat there which would definitely establish
her absolute innocence in the Sellithwaite affair.  Leaving Lady
Riversreade in the flat, Madame Listorelle set off for Southampton
before five o'clock next morning--yes?"

Matherfield, uttering a deep groan, smote his forehead.

"Aye!" he muttered.  "Just so!  To be sure!  But go on!--go on, sir."

"You seem to be highly surprised," said Blenkinsop.  "However--at
Southampton she booked a passage in a name she always used when
travelling--her maiden name--by the _Tartaric_, sailing that afternoon.
That done, she went to a hotel for lunch.  Then she began to think
things over more calmly.  And in the end, instead of sailing for New
York, she went back, cancelled her booking, and set off by train to
Lord X's country seat in Wiltshire, and told him the whole story.  She
wired to her sister as to what she had done, and in the evening wrote
to her.  Meanwhile, Lady Riversreade had returned, early in the
morning, to Riversreade Court.  Major Penteney went with her.  He was
confident that Baseverie would turn up.  He did turn up!  But he did
not see Lady Riversreade.  He saw Major Penteney--alone.  And Major
Penteney, after a little plain talk to him, metaphorically kicked him
out, and told him to do his worst.  He went--warned that if ever he
showed himself there again he would be handed over to the police."

Matherfield groaned again, but the reason of his distress was obviously
of a different nature.

"A mistake, sir--a great mistake!" he exclaimed, shaking his head at
Penteney.  "You shouldn't have let that fellow go like that!  You
should have handed him over there and then.  Go?  You don't know where
he may be!"

"Oh, well, we're not quite such fools as we seem, Matherfield," he
replied.  "When I went down to Dorking with Lady Riversreade on Tuesday
morning I had with me a smart man whom I can trust.  He saw Baseverie
arrive; he saw Baseverie leave.  I think we shall be able to put our
fingers on Baseverie at any moment.  Our man won't lose sight of him!"

"Oh, well, that's better, sir, that's much better!" said Matherfield.
"That's all right!  A chap like that should be watched night and day.
But now, gentlemen, about this reward!  Your notion of offering it
sprang, of course, from this Baseverie business.  But--how, exactly?
Did he mention Hannaford to Lady Riversreade?"

"No!" replied Blenkinsop.  "I'll tell you how we came to issue the
advertisement.  All Sunday afternoon and evening, and for some time on
Monday morning, Lady Riversreade, Major Penteney, and myself were in
close consultation about this affair.  I'll tell you at once how and
why we connected it with the poisoning of Hannaford, of which, of
course, all of us had read in the newspapers."

"Aye!--how, now?" asked Matherfield.

"Because of this," answered Blenkinsop.  He tapped his desk to
emphasise his words, watching Matherfield keenly as he spoke.  "Because
of this: Baseverie told Lady Riversreade that the gang of blackmailers
had in their possession the original warrant for Mrs. Whittingham's
arrest!"

Hetherwick felt himself impelled to jump in his chair, to exclaim
loudly.  He repressed the inclination, but Matherfield was less
reserved.

"Ah!" he exclaimed sharply.  "Ah!"

"Baseverie made a false step there," continued Blenkinsop.  "He should
never have told that.  But he did--no doubt he thought a rich woman
easy prey.  Now, of course, when we came to consult, we knew all about
the Sellithwaite affair; we knew, too, that Hannaford was
superintendent at the time and that he had the warrant; it was not at
all improbable that he had preserved it in his pocket-book, and had it
on him when he came to London.  What, then, was the obvious
conclusion--that the men who now held that warrant had got it, probably
by foul means, from Hannaford, and were concerned in his murder?
And--more than that--did the gang of which Baseverie spoke really
exist?  Wasn't it likely that the gang was--Baseverie?"

"Aye!" muttered Matherfield.  "I've been thinking of that!"

"Yet," said Blenkinsop, "it was on the cards that there might be a
gang.  We searched all the newspapers' accounts thoroughly.  We found
that next to no information could be got as to Hannaford's movements
between the time of his arrival in London and the night of his death.
The one man who might have given more information about Hannaford's
doings on the evening preceding his death--Granett--was dead, evidently
poisoned, as Hannaford was poisoned.  These were circumstances--they've
probably occurred to both of you--which led us to believe that
Hannaford had formed the acquaintance of folk here in town who were of
a shady sort.  And one thing was absolutely certain--if the gang, or if
Baseverie, had really got that warrant, they had got it from Hannaford!
Eh?"

"That may be taken as certain," assented Hetherwick.  "Either directly
or indirectly, it must have been from him."

"We think they, or he, got it directly from him," said Blenkinsop.
"Our theory is that if there is a gang Baseverie is an active, perhaps
the leading, member; that Hannaford was previously acquainted with him
or some other member; that Hannaford was with him or them on the
evening preceding his death; that he jokingly told them that he had
discovered the identity of Madame Listorelle with Mrs. Whittingham; and
that they poisoned him--and Granett, as being present--in order to keep
the secret to themselves and to blackmail Madame Listorelle and her
sister, Lady Riversreade.  That's our general idea--and that's why, on
Monday noon, we issued the advertisement.  We meant to keep things to
ourselves at first, and if substantial evidence came, to pass it over
to the police.  Now you know everything.  It may be, if there is a
gang, that one member will turn traitor for the sake of five thousand
pounds and if he can exculpate himself satisfactorily; it may be, too,
that matters will develop until we're in a position to fasten things on
Baseverie----"

"I still wish that either Lady Riversreade or Major Penteney had handed
him over to custody!" said Matherfield.  "You see----"

"You've got to remember that Baseverie never demanded anything for
himself," interrupted Penteney.  "He represented himself as a
go-between.  But our man's safe enough--a retired detective, and----"

Just then a clerk opened the door and entered with a telegram.
Blenkinsop tore open the envelope, glanced hurriedly at the message and
flung the form on his desk with an exclamation of annoyance.

"This is from our man!" he said.  "Sent from Dover.  Followed Baseverie
down there--and Baseverie's slipped him!"



CHAPTER XVII

THE TORN LABELS

Penteney strode forward and picked up the telegram; a moment later he
passed it over to Hetherwick.

"That's most unfortunate!" he exclaimed.  "And unexpected, too!  Of
course, the fellow's slipped off to the Continent."

Matherfield looked over Hetherwick's shoulder and read the message.


"_Followed him down here last night.  Put up at same hotel, but he
slipped me and got clear away early this morning.  Returning now._"


"You should have employed two men, gentlemen," said Matherfield.
"One's not enough--in a case of that sort.  But it's as I said
before--this man should have been given into custody at once.
However----"

He got up from his chair, as if there was no more to be said, and moved
towards the door.  But half-way across the room he paused.

"You'll let me know if anybody comes forward about that reward?" he
suggested.  "It's more of a police matter, you know."

The two partners, who were obviously much annoyed by the telegram,
nodded.

"We shall let you know--at once," answered Blenkinsop.  "Of course,
you'll regard all we've told you as strictly confidential?"

"Oh, to be sure, sir," replied Matherfield.  "It's not the only private
and confidential feature of this affair, I assure you."

Outside he turned to Hetherwick.

"Well!" he said.  "We've cleared up a few things, Mr. Hetherwick--or,
rather, those two have cleared them up for us.  But are we any nearer
answering the question that we want answering--who poisoned Robert
Hannaford?"

"I think we are!" replied Hetherwick.  "I am, anyhow!  Either Baseverie
poisoned him--or he knows who did!"

"Knows who did!" repeated Matherfield.  "Ah!--that's more like it.  I
don't think he did it--he wouldn't be so ready about showing himself
forward."

"I'm not so sure of that," remarked Hetherwick.  "From what we've heard
of him, he seems to be a bold and daring sort of scamp.  Probably he
thought he'd have a very easy prey in Lady Riversreade; probably, too,
he believed that a woman who's got all that money would make little to
do about parting with thirty thousand pounds.  One thing's sure,
however--Baseverie knows what we want to know.  And--he's gone!"

"Perhaps--perhaps!" said Matherfield.  "And perhaps not.  This man of
Penteney's no doubt tracked him to Dover, and there he lost him, but
that isn't saying that Baseverie's gone on the Continent.  If
Baseverie's the cute customer that he seems to be, he'd put two and two
together when Major Penteney warned him off Riversreade Court.  He'd
probably suspect Penteney of setting a watch on him; he may have
spotted the very man who was watching.  Then, if he'd any sense, he'd
lead that man a bit of a dance, and eventually double on him.  No!--I
should say Baseverie's back here in town!  That's about it, Mr.
Hetherwick.  But what's this?  Here's one of my men coming to meet us.
I left word where I should be found."

Hetherwick looked up and saw a man, who was obviously a policeman in
plain clothes, coming towards them.  He was a quiet-looking,
stodgy-faced man, but he had news written all over his plain face.

"Well, Marler?" inquired Matherfield as they met.  "Got something?"

There was nobody about in that quiet corner of Lincoln's Inn Fields,
yet the man looked round as if anxious to escape observation, and he
spoke in a whisper.

"I believe I've got that chemist!" he answered.  "Leastways, it's like
this.  There's a chemist I tried this morning--name of Macpherson, in
Maiden Lane.  I showed him the facsimiles of the lost labels on the
medicine bottles, and asked him if he could give me any information.
He's a very cautious sort of man, I think; he examined the facsimiles a
long time, saying nothing.  Then he said he supposed I was a policeman,
and so on, and of course I had to tell him a bit--only a bit.  Then he
said, all of a sudden, 'Look here, my friend,' he said, 'you'd better
tell me, straight out--has this to do with that Hannaford poisoning
case?'  So, of course, I said that, between ourselves, it had.  'Isn't
Matherfield in charge of that?' he said.  Of course, I said you were.
'Very well' he said.  'You send Matherfield to me.  I'm not going to
say anything to you,' he said.  'What I've got to say I'll say to
Matherfield.'  So I went back to head-quarters, and they told me you'd
gone to Lincoln's Inn Fields."

"All right, my lad!" said Matherfield.  "If you've found the right man,
I'll remember you.  What's his name--Macpherson, Maiden Lane?  Very
good--then I'll just step along and see him.  Not a word to anybody,
Marler!" he added, as the man turned away.  "Keep close.  Now, this is
a bit of all right, Mr. Hetherwick!" he continued, chuckling and
rubbing his hands.  "This beats all we heard at Penteney's!  Only let
me get the name and address of the man for whom that bottle of medicine
was made up, and I think I shall have taken a long stride!  But come
along--we'll see the chemist together."

The shop in Maiden Lane before which they presently paused was a small,
narrow-fronted, old-fashioned establishment, with little in its windows
beyond the usual coloured bottles and over the front no more than the
name "Macpherson" in faded gilt letters on a time-stained signboard.
It was dark and stuffy within the shop, and Hetherwick had to strain
his eyes to see a tall, thin, elderly, spectacled man, very precise and
trim in appearance, who stood behind the single counter, silently
regarding him and Matherfield.

"Mr. Macpherson?" inquired Matherfield.  "Just so!  Good morning, sir.
My name is Matherfield--Inspector Matherfield.  One of my men tells
me----"

"One moment!" interrupted the chemist.  He stepped behind a screen at
the rear of his shop and presently returned with a young man, to whom
he whispered a word or two.  Then he beckoned to his two visitors, and
opening a door at the further corner, ushered them into a private
parlour.  "We shall be to ourselves here, Mr. Matherfield," he said.
"And I've no doubt your business is of a highly confidential nature."

"Something of that sort, Mr. Macpherson," assented Matherfield, as he
and Hetherwick took chairs at a centre table.  "But my man'll have
prepared you a bit, no doubt.  He tells me he showed you the
photographed facsimiles of certain torn labels that are on a medicine
bottle which figures in the Hannaford case, and that in consequence of
your seeing them you asked to see me.  Well, sir, here I am!"

"Aye, just so, Mr. Matherfield, just so, precisely," replied the
chemist, turning up the gas-jet which hung above the table.  "Aye, to
be sure!"  He, too, sat down at the table, and folded his thin long
fingers together.  "Aye, and you'll be thinking, Mr. Matherfield, that
yon bottle has something to do with the poisoning of Hannaford?"

"I'll be candid with you, Mr. Macpherson," answered Matherfield.  "But
first let me ask you something.  Have you read the newspaper accounts
of this affair?"

"I've done that, Mr. Matherfield--yes, all I could lay hands on."

"Then you'll be aware that there was another man poisoned as well as
Hannaford--a man named Granett, who was in Hannaford's company on the
night when it all happened?  This gentleman here is the one that was in
the Underground train and saw Hannaford die, and Granett make off, as
he said, to fetch a doctor."

"That'll be Mr. Hetherwick, I'm thinking," said the chemist, with a
polite bow.  "Aye, just so!"

"I see you've read the reports of the inquest," remarked Matherfield,
with a smile.  "Very well, as I say, Granett was found dead later.  I
discovered a medicine bottle and a glass at his bedside.  There'd been
whisky in both, but according to the medical experts there had also
been poison--the traces, they say, were indisputable.  Now, on that
medicine bottle were two torn labels--on the upper one, as you see from
the facsimile photograph, there's been a name written--all that's left
is the initial C. and the first letter of a surname, A.  All the rest's
gone.  And what I want to know is--are you the chemist that made up the
medicine or the tonic, or whatever it was, that was in that bottle,
and, if so, who is the customer for whom you made it, and whose
Christian name begins with C. and surname with A.?  Do you comprehend
me?"

"Aye, aye, Mr. Matherfield!" answered the chemist eagerly.  "I'm
appreciating every word you're saying, and very lucid it all is.  And
I'm willing to give you all the information in my power, but first I'd
just like to have a bit myself on a highly pertinent matter.  Now,
you'll be aware, Mr. Matherfield, if you've seen the newspapers of this
last day or two, that there's a firm of solicitors in Lincoln's Inn
Fields that's offering a reward of five thousand pounds----"

"I'm well enough aware of it, Mr. Macpherson," interrupted Matherfield
with a laugh and a sly glance at Hetherwick.  "Mr. Hetherwick and
myself have just come straight from their office, and what you want to
know is--if you give me information will it be the same thing as giving
it to them?  You want to make sure about the reward?"

"Precisely, Mr. Matherfield, precisely!" assented the chemist eagerly.
"You've hit my meaning exactly.  For, of course, when there's a reward
like yon----"

"If you give us information, Mr. Macpherson, that'll lead to the arrest
and conviction of the guilty party, you can rest assured you'll get
that reward," said Matherfield.  "And Mr. Hetherwick'll support me in
that, I'm sure."

"I'm satisfied--I'm satisfied, gentlemen!" exclaimed Macpherson, as
Hetherwick murmured his confirmation.  "Well, it's a strange, black
business, and I'd no idea that I would come to be associated with it
until that man of yours called in this morning, Mr. Matherfield.  But
then I knew!  And I'll shorten matters by telling you, at once--I made
up the tonic that was in that bottle!"

Matherfield rubbed his hands.

"Good!" he said quietly.  "Good!  And now, then--the critical question!
For whom?"

"For a Dr. Charles Ambrose, from a prescription of his own," replied
Macpherson.  "It's a sort of pick-me-up tonic.  I first made it up for
him two years ago; I've made it up for him several times since.  The
last occasion was about six weeks ago.  I have all the dates, though,
in my books; I can show you them."

"Wait a bit," said Matherfield.  "That's of no great importance--yet.
Dr. Charles Ambrose, eh?  Have you his address?"

"Aye, to be sure!" answered the chemist.  "His address is 38, Number
59, John Street."

"Adelphi!" suggested Matherfield.

"Adelphi, precisely--38, Number 59, John Street, Adelphi," repeated
Macpherson.  "That's in the books, too."

Matherfield suddenly became silent, staring at the floor.  When he
looked up again it was at Hetherwick.

"Didn't Granett exclaim that he knew of a doctor, close by, when he
rushed out of that train at Charing Cross Underground?" he asked.
"Gave the impression that he knew of one close by, anyway?"

"He said distinctly close by," answered Hetherwick.  "Why, are you
thinking----"

Matherfield interrupted him with a wave of the hand, and turned again
to the chemist.  "You've seen this Dr. Charles Ambrose?" he asked
abruptly.

"Oh, I have, Mr. Matherfield, many a time and often," replied
Macpherson.  "But now I come to think of it, not lately."

"When--last?" demanded Matherfield.

"I should think last when he called in and told me to make him another
bottle of his tonic," answered Macpherson, after some thought.  "As I
said just now, perhaps about six weeks ago.  But the books----"

"Never mind the books yet.  What's this Dr. Charles Ambrose like?"

"A tall, handsome man, distinguished-looking--I should say about forty
years of age.  A dark man--hair, eyes, beard.  He wears his moustache
and beard in--well, a sort of foreign fashion; in fact, he's more like
a Spaniard than an Englishman."

"But--is he an Englishman?"

"He was always taken by me for an Englishman; he speaks like one--that
is, like an Englishman of the upper classes.  He once told me he was an
Oxford man--we'd been talking about universities."

"Well-dressed man?"

"Aye, he was that!  A smart, fine man."

"Did you ever see him in a big, dark overcoat, with a large white silk
muffler about his neck and the lower part of his face?"

"Aye, I've seen him like that!  On chilly evenings.  Indeed, that's
another thing he told me--he was subject to bronchial attacks."

"Muffled himself well up, eh?" suggested Matherfield.

"Aye, just so!  He's been in here like that."

Matherfield turned to Hetherwick with a significant glance.

"That's the man who met Hannaford at Victoria Station that night!--the
man that Ledbitter saw, and that nobody's seen since!" he exclaimed.
"A million to one on it!  Now then, who is he?"

"You know his name and his address," remarked Hetherwick.

"Yes--and I know, too, that Mr. Macpherson here hasn't seen him
lately!" retorted Matherfield dryly.  "How often, now, Mr. Macpherson,
did you use to see him?  I mean, did you use to see him at other times
than when he came into your shop?"

"Oh, yes!  I've seen him in the street, outside," replied the chemist.
"I've seen him, too, going in and out of Rule's, and in and out of
Romano's."

"In other words," remarked Matherfield, "he was pretty well known about
this end of the Strand.  I'm not sure, now, that I don't remember such
a man myself--black, silky, carefully-trimmed beard, always a big
swell.  But--Mr. Macpherson hasn't seen him lately!  Hm!  Do you know
if he was in practice, Mr. Macpherson?"

"I could not say as to that, Mr. Matherfield.  Seeing that he called
himself Dr. Ambrose, I supposed he was a medical practitioner, but I
don't know what his degrees or qualifications were at all."

Matherfield glanced at a row of books which stood over a desk at the
side of the parlour.

"Have you got an up-to-date medical directory?" he asked.  "Good!
Let's look the man up.  You turn up his name, Mr. Hetherwick," he went
on as the chemist handed down a volume; "you're more used to books than
I am.  Find out if there's anything about him."

Hetherwick turned over the pages of the directory, and presently shook
his head.

"There's no Charles Ambrose here," he said.  "Look for yourselves."

Matherfield glanced at the place indicated and said nothing.
Macpherson made an exclamation of surprise.

"Aye, well, he may be a foreigner, after all," he observed.  "But I
shouldn't have considered him one, and he certainly told me he was an
Oxford graduate."

"Foreigner or Oxforder, I'm going to know more about him!" declared
Matherfield, rising and grasping his stick with an air of
determination.  "Well, Mr. Macpherson, we're obliged to you, and if
this results in anything--you know!  But for the moment--a bit of that
caution that you Scotsmen are famous for--eh?"

Outside, Matherfield laid his hand on Hetherwick's elbow.

"Mr. Hetherwick," he said solemnly, "we're on the track--at last!  Sure
as my name's Matherfield, we've hit the trail!  Now we're going to John
Street, Adelphi--and I'll lay you anything you like that the man's
vanished!"



CHAPTER XVIII

THE TELEGRAM

Hetherwick followed his companion across the Strand, into the Adelphi,
and to the house they wanted--an old Adams mansion, now divided into
flats.  Matherfield did not take the trouble to ascend to the upper
regions; he sought and found a caretaker and put a question to him.
The man shook his head.

"Dr. Ambrose, sir?" he replied.  "Oh, yes, Dr. Ambrose lives here--38.
But he ain't in, sir--ain't at home, in fact.  He's been away three
weeks or so--don't know where he is."

With a meaning look at Hetherwick, Matherfield drew the caretaker aside
and talked to him for a few moments; the man presently turned and went
downstairs to the basement from which they had summoned him.

"That's all right," remarked Matherfield, with a wink.  "He's going to
let us into Ambrose's flat.  Didn't I tell you we shouldn't find
Ambrose here?  Not he!  I should say he's off!"

"Supposing he returns--while we're here?" asked Hetherwick.

"Wish he would!" chuckled Matherfield.  "Nobody I want to see more!  If
he did, why, I should just ask him to take a little walk with me--to
explain a few matters.  But he won't!  Here's the man.  We'll go up."

The caretaker reappeared with a bunch of keys and led the way to a flat
at the top of the old house.  He unlocked a door and stood aside.

"You needn't wait," said Matherfield.  "I'll shut the place up again
when we leave and let you know.  All right."

He walked in, with Hetherwick at his heels, as soon as the caretaker
had gone, and, once inside, closed the door carefully upon himself and
his companion.  But Hetherwick, after a first glance at the
sitting-room into which they had entered, a somewhat untidy, shabbily
furnished place, went straight to the hearth and pointed to a framed
photograph, time-stained and faded, which hung over the mantelpiece.

"There's a striking and significant piece of evidence--at once!" he
exclaimed.  "Do you know what that is, Matherfield?"

Matherfield looked in the direction indicated, and shook his head.

"Not the slightest idea!" he answered.  "I see it's a photograph of
some old church or other--that's all."

"That's the famous Parish Church of Sellithwaite!" said Hetherwick.
"One of the very finest in England!  I had a look at it--only a mere
look--when I was down there.  Now then, what's this man doing with a
picture of Sellithwaite Parish Church in his rooms?  Hannaford came
from Sellithwaite!"

"That's a mighty significant thing, anyway," agreed Matherfield.
"We're getting at something this morning!" He looked more carefully at
the photograph.  "Grand old building, as you say," he continued.  "Of
course, the mere fact of his having it put up there shows that he's
some interest in it.  Sellithwaite man, likely.  But we'll find all
that out.  Now let's look round."

There was little to see, Hetherwick thought.  The flat consisted of a
sitting-room and bedroom and a small bathroom.  The furniture was
plain, old, rather shabby; the whole place suggested that its occupant
was not over well-to-do; the only signs of affluence to be seen were
manifested in the toilet articles on the dressing-table, in a
luxurious, if well-worn, dressing-gown which hung on the rail of the
bed, and in the presence of carefully folded and pressed garments laid
out in the bedroom.  There were a few books, chiefly medical treatises,
in shelves in the sitting-room; a few personal pictures, mainly of
college and school groups, on the walls; and a desk in the centre,
littered with more books, writing materials, and papers.  Matherfield
began to turn them over.

"See that?" he exclaimed suddenly, pointing to a movable calendar which
stood on the top ledge of the desk.  "Notice the date?  March 18th!
That's the day on which Hannaford got his quietus.  At least, strictly
speaking, it was the day before.  Hannaford actually died on the
nineteenth--about--what was it?--very early in the morning, anyway.
What's one to gather from this?--that Ambrose hasn't been here since
the eighteenth.  So--hallo!"

Turning over the loose papers that lay about the blotting-pad, he had
suddenly lighted upon a telegram; just as suddenly he thrust it into
Hetherwick's hands.

"Look at that!" he exclaimed.  "Now, that is a find!  Biggest we've
ever had--so far!"

Hetherwick read the apparently innocent message.


"_All right.  Will meet you Victoria bookstall this evening as
suggested._

"_Hannaford._"


"See the date?" said Matherfield excitedly.  "March 18th!  Now we've
got at it!  Ambrose was the man that met Hannaford at Victoria, the
tall, muffled-up man that Ledbitter saw!  That's--certain!"

"Seems so," agreed Hetherwick.  He was still studying the telegram.
"Sent off from Fleet Street twelve-fifteen that day," he muttered.
"Yes--there doesn't seem much doubt about this.  I wonder who this man
Ambrose is?"

"We'll soon get to know something about that, Mr. Hetherwick!"
exclaimed Matherfield briskly.  "Now, I'm just going to put that wire
in my pocket, lock up this flat again, have another word or two with
that caretaker chap, and go in search of the information you refer to.
Come with me!  Later, I shall get a search warrant, and make a thorough
examination of this flat.  Let's be moving."

Downstairs again, Matherfield called up the caretaker.

"You say Dr. Ambrose has been away for a bit?" he asked.  "Is there
anything unusual in that?"

"Well, not so very," answered the man.  "Ever since he came here, two
or three years ago, he's been used to going away for a while.  I
believe he used to go over to Paris.  But I never remember him being
away more than a week at a time before."

"Evidently he's a doctor," suggested Matherfield.  "Did he ever have
patients come to see him here?"

The caretaker shook his head.

"No," he replied.  "He never had anybody much come to see him
here--never remember anybody, unless it was somebody he brought in at
night for a smoke, you know.  He generally went out early in a morning,
and came home late--very late."

"What about his meals?" asked Matherfield.

"He'd no meals here--unless he made himself a cup of coffee or so in a
morning," said the caretaker.  "All his meals out--breakfast, too.
Sundays as well as weekdays.  We saw very little of him."

"Who does up his rooms--makes the bed and so on?" inquired Matherfield.

"My wife," answered the caretaker.  "She does all that."

"And she hasn't had anything to do for--how long?"

"Well, it'll be three weeks, I'm sure.  He never used to say anything
at any time when he went off--just went.  He'd call downstairs when he
came back and let us know he was back, d'ye see?  But we never thought
he'd be as long away as this, this time.  It was only this morning,
just before you came, that my missus said to me that it seemed queer."

"Why queer?"

"Because he's taken nothing with him.  However short a time he might be
away before, he always took a suit-case, clean linen, shaving things,
so on--he was a very particular gentleman about his appearance--always
dressed like a swell and had a clean shirt every day; used to have a
nice heavy washing-bill, anyhow!"

"Did he seem to be pretty well supplied with money?" asked Matherfield.
"Or--the opposite?"

"Couldn't rightly say," replied the caretaker.  "Always paid his rent,
and us, and the washing regular, but as for anything else, why, we'd no
means of knowing.  Of course, as I tell you, he always looked the
gentleman."

"I see!" said Matherfield.  "All right--you'll see me again this
afternoon."

He strode away towards the Strand, and there ushered Hetherwick into
the first empty taxi-cab they met.

"Where now?" asked Hetherwick as Matherfield followed him into the cab
after a word to its driver.

"We're going now, sir, to Hallam Street, to the offices of the General
Medical Council," answered Matherfield promptly.  "I've had experience
of inquiring into the antecedents of medical men before, and I know
where to find out all about any of 'em.  I'm going to find out all
about this Dr. Charles Ambrose--that is, of course, if he's an English
doctor."

"Probably he isn't," remarked Hetherwick, "any more than Baseverie is."

"Ah, Baseverie!" exclaimed Matherfield.  "I'd forgotten that man for
the time being!  Well, while we're about it, we'll see if we can
unearth a bit of information concerning him.  We've done a bit of good
work this morning, ye know, Mr. Hetherwick!" he went on, rubbing his
hands with satisfaction.  "We've practically made certain that Ambrose
was the man who met Hannaford at Victoria, and we're sure he's the man
to whom Macpherson supplied the bottle in which the poison was
discovered at Granett's room.  And now we'll hope for a bit more
illumination in the darkness!"

Hetherwick presently found himself closeted with Matherfield and a
grave official who, after seeing Matherfield's credentials and
listening to his reasons for his visit of inquiry, began to consult
various books of reference.  Presently he left the room and was away
some time; when he returned he brought with him two slips of paper,
which he handed to Matherfield.

"I have had the particulars you require written out for you," he said,
"so you can examine them at your leisure.  I--" here he smiled
frostily--"I gather that you are somewhat anxious to get in touch with
these men?"

"I think it's extremely probable, sir, that before the day's over I
shall be exceedingly anxious to get in touch with both!" answered
Matherfield, with something very like a wink.  "More than anxious!"

The grave official nodded and smiled again, and Matherfield and
Hetherwick went away.  Outside Matherfield looked right and left.

"Mr. Hetherwick," he said, "it's well past twelve, and I'd my breakfast
before eight--I'm hungry!  Let's turn into the first decent place we
see and get a bite and a sup!  And we'll examine these papers."

He presently led Hetherwick into the saloon bar of a tavern, and
remarking that he had a taste for ale and bread and cheese at that time
of day, provided himself with these matters and retreated to a snug
corner, whither Hetherwick followed him with a whisky and soda.

"Here's success to our endeavours, Mr. Hetherwick!" said Matherfield,
lifting his tankard.  "I'm now firmly under the impression that we're
adding link after link to the chain!  But let's see what we've got here
in this crabbed writing."

He laid the slips of paper on the table at which they sat; both bent
over them.  There were not many words on either, but to Hetherwick they
were significant enough in their plain straightforwardness.


_Charles Ambrose, M.B.  (Oxon).  Medical Officer of Health, Crayport,
Lancs, _1903-4_; in practice Whiteburn, Lancs, _1904-9_; police
surgeon, Sellithwaite, W.R., Yorks, _1909-12_; in practice Brondesbury,
London, _1912-18_.  Struck off Register by General Medical Council for
unprofessional conduct, _1918.


"So much for him!" muttered Matherfield, his cheek bulging with bread
and cheese.  "I thought it would turn out to be something of that sort!
Now t'other!"


_Cyprian Baseverie, L.R.C.P., L.R.C.S.  In practice Birmingham,
_1897-1902_; at Wyborough, Northants, _1902-11_; at Dalston, N.,
_1911-17_, Convicted of fraud at Central Criminal Court, _1917_, and
struck off Register by General Medical Council, _1918.


"Ho-ho!" exclaimed Matherfield.  "Been in the dock already, has he?
Well, well, Mr. Hetherwick, we continue to learn, sir!  We know still
more.  Baseverie's a convicted criminal.  Both have been struck off the
register.  Ambrose was certainly at Sellithwaite--and he'd be there,
according to these dates, at the time of the Whittingham affair.  A
promising pair--for our purpose!  What do you think?"

"I'm wondering if the two men know each other," answered Hetherwick.

"Shouldn't wonder," said Matherfield.  "Probably they do.  Probably
they're mixed up together in this affair.  Probably they're actual
partners in it--accessories to each other.  But now that I know this
much about them, I can find out more, especially about Ambrose, as he
was a police surgeon.  I can find out, too, what Baseverie's particular
crime was.  Defrauding a patient, I should imagine.  But I'll put one
or two men on to working up particulars and records of both Baseverie
and Ambrose this afternoon, and, of course, I shall go back and
thoroughly examine that flat in John Street."

"And, I suppose, in view of the evidence supplied by Macpherson, set up
a search for Ambrose?" suggested Hetherwick.

"To be sure!  We'll get out a 'tracked by the police' notice,
describing him to the best of our power," replied Matherfield.  "But
I'll tell you--in my opinion it'll be a stiff job getting hold of him.
If you want my opinion, as a private individual, he's probably got that
secret invention of Hannaford's and gone off across the Atlantic with
it--to turn it into money."

"That's very likely," assented Hetherwick.  "But what about Baseverie?"

"I'm not so much concerned about him now," said Matherfield.  "Ambrose
seems to be the man I want--first, anyway.  But I shall do what I can
to get hold of Baseverie.  If these Penteney and Blenkinsop people had
only come to us instead of laying plans of their own, some good would
have been done.  I shouldn't have let the man got away!"

"My belief," observed Hetherwick, "is that Baseverie and Ambrose are
partners in this affair.  And--how do we know that they didn't meet at
Dover, and that they haven't gone off together?"

Still wondering about this, Hetherwick next morning went round to
Lincoln's Inn Fields and asked to see one of the partners.  He was
shown into the room in which he and Matherfield had had their interview
on the previous day.  But he found Major Penteney alone.  Blenkinsop,
remarked the junior partner, had business in the Courts that morning.

"I called," explained Hetherwick, "to ask if you had any more
information about Baseverie's disappearance at Dover."

Penteney made a wry face.

"More vexed than ever about that!" he answered.  "Most inexcusably
stupid conduct on the part of our man--man we've always found so
reliable previously.  He came back yesterday afternoon, crestfallen,
told us all about it, and got a jolly good wigging.  He'd done well at
first.  Tracked his man from Riversreade Court to Dorking, and thence
to Redhill, and thence to Dover, after one or two changes.  Baseverie
put up at some hotel--I forget which--near the harbour; our man,
certain that Baseverie was quite unconscious that he was being
followed, put up there, too.  Nothing happened.  He saw Baseverie at
dinner that night, saw him in the smoking-room after; in fact, he had a
game of billiards with him, and saw him retire to bed; their rooms were
adjacent.  He felt sure of seeing him at breakfast, but when he went
down he found that the bird had flown--flown, said the night porter,
before six o'clock; he didn't know where.  Nor could our man trace him
at station or pier, or anywhere."

"Careless sort of watching," said Hetherwick.

"Worse than careless!" agreed Penteney.  "As I said, he caught it hot.
But now----"

The telephone bell on Blenkinsop's desk rang.  With a word of excuse
Penteney turned to it.  A moment later a smothered ejaculation of
surprise came from him, followed by a sharp interrogation on his part.
Suddenly he turned on Hetherwick.

"Good heavens!" he exclaimed.  "What's all this?  This is Lady
Riversreade speaking.  She says her sister, who came yesterday, and
Miss Featherstone have been kidnapped!  Kidnapped--this morning!"

Hetherwick leapt to his feet with a sharp exclamation--half amazed,
half incredulous.  But already his thoughts were with Rhona; he saw the
dangers of the situation for her as Penteney could not see them.

"Impossible!" he said.  "Kidnapped! in broad daylight?  And--from
there?"

But Penteney was still busy at the telephone, giving and receiving
rapid answers.

"Yes, yes!" he was saying.  "To be sure!--police--yes!  I'm coming
straight there now--car--tell the police to get busy."

He turned sharply to Hetherwick as he laid down the instrument.

"Fear there's no impossibility about it!" he said.  "Lady Riversreade
says they were carried off as they crossed from the Court to the
Home--she's heard something of a big car with strange men in it.  I'm
going down there at once--there's more in this affair than one sees at
first."

"I'll come with you," said Hetherwick.  "Where can we get a car--a fast
one?"

"Garage close by, in Kingsway," answered Penteney, hurriedly seizing on
one of several greatcoats that hung in a recess.  "Here!--get into one
of these--you're about my height, and the air's still nippy, motoring.
Now come on--we'll be there in under the hour.  You know," he
continued, as they left the office and hastened towards Kingsway, "I
think I see through something of this already, Hetherwick.  These
fellows probably believed they were kidnapping Lady Riversreade!--and
got her sister in mistake for her.  Ransom, you know!  The blackmailing
dodge failed--now they're trying this.  A desperate and dare-devil lot,
evidently!"

Hetherwick nodded a silent assent.  He was wondering whether or not to
tell Penteney that the Miss Featherstone of whom he had just spoken was
in reality the granddaughter of the man whose mysterious murder
appeared to be the starting-point of the more recent, equally
mysterious events.  That fact, it seemed to him, would have to come out
sooner or later--and there might be possible complications, perhaps
unpleasantness, when Lady Riversreade discovered that Rhona had gone to
her as a spy.  Might it not be well to take Penteney into his
confidence and explain matters?  But, on reflection, he decided to wait
until they knew the exact situation at Riversreade Court; so far, in
spite of Lady Riversreade's news he felt it difficult to believe that
two women, one of them, to his knowledge, a girl of character and
resource, and the other a woman of the world, used to travelling and to
adventure, could be carried off in broad daylight in immediate prospect
of two large houses--the thing seemed impossible.



CHAPTER XIX

THE LONDON ROAD

Some fifty minutes later, the big, powerful car, which Penteney had
commissioned in Kingsway, dashed up to Riversreade Court.  Hetherwick
found that there had been no exaggeration in Lady Riversreade's
telephone message.  She herself came hurrying out to meet them; there
were men standing about the terrace outside and others visible in the
park; a couple of uniformed policemen followed Lady Riversreade from
her study, where Hetherwick supposed her to have been in consultation
with them.  And her first glance was directed on Hetherwick himself;
she addressed him before Penteney could go through any hurried
introduction.

"I've seen you before!" she exclaimed abruptly.  "You were with my
secretary, Miss Featherstone, at Victoria, Sunday morning.  Are you
engaged to her?"

"No!" replied Hetherwick.  "But we are close friends."

"Well, Miss Featherstone's been run away with--and so has my sister,
Madame Listorelle," continued Lady Riversreade.  "That's the long and
short of it!  You seemed almost incredulous when I rang you up," she
continued, turning to Penteney, "but there's no doubt about it--they've
been kidnapped, under my very windows.  And we haven't a single clue, a
trace of any sort."

"So far, you mean," answered Penteney coolly.  "But come--but let me
hear all about it.  What are the details?"

"Details!" exclaimed Lady Riversreade.  "We don't know any details!
All I know is this--my sister came here from Hampshire yesterday
evening, to stay a few days.  This morning, after we had breakfasted,
she and Miss Featherstone set out across the park for the Home, leaving
me here--I meant to follow in a few minutes.  I did follow!--I wasn't
ten minutes behind them.  But when I got to the Home, they weren't
there, and Mitchell, the man at the door, said they hadn't come.  They
didn't come!  Eventually, I came back here, to find out if something
had happened and they'd returned by some other way.  But they weren't
here.  Then I began to make some inquiry.  One of the housemaids, who'd
been looking out of a top window, said she'd seen a car go at a great
rate down the middle drive in the direction of the high road soon after
Madame Listorelle and Miss Featherstone left the house.  And of course
there's no doubt about it--they've been carried off in that!  This is
more work of that man Baseverie's!"

"You said something over the 'phone about strange men being seen in the
car," remarked Penteney.

"Oh, that?--yes, the same girl said she thought she could see two men
sitting in the car," answered Lady Riversreade.  "Of course they'd be
strange."

Penteney turned to the policemen, at the same time tapping Hetherwick's
arm.  "I think we'd better go across the park and see for ourselves if
there are any signs of a struggle at any particular place," he said.
"I don't think either Madame Listorelle or Miss Featherstone likely
persons to be carried off without making a fight for it.  Have you been
across the grounds yet?" he added, to the elder of the two men.  "I
mean by the path they took?"

"Not yet, sir; we've only just arrived," answered the man.

"Come along, then," said Penteney.  He lingered a moment as Hetherwick
and the policemen left the hall, and said a few words to Lady
Riversreade; then he hurried out and headed his party.  "This way," he
continued, leading Hetherwick along the terrace, "I know the usual
route to the Home--plain sailing from here to there, except at one
spot, and there, I conclude, whatever has happened did happen!"

Hetherwick paid particular attention to the route along which Penteney
led his party.  The path went straight across the park, from the end of
the terrace at the Court to near the front entrance of the Home, and
from the Court itself it looked as if there was no break in it.  But
about half-way between the two houses there was an important break
which could not be seen until pedestrians were close upon it.
Transecting the park from its southern to its northern boundaries was a
sunk roadway--the middle drive to which Lady Riversreade had
referred--gained from the park above, on each side, by ornamental
steps.  Whatever happened in that roadway, Hetherwick saw at once,
could not have been seen from the higher ground above, save by anyone
close to its edge.  But two or three hundred yards or so from the
steps, which made a continuation of the path, the embankments of the
sunk road flattened out into the lower stretches of the park, and there
the road itself could be seen from the top windows of the Court, and
from those of the Home also.

Penteney paused at the top of the ornamental steps.

"If these two ladies have been carried off, as they certainly seem to
have been," he said, turning to his companions, "this is the spot!
Now, just let me explain the lie of the land.  The main road edges the
park at the northern end, as you all know.  But there is a good road at
the southern extremity, and the sunk road runs down from it.  A car
could come down from there, be pulled up here, and kept waiting until
the two ladies came along.  They would have to descend these steps,
cross the road, and ascend the steps on the other bank to get to the
other half of the park.  Now suppose they're forced into a car at the
foot of the steps--the car goes off for the main road and gets clear
away within a minute or two of the kidnapping taking place!  There's
the difficulty!  The thing would be easy to do--granted force.
Probably, the two captives were forced into the car at the point of
revolvers."

"That's about it, sir!" agreed the elder of the policemen.  "No choice
in the matter, poor things!  And, as you say, they'd be in and
off--miles off--before they fairly knew what had happened."

"Come down and let's see the roadway," said Penteney.

But there was nothing to see at the foot of the steps.  The road, like
all roads and paths on the Riversreade Court property, was in a perfect
state of repair, and there was scarcely a grain of dust on its
spick-and-span, artificially treated and smoothed surface; certainly
there were no signs of any struggle.

"That's how it's been, you may depend upon it," observed Penteney to
Hetherwick as they looked about.  "The men were waiting here with
revolvers.  They'd force them into the car and get in after them; a
third man, an accomplice, would drive off.  If only we had some more
definite information about the car and its occupants!"

"There's an old chap coming down the road who seems to have his eye on
us," remarked Hetherwick, looking round.  "He may have something to
tell.  After all, some of the people hereabouts must have seen the car!"

The old man, evidently a labourer, came nearer, looking inquiringly
from one to the other.  He had the air of one who can tell something on
occasion.

"Be you gentlemen a-enquirin' about a moty-car what was round here this
mornin'?" he asked, as he came up.  "I hear there was somebody a-askin'
questions that way, so I just come down-along, like."

"We are," answered Penteney.  "Do you know anything?"

The old man pointed up the sunk road to a part of the park where it was
lost amongst trees and coppices.

"Lives up there, I do," he said.  "My cottage, it be just behind they
trees, t'other side o' the road what this here runs into; my garden, it
runs down to the edge o' that road.  And when I was a-gardenin' this
morning--mebbe 'bout half-past-nine o'clock, that was--I sees a
moty-car what come along from your way, and turns into this here sunk
road.  Mebbe that's what you're a-talkin' 'bout?"

"No doubt," agreed Penteney.  "And we're much obliged to you.  Now what
sort of a car was it?  Closed, or open?"

"Oh, 'twas closed up, same as one o' they old cabs what us don't see no
more now," said the old man.  "But I see inside it, for all that.  Two
gentlemen."

"Two gentlemen, eh?" repeated Penteney.  "Just so.  And a driver
outside, of course."

"Oh, aye; there was a driver outside, to be sure.  In livery, he
was--like a gentleman's servant.  Smart feller!"

"Could you describe the gentlemen?"

"No, surely--two gentlemen, though; a-sitting back, I sees 'em!  And
sees the moty-car, too, turn down this here very road."

"What sort of car was it?" inquired Penteney.  "What colour was it
painted?"

"Well, now, you beats me!  It med be a sort o' greyish colour--or
again, it med be a sort o' yaller, lightish yaller, or it med be
drabbish--I couldn' 'zac'ly go to for say what it was, proper.  But a
lightish colour."

"Lightish--grey, yellow, or drab--something of that sort?"

"Surely!  Her wasn't a dark 'un, anyhow.  But the feller what drove,
now he were in a dark livery--I took partic'lar notice of he, 'cause he
was so smart as never was.  Green! that was his colour, and gold lace.
Looked like a duke, he did!  And I thought, hearin' as there was them
in the park as was inquirin', like, as 'ow I'd come and tell 'ee."

Penteney rewarded the informant with some silver, and turned to his
companions with a shake of the head.

"A light-coloured car with two men in it, driven by a man who wore a
dark-green livery with gold lace on it!" he remarked.  "That's about
all we're likely to get.  And--if this has been a carefully-planned
affair, the chauffeur would change his livery before they'd gone
far--slip another coat on!  However----"

They went back to the Court, consulting together; obviously, there was
nothing to do but to send out inquiries in the surrounding country.
Penteney was sceptical about the success of these.

"When one considers the thousands of cars to be seen in any given area
during one morning," he said, "how can one expect that anybody, even
rustics, should give special attention to any particular one?  There's
no doubt about it--they've got clean away!"

It seemed as if nothing could be done but to give the kidnapping full
publicity through the police and the press.  In the neighbourhood of
the Court nobody beyond the housemaid and the old cottager appeared to
have seen the car and its occupants.  But during the afternoon, as
Hetherwick and Penteney were about to set out for London, a man came to
the house and asked to see Lady Riversreade.  Lady Riversreade went out
to him; the two men accompanied her, and found at the hall door an
elderly, respectable-looking fellow who had driven up in a light cart.
He had heard, he said, of what had happened at Riversreade Court that
morning, and he believed he could tell something, for he was sure that
he had seen a car, such as that the police were inquiring after, pass
his house.

"And where is that?" asked Lady Riversreade.

"About two miles the other side of Dorking, my lady, on the London
Road.  I'm a market gardener--name of Thomas Chillam.  And I was
outside my garden gate this morning, about, as near as I can reckon,
ten o'clock, when I saw a car, light-coloured, coming from Dorking, at
a particularly high speed--a good deal faster than it had any right to
do!  I watched it careful, my lady.  But just as it got near to my
place, there was a man drove some sheep out of a by-lane, a few yards
past my garden and the car was obliged to slow down.  And so I saw the
folks in it."

"Yes?" said Lady Riversreade.  "And--who was in it?"

"There was a couple of men, my lady, on the front seat, and a couple of
ladies in the back.  Of course, it was a closed car, but I saw 'em,
plain enough, all four.  It seemed to me as if they were all either
quarrelling or having high words--they were all talking together,
anyway.  But though the car had slowed down 'cause of the sheep, it was
still moving at a fair pace, and, of course, they were past and gone,
London way, in a minute, as it were.  All the same, I saw 'em clearly
enough to see that one of the men inside was a man I've seen before."

"About here?" exclaimed Lady Riversreade.

"No, my lady," answered Chillam.  "In London.  It's this way, my
lady--me and my missis, we've a grown-up daughter what's in service in
London--Grosvenor Gardens.  Now and again we go up to see her, and stop
a night or two close by.  And of course we take a look round.  Now I've
seen that man two or three times about Victoria Station way--I knew him
at once when I saw him this morning, and----"

"Just tell us what he's like, will you?" interrupted Penteney.  "As
near as you can."

"Well, sir, I ain't good at that, but he's a tall, good-looking,
smart-dressed gentleman, with a beard and moustache--taller nor what
you and that other gentleman is, sir.  I seen him in Victoria
Street--mebbe it was his height made me notice him."

"And you're sure that was the man you saw in the car this morning?"

"Make no doubt on it, sir!  I'm as certain as that I see yourself.  Oh,
yes!"

Hetherwick put in a question.

"The second man in the car?  Did you notice him?  Can you remember him?"

Chillam reflected for awhile.

"I remember that he was a white-faced chap," he said at last.  "Wore a
top-hat, silk."

When Chillam had gone away, Hetherwick turned to his companions.

"That sounds like Ambrose, for one man, and Baseverie for the other,"
he said.  "What devilry are they up to now?  Penteney--we must get back
to London!"



CHAPTER XX

CONVERGING TRACKS

It was an hour later when they pulled up at Matherfield's head-quarters
and went in to find him.  Matherfield, brought to them after some
search, rubbed his hands at sight of them.

"Come at the right moment!" he exclaimed, "I've got news--of Ambrose!"

Matherfield evidently expected his visitors to show deep interest, if
not passive enthusiasm, in respect of this announcement, and he stared
wonderingly on seeing that their faces showed nothing but gloom and
concern.

"But you--you look as if you'd had bad news!" he exclaimed.  "Something
gone wrong?"

"I forgot that we might have telephoned you from Riversreade Court,"
replied Hetherwick, suddenly realising that Matherfield seemed to know
nothing of the day's happening.  "But I thought the Dorking police
would do that.  Gone wrong!--yes, and it may have to do with
Ambrose--we've heard news that seems to fit in with him.  But it's
this," he went on to give Matherfield a brief account of the day's
events.  "There you are!" he concluded.  "I've no doubt whatever that
Baseverie and Ambrose are in at this--kidnapping in broad daylight.
Matherfield, you've got to find them!"

Matherfield had listened with close attention to Hetherwick's story,
and now he looked from him to Penteney; from Penteney to a printed bill
which lay on his desk at his side.  "I think I see what all this is
about," he remarked, after a pause.  "Those chaps think they've got--or
they thought they got--Lady Riversreade!  To hold for ransom, of
course.  They took Miss Hannaford because she chanced to be there.
What they really kidnapped--and there's more of that done than you
gentlemen might think, I can tell you!--was Lady Riversreade's sister.
But now, however sisters--twin sisters--may closely resemble each
other, there comes a time when difference of identity's bound to come
out.  By this time--perhaps long before--those men must have discovered
that they laid hands on the wrong woman!  And the question is--what
would they do then?"

"It seems to me that the more immediate question is--where are the two
women?" exclaimed Hetherwick.  "Think of their danger!"

"Oh, well, Mr. Hetherwick, I don't suppose they're in any personal
danger," answered Matherfield.  "They're in the hands of brigands, no
doubt, but I don't think there'll be any maltreatment of them--set your
mind at rest about that.  They don't do that sort of thing nowadays;
it's all done politely and with every consideration, I believe.  As to
where they are?  Why, somewhere in London!  And there are over seven
millions of other people in London, and hundreds upon hundreds of
thousands of inhabited houses--a lot of needles in that bundle of hay,
gentlemen!"

"They've got to be found!" repeated Hetherwick doggedly.  "You'll have
to set all your machinery to work!  This can't----"

"Wait a bit, Hetherwick," interrupted Penteney.  He turned to
Matherfield.  "You said you had news of this man Ambrose?  What news?"

Matherfield tapped the printed bill which lay on his desk.

"I had that circulated broadcast this morning," he answered.  "And
then, of course, the newspapers have helped.  Well, not so very long
before you came in, I was called to the telephone by a man named
Killiner, who told me he was the landlord of the Green Archer Tavern,
in Wood Street, Westminster----"

"Westminster again!" exclaimed Hetherwick.  "That seems to be the
centre point!"

"And a very good thing to have a centre-point, Mr. Hetherwick," said
Matherfield.  "When things begin to narrow down, one gets some chance.
Well, I was saying--this man rang me up to say that if I'd go down
there he thought he could give me some information relative to the bill
about the missing man.  What he'd got to say, he said, was too long for
a telephone talk.  I answered that I'd be with him shortly, and I was
just setting off when you arrived.  Of course, I don't know what he can
tell--it may be nothing, it may be something.  Perhaps you gentlemen
would like to go with me and hear what it is?"

"I would, but I mustn't," replied Penteney.  "I must go to my office
and hear if Lady Riversreade or the local police have had any fresh
news.  Keep in touch with me, though, Matherfield--let me know what you
hear."

"I'll go with you," said Hetherwick.  "Westminster!" he muttered again,
when Penteney had gone.  "It looks as if this man Ambrose was known In
that district."

"Likely!" assented Matherfield.  "But you know, Mr. Hetherwick, there
are some queer spots in that quarter!  People who know the purely
ornamental parts of Westminster, such as the Abbey, and the Houses of
Parliament, and Victoria Street, and so on, don't know that there are
some fine old slums behind 'em!  But I'll show you when we get down
there.  We shall go through one or two savoury slices."

He was putting on his overcoat as he spoke, in readiness for setting
out, but before he had buttoned it a constable entered with a card.

"Wants to see you particularly, and at once," he said.  "Waiting
outside."

"Bring him in--straight!" answered Matherfield.  He pushed the card
along his desk in Hetherwick's direction.  "Lord Morradale!" he
exclaimed.  "Who's he?"

"The man who's engaged to Madame Listorelle," replied Hetherwick, in an
undertone.  "Hampshire magnate."

Matherfield turned expectantly to the open door.  A shortish, stoutish
person, who looked more like a typical City man, prosperous and
satisfied, came hustling in and gave Hetherwick and his companion a
sharp, inquiring glance which finally settled on Matherfield.

"Mr. Matherfield?" he asked.  "Just so!  I'm Lord Morradale--oh, of
course, I sent in my card--just so!  Well, Mr. Matherfield, I've had an
extraordinary communication from Lady Riversreade.  She telephoned to
my house in Hill Street this morning, but I was down in the City, and
didn't hear of her message till late this afternoon.  She says her
sister, Madame Listorelle, has been kidnapped!
Kidnapped--preposterous!"

"I'm afraid it's neither preposterous nor improbable, my lord,"
answered Matherfield.  "I'm quite sure Madame Listorelle has been
kidnapped, and Lady Riversreade's secretary, Miss Featherstone, with
her.  I've been down at Riversreade Court most of the day, and there's
no doubt about it--the two ladies were carried off from there by three
men in a fast car, which was driven towards London.  That's a fact!"

"God bless my soul!" exclaimed Lord Morradale.  "In broad daylight!
Twentieth century, too!  And is there no clue?"

"None so far, my lord.  Of course, we've noised the affair as much as
possible, and all our people are on the look out.  But it's a difficult
case," continued Matherfield.  "The probability is that the ladies have
been rushed to some house in London and that they're there in
captivity.  Of course, one theory is that the kidnappers took Madame
Listorelle for her sister.  They meant to get Lady Riversreade and hold
her to ransom."

Lord Morradale pursed his lips.  Then he rubbed his chin.  Then he
shook his head.  Finally he gave Hetherwick a shrewd glance, eyeing him
from head to foot.

"Um!" he said.  "Ah!  This gentleman?  Not one of your people, I think,
Matherfield?"

"No, my lord.  This gentleman is Mr. Hetherwick, of the Middle Temple,
who is interested very deeply in certain matters connected with the
affair.  Mr. Hetherwick has been down to Riversreade with me, and your
lordship can speak freely before him."

Lord Morradale gave Hetherwick a friendly, knowing nod.  Then he
glanced at the door, and Matherfield made haste to close it.

"Thank 'ee," said Lord Morradale.  "Just as well to be in private.
'Um!--I think I'd better tell you something, Matherfield.  I dare say
that's a reasonable supposition of yours--that these villains took
Madame Listorelle for her sister.  But I don't think they did.  I think
they knew very well whom they were seizing.  Mind you--they'd have
seized Lady Riversreade too if she'd happened to be there.  But it was
madame they were after!"

"If your lordship would explain----" suggested Matherfield.

"I'm going to--it's what I come here for!  I think I can just put you
on the right scent.  You may have heard that Madame Listorelle and I
are about to marry?  Very well, I accordingly knew a good deal about
her affairs.  Now, I don't know whether you know or not that Madame
Listorelle is actively concerned--or has been--in buying and selling
jewels on commission?  That's her speciality."

"Heard something of it, my lord," replied Matherfield.

"Very well.  Now, quite recently Madame Listorelle bought up in Paris a
magnificent set of stones which had been at one time the property of a
member of the Russian Imperial family.  She brought them here to
London, meaning, shortly, either to send or take them personally to
America to her customer.  This deal, unfortunately, got into the
papers.  Now, it's my belief that these fellows have kidnapped madame
in order to get hold of these jewels.  Do you see?"

"Ah!" exclaimed Matherfield.  "I see, my lord!  That puts a new aspect
on the case.  But--surely Madame Listorelle wouldn't have the stones on
her?"

Lord Morradale winked--deliberately--at both his hearers.

"No!" he said.  "No--she wouldn't.  But the scoundrels would figure on
this--that when she was fairly in their power they would be in a
position to make her give them up--to force her, in short, to disclose
their whereabouts.  If they're desperate villains, not likely to stick
at anything, I think they'll have forced madame to compliance--and in
doing so give you a chance to lay hands on them!"

"How, my lord?" asked Matherfield eagerly.

Lord Morradale gave the two men a confidential glance.

"This way," he replied.  "The jewels were deposited, for safety, by
Madame Listorelle at the Imperial Safe Deposit.  She rents a safe
there.  Now, don't you see what I'm suggesting?  These men may force
her to give them the necessary key and a signed order to the safe
people to let the bearer open madame's safe and take away a certain
case in which the jewels are packed.  That's what I think will be done.
And what you ought to do is to see the Imperial Safe Deposit officials
at once, warn them of what I suggest may happen, and take your own
means of watching for such a messenger arriving, and for tracking him
when he departs.  Eh?"

"Or arresting him there and then," said Matherfield.

"No, I shouldn't!" declared Lord Morradale.  "I'm not a policeman, you
know, but I can give a hint to one.  Instead of arresting the man--who,
you must remember, will be sure to have madame's written authority on
him--that is if things turn out as I suggest--I should carefully follow
him.  For--he'll probably go back to where madame and the young lady,
Miss What's-her-name, are detained!  Eh?"

Matherfield shook his head.

"I should doubt that, my lord!" he answered.  "If things work out as
you suggest,--and it's a highly probable theory--that's about the last
thing he would do!  Once the jewels were in his possession----"

"You forget this," interrupted Lord Morradale.  "They may use a
catspaw!  Eh?"

"Well, there's that in it, certainly," assented Matherfield.  "However,
I'll see that the Imperial Safe Deposit people are warned and that this
entrance is carefully watched to-morrow morning.  But--the thing may
have been done already!  There's been plenty of time since the ladies
were carried off."

"No!" said Lord Morradale.  "Nothing's happened so far.  I called in at
the Imperial Safe Deposit as I came here; they had neither seen Madame
Listorelle nor had any communication from her to-day.  And now the
place is closed for the night."

"Did you warn them, then?" inquired Matherfield.

"I didn't.  I thought it best to see you first," replied Lord
Morradale.  "The warning and the rest of it will come best from you."

"Very good, my lord.  Much obliged to your lordship for looking in,"
said Matherfield.  "We'll keep you posted up in anything that
happens--at Hill Street.  Now," he continued, when Lord Morradale had
left the office, "we'll get along to Westminster, Mr. Hetherwick, to
the 'Green Archer' and its landlord, Killiner."

The "Green Archer" proved to be a respectable tavern which boasted a
saloon bar.  Behind the glass screens of this they found a middle-aged,
sharp-eyed man, who at the sight of his visitors immediately opened the
door of a parlour in the rear and ushered them into privacy.  He
pointed silently to a copy of the bill asking for news of Ambrose.

"Aye!" said Matherfield.  "Just so.  I had your message.  You think you
know this man?"

"From this description of him in that bill, yes," replied the landlord.
"I think he's a man--gentleman, by all appearances--who used to come
into my saloon bar pretty regularly during this last six months.  Since
the end of last summer, I should say, up to about three weeks or so
ago."

"Not since then, eh?" asked Matherfield.  "Three weeks?"

"About that.  No--he hasn't been in for quite that.  But up to then
he'd been in, well, four or five days a week.  Handsome, fine man--in
fact, you've described him exactly there.  I never knew who he
was--used to pass the time o' day with him, you know, but that was all.
He always came in about the same time--one to one-thirty.  He'd have
sometimes a glass of bitter ale and a sandwich or two; sometimes a
whisky and soda and two or three biscuits.  Stood and had his snack and
went away.  Never talked much.  I took him for some gentleman that had
business hereabouts, and just wanted a bite and a sup in the middle of
the day, and turned in here for it.  But I don't know what business he
could be concerned in round here.  He hadn't the tradesman's look on
him, you understand.  I should have said he was a professional man of
some sort.  Always very well dressed, you know--smart.  However, I did
notice one peculiar thing about him."

"What now?" asked Matherfield.  "It all helps!"

"Well," said the landlord, "I noticed that his hands and fingers were
stained--all sorts of colours.  Sometimes it was more noticeable than
at others.  But there it was."

"Um!" remarked Matherfield.  He exchanged a knowing glance with
Hetherwick.  And when, a few minutes later, they left the tavern, he
turned to him with an air of assurance.  "I'm beginning to feel the
end!" he said.  "Feel it, if I don't see it.  Stained fingers, eh?
We've heard of them before, Mr. Hetherwick.  And I'll tell ye what it
is.  Somewhere about this very spot there's some place where men are
dabbling--secretly, I should think--with chemicals, and Ambrose is one
of 'em, and perhaps Baseverie another, and it was there that Hannaford
and that man Grannet had been that night, and where they were
poisoned--and there, too, no doubt, these two ladies are at this
minute!  Well--come to my place first thing in the morning."

Hetherwick, at a loss what to do further that night, went away and
dined, and, that done, strolled home to his chambers.  There was a
light in his parlour, and when he opened the door he found Mapperley,
evidently awaiting him, and with Mapperley a curly-headed, big-nosed,
beady-eyed young Jew.



CHAPTER XXI

THE ORDER IN WRITING

Hetherwick realised at once that Mapperley had news, and was waiting
there to communicate it.  But he looked not so much at Mapperley as at
Mapperley's companion.  Mapperley, as Hetherwick had remarked to more
than one person in the course of those proceedings, concealed his
sharpness under an unusually commonplace exterior; he looked, as a
rule, like a young man whose ideas rarely soared above a low level.
But the Jew was of a different aspect--Hetherwick was not quite sure
whether he was rat or ferret.  There was subtlety and craft written all
over him, from his bright beady eyes to his long, thin, dirty fingers,
and before Mapperley spoke his employer felt sure that in this son of
Israel the clerk had found a valuable associate.

"Hullo, Mapperley!" exclaimed Hetherwick.  "Waiting for me?  You've
some news, I suppose?"

Mapperley, grave and formal, pointed a finger at the Jew.

"Mr. Isidore Goldmark, sir," he said.  "Friend of mine.  I got him to
give me a bit of assistance in this Baseverie and Vivian affair.  The
fact is, sir, he knows Vivian's--don't you, Issy?"

"Thome!" replied Mr. Goldmark, with a grin.

"And he knows Baseverie, too," continued Mapperley.  "By sight, anyhow.
So I got him--for a consideration--to watch for Baseverie's next
appearance on that scene, and then, when he did come, to keep an eye on
him--trick him, in fact.  And Issy's seen him to-night, Mr. Hetherwick,
and followed him.  Then Issy came to me, and I brought him here."

"Good!" said Hetherwick.  "Sit down, both of you, and I'll hear about
it."  He dropped into his own easy chair and again regarding the Jew
decided that he was probably a creditable witness.  "What do you do at
Vivian's?" he asked.  "Employed there?"

Mr. Goldmark glanced at Mapperley and smiled knowingly.  Mapperley
nodded.

"All confidential, Issy," he said reassuringly.  "Going no further."

"Of course this is all confidential--and secret," remarked Hetherwick.
"I only want to know the precise connection between Vivian's and Mr.
Goldmark."

"It'th a thort of themi-official, mithter," answered the Jew.  "The
fact ith, I do a bit o' commith'on work for Vivian'th cuthtomerth, turf
you know.  Tho'--I'm in and out of an evening.  Thee?"

"I see," said Hetherwick.  "All right!  And you know Baseverie?"

"Ath well ath I know my own nothe," replied Mr. Goldmark.

"How long have you known him?"

"Thome time."

"Do you know what he is?"

"Aint an idea, mithter--and noboody elthe that I knowth of!  Liv'th on
hith wit'th, I should thay, if you athk me.  Wrong 'un!"

"Nor where he lives?"

"No, mithter!  All I knowth ith that he come'th to Vivian'th--now and
then."

"And you saw him to-night?"

"I did, mithter--to-night ath ever wath!"

"What time was that?"

"About eight o'clock, mithter--near ath I can fix it."

"Well, what happened?"

"Thith, mithter.  He came in about eight, ath I thay.  I wath there,
doing a bit o' bithneth with another cuthmur.  Batheverie, he didn't
thtop.  He wathn't in the plathe three minuteth, and while he wath in
he theemed--to me--to be a bit fidgety--thuthpithious, like.  Looked
round and about--cautiouth.  Then he went--and I followed him.
According to inthructionth from Mapperley there."

"Where did he go?"

"Well, mithter, I'll give you the particularth--in full: when I theth
out on a job o' that thort I do it proper.  He turned out o'
Candlethtick Pathage into the Lane, and he had a drink at a bar there.
Then he went to Trafalgar Square Tube.  I wath clothe behind him when
he booked----"

"A moment.  Does he know you?"

"May jutht know me by thite, mithter, but not enough to exthite any
thuthpithion in hith mind if he thaw me there behind him.  I never had
no truck with him--never thpoke to him."

"Well, go on.  Where did he book to?"

"Warwick Avenue, mithter.  Tho did I--of courth.  When we got there, I
followed him out--at a thafe dithtance.  He turned down to the Canal,
crothed the bridge, and went down to Thant Mary'th Manthion'th.  And
there he went in."

Hetherwick glanced at Mapperley.  Mapperley permitted himself to wink
at his employer--respectfully, but knowingly.

"Went into St. Mary's Mansions, eh?" said Hetherwick.  "Walked straight
in?"

"Straight in, mithter--front entranth.  I thee him, from acroth the
road, talking to the man in livery--porter or whatever he hith.  I
could thee through the glath doorth.  Then I thee both of 'em go up in
the lift.  Tho I waited about a bit, jutht to thee if he'd come out.
He did."

"Soon?" asked Hetherwick.

"He wath inthide about ten minuteth.  Then he came out.  Alone.  Thith
time he went in t'other direction.  I followed him acroth Paddington
Green to Edgware Road Tube, and there--well, to tell you the truth,
mithter, there I lotht him!  There wath a lot o' people about, and I
made thure he'd be going thouth.  But he mutht ha' gone wetht.  Anyway,
I lotht him altogether."

"Well--I think you saw enough to be of help," said Hetherwick.
"Now--just keep this to yourself, Goldmark."  He motioned Mapperley
into another room, gave him money for his assistant, and waited until
the Jew had gone, shown out by the clerk.  "Eleven o'clock!" he
remarked, glancing at his watch as Mapperley came back.  "Mapperley!
we're going out--to St. Mary's Mansions.  And after we've been there,
and made a call, you'd better come back here with me and take a
shake-down for the night--I shall want you in the morning, unless I'm
mistaken."

It was one of Mapperley's chief virtues that he was always ready to go
anywhere and do anything, and he at once accompanied Hetherwick to the
top of Middle Temple Lane, found a taxi-cab within five minutes, and
proposed himself to sit up and shakedown that night and the next, if
necessary.

"Scent's getting hot, I think, sir," he remarked as they drove off,
after bidding the driver carry them to Paddington Green.  "Things seem
to be coming to a head."

"Yes--but I don't think you know everything," answered Hetherwick.  He
proceeded to give the clerk an epitomised account of the day's doings
as they had related to himself, concluding with Matherfield's theory as
expressed after leaving the Green Archer.  "You're a smart chap,
Mapperley," he added.  "What do you think?"

"I see Matherfield's point," answered Mapperley.  "I can follow his
line.  He thinks like this: Hannaford, when he came to London, wanted
to get rid, advantageously, of that formula of his about a new ink.  He
got into touch with Ambrose, whom, of course, he'd known before at
Sellithwaite.  Ambrose introduced him to some men who deal or dabble in
chemicals, of whom one, no doubt, is Baseverie, and who seem to have a
laboratory or something of that sort somewhere in the Westminster
district.  On the night of the murder Ambrose met Hannaford, by
appointment, at Victoria, and took him there.  Probably, Hannaford left
the sealed packet--opened by that time--with these fellows.  Probably,
too, while there he told them--jokingly, very likely--what he'd
discovered, from the picture in the papers, about the identity of Mrs.
Whittingham and Madame Listorelle.  And now comes in--Granett!"

Hetherwick gave an exclamation that denoted two or three
things--surprise, for one.

"Ah!" he said.  "Granett!  To be sure!  I'd forgotten Granett!"

"I hadn't," remarked Mapperley with a cynical laugh.  "Granett--and his
murder--is an essential factor.  What I think is this: We know that
Hannaford met Ambrose at Victoria Station that all-important evening.
Ambrose, without doubt, took him to the place I hinted at just now--the
exact location of which is a mystery.  I think Hannaford stopped there
until late in the evening.  But--I also think he went back again!
With--Granett!"

"Ah!" exclaimed Hetherwick.  "I see!"

"We know," continued Mapperley, "that Granett went that evening to see
the chemist who gave information about him; we know, too, that he and
the chemist went and had a drink together, and parted at about closing
time, Granett then, according to the chemist, going towards Victoria
Street.  Now I think that Granett then met Hannaford--accidentally.
They'd known each other in Sellithwaite.  They talked--Granett told
Hannaford he was down on his luck.  Hannaford, evidently, was a
kind-hearted man, and I think he did two things out of kindness for
Granett.  He gave him that five-pound note----"

"That was got at Vivian's!" interrupted Hetherwick quickly.

"To be sure!" assented Mapperley.  "But we know that Hannaford had been
at Vivian's--with Baseverie--undoubtedly.  Taken there by Baseverie,
which makes me certain that for two or three days before his death he'd
been in touch with both Baseverie and Ambrose.  Hannaford got that
fiver in change at Vivian's.  And he gave it to Granett, on hearing his
story.  But he did something else--something that was far more
important--that is far more important--to us!"

"What?" asked Hetherwick.

"He turned back to the place he'd just left, and took Granett with
him!" answered Mapperley with confidence.  "He knew Granett was a
trained and qualified chemist; he thought he could get him a job with
these men who, presumably, were going to take up his own invention.  It
would be little more than half-past ten then.  Where else than at this
place are Hannaford and Granett likely to have been between that time
and the time at which they got into your carriage at St. James's Park?
Of course they were there--with Ambrose and Baseverie."

"As you put it--highly probable," said Hetherwick.  "Two and a half
hours--doing what?"

"Ah, now we come to the real thing!" exclaimed Mapperley.  "My own
belief is that Hannaford was fatally poisoned when he left those two
men the first time!  They'd two objects in poisoning him--or, to put it
another way, he'd entrusted them with two secrets--one about Madame
Listorelle; the other about his invention.  They wanted to keep both to
themselves and to profit by both.  The invention, no doubt, has
considerable value--Hannaford believed it had, anyway.  They thought
they could blackmail Madame and her sister, Lady Riversreade.  So,
before Hannaford left them the first time, they poisoned him--cleverly,
subtly, devilishly--knowing that so many hours would elapse before the
poison worked, and that by that time he'd be safe in bed at his hotel
and would die in his sleep.  But--he went back to them again, and took
another man with him!  So--that man had to die, too!"

Hetherwick thought awhile in silence.

"All very good theory, Mapperley," he said at last.  "But--it may be
nothing but theory.  Why did Granett run off at Charing Cross?"

"Because Granett knew that Ambrose lived in John Street, close by,"
replied Mapperley with promptitude.  "He may have known it before; he
may not have known it until that evening.  But--he knew it!  Most
likely he thought that Ambrose had returned home from the place in
Westminster: Ambrose may have left there before Hannaford and Granett
did.  Anyway, we may be reasonably certain that when Granett left you
with the dying or dead man, he ran off to Ambrose's flat--a few minutes
away."

"Why didn't he come back?" demanded Hetherwick.  "I'm only wanting to
get at probabilities."

"I've thought of that, too," replied Mapperley.  "I think he found
Ambrose out.  But by that time he'd had time to reflect.  He knew
something was wrong.  He knew that if he went back, he'd find the
police there, and would be questioned.  He might be suspected.  And
so--he went home, with the bottle in which Ambrose had given him a drop
of whisky for himself.  And--died in his sleep, as they thought
Hannaford would."

"Why should Ambrose have that bottle down at Westminster?" asked
Hetherwick.

"Why shouldn't he?" retorted Mapperley.  "A man who's taking a tonic
takes it at least three times a day--regularly.  He'd have his bottle
with him.  Probably there are several similar empty bottles there at
that place."

"Where is that place?" exclaimed Hetherwick.  "Where?"

"Got to be found," said Mapperley, as the cab came to a stand.
"But--here's this!"

Hetherwick led his companion across Paddington Green and to the house
from which he and Matherfield had watched the flats opposite.  Late as
it was, the lodging-house keeper was up, and lent a willing ear to
Hetherwick's request that he should go with him to his friend the
caretaker of the Mansions.  That functionary was at supper.  He
continued to sup as Hetherwick, morally supported by the lodging-house
man, explained matters to him, but at last he allowed his cheek to
bulge with unswallowed food and turned a surprised and knowing eye on
his principal visitor.

"Blamed if I didn't wonder whether it was all O.K. with that chap!" he
exclaimed, banging the table with the haft of his knife.  "For all he
was quite the gentleman, I somehow suspicioned him!  And yet, he'd a
straight tale to tell: come here on Madame's behalf, to get something
for her out of her rooms, had her keys, and give me a note from her
saying as how I was to allow the bearer to go up to her flat!  What
more could I expect--and what could I do--under the circs?  I asks yer!"

"Oh, he had a note, had he?" inquired Hetherwick.  "In Madame's
writing?"

The caretaker laid down his knife, and thrusting his hand in his
breast-pocket, drew forth an envelope and silently handed it over.  It
was an azure-tinted envelope, of a very good quality of paper, such as
is only sold in high-class stationery shops, and the sheet inside
matched it in tint and quality.  But Hetherwick at once noticed
something about that sheet; so, too, did Mapperley, peering at it from
behind his elbow.  About an inch and a half had been rather roughly cut
off at the top; obviously some address had been engraved, or embossed,
or printed on the missing portion.  As for what was written on the
sheet, it was little--a simple order that the caretaker should allow
bearer to go into Madame Listorelle's flat.

"You recognised that as Madame's handwriting?" suggested Hetherwick.

"Oh, that's her fist, right enough, that is!" replied the caretaker.
"I knew it at once.  And no wonder!  I ain't no scholard, not me!--but
I knows enough to know that it 'ud puzzle one o' them here forgers as
ye reads about to imitate that there sort o' writing--more like as if
it had been done with a wooden skewer than a Christian pen!  Oh, that's
hers."

Hetherwick handed the letter and envelope to Mapperley, who was holding
out a hand.

"Well," he said.  "I wish ye'd just let me have a look into Madame's
flat.  There's something seriously wrong, and----"

"Oh, you can do that--'long as I'm with you," said the caretaker
readily.  He rose and led the way to the left, and presently ushered
them into a smart flat and turned on the electric light.  "Don't see
nothing wrong here," he observed.  "The chap wasn't here ten minutes,
and he carried nothing heavy away, whatever he had in his pockets."

Hetherwick and Mapperley looked round.  Everything seemed correct and
in order--the surroundings were those of a refined and artistic woman,
obviously one who loved order and system.  But on a desk that stood in
the centre of the sitting-room a drawer had been pulled open, and in
front of it lay scattered a few sheets of Madame Listorelle's private
notepaper, with her engraved address and crest.  Near by lay some
envelopes, similarly marked.  And with a sudden idea in his mind,
Hetherwick picked up a sheet or two of the paper and a couple of
envelopes and put them in his pocket.

A few minutes later, once more in the cab which they had kept waiting,
and on the way to Hill Street, whither Hetherwick had bidden the driver
go next, Mapperley turned to his employer with a sly laugh, and held up
something in the light of a street lamp by which they were passing.

"What's that?" asked Hetherwick.

"The order written by Madame Listorelle," answered Mapperley,
chuckling.  "The caretaker didn't notice that I carried it off,
envelope and all, under his very eyes!  But I did--and here it is!"

"What do you want to do with it?" demanded Hetherwick.  "What's your
notion?"

But Mapperley only chuckled again and without giving any answer
restored the azure-tinted envelope and its contents to his pocket.



CHAPTER XXII

THE HIGHLY-RESPECTABLE SOLICITOR

Lord Morradale, who kept up honest, country-squire habits even in
London, had gone to bed when Hetherwick and Mapperley arrived at his
house, but he lost little time in making an appearance, in pyjamas and
dressing-gown, and listened eagerly to Hetherwick's account of the
recent transactions.

"Force!" he muttered, nodding his head at each point of the story.
"Force! got it out of her by force.  That is, if the order's genuine."

Mapperley produced the sheet of paper, which he had filched under the
caretaker's eyes, and silently handed it over.

"Oh, that's Madame Listorelle's handwriting!" exclaimed Lord Morradale.
"Hers, without doubt.  Difficult to imitate, of course.  Oh, yes--hers!
Well, that proves what I've just said, Mr. Hetherwick--force!  She's in
their power--with the young lady, Miss--Miss--Featherstone, to be
sure--and they've made her write that.  Next, they'll make her write an
order on the Imperial Safe Deposit.  We must be beforehand with them
there.  Early--early as possible in the morning.  Meet me at
Matherfield's--I think he's pretty keen.  Bless me! what a pack of
villains!  Now I wonder where, in all London, these unfortunate ladies
are?"

"That's precisely what all this ought to help us to find out," remarked
Hetherwick.  "I'm not so much concerned about the valuables these men
are after as about the safety of----"

Lord Morradale gave him a quick, understanding glance.

"Of Miss Featherstone, eh?" he said.  "I see--I see!  And I'm
concerned, too, about Madame Listorelle.  Well, this, as you say, ought
to help.  But look here--we must be cautious--very cautious!  We
mustn't let Matherfield--you know what the police are--we mustn't let
him be too precipitate.  Probably--if a man comes to the safe place,
he'll go away from it to where these scoundrels are.  We must
follow--follow!"

"I agree," said Hetherwick.

"Nine o'clock, then, at Matherfield's," concluded his lordship.  "And
may we have a strong scent, a rousing one, and a successful kill!"

With this bit of sporting phraseology in their ears, Hetherwick and
Mapperley returned to the Middle Temple and retired for the rest of the
night, one to bed, the other to a shake-down on the sitting-room sofa.
But when Hetherwick's alarum clock awoke him at seven-thirty and he put
his head into the next room to rouse the clerk, he found that Mapperley
had vanished.  The cushions, rugs, and blankets with which he had made
himself comfortable for the night were all neatly folded and
arranged--on the topmost was pinned a sheet of brief-paper, with a
message scrawled in blue pencil.


_You won't want me this morning; off on an important notion of my own.
Look out for message from me about noon._

_M._


Muttering to himself that he hadn't the least idea as to what his clerk
was about, Hetherwick made a hurried toilet, and an equally hurried
breakfast, and hastened away to meet Matherfield and Lord Morradale.
He found these two together, and with them a quiet, solemn-faced
individual, clad in unusually sombre garments, whom Matherfield
introduced as Detective-Sergeant Quigman.  Matherfield went straight to
business.

"His lordship's just told me of your adventure last night, Mr.
Hetherwick," he said, "and I'm beginning to get a sort of forecast of
what's likely to happen.  It was, of course, Baseverie who went to
madame's flat last night--that's settled.  But what do you suppose he
went for?"

"Can't say that I've worked that out," answered Hetherwick, with a
glance at the others.  "But I imagine that he went there to get, say,
certain keys--having forced Madame Listorelle to tell him where they
were.  The keys of her safe at the Deposit place, I should think."

"No!" replied Matherfield, shaking his head knowingly, and with a sly
smile at Quigman.  "No, not that.  I'll tell you what he went for--a
very simple thing.  He went to get some of Madame's private notepaper!
He knew well enough that if he was to take an order on that Safe
Deposit to allow the bearer access to Madame's safe it would have to be
what the French, I believe, call _en régle_--eh?  Written on her own
notepaper in her own handwriting, and so on.  See?"

"I think you're right, and I think he got it," said Hetherwick.  "A
drawer in her desk containing boxes of stationery had been pulled out,
and some of its contents lay about the desk.  As a matter of fact,
though I scarcely know why I did it, I put some paper and some
envelopes in my pocket--here they are!  I had a faint idea that they
might be useful--somehow."

"Well, that's the notion, depend on it," asserted Matherfield, glancing
at the paper which Hetherwick produced.  "I've no doubt that somebody,
representing Madame Listorelle, and bearing an authorization from her,
written on her notepaper in her own writing, will present himself at
the Imperial Safe Deposit this morning.  But--it won't be Baseverie!
And it won't be Ambrose!"

"A stranger, eh?" suggested Hetherwick.

"We shall see.  Now," continued Matherfield, glancing at the clock,
"we'll be off to the scene of operations.  This Imperial Safe Deposit
is in Kingsway--Holborn end--and very fortunately situated for our job,
being close to the Tube station; there'll be lots of people about
there, and we shan't attract attention.  And this is the way of it--his
lordship and myself will go into the Safe Deposit, see the people in
charge, explain matters, and get them to tell us at once if and when
the expected ambassador arrives.  We shall let him----"

"Or her," interrupted Quigman solemnly.

"Just so, my lad--it might be a she," assented Matherfield.  "Quite
likely!  We shall let him or her get what is wanted from the safe and
go away, closely followed by all four of us.  While Lord Morradale and
I are inside, you and Quigman, Mr. Hetherwick, will be outside,
talking, casually.  When we come out--and you'll both keep a sharp
watch on the entrance hall--I'll give you the office as to the
particular person we're following, and wherever that person goes, you
two will go.  But don't come near us--we'll keep one side of the
street, you the other.  If the person takes to a cab or a bus--well,
we'll have to do the same.  But I've reasons for thinking he or she
will stick to his feet!"

"How do we go?--all together?" asked Hetherwick.  "Because--it's a mere
idea--how do you know, Matherfield, that these people--there would
appear to be more than one concerned--aren't keeping an eye on you?"

"I've thought of that," answered Matherfield.  "No--we're all going
separately.  It's now nine-fifteen.  That Imperial Safe Deposit doesn't
open its doors till ten--nobody can get in there until that time,
anyway.  We all four go out of this office on our own hook.  Each takes
his own method of getting to the top of Kingsway.  As soon as I get
there, I go straight in and ask for the manager.  As soon as Lord
Morradale gets there, he follows suit--he and I forgather in the
manager's room.  As for you two, go how you like--fly, if it suits
you--or wander round the side streets.  But--you meet right opposite
the Safe Deposit entrance at precisely ten o'clock, and under pretence
of casual meeting and conversation keep your eyes on it, noticing
everybody who goes in and comes out.  That clear?  Then we all clear
out--one by one."

Outside, and left to his own devices, Hetherwick walked a little way
and then hailed a taxi-cab.  He gave his driver a confidential smile.

"You can just help me to employ forty minutes," he said, as he got in.
"Drive round--anywhere you like--up and down--as long as you put me
down at the corner of the Holborn Restaurant at precisely two minutes
to ten.  Got that?"

The driver comprehended, and began a leisurely journey round certain
principal streets and thoroughfares.  Two minutes before ten he pulled
up at the Holborn-Kingsway corner and gave his fare a grin.

"Done it to the second, sir," he announced, nodding at an adjacent
clock.

"Good man!" said Hetherwick, handing out something over the registered
fare.  Then an idea struck him.  "Look here!" he continued
confidentially.  "I--and another man--may have to follow somebody from
here, presently.  Just drive down the street here, keep your flag down,
and wait--if I want you, I shall be close at hand."

The driver showed his understanding by a nod and a wink and moved a
little distance off to the kerbstone.  Hetherwick walked slowly down
the west side of Kingsway.  And precisely as the clock struck ten he
saw Lord Morradale come from one direction and enter the
formidable-looking and just opened door of the Safe Deposit, and
Matherfield appear from the other: looking round again he was aware of
the solemn-faced Quigman who sauntered round the corner of Parker
Street and came towards him.  Hetherwick went on to meet him.

"There you are!" he said, doing a little acting in case any inimical
eyes were on him.  "To the minute!  We'd better appear to be doing a
bit of talk, eh?  The others have just gone in."

"I saw 'em, sir," replied Quigman, coming to a halt on the kerb, and
affecting an interest in anything rather than on what he was really
working.  "Ah!  But the question is--when will they come out?  Might be
in a few minutes--so to speak.  Mightn't be for hours--as it were!"

"You seem to be a melancholy chap," observed Hetherwick.

"Melancholy job!" muttered Quigman.  "Watching isn't my line.  But
Matherfield--he particularly wanted me to be in at this."

"Why?" asked Hetherwick.

"Peculiar knowledge of solicitors and their clerks in this part o'
London," replied Quigman.  "My line.  Matherfield, he's an idea that
the order to open this safe'll be presented by a solicitor."

"Good Lord!--has he?" exclaimed Hetherwick.  "I wonder!  But--"

"Big help to these chaps, don't you see, if they can make a solicitor
do the cat's-paw work," suggested Quigman.  "Who'd suspect a solicitor
of the High Court?  And as I know pretty nearly all of 'em--there's one
I know now coming up t'other side of the street," he continued
suddenly.  "That tallish, thin, pale-faced chap--see him?  Look at him
without seeming to look.  Now I wonder if he's the party we want?"

Hetherwick looked in the direction indicated.  He saw a youngish,
spectacled man in a silk hat, morning coat, and the corresponding
additions of professional attire, who was walking rapidly along from
South to north.  He was a very mild, gentle-looking person, not at all
the sort to be concerned in dark plots and mysterious aims, and
Hetherwick said so.

"Aye, well, you never know!" remarked Quigman lugubriously.  "But, as I
say, I know him.  Mr. Garrowell--Mr. Octavius Garrowell--solicitor, of
St. Martin's Lane, that is.  Been in practice for himself about four
years or so.  Nice young feller!--quiet.  And he is going in
there--see?"

Hetherwick saw.  There were several people, men and women, entering the
Safe Deposit just then, but Mr. Garrowell's silk hat and sloping
shoulders made him easily identifiable.

"I dessay it's him!" observed Quigman, with a sigh.  "Just the sort to
be took in, he is!  Innocent, unsuspecting sort o' gentleman.
However--it mayn't be.  Deal o' people use these Safe Deposits
nowadays."

Mr. Garrowell disappeared.  The two watchers waited.  Five, ten,
fifteen, twenty minutes went by; then Mr. Garrowell came out.  He came
out just as any man would come out after transacting his business,
quietly.  Nobody followed him: nobody seemed to be watching him--from
the Safe Deposit.  But Hetherwick noticed at once that whereas he had
entered carrying nothing but an umbrella, he now carried a small,
square, leather-covered box.  With this in his left hand he crossed the
roadway, and advanced straight towards Hetherwick and Quigman.

"No need to move, sir," whispered the detective.  "Take no notice--spot
him, though."

Mr. Garrowell, seen at close quarters, looked to be a somewhat
absent-minded gentleman.  But, chancing to look up as he stepped on the
pavement, his eyes encountered Quigman, who touched his hat.

"Morning, Mr. Garrowell," said the detective.  "Nice morning, sir."

"Morning, Quigman," responded Mr. Garrowell.  "A very nice morning!"

He nodded smilingly and went on his way, and round the corner into
Parker Street.  Quigman glanced at Hetherwick and shook his head.

"Not him!" he said.  "Matherfield's not following.  And, as I said, we
may have to wait--hours!"

But at the end of another ten minutes Matherfield and Lord Morradale
came together out of the entrance hall opposite.  An official, smiling
and talking, accompanied them to the threshold; when they left him they
came straight across the road.  And it was obvious to Hetherwick that
each was in a state of surprise--possibly, of perplexity.  Matherfield
hailed them as soon as he was within speaking distance.

"Here's a queer business!" he said.  "Did you see a
professional-looking chap come away just now who carried a small
leather box?"

"We saw Mr. Garrowell, solicitor, St. Martin's Lane," answered Quigman.
"I know him.  Gone down Parker Street."

"It was Garrowell," assented Matherfield.  "I know him, too.  Well," he
turned to Hetherwick, "it's a queer business.  They knew Garrowell
across there--he's been to Madame Listorelle's safe for her before.  He
came there just now, with the usual authorisation, on her notepaper,
went to the safe, got that small box, and went.  Garrowell--a
highly--respectable legal practitioner!"

"Why didn't you stop him and ask him questions?" inquired Hetherwick.

Matherfield exchanged a glance with Lord Morradale.

"Not there!" he said.  "It--well, it looks as if Madame really had sent
him!  Her business."

"Of course she'd sent him!" exclaimed Hetherwick.  "Sent him under
compulsion!  The whole thing's a clever plant!  These fellows probably
know that she's employed Garrowell now and then, and they forced her to
write a letter to him, authorising him to come here again, and
enclosing an order on the Safe Deposit people!  Don't you see?"

"By Gad, there's something in that, Matherfield!" said Lord Morradale.
"Didn't strike me, though!  'Pon my honour, I really thought he had
come direct from her.  Couldn't think why, exactly, but then, as
Matherfield says, a highly-respectable solicitor--eh?"

"We'll soon settle it!" exclaimed Matherfield suddenly.  "We'll go to
Garrowell's office.  Better discuss it there than have tackled him
here.  Anyway, he'll have the square box.  Quigman, call a taxi!"

"There's a man here waiting for me," said Hetherwick.  He signalled to
his former driver who quickly came alongside.  "For anything we know,"
he continued, as all four took their seats, and were driven off,
"Garrowell may have gone straight away somewhere to hand that box over!
We ought to have followed."

"I don't think so," replied Matherfield.  "The whole thing's queer, and
not at all what I expected.  Lord Morradale says that he never heard of
madame employing Garrowell, and yet the Safe people say he's been here
two or three times on her business.  But we'll soon have it out of him."



CHAPTER XXIII

THE LANDLADY OF LITTLE SMITH STREET

Garrowell's office proved to be up two flights of stairs in St.
Martin's Lane.  They were dark and dingy stairs, and none of the four
men clambering up them noticed that an office-boy, rushing
unceremoniously downward carried a small parcel with which he fled out
of the door and away down the street.  They were, indeed, thinking of
Garrowell--and within five minutes they were all in his private room.
For another five minutes Matherfield was explaining matters--explaining
to an obviously startled and much astonished listener.

"That's how it stands," concluded Matherfield.  "You've evidently got
the explanation, Mr. Garrowell.  Now----"

"But you surprise me!" broke in the solicitor.  "I've acted for Madame
Listorelle in two or three matters--I've got things from her safe for
her before, once or twice.  And I saw nothing unusual in the letter she
sent me this morning.  Here it is!  You can see it.  Her usual
notepaper--certainly her handwriting--nobody, I think, could imitate
that successfully.  You see what she says--I was to give the enclosed
authorisation to the Safe people, take out a small, square,
brown-leather-covered box from the safe, pack it up, and send it off to
Mr. C. Basing, Post Office, Southampton, at once, by express delivery.
Nothing unusual in all that, I think.  Of course, I carried out her
wishes.  But look at the letter."

All four men were looking at the letter.  It was as Garrowell
described, and whether it had been written under duress or not, the
writing was bold and firm.  But Matherfield seized on the envelope, and
after a glance at it, pointed to the postmark.

"See that!" he exclaimed.  "Posted in the S.W. district late last
night.  If madame had been at home in Paddington the postmark would
have been different.  Well--but the square box, Mr. Garrowell!  You've
got it, of course?  Do you know that that box probably contains jewels
worth----"

"The box?" ejaculated Garrowell.  "Got it?  Of course not!  It's gone!
The boy went off to the post office with it--oh, just before you came."

"Gad!" muttered Lord Morradale.  "Well--the post office, at once,
Matherfield!"

But Matherfield suddenly laughed, throwing up both hands as if with a
sudden inspiration.

"No, my lord, no!" he said.  "No!  The box is safe enough in the post.
It's off to Mr. C. Basing, Post Office, Southampton.  And when Mr.
Basing calls to collect it--he'll find me!"

There was triumphant conviction in Matherfield's tone: there was the
impulse to immediate action in the way in which he pulled out a railway
guide from his pocket, and rapidly turned its pages.  But Hetherwick
and Lord Morradale looked at each other.  And each saw that the other
was dubious.

"Yes," said Lord Morradale slowly.  "Um--no doubt, Matherfield.  But I
say, you know--those jewels are worth no end!  Safe enough, perhaps, in
the hands of the postal authorities, now they are there, but--there's
many a slip, you know, and----"

"You might take the postal authorities into your confidence," suggested
Hetherwick.  "These people are up to all sorts of wily tricks----"

Matherfield laughed quietly.  It was the laugh of a man who knows his
own business thoroughly, and is a little impatient of outside criticism.

"I know what I'm doing, gentlemen," he answered.  "Leave it to me as to
what I do with the post office people.  I've as good as got the
handcuffs on Baseverie or on Ambrose--perhaps on both!  This is how I
figure the thing," he went on, with a final glance at the time-table.
"These two men have got Madame Listorelle and the young lady-secretary
in their power, safe somewhere in London.  They forced madame, last
night, to write that letter to Mr. Garrowell here--we know what they
made her write.  Mr. Garrowell got the small box containing the jewels,
and he's sent it off, already, by express delivery, to Southampton.  It
will be there early this evening, and one or other of the men will be
there to meet it.  If Baseverie calls for it, Ambrose will be round the
corner.  If Ambrose calls for it, Baseverie will be close at hand.
Probably they're already in Southampton--they'd go this morning, to be
on the spot.  As soon as the box is in their hands they'll be
off--probably to the Continent, by Southampton and Havre.  They won't
try the Atlantic--the five days' voyage would be too risky.  They'll
make for France.  But they won't get to France--they'll find themselves
in the lock-up at Southampton before bed-time!  You see if that doesn't
come off, gentlemen, as sure as my name's what it is.  Now, Quigman,
you come with me.  We've just nice time to catch the one-thirty, and to
get in touch with the Southampton police, and lay our plans and make
our arrangements.  Some time to-night, gentlemen, you'll hear from me!"

Then Matherfield hurried Quigman away, and the three men left behind
looked at each other.  Mr. Garrowell was obviously much concerned, and
his hands, thin and nervous, trembled as he began to arrange the papers
on his desk.

"This is a most distressing business, gentlemen," he said.  "It is very
painful to me to think that I have been made an instrument in a crime
of this sort, however innocent a one!  But how could I tell that this
letter was forced out of Madame Listorelle?  On the face of it----"

"Oh, there's no blame attaching to you, Mr. Garrowell!" interrupted
Lord Morradale.  "On the face of it, the letter's genuine enough.  But
I wanted to ask you a question: How much do you know of Madame
Listorelle?  I mean, how often has she employed you?"

"Two or three times only," replied Garrowell.  "She came to me first
about an agreement which I had had to send her on behalf of another
client.  She seemed very friendly, and was kind enough to say that next
time she had any legal business she would remember me as she hadn't any
regular solicitor of her own.  I think," he added with a deprecating
smile, "she probably saw that I was beginning, and hadn't much to do."

"I see," said Lord Morradale, looking round at the somewhat humble
appointments of the office.  "And you've been to that Safe Deposit
place on her behalf--how often?"

"Twice.  On each occasion Madame Listorelle wrote her instructions from
abroad.  Once she was in Paris.  The other time she was at Nice.  The
instructions were similar on both occasions: I was to go to the Safe
Deposit, get a certain parcel or article and post it to an address
given.  The first time I sent a small parcel to Amsterdam--I have the
exact address and name; the second, to New York.  So that, of course,
when I got Madame's letter this morning, I saw nothing unusual in it."

"Just so!" agreed Lord Morradale.  "You wouldn't.  Well, I hope
Matherfield will clap the irons on the men who forced her to write it!
Eh, Hetherwick?"

"With all my heart!" responded Hetherwick "But I, too, want to ask Mr.
Garrowell a question.  How long," he continued, "have you been here, in
St. Martin's Lane?"

"Oh, four or five years," replied Garrowell.

"Then you know this district pretty well, of course.  Have you ever
come across a man whom I'll try to describe to you?"  He went on to
give an accurate, if concise, description of Baseverie.  "That man," he
concluded, "is sometimes seen around here."

Garrowell nodded.

"I know him!" he said.  "In fact, he's been in this very room--to see
me.  But I don't know his name, nor anything much about him.  He was
brought here by another man and he only stayed a few minutes."

"How much do you know about him--however little?" asked Hetherwick.

"This much.  You know that people who have invented things come to
solicitors for legal advice, and sometimes to get information as to how
they can best dispose of their inventions?  Well, about nine months ago
a man came to me who claimed to have invented a drop-bottle--that is, a
bottle from which you could only drop one drop of stuff at a time.  He
said such a thing was badly wanted, and that there ought to be a pile
of money in it.  He wanted to know how best to get it on the market.  I
didn't know, but I mentioned the matter to one or two people, and a man
I know--or knew at that time, for he's since dead, unfortunately--said
that he knew a man who was a sort of commission agent for
inventions--took up a good idea, don't you see, and introduced it--and
he promised to bring him to see me.  He brought him; the man he brought
was, without doubt, the man you describe.  His name was not mentioned,
but I am sure he was that man.  I don't know what your man is, but I
felt sure that the man I am talking about either was or had been a
medical man."

"Ah!" exclaimed Hetherwick.  "What made you think that?"

"From his conversation--from the remarks he made about the bottle.  He
didn't take it up; he said my client was too late and was wrongly
informed into the bargain: there was such a thing, and a superior one,
already on the market.  He went away then, and, as I say, I never heard
his name, and I've never seen him since."

"That's the man we want!" said Hetherwick.  "If Matherfield can only
lay hands on him!  But we shall know more by midnight."

Outside, he turned to Lord Morradale with a shake of the head.

"We're no nearer to any knowledge of where the two women are!" he
exclaimed.

"Oh, I don't know!" responded Lord Morradale.  "I think we are, you
know.  You see, if Matherfield nabs those chaps, or even one of them,
he or they will see that the game's up, and will give in and say where
their captives are.  Odd business, Hetherwick, that people can be
kidnapped and imprisoned in broad daylight in London!"

"I don't think anything's impossible or odd--in London," answered
Hetherwick dryly.  "If one had only the least idea as to which quarter
of the town that car was driven, one might be doing something!"

"Lots of sub-sections in every quarter, and subsections again in each
of those," replied Lord Morradale with equal dryness.  "Take some time
to comb out this town!  No!  I think we must trust to Matherfield.
Nothing else to trust to, in fact."

But Hetherwick suddenly thought of Mapperley.  He began to wonder what
the clerk was after, what his notion had been.  Then he remembered
Mapperley's admonition to look out for a message about that time, and
excusing himself from Lord Morradale, he jumped on a bus and went along
to the Temple.  There, in the letter-box, he found a telegram:

  "_Meet me Victoria three o'clock.  Mapperley._"


Hetherwick set off for Victoria there and then.  But it was only a
quarter-past two when he got there, and as he had had no lunch, he
turned into the restaurant.  There, when he was half-way through a
chop, Mapperley found him, and slipped into a chair close by before
Hetherwick noticed his presence.

"Thought I might find you in here, sir," said Mapperley.  They were
alone in a quiet corner, but the clerk lowered his voice to a whisper.
"Well," he continued, bending across the table, "I've done a bit,
anyhow."

"In what way?" asked Hetherwick.

Mapperley produced from his breast pocket some papers, and from amongst
them selected an envelope--the azure-tinted envelope which he had
picked up from the caretaker's supper table at St. Mary's Mansions.

"You recognise this?" he said, with a sly smile.  "You know where I got
it.  This is the envelope which Baseverie took to the caretaker, with
the order to enter Madame Listorelle's flat.  You knew that I carried
it off, from under the man's nose, last night.  But you didn't know
why.  I only laughed when you asked me."

"Well, why, then?" inquired Hetherwick.

"This reason," replied Mapperley.  "We both noticed that the sheet of
paper on which the order had been written by Madame had been
shortened--there was no doubt that a printed or embossed address had
been trimmed off, rather roughly, too.  We noticed that, I say, both of
us.  But I don't think you noticed something far more important--far,
far more important--for our purposes."

"No," admitted Hetherwick.  "I didn't.  What?"

"This," said Mapperley, turning back the broken flap of the envelope.
"You didn't notice that here, on the envelope, is the name and address
of the stationer who supplied this stuff!  There you are--W. H. Calkin,
85, Broadway, Westminster.  You never saw that, Mr. Hetherwick.  But I
did!"

Hetherwick began to comprehend.  He smiled--gratefully.

"Smart of you, Mapperley!" he exclaimed.  "I see!  And--you've been
there?"

"I've been there," answered Mapperley.  "I saw a chance of tracking
these men down.  I couldn't get hold of Calkin till nearly noon, but I
got on like a house afire when I did get him.  You see," he went on,
"that paper is, to start with, of an unusual tint, in colour.
Secondly, it's of very superior quality, though very thin--intended
chiefly for foreign correspondence.  Thirdly, it's expensive.  Now, I
felt certain its use would be limited, and what I wanted to find out
from the stationer was--to whom he'd supplied it.  That was easy.  He
recognised the paper and envelope at once.  Of the handwriting on the
paper, he knew nothing whatever--Madame's writing, you know--that he'd
never seen before.  But he said at once that he'd only supplied that
particular make of paper and envelopes to three people, and for each
person he'd prepared a die, to emboss the addresses.  The embossing had
been done at his shop, and he showed me specimens of each.  One was for
the Dowager Lady Markentree, 120, Grosvenor Gardens.  That was no use.
The second was for Miss Chelandry, 87, Ebury Street.  That was out of
count, too.  But the third was what I wanted.  It was just the address,
56, Little Smith Street, S.W.1.  As soon as I saw it, I knew I'd got on
the right track."

"Go on!" said Hetherwick.

"The stationer, Calkin, didn't know the name of the man who ordered
this paper and gave this address," continued Mapperley.  "He knew him
well enough as a customer, though, and described him.  Baseverie,
without a doubt!  Calkin says that Baseverie, during the last few
months, bought various items of stationery from him--notebooks,
duplicating paper, office requisites, and so on.  He never knew his
name, but as he always carried away his own purchases, and paid spot
cash for them, that didn't matter.  Calkin supplied him with ten quires
of this paper and envelopes to match, a couple of months ago.
So--there you are!  And there I was--sure at last that Baseverie's
mysterious hiding-place was 56, Little Smith Street!"

"Good--good!" said Hetherwick.  "What next?"

"Well, I thought we could do with a bit of help," replied Mapperley,
smiling.  "So I left Calkin--bound to secrecy, of course--and
telephoned to Issy Goldmark.  Issy is just the sort of chap for games
of this sort!  Issy came--and he and I took a stroll round.  Do you
know Little Smith Street?"

"Not I!" answered Hetherwick.  "Never heard of it!"

"Oh, well, but it is a street," said Mapperley.  "It lies between Great
Smith Street and Tufton Street, back o' the Church House--not so far
from the Abbey.  Bit slummy down those quarters, round about--sort of
district that's seen decidedly better days.  Still, there's good, solid
houses here and there--56 is one of 'em.  From outside, it looks the
sort of house you can't get into--dark, silent, heavily-curtained
windows--sort of place in which you could murder anybody on the quiet.
Very substantial front door, painted dark green, with an old-fashioned
brass knocker--that sort of house.  We took a good look at it."

"See anything?" asked Hetherwick.

"Nothing but what I've told you--lifeless sort o' place," answered
Mapperley.  "However, having once seen it, I wasn't going to leave it
unwatched, so I posted Issy there, in the window of a convenient
public-house, and came away to telegraph to you.  And there Issy
is--either in his pub, or loafing round.  And now we ought to go and
hear if he's anything to report.  And if he hasn't--what then?"

"Just so," said Hetherwick.  "That's it--what then?  But before we do
anything at all, Mapperley, I'd better post you up as to what's
happened elsewhere this morning.  You see," he continued, when he had
finished his story, "if Matherfield's theory is correct, and Baseverie
has already gone to Southampton to collect that parcel on its arrival,
and if Ambrose has gone with him, we shan't find Baseverie at this
address.  But--we might inquire if he's known there."

Mapperley reflected a while.  Then an idea seemed to suggest itself.

"Pay your bill, sir, and let's get out to a Post Office Directory
somewhere," he said.  "We'll get the name of the occupier of 56, Little
Smith Street."

Ten minutes later they were looking down the long columns of names in a
directory; Mapperley suddenly pointed to what they wanted.

"There we are!" he said.  "Mrs. Hannah Mallett--boarding-house
proprietor."

"Come along!" said Hetherwick.  "We'll see Mrs. Mallett, anyhow."

But on arrival at Little Smith Street, Mapperley looked round first,
for his friend, Mr. Goldmark.  Mr. Goldmark materialised
suddenly--apparently from nowhere--and smiled.

"Afternoon, mithter!" he said politely to Hetherwick.  "Lovely weather,
ithn't it?  Ain't theen nothing, Mapperley, old bean!  Ain't been a
thoul in or out o' that houth, thinth you hopped it!  Theemth to me
it'th locked up."

"We'll see about that," remarked Hetherwick.  "Come with me, Mapperley.
You stay here.  Goldmark, and keep your eyes as open as before."

He advanced boldly, with the clerk at his heels, to the door of number
56, and knocked loudly on the stout panel, supplementing this with a
ring at the bell.  This dual summons was twice repeated--with no result.

"Somebody coming!" whispered Mapperley, suddenly.  "Bolted--inside--as
well as locked!"

Hetherwick distinctly heard the sound of a stout bolt being withdrawn,
then of a key being turned.  The door was opened--only a little, but
sufficiently to show them the face and figure of an unusually big
woman, an Amazon in appearance, hard of eye and lip, who glared at them
suspiciously, and as soon as she saw that there were two of them,
narrowed the space through which she inspected her callers.  But
Hetherwick got a hand on the door and a foot across the threshold.

"Mrs. Mallett?" he inquired in a purposely loud voice.  "Just so!  Is
Doctor Baseverie in?"

Both men were watching the woman keenly, and they saw that she started
a little, involuntarily.  But her head shook a ready negative.

"Nobody of that name here!" she answered.

She would have shut the door, but for Hetherwick's foot--he advanced it
further, giving Mrs. Mallett a keen, searching glance.

"Perhaps you know Dr. Baseverie by another name?" he suggested.
"So--is Mr. Basing in?"

But the ready shake of the head came again, and the hard eyes grew
harder and more suspicious.

"Nobody of that name here, either!" she said.  "Don't know anybody of
those names."

"I think you do," persisted Hetherwick sternly.  He turned to
Mapperley, purposely.  "We shall have to get the police----"

"Look out, sir!" exclaimed Mapperley, snatching at Hetherwick's arm.
"Your fingers!"

The woman suddenly banged the door to, narrowly missing Hetherwick's
hand, which he had closed on the edge; a second later they heard the
bolt slipped and the key turned.  And Hetherwick, as with a swift
illumination, comprehended things, and turned sharply on his clerk.

"Mapperley!" he exclaimed.  "Sure as fate!  Those ladies are in there!
Trapped!"

"Shouldn't wonder, sir," agreed Mapperley.  "And as you say--the
police----"

"Come back to Goldmark," said Hetherwick.

Going lower down the street and retreating into the shelter of a
doorway, the three men held a rapid consultation, suddenly interrupted
by an exclamation from the Jew, who still kept his eyes on the house:

"Th'elp me if the woman ain't leavin' that houth!" he said.  "Thee!
the--thee ith!  Lockin' the door behind her, too!  Goin' up the
thtreet!"

Hetherwick looked and saw, and pushed Goldmark out of the doorway.

"Follow!" he said.  "And for God's sake, don't miss her!"



CHAPTER XXIV

THE HOUSE IN THE YARD

The Jew silently and promptly set out in the wake of the hurrying
woman; presently she and her pursuer disappeared round a corner.

"That's the result of our call, Mapperley!" said Hetherwick.  "She's
gone somewhere--to tell somebody!"

"Likely!" assented Mapperley.  "But wherever she's gone, Issy
Goldmark'll spot her.  He's the eyes of a lynx."

"He let Baseverie slip him, the other night, though," remarked
Hetherwick.

"Well, there was some excuse for that," said Mapperley, "to begin with,
he was only instructed to find out where Baseverie went, and to end
with he had found out!  He'll not let this woman slip him.  She's good
to follow--plenty of her."

"I wish we knew what she'd left in that house," said Hetherwick.
"We'll have to find out, somehow!"

"That's a police job," replied Mapperley.  "Can't walk into people's
houses without a warrant.  And you say Matherfield's on the other
track?  However, I should say that this woman's gone off now to find
somebody who's principally concerned--she looked afraid, in my opinion,
when she saw me."

"She's in it, somehow," muttered Hetherwick.

"That house looks mysterious enough for anything.  We'll keep a close
watch on it, anyway, until Goldmark comes back, however long that may
be."

But the Jew was back within twenty minutes.  So was the woman.  She
came first, hurrying up the street quicker than when she had left it.
As far as the watchers could make out from their vantage point, twenty
yards away from her door, she looked flustered, distressed, upset.
After her, on the opposite pavement, came Mr. Issy Goldmark, his hands
in his pockets.

The woman re-entered the house; they heard the door bang.  A moment
later the Jew turned into the entry in which Hetherwick and Mapperley
stood, half hidden from the street.  He smiled, inscrutably.

"Thee her go back to her houth?" he asked.  "Well, I followed.  I thaw
where thee'th been, too."

"Where, then?" demanded Hetherwick, impatiently.

Goldmark jerked his head in the direction from whence he had come.

"Round that corner," he said, "you get into a regular thlum.  Little
thtreeth, alleyth, pathageth, and tho on.  In one of 'em, a narrow
plathe, where there'th a thort of open-air market, there'th a good
thithed pieth of blank wall, with an iron-fathen'd door in it.  Well,
the woman went in there--let herthelf in with a key that thee took from
her pocket.  Ath thoon ath thee'd gone in, I took a clother look.  The
door'th fathen'd with iron, or thteel, ath I thaid--jolly thtrong.
There ain't no name on it, and no keyhole that you can look through.
The wall'th a good nine or ten feet high, and it'th covered with broken
glath at the top.  Not a nithe plathe to get into, nohow!"

"Well?" inquired Hetherwick.  "She went in?"

"Went in, ath I thay, mithter, and the door clothed on her.  After I'd
taken a glimpth at the door I got a potht behind one of the thtalls in
the thtreet and watched.  She came out again in about ten
minitth--looked to me, too, ath if thee hadn't had a very plethant time
inthide.  Upthet!  And thee thet off back here, fathter than vhat thee
came.  Now thee'th gone into her houth again--ath you no doubt thaw.
And that'th all.  But if I wath you, mithter," concluded Issy, "I
should jutht find out vhat there ith behind that door and the wall
it'th thet in--I thhould tho!"

"That's a police job," said Mapperley once more.  "If we'd only got
Matherfield with us, we could----"  Hetherwick paused--thinking.  "Look
here, Mapperley," he continued, with a sudden inspiration.  "I know
what we'll do!  You get a taxi-cab, as quickly as possible.  Drive to
the police station where I usually meet Matherfield.  There's another
man there whom I know, and who's pretty well up in this
business--Detective-Sergeant Robmore.  Ask for him.  Tell him what
we've discovered, and ask him to come back with you and to bring
another man if he thinks it necessary.  Now then, Goldmark!  Tell
Mapperley exactly where this place is."

The Jew pointed along the street to its first corner.

"Round that corner," he said.  "Firtht turning to the right; then
firtht to the left; then firtht to the right--that'th the thpot.
Lot'th o' little thtallth in it--a bithy, crowded plathe."

"Didn't ye notice the name?" demanded Mapperley, half scoldingly.

"To be thure I did!" grinned Goldmark.  "Pencove Thtreet.  But it'th
better to dethcribe it than to name it.  And don't you go tellin' no
tackthy-driver to drive you in there!--cauth' there ain't room!"

Mapperley gave no answer to this piece of advice; he shot off in the
direction of Victoria Street, and Hetherwick turned to the Jew.

"We'll go and have another look at this place, Goldmark," he said.
"But we'll go separately--as long as we're in this street, anyway.  You
stroll off to that first corner, and I'll join you."

He crossed the street when the Jew had lounged away, and once more took
a narrow look at the house into which the big woman had vanished.  It
was as close barred and curtained as ever; a veritable place of
mystery.  For a moment Hetherwick doubted whether he ought to leave it
unwatched.  But the descriptions of the wall and door in Pencove Street
had excited his imagination, and he went on, turned the corner, and
rejoined Goldmark.  Goldmark at once went in front, piloting him into a
maze of unusually dirty and crowded streets, and finally into one,
narrower than the rest, on each side of which were tent-like stalls
whereon all manner of cheap wares were being offered for sale by
raucous-voiced vendors.  He saw at once that this was one of those
open-air markets of which there are many in the poorer neighbourhoods
of London, and wherein you can buy a sixpenny frying-pan as readily as
a paper of fried fish, and a gay neckerchief alongside a damaged orange.

Threading his way behind Issy, and between the thronged stalls and the
miserable shops that lined the pavement, Hetherwick presently came to
the piece of blank wall of which the Jew had told him.  The houses and
shops round about were old and dilapidated, but the wall was either
modern or had been rebuilt and strengthened.  It stretched between two
low houses, one used as a grocer's, the other as a hardware shop.  In
length, it was some thirty feet; in height, quite ten; its coping, as
Goldmark had said, was liberally embattled with broken glass.  The
door, set flush with the adjoining masonry, was a solid affair, faced
with metal, newly painted, and the lock was evidently a patent one.  A
significant fact struck Hetherwick at once--there was no sign of a bell
and none of a knocker.

"You say the woman let herself in here?" he asked, as he and Issy
paused.

"That'th it, mithter Hetherwick--let herthelf in," replied Issy.  "I
thee her take the key from her pocket."

Hetherwick glanced at the top of the wall.

"I wonder what's behind?" he muttered.  "Building of some sort, of
course."  He turned to a man whose stall stood just in front of the
mysterious door, and who at that moment had no trade.  "Do you know
anything about this place?" he asked.  "Do you know what's behind this
wall?  What building it is?"

The stall-keeper eyed Hetherwick over, silently and carefully.
Deciding that he was an innocent person and not a policeman in plain
clothes, he found his tongue.

"I don't, guv'nor!" he answered.  "'Aint a bloomin' notion!  I been
comin' here, or hereabouts, this three year or more, but I 'aint never
seen behind that wall, nor in at that there doorway.  S'elp me!"

"But I suppose you've seen people go in and come out of the door?"
suggested Hetherwick.  "It must be used for something!"

"I reckon it is, guv'nor, but I don't call nobody to mind, though, to
be sure, I see a woman come out of it a while ago--big, heavy-jawed
woman, she was.  But queer as it may seem, I don't call to mind ever
seeing anybody else.  You see, guv'nor, I comes here at about ten
o'clock of a morning, and I packs up and 'ops it at five--if there's
folks comes in and out o' that spot, it must be early in a morning and
late at night, and so I shouldn't see 'em.  But it's my belief this
here wall and door is back premises to something--the front o' the
place'll be on the other side."

"That's a good idea," said Hetherwick, with a glance at Goldmark.
"Let's go round."

But there was no going round.  Although they tried various alleys and
passages and streets that ought to have been parallel to Pencove
Street, they failed to find any place that could be a frontage to the
mysterious wall and its close-set door.  But the Jew's alert faculties
asserted themselves.

"We can thee vhat'th behind that vail, mithter, eathy enough if we get
one o' them thop-keeperth oppothit to let uth go upthtairth to hith
firtht floor," he said.  "Look right acroth the thtreet there, thtallth
and all, into vhatever there ith.  Try that one," he went on, pointing
to a greengrocer's establishment which faced the close-set door.  "Tell
him we're doin' a bit o' land thurveyin'--which ith thtrue!"

Hetherwick made his request--the greengrocer's lady showed him and
Goldmark upstairs into a bow-windowed parlour, one of those dismal
apartments which are only used on Sundays, for the purpose of adding
more gloom to a gloomy day.  She observed that there was a nice view
both ways of the street, but Hetherwick confined his inspection to the
front.  He saw across the wall easily enough, now.  There was little to
see.  The wall bounded a yard, bounded on its left and right sides by
the walls of the adjoining houses, and at its further extremity by a
low, squat building of red brick, erected against the rear of a high,
windowless wall beyond.  From its mere aspect, it was impossible to
tell what this squat, flat-roofed structure was used for.  Its
door--closed--was visible; visible, too, were the windows on either
side.  But it was easy to see that they were obscured, as to their
lower halves, by coats of dark paint.  There was no sign over the
building; no outward indication of its purpose.  In the yard, however,
were crates, boxes, and carboys in wicker cases; a curiously-shaped
chimney, projecting from the roof above, suggested the presence of a
furnace or forge beneath.  And Hetherwick, after another look, felt no
doubt that he was gazing at the place to which Hannaford had been
taken, and where he had been skilfully poisoned.

Goldmark suddenly nudged his arm, and nodded at the crowded street
below.

"Mapperley!" he whispered.  "And two men with him!"

Hetherwick, glancing in the direction indicated, saw Robmore and
another man, both in plain clothes, making their way down the street,
between the stalls and the shops.  With them, and in close
conversation, was a uniformed constable.  He turned to leave the room,
but Goldmark again touched his elbow.

"Before we go, mithter," he said, "jutht take another glanth at that
plathe oppothite, and it'ths thurroundin'th.  I thee where we can get
in!  D'ye thee, mithter Hetherwick, the wall between that yard and the
next houth--the right-hand thide one--'ith fairly low at the far end.
Now, if the man in that houth would let uth go through to hith
back-yard--vhat?"

"I see!" agreed Hetherwick.  "We'll try it.  But Robmore first--come
along."

He slipped some silver into the hand of the green-grocer's lady, and
went down to the street.  A few brief explanations to the two
detectives supplemented the information already given them by
Mapperley, and then Robmore nodded at the constable who stood by,
eagerly interested.

"We've been talking to him, Mr. Hetherwick," he said.  "He's sometimes
on day duty here, and sometimes he's on night.  He says he's often
wondered about this place, and it's a very queer thing that though he's
known this district more than a year, he's never seen a soul go in or
out of that door, and hasn't the least notion of what business, if it
is a business, is carried on there!"

"Never seen anything or anybody!" corroborated the constable.  "At any
time--day or night.  When I first came on this beat, maybe fifteen
months ago, that door had been newly set and painted, and the glass had
just been stuck a-top of the wall.  But it's a fact--I've never seen
anybody go in or come out!"

"I propose to go in," said Hetherwick.  "I think we've abundant cause,
knowing what we do.  It may be that the two missing ladies are there.
I've been having a look into the yard, and we could get into it easily
by going through the grocer's shop there, on the right, and climbing
the wall from his back premises.  What do you say, Robmore?"

"Oh, I think so!" agreed Robmore.  "Now we're on the job, we'll carry
it through.  Better let me tackle the grocer, Mr. Hetherwick--I'll see
him first and then call you in."

The other waited while Robmore entered the shop and spoke with its
owner.  They saw him engaged in conversation for several minutes; then
he came to the door and beckoned the rest to approach.

"That's all right," he said in an aside to Hetherwick.  "We can go
through to his back-yard, and he'll lend us a step-ladder to get over
the wall.  But he's told me a bit--he knows the two men who have this
place in the next yard, and there's no doubt at all, from his
description of them, that one's Ambrose and the other Baseverie.  He
says they've had the place almost eighteen months, and he thinks they
use it as a laboratory--chemicals, or something of that sort.  But he
says they're rarely seen--sometimes he's never seen them for days and
even weeks together.  Usually they're there of a night--he's seen
lights in the place at all hours of the night.  Well--come on!"

The posse of investigators filed through the dark little shop to a yard
at its rear, the grocer's apprentice going in front with a step-ladder,
which he planted against the intervening wall at its lowest point.  One
by one, the uniformed constable going first, the six men climbed and
dropped over.  But for their own presence, the place seemed deserted
and lifeless.  As Hetherwick had observed from the greengrocer's
parlour the windows were obscured by thick coats of paint;
nevertheless, two or three of the men approached and tried to find
places from which the paint had been scratched, in an effort to see
what lay inside.  But the constable, bolder and more direct, went
straight to the entrance.

"Door's open!" he exclaimed.  "Not even shut!"  He pushed the door
wide, and went into the building, the rest crowding after him.
"Hullo!" he shouted.  "Hullo!"

No answer came to the summons.  The constable crossed the lobby in
which they were all standing, and opened an inner door.  And Hetherwick
saw at once that the grocer's surmise as to the purpose to which the
place was put had been correct--this was a chemical laboratory, well
equipped, too, with modern apparatus.  But there was not a sign of life
in it.

"Nobody here, apparently," murmured one of the men.  "Flown!"

Robmore went forward to another door, and opening it, revealed a room
furnished as an office.  There was a roll-top desk in it, and papers
and documents lying there; he and Hetherwick began to finger and
examine them.  And Hetherwick suddenly saw something that made a link
between this mysterious place and the house he had called at earlier in
the afternoon.  There, before his eyes, lay some of the azure-tinted
notepaper which Mapperley had traced with the embossed address on it of
which the stationer had told.

"There's no doubt we've hit on the place at last, Robmore," he said.
"I wish we'd had Matherfield here.  But----"

Before he could say more, a sudden shout came from Goldmark, who, while
the others were investigating the lower regions, had courageously, and
alone, gone up the low staircase to the upper rooms.

"Mithter!" he called.  "Mithter Hetherwick! come up here--come up, all
of you.  Here'th a man here, a-thittin' in a chair--and th'elp me if I
don't believe he'th a thtiff 'un--dead!"



CHAPTER XXV

DEAD!

The rest of the searchers, hearing that startled cry from the Jew, with
one accord made for the upper part of the building.  Robmore and
Hetherwick reached him first; he was standing at the half-opened door
of a room, into which he was staring with eager eyes.  They pushed by
him and entered.

Hetherwick took in the general aspect and contents of that room at a
glance.  It had been fitted up--recently, he thought, from certain
small evidences--as a bed-sitting-room.  A camp-bed stood in one
corner; there was a washstand, a dressing table, a chest of drawers,
two or three pictures, a shelf of books, a small square of carpet in
the centre of the floor, the outer edges of which had been roughly and
newly stained.  On the bed lay, open, a suit-case, already packed with
clothes and linen; by it lay an overcoat, hat, gloves, umbrella; it was
evident that the man to whom it belonged had completed his preparations
for a departure, and had nothing to do but to close and lock the
suit-case, put on his overcoat and hat, pick up the other things and go
away.

But the man himself?  There was a big, old-fashioned easy chair at the
side of the bed--a roomy, comfortable affair.  A man lay, rather than
sat, in it, in an attitude which suggested that he had dropped there as
with a sudden weariness, laid his head back against the padded cushion,
and--gone to sleep.  But the men knew, all of them, as they crowded
into that room, that it was no sleep that they had broken in upon--it
was death.  This, as the Jew had been quick to see, was a dead
man--dead!

Hetherwick took him in as quickly as he had taken in his surroundings.
His head lay quietly against the padding of the chair, a little
inclined to his left shoulder: the face was fully visible.  It was--to
Hetherwick--the face of a stranger; in all his and Matherfield's
investigations it had not been described to them.  Yet he was certain
that he was looking on the man known to them by repute as Ambrose.
Disguised, of course--he had shaved off the dark beard and moustache of
which they had heard, and he could see at once that the loss of them
had made a remarkable difference in his appearance.  But nothing could
disguise his height and general build.  This, without doubt, was the
man Matherfield and he had hunted for, the man who had met Hannaford at
Victoria, who had disappeared from his flat in the Adelphi--the man who
was associated with Baseverie, and who----

"Dead as a door-nail!" muttered Robmore, bending close to the still
figure.  "And--he's been dead a good bit, too!--some hours, anyway.
Stiff!  Do ye know him, Mr. Hetherwick?"

Hetherwick said what he thought.  Robmore pointed to the things on the
bed.

"Looks as if he'd been taken with a seizure just as he was about to set
off somewhere," he remarked.  "Well, if this is the Dr. Ambrose we've
been seeking--but let's see if he's got anything on him to prove his
identity."

While the rest of the men stood by watching, he put his hand into the
dead man's inside breast pocket--he was wearing a smart, brand-new grey
tweed suit, Hetherwick, later on, remembered how its newness struck him
as being incongruously out of place, somehow--and drew out a
pocket-book.  Touching Hetherwick's elbow and motioning him to follow
him, he went over to the window, leaving the others still staring
wonderingly at the dead man.

"This is a queer business, Mr. Hetherwick," he whispered as they drew
apart.  "You think this is the Dr. Ambrose we were after?"

"Sure of it!" answered Hetherwick.  "He's shaved off his beard and
moustache, and that's no doubt made a big difference in his appearance,
but you may depend on it, this is the man!  But what's caused his
sudden death?"

Then a keen, vivid recollection flashed up in him, and he turned
sharply, glancing at the rigid figure in the background.

"What is it?" asked Robmore curiously.  "Something strikes you?"

Hetherwick pointed to the dead man's attitude.

"That's--that's just how Hannaford looked when he died in the railway
carriage!" he whispered.  "After the first signs--you know--he laid
back and--died.  Just like that--as if he'd dropped quietly asleep.
Can--can it be that----"

"I know what you're thinking," muttered Robmore.  "Poisoned!
Well--what about--eh--the other man?"

"Baseverie!" exclaimed Hetherwick.

"Why not?--to rid himself of an accomplice!  But--this pocket-book,"
said Robmore.  "Let's see what's in it.  Doesn't seem to be anything
very much, by the thinness."

From one flap of the pocket-book he drew out a wad of carefully-folded
bank notes, and rapidly turned them over.

"Hundred and fifty pounds there," he remarked.  "And what's this
paper--a draft on a New York bank for two hundred.  New York, eh?  So
that's where he was bound?  And this," he went on, turning out the
other flap.  "Ah! see this, Mr. Hetherwick?  He'd got his passage
booked by the _Maratic_, sailing to-night.  Um!  And Matherfield's gone
to Southampton, after Baseverie.  I'm beginning to see a bit into this,
I think."

"What do you see?" asked Hetherwick.

"Well, it looks to me as if Baseverie had gone ahead to collect that
box containing the jewels, and that Ambrose was to follow later, join
him there, when Baseverie had secured the loot, and that they were then
to be off with their harvest!  But--do you notice this--the name under
which the passage is booked?  Not Ambrose--Charles Andrews, Esquire.
Andrews!  And Baseverie is Basing.  Basing and Andrews.  Now I wonder
if they carried on business here under these names?"

"That's an unimportant detail," said Hetherwick.  "The important thing,
surely, is--that!  How did that man come by his death?"

"Well, but I don't think that is very important--just now," replied
Robmore.  "After all, he is dead, and whether he died as the result of
a sudden seizure, or whether Baseverie cleverly poisoned him before he
left, is a question we'll have to settle later.  But I'll tell you
what, Mr. Hetherwick--I'll lay anything he didn't poison himself!  Look
round--there isn't a sign of anything he's been drinking out of.  No,
sir--the other man's done this.  And if Matherfield has the luck to lay
hands on him to-night--ah!  But now, what was this your clerk,
Mapperley, told us as we came along about the Little Smith Street
landlady coming here this afternoon?"

"She was followed here by Goldmark," replied Hetherwick.  "Goldmark saw
her admit herself by a key which she took from her pocket.  She stayed
inside a few minutes, came out looking much upset, and hurried away to
her own house."

"And now you and I'll just hurry after her," said Robmore.  "After all,
she's living, and we'll make her find her tongue.  Of course, she came
in here expecting to find this man, and to tell him somebody was on the
look-out.  And--she found him dead!  Come round there with me, Mr.
Hetherwick, at once."

He turned to the other detective and the constable, and after giving
them some whispered instructions, left the room, Hetherwick, after a
word or two with Mapperley, following him.  But before they had reached
the outer door, they heard steps in the yard, and suddenly two men
appeared in the doorway.

If Hetherwick and his companion looked questioningly at these two men,
they, on their part, looked questioningly at Robmore and Hetherwick.
They were youngish men--Hetherwick set them down as respectably-dressed
artisans.  That they were surprised to find anyone confronting them at
the door whereat all four now stood, was evident; their surprise,
indeed, was so great that they came to a sudden halt, staring silently.
But Robmore spoke.  "Wanting somebody?" he asked sharply.

The two strangers exchanged a glance, and the apparently elder one
replied:

"Well, no!" he said.  "Not that we know of.  But might we ask if you
are?  And how you got in here?  Because this place happens to be ours!"

"Yours!" exclaimed Robmore.  "Your property?

"Well, if buying it, paying for it, and taking a receipt and papers
makes it so!" answered the man.  "Bought it this morning--and settled
up for it, too, anyway."

Robmore produced and handed over a professional card, and the faces of
the two men fell as they read it.  The elder looked up quickly.

"I hope there's nothing wrong?" he said anxiously.  "Detectives, eh?
We've laid out a nice bit on this--savings, too, and----"

"I don't suppose there's anything wrong that way," replied Robmore
reassuringly.  "But there's something uncommonly wrong in other ways.
Now look here, who are you two, and from whom did you buy this place?"

"My name's Marshall, his is Wilkinson," answered the leader.  "We're
just starting business for ourselves as electrical engineers.  We
advertised for a likely place hereabouts, and Mr. Andrews came to us
about this--said he and his partner, Mr. Basing, were leaving, and
wanted to sell it, just as it stood.  We came to look at it, and as
it's just the place we need to start with, we agreed to buy it.  They
said it was their own property, and to save law expenses we carried out
the purchase between ourselves.  And we paid over the purchase money
this morning, and got the papers and the key."

"What time was that?" asked Robmore.

"Ten o'clock or thereabouts," replied Marshall.  "By appointment, here."

"Did ye see both men--Basing and Andrews?"

"Both!  In that little room to the right.  We settled the
business--paid them in cash--and settled all up.  It was soon done,
then they stood us a drink and a cigar, and we went."

"Stood you a drink, eh?" said Robmore suddenly.  "Where?"

"Here!  Basing, he pulled out a big bottle of champagne and a
cigar-box, and said we'd wet the bargain.  We'd a glass apiece,
Wilkinson and me, then we left 'em to finish the bottle: we were in a
hurry.  But--is anything wrong?"

"What is wrong, my lad, is that the man you know as Andrews is lying
dead upstairs!" replied Robmore.  "Poisoned, most likely, by his
partner.  But, as I said just now, I don't suppose there's anything
wrong about your buying the property, providing you can show a title to
it; you say you've got the necessary papers?"

Marshall clapped a hand on the pocket of his coat.

"Got 'em all here, now," he said.  "But--did you say Andrews was
dead--poisoned?  Why, he was as alive as I am when we left the two of
'em together.  They were finishing the bottle----"

"Look here," interrupted Robmore.  "Wait awhile until we come
back--we've some important work close by.  There are people of ours
upstairs--tell them I said you were to wait a bit.  Now, Mr.
Hetherwick."

Outside the yard and in the crowded street, Robmore turned to his
companion with a cynical laugh.

"Champagne--to wet the bargain!" he said.  "Left them to finish it, eh?
And no doubt what finished Ambrose was in that champagne--slipped in by
Baseverie when his back was turned.  I'll tell you what it is, Mr.
Hetherwick, that chap's a thorough-paced 'un--he goes the whole hog!  I
only hope he won't be too deep for Matherfield at Southampton!  I shall
be anxious till I hear."

"Is it possible for him to escape Matherfield?" exclaimed Hetherwick.
"How can he?  I look on him as being as good as in custody already!
He's bound to call at the post office for that box."

"Is he, though?" interrupted the detective, with another incredulous
laugh.  "I'm not so sure about that, Mr. Hetherwick.  Baseverie is
evidently an accomplished scoundrel, and full of all sorts of tricks!
I'll tell ye what I'm wondering--will that parcel ever get to
Southampton post office, where it's to be called for?"

"Whatever do you mean?" demanded Hetherwick.  "It's in the post!
Posted this morning."

"No doubt," agreed Robmore dryly.  "By special delivery, eh?  And when
it gets to Southampton Station, it's got to be taken to the head post
office, hasn't it?"

"Well?" asked Hetherwick.

"There's many a slip twixt cup and lip--so the old saying goes,"
replied Robmore.  "That parcel may slip.  But isn't this the number
your clerk mentioned?"

The door of Mrs. Mallett's house looked more closely barred than
ever--if possible.  And no answer came to several summonses by bell and
knocker.  But presently Robmore tried the handle--the door opened at
his touch.

"Hallo!" he exclaimed.  "Open!  Um!  That seems a bit queer.
Well--inside!"

For the second time that afternoon, Hetherwick walked into a place that
seemed to be wholly deserted.



CHAPTER XXVI

WATERLOO

The detective, walking a little in advance of his companion, stepped
forward to a hall-table and knocked loudly on its polished surface.  No
answer came.  He went further along, to the head of a railed stair
which evidently communicated with a cellar kitchen; again he knocked,
more loudly than before, on an adjacent panel, and again got no reply.
And at that, turning back along the hall, he opened the door of the
room which faced upon the street, and he and Hetherwick looked in.  A
musty-smelling, close-curtained room that, a sort of Sunday parlour,
little used, cold and comfortless in its formality.  But the room
behind it, to which Robmore turned next, showed signs of recent
occupancy and life.  There was a fire in the grate, with an easy chair
drawn near to it; on the table close by lay women's gear--a heap of
linen, with needle and thread thrust in, a work-basket, scissors,
thimble; it required no more than a glance to see that the owner of
these innocent matters had laid them down suddenly, suddenly
interrupted in her task.

"I'll tell you what it is, Mr. Hetherwick!" exclaimed Robmore abruptly.
"This house is empty!  Empty of people, anyway."

"Silent enough, to be sure," agreed Hetherwick.  "The woman----"

"You've frightened her by calling here," said Robmore.  "Then she
slipped round to Pencove Street.  And there she found Ambrose dead!
She's some connection with him and Baseverie, because she possesses a
key that admits to that yard.  And finding Ambrose dead, she came back
here, got her things and cleared out.  There isn't a soul in this
house.  I'll lay anything on that!"

"It struck me that this might be the place where the two ladies were
detained," remarked Hetherwick.

"We'll soon see about that," declared Robmore.  "Come upstairs--we'll
search the place from top to bottom.  But stop, downstairs first."

He ran down the stair to the cellar kitchen, with Hetherwick at his
heels.  And at the door he laughed, pointing within.

"Look there!" he exclaimed.  "I told you you'd interrupted things.
See! there's one tea-tray, laid out all ready for two--cups and
saucers, teapot, bread and butter cut, cake.  There's another for one.
And there's the kettle, singing away like a bird on a bough.  What's
that mean?  The woman was going to carry up tea for two, somewhere;
t'other tray was for herself.  Well, you nipped that in the bud; she'll
have to get her tea somewhere.  But--the others?  Come upstairs."

Going back to the hall, he led the way up the main staircase.  There
were two stories above the ground floor; on the first were rooms the
doors of which, being opened, or being found open, revealed nothing but
ordinary things: of these rooms there were three, opening off a main
landing.  But on the next floor there were only two rooms; one was
unfurnished: at the door of the other, a few inches ajar, the detective
immediately paused.

"Look you there, now, Mr. Hetherwick!" he said, pointing here and
there.  "Here's recent work!  Do you see that a strong bolt, more like
a bar, has been fitted on the outside of this door, and the door itself
fitted with a new patent lock, key outside?  And, good Lord! a chain as
well.  Might be in a gaol!  But what's inside?"

He pushed the door open and revealed a large room, fitted with two
small beds, easy chairs, a table on which books, magazines, newspapers
lay; on the table, too, was fancy-work which, it was evident, had been
as hastily laid aside as the sewing downstairs.  Hetherwick bent over
the things, but Robmore went to the one window.

"Gaol, did I say?" he exclaimed.  "Why, this is a gaol!  Look here, Mr.
Hetherwick!--window morticed inside and fitted with iron bars outside.
Even if whoever's been in here could have opened the window, and if
there'd been no bars there, they couldn't have done anything though,
for there's nothing but a high blank wall opposite--back of some
factory or other, apparently.  But what's this?" he added, opening a
door that stood in a corner.  "Um! small bathroom.  And this," he
continued, going to a square hatch set in the wall next to the
staircase.  "Ah! trap big enough to hand things like small trays
through, but not big enough for a grown person to squeeze through.
Well, I shouldn't wonder if you're right, Mr. Hetherwick--this,
probably, is where these ladies were locked up.  But--they're gone!"

Hetherwick was looking round.  Suddenly his eyes lighted on a familiar
object.  He stepped forward, and from a chair near one of the beds,
picked up a handbag of green silk.  He knew it well enough.

"That settles it!" he exclaimed.  "They have been here!  This is Miss
Han--I mean Miss Featherstone's bag--I've seen her carry it often.
These are her things in it--purse, card-case, so on.  She's left it
behind her."

"Aye, just so!" agreed Robmore.  "As I say, they all left in a hurry.
I figure it out like this: the woman, who, of course, acted as sort of
gaoler to these two unfortunate ladies, when she made that discovery
round yonder, came back here, got her outdoor things, and cleared off.
But before she went, she'd the decency to slip up here, undo that
chain, slip the bolt back, and turn the key!  Then, no doubt, she made
tracks at express speed, leaving the ladies to do what they liked.  And
they, Mr. Hetherwick, having a bit o' common sense about 'em, did what
I should ha' done--they hooked it as quick as possible.  That's that,
sir!"

Hetherwick thrust Rhona's handbag into his pocket and made for the door.

"Then I'm off, Robmore," he said.  "I must try to find out where
they've gone.  I've an idea probably they'd go to Penteney's office.
I'll go there.  But--you?"

"Oh, I'm going back to Pencove Street," answered Robmore.  "Plenty to
do there.  But off you go after the ladies, Mr. Hetherwick, there's
nothing you can do round here now.  I'll keep that clerk of yours a
bit, and the Jew chap--they might come in.  We shall have some nice
revelations in the papers to-morrow, I'm thinking, especially if
Matherfield has the luck he expects."

"What are you going to do about this house?" asked Hetherwick as they
went downstairs.  "Do you think the woman will come back?"

"Bet your life she won't!" answered Robmore.  "Not she!  I should think
she's half-way across London--north, south, east or west, by this.
House?  Why, I shall just lock the front door and put the key in my
pocket.  We shall want to search this house narrowly."

Hetherwick bade him good-day for the time being, and hurried off to
Victoria Street, to fling himself into the first disengaged taxi-cab he
encountered, and to bid its driver go as speedily as possible to
Lincoln's Inn Fields.  He was anxious about Rhona--and yet he felt that
she was safe.  And he was inquisitive, too; he wanted to hear her
story, to find out what had happened behind the scenes.  He felt sure
of finding her at Penteney's office; she and Madame Listorelle, once
released from their prison, would naturally go there.

But the clerk whom he encountered as soon as he rushed into the outer
office, damped his spirits at once by shaking his head.

"Mr. Penteney's not in, sir," he answered.  "He was in until not so
long ago, but he got a telephone call and went out immediately
afterwards.  No, I don't know who it was that rang him up, Mr.
Hetherwick, nor where he went; seemed a bit excited when he went out,
and was in a fearful hurry."

Hetherwick concluded that Madame Listorelle had summoned Penteney, and
that he had gone to meet her and Rhona.  He went away, somewhat at a
loss--then, remembering that Matherfield had promised to wire from
Southampton, he turned towards his chambers.  At the foot of the stairs
he met his caretaker.

"Been a young lady here inquiring for you, Mr. Hetherwick," said the
man.  "Been here twice.  I said I didn't know when you'd be in--any
time or no time.  She said--but there is the young lady, sir--coming
back!"

Hetherwick turned sharply and saw Rhona coming across the square.
Hurrying to meet her and disregarding whatever eyes might be watching
them, he took both her hands in his in a fashion that brought the
colour to her cheeks.

"You're all right--safe?" he asked quickly.

"Sure?"

"I'm all right and quite safe, thank you," she answered.  "I--I've been
here twice before, but you were out.  I came to borrow some money.  I
left my bag and purse in--the place where we were locked up, and----"

Hetherwick pulled out the handbag and silently gave it to her.  She
stared at him.

"You've been--there!" she exclaimed.  "How----"

"Got in this afternoon, an hour ago," he answered.  "Here, come up to
my rooms!  We can't stand talking here.  Madame Listorelle--where's
she?"

"I left her at Victoria, telephoning to Major Penteney," replied Rhona.
"She, too, had no money.  She wanted me to wait until Major Penteney
arrived, but I wouldn't.  I walked here.  I--I thought you'd want to
know that we'd got out--at last."

Hetherwick said nothing until they had entered his sitting-room.  Then,
staring silently at her, he put his hands on Rhona's shoulders, and
after a long look at her, suddenly and impulsively bent and kissed her.

"By gad!" he said in a low voice.  "I didn't know how anxious I was
about you until I saw you just now!  But--now I know!"

Then, just as suddenly, he turned away from her, and in a
matter-of-fact manner lighted his stove, put on a kettle of water, and
began preparations which indicated his intention of making tea.  Rhona,
from an easy chair into which he had unceremoniously thrust her,
watched him.

"Liberty!" she said suddenly.  "We're both discovering something.  When
you've been locked up, day and night, for a while----"

"How was it?" he asked, turning on her.  "Of course, we know all about
the kidnapping--but the rest, until to-day?  Baseverie, of course?"

"Baseverie and another man," she answered.  "A tall, clean-shaven man,
whose name we never heard.  But Baseverie was the chief villain.  As to
how it was, they met us at the sunk road at Riversreade, forced us at
the point of revolvers into a car, and drove us off to London--to
Westminster--and into a house there, the house you've been in.
There----"

"A moment," said Hetherwick, who was finding cups and saucers.  "The
driver of that car?  He must have been an accomplice."

"No doubt, but we never saw him again.  We only saw those two and a
woman who acted as gaoler and brought our meals.  We were fed all
right, and they gave us books and papers, and actually provided us with
fancy work.  But they were inexorable about madame and her jewels.
They must have known all about them, because they got her own
notepaper----"

"I know all about that," said Hetherwick.  "I'll tell you my side of it
when you've had some tea.  Forced her, I suppose, to write the letters?"

"They forced her to do that just as they forced us into the car," said
Rhona, "with revolvers!  And--they meant it.  I suppose they've got the
jewels now?"

"Remains to be seen," replied Hetherwick.  "Did Madame Listorelle
happen to tell you what those jewels were worth?"

"She talked about little else.  Between eighty and ninety thousand
pounds.  She's in an awful state about them.  But it was literally a
question of her life or her jewels.  I don't know what they'd have done
with me.  But now--I'm all right!"

Hetherwick opened a tin box, and producing a plum cake, held it up for
Rhona to inspect.

"What d'you think of that for a cake?" he asked admiringly.  "Present
from my old aunt in the country--real, proper cake that.  Yes," he went
on, setting the cake on the table, "yes, yes; you're all right now.
But, by George----"

Rhona said nothing; she saw that his relief at seeing her was greater
and deeper than he cared to show.  She poured out the tea; they sat
discussing the recent events until dusky shadows began to fall over the
whole room.

"I ought to be getting back to Riversreade," she remarked at last.
"It's late."

"Wait a bit!" said Hetherwick, who by that time had told her all he
knew.  "There'll be a wire from Matherfield before long.  Don't go down
to Riversreade to-night.  Telephone to Lady Riversreade that you're
staying in town.  Her sister will be there by now, and will have told
her everything.  Wait till we get the wire from Matherfield; then we'll
go and dine somewhere, and you can put up at your old hotel in Surrey
Street for the night.  I want you to know what's happened at
Southampton and----"

He broke off as a knock came at his outer door.

"That'll be Matherfield's wire," he exclaimed "Now then----"

A moment later he came back to her with the message in his hand.

"It is from Matherfield," he said.  "Handed in Southampton West
six-nineteen.  Doesn't say if he's got him!  All he says is; 'Meet me
Waterloo, arriving eight-twenty.'  Well----"

"I wonder?" said Rhona.  "But Baseverie is----"

"Just what Robmore says," muttered Hetherwick.

"However--" he looked at his watch.  "Come along," he continued.
"We've just time to get some dinner--at Waterloo--and to be on the
platform when the eight-twenty comes in.  If only we could see
Baseverie in charge of Matherfield and Quigman first it would give me
an appetite!"

The vast space between the station buildings and the entrance to the
platform at Waterloo was thronged when Hetherwick and Rhona came out of
the restaurant at ten minutes past eight.  Hetherwick was inquiring as
to which platform the Southampton train would come in at when he felt a
light touch on his arm.  Turning sharply he saw Robmore.  Robmore gave
him a quiet smile, coupled with an informing wink.

"Guess you're on the same job, Mr. Hetherwick," he said.  "Wire from
Matherfield, eh?"

"Yes," replied Hetherwick.  "And you?"

"Same here," assented Robmore.  "Just to say I was to be here for the
eight-twenty--with help," he added significantly.  "I've got the help;
there's four of us round about.  Heard anything of those ladies, Mr.
Hetherwick?"

"Here is one of them," replied Hetherwick, indicating Rhona.  "They're
safe.  You'll hear all about it later.  But this business--what do you
make of Matherfield's wire?  Has he failed?"

"I'll tell you what I make of it," answered Robmore.  "I think you'll
find that Baseverie is on the train, with Matherfield and Quigman in
close attendance.  For some reason of his own, Matherfield means to
arrest Baseverie here--here!  That's how I figure it.  They've seen
Baseverie there and decided to follow him back to town.  As soon as
that train's in----"

A sudden, sharp exclamation from Rhona interrupted him and made both
men turn to her.  She clutched Hetherwick's arm, at the same time
pointing with the other hand across the space behind them.

"Baseverie--himself!" she said.  "There--under that clock!  See!  He's
going towards the gates!"

With a swift and unceremonious gesture Robmore laid a hand on Rhona's
shoulder, twisted her round and drew her amongst a group of bystanders.

"Keep out of sight, miss!" he muttered.  "He'll know you!  Now,
again--which man.  That with the pale face and high hat?  I see him.
Good to remember, too.  All right!  Stop here, you two.  If he moves in
this direction, Mr. Hetherwick, move away anywhere.  Wait!"

Robmore slipped away.  A moment later they saw him speak to a couple of
quiet-looking men, who presently glanced at Baseverie.  Hetherwick was
watching Baseverie, too.  Baseverie, quiet, unconcerned, evidently
wholly unsuspicious, had taken up a position at the exit through which
the Southampton passengers must emerge; he was smoking a cigar,
placidly, with obvious appreciation.

"You're certain that's the man?" whispered Hetherwick.

"Baseverie?  Positive!" declared Rhona.  "As if I could mistake him!
I've too good reason to remember his whole appearance.  But--here!
Daring!"

"Well," said Hetherwick, "something's going to happen!  Keep back--keep
well back!  We can see things from here without being seen.  If he
caught sight of you----"

Robmore came strolling back and joined them.

"All right!" he murmured.  "Four pairs of eyes, beside ours--that's
three pairs more--on him!  My men are close up to him, too.  See 'em?
One, two, three, four!  All round him, though he doesn't know.  I
shan't let him go, whether Matherfield turns up or not.  Cool customer,
eh?"

"The train's due," said Hetherwick.  He had Rhona's hand within his
arm, and he felt it tremble.  "Yes," he whispered, bending down to her,
"that's how I feel.  Tense moment, this.  But that scoundrel there----"

Baseverie was glancing at the big clock.  He turned from it to the
platform behind the gates, looking expectantly along its lighted
surface.  The others looked, too.  A minute passed.  Then, out of the
gloom at the further extremity of the vast station, an engine appeared,
slowly dragging its burden of carriages and came sighing like a weary
giant up the side of the platform.  The passengers in the front
compartments leapt out and began filing towards the exit.

"Now for it," muttered Robmore.  "Keep back, you two!  My men'll watch
him--and whoever's here to meet him, for he's expecting somebody."

Nothing happened for the first minute.  The crowd of discharged
passengers, men and women, civilians, soldiers, sailors, filed out and
went their ways.  Gradually it thinned.  Then Hetherwick's arm was
suddenly gripped by Rhona for the second time, and he saw that she was
staring at something beyond the barrier.

"There!" she exclaimed.  "There--the man in the grey coat and fawn hat!
That's the man who drove the car!  See!  Baseverie sees him!"

Hetherwick looked and saw Baseverie lift a hand in recognition of a
young, fresh-faced man, who was nearing the ticket-collectors, and who
carried in his right hand a small, square parcel.  But he saw more.
Close behind this young man came Matherfield on one hand and Quigman on
the other.  They drew closer as he neared the gate, and on its other
side the detectives drew closer to Baseverie.

"Now then," whispered Robmore, and stole swiftly forward.

It was all over so swiftly that neither Hetherwick nor Rhona knew
exactly how the thing was done.  Before they had realised that the men
were trapped, or the gaping bystanders had realised that something was
happening under their very noses, Baseverie and his man were two safely
handcuffed prisoners in the midst of a little group of silent men who
were hurrying both away.  Within a moment captors and captives were
lost in the outer reaches of the station.  Then the two watchers
suddenly realised that Matherfield, holding the square parcel in his
hand, was standing close by, a grim but highly satisfied smile in his
eyes.  He held the parcel up before them.

"Very neat, Mr. Hetherwick, very neat indeed!" he said.  "Uncommonly
neat--eh?"

But Hetherwick knew that he was not referring to the parcel.



CHAPTER XXVII

THE ASSURANCE

Rhona went back to her old quarters at the little hotel in Surrey
Street for that night, and next morning Hetherwick came round to her,
with an armful of newspapers.  Finding her alone, he laid them on the
table at her side with a significant nod of his head at certain big
black letters which topped the uppermost columns.

"Matherfield must have given plenty of informing news to the pressmen
last night," he remarked with a grim smile.  "It's all in there--his
own adventures at Southampton yesterday; mine and Robmore's in
Westminster, and all the rest of it.  I believe the newspaper people
call this sort of thing a story--and a fine story it makes!  Winding
up, of course, with the dramatic arrest of Baseverie at Waterloo!  I'm
afraid we're in for publicity for a time, worse luck!"

"Shall we--shall I--have to appear at that man's trial?" asked Rhona.

"That's unavoidable, I'm afraid, and at other things before that,"
answered Hetherwick.  "There'll be the proceedings before the
magistrate, and the adjourned inquest, and so on.  Can't be helped; and
there'll be some satisfaction in knowing that we're ridding the world
of a peculiarly cruel and cold-blooded murderer!  That chap Baseverie
is certainly as consummate a villain as I ever heard of.  A human
spider--and clever in his web-spinning.  But I wish one had a few more
particulars on one point--and yet I don't see how one's to get them."

"What point?" asked Rhona.

"That sealed packet, containing the details, or formula, or whatever it
is, of your grandfather's invention," replied Hetherwick.  "Where is
it?  What, precisely, is it?  Did Ambrose get it from him?  Has
Baseverie got it?  So far as I can make out, the whole thing began with
that.  Whether it was really worth a farthing or a fortune, your
grandfather brought to London something which he honestly believed to
be of great value, and there's no doubt that he got into the hands of
those two men, Ambrose and Baseverie, because of it.  There's no doubt,
either, that in conversation with them, he told them, perhaps jokingly,
what he knew about Madame Listorelle.  Nor is there any doubt that
these two murdered him.  Nor is there any doubt, in my mind, as to
_how_ they murdered him!  You must remember that both men were trained
medical men, and, obviously of a scientific turn of mind into the
bargain.  Each had doubtless made a deep study of poisons.  Such a
knowledge is of value to such men as they were--men of criminal
tendencies.  Probably they knew of a subtle poison easily administered,
the effects of which would not be evident for some hours.  No doubt
they _timed_ their work, so that their victim should die swiftly and
suddenly when well away from their laboratory.  And, of course, they
did the same thing in the case of Granett.  Granett paid the penalty of
being with your grandfather.  But for what did they murder your
grandfather?  Did they get rid of him so that they could keep his
secret about Madame Listorelle to themselves, and blackmail her and her
sister, or that they could rob him of his invention and turn it to
their own profit?  If the latter, then----"

He paused, looking inquiringly at Rhona, as if he expected her to see
what he was after.  But Rhona shook her head.

"I don't follow," she said.  "What then?"

"This," replied Hetherwick.  "If their desire to get hold of your
grandfather's secret was their motive, then that secret's worth a lot
of money!  Money which ought to come to you.  Don't you see?  Where is
the secret?  Where's the sealed packet?  I suppose the police would
search Baseverie last night--perhaps they found it on him.  We shall
hear--but, anyway it's yours."

Rhona made a gesture of aversion.

"I should hate to touch or have anything to do with it if it had been
in that man's possession!" she said.  "But I don't think there's any
doubt that they murdered my grandfather because of that secret.  Only,
I think, too, they'd a double motive.  The secret about Madame
Listorelle was their second string.  Probably they believed that Lady
Riversreade would be an easy prey.  And I think she would have been, if
she hadn't had Major Penteney to fall back on.  I know she was
dreadfully upset after Baseverie's first visit.  So I put it this
way--always have done: they thought they could sell grandfather's
invention for a lot of money, and get another lot out of Lady
Riversreade and Madame Listorelle as blackmail."

"Black money, indeed, all of it!" exclaimed Hetherwick.  "Well----"

A woman-servant put her head into the little parlour in which they were
sitting, and looked significantly at Rhona.

"There's a policeman downstairs, miss, asking for you," she announced.
"Leastways, he wants to know if you can tell him if Mr. Hetherwick's
here or been here."

Hetherwick went to the head of the stair; a policeman standing in the
hall below looked up and touched his helmet.

"Inspector Matherfield's compliments, sir, and could you step round and
bring Miss Hannaford with you?" he asked.  "There's new developments,
Mr. Hetherwick.  Important!"

"We'll come at once," assented Hetherwick.  "Ten minutes!"  He went
back and hurried Rhona away.  "What now?" he asked as they hastened
towards Matherfield's office.  "Perhaps they've extracted something out
of Baseverie?  Or possibly the newspapers have attracted the attention
of somebody who can give further news?"

The last suggestion strengthened itself when, on entering Matherfield's
room, they found him closeted with two strangers whose appearance was
that of responsible and well-to-do commercial men.  All three were
discovered in what looked like a serious and deep conversation, and
Hetherwick was quick to notice that the two unknown men looked at Rhona
with unusual interest.  Matherfield made haste to introduce her as the
late ex-Superintendent Hannaford's granddaughter, and Hetherwick as a
gentleman who had been much concerned in the recent proceedings.

"These gentlemen, Miss Hannaford and Mr. Hetherwick," he proceeded,
waving his hand at the others, "are Messrs. Culthwaite and Houseover,
manufacturing chemists, of East Ham--incidentally, they've also a big
place in Lancashire.  And having seen this morning's papers, in which,
as you've no doubt noticed, there's a good deal about our affair,
they've come straight to me with some news which will prove uncommonly
useful when Baseverie's put in the dock before the magistrate this
afternoon.  The fact is, Mr. Hetherwick, these gentlemen have supplied
a missing link!"

"What link?" asked Hetherwick eagerly.

Matherfield nodded at the elder of the two men, Culthwaite, who
produced a pocket-book, and extracted from it a sheet of paper.
Silently, he passed it over to Matherfield, who turned to Rhona.

"Now, Miss Hannaford," he said, with a note of triumph in his voice, "I
dare say you can positively identify your grandfather's handwriting and
his way of making figures?  Can you swear that this has been written by
him?"

Rhona gave but one glance at the paper before looking up with a glance
of positive assertion.

"Oh, yes!" she exclaimed.  "That is his writing, without a doubt!
Nothing could be more certain!"

Matherfield turned to Hetherwick.

"That's the formula for the ink!" he said.  "Now we've got the big
thing we wanted!  And Mr. Culthwaite will tell you how he got it."

Culthwaite, after allowing Hetherwick to look at the paper, carefully
replaced it in his pocket-book.  There was an air of anxiety about him
and about his partner concerning which Hetherwick began to make
guesses--they looked as if they were uncertain and uneasy.  But
Culthwaite was ready enough to tell his story.

"We got it in this way," he said.  "And I may as well say, as I've
already said to you, Mr. Matherfield, that I don't think we should have
got it at all if you police people hadn't been so reticent on that one
particular point--if you'd noised it abroad about Hannaford's secret we
might have been forewarned.  However, some little time ago, a man whom
we knew as Basing, and whom I firmly believe to be the Baseverie that
we've read about in the papers this morning--a man, mind you, that we'd
done business with now and then during the last year or so--came to us
and offered us the formula for a new black ink which he asserted would
drive every known ink off the market, all over the world!  He made
extravagant claims for it; he swore it was the first absolutely perfect
writing fluid ever invented.  He brought a sample of it which he'd made
up himself--he put it to various tests.  But he did more--he offered us
the use of the secret formula so that we ourselves could make and test
it before deciding whether we'd fall in with his suggestion, which was
that we should offer him a lump cash sum for the formula.  Well, we did
make the ink, from the formula, and we did test it, and there is no
doubt about it--it is all, and perhaps more, that Basing, or Baseverie
claimed for its excellence.  I needn't go into the drawbacks attaching
to most well-known inks--this has none of them.  And when Basing came
back to us, a few days ago, we decided to buy the formula from him.  We
agreed upon a cash price, and day before yesterday we paid the amount
over--at our office in East Ham."

"Yes?" said Hetherwick quietly.  "And--what was the price agreed upon?"

The two partners exchanged a glance; it seemed to Rhona, who was
watching them intently, that they looked more uneasy than before.  But
Culthwaite replied with promptitude.

"Ten thousand pounds!"

"How did you pay him?" asked Hetherwick.  "In cash?"

"No--by open cheque, at his own request.  That, of course, was as good
as cash.  But," continued Culthwaite, "as soon as we read the
newspapers this morning, we--that is, I, for I read the whole thing on
my way to business--went at once to our bank to see if the cheque had
been cashed.  It had--an hour or two after we'd handed it to Basing.
He'd taken the amount in Bank of England notes."

Hetherwick looked at Matherfield.

"Of course," he remarked, as if he were asking a question, "that
formula belongs to Miss Hannaford?  Baseverie had no right to sell
it--he stole it?"

"That's the fact, Mr. Hetherwick," assented Matherfield.  "These
gentlemen, innocently enough, bought stolen property.  But I've just
told them something that I'll now tell you.  We found the
money--notes--on Baseverie, last night.  Intact--in his pocket-book.
Of course, with that, and the jewels which his accomplice succeeded in
getting at Southampton, he'd got a nice haul.  But now we can easily
prove how he came by that ten thousand--and it'll go back to Messrs.
Culthwaite and Houseover there.  We can prove, too, from their
evidence, that Baseverie poisoned Mr. Hannaford for the sake of that
formula.  Baseverie's done!"

"These gentlemen will recover their ten thousand pounds, then?" said
Hetherwick.  "In that case"--he turned to the two partners--"I don't
see that you've anything to worry about?" he suggested.  "The formula,
of course, must be handed over to----"

"Well, now, that's just it, Mr. Hetherwick," interrupted the partner
who until then had kept silent.  "The fact is, sir, we don't want to
lose that formula!  We gave this man Baring or Baseverie ten thousand
pounds for it, but----"

"But you really believe it to be worth more, eh?" said Hetherwick with
a smile.  "I see!  Then in that case----"

"If we get back our ten thousand, sir, we shall be pleased to treat
with the rightful owner," said Culthwaite, after an exchange of looks
with his partner.  "In the meantime, the formula is safe and secret
with us.  We are well-known people----"

"We'll leave it at that, just now," answered Hetherwick.  "Miss
Hannaford will trust you to keep your word about safety and secrecy.
And later--business!"  He got up, and Rhona rose with him.  "Shall you
want us to-day, Matherfield?" he asked.  "If not----"

"No!" replied Matherfield.  "Merely formal business to-day--then, this
afternoon, he'll be brought up.  Only evidence of arrest and
application for adjournment.  You can go away, Mr. Hetherwick--we'll
let you both know when you're wanted."

Hetherwick led Rhona out, and once clear of the police precincts, smote
his stick on the pavement.

"When we're through with this business I'm hanged if I ever dabble in
crime affairs again, personally!" he exclaimed.  "Baseverie has been a
pretty vile example to tackle!  And that you should be dragged into it,
too!" he added, suddenly.  "That upset me more than anything.  However,
it's getting to an end, and then----"

He paused, while she looked up at him with a little wonder at his
vehemence.  Then, and as they were at that moment walking along a quiet
stretch of the less frequented side of the Embankment, she timidly laid
a hand on his arm.  He turned sharply, laying his hand on hers.

"I think you've been very considerate and thoughtful for me," she said.
"After all--it wasn't quite mere interest in crime that made you----"

"Good Lord, no!" he exclaimed quickly.  "At first, perhaps, half
that--half you!  I felt--somehow--that I'd got to look after you.  And
then--and when you disappeared--but I believe I'm a bit muddle-headed!
I'll tell you something--all that time you were lost, I--well, I
scarcely ever slept!  Wondering, you know.  And when you turned up
yesterday afternoon--but I want to ask you something that I'm not quite
clear about--I was certainly muddled just then!"

"What is it?" she asked.

Hetherwick bent down to her and dropped his voice.

"I was so glad, so relieved to see you, yesterday afternoon," he said,
"that--that I felt dazed--eh?  And I want to know--did I kiss you?"

Rhona suddenly looked up at him--and laughed.

"Oh, really, how amusing you are!" she said.  "Why, of course, you did!
Twice!"

"That's good!" he exclaimed.  "I--I thought perhaps I'd dreamt it.
But--did you kiss me?"

"Do you really want to be dead sure?" asked Rhona mischievously.  "Very
well--I did!"

"That's better!" said Hetherwick.



THE END





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