Luck is against

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You have got a picture?” said Freyberger.

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

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

“Oh, about ten.”

“The body has been removed to the mortuary?”

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

“You think he died of heart failure?”

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

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

The other looked surprised.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He held a small parcel in his hand.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Freyberger moistened his lips.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Freyberger continued gazing without a word.

“You seem in love with it.”

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

“Yes.”

“Well, presumptions are sometimes wrong.”

“Explain yourself.”

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

“Yes?”

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

“Yes.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I can imagine so.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the way he reviewed many things in his mind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The woman looked at it.

“Do you recognize it?”

“No.”

Freyberger felt a chill of disappointment.

“And yet,” she said.

“Yes?”

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

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

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

“‘Which man?’ I says.

“‘The top-floor front,’ she replies.

“‘Mr Kolbecker?’ I said.

“‘Yes,’ she said, ‘the German.’

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

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

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

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

“Because you never asked.”

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

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

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

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

He examined the face.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“‘_M .. llir._’”

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

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

“What is that?”

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

“How so?”

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

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

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

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

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

“What?”

“See!”

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

“_Müller._”

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

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

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

“That is so.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

The answer did not come for ten minutes.

Then the bell rang and the thin voice replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Antonides went up two more steps and stopped again.

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

“Pounds.”

“Guineas.”

“Pounds.”

“Mr Freyberger!”

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

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

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

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

“How did you know that?”

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

“Yes.”

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

“Or useless.”

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

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

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

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

It had individuality.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How?”

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

“No.”

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

“I would.”

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

“Who told you?”

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

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

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

“I tell you again, No.”

“It is a bust of Sir Anthony Gyde.”

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

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

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

“And how about my fifteen pounds?”

“Here they are.”

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

“Yes.”

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

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

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

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

“You pay?”

“Yes.”

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

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

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

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

“Why not?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Freyberger did not need to be told twice.

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

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

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

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

The manager produced it. It was uncrossed.

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

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

“I have a grim suspicion that it would.”

“What do you mean?”

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

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

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

“Yes,” said Freeman, “we will see.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Inspector Freyberger, of Scotland Yard.”

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

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

“I would cash it,” he replied.

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

“Yes, sir.”

“Thank you,” said the manager, and the cashier withdrew.

Freeman gave a self-satisfied and contemptuous sniff.

There is more, sometimes, in a sniff than can be conveyed by any number
or combination of words, and this sniff of Freeman’s went to the
detective’s marrow; it contained quite a lot of things,
self-commendation and contempt for the intelligence of Freyberger
included.

“Considering,” said Freeman, “that I have the pen in my pocket with
which I saw Sir Anthony write the cheque, I would have been justified in
presenting the thing for payment, notwithstanding the doubt cast upon it
by this man,” indicating Freyberger; “but he was so sure, that I
accompanied him here, losing precious time in the transaction. I shall
take care that the matter is represented to his superiors at New
Scotland Yard.”

“Oh,” said Freyberger, who had been plunged for a moment in thought, and
who seemed quite oblivious to the insulting remark just uttered. “You
have the pen in your pocket, have you, with which Sir Anthony wrote this
cheque? Please produce it.”

Freeman produced it with a compassionate smile. He was beginning to feel
almost sorry for the man he had brought to confusion.

Freyberger’s steel grey eyes sparkled for a second when he saw the pen.
It was a stylograph, not a fountain.

He wrote a few words on a piece of paper with the pen and then handed
it, with Sir Anthony’s cheque, to the manager.

“Could those two writings have come from the point of the same pen?” he
asked.

“Oh, dear no,” said the manager. “This,” pointing to Freyberger’s
writing, “is written with a stylograph; this,” pointing to the cheque of
Sir Anthony, “is written with an ordinary pen. The writing varies in
thickness. It is quite clear.”

“Quite,” said Freyberger.

Freeman flew into a rage. “You mean to suspect me——” he cried.

“I suspect you of nothing,” said Freyberger; “if I did I would take you
into custody. You have been simply imposed upon. _That cheque of Anthony
Gyde’s is genuine._ This is what has happened. A person whom you took
for Sir Anthony Gyde entered your shop yesterday morning. He had in his
pocket a stolen cheque of Sir Anthony’s.

“He asked you to cash a cheque; you consented, and lent him your pen. He
took a cheque book from his pocket, and wrote or pretended to write out
a cheque for ten pounds. He never gave you that cheque; by a sleight of
hand, simple enough, he gave you the genuine cheque, and you cashed it.”

“But why,” said the manager, “did he go to all this trouble? Why did he
not simply walk into Mr er—Freeman’s place of business and say, ‘I have
a cheque of mine here for ten pounds, will you cash it for me?’”

“I suspect,” said Freyberger, “that he wished to confuse the police. He
wished to make us believe that Sir Anthony Gyde was alive and well at
ten-twenty a.m. yesterday morning. The fact that he wrote that cheque at
ten o’clock yesterday morning would, I confess, have helped to shake a
certain theory that I have concerning the case.”

“But surely,” said the manager, “Sir Anthony _is_ alive. It is a
dreadful business, but I gather, from the papers, that he is alive and
being searched for.”

“That is as may be,” said Freyberger. Then, suddenly, “Hullo! hullo!
what’s this?”

He seized the cheque from the table. “It only shows how limited our
powers of perception are, and how, in fixing one’s eyes upon one part of
a thing, one loses sight of another. To-day is the eighth of the month.
What day of the month was yesterday, Mr Freeman?”

“The seventh,” said Freeman, in a sulky tone.

“And this cheque is dated the sixth.”

It was so. In considering the signature they had overlooked the fact
that the cheque was anti-dated.

“I think,” said Freyberger, “that this fact confirms my suspicion that
the cheque was not written yesterday in Messrs Smith and Wilkinson’s
shop.”

“You may be right,” said Freeman, “but I will swear that the person who
gave me that cheque was Sir Anthony Gyde.”

“Ah, Mr Freeman,” said Freyberger, in a bitter tone of voice, “if you
had only examined that cheque properly, if you had only said to
yourself, ‘This could not possibly have been written with my
stylograph,’ if you had only jumped across the counter and seized Sir
Anthony Gyde, as you call him, you would have helped Justice a long way
down a difficult road. But you are a tradesman, suspicious towards the
needy, unsuspicious towards the rich. Well, no matter—we will require
your evidence at the proper time. Meanwhile, I will impound this cheque,
giving the bank a receipt for it.”

He did this.

“If you will apply to our cashier,” said the manager to Freeman, “you
will receive the amount due on the cheque, as it is in order, and we
have absolute belief in your integrity in the matter, and the cheque has
not been stopped by the only person capable of stopping it, Sir Anthony
Gyde.”

FREYBERGER left the bank and betook himself to the Yard, there to report
proceedings.

Again he felt himself a step nearer this mysterious personage, whose
subtle and sinister processes he was slowly exposing to the light of
day, or rather to the light of reason. Not one, of all the things he had
discovered, would give in itself a clue. Collectively, they were
perplexing. But they had given to Freyberger this great advantage, he
was beginning to follow his adversary’s process of reasoning.

Their two minds, like two armies on a dark night, were already in touch.
Neither could see the other, except in occasional faint glimpses. But
any moment the moon might break through the clouds, giving light to
fight by, and the general action commence.

At the Yard no more information had come in of any worth. Several men
answering to the description of Sir Anthony Gyde had been arrested on
suspicion and had been released. Freyberger, off his own bat, had done
more to cast light on the case than the whole force of the Yard, and
though the light he had cast only showed a mass of confusion, the light
was not the less valuable for that. I have said that the chief, for some
time past, had recognized Freyberger as a coming man; this case had
already confirmed his judgement, and he was quite prepared to give him a
free hand and back him with all the colossal force at his disposal.

The power at the back of the Chief of the Criminal Investigation
Department is prodigious. He has the Treasury of England at his disposal
and the law officers of the Crown; an army of ten thousand picked men,
such men as are not to be found in the ranks of any other constabulary
in the world, and a general staff of the keenest detectives in Europe.
He can arrest and cast in prison, he can practically place an embargo on
ports. He holds the rod of the Wapentake, and there is only one living
man he may not touch with it—the King.

Freyberger, having detailed his actions, and given a hint of his private
opinions about the Gyde case, the chief fell into a reverie for a few
moments. Then he said:

“This man Klein, _alias_ Kolbecker; this man, whom you suppose also to
have figured under the name of Müller. Well, let us consider him a
moment. Since the hour when Sir Anthony Gyde called at the cottage,
since the hour Klein was supposed to be murdered in, we have had no hint
that Klein has been seen in the flesh, whereas we have numerous
witnesses who have incontestedly seen Gyde. If we suppose Klein to be
living and Gyde dead, this fact seems strange.”

“Excuse me, sir, but one man has seen Klein, _alias_ Kolbecker, _alias_
Müller—the valet Leloir. Witness the retinal photograph.”

“Yes, that is true, if we can consider the retinal photograph a true
picture of Klein. I have examined it in conjunction with the photo which
is incontestibly (from the landlady’s evidence) a photo of Klein; well,
I admit that the faces _may_ be photographs of the same person in
different moods of mind and taken under different conditions, but one
could not swear to the fact.”

“Sir,” replied the other, “there are many facts one cannot swear to—yet
they are facts. Instinct requires no affirmation, and some instinct
tells me that not only is Gyde guiltless of the murder of Klein, but
that Klein is the murderer of Gyde.

“The face of the man Müller, which is incontestably the face of the man
Klein, speaks to me in the old and long-written language of human
expression. It is a terrible face and full of evil, full of logic, and
subtlety and craft. It is the face of a mathematician, yet the face of a
satyr. It is cold as ice.

“The face in the retinal picture is filled with fire, the fire of the
infernal regions. I construct from the two pictures a personality rare
in the annals of crime. A criminal genius, actuated by more than
ordinary motives, using extraordinary precautions, inventing new ways.
The extraordinary folly of the ordinary criminal is nowhere to be found
in the mass of evidence before us. Even the cleverest criminal we know
of is clever only intermittently; his work is not, as a rule, a
masterpiece, thought out to the very last detail, if it is it is planned
on old-fashioned lines.

“I can say this of the Gyde case, that in my humble opinion it is a
flawless piece of criminal work carried out on entirely new-fashioned
lines. The work of a genius, and we must treat it as such. I have said
that I believe Klein is the active agent and is alive here in London
possibly. Well, I entreat you not to search for him in the ordinary way,
not to send his photograph to the papers. I could almost say not to
circulate his photograph amidst the force. Don’t search for him.”

“Why?”

“Because you will not find him. A man like that is not to be taken by
ordinary methods. Our one chance is to leave him lulled in security and
under the impression that Gyde is being pursued. Were he to see his
photograph in the papers, were he to imagine his photograph was in
circulation amongst the police, he would….”

“Yes?”

“Vanish, become some one else, or, at all events, his genius would not
nod in fancied security, but keep wide awake and watchful.”

“I will give you forty-eight hours, Freyberger,” said the chief,
“forty-eight hours to tackle this man in your own way; use all your
powers, do what you will. If, at the end of that time, you do not bring
me Klein or reasonable evidence that you are close on his track, I will
search for him in the ordinary way. I will drag London with a drag-net.”

“Forty-eight hours,” said Freyberger, “and only sixty minutes to every
hour; well, I can but try.”

FREYBERGER was now virtually in charge of the case.

He had forty-eight hours before him. He felt about the case just as an
engineer feels about some delicate piece of mechanism, which has not yet
been put in position, and which any jar or shock may destroy. He
shuddered to think of the brutal method of a dragnet search being
applied to the Gyde case.

It would be like chasing a moth with a pair of tongs. A million to one
the thing will not be caught and a certainty that if caught it will be
ruined.

He fancied the derision with which the dark spirit with which he was at
war would greet the efforts of the police.

It was half-past one now, the hour when he usually had luncheon, but
to-day he was not hungry. He went to a private room, got all the _pièces
de conviction_ together and then proceeded to go through the whole case,
incident by incident, item by item.

A few more details had come to light in the last few hours. The full
report of the post-mortem examination of the body found in the cottage
on the fells had come to hand.

There was mention of no mark upon it that might serve for
identification, the height before decapitation the surgeon judged would
have been about five feet eight inches. The underclothes were marked
“E.K.,” evidently Klein’s initials.

At five o’clock Freyberger had finished his review of the case, every
minutest detail was in his memory and ready to spring into position when
required.

He was just folding up his papers when a knock came to the door and an
officer entered with an envelope in his hand.

“From the chief,” said the messenger. Then he withdrew.

Freyberger opened the envelope. It contained a copy of a message just
received from Carlisle.

“Very sorry, one detail overlooked by some strange mischance in report
of Gyde case. Over second right costal cartilage of body found, are the
initials ‘E.K.,’ faintly tattooed.”

Freyberger gave a cry. The whole case for him had tumbled to pieces like
a house of cards. If “E.K.,” Klein’s initials, were tattooed on the
corpse, then the corpse was Klein’s, Gyde was a murderer, and Freyberger
a fool, so he told himself.

He paced the room rapidly in anger and irritation. The chance of his
life had not come then, he had been fighting air and all the time he had
fancied himself matched against a demon with the intellect of a Moltke!

Freyberger, so logical, so calm, so common-place-looking at ordinary
times, was terrible when in anger. His face quite changed and a new man
appeared; a ferocious and formidable individual, utterly destitute of
fear.

It was the second Freyberger who had arrested Macklin, the Fashion
Street murderer. Macklin, armed with a crow-bar, Freyberger, armed with
a walking-cane.

It was this second Freyberger who was now pacing the room, treading on
the fragments of his shattered theory. Suddenly he paused, placed his
hand, with fingers outspread, to his temples and stared before him at
the wall of the room, as though it were hyaline and through it he saw
something that fascinated, astonished and delighted him.

“Ah! what is this, what is this?” he murmured: “‘Two faint blue letters
tattooed over the second right costal cartilage’—The Lefarge case, the
bust, the man, the artist. My God! Why did not this occur to me before?
What is memory, what is memory, that she should hold such information
and yet withhold it till touched by a trifle? My theory is not
shattered. Though these letters, tattooed upon the corpse, plunges the
case into deeper depths, though they show a more profound mechanism,
what do I care for that, so long as they do not shatter my theory.”

He left the room, gave all the things he had been examining into the
safe keeping of the sergeant superintendent, and sought an interview
with the chief.

“I have received the information as to the tattooing, sir.”

“I think that disposes of Klein,” replied the chief.

“I beg your pardon, sir, but I imagine that in these two letters the
crux of the case lies. I believe these two letters are the point or
points for which I have been seeking. When I got your communication a
few minutes ago, I thought my theory shattered, but it has sprung to
life again, not only renewed, but added to. The complexity of the whole
thing has been increased doubly, but out of that complexity will now, I
believe, spring simplicity. I wish to go home and study some old notes;
if I may see you again, sir, in a few hours’ time I hope to put the Gyde
case before you in a new and most profoundly interesting light.”

“Do so,” replied the chief, “investigate in your own way and as deeply
as you will, but don’t be led away by your own imagination, Freyberger.”

“No, sir,” replied Freyberger, with the simplicity, or the apparent
simplicity, of a schoolboy replying to his master. Then he departed for
his own rooms that lay on the south side of the water.

I will lay it down as an axiom that a professional man is rarely of much
use if he be not acquainted with the literature of his profession. The
army man who knows little of the history of war, the doctor who cares
little for the history of medicine, the detective who knows nothing of
the history of crime, are members of society rarely rising to greatness.

Now Freyberger was a German, absorbed in his profession, and if you know
anything about Germans, you will agree with me that that statement
covers a great many things. He could speak four languages fluently:
English, German, French and Italian. Italian and French he had learned,
not for pleasure, but because he felt that they might be useful to him
in the pursuit of his vocation.

He read foreign newspapers and made notes of criminal cases that
interested him. He had done this for some ten years, and in his shabby
lodgings there were a series of notebooks containing the details of very
curious crimes. He knew as much about the poisoners, Palmer and
Smethurst, as though he had attended their trials, and from the
Brinvilliers case to the case of Monk Léothade, to the case of François
Lesnier, French criminal history was an open book to him.

The clocks were striking six when he arrived at his lodgings in Fox
Street, S.E.

He occupied a sitting-room and bedroom on the first floor. The walls of
the sitting-room were lined with books. It was a curious library. Any
general information you wanted you could find here, and a whole lot of
information by no means general. Amidst a host of books dealing with all
sorts of facts you might have found Schiller, and a first edition of
Heine’s lyrics stood upon a shelf above the last edition of _Casper’s
Forensic Medicine_.

Tea things were laid upon the table and a bright fire was burning upon
the hearth and it was an indication of the man’s nature, that, burning
as he was to be at his notes, he first had tea and fortified the inner
man with a meal that the inner man was badly in need of.

The notebooks, large volumes filled with press cuttings, were on a lower
shelf. He took a small ledger, looked up the letter L, found the
following entry: “Lefarge case, book B, page 115.”

Then he placed book B upon the table, opened it at page 115 and, drawing
up a chair, plunged into details.

He just scanned the columns of printed matter over first for names
before going through the case in detail. His heart bounded when he came
upon the name, “Müller,” and again upon the name Müller, and again and
again.

Müller had a lot to do with the business dealt with by all these columns
of printed matter.

That business was what is known in the annals of crime as the Lefarge
case; and it had occurred eight years previously in Paris, and the
details are as follows:

M. Lefarge, it appears, had owned a shop in the Rue de la Paix. He was a
jeweller and very wealthy. He was also a widower, and his family
consisted of one daughter, Cécile, whom we saw in the first pages of
this story, and who, at the time of the Lefarge tragedy, was just
sixteen years of age.

It appears that Lefarge had many friends south of the Seine; he was well
known in the Latin quarter as a patron of art and a merry companion when
the fit took him, and altogether as a good sort.

He did not make these excursions into the Quartier Latin entirely for
pleasure; he was a Norman, and had, even when engaged in the business of
pleasure, an eye to business.

The manufacturing of artistic jewellery stands amidst the highest of the
fine arts and amidst the Bohemians of the Boulevard St-Michel, M.
Lefarge had picked up more than one shabby individual with genius at his
finger tips and the mutual acquaintanceship had helped to enrich
considerably both the jeweller and the genius. Amongst these Bohemian
acquaintances of Lefarge there was a man named Müller. Müller was a
sculptor.

He was also without doubt a man of great genius. Without any doubt he
was also a great drinker, though no man had ever seen him drunk.

He had exhibited several bronzes at the Salon, one, “A Fight between two
Pterodactyls,” was of a ferocity to make one shudder. All his work was
stained by gloom and ferocity, yet all his work was the output of a
master. So said M. Le Notre in his funeral oration at the grave of
Müller, and the words, though spoken in the course of a funeral oration,
were strictly the truth.

Well, Müller one day made the acquaintance of M. Lefarge. The jeweller
was not only wealthy but vain, and before long he commissioned Müller to
execute a bust of himself (Lefarge) giving him numerous sittings for
that purpose.

He also wished for a bust of his daughter, but Cécile Lefarge positively
refused to sit. She had taken a dislike to the sculptor, one of those
dislikes that are born of instinct.

One dark day in October, Lefarge drove up to the house where Müller
lodged in the Rue de Turbigo. The concierge saw him enter. Müller was
in, he lived on the top floor, and up the stairs went Lefarge to visit
the sculptor.

An hour or so later he came down, carrying a black bag, got into his
carriage, and drove home to the Rue de la Paix. Here he collected all
his most valuable jewels. Jewels worth over a hundred thousand pounds.
He drove in his carriage with them to the corner of the Rue d’Amsterdam,
here he alighted. The coachman said he was carrying two bags, one the
bag he had brought from Müller’s house, the other the bag containing the
jewels. He told the coachman to wait for him, turned the corner of the
street, and was never seen again.

An hour later, in the Rue de Turbigo, Müller’s landlady took some coffee
up to him, she found his decapitated body lying on the floor. In the
pocket of Müller’s coat was a letter, the copy of a blackmailing letter
written by Müller to Lefarge some months before. In the description of
the dead body of Müller the existence was mentioned of two initials,
“W.M.” (the man’s initials) tattooed in pale blue ink over the second
right costal cartilage.

That no one had entered Müller’s room after Lefarge had left it was
indubitably proved by the concierge and several witnesses; proved so
conclusively that there could not be any manner of doubt that Lefarge
was the assassin. The collection of his jewels by Lefarge and his total
effacement after the event sealed the matter.

Freyberger, having gone carefully through the reports, took a pen and
began to draw up, for his own satisfaction, the points of similarity
between the Lefarge and the Gyde case. Roughly, they were these, each
assassin was a rich man, a man of pleasure and more or less dubious
morals. Each victim was an artist.

Müller, the victim of Lefarge, had made a bust of his assassin.

Klein, the victim of Gyde, had made a bust of his assassin.

Upon the body of Müller was found the copy of an old blackmailing letter
addressed to Lefarge.

In the room where Klein was found dead was found a copy of a
blackmailing letter addressed to Gyde.

Upon each of the murdered men’s chests were tattooed initials, exactly
in the same place, over the second right costal cartilage.

A strange similarity bound the two cases together, but the strangest
thing drawing the two cases together was the fact, the almost certain
fact, that Müller and Klein were one and the same person.

The fact that both men were artists of a high type, that both men were
blackmailers, that both men kept copies of old blackmailing letters in
their own handwriting—a most extraordinary blunder to commit—that both
men were decapitated in exactly the same manner, and that each man had
tattooed, in exactly the same place on his breast, his own initials, all
these facts crowned by the master fact that Klein had left behind him,
in his rooms in Howland Street, a portrait of himself with the name
“Müller” partly erased from the back. All these facts, I repeat, made it
quite clear to the mind of Freyberger that Klein and Müller were one and
the same person. If this was so, Lefarge could not have murdered Müller,
yet a frightful avalanche of evidence condemned him.

The evidence admitted of no cavil. No one else could have committed the
crime. The assassination of Müller by Lefarge was even more conclusively
proved than the assassination of Klein by Sir Anthony Gyde; for in the
cottage on the fells another person might conceivably have been hidden
at the time of the murder, but in the room in the Rue de Turbigo the
evidence conclusively proved that no one could have been there at the
critical moment but Lefarge and Müller.

The two cases, then, were connected together by many threads. At first
sight the fact of this intimate connexion between the Lefarge and the
Gyde case might seem to plunge the Gyde case into more profound
darkness, to heap perplexity on perplexity.

But to Freyberger the discovery of this connexion was a huge step
gained. Having verified the similarity of the incidents in the two cases
he did not bother about them for a moment, cast them aside, took a broad
view of the whole business and arrived at the grand conclusion that the
active criminal agent in the Lefarge case was also the active criminal
agent in the Gyde case.

“Now, if this is so,” argued Freyberger, “there are only four men to
pick our criminal agent from. He must be either Lefarge, Müller, Klein
or Gyde.

“Müller and Klein being the same person the case is reduced to a case of
three men from whom to pick our criminal.

“He cannot be Lefarge simply because Lefarge cannot be Gyde. He cannot
be Gyde simply because Gyde cannot be Lefarge. It must then be Klein,
_alias_ Müller.

“If my premise is correct, that Klein and Müller are one and the same
person, and that the active agent in both cases is the same man, then it
is mathematically proved that the criminal is Klein.

“It might be suggested that Lefarge, after murdering Müller, escaped,
changed his name became Sir Anthony Gyde, and murdered Klein in
precisely the same manner as he murdered Müller, that suggestion is at
once beaten to death by a hundred bludgeons in the form of records.

“Leaving aside the fact that it would be impossible for Lefarge to
masquerade as Gyde, we have the almost certain fact that Müller was
never murdered at all.

“The case is quite clear in my own mind. Nothing will shake my opinion.
I have the name of the man I am seeking for, I have his past history in
part.

“He is undoubtedly the greatest criminal the world has ever seen, and I
have not in the least fathomed his infernal method. The method by which
he has, I fully believe, murdered two men, making the world believe that
they have murdered him.

“What a strange thing is memory. I read the report of the Lefarge case
six months ago and more. The facts were in my brain, I never dreamt of
connecting them with the facts of the Gyde case until the words, ‘two
blue letters tattooed over the second right costal cartilage,’ rang the
bell and brought recollection to her duty.

“Those two letters seemed at first to shatter my theory. Behold! on
examination of what they recalled to my mind, they have been the means
of making my theory absolutely perfect, extending it, and sweeping the
real criminal towards my net.

“My theory before those letters were made known to me, consisted of the
idea that Gyde was innocent and that some one, presumably Klein, was
guilty of the murder in the cottage.

“Now my theory is that Gyde is innocent and that Klein is _certainly_
guilty not of the murder of some unknown man, but of Gyde. Yet the
mystery still remains of the tattooing. How is it that the initials of
Müller were tattooed on the breast of a corpse that could not have been
the corpse of Müller, and the initials of Klein on a corpse that I am
sure is not that of Klein? I cannot tell yet, but we shall see.”

HE returned the big volume of press cuttings to their shelf, put on his
hat and overcoat, lit a cigar, and left the house, taking his way to the
Yard.

The chief was away and Inspector Dennison was on duty.

“Well, Freyberger,” said the inspector, “and how’s the case going on?”

“Oh, fairly well,” said the other, “as far as I am concerned. I have
struck, I believe, an important development. I want a man sent to Paris
to-night, it’s urgent, you can act in the absence of the chief?”

“Yes.”

“We have had that photograph of Müller reproduced?”

“Yes, that has been done.”

“Well, I want a man to take it to Paris. I want careful inquiries to be
made amongst the artists of the Latin Quarter as to whether that is the
portrait of an artist named Müller, who was murdered by a Monsieur
Lefarge eight years ago. Here are the dates. I believe the thing will be
easily verified. M. Le Notre, the sculptor, knew the man or seems to
have known him from the funeral oration he made at his graveside.”

“What’s the connexion?” asked Dennison.

“Deep and most important. It has cleared the Gyde case up a good deal in
my mind, but I can’t stop to tell you details, for it would take an
hour. Will you send?”

“Yes,” replied Dennison. He wrote out full instructions on a sheet of
official paper, ordered a reprint of the Müller photograph to be brought
him, ordered a certain officer to be summoned, and ten minutes later the
man had departed for Victoria to catch the night mail to Paris.

“Now I’m going to ring them up, with your leave, and ask them some
questions,” said Freyberger, and five minutes later, with the receiver
at his ear, he was in connexion with the Paris prefecture and the thin
acerbitous voice of the night before was talking to him as though it had
only ceased speaking a moment ago.

Dennison, listening, heard:

“I wish to make some inquiries as to the Lefarge case, November 9, 18—,”
“Yes,” “The murder of the man Müller, Rue de Turbigo, No.—.” “Yes.”
“Ah.” “I wish to inquire as to whether any close relative of M. Lefarge
is still living,” “Yes.” “The daughter you say?” “You have her address?”
“Well, I wish her to come to London and bring with her all possible
evidence of the case, also to find out the whereabouts of the bust
executed by Müller of her father. To bring it with her if possible, and
to communicate with us as to when she will arrive in London, and where
we may see her as soon as possible. Thanks. We are sending an agent to
you to-night with a photograph of a man named Müller. We wish it
verified if possible, believing it to be the portrait of the Müller in
the Lefarge case. He was well known in the Quartier Latin, and M. Le
Notre may be able to identify. Thanks.”

He hung up the receiver.

HELLIER’S chambers in Clifford’s Inn were a part of the past. So was the
staircase that led to them.

Generations of lawyers and rats and the fogs of two hundred or so
Novembers had left their traces on wall and ceiling, on floors that
sagged, and stairs that groaned, and doors that jammed, and chimneys
that smoked.

On windy nights one heard all sorts of quaint arguments in the chimney
and behind the wainscoting. Steps of defunct lawyers sounded in the
passage outside and sitting by the flickering fire-light before the lamp
was lit you might, were you an imaginative man, have heard or seen
pretty much anything your fancy willed.

The rooms had a smell of their own, quite peculiar to themselves and not
unpleasant to an antiquarian mind.

A smell of must, or was it rats, or was it dead and gone lawyers? a
faint, faint perfume, which, if one could bottle, one might label
“Clifford’s Inn,” just as M. Warrick labels his productions, “Ess
Bouquet,” or “New-mown Hay.”

Hellier’s sitting-room was a comfortable enough place despite the doors
that would not open except when kicked, or at their own caprice, the
skeleton-suggesting cupboards, the creaking floor and the sounds and
scents of age.

There were plenty of books for one thing, a few good engravings, a
comfortable easy chair, a hospitable-looking tobacco jar, a cigar
cabinet not too big and not too small, a bright brass kettle on the hob,
a canister of green tea in one of the musty-fusty smelling cupboards and
a tantalus case on the table where Archbald’s _Lunacy_ reposed from its
labours of teaching under a volume of Baudelaire.

Evidently it was the room of a barrister with tastes of his own.

Hellier, since leaving Boulogne some weeks ago, with the _dossier_ of
the Lefarge case in his pocket, had spent some days in Paris.

He had gone into the case with that thoroughness which a man only
exhibits when urged by either of the two great motive powers of life,
ambition or love.

He had obtained an introduction to M. Hamard, he had interviewed the
detectives who had been engaged on the case, he had pored over files of
newspapers, and from M. Hamard, from the detectives, from the printed
reports, he had obtained only the one dreary and reiterated statement:
“M. Lefarge is guilty. The case admits of no other verdict. The thing is
conclusively proved and the affair is closed.”

He had returned to London and there again carefully sifted the evidence
alone in his rooms in Clifford’s Inn. Reviewing the whole matter, he
could not but come to the conclusion arrived at by M. Hamard, the
detectives and the newspapers. He could not but say to himself: “However
much I wish to believe the contrary, I _must_ believe what is the fact.
M. Lefarge was guilty of as cruel and calculated and cold-blooded a
murder as was ever committed by man.”

This was bad, for his love for Cécile Lefarge had grown into a passion.
One talks and laughs about heartache, but heartache is a pain beside
which all other pains are trifles. To be possessed by the image of a
woman, to love her and to know that she returns one’s love, to be
separated from her, to live without her and without assured hope of
possessing her is the cruellest torture ever inflicted by an all-wise
Providence on man.

Love is not blind, it confers the brightest and clearest vision to the
person it possesses. Hellier knew quite well, knew for a certainty,
that, till this cloud was cleared from her father’s name, Cécile Lefarge
would never marry.

She was the daughter of an assassin. He was quite prepared to forget the
fact. She could never do so. It was a penalty laid upon her by fate and
she would not palter with the fact, and unless her father’s name was, by
some miracle, cleared, she would go to her grave as she was, upheld by
that iron determination which women alone possess when the passions are
concerned and which is at once the most beautiful and the most terrible
trait in women.

And the thing was hopeless, for M. Lefarge’s name could never be
cleared, so Hellier told himself, as he sat gloomily over the fire in
his sitting-room at Clifford’s Inn.

During his research in Paris he had come across several facts in
connexion with the case that struck him especially.

One was that the head of the murdered man, Müller, had never been
recovered.

Another was of a different nature. In a copy of the Petit Journal, dated
some weeks after the day upon which the Lefarge tragedy had occurred, he
had come across the details of a murder committed in the neighbourhood
of Montmartre. The victim was an old man named Mesnier; he had been
killed in a most brutal manner and for no object apparently.

Mesnier lived in the Rue d’Antibes, a squalid street near the Moulin
Rouge. A man had been seen leaving his room and, as Mesnier had no
visitors as a rule, and the man had been seen leaving the room within a
very short time after the assassination occurred, the man was presumably
the criminal.

Alphonse Karr, the witness, an ex-waiter of the Théâtre-Concert Européen
of Montmartre, said that he would have sworn that this man was Wilhelm
Müller, whom he had often seen at the _chat noir_, only for the fact
that he knew that Müller was dead.

This paragraph greatly interested Hellier and he searched on through the
files of the _Petit Journal_ in hopes of finding more details of the
case. He found none.

But he found a headline that interested him in a copy of the _Petit
Journal_, dated some days after the murder of Mesnier. It ran:

“Another motiveless murder.”

It related to the murder of a woman named Sabatier, who had been found
strangled in a field near Paris.

There was no possible motive for the crime, the woman had a purse in her
hand containing twenty-five francs. The purse had not been taken, no
violence had been done to her, if we except the fact that she had been
strangled as though by some violent maniac.

“This case,” said the _Petit Journal_, “recalls that of the old man,
Mesnier, recorded by us some days since, in each the victim was
strangled, evidently by the grip of a powerful hand; in each there was
no motive for the crime, for it will be remembered that Mesnier had
received his quarterly annuity and the money, a fairly large sum, was
lying intact upon the table.”

Hellier, just by chance before dropping the file of the paper, turned a
page, and came upon the detail of another crime.

A child had been strangled on the high road leading to Villeneuve St
George’s, in the broad light of day.

A labourer had seen the occurrence from a distance. He saw the figure of
a man, he saw the child. He thought the man was playing with the child.
Then he saw the child lying on the high road and the man running away
across a field. He could give no definite description of the man. He was
about the middle height and dressed in dark clothes.

The case recalled the Sabatier case and the case of Mesnier.

Hellier searched on through the files of the paper. There was nothing
more. The assassin had vanished and was never captured, no similar
crimes were recorded. All these crimes had most probably been committed
by the same man. They ceased suddenly and were not repeated, they had
been committed for no apparent reason, most probably by some lunatic,
whose mania was destruction.

What had become of the lunatic, why had this sudden mania seized him?
why had it suddenly ceased? These questions were never answered. The
thing was one of those unsolved mysteries, with which the pigeon-holes
of the prefecture are stocked.

Hellier searched no more. The fact that Karr, the ex-café waiter, had
fancied a resemblance between the supposed assassin and Müller, the fact
of the similarity between the three crimes lay in his memory but they
did not stir his imagination.

Even love could not hide from him the fact that Lefarge was guilty and
Müller dead, and Cécile Lefarge the daughter of an assassin.

Continue Reading

The Chief went to his private telephone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Who sent for you?”

“The butler.”

“Call him up.”

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

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

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

“Gone!” said Freyberger.

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

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

“Dr Murrell,” said Raymond.

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

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

“What do you think he died of?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Had Sir Anthony any valuables in the house?”

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

“Where is the case?”

“In the bedroom, sir.”

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

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

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

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

“Did he seem excited?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Coutts, sir.”

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

Freyberger left the house with the doctor.

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

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

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

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

“Or queerer?”

“Perhaps.”

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

“What?”

“What he saw.”

“How?”

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

“Ah!” said Freyberger.

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

“You are a photographer?”

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

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

“I will,” replied Dr Murrell.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What is the charge?” asked Freyberger.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The constable alone entered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Paris, Feb. 8th.

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

“KLEIN.”

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

“It seems clear enough.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes?”

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

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

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

“Well?”

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

“Use the telephone,” replied the Chief.

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

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

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

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

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

“Ha!” said the chief. “Any details?”

“No, sir, only the statement.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The head of Sir Anthony Gyde?”

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

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

They went upstairs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He turned into Blanchard’s in Beak Street.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It is, sir.”

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

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

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

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

About the middle of the thoroughfare the cab drew up.

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

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

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

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

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

“I am.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ah!”

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

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

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

“Have you the letter he brought?”

“No; he kept it.”

“How long has Mr Kolbecker been here?”

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

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

“He’s an artist.”

“An artist?”

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

“Have you any of his letters?”

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

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

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

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

“It is.”

“I must keep this envelope, please.”

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

Freyberger put the envelope in his pocket.

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

“Yes.”

“You have not seen him since?”

“No.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The woman opened the door of the top floor front.

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

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

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

Over the mantelpiece hung a cheap oleograph.

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

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

Everything was in order.

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

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

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

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

It was nearly filled with large pieces of marble.

Freyberger whistled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What was the mystery surrounding this man?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This bust had been destroyed for some powerful motive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He nodded to Freyberger.

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

“What is the little job, Mr Freyberger?”

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

“Ah!”

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

“Yes?”

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

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

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

Antonides examined the fragments.

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

“How long will it take?”

“Oh—three days.”

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

Antonides raised his eyebrows and shrugged his shoulders.

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

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

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

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

“Yes, yes, but—”

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

“I know, but what will you charge—”

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

“Yes, yes, I grant that—”

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

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

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

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

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

Then he smiled and shook his head.

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

“It’s impossible.”

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

“I would have to sit up all night—”

“Why, you said you had an assistant.”

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

Then suddenly.

“Twenty pounds?”

“I’ll give you ten.”

“I never haggle.”

“I’ll give you ten.”

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

“Five hundred!”

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

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

He took the drawer and carried it to the door.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is nothing a detective dreads more than the ingenuous.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Give it to me,” said the chief.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There was a moment’s silence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was Inspector Dewhurst who spoke.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue Reading

THE next morning’s post brought some

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He had gained the reputation at Christ Church.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A terrible and familiar spirit.

When under its influence the man was appalling.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Bill!”

“Ay.”

“Gyde’s back.”

“I seed’n.”

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

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

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

Footnote 1:

A bad un.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There was just enough light to see his face.

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

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

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

HE struck into the high road.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He didn’t give you any references.”

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

“Did you have any conversation with him?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

At ten Gristlethwaite departed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Skirle Cottage,

“Blencarn Fell,

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

“KLEIN.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At half-past one he had luncheon.

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

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

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

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

He was his own chauffeur.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He was carrying a black bag in his hand.

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

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

He drove carefully, rarely exceeding fifteen miles an hour.

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

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

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

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

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

In one of the corridors he met Leloir.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Stop.”

“Sir?” replied the valet.

“You have all my jewels.”

“Yes, sir, they are in this bag.”

“Right. Order the car to the door.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At midnight the house was as silent as the tomb.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue Reading

THEY left the ramparts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————————————————————

HE came through the town and up the Grand Rue.

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

He looked at his watch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She sighed, but she let him hold her hand.

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

“It can never be.”

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

Her eyes filled with tears.

“It can never be.”

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

“Why?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She arranged the dismal _crêpe_ around the joyous thing.

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

“I know,” she replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It is terrible,” murmured Hellier.

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

“If his innocence were proved?” asked he.

“Ah, then—,” she replied.

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

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

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

“Yes,” said Hellier.

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

“Yes.”

“Some day, I should love you.”

The next afternoon Hellier returned to London.

————————————————————————

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Red Magic

The hours Randy and Kabumpo spent waiting for Jinnicky to summon them
to his throne room were the longest and most anxious they had ever
endured.

“Even if he does restore them,” groaned Randy, pacing feverishly up and
down one of the garden paths, “he’ll have to send them straight back
to Anuther Planet.” Rumpling up his hair, he looked wildly back at the
Elegant Elephant, who was just behind him. “And if they go,” declared
the young King in a desperate voice, “I warn you, Kabumpo, I shall
jump on Thun’s back and go with them.”

“What? And leave ME?” gasped the Elegant Elephant, putting back his
ears, “and your Kingdom and friends and all your responsibilities?
No, no, Randy, this won’t do. Besides, you’d probably perish in that
outlandish metal wilderness with nothing to eat and no place to rest
your head. You can’t do it, my boy, and furthermore, I won’t let you.”

Snatching Randy up in his trunk, he held him as tightly as if he were
already running away instead of threatening to do so. In the course of
this bitter argument and as the young monarch began pummeling Kabumpo
futilely with his fists, they were both lifted bodily into the air and
set swiftly down in the Red Throne Room.

“The Master has good news for you,” explained Ginger. “LOOK!” With his
flashing white grin the little bell boy pointed to the throne itself
and then, as was his wont, inexplicably vanished. What he saw made
Randy rush forward and fling both arms round the Red Jinn’s neck.

“Oh, you did it! You really did it!” he cried, embracing Jinnicky all
over again. “How can I ever thank you enough?”

“Where am I?” murmured the clear silvery voice that Kabumpo and Randy
knew so well. “Oh, what a netiful, netiful castle. Randy! Randy! And
there you are, Big Bumpo, and Thun! But how did we come out of that
debasement?”

Without bothering to answer, Randy seized Planetty’s hands and looked
and looked at her as if he were never going to stop.

“You’re the same, and yet different,” he mused, scarcely able to
believe what he saw. “And Thun is the same, yet different, too.”

“I am Thun the Thunder Colt, now, then, and always!” announced Thun,
and gave a frightened jump, for he had actually spoken the words at the
same time they went spiraling up into a sparkling sentence over his
head. “Oh, Princess, Princess!” he whinnied joyously. “Do you hear? Do
you see? I can talk, I can hear, I can see and hear myself talking!”

At each word Thun gave an ecstatic bound and then began racing madly
round and round the throne room, in and out between the red pillars,
leaping over chairs and tables in a positively hair-raising fashion.

“Oh, my! Oh, my mercy me!” faltered Jinnicky, and scooping up the
Nonagon Cat, he jumped up on a red tabouret. “Stop him, somebody! Stop
him!”

“Whoa, there! Come back here, Thun, come back; we want to look at you!”
Running after the Thunder Colt, Randy caught him by his plumy tail and
hung on till he actually did stop.

“And he doesn’t make a sound when he gallops–not a sound,” marveled
Jinnicky, edging nervously over to his throne and taking a seat beside
Planetty.

“A sound but soundless steed! Har, har, har! And do not mind his
breath, Randy, it cannot burn you now; it’s cold fire and will not
singe a thing!”

“But how did you do it?” demanded Kabumpo, touching Planetty lightly
with his trunk.

“Oh, partly by my red incense, partly by my red reanimating rays, and
partly by an old incantation against entrancery,” explained Jinnicky,
as Randy brought Thun back and handed him over to Planetty. “Do you
feel all right now, my dear, and as beautiful as you look?”

“Oh, yes! Oh, very yes!” answered Planetty, smiling shyly round at the
Red Jinn. “And you, I know it now, you must be the Wizard so wonderful
of Ev?”

“Wonderful! Wonderful? Well, I should say hay hurray!” Randy threw his
crown up in the air and caught it. “Wonderful enough to save himself
and us too. Oh, SO many things have happened, Planetty, since you and
Thun turned to cold metal in that awful cellar!”

“I must make a note,” muttered Jinnicky, patting Thun rather cautiously
on the neck. “I must make a note to clean and cheer up that cellar. My!
mercy! me! I haven’t been down there for years!”

“And if I never see it again, it will still be too soon,” grunted
Kabumpo, leaning up against a red pillar. “Look, Jinnicky,” he muttered
out of a corner of his mouth as Randy and Planetty moved over to one
of the windows and Randy began to tell the little Princess all that
had happened on Nonagon Isle and Thun began kicking up his heels and
talking to himself just for the fun of the thing. “Look, will these two
have to go straight back to their own planet?”

“That is what is worrying me,” Jinnicky said, speaking behind one
hand and patting his hound, also released from its enchantment, with
the other. “I managed to reawake and reanimate them, but, as you’ve
probably noticed, they are changed. Most certainly they are alive, but
no longer of living metal, see? The girl’s hair is no longer of fine
spun metal strands, but it is real hair, still silvery in color as
her skin retains its iridescent sheen, but I’m very much afraid, as
things are, that the Princess and her colt are unfitted for life on
that far and rigorous planet of theirs. Yes,” Jinnicky nodded his head
emphatically, “I’m very much afraid they’ll have to content themselves
down here and live, eat and behave generally as natives of Oz or Ev.”

“WHAT?” trumpeted Kabumpo so fiercely Nina jumped out of Jinnicky’s
arms and hid under the red throne. “Oh, say it again!” he begged,
swallowing convulsively. “Great Grump, why this is the best news I’ve
heard since you’ve come up out of the sea.”

“You mean they won’t care?” exclaimed the Red Jinn, rubbing his palms
nervously together.

“Care!” spluttered Kabumpo, waving his trunk toward the small red
sofa where Randy and Planetty sat in rapt and earnest conversation.
“They care for nothing but each other, old fellow. Right there, my
dear Wizard, sits the future Queen of Regalia, or I’m a blue-bearded
Nannygoat!”

“Oh, my, mercy me! You don’t say! Oh, har, har, har! How delightful!
Why, this calls for a celebration, a feast and a fiesta.” Beaming
with interest and benevolence, Jinnicky banged on the side of his
throne with both fists and his elbows. “Prepare a feast,” he ordered
breathlessly, as Alibabble, his Grand Advizier, entered in a calm
and dignified manner, showing no ill effects from his long months of
servitude in the ruby mines. “Prepare a feast, Old Tollywog, there’s
to be a wedding, with rings, bells, palms, presents and all the fruity
fixings.”

“A wedding?” Alibabble looked sternly at his master, whom he instantly
suspected of being the groom, then as the Red Jinn, grinning wickedly,
waved to the engrossed pair on the red sofa, he nodded briefly.

“In that event,” he remarked, backing rapidly away as he spoke, “I
earnestly advise your Majesty to have a hair cut.”

“Oh, my mercy me! Did you hear that?” screamed the Jinn, as he turned
to Kabumpo, his face very red and angry.

“I certainly did,” roared the Elegant Elephant, giving Jinnicky a
playful little push. “Hasn’t changed a bit, has he? And neither have
you. The last time I was in this castle he was advising the very same
thing.”

“That’s all he ever thinks of,” fumed Jinnicky, fingering his long
locks lovingly. Then as his eye rested again on the happy little
Princess and the prancing Thunder Colt, his expression grew milder.
“Randy! RANDY!” he called, jerking his thumb imperiously at his royal
guest. “See here, my boy,” he explained, puffing out his cheeks
importantly, as Randy came to stand beside the throne. “I have done
MY part to save your little Princess and now you must do yours!
Unfortunately,” Jinnicky’s face grew long and dolorous, “unfortunately,
Planetty and Thun, from this time on, will be unable to exist on
Anuther Planet, so now, without a home or country, what will become of
them?” In mock distress the Red Jinn stared down at his young friend.

“Oh, Jinnicky! How wonderful! Oh, Jinnicky, do you mean it? Thank you!
Thank you! THANK YOU!” Pressing the little Jinn’s hands, Randy went
racing across the throne room.

“Planetty,” he whispered breathlessly in the little Princess’ ear. “How
would you like to be Queen of Regalia, to go back to Oz with Thun,
Kabumpo and me and live in my castle for always?”

“Oh, I think–” Planetty’s soft yellow eyes fairly danced with surprise
and happiness–“I think that would be very nite. Oh, Randy, that would
be netiful, netiful!”

The feast to celebrate Randy’s and Planetty’s wedding was the grandest
and merriest in all the merry annals of Oz and Ev. It was, in fact, a
double celebration. The Red Jinn’s return and his victory over Gludwig
was enough to keep his subjects cheering for days and to honor his
rescuers and especially the little Princess of Anuther Planet and her
royal consort, the Evians outdid themselves, putting on one show after
another. There were parades and pageants, fireworks and speeches and so
many presents and parties it makes me jealous just to think of them.
Over and over again Planetty and Thun rejoiced in their new life and
way of living, and eating the delicacies prepared by Jinnicky’s chef
was not the least of its privileges. In the Red Jinn’s castle eating
was a pleasure as well as a necessity. But after a month’s merry stay,
during which every point of interest in Jinnicky’s vast realm was
visited, the travelers bade the little Jinn a hearty and affectionate
adieu.

Mounting Kabumpo and Thun, and laden with gifts and good wishes, the
young King and Queen set out for the Land of Oz and their own royal
castle. Uncle Hoochafoo had already received his instructions and as
Randy had predicted things were very gay, very different and very
cozy in that regal and mountainous little Kingdom. Planetty’s staff,
powerful as ever, was a great help and protection to the young rulers
and the small red hand bag that packed itself went on many journeys
with the little Queen of the country.

If this story were beginning instead of ending, I could tell you a
whole book of adventures they had traveling with Kabumpo and Thun
through the great Land of Oz, for these days the Elegant Elephant
spends almost as much time with Randy and Planetty as he does with the
Royal Family of Pumperdink, and most of it in travel. And in Oz, what a
gay way one travels! The other morning as I lay dreaming of them all, I
got to thinking how nite it would be if the horses on milk wagons here
were all soundless gallopers like Thun!

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