The stranger

“WHERE do you live?” asked Freyberger when they were on the road.

“We shall pass the place, and I will show you,” replied the other.

They turned to the left towards the village and walked for a moment in
silence.

The stranger, despite his age and apparent infirmity, walked with a
brisk step. Freyberger did not lag behind.

Then this conversation began between them, Freyberger speaking first:

“So you have had a murder here?”

“Is that so?”

“It is so, and I have come down here to arrest the murderer.”

“You are——”

“I am Gustave Freyberger.”

“Indeed!”

“When I was talking to you in the bar, I fancied that some one was
listening to me, and so I told you of my aunt—in Bremen was it? and of
my sister in Düsseldorf.”

Freyberger, as they walked, took side glances at the terrible profile of
his companion rigid as the profile of the Sphinx; at a sign or movement
indicative of guilt he was prepared to act. He was waiting for the
psychological moment.

But the stranger made neither sign nor movement, and they passed through
the little village, past the post office, past the cottage, which serves
as a police station. Then they turned a corner, and a lonely country
road lay before them.

Lonely-looking would, perhaps, be a better term, for the roads about
here are by no means destitute of travellers on a summer’s day.

“You do not live in the village, then?” said Freyberger.

“No,” replied the other, “I live a little way down this road.”

“That is convenient,” said Freyberger, “for if I am not mistaken we are
going to have a storm.”

“So it would seem.”

“We can shelter at your cottage, for you live in a cottage, at least I
fancy you told me so.”

“I live in a cottage, but I am unaware that I mentioned the fact.”

“Ah, it must have been my imagination. It plays one tricks. I am full of
imaginations and fancies to-day. For instance, in the bar a moment ago I
fancied I knew your face.”

“Indeed!”

“Yes. I fancied there was a resemblance between you and an artist named
Müller, no, no, an artist named Kolbecker. Ah! there I am again, my
memory is playing me false. Upon my word, if this goes on I shall resign
my position and my trade, which, after all, is a dirty trade, seeing
that it is the trade of catching murderers and delivering them to the
hangman. KLEIN was the name of the artist, he was a sculptor.”

The other said nothing, his face was still immobile, but a great drop of
sweat was coursing down the side of it.

The clouds were rolling in funereal masses over Reading and spreading
towards the southern sky. A few large drops of rain fell on the dust of
the road and the occasional grumbling of thunder sounded as if from a
vast distance.

The road took a turn upon itself, and there, a hundred yards or so away
in front of them, well set back from the highway and half hidden by a
hedge, lay a cottage.

Freyberger was only waiting now to discover the living place of the man
beside him before arresting him.

They were nearly level with the cottage gate, when, unperceived by
Freyberger, the old man’s left hand stole into the old man’s pocket.

Next moment Freyberger, with a gasping cry and hands outspread, fell
face forward in the dust of the road—sandbagged.

————————————————————————

CHAPTER XL

WHEN he awoke it was with a sensation of pain extending all over his
body. He was lying on the tiled floor of a small room, which was
evidently the kitchen and living room of a labourer’s cottage. A door
wide open showed the glimpse of a garden gone to ruin and overgrown with
a monstrous growth of weeds.

By the door, holding a spade in one hand, stood Klein.

Freyberger tried to move, but failed. His body was absolutely rigid.
From the nape of his neck to his heels ran a board, to which he was
splinted by turn upon turn of rope. He tried to speak—he was gagged.

Klein stood and looked at him.

After the first glance round, Freyberger saw nothing but Klein. He could
scarcely see his withered face in the shadow cast by the doorpost, but
the hand holding the spade stood out awful in its energy and brutality,
lit by the storm-light illuminating the doorway.

Then the old man, assured that his victim was awake and in full
possession of his senses, began to speak in pantomime.

He pointed to his own lips and to the barred front door as if to
indicate secrecy and the fact that the terrible things about to take
place would never be known to the world.

Freyberger was not deaf, and the old man was not speechless, yet he
never uttered a word, though he chuckled at times, making that sound
which had frozen Leloir’s heart when he had heard it issue from the lips
of Sir Anthony Gyde in the corridor at Throstle Hall.

Then the demon at the doorway began, in pantomime, to dig with his
spade, shovelling up imaginary earth from an imaginary grave; without a
word he went through the postures necessary in dragging a heavy body to
the graveside and flinging it in. Then he spat three times into the
imaginary grave, and closed it in. All this without a word.

Then turning from his victim he went into the garden and began to dig
the real grave.

Freyberger’s eyes travelled about the floor of the room; they lit upon
an object, it was a sandbag. He knew now what had happened to him.
Sandbagged on the road, dragged into this cottage, bound and gagged, he
lay now waiting for the last act in the tragedy—his own burial.

The service for the burial of the dead would not be required over his
grave, for, that Klein would bury him alive, he felt certain.

He lay listening to the patter of the rain on the leaves in the garden
and the sound of the spade.

Incessant, rhythmical, it seemed wielded by a giant.

————————————————————————

CHAPTER XLI

THAT night in London the Chief of the Criminal Investigation Department
sat in his office. It required ten minutes to midnight, and he had just
laid down his pen after several hours’ hard work over official
correspondence and reports.

The Goldberg case was still exercising the public mind, and several
editors were asking the world from editorial easy chairs what the police
were paid for.

The night was warm, and through the open window came vague and fugitive
sounds from the city that never sleeps; voices, the bells of passing
hansoms and the clop, clop of the horses’ hoofs, the hum of distant
traffic.

A little draught of wind suddenly stirred the papers on the desk before
him; he turned, the door was open, and Freyberger stood before him,
pale, haggard and bearing a black bag in his hand. Behind Freyberger
stood a stranger.

“I knocked, sir,” said Freyberger.

“Ah! I was thinking. I suppose I did not hear you. Sit down—this
gentleman——?”

“This gentleman’s name is Hellier, sir,” replied Freyberger. “I have
ventured to bring him with me as he has assisted me in clearing up the
Gyde case.”

“Ah! what’s that you say?”

“The Gyde case, sir. Also he has saved my life to-day—”

“Sit down, sit down,” said the chief, indicating chairs. “This is good,
if it is as you say. I want details; but first tell me, is Sir Anthony
Gyde alive?”

“No, sir, he was murdered in the Cottage on the Fells.”

“Good God! by whom?”

“Klein.”

“Is Klein alive?”

“No, sir, he is dead. He died to-day, and his body lies in the mortuary
at Reading. Let me say at once, and with the humility of a man who has
just escaped a terrible death, that all my assumptions were absolutely
correct. Klein, _alias_ Kolbecker, _alias_ Müller, was the author of the
Lefarge tragedy, the Gyde tragedy and all the subsidiary murders,
concluding with the murder of Bronson yesterday. Look at this.”

He produced a black notebook from his pocket. The chief examined the
book; it was a volume of some hundred pages or so, every page covered
with close writing.

“This book,” said Freyberger, taking back the volume, “contains the life
history of the greatest criminal who ever lived. It is the diary of
Ludwig Spahn, _alias_ Müller, _alias_ Kolbecker, _alias_ Klein. I
mastered it in the train to-night, and from it I will sketch you the
story of which the murder of Sir Anthony Gyde is but a chapter.

“Spahn was born in Munich, sixty-five years ago.”

“Sixty-five?”

“Yes, sir. He was an old man.”

“But the man in the photograph was a man of middle age.”

“Yes, sir. He seemed of middle age, but I will explain the matter as I
go on. Spahn, at seventeen, left the business to which he was
apprenticed and went to Rome to study art, or, to speak more correctly,
to teach it, for this strange genius had ideals of his own, and very
soon he had a little following, a cult. Vicious to the core, he never
could keep money. He was always in debt. One day he murdered a banker,
was caught red-handed, sentenced to death and allowed to escape the
extreme penalty by that infernal law which allows murderers to escape
unexterminated. He was condemned to imprisonment for life and released
after twenty-five years.

“He was fifty when he left prison, full of hatred towards society and a
determination to be revenged.

“He went to Paris.

“The art which was born with him remained with him, and the love of
pleasure.

“He refused to be old, and, with the aid of the art of the chemist and
the maker-up, he appeared to the world as a man at least twenty years
younger than he was.

“He lived for years in Paris in the Latin Quarter, a notoriously vicious
character, yet forgiven for the sake of his genius. His sculptures were
marvellous, but his vice and laziness were to match, so he made little
profit of his art and did little work.

“His hatred of the rich and well-to-do amounted to a monomania, and he
was always searching around for some means by which he might avenge
himself upon them.

“To the man who hates a class, an individual of that class will serve as
a butt for his revenge.

“One day, walking along a street in Paris, he saw coming towards him
what seemed a little old man wearing a pinafore. It was a child wearing
a mask.

“The occurrence gave him food for thought. ‘If,’ said he to himself, ‘a
man who makes these paper masks for five sous a dozen, can produce an
even momentary illusion, what could not a genius do in the same
direction were he to give all his mind to the matter?’

“He played with the subject in his mind.

“‘If I wanted to make the mask of a man,’ thought he, ‘a mask that would
deceive everybody by its resemblance to the flesh, how would I proceed?

“‘I would first have to procure a cast of his face, or execute a bust of
him exactly identical with the reality. Only very slightly larger.

“‘I would then rub that face of marble with a very fine powder, and I
would apply a coating of the finest caoutchouc, over that a layer of
stiffening varnish.

“‘I would remove the whole, and paint the interior of the caoutchouc
with the flesh tints, thus giving the true appearance of life, _for the
human face is painted_ from the inside.

“‘I would then back the thing with a thicker layer of rubber and remove
the stiffening varnish from the outside.

“‘If my art did not fail me, I would now have a facsimile of my friend
or my enemy’s face. Could I wear it and masquerade as him? Only on two
conditions (1) that I could make the inside of the mask a perfect mould
of my own face (2) that he was a man, a man of my own height and a man
who wore glasses and a beard, for the joining at the eyes and at the
neck would present an insuperable difficulty were I to imitate a
clean-shaven man who did not wear glasses.’

“He brooded over the thing.

“One day he fell in with M. Lefarge, a rich jeweller, who was at times a
frequenter of the Latin Quarter, and the whole diabolical plan of the
Lefarge case was conceived in a flash.

“The plan of robbing and murdering a rich man in such a manner that the
world would fancy that the rich man was the assassin, not the victim.

“He made a bust of Lefarge, from the bust he made Lefarge’s face.
Lefarge wore a beard and glasses. The making of the exterior of the mask
was a bagatelle; the real difficulty was the interior, which had to be a
perfect adaptation to his own features, but he did it.

“Whilst this was going on, he made a most profound study of Lefarge
himself: his walk, his manner, his voice, his handwriting.

“He was, in fact, preparing to be Lefarge’s understudy for an hour or
two upon the stage of life.

“For three hours every day, during a space of four months, he wore the
mask, conversing with himself, laughing and talking before a
looking-glass, so that the thing might gain the lines and wrinkles of
life.

“One day he asked Lefarge to call upon him.

“Lefarge called. Muller murdered him, and stripped him of his clothes
and decapitated him.

“Then he dressed the body in his own clothes, put on the clothes of his
victim, put on his face, put on his hat, his manner, his walk and his
voice.

“Then, with his victim’s head in a black bag, he ran down the stairs,
got into his victim’s carriage, drove home, collected a hundred thousand
pounds’ worth of jewels, drove to the corner of the Rue d’Amsterdam and
disappeared.

“But Nemesis followed him. The murder of Lefarge had wakened up the lust
for killing that lay like a spectre in the darkness of his soul. He
killed three people to satiate this madness, as we have seen. Then he
was at peace.

“Six years passed. Then, in Vienna, he met Sir Anthony Gyde.

“He was living in Vienna under the name of Klein; living extravagantly
on the proceeds of the Lefarge business. He belonged to a very vicious
circle, amidst whom Gyde became implicated, and he was in low water
financially.

“Klein looked at Gyde, and saw that here was another chance of playing
the old comedy of masks and faces. For Gyde’s face and figure lent
themselves entirely to the trick.

“He obtained a hold over Gyde and blackmailed him to a considerable
amount, but this did not satisfy him.

“His hatred of the rich and well-to-do and respected had to be satiated.

“He made a bust of Gyde and his face, he studied him profoundly. He
could reproduce his handwriting with absolute and marvellous precision,
and his voice.

“The bust was made in London; he took rooms in Howland Street, broke up
the bust and came to Cumberland.

“Took the Cottage on the Fells and awaited the coming of Sir Anthony.

“Sir Anthony called upon him, as we have seen.

“Klein stunned him with a sandbag, stripped him and decapitated him;
dipped the head in a solution of chlorine which shrunk the skin and
preserved it, placed the head in a black leather bag, dressed himself in
his victim’s clothes, assumed his face and personality, dressed his
victim in his own clothes and departed.

“We know the rest. But one or two points may be made clearer.

“On his arrival in London the supposed Gyde went to his bedroom. There
was one weak point about the mask. Its prolonged use caused insufferable
torment to the wearer, on account of the skin irritation it caused.

“He had removed the mask for a moment when Leloir, who had left the
room, returned, and saw reflected in a looking-glass his master removing
his own face. Klein, hearing the footstep of Leloir, turned.

“The expression on Klein’s face at that moment is preserved for us in
the retinal photograph taken from the eye of the valet, who, beholding
this monstrosity, gave vent to the awful cry heard by the secretary and
fell dead.

“Klein, in his hurry and the confusion caused by this incident,
collected all the jewellery he could find. Having no immediate plan he
thought it safest to leave his victim’s head behind him, trusting it
would not be discovered for some time. He passed the night at Howland
Street, going there disguised as Gyde. Next morning, early, under the
same disguise, he withdrew the jewels at the bank and cashed the cheque
at the jewellers. It was a cheque he had found in the pocket of his
victim, and he cashed it, not so much for the money as to foul his
traces and prove to the police, by extra evidence, the existence of
Gyde.

“Then he destroyed the mask and became Klein again, taking the house in
St Ann’s Road, and moving in there with a few sticks of furniture
hastily bought.

“Mr Goldberg’s murder followed.

“Then this gentleman, Mr Hellier, saw him and followed him. And Klein
suspected that he was at last suspected.

“He determined to disguise himself. How? Simply by becoming his own age.

“He flung away all artifice, and became the old man he was. The removal
of his false teeth alone gave him twenty years of age.

“He took the cottage at Sonning, determining to lie close. But the
murder instinct was too strong for him, and he killed Bronson.”

Then Freyberger told his own story.

“I was lying in the cottage listening to this monster digging my grave,
when, suddenly, I heard him fall crash amidst the weeds. I fainted, I
believe. Mr Hellier will tell you the rest.”

“I had a reason for mixing myself up in this affair,” said Hellier;
“and, reading of the murder of Bronson I came down to Sonning to make
inquiries. I asked, had anyone come to live there lately? and I was told
by a woman that a gentleman had taken a cottage on the Henley Road.
Fortunately, she did not say an old gentleman, or I should not have gone
there.

“I went to the cottage, knocked, could get no answer, and went round the
backway.

“In the back garden, by a newly-dug grave, I found a man lying, with a
spade clutched in his hand; he was dead. I found Mr Freyberger bound in
the cottage, and I released him.”

“Klein must have dropped dead then?” said the chief.

“Yes,” replied Freyberger. “He died of heart-disease, accelerated by the
excitement of digging my grave.”

“One last question,” said the Chief, “How about those initials tattooed
on the body of Gyde?”

“They were tattooed after death,” replied Freyberger, “and as a blind.
He had the art of tattooing _post mortem_ and, strangely enough, it was
this piece of cleverness that connected the cases in my mind and gave us
our man.”

————–

As Hellier left the Yard that night, somebody, who had followed him,
touched him upon his shoulder. It was Freyberger.

“I want to tell you,” he said, “just this. If you hadn’t mixed up in the
affair and scented out those subsidiary murders I wouldn’t have caught
Klein.”

“You mean,” said Hellier, laughing, “Klein would not have caught you.”

“Yes, that is the better way of putting it, for Klein was the real hero
of this business; and if all criminals were made like Klein—”

“Why, then,” said Hellier, “society would be lost, unless all detectives
were made like Freyberger.”

————————————————————————

CHAPTER XLII

NEXT evening, at nine o’clock, Hellier called at the Langham.

Mademoiselle Lefarge, who had come to England in response to a telegram,
was waiting for him.

“Well?” she asked, as she held both of his hands in hers.

“It is done,” said Hellier. “To-morrow your father’s name will be
cleared in the sight of all men. You have suffered and waited a long,
long time, but yesterday you were avenged.”

————–

Throstle Hall, up in Cumberland, still lies empty, waiting a tenant, for
Sir Anthony’s heir, a distant cousin, has no fancy for the place.

And men walk at night on the Blencarn road in couples, if they have to
walk there at all, for fear of the ghost of Sir Anthony Gyde, which
waits, so the legend runs, at the gate of the field leading to the
Cottage on the Fells.

Continue Reading

Freyberger bowed

IT was May 9, the day after that on which Mr Davis, away up in
Cumberland, had seen what he had seen upon the road to Blencarn.

It had been a glorious day, but the beauty of the weather did not appeal
to Freyberger.

The Gyde case had hit him badly; after all his researches and
calculations, after all the energy he had spent upon it, it had slipped
away and left him.

He had proved so much, yet he had done so little.

That is perhaps the most exasperating thing about detective work. You
have your case complete; the whole thing is reasoned out, plotted and
planned; you have built round your man a complete structure, a prison
that will hold him, you only want one little brick of evidence to
complete it; you find your brick, put it in its place, and then open the
door of your structure expecting to find your man inside and to lead him
out to justice.

He is gone.

The warrant for his arrest is in your pocket; he has been shadowed for
days past by your subordinates; he lodged last night at such and such a
place and was shaved this morning by such and such a barber; he was
having luncheon an hour ago at such and such a café; your subordinate
tells you he is still there. You go to find him, and he is gone.

He has scented arrest.

Again, you may have your structure of evidence complete only for the one
little brick.

That brick is nowhere to be found. There are a dozen murderers known to
the police, a dozen assassins walking the pavements of London convicted
in the eyes of justice, yet they are immune. Their tombs are already
constructed, but are incomplete, wanting just one, or maybe two, little
bricks.

In the words of the police, “No jury would convict.”

In the case of Klein it was different. The case was complete against him
of having been a prime mover in the Gyde and Lefarge affairs. Once
safely lodged in gaol, Freyberger felt that the whole truth would be
extracted from him. What a case it would be! What a triumph for the man
who had worked in it and completed it single-handed. Whatever Klein’s
diabolical methods might be, Freyberger was certain of one thing—that
their extraordinary nature would astonish Europe.

All that had to be done now was to capture this man—and he had vanished.

It will be remembered that Freyberger had objected strongly to the
publication of Klein’s photograph.

Even still he upheld this objection, and the chief had not pressed the
matter, having much respect for the opinion of his subordinate. But as
week followed week, without sign or movement on the part of the man they
were after, the patience of the chief began to give.

On the evening of May 9 it snapped.

“We have given him now a very considerable time,” he said, during a
conversation with his subordinate. “We have given him a good long rope
to hang himself with.”

“Yes, sir,” replied the other, “and I know it has been by my advice.”

“Well, what is your advice now?”

“To give him a little more. Who knows, he may be, even at this moment,
making the noose for his own neck.”

“I will give him three days more.”

“Three days?”

“If he does not show himself in that time his portrait and description
will be published broadcast. We have waited too long.”

“I am sorry you think that, sir?”

“Oh, I am not casting any reflection on your judgement. I believe with
you that this man will efface himself, or try to efface himself, fully,
when he sees his portrait in every news-sheet, but there is the chance
that he will fail. Besides, Freyberger, I am not sure that the course we
have already taken is one absolutely moral.”

“How so, sir?”

“We have refrained from alarming this man.”

“Yes.”

“By doing so we have, well, to put it plainly, given him the incentive
to commit another murder.”

“That is what I have been waiting for, sir, and I have no qualms at all
in the matter. If this man lives, it is inevitable that he must murder.
Far better is it that he should commit one more crime and be taken, than
that he should escape now, take warning that he is watched, amend his
methods and enter on a new campaign of infamy.

“Besides, it is not at all inevitable that he should commit another
murder. An attempt is quite sufficient. His next victim may be more
fortunate than Mr Goldberg. His next victim may turn the tables upon
him. Who knows? He may fall upon a sheep and find that he has tackled a
wolf.”

The chief smiled.

“Look at his past,” he replied. “Old men, women and children were his
victims.”

“That is true, but old men sometimes go armed, and women are sometimes
heroic, and there is always the chance of a third person coming on the
scene.”

“If,” said the other, “in three days from now the man is not arrested I
will do what I have said.”

Freyberger bowed, and the interview terminated.

He left the Yard with great depression at his heart. Three days more. It
was against all probability that anything would happen during the next
three days, unless Providence, watching from above, chose to bring
matters to a conclusion.

Freyberger felt, for the first time in his life, discouraged; this
discouragement remained with him all night and the next day, which he
had to spend at the Central Criminal Court, in connexion with a bank
forgery case.

On leaving the Courts very late he repaired to his own rooms, only to
find a telegram from the chief desiring his immediate attendance at the
Yard.

A QUARTER of an hour later he was standing in the presence of his
superior.

“Good evening, Freyberger,” said the chief.

“Good evening, sir.”

“There is an express to Birmingham from Paddington at a quarter past
midnight.”

“Yes, sir.”

“I want you to catch it.”

“Yes, sir.”

“The train stops at Reading.”

“So I believe, sir.”

“You must get out at Reading and spend the night there. I want you early
on the spot to-morrow morning. A murder has been committed.”

“At Reading?”

“No, at Sonning.”

“The village of Sonning-on-Thames?”

“Precisely. Do you know it?”

“Slightly. I have in fact—”

“Yes?”

“Well, it is a pleasure resort, a place where young couples—”

“Precisely—where a young man might take a young woman.”

Freyberger smiled discreetly.

“Well,” continued the chief, “I am sending you down there hoping you may
meet some one more interesting than a girl.”

“And who may that be, sir?” asked Freyberger, a sudden glitter coming
into his eye.

“Klein.”

“Ah!”

“Müller, Kolbecker—call him what you will.”

“So!”

“You do not seem as jubilant as one might expect.”

“I am not jubilant, sir; I would swear not to laugh again until I have
this man by the shoulder, only the oath would be unnecessary. I am not
jubilant, but I am glad. May I have the details of this crime?”

“A man named Bronson, a farm-labourer, fifty years of age, has been
found stabbed to death in a field at Sonning.”

“Stabbed!”

“Stabbed; there was no apparent motive for the crime, and the body was
hacked as if by a maniac.”

“That is he!” said Freyberger.

“I suspect so. The only thing that makes me feel doubtful is the use of
the knife. A strangler once a strangler always.”

“He is frightened,” said Freyberger. “He must assuage his passion for
murder, and he has changed his method.”

“Do you think you will find him in the neighbourhood of Sonning?”

“I think it probable.”

“Probable?”

“Yes.”

“We have a few minutes to spare before you need start to catch your
train,” said the chief, who always liked to get at Freyberger’s line of
reasoning. “So you can just tell me why you think it probable. I would
have put it down only as possible.”

“In this way, sir. Why has this murder (if it is one of Klein’s), why
has it taken place at Sonning rather than anywhere else? Sonning is a
pleasant place enough to spend a day, it would be pleasant enough to
spend a week there, but that fact is not an inducement to a murderer. I
believe this man commits his crimes within easy reach of some den of
his. We know from the house-agent that a man, similar to him, took a
house in St Ann’s Road. We have seen that he only furnished one room,
and had no servant or help of any sort. He does not want to be spied on.

“We may suppose he left London, and for some reason or another took
probably a cottage near Sonning, just as he took a cottage on the Fells
of Cumberland.”

“Yes, we may suppose that.”

“Well—when was this murder committed—?”

“Yesterday morning.”

“Then it is probable he is still in the neighbourhood. Leaving aside the
assumption that this murder was a sudden affair, the impulse of a
moment, and that he had not made plans for leaving Sonning, there is the
fact that a murderer of this type has a tendency to cling to the
neighbourhood of his crime. Well, we will see. There is one thing I
would like to have before I start.”

“What is that?”

“The sheath of the knife I found at St Ann’s Road.”

“You shall have it.”

The chief rang, and ordered the officer who answered the summons to
bring the article in question, and Freyberger, placing it in his pocket,
departed.

HE caught the Birmingham express that leaves Paddington at 12.15, and
arrived at Reading nine minutes after one.

Here he took a bed at the Vastern Hotel, and went to sleep.

At eight o’clock the next morning he was in consultation with the Chief
of the Berkshire Constabulary.

“It is a most extraordinary case,” said that gentleman. “Of course, it
can be nothing else but the work of a lunatic. The body was found at
three o’clock yesterday in a turnip field, close to the river. The man
had no enemies, a simple, inoffensive creature, with a wife and five
children. Our surgeon says that the murder must have taken place some
time early in the morning. The throat was cut from ear to ear, most
extraordinary case—mutilated too, but you will see the body for
yourself.”

“Have you the knife?”

“Yes.”

“May I see it?”

“By all means.”

The chief constable opened a drawer and produced something wrapped up in
brown paper.

He unwrapped the paper and produced a savage-looking knife with a green
shagreen handle.

“It is a case knife,” said the chief constable. “The case will be
perhaps a clue when we come upon it.”

“I believe I have it in my pocket,” said Freyberger, and he produced the
sheath he had found in the house in St Ann’s Road.

The chief constable took the sheath and fitted the knife into it.

It fitted exactly.

“But how did you get it?” asked the chief constable in considerable
surprise. “We found the knife in the body; it was fixed by such a
ferocious blow between the ribs that the murderer could not extricate
it. How did you come upon the sheath? You came from London only last
night; did you find it here or in London?”

“I have not time to tell you, sir, the whole history of the case. I
found that sheath more than a month ago in a house in London. If that
knife could speak, its tale would, perhaps, turn your hair grey with
horror. We must act at once, or the game will escape us. We are after a
person who is more than a man, a person infinitely more in the shape of
a devil, a person who can change his form. I tell you, I would sooner
tackle a tiger than this man; yet I am going to tackle him and take him,
too. Have you a map of Sonning?”

The chief constable produced an Ordnance map.

“This,” said he, “is the field where the murder was committed.”

He placed his finger on the spot.

“Is there a pathway across the field?”

“Yes, here between these two roads.”

“There is a cottage here,” said Freyberger, pointing to a spot so marked
at the angle where the path met the road.

“Yes, Bronson’s cottage. He was murdered a hundred yards away from his
home. There is a great heap of refuse in the middle of the field, and
the body lay behind it and so was not discovered for some hours. There
are no back windows to the cottage and no back door.”

“Are there any strangers lodging at Sonning?”

“Yes, a few, but no one at all of a suspicious nature, or likely to have
anything to do with the crime.”

“I imagine,” said Freyberger, “that the murderer is still in the
neighbourhood of Sonning. Of course, I may be wrong, still I intend to
go there and make some observations. I would prefer to go alone; you are
known in the neighbourhood and I am not.”

“How shall you go?”

“I—Oh, I shall go as if I were going for pleasure, not business. I shall
hire a boat and go by river.”

“Have you any arms?”

“No; if I had a pistol, and if I were so fortunate as to find my man, I
might be unfortunate enough to shoot him. Pistols have a habit of going
off in struggles. Besides, I have a nervous horror of them.”

“I remember you arrested that man in Fashion Street, and he was a pretty
tough customer.”

“I have met others worse, but I have never had fire-arms about me. A
walking-stick is the only weapon I ever carry.”

“You have lots of pluck.”

“Lots, but I tell you, all the same, this man I am after now almost
frightens me. No matter, what is, is, and what will be, will be. Can you
tell me where I can get a butterfly net?”

“What do you want that for?”

“To catch butterflies; this warm weather has brought them out in flocks.
I want, also, a flannel coat, such as boating people wear; one does not
go butterfly-hunting in a tall hat.”

“I see; come down town and I will rig you out; but, first, shall we go
to the mortuary?”

“Yes,” replied Freyberger. “Before meeting the murderer I should like to
see the victim.”

They repaired to the mortuary, and there the detective inspected the
body of the unfortunate Bronson.

“It is a most extraordinary case,” said the chief constable. “He was a
most inoffensive creature; he had never, to any man’s knowledge, made an
enemy. He had committed no fault.”

“I beg your pardon, but I imagine he had.”

“How?”

“He had committed the fault of being alive. The man we are after is a
fault-finder when the fit seizes him. A temporary lunacy. Some periodic
lunatics have objections. I knew one who, perfectly sane on other
points, flew into a paroxysm of rage when a musk-melon was brought
within his purview. He objected to musk-melons because they were round.

“He wanted them square. God Almighty, however, preferred that they
should be round. Hence the trouble.

“Another quarrelled with grey cats when he met them, simply because they
were grey. He quarrelled with them by covering them with paraffin and
setting them on fire.

“The man who did this quarrelled with the thing that lies here because
it was alive. He has remedied the defect.”

He had indeed.

It is needful only to say that the body exhibited twenty wounds, each in
itself sufficient to have caused death.

But the master wound was in the throat. It was evidently the first
given. The rest were needless, and the result of maniacal fury on the
part of the murderer.

They left the place and went to a clothier’s, where Freyberger bought a
mulberry-coloured blazer and a straw hat with a striped ribbon.

Having purchased a butterfly net he returned to the hotel and dressed.
When his toilet was complete, he looked at himself in a glass and felt
satisfied.

He looked, in fact, like a shopboy whose taste for entomology had
devoured his taste in dress.

Smug and plump, you never would have suspected this shopboy or café
waiter out for a holiday, to be a detective destined to European fame. A
chilly-blooded calculator, a profound thinker, with an intimate
knowledge of all the most terrible abysses of crime. A man merciless and
fearless as a sword.

An hour later, at the boat-slip just above the bridge, Freyberger stood
bargaining for a boat.

It was a lovely day, soft and warm with a cloudless sky.

He was not a very good oarsman, but good enough to scull a boat safely
on a smooth river. After he had passed the bridge and East’s boat-slip,
he rested on his oars for a minute.

“If I had not questioned her imagination,” he said to himself, “that man
Hellier would not have remembered those other crimes, and I would not
have come near the bull’s-eye like this. How terribly right she was. She
divined this devil, she knew his construction, his capacity for murder
without a motive. She is an innocent woman, yet she knew this demon as
well as if she had constructed him—sub-consciously. Ah, the
sub-consciousness of women, what does it not hide? A woman who loves is
a terrible thing, more keen-scented than a hound, more dangerous than a
tiger.

“My friend, Klein, if I miss you here it will not be the fault of
Mademoiselle Lefarge. If I miss you here, I shall find you again, but if
I find you here, I will be the means of saving the lives of perhaps two
more men, perhaps three.”

He resumed his sculls.

The warm weather had brought boats out as well as butterflies and
butterfly-hunters, girls in summer dresses and men in flannels, who
little dreamt that tragedy was passing them in the form of the little
man in the mulberry-coloured coat.

At Sonning Lock he managed to get through without drowning himself or
upsetting his boat. It was the first time he had negotiated a lock, and
he was not sorry when his cockle-shell was safely moored to the
landing-stage of the White Hart Hotel.

There were several people in the gardens, men in flannels and girls in
boating costumes, seated in the arbours.

He passed them and entered the hotel by the backway.

There was no one in the hall, and he took a cane-bottomed easy chair by
the bar window, put his butterfly net in a corner and called for a stone
ginger-beer.

He intended to make a thorough examination of Sonning, and his plan
would be very much simplified by the fact that he could eliminate all
residents, all people who kept servants. What he was looking for was a
man living in a cottage alone.

“Had good sport?” asked the young lady who served him, speaking in a
perfunctory manner and twisting a hairpin straight that had somehow got
loose, whilst she gazed over Freyberger’s head at the sunlit garden as
if she were addressing some one there.

“Oh, the butterfly net?” said he, “it’s not mine. I brought it down for
a friend, he promised to meet me here, a Mr Rogers—you haven’t seen
anything of him, I suppose?”

“What was he like?” asked the lady behind the bar in a disinterested
voice.

Freyberger drew a word picture of Klein.

She shook her head and settled herself down behind the bar to resume the
perusal of a Trumper’s penny story, a compound of love, murder, arson
and religion wonderfully mixed.

Freyberger sipped his drink. He looked around him admiring the place,
for the hall of the White Hart is one of the prettiest and pleasantest
little hotel halls in the world.

“You have had a murder down here they tell me,” he said, lighting a
cigar.

“Yes,” said the girl behind the bar, “Jim Bronson. I saw him brought by,
covered with a sheet. Hacked about horrid they said he was.” She looked
up like an ogre, and then relapsed into _Tracked by a Stain_ just at the
part where the parson in the dogcart is approaching the murderer, who is
hidden behind the hedge.

“It’s not often you have those sort of occurrences here?” said
Freyberger.

“No,” replied the girl, with her eyes glued to the book.

“Very quiet neighbourhood, as a rule, I should think.”

“Yes.”

“Artists and people come here, I suppose, a good deal.”

“A good deal.”

Just at this moment a shadow darkened the doorway.

An old gentleman had entered the hall of “The White Hart.” He walked,
leaning on a stick.

He was dressed in well-worn grey tweed, and wore a felt hat,
fawn-coloured and rather broad of brim.

He came to the bar and called for an absinthe, and his voice caused
Freyberger to examine him more attentively.

There were many things about this voice, and they all conspired to mark
it out as a distinctive voice. A voice in a million.

It was the voice of an educated man, and it would be very hard to say
what there was in it repellent and chilling, but repellent and chilling
it was.

But it was the face of the newcomer that fascinated Freyberger.

“Where have I seen that face before?” he thought.

And then all at once came the reply born of the question.

“It is the face of Klein grown old.”

For a moment Freyberger was seized by a feeling of physical sickness.
The horrors and perplexities of the Gyde case had culminated in this
last horror and perplexity.

This could not be the man who, eight years ago, had sat for his portrait
to the photographer in Paris; this could not be the man whom Hellier had
followed on account of the likeness to that photograph.

This was an old, old man.

Had he aged then in the course of a few weeks? Had premature decay
fallen upon him, turning him almost at a stroke from a man of forty or
so to a man of seventy and more?

Was he himself mistaken?

No. This was indeed the face of the photograph, the face that had left
its imprint on the retina of Leloir, the same face seen through the veil
of age.

Yet if that were so, one would have to believe that this old man, who
seemed scarcely strong enough to harm a child, had a few hours ago
killed, with brutal ferocity, a fellow being.

As Freyberger sat examining the newcomer, he became aware that the
newcomer was examining him.

The young lady behind the bar had relapsed into _Tracked by a Stain_,
the shopboy with the butterfly net, the old gentleman sipping his
absinthe were of no interest to her.

Freyberger yawned. He felt that he was being observed, and he fancied
that he was being observed with approbation—the approbation with which a
butcher observes a fat sheep.

If this were so, the situation was not without its humour. The humour of
it did not, however, strike him. He was deficient in that sense.

He was on the point of making a remark upon the weather in the hope of
starting a conversation when the old man forestalled him.

You never know a man’s face properly till you talk to him, and
Freyberger, as the conversation proceeded, sat drinking in with his eyes
the details and the _tout ensemble_ of the countenance before him.

What a strange, weary, wicked and altogether mysterious face it was!

One said to oneself, “If blood circulates behind it, that blood must
surely be grey in colour.”

They conversed, and it was wonderful how the old man drew Freyberger
out, and in the course of ten minutes or so, without seeming at all
inquisitive, learned most of his private affairs and much about his
life.

Freyberger told him frankly and freely how he had come to England only a
few weeks ago from Bremen in search of a job as book-keeper, how he had
no friends in England, how he had a maiden aunt living in Cologne, and a
widowed sister living Düsseldorf, how he had wandered down to Sonning in
search of the picturesque.

The girl behind the bar here put down her book to answer a call from the
coffee-room, and they found themselves alone.

“You are fond of nature?” asked the old man, sipping the remains of his
absinthe.

“It is my passion,” replied Freyberger.

“Well, if you will allow me to be your guide, I will conduct you to a
spot the most beautiful in England, quite close here, it lies.”

“Ah!”

“Indeed, yes, the most beautiful in England.”

“I shall be happy.”

“We will walk together,” continued the other. “A cigar, please,” to the
young lady who had just returned.

He held out the box to Freyberger, who took one and thanked him.

That the stranger was Klein, despite his miraculous ageing, he felt
almost certain. But to arrest him there and then for no other reason
than lay in an unconfirmed belief was not to be thought of. To let a
murderer escape is bad, but to arrest a man who, if he is not innocent,
still, has no stains or proof of guilt is worse. It is what the Criminal
Investigation Department calls a “serious mistake,” and Freyberger did
not fancy such a tag to his reputation.

The only other course was to leave the protection of houses and people,
to go with this satanic criminal where no eye could see what happened,
to be attacked by him and to master him.

“Are you ready?” asked the old man.

“I am ready,” replied Freyberger. The girl, who was putting the
cigar-box back on its shelf, turned round.

“If your friend calls, shall I say you will come back?” she asked.

“My friend?” said Freyberger, who saw across the grey face of his awful
companion a shadow pass.

“Your friend, Mr Rogers,” said the girl. “He you brought the butterfly
net for.”

He had distinctly told the stranger that he knew nobody in England, and
that he had come down to Sonning moved by impulse and for no especial
purpose save the search after the picturesque. In his surprise at the
old man’s likeness to the man he was in search of he had quite forgotten
the butterfly net—a serious mistake, as he was about to find out.

Another man might have entered into explanations or attempted to do so.
Freyberger laughed in a brutal and cynical manner.

His whole being seemed to change in one swift moment.

He turned his back on the girl and, without vouchsafing an answer, said
to the stranger, “Come.”

It was almost as if he had said, “I arrest you.”

They passed out together into the garden. The day was clouding over, and
the last rays of sunshine fled as if from their presence as they
followed the rose-bordered path to the little gate opening upon the
road.

Continue Reading

The fallen one recognized this fact

THERE was some coal in the coal-box and a bundle of wood in the grate.
The weather was chilly and a fire would have been very acceptable, but
the flicker of it when dusk was drawing on might have been observed from
outside. So he determined to do without a fire.

He would also be condemned to fast, for the remains of food upon the
table he could not touch. One does not eat where a leper has fed, or an
unclean beast.

He had his pipe with him, however, and plenty of tobacco.

Time wore on and dusk fell, gradually the room grew darker and the
silence of the house more oppressive.

Nothing could be more nerve-straining than a vigil like this in the
cold, in the darkness, in the silence; sitting with every sense alert,
waiting for the coming of a being far more terrible than a ghost.

Passing Freyberger in the street, you would not have looked at him
twice. You would never have fancied him a man of more than ordinary
strength. But, were you to have seen him stripped of his clothes, you
would have recognized the proportions of a trained athlete.

He had the physical basis of courage, that is to say, a great chest
measurement.

He had also the mental basis of courage, that is to say, an almost total
disregard for danger.

Danger blindness.

This same mental basis of courage is not always a desirable asset, for
it is often the basis, also, of a low intelligence. It nearly always
bespeaks want of imagination and ideality.

In Freyberger’s case, however, it was by no means the basis of a low
intelligence, and as for imagination and ideality, he had quite
sufficient for a man engaged in his profession.

The darkness deepened until it became absolute.

Time ceased as far as the watcher was concerned.

This sepulchral house seemed even deserted by mice, the movement of one
behind the wainscoting would have come as a relief.

Now and then, for a moment, the watcher in the chair, to obtain relief
from the absolute negation of sound, pressed his hands over his ears; it
was as though he were attempting to shut out the silence.

How long he had been waiting like this it would have been hard to say,
probably an hour, possibly less, when he heard the front gate gently
opened and as gently shut. Freyberger wore shoes; he had loosened the
laces of them, and now he kicked them off.

With incredible swiftness, considering the fact that he was moving in
black darkness, he was out of the room and in the passage.

At the end of the passage a pale, dim oblong of light indicated the
position of the door leading on to the verandah. Freyberger came down
the passage towards the door, and then, himself plunged in utter
darkness, he stood, like fate, waiting. He could see the squares of
glass forming the verandah wall and, dimly, the garden beyond.

Presently, moving with sinister gentleness and silence, the vague
silhouette of a man came gliding along the verandah side till it reached
the outside door.

The man was, as far as Freyberger could see, muffled up in a great coat;
he wore a slouch hat and he was about the middle height.

When he reached the door, he paused and drew from his pocket something,
the form of which the detective could not distinguish.

Freyberger had left the door, it will be remembered, simply closed. He
could easily have locked it from the inside by the same method as he had
opened it, but he had determined to leave it as it was.

The man turned the handle of the door, found that it opened easily, made
a slight exclamation of surprise and slipped into the verandah with the
rapidity of a lizard.

He closed the door behind him.

Freyberger, standing in the passage as motionless as a corpse, scarcely
breathed. The man stood for a moment, glancing around him, then, leaving
the verandah, he came down the passage.

The next moment Freyberger was upon him.

A man attacked in this fashion does not cry out; if he emits any sound
it is the gasp of a person who has received a douche of cold water.

The attack of Freyberger was ferocious, overpowering, unexpected, yet it
was received as if by a rock. After the first shock, which nearly bore
him to the ground, the intruder stiffened; to the grip of iron he
responded by a grip of steel, and then, in the dark, between the narrow
walls of the passage, a terrible struggle began.

A listener in the verandah would have heard very little. Just the hard
breathing of the two antagonists and the sound of their bodies hurled
from side to side against the passage walls. The detective was a heavier
man than his antagonist, but they were equally matched in science.

Now and then Freyberger succeeded in lifting him from his feet and, with
desperate efforts, attempted to bear him backwards and throw him; but
the feet always came to ground again, and the body turned from the
helpless bundle that a man is who has lost possession of his feet, into
an inflexible statue of steel.

Freyberger, failing in this, relaxed, or seemed to relax, his efforts
for a moment; the other automatically responded, a second later. With a
crash they were on the floor, the detective with his knees on the arms
of his fallen antagonist. He had cross-buttocked him.

There is no position on earth where a man is more utterly helpless than
when lying upon the ground, with another man kneeling upon his arms. He
may kick and struggle as much as he pleases, the only result is to wear
out his strength.

The fallen one recognized this fact, apparently, for he lay still.

Freyberger, breathing hard from his exertions, took a matchbox from his
waistcoat pocket, lit a match and cast its light upon the face of the
man beneath him.

The man was Hellier.

“MY GOD!” said Freyberger. “_You!_”

“Let me get up,” said the other. “Yes, it is I; we have both been
mistaken it seems.”

Freyberger said nothing, but rose to his feet and flung the extinguished
match away. They were again in darkness, but the detective did not
strike another light.

For a moment he was too angry for speech. Certain in his own mind that
he was dealing with Klein, triumphant at having captured him, his
feelings may be imagined when he found beneath him, not the criminal for
whom he had been seeking, but the interloper, Hellier.

Hellier had also risen to his feet.

“Strike a light,” he said, “and let me see where I am. I am giddy from
that fall.”

“I will strike no light,” replied the other, in a hard voice “you can
explain yourself in the darkness. You have cast enough darkness on this
business already. You ought to be used to darkness; come, explain
yourself.”

“Explain what?” said Hellier, in an irritable voice. “It seems to me the
explanation is clear enough.”

“Make it clearer. What are you doing here? What are you meddling in
police affairs for? Eh! You are one of those confounded people who fancy
themselves, one of those people who will not see where their own
business lies. What are you doing here?”

“Seems to me, I’m talking to a fool,” replied the other. “You know well
enough why I am here. I came here to find a mutual acquaintance of ours
named Klein. If not to find him, at least, to find traces of him and to
inspect the premises. You told me this morning you did not think he had
been here, yet I find you here on the same job as myself; if you had
only been frank this would not have happened.”

“Well,” replied the other, “you have been here and have not found him,
so you had better go. I will give him your kind regards when I see him,
which will not be to-night. You have spoilt the affair as far as
possible.”

“How?”

“How? You have frightened him, that is all.”

“How?”

“How?” shouted Freyberger, “By your d—d silly attempt to follow him this
morning, that is how.”

“If I had not seen him, should we have known of his connexion with this
house?”

“A thousand times better never to have known, considering the price we
have paid for our knowledge. He was unsuspecting, now he suspects. So
long as he was unsuspecting, all the chances were in our favour. Now
they are all against us. Go, tell your young lady that. Say Inspector
Freyberger told you to tell her, and say anything else you please.”

Hellier did not reply. He felt deeply mortified, for he felt there was
truth in the words.

He re-entered the verandah and opened the door leading to the garden.

“Are you going to remain?” he asked.

“I am.”

“Well, all I can say is I am very sorry. What I did was for the best.”

“It will be a lesson to you in future,” replied the other, “to trust
people who are to be trusted, and let the police do their own work.”

“Good night,” said Hellier. Freyberger grumbled some reply and the young
man departed.

Now Hellier had committed no great fault; he had even supplied
information that might have brought the whole case to a satisfactory
termination. But Freyberger was not in a frame of mind to do justice to
the barrister.

He was jealous, and that is the fact of the matter, as jealous of the
Gyde affair as any old man has ever been of his young wife.

HELLIER returned, slowly and sadly, to the High Street.

Assured in his own mind that Klein inhabited the house in St Ann’s Road,
hopeless of any help from Freyberger, whom he had put down as a
self-conceited man of not very luminous intelligence, he had undertaken
the desperate venture of going himself to the house, tackling the
occupant if he were at home, and if he were absent exploring the place.

He had provided himself with a powerful chisel to prise the verandah
door open. He had not to use it, however, for, as we have seen, the door
was only held by the catch.

It had been an expedition requiring a very great deal of pluck,
considering the appalling man with whom he would have had to contend had
his suspicions been correct. And it had ended in such a miserable
fiasco!

When he had lain on the floor of the passage with Freyberger on top of
him, he imagined that his last moment had come. He had not even cried
out for help, knowing that before help could arrive he would be dead.

He had not come badly out of the business, yet he felt depressed with a
miserable sense of failure.

It was striking nine when he passed the High Street, Kensington,
Station; just at the entry a flower-seller, with a basket of early roses
and Nice violets, caught his eye. He bought a great bunch, and, calling
a passing cab, ordered the driver to take him to the Langham.

Violets were Cécile Lefarge’s favourite flowers.

Love may be a liar, love may be blind, love may be anything you please,
but, whatever else he may be, love is a courtier. No frilled marquess of
the old regime, by long study, ever knew his monarch’s predilections as
a lover by instinct knows the predilections of his mistress.

Hellier bought violets instead of roses, instinctively and not from
choice.

At the Langham he found that Mademoiselle Lefarge was in, and a few
moments later he was in her presence.

She advanced to meet him, with hand outstretched.

“I have brought you these,” he said, sinking into a chair, whilst she
took a seat near him, “and some news—bad news, I am afraid.”

“I am used to that,” replied she, “but any news coming from you can not
be entirely bad. You, who have done so much and thought so much for me.”

“I wish I could have done more,” he replied. Then he told her the events
of the day, suppressing nothing, altering nothing.

She listened to him attentively. When he had finished she said:

“Is that all?”

“I think,” he said, “I have told you a good deal. I wish I could have
told you less, or more.”

“It is a good deal,” she replied. “And you went, alone and unarmed, to
face that fearful man?”

“Yes, and you see the result. I have spoiled everything.”

“You have not spoiled my regard for you,” she replied. “You are very
brave, and you know, or perhaps you do not know, how a woman can admire
bravery in a man. But you are better than brave, you are single-hearted.
And you let yourself be depressed by what that man, Freyberger, said to
you to-night?”

“It has depressed me, for he spoke the truth. He had no motive for
speaking otherwise.”

Cécile smiled.

“Not a motive, perhaps, but a half motive.”

“How?”

“What makes a woman depreciate the good looks of another woman?
Jealousy, my friend.”

“But Freyberger—”

“Is not a woman. No, but are men never jealous? I watched him last night
when you were speaking to him. I could read his mind. The information
you gave made his eyes sparkle with pleasure and excitement. Yet he was
displeased. He spoke to you almost as if you were an antagonist. He said
to himself, ‘This is a professional rival, a clever man who will,
perhaps, take from me some of the honour should I bring this case to a
successful termination.’

“I believe in this Mr Freyberger. He has great qualities, he has
perception and determination, but he is human. It is human to be
jealous. You have committed no fault that I can see; but, then, I am not
Freyberger. Had I met you in the passage of that house to-night, I would
have said to you, ‘Your coming here makes no difference if the bird has
flown; if the bird has not flown then remain with me, and help to
capture him on his return.’ But then, you see, I am just a woman, not a
jealous detective.

“Do not be depressed, and, above all, do not relax your vigilance, for
something tells me that, clever though our friend the detective may be,
you will materially help in the completion of this terrible case. The
only thing I regret is—”

“Yes?”

She sighed. “I regret that I have been instrumental in casting the
shadow of so much crime and wickedness upon so true a heart as my friend
Hellier.”

He left her, carrying with him the perfume of her hair and the warmth of
her lips.

She loved him entirely, and told him so without a word. He could have
made her his mistress that night. He would as soon have spat upon the
pyx.

The only love that is worth a name is the love that builds up barriers,
the love that can take yet withholds its hand.

The fatal, fatal mistake of the woman who gives herself up to a man
before marriage, the fatal mistake is not so much perhaps in yielding to
nature as in entertaining the idea that she is loved.

To Hellier the idea of love was inseparable from the idea of marriage.
He could not think of the woman he loved in any other position than
exactly on the same pedestal as himself. His wife before all the world,
on a par with his mother and his sisters, respected by them and received
as one of themselves.

And she was the daughter of an assassin. A cold-blooded murderer, whose
crime had shocked Europe.

It was not her fault. Leprosy is not the leper’s fault; is it any the
less a barrier, shutting happiness out for ever from the afflicted one?

FREYBERGER remained at his post all that night.

It was the bitterest experience he had ever known.

Without food, without fire, without light, half worn out from his
struggle with Hellier and depressed by the result, the chance of the
capture of Klein reduced to the barest possible, he still remained on
guard, watchful and ready to spring.

With the full light of day he left the place, bearing with him the only
scrap of evidence that could be any use, that is to say, the small
valise containing the suit of clothes and the jewel cases and the knife
sheath.

He had some food at an early morning coffee-stall in the High Street,
and then he proceeded on his way to the Yard.

The great Kalihari Desert is not a more desolate place than London in
the early morning.

There are no cabs, there are no omnibuses; there are no shops, no
people. You hear that which is the voice of a city’s desolation, the
echo of your own footsteps. The High Street of Kensington was empty from
end to end, experiencing the hiatus in traffic which comes between the
passing of the last market gardener’s cart and the passage of the first
cab.

Freyberger, with the valise in his hand, had made up his mind to walk to
his destination, when an early hansom turned out of one of the side
streets, and, getting in, he told the driver to take him to the Yard.

Here he delivered up the valise and the jewel cases, directed that a man
should be sent to St Ann’s Road to take charge of the house and make
inquiries, also that Sir Anthony Gyde’s tailor should be discovered and
the clothes submitted to him.

Then he returned to his lodgings, south of the water, to obtain a few
hours’ sleep.

“Well, Freyberger,” said the chief to the detective, when at four
o’clock that afternoon they found themselves together, “what have you to
report?”

Freyberger reported everything that we know as having taken place in St
Ann’s Road.

Had you been listening to his report, you would have admitted that if he
were jealous he was also honest, for he minimized nothing, nor did he
magnify anything or attempt to cast the blame for his failure on
Hellier.

He just told the truth. Freyberger loved the truth, not from any exalted
reason, but simply because it was the tool by which he earned his living
and made his reputation. The golden measuring rod by which he measured
statements, the crucible from which he distilled deductions, the glass
mask which he wore tied over his face to prevent himself being poisoned
by the fumes of misapprehension.

“You have missed him this time,” said the chief; “but never mind, you
are driving him back, you are getting him slowly into a corner. Another
move may mean checkmate.”

“If I had taken him yesterday,” replied Freyberger, “it would have meant
a life saved—who knows? Perhaps several lives saved. He is loose now,
like a wild beast, and the question we have to consider is this. If he
is seriously alarmed, if he suspects that we know of his monomania, may
fear overcome his madness and cause him to withhold his hand?”

“What is your opinion on that point?” asked the chief. “You have
considerable knowledge of the psychology of crime.”

“Well, sir, it is my belief that, if he is really alarmed, fear will
cause him to withhold his hand—for awhile.

“But fear, though checking, will not stay his desire to kill. He will at
first be careful, then, as time goes on and he gets farther away from
this murder, his caution will slacken and the desire become unchained.”

“You think fear is a check upon lunacy?”

“Not much. But I conceive the mind of this man to be essentially not the
mind of a lunatic.

“If I might use a simile, I would liken this man’s mind to a country
peopled with evil persons, and possessing one town peopled with
devils—that is the lunatic spot.”

“You almost speak as though you believe lunacy to be possession by
devils.”

“Absolutely, I believe that,” replied Freyberger. “Firstly, from a
prolonged study of lunacy; secondly, because my Bible bids me believe
it. I am a Protestant.”

“You have heard the report we have had about those clothes you brought
here this morning in the valise?”

“No.”

“Smalpage is, or should we say was, Sir Anthony Gyde’s tailor. He
identifies the measurements as being those of Sir Anthony Gyde, and his
chief cutter identifies the garments as his work, though, of course, he
cannot say for certain for whom he cut them.”

“That is evidence enough,” replied Freyberger; “the clothes are Gyde’s.”

“Yes, I think so. Then, again, Smith and Wilkinson, the jewellers,
identify the jewel cases as having been supplied to Sir Anthony; the
bank identify them as similar to those withdrawn by Sir Anthony.”

“That is evidence enough,” again replied Freyberger. “The things are
Gyde’s; the evidence is, unhappily, of little use at present. It will
help to hang our man when we catch him. There is nothing for us now to
do but wait.”

TIME passed, and April came to London, lighting the crocuses like little
lamps along the borders of the parks. Nothing could have been kindlier
than her coming or more cruel than her going, for it froze hard during
the last few days of her month; buds were brought to untimely ruin and
the ice on the ponds was sufficiently thick almost for skating.

But the first of May broke cloudless and warm, the herald of three weeks
of perfect weather.

Mademoiselle Lefarge had gone back to France, and Hellier ought to have
been on circuit.

But he was not in the mood for business. His mind was occupied by one
thing, the Gyde case. A month had passed since the murder of Mr Goldberg
and the occurrence in St Ann’s Road, yet not a word of the solution of
the mystery had come to the public ears as to Sir Anthony Gyde; the
public were beginning to forget him.

Occasionally some old clubman, a once friend of his, would remember the
fact of his existence, wonder why the police had not caught him, and
damn them for their inefficiency.

Up in Cumberland, where things, little or big, are not so easily
forgotten, the affair was still being discussed in market-square and
village ale-house. The Cottage on the Fells was deserted, and not for
many decades could the most astute land-agent hope to let it again.

One night, it was the 8th of May, exactly a month and ten days after the
murder, or the supposed murder, of Klein, a strange thing occurred.

A man named Davis, journeying from Alston to Langwathby on foot, lost
his way upon the fells, at dusk, and wandered for several hours, till
the rising moon showed him a few broken walls and remains of houses, and
he knew that he had come to the old ruined fell village of Unthank.

In the time of the Plague a fugitive from London sought refuge in this
village, and the inhabitants of it showed their hospitality by moving
out of it _en masse_ and leaving the plague-stricken one in undisputed
possession. They built themselves another village, lower down, which
they also labelled Unthank and which remains to this day.

Davis, recognizing the ruins, took them for a point of departure, and at
last struck the road at the foot of the fells, which runs through
Gamblesby and Melmerby to Blencarn.

Hopeless of reaching Langwathby that night, he determined to make for
Blencarn and put up with a relation of his who lived there.

He was nearing the place and the moon was high in the sky, making the
roadway as clear as if viewed by daylight, when, on the road right
before him, he saw the figure of a man walking also in the direction of
Blencarn.

It was just now that Davis remembered that he was close to the cottage
where the murder was committed, and he increased his pace, hoping to
overtake the man and walk with him for company’s sake. As he drew
closer, he recognised that the person before him was not an ordinary
countryman or farmer, but evidently a man used to the pavement of a town
and seemingly well dressed.

Then, to his astonishment, Davis saw the stranger pause at a gate on the
left of the road, unchain it and walk through, carefully putting the
chain up again.

Instantly Davis recognized the gate, and the fact that it was the gate
that gave entrance to the field beyond which, hidden by a dip of the
fells, lay the cottage of the murder.

He was passing the gate, when the stranger, who was only twenty paces or
so away in the field, turned, saw Davis and beckoned to him to follow
him.

The moonlight was full on the stranger’s face, and, horrified, Davis
recognized that the man before him in the field was Sir Anthony Gyde.

As he stood spellbound, gazing at the murderer, a cloud passed over the
moon, and the shadow of the cloud, like a black handkerchief, swept over
the field and seemed to sweep Sir Anthony Gyde away. For when the moon
returned he was gone.

Then Davis ran, and he did not stop running until he reached the door of
his relative. The accounts he gave of the occurrence were so confused as
to cast discredit on his narrative, and he was put down as a liar for
the strange reason that he was not gifted with the power of
story-telling.

Had he seen, or pretended to have seen, the ghost of Klein, every one
would have believed him, for every one knew that Klein was dead. But Sir
Anthony Gyde was alive, and the countryside were waiting to see him
caught and hanged, and no one wished to believe in his ghost for that
very reason.

Continue Reading

That’s the professional detective all over

IN the entrance hall of the Langham Freyberger drew a long, black,
poisonous-looking cheroot from his pocket and lit it.

Then he buttoned his overcoat and prepared to depart. He felt jubilant.
The whole of the pieces of the puzzle had fallen into their places under
the influence of his intellect, and now this new sidelight had pointed
at the possible road to the absolute and final move, which would allow
him to place his hand upon the creator of the puzzle, and say: “You are
mine.”

He was just going down the steps when a voice from behind said, “Excuse
me.”

He turned and saw Hellier.

“I would like a moment’s conversation with you,” said the barrister.

“Certainly, certainly,” said the other, in a not too amiable voice.
“What can I do for you?”

“If you will allow me to walk a few hundred yards with you, I will
explain myself. Please don’t think I want to interfere in this case, but
I have sworn to give all the help in my power, and I think I may be able
to make a suggestion to you that may be useful.”

“Humph.”

“I have made a special study of forensic medicine and criminology, and
this has occurred to me.

“I will tell you what I think in a few words. This Müller accomplished a
deeply reasoned out and intricate crime in Paris eight years ago. Well,
having done that, his reason withdrew herself, exhausted possibly, but
the lust for killing excited by the crime, remained and grew and had to
be satisfied. He strangled three people.

“We know of lots of cases where a lunatic has a grudge against the whole
female or male sex, and kills for the pleasure of killing. It is rarer
for a man of this description to have a grudge against the whole of
humanity and to murder indiscriminately, but it occurs.

“We find these people perfectly sane in other ways; they are just tigers
let loose when their reason becomes weakened.

“So we have Müller, a man of profound intellect, suddenly, under the
thirst of blood, turned into a killing machine. He kills three people,
no more, for the fit passes. He is gorged for years, till he commits a
new murder and the fit returns.”

“Proceed,” said Freyberger, in a hard voice; for what Hellier had just
said was the very thing he had been thinking to himself.

“Well, as Müller did eight years ago, so, in all probability, he will do
again. He has murdered a man in Cumberland. The thirst for blood, or
rather human life, will most probably seize him again. And all you have
to do to catch him is to wait. I will wager my reputation that this
beast will repeat his actions like some horrible automaton, and that
within the next few days you will have a case of motiveless murder to
investigate, and that if you catch the criminal it will be Müller.”

Freyberger did not reply. What Hellier had just said was exactly what he
(Freyberger) had been thinking.

It is not pleasant to find one’s astuteness matched. He had put all his
energy and mind into the Gyde case, and here was a stranger pointing out
to him the course to take for the completion of the affair; and, worst
of all, the right course.

He quite forgot that it was due to Hellier’s researches that these
subsidiary crimes had been connected with the Lefarge case.

He was, in fact, human, and he was jealous.

“What you have said,” he replied, “may have something in it.”

“I think, myself, it may have a good deal in it,” replied Hellier,
nettled somewhat at the other’s assumed indifference and the chilliness
of his tone.

“Well,” said Freyberger, “the matter is in our hands, and you may be
sure everything will be done that is needful. We do not, as a rule,
require outside help or suggestions in our work. I wish you good night.”

“That’s the professional detective all over,” thought Hellier, as he
watched the departing figure of Freyberger. “They work in one set
groove, they have ideas handed down from generation to generation. I was
amazed at this man’s perspicuity at first, and now I find him just one
of a class. Well, if he doesn’t see much in my idea I do, and I will
keep my eyes open, and if I see a chance I will profit by it.”

IF Hellier could only have seen into the consciousness of our friend
Freyberger, he would have admitted that the latter, although a
professional detective, had an open mind, and was not entirely bound up
in self-conceit.

Freyberger, as in duty bound, took a cab and made as fast as a London
cab-horse could carry him, through London traffic, towards the Yard. At
the Yard the Chief was just getting into his motor-car, when he saw
Freyberger he beckoned to him.

“Come with me,” he said, “I am going on a case.”

Freyberger knew what that meant.

Some crime of extra magnitude had just taken place.

When the chief went in person like this, it meant big things.

He got into the _tonneau_ without enthusiasm, for he had so much on his
mind that he did not relish the prospect of an additional burden, and
the car started.

It passed up Regent Street and then up Oxford Street in the direction of
the Marble Arch, and straight on towards Notting Hill Gate. At Notting
Hill Gate it turned down Silver Street, and turning the corner into High
Street, Kensington, headed for Hammersmith.

It had not gone more than a couple of hundred yards in this direction
when it slowed, and a mounted constable, who had been slowly patrolling
the street, turned his horse, and putting it to the trot led the way,
turning sharply to the right from the High Street up St James’s Road.

St James’s Road, not far from the grounds surrounding Holland House, has
a touch of the provincial town suburb about it; every house has a garden
in front of it, and every garden has one or more trees. It is a good
middle-class neighbourhood; a few of the houses are let out in furnished
apartments, though no bill or sign indicates the fact, but the majority
of the inhabitants are of the professional or retired business class.

About the middle of the road, by the right-hand kerb, a crowd of people
could be made out.

The car slowed down and stopped a few yards from the crowd, the chief
and Freyberger alighted, and, led by a constable, passed through the
throng up a garden path.

The hall door, at which they knocked, was opened by a constable.

“You have the body here?” asked the chief.

“Yes, sir,” replied the man, saluting.

“Bring us to it.”

The constable opened a door on the right of the passage, disclosing a
comfortably furnished sitting-room. A man was standing with his back to
the mantelpiece. It did not require the tall hat, standing on the table
with the stethoscope beside it, to indicate his profession. A
middle-aged woman, evidently recovering from some great agitation, was
standing by the table, and on the floor lay something covered with a
sheet.

“Shut the door,” said the chief to the constable; then turning to the
man:

“You are a doctor?”

“Yes,” replied the other. “I was summoned nearly an hour ago, and have
waited at the request of the police till your arrival. Life was extinct
when I came.”

“Thank you,” said the chief. “Sit down, Freyberger. A pen, ink and
paper, please. Thanks.” Then to the constable, “Were you the officer
called?”

“I was called at ten-fifteen, being on point duty, arrived to find
deceased lying on the pavement in front of his house. He was black in
the face; and, thinking it was a case of a fit, I unbuttoned his collar
and attempted artificial respiration on the pavement, as he lay, but
without success. This lady, here, was standing by the corpse; there was
also a crowd of some ten or twelve people.

“This lady told me deceased lodged with her and that she believed he had
been murdered.

“I had him conveyed into this room, sending messengers for a doctor, and
to the High Street, Kensington, Police Station. I again attempted
artificial respiration, and was so engaged when this gentleman arrived.”

“That all?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Thanks. Now, sir,” turning to the doctor, “may I ask you just to state
the facts within your knowledge?”

“I was called at ten-thirty, about. I live in the High Street. My name’s
Mason. I found deceased here upon the floor and the constable attempting
artificial respiration. Life was extinct.”

“How long had the man been dead?”

“A very short time; possibly not more than half an hour, perhaps less.”

“Cause of death?”

“Strangulation. The man has been, in my opinion, garrotted, seized from
behind by the throat and literally strangled. The thyroid cartilage has
been broken, and there are the marks of fingers upon the skin of the
neck.”

“No other marks or wounds?”

“I have found no other.”

“Thanks. Constable, remove the sheet.”

The officer stripped away the sheet, revealing a terrible spectacle.
Upon the floor lay the body of a middle-aged man, judging from the
scanty hair streaked with grey; the face was of a dull purple, the
tongue and eyes were protruding.

The body was well dressed in a frock coat and grey pepper and salt
coloured trousers.

“Had he been robbed?” asked the chief of the constable.

“No sir; the watch and chain, valuable ones evidently, were intact, also
the money in his pockets.”

“Now,” said the chief, turning to the woman, “what do you know about
it?”

She told her tale in a broken voice.

Deceased had lodged with her for some years. His name was Goldberg, a
retired City man and well-to-do. Always of an evening he went out before
retiring to rest, and took a short walk up and down the road, rarely
being absent more than ten minutes.

This evening he had gone out as usual. She was in the front bedroom
upstairs, closing the window and about to pull down the blind, when she
heard a stifled cry from the street, and looking out saw two men
struggling on the pavement just before the garden gate.

She could not tell in the least what the men were like, for the light
was very indistinct.

She ran downstairs. Her husband was out, and she had no one in the house
with her.

She put the hall door on the chain and, opening it as far as possible
with the chain on, she peeped through the opening.

She saw a dark form on the pavement beyond the garden gate. It did not
move.

There was no sound to be heard, and, plucking up courage after awhile,
she opened the hall door and came down the garden path towards the gate.

Mr Goldberg was lying on the pavement, “all of a heap.” She screamed,
and a woman from over the way came across the road. The woman ran into
the High Street for assistance, and a policeman came. The woman across
the way had seen nothing of the two men or the struggle.

“Had Mr Goldberg any enemies, to your knowledge?”

“No, sir, he was the best and kindest of men.”

“Had he any relatives?”

“No, sir, only a brother in Australia.”

“Has he heard lately from his brother, do you know?”

“Yes, sir; he had a letter only yesterday.”

“Well, Freyberger,” said the chief, “have you any question to ask?”

“None, sir; but, if you will permit me, I will have that crowd cleared
away from the street outside. I would like to examine the road.”

“How many men have you outside?” asked the chief of the constable.

“Four, sir.”

“Go and clear the crowd away. Send for assistance, if necessary.”

“If you will permit me, sir,” said Freyberger, “I will go with the
constable.”

“Do so; I will wait here until your return.”

Freyberger left the room. He did not return for some twenty minutes.

“Well?” asked the chief, when he returned.

“I would like to have a moment’s conversation with you in private, sir.”

The doctor had already gone, the chief asked the landlady to withdraw,
and Freyberger and he found themselves alone in the room with the
corpse.

“I have found nothing, sir,” said Freyberger, “I went as a matter of
routine. I have, of course, searched narrowly the pavement, the gutter
and the road for any possible trace, any dropped article that might
possibly furnish a clue. I did not expect to find anything.

“Why?”

“Because, sir, the man who has murdered Mr Goldberg is not a man to
leave clues behind him.”

“You know him, then?”

“I believe I do, sir. I believe the man who has just committed this
crime is no other than Klein, _alias_ Kolbecker, _alias_ Müller.”

The chief made an impatient movement.

“You must have that man on your brain,” said he. “What on earth
connexion can you make between this and the Gyde case?”

“One moment, sir; you have had a large experience. Have you ever come
across an exactly similar case to this, that is to say, the case of a
harmless, elderly gentleman strangled openly in the street for no
apparent reason?”

“No, I can recall no such case.”

“The fact of strangulation alone marks it as a crime by itself.
Murderers use every sort of weapon save their own hands.”

“The hand, as a rule, is the weapon of the madman.”

“Yes?”

“Well, sir, I will tell you, in a few words, why I connect this crime
with the case of Sir Anthony Gyde.”

He then detailed the facts he had learned about the crimes that had
followed the murder in the Rue de Turbigo.

The chief listened attentively.

“So you think—?” he said.

“I think, sir, that the ravening beast roused in Klein’s brain by the
murder committed in Cumberland is now beginning to show itself by its
actions. I think if we do not seize Klein over this business another
murder of the same sort is sure to occur. Maybe several more. Our main
hope is to track him now. If we miss him now, we will have several more
chances, but that will mean several more victims. With your permission,
I will not return with you to the Yard to-night, I will remain in this
neighbourhood. There is a strong possibility that he has a den somewhere
round here, in the shape of a furnished room. I wish to remain about the
spot. I will take a room here for the night, if the woman of the house
will let me have one. I must get a list of all known lodging-houses in
the neighbourhood, and I must be on the spot here early in the morning.”

“Very well,” replied the chief; “act as you think fit. I give you a free
hand in the matter.”

Freyberger accompanied him outside. He got into the motor-car and drove
off, and the detective was returning to the house when a stranger, who
had just come up, accosted him.

“I am on the General Press Association,” said the stranger; “you are, I
believe, Inspector Freyberger. Can you give me any details of the crime
just committed?”

“Certainly,” replied Freyberger, with suspicious alacrity. He gave a
short account of the murder, which the pressman entered eagerly in his
notebook.

“Any details known as to the appearance of the murderer?” asked the
representative of the General Press Association.

“The landlady says that, as far as she could see, the assailant was a
tall man with a black beard,” replied Freyberger.

“Thanks,” replied the other, “good night.” He hurried off jubilantly to
get his copy in and Freyberger went up the garden path to the house.

“When Klein reads that description of himself in the morning papers,”
said Freyberger, to himself, “he will smile, if that face could ever
smile. It will make him feel even more secure than if the truth were
told that the landlady could not describe the assassin at all. Of
course, the coroner’s inquest will contradict what I have said. Well, we
must get hold of the reporter at the inquest and doctor his account.
Damn the Press, for one criminal it catches it assists in the escape of
twenty.

“Now, what will Klein do first thing to-morrow morning? He will most
possibly buy a newspaper, therefore every newspaper shop in the
neighbourhood must be watched.

“I say, most possibly. I would have said, most probably, were Klein an
ordinary criminal.

“However, we must leave no stone unturned.”

WHEN Hellier opened his paper next morning, he read the following
head-lines:

Terrible Murder in Kensington!
City man assassinated upon his own doorstep!
Clue to the murderer!

He read the report hurriedly through, then he read it slowly, dwelling
on all the details.

After his prediction to Freyberger the night before, this thing came
horribly pat; it had been happening, perhaps, just as he was talking to
the detective.

He felt the triumph of the man who has prophesied and whose prophecy has
come true.

The only thing that troubled him was the description of the murderer:
“Tall man, with black beard.”

Klein was clean-shaven and of middle height; but the disguise of a beard
was the commonest disguise of all; and as for the height, the assassin
was seen in semi-darkness, which enlarges, and the observer was a
frightened woman.

Hellier well knew the magnifying effect of terror.

Yes, without doubt, this was the expected crime. Just as an astronomer
predicts the appearance of a comet, he had predicted the commission of
this crime.

The fact of strangulation clinched the matter.

He breakfasted hurriedly, debating in his own mind as to what course he
would pursue.

There is nothing which blinds the intellect more than a pre-conceived
idea. Hellier’s opinion of the professional detective was as favourable
as most people’s, but he held the idea, rightly or wrongly, that the
professional detective was a person of machine-made methods. Freyberger
was a professional detective.

Little knowing that Freyberger was at the moment hot on the trail of the
murderer of Mr Goldberg, the idea came to him of calling at the Yard and
attempt to interview Freyberger.

He dismissed the idea almost as soon as it was conceived, for, whatever
he knew of detectives, he had sufficient knowledge of men to understand
that the little German would brook no interference, and take advice more
as a personal insult than as a compliment.

He determined to act on his own initiative, to find out what he could
for himself; but first he had to call upon Mademoiselle Lefarge.

He arrived at the Langham about ten o’clock.

His interview with her did not last more than twenty minutes. He said
nothing of the murder of Mr Goldberg; the thing was such a horrible
basis to build hope upon that he shrank from mentioning it.

Besides, he had other things to talk of.

Cécile Lefarge, in Boulogne, even at their first meeting, had been
attracted by Hellier. When he left Boulogne, she had told herself that
she cared very much for him, telling herself at the same time that it
was useless, that love for her was not. She told herself this with a
certain philosophic calmness.

Meanwhile, her love for him was growing. The philosophic calmness
vanished and gave place to pain, a dull, aching pain, almost physical.

A pain that only Hellier could relieve. He, in London, was suffering
from an exactly similar pain, that only she could relieve, which
condition, affecting two people at the same time, constitutes the
disease—love.

He left the Langham about half-past ten, and, taking a cab, drove in the
direction of Kensington.

He wished to see the place of the tragedy; he had no earthly idea of
what he should do when he got there, he had only the fixed determination
to do something. Often, when we have no idea of what we are going to do,
a whole host of ideas on the subject in question are forming themselves
in the sub-conscious part of our brains.

He dismissed the cab in the High Street and took his way on foot to St
James’s Road.

A small crowd, constantly drifting away and as constantly renewed, stood
before the house.

Hellier mixed with it and listened to its comments. Then, walking up St
James’s Road, he examined the houses with a critical eye.

Klein was an artist. Great as his talents might be, he was unknown, a
Bohemian; and these upper middle-class houses, these little gardens so
carefully tended, the road itself and the atmosphere of the place were
the very antithesis of everything Bohemian.

He turned from St James’s Road into Lorenzo Road, which, did places
breed and multiply, might have been St James’s Road’s twin brother.

Pursuing Lorenzo Road, he arrived at St Ann’s Road.

St Ann’s Road has slightly gone to decay.

We find, sometimes, in the most prosperous districts, roads or streets
that do not prosper; for some mysterious reason they go down in the
world, premature age touches them, lichen and shabby-genteel people
invade them, milk cans hang like tin fruit on the iron railings, and
barrel organs infest them as buzz-flies infest carrion.

The houses in St Ann’s Road were semi-detached, with considerable
gardens back and front; drunken-looking notice boards leaned here and
there over the railings, setting forth the fact that here and there a
house was to let.

Hellier was coming along the road, seeking an exit to the High Street,
and determining in his own mind to make inquiries of all the house
agents in the neighbourhood as to the studios to be let and the streets
where such studios might be found.

He was feeling acutely the almost utter hopelessness of this wild-goose
chase, when, coming out of one of the shabby-genteel gardens just in
front of him, he saw a man.

The man looked up and down the road. He must have seen Hellier, but he
showed no sign of having done so. Then he walked rapidly away in the
direction in which Hellier was going.

Hellier walked rapidly too, although he found some difficulty in doing
so, for, at the sight of the man’s face, which he beheld for only a few
seconds, his heart paused in its beating and then became furiously
agitated.

St Ann’s Road just here is cut by Malpas Road, leading down to the High
Street.

The stranger turned the corner into Malpas Road and was lost to sight.

Hellier ran.

Just as he doubled the corner he saw the stranger turn his head and then
walk on rapidly.

If the stranger had noticed Hellier at first and the distance he was
off, he must have noticed now that the distance was strangely decreased,
in other words that Hellier had run after him and was in pursuit.

When the stranger reached the High Street a motor-omnibus was just
passing. He jumped on board, and the omnibus pursued its way.

Hellier hailed the omnibus, but the conductor was not looking and it
pursued its course. There was not a cab to be seen. If there had been,
of what use could he have made of it? He had no warrant of arrest in his
pocket. He had done mischief, if anything, for the stranger most
probably had recognized the fact of the pursuit.

This last was a bitter thought, for, in Hellier’s mind, lay the firm
conviction that the stranger was Klein.

He had seen the photograph of Klein. It was a face that once seen could
not easily be forgotten. The likeness, at all events, was strong enough
to have acted on.

It is true, he had no warrant of arrest in his pocket; well, what of
that?

He told himself now that he should have acted instantaneously regardless
of all consequences, pursued the stranger at full speed, called upon him
to stop, raised the hue and cry, accused him of theft, even, done
anything to get him safely into a police cell, whilst the Yard was being
rung up and the central authorities communicated with.

Of course, if the man had turned out to be not Klein, but some one else,
he, Hellier, would have found himself in a very serious position.

What of that? The future of the woman he loved was involved. _She_ would
have forgiven him, and what did he care for all the rest of the world,
for the sneers of the papers, the chaffing of his brother barristers,
the fines or imprisonment that might have followed?

He had lost a chance.

The capacity to sum up a great situation, weigh everything and act
instantaneously, is a gift possessed by not one man in a million, and
the man that possesses it is generally a millionaire, a proved leader of
armies, a captain of men.

These thoughts were passing through Hellier’s mind as he walked slowly
back along the High Street, casting about him for some means by which he
might repair his blunder.

He, at least, knew the house from which the stranger had come, and he
felt that the best possible course to pursue was to find Freyberger and
inform him of the occurrence.

But where was the detective to be found?

He might call at New Scotland Yard and try to interview him there, but
that meant a loss of time. He knew that all the London police stations
were telephonically connected with the Yard, and he determined to go to
the nearest and state his case to the inspector on duty, asking him to
communicate with the central authorities.

The nearest station was that of High Street, Kensington, and he was just
turning down the archway that leads to it when he almost cannoned
against the man for whom he was seeking.

FREYBERGER had slept scarcely three hours during the night, yet he
looked quite fresh.

He had done a tremendous lot of work in the way of putting out nets.

He had as complete a list as could be obtained of the lodging-houses in
the neighbourhood, every early morning coffee stall in Kensington and
Bayswater had been kept under surveillance, also the newspaper shops.
The tube stations at Notting Hill Gate, Holland Park, Shepherd’s Bush,
and Queen’s Road, Bayswater, had been watched, and the result, up to
this had been the arrest of one man who had easily proved his identity
and the fact of his innocence.

The bother was that Klein’s description as to dress could not be given.
Only the fact that he was pale, clean-shaven, of the middle height and
spoke with a German accent.

“How fortunate,” cried Hellier; “you are the very person I wished most
to see.”

“Mr Hellier, I believe,” replied the other, who did not seem at all
enthusiastic at the meeting. “What can I do for you?”

“Will you walk a few paces down the street?”

“Certainly.”

“It’s this way,” said Hellier. “I read in the papers this morning of a
crime.”

“Which?”

“The murder of Mr Goldberg.”

“Yes, yes.”

“You remember what I said to you last night?”

“Perfectly.”

“Well, it occurred to me that this was the crime we were waiting for.”

“I was unaware that I was waiting for any crime,” said the other.

“Well, you remember my predicting that a crime of this nature would
occur?”

“An easy prediction in London, where we have a murder every second day.”

“Not strangulation without an apparent motive.”

“Well, well; what do you wish to say about it?”

“Well, convinced in my own mind that the author of this crime was also
the criminal in the Gyde and Lefarge cases, I determined to come up here
and look about.”

“To play the rôle of an amateur detective, in short.”

“Yes, but please don’t misunderstand me. My object is not curiosity. I
will be frank with you. I love Mademoiselle Lefarge, and I can never
hope to marry her till her father’s name is cleared.”

“You wish to marry this lady and cannot do so till her father’s name is
cleared. Is that what I understand you to say?”

“Yes.”

“Well, shall I tell you how you can best help to clear her father’s
name?”

“Yes.”

“Go home and forget about it all; leave the matter in the hands of
professional men who know how to act. Nothing interferes so much with us
as interference.”

“Perhaps, but you know chance sometimes gives a clue where intelligence
fails to find any. What would you say if I told you that I believed I
had seen Klein, the man you are looking for, this morning?”

Freyberger started, but recovered himself instantly.

“I would say that I believed you to be mistaken.”

“Yet I have seen a man whose face closely resembled that portrait you
showed us last night.”

“Where?”

“In St Ann’s Road, close to St James’s Road. I strolled along it by
chance this morning, after visiting the scene of the murder, and, coming
out of one of the houses, I saw this man.”

“Yes?”

“I followed him to the High Street. There he got on to a motor-omnibus
and I lost him.”

“You lost him!”

“It was not my fault, for I could not stop the omnibus and there were no
cabs.”

“It does not in the least matter,” said Freyberger, in a tone of assumed
indifference, “for it was a thousand to one you were mistaken.”

“If that is your opinion,” said Hellier, angry at the other’s tone,
“there is no use in our discussing the matter further. I wish you good
day.”

“Stay a moment,” said Freyberger.

“Yes.”

“You say you saw this man coming out of a certain house. Can you
recognize the house again?”

“Yes.”

“Well, as a matter of form, I will accompany you there.”

Hellier hesitated a moment, then he conquered his sense of pique and
turned in the direction of Hammersmith.

They walked, scarcely exchanging a word. Freyberger’s mind was filled
with anxiety, expectancy and a sense of deep irritation.

There was something exasperating to him about Hellier. This outsider had
already cast so much light on the case; was it destined that he should
cast more?

“This is the house,” said Hellier, when they had reached the place.

“Empty,” replied Freyberger, looking over the railings.

It was the only detached residence in the road, all the other houses
were semi-detached.

The garden was neglected and the front windows blindless and dusty.

Freyberger opened the gate and, followed by Hellier, walked up the path
to the front door. He knocked and rang, but there was no reply.

“Let’s try the back,” said Freyberger; “some people live in the back
premises and only keep a hall door for ornament.”

But no one, apparently, lived in the back premises of No. 18 St Ann’s
Road.

A glassed-in verandah ran along the whole of the back.

Freyberger tried the verandah door, it was locked. Some green shelves,
containing a few empty flower-pots, were visible; against one of the
shelves stood a hoe, on the blade of the hoe some dark brown traces of
earth proclaimed to the eye of the detective that the instrument had
been used quite recently, and not for hoeing but for digging.

“There is no one here,” said Freyberger.

“No one now,” replied Hellier, “but there has been some one.”

“Oh, yes, no doubt; one might say the same of Sodom and Gomorrah, or
Pompeii.”

“If Klein has been here, if this is one of his hiding places, he may
come back.”

“If,” replied Freyberger.

They were walking back down the garden path.

At the gate Hellier made one last attempt to infect the detective with
his own idea.

“Could you not get a search warrant and search the place?”

This remark completely broke Freyberger’s temper down, and the German
came out.

“Search warrant! You talk like a child, not like a man. Warrant to
search for what? Flower-pots? What I will do in the case I will do. I
wish for no interference. I wish you good day.”

He turned to the left, towards Malpas Road. Hellier to the right.

“Fool,” thought Hellier, “pig-headed ass; no matter—wait.”

“Swine-hound,” thought Freyberger; “directing _me_ what to do! Search
warrant!”

Freyberger turned the corner, walked a hundred yards down Malpas Road
and then came back.

Hellier was not in sight. The detective waited for a moment or two to
make sure, and then approached No. 18.

He entered the gate, closed it behind him, and made for the back garden.

Here he stood for a moment, looking about him with eager eyes. Then he
began searching about on the ground attentively, as a person searches
who has dropped a coin.

There was a fairish sized grass plot, on which the grass was rank and
long. A gravelled walk lay round it, and a flowerless flower bed between
the walk and the garden wall.

There was no sign of a bootmark anywhere, though the ground was soft and
there had been no frost on the previous night.

The gravel was disturbed on the walk leading to the verandah, but that
was nothing.

In that portion of the garden where digging was possible there was no
sign. Yet the hoe had been used quite recently, and a sure instinct told
him that it had not been used in the front garden, where observation was
possible, but here, in this place that was overlooked by nothing but
blind walls and the back windows of an empty house.

Suddenly his eye was struck by an object upon the flower bed by the rear
wall.

A half-withered cabbage leaf. There were withered leaves and to spare in
the garden, but this was the only cabbage leaf. Nothing looked more
natural or in keeping with the general untidiness of the place. A
thousand men hunting for traces would have disregarded it.

Freyberger walked towards it and picked it up.

The bit of ground it had covered had been disturbed.

In a moment, digging with his naked hand, he had unearthed a flat,
morocco leather-covered box. He opened it, it was a jewel case and
empty. Upon the silk lining of the cover was the name and address:

“Smith and Wilkinson, Regent Street.”

Smith and Wilkinson, Sir Anthony Gyde’s jewellers.

He unearthed another box, and yet another.

The sweat stood out in beads upon his forehead.

There was something in the Gyde case that affected him as he had never
been affected before. Perhaps it was some effluence from the obscure and
diabolical mind with which he felt himself at war; perhaps it was the
extraordinary intricacies of the pursuit, and the foreknowledge that the
creature against whom he had pitted himself was at once a demon, a
genius and a madman. Perhaps it was on account of all these reasons
that, when he unearthed these recent traces, his soul turned in him and
a furious hunger and hatred filled his heart.

The hound hates the thing he is pursuing. The lion hates the buck. All
hunting is an act of vengeance; not for food alone does the pursuer
chase the pursued, but from some old antipathy begotten when the world
was young.

At times Freyberger, in his unravelling of the Gyde case, was seized by
an overmastering desire to have his hands upon the creature he was
pursuing and to drag him to his death.

It is one of the laws of mind that the ferocity of the pursuer increases
at each double and shift of the pursued.

Carefully searching with his hands in the soft earth and finding nothing
else, Freyberger smoothed the soil, replaced the cabbage leaf and
carefully effaced his traces on the gravel of the walk. Then, with the
jewel cases in the pocket of his overcoat, he approached the house.

He examined the lock of the verandah door. The affair was so shaky that
he could have burst it in with a kick, but violence was the last thing
to be used. He drew from his pocket what the thieves of Madrid term a
“matadore”; what the Apachés of Paris term a “nightingale”; what an
honest man might call a piece of thick wire about a foot long, but of
such material as to be fairly easily bent or straightened without danger
of fracture.

He bent one end of this piece of wire and introduced it into the lock,
just as a surgeon introduces a probe into a sinus. Having explored the
mechanism, he drew out the wire, rebent it, introduced it, and with a
turn of his wrist opened the door.

Then he carefully pushed the bolt of the lock back, entered and pulled
the door to.

There was nothing in the verandah, with the exception of the
flower-pots, the hoe, and an old watering pot that had lost its rose.

The door leading into the house gave upon a passage floored with
linoleum. On the right lay a room entirely destitute of furniture, on
the left a sitting-room decently furnished, with the embers of a fire
still smouldering in the grate.

The remains of some food lay upon the table in the middle of the room,
also upon the table a copy of _The Daily Telegraph_ of that day.

This, then, was the den of the beast, the home of the demon. Nothing at
all pointed to the fact. It was just the sitting-room of a man in
somewhat reduced circumstances, an honest man, or a rogue, as the case
might be.

There was a tobacco jar on the mantelpiece, and in it tobacco and a
bundle of cigarette papers; a pair of old slippers stood beside the
armchair on the right of the fireplace.

A pile of newspapers stood in one corner of the room, and in another lay
an old valise.

Freyberger opened the valise. There was a suit of clothes in it, nothing
else—a frock coat and waistcoat and a pair of trousers.

They were evidently the production of a first class tailor, though the
little squares of glazed linen, bearing the customer’s name, which all
good London tailors affix to their productions, both under the collar of
the coat and inside the strap of the waistcoat, had been removed.

Freyberger returned the things to the valise and replaced it in the
corner, then he began a minute inspection of the room.

He examined the pile of newspapers. They were all recent and dating from
the day after the murder committed in the Cottage on the Fells. _Daily
Telegraphs_, _Daily Mails_, _Westminster Gazettes_, every sort and
condition of newspaper, and in each of them was a report, more or less
full, more or less varying, of the Gyde mystery.

He returned them to their corner and resumed his search of the room,
examining every hole and cranny, lifting the hearthrug and fender,
exploring the contents of the trumpery vases on the chimneypiece and
finding nothing of much importance, if we except the sheath of a case
knife lying behind one of the vases.

He left the room and went upstairs to the bedrooms. They were all empty,
clean swept and destitute of anything to hold the eye.

The person he was in pursuit of, if he lived in this house, evidently
slept upon the old couch in the sitting-room, and did not trouble much
about the conveniences of life.

Freyberger returned to the sitting-room, sat down in the armchair, just
as though he were at home, took a cigar from his pocket and lit it.

He was in the tiger’s den. At any moment it was quite within the bounds
of possibility that the door might open and the terror, having let
himself in by the verandah, enter the room. This was not what made
Freyberger feel uneasy, but rather the thought that the unknown might
have noticed Hellier following him and taken fright.

Freyberger was quite unarmed; yet, had his sinister opponent entered the
room at that moment, he would have arrested him just as he had arrested
the Fashion Street murderer, and borne him, without doubt, in the same
manner, to justice.

But though absolutely destitute of fear, he was by no means destitute of
caution; and as he sat smoking and waiting, he was revolving in his mind
the question of calling in help.

That involved leaving the house, and that might involve total failure.

At any moment the quarry might return. He decided to wait.

The door of the room and the door leading to the verandah were open, so
that he could easily hear the approach of anyone from the back premises
and quite as easily the approach of anyone from the hall door.

It was after half-past two now. The house was deathly still; there was
not even the ticking of a clock, the whisper of a breath of wind from
the garden outside or the movement of a mouse behind the wainscotings to
break the silence.

Occasionally the rumble of a passing vehicle came from the road, nothing
more.

It was after three when the watcher suddenly started, sat straight up in
the armchair and listened intently.

The front garden gate had been opened and shut with a clang, a step
sounded on the gravel and a loud double rap at the hall door brought
Freyberger to his feet.

He sprang from the room, came down the passage, undid the chain and
bolts of the hall door, unlatched it, flung it open and found on the
steps a telegraph boy.

“Gyde?” said the boy, holding out a telegram.

“Yes,” said Freyberger, taking it.

The boy turned and went off whistling, and the detective, having
rebolted the door, returned to the sitting-room with the telegram in his
hand.

He tore it open.

“Handed in, London Street, Paddington, 2.15. Received, High Street,
Kensington, 2.40.

“Be sure to meet me at six.”

That was all; no name, no address. Freyberger sat down in the armchair,
with the telegram in his hand; he was thunderstruck.

He reread it, then looked at the envelope.

It was addressed:

“Gyde, 18 St Ann’s Road, Kensington.”

This thing quite upset his calculations. It was addressed simply to
“Gyde.” It is not a common name; yet, of course, there were thousands of
people of that name beside Sir Anthony. But, taking into account the
jewel cases discovered, this telegram could have been sent to no one
else but Sir Anthony.

That meant that he was alive. Freyberger was convinced that the man seen
by Hellier was Klein. If Gyde were alive, then he must have been staying
here at No. 18 St Ann’s Road. Klein had also been staying here.
Therefore Gyde and Klein were working in collusion.

That would mean that Sir Anthony Gyde had entered into a partnership
with this man, Klein—for what purpose?

For the purpose of murdering some unknown man in a cottage on the Fells
of Cumberland, and doing it in such a manner that Klein would appear to
be the victim and he, Sir Anthony Gyde, the murderer.

By extension it would mean that Lefarge, long ago, had entered into a
similar partnership with Müller. The thing was preposterous.

What, then, was the reason of this telegram?

All at once an explanation of it flashed across Freyberger’s mind. Could
it be a “blind?” Could Klein, suspecting Hellier of following him,
suspecting a trap of the police, have sent this message?

Freyberger had constructed Klein in his own mind from all sorts of
fragments—the two photographs, his handwriting, his methods. The man, if
he was a man and not a demon, was a master of subterfuge.

The momentary insanity which had caused him to strangle Mr Goldberg
would not in the least interfere with his reason.

“Now,” said Freyberger to himself, “if he noticed Hellier following him,
his reasoning would have run like this:

“I left a man dead in a road close by here last night; I came out this
morning and was followed by a man who was very much alive and who had
something of the cut of a detective.

“No one saw me last night. Why, then, did this man follow me? Can it be
that they suspect that I, who was supposed to be murdered in Cumberland,
am alive? Can they have circulated my description? It will be safer for
me not to go back to No. 18 St Ann’s Road, and, to confuse Messieurs the
Police, should they set a trap there, I will send a telegram to Gyde at
that address, so that they may be reconfirmed in their idea that Gyde is
still in the land of the living and Klein in the land of the dead.

“No one saw me last night but the landlady, and her description will
scarcely help the police against me: a tall man with a black beard.

“Oh, damnation!”

Freyberger suddenly leapt to his feet.

“What possessed me! What possessed me to use such a simple artifice in
the pursuit of this man, who, whatever else he may be, is half a
logician, half a magician?

“When he read that description in _The Daily Telegraph_ this morning,
what said he to himself? He said ‘Why this exact description of a man
who was not there?

“‘It is either the landlady’s terror that caused her to see what was
not, or it is a device of the police. Now the police never use a device
like that, which, after all, clouds a case to a certain extent, unless
they have some important reason.

“‘Of course, it may be simply due to the terror of the landlady, yet
this false description, widely circulated, coupled with the fact that I
have been followed, is, to say the least, suspicious.’

“That would be the line of his argument. Double fool that I was to
forget that I was dealing, not with a criminal but a genius in crime.

“This man forgets nothing, foresees everything.

“I have been a fool, and yet—” Freyberger’s face unclouded a bit. “Is
there another man in London who would have dug into his plans so deeply
as I have done, connected the Lefarge case with the Gyde case and proved
him indubitably the prime mover in both?

“A few days ago I knew nothing about this man whom Sir Anthony Gyde is
supposed to have murdered. What do I know now? What have I discovered by
the aid of my own intelligence? I know his name, his face, his mind in
part. I know that he has not been murdered by Gyde; I am almost assured
that he has murdered Gyde.

“I know that, under the name of Müller, he was not murdered by Lefarge;
I am almost assured that he murdered Lefarge. I know that he is a
homicidal maniac, whose pet method is strangulation.

“I know that he has about him Gyde’s jewellery, of which he is sure to
try to dispose. I know that he has lived here; I know the address where
he lived in Howland Street. But my most important knowledge is the
knowledge of the statue and the bent of his mind.

“I have accumulated a mass of evidence that will damn him and crush him
whenever I catch him, a mass of evidence that will clear two innocent
men and expose to the world’s gaze the greatest and most complete
villain that the world has ever beheld. Come, it is not so bad. I have
committed a fault; I tried to match him at his own game of subterfuge,
and that telegram was my answer. Alas! I am not so clever as he. But I
have this in my favour, that I know much about him and he knows nothing
about me.

“I have seen his hand, he has not seen mine.

“The question remains, what shall I do now? Remain here or go? Remain by
all means, even if I have to remain till to-morrow morning. If he comes
back I will seize him. If he does not come back, then I will know
definitely that he has taken fright, that he suspects, and that he is,
indeed, the murderer of Goldberg.”

Continue Reading

what could possibly have happened to bring

ON the day after that upon which Freyberger had telephoned to the Paris
police requesting a personal interview with Mademoiselle Lefarge, London
awoke to find itself effaced by fog.

Mrs Hussey, the old woman who stole Hellier’s tea and whisky and coal,
made his bed, lit his fire, and attended generally to his wants and
discomforts, had set the breakfast things out for him, placed his eggs
and bacon in the fender to keep warm, and his letters by his plate.
Having attended to these duties she had departed, swallowed up in the
fog.

There were three letters on the table. Two small bills and an invitation
to a dance in Bayswater. A more depressing post could not have been
invented for him.

He had hoped to find an envelope post-marked Boulogne-sur-Mer and
addressed to him in a characteristic woman’s hand. He had received no
reply to his last letter, but there was the chance that one might come
by the second post.

London is a terrible place for the anxious heart expecting news by post.
There are so many posts; every hour you hear the double knock at some
one else’s door, every hour you see the man in blue passing, the man who
could bring you so much if the fates only willed.

The second post came and brought with it a circular.

Have you ever noticed in life the part played by the unexpected? You are
looking forward to some pleasure, some journey, some meeting, you,
perhaps, are full of doubt as to whether your finances will meet the
occasion, whether the carriage will come at the proper time, whether the
woman you are to meet will keep the appointment.

All your fears are groundless, the money arrives, the carriage is at the
door, the lady is waiting for you, and you are just getting into the
carriage with a bunch of violets in your hand and a fat cheque in your
pocket, when a messenger arrives to say that your aunt is dying.

You had never thought of that. On the other hand the cheque has not
arrived, the carriage has not come, you are in despair, and Providence
appears in the form of Jones, a debtor whom you had forgotten for years,
now a millionaire back from South Africa.

Hellier was leaving his rooms with his overcoat tightly buttoned up, a
muffler round his neck and a feeling of desolation at his heart, when,
on the stairs he knocked against a telegraph boy, took a telegram from
him, opened it and read by the light of the gas jet on the lower
landing:

“Boulogne-sur-Mer.

“DEAR FRIEND: We arrive London to-day. Meet us Langham Hotel six
o’clock; important.

CÉCILE LEFARGE.”

As Hellier walked across the courtyard of Clifford’s Inn with this
missive in his pocket, the sky above was sapphire blue, the sun was
shining brightly, also trees were blooming around him and nightingales
singing in their branches. At least, so it seemed to him till a
collision with Mr Crump, K.C., a portly gentleman, who was not in love,
brought him to his senses.

He did not ask himself what could possibly have happened to bring Cécile
to London. He only knew that she was coming, that she had telegraphed to
him and that he would meet her at six. As if nature had suddenly grown
kind as well as fate, towards noon the fog cleared away, the sun shone
out and the light of a perfect spring day was cast upon the world.

At six o’clock to the minute he presented himself at the Langham,
ascertained that Mademoiselle Lefarge and her aunt had arrived and were
expecting him and was shown to their private sitting-room.

FREYBERGER, also, had received a telegram that morning, or, at least,
the Chief of the Criminal Investigation Department had received it and
communicated its contents to him.

“You can take the case entirely into your own hands, Freyberger,” he
said. “You have certainly done well in it heretofore, the connexion
between the two crimes seems to me almost made out, should the Paris
people identify the portrait we have sent them as that of the supposedly
murdered man, Müller, the connexion will be made certain. Your insight
has been very praiseworthy, and if the portrait is identified we can at
once place our finger upon the person who, if he is not the author of
the crime, we are investigating, is, at least, so bound up in it that
his capture must place the whole matter in a clear light.

“But will we be any nearer to his arrest? You object to his portrait
being published in the papers, yet you know very well the value of that
step.

“Take a big morning and evening paper; a portrait published in these
papers is a portrait, so to speak, placarded on the sky. A million pair
of eyes are at once placed at our service.”

“Quite so, sir,” replied Freyberger, “I am the last man to undervalue
the power of the Press. I quite know that if we were to publish the
portrait we should have half a million amateur detectives at our service
in half a dozen hours. Unfortunately, it is my firm conviction that in
an hour after publication, our man, who is now, I fancy, walking about
the world catchable, in the pride of his infernal genius, in an hour, I
repeat, he would be uncatchable. He would turn himself into air, into
water, into smoke. He would become some one else. He is illusion
materialized.

“Even if we circulate his portrait amidst the force, within a few hours
some man answering his description is sure to be arrested, sure to be
released, and the affair will get wind and our Jack-o’-lanthorn will
know that some one, not answering the description of Gyde, is being
sought for, and he will say to himself ‘they have found out something,
they suspect, perhaps they know,’ and he will dive, efface himself,
never be seen again.

“I believe the use of ordinary methods against this person will be of no
avail. We must trust to chance. And I have a strange belief, rather a
sort of instinct, that the chance will come to us through the Lefarge
case.”

He ceased, for at this moment a sergeant knocked at the door, bringing a
broad sheet of paper on which was some writing.

He handed it to the chief and withdrew. It was a message from Boulogne
and read:

“Boulogne-sur-Mer.

“Have received communication through Hamard. Will be at the Langham
Hotel this evening at seven, bringing all evidence with me.

CÉCILE LEFARGE.”

“The omen is good,” said the chief, with a slight smile.

Before Freyberger could reply the door opened and another officer
appeared with a message. It was from the prefecture.

“Photograph sent by your agent identified as that of Wilhelm Müller,
assassinated December 30, 18—, No. 110 Rue de Turbigo. Duplicate of
photo has been in this office since the crime was committed.—LEGENDRE,
Chief of Identification Bureau, Prefecture of Police.”

The chief’s eyes sparkled for a moment with pleasure. The way in which
Freyberger had connected and riveted the two cases, the manner in which
he had now, with terrible and mathematical certainty, proved Müller,
_alias_ Kolbecker, _alias_ Klein, the moving spirit in these two great
tragedies, and almost to a certainty the criminal, since Lefarge could
have no thinkable connexion with the Gyde case and Gyde no connexion
with the Lefarge case; all this pleased his artistic instinct. He said
nothing, but simply read the message, handed it to Freyberger, who read
it in turn and gave it back.

“Thank you, sir,” said Freyberger, “and now, if you will permit me, I
will go home. Nothing of importance is likely to happen between now and
seven o’clock. I have some pressing business to attend to.”

“And what may that business be?” inquired the chief.

“Sleep, sir. I have not closed my eyes for forty-eight hours.”

“Go and attend to your business, then,” replied the other, “and if
anything of vital importance turns up, I will send for you. I am pleased
with you, Freyberger, and with the way you have conducted this case. Go
and dream you have caught this will-o’-the-wisp, and may your dream turn
true.”

“I never dream, sir,” replied Freyberger, and, bidding the chief good
morning, he departed.

HE returned to his rooms.

The man who would command events must be able to command sleep. This, at
least, Freyberger was able to do. He cast himself upon his bed, closed
his eyes and was immediately lost in oblivion.

At half-past four he awoke, made himself some coffee, lit a cigar and
fell, for a moment, into meditation. There was one point wanting to him
in the case before it stood absolutely four square and to his
satisfaction.

That point was the proof that the bust of Sir Anthony Gyde was by the
hand of the same sculptor as the bust of M. Lefarge.

It was more than probable that Mademoiselle Lefarge would bring with her
to London this very material piece of evidence. It was in her possession
he knew, for, in the newspaper accounts of the tragedy it was numbered
amidst the _pièces de conviction_, and the statement was made that it
had been returned to the daughter of Lefarge, coupled with the statement
that Mademoiselle Lefarge wept when it was returned to her and expressed
her conviction of her father’s innocence and her determination to devote
her life to the task of clearing his name from the terrible stain upon
it. Antonides alone would be able to decide the question of the artist,
and at five Freyberger left his rooms and took his way to Old Compton
Street.

He did not call at the Yard on his way, knowing quite well that if
anything important had turned up in reference to the Gyde case, the
chief would have communicated with him immediately.

Antonides was in. He was eating a sausage roll behind his counter, or
rather finishing it, when Freyberger entered. The old man was killing
himself with indigestion. To save the price of a trustworthy assistant
he looked after his business entirely himself, with the exception of
what help a boy, hired at seven shillings a week, could give him. This
meant that whenever he required a meal properly cooked he had to go to a
café and lock the shop up till he returned, as this meant the possible
loss of a customer, he was condemned to live on sardines and sausage
rolls, sandwiches, anything, in fact, that did not require cooking or
service.

Of course he could have had dinner sent in from a café, but he would
have had to eat it on the counter for had he retired upstairs to devour
it he would have been compelled to close the shop.

Not for one moment did he leave it open during his absence upstairs,
save on very rare occasions, such as the morning before, when
Freyberger, calling to inspect the bust, had found the boy taking down
the shutters and the door open.

“Good day, Mr Freyberger,” said the old man.

“Good day,” said Freyberger.

“And what can I do for you Mr Freyberger,” asked Antonides, “any more
busts to restore?”

“Not to-day, thanks, I want your opinion on a work of art.”

“Produce it.”

“Do you think I carry it about with me in my pocket?”

“I have seen works of art produced from a pocket before now. I have seen
a snuff-box, worth a thousand guineas, and which I bought for,—no
matter.”

“Well this is not a snuff-box but a bust.”

“Another bust!”

“Yes, another.”

“The subject?”

“A man.”

“The artist?”

“Unknown, but supposed to be the same who executed the bust of Sir
Anthony Gyde.”

“Ha! ha!”

“Could you tell if it were the same artist?”

“Could I tell it in the dark by the touch of my fingers, could I not?”

“Well, I hope to show you it.”

“You know my fee for examining works of art?”

“No.”

“A guinea.”

“You shall have it.”

“At what hour will you bring it here?”

“That’s just the point, the thing can’t be brought here, you must go to
see it.”

“Where?”

“At the Langham Hotel.”

“You know my fee for leaving my shop to inspect works of art.”

“No.”

“Two guineas, Mr Freyberger.”

“You shall have them.”

“And the cab fare?” shrieked Antonides, his face becoming pinched with
excitement.

“And the cab fare.”

“There and back?”

“Yes, there and back, anything else? Mention it whilst we are about it,
don’t be bashful, drinks on the way and a red carpet on the steps when
you get there.”

“I never drink between meals. Three shillings is the cab fare. I never
cheat my customers, nor do I allow cabmen to cheat me. At what hour
shall I be at the Langham Hotel?”

“Oh, about half-past seven.”

“And the bust. If it is not asking an impertinent question, where is it
coming from?”

“Paris.”

“Ah!”

“By the way.”

“Yes.”

“Have you ever heard of an artist and sculptor, named Wilhelm Müller?”

“Wilhelm Müller, a sculptor?”

“Yes.”

“Murdered eight years ago?”

“Yes.”

“By a M.—”

“Lefarge.”

“Yes, yes, that is the name. Oh, yes, I remember Müller. I only saw him
once about nine years ago; I clearly recollect him for the fact of his
murder, which I read of in the papers shortly after impressed our
meeting upon me. It was at the _chat noir_. Oh, yes, I remember Wilhelm
Müller very well indeed.”

“You are a judge of men.”

“I am a judge of art primarily, modern man is mainly a production of
art, not of nature; yes, I am a judge of men.”

“What was your opinion of Müller?”

“You know my fee for examining and giving my opinion on works of art.”

“Yes, here, take a cigar and give me your opinion on Müller.”

“As a work of art or nature?”

“You said modern man was a work of art.”

“I said, mainly a work of art, there is a strong substratum of nature in
some men.”

“Well I want your opinion on Müller, both as a work of art and a work of
nature; cast some light on him for me out of your intelligence.”

“Give me a match.”

“There you are.”

“Thank you. As an artistic production, Müller was not so bad, for he
managed fairly well to conceal from his fellow-men what nature had made
him?”

“And what had nature made him?”

“A madman.”

“A madman?”

“Yes, and yet he was sane.”

“That sounds like a paradox.”

“Man is a paradox. I know twenty men in London who are as mad as
hatters, yet they are sane for all practical purposes.”

“Could you fancy Müller committing a murder?”

“Easily. He was of the intellectual criminal type.”

“Yet he was a great artist.”

“Though I have never seen any of his work—”

“Pardon me, you have, for that bust of Sir Anthony Gyde’s was, I
believe, from his chisel.”

“Though I had never seen any of his work, judging from my recollection
of the man, I would say he was a great genius. He had the brilliancy of
eye, the concentration of gaze, which one rarely meets with in
common-place people, and yet those eyes would, so to speak, fall apart,
the concentration relax, the gaze become turned inward. Then it was that
the essential madness of the man became visible to the man who could
see. How many men of your acquaintance can see, Mr Freyberger?”

Freyberger laughed and turned to leave the shop.

“Well,” he said, “seven-thirty at the Langham. Be sure you are there and
ask for Mademoiselle Lefarge.”

AT seven o’clock precisely, Freyberger drove up to the Langham.

Mademoiselle Lefarge had given instructions that anyone who called was
to be shown up.

Freyberger followed a waiter up the softly carpeted stairs; at the door
of a room on the first landing the man stopped.

“Whom shall I say, sir?”

“Mr Gustave Freyberger.”

The waiter opened the door and the detective found himself in the
presence of three people.

An old lady with white hair, a young woman whom he recognized by
instinct as Mademoiselle Lefarge, and a man of about thirty or perhaps
thirty-five, clean-shaved, English-looking, and with the stamp of a
barrister.

The detective’s quick eye and even quicker brain took in the room and
its occupants at a glance.

In a moment he comprehended the status of the two women before him, but
the man puzzled him.

The women were French to their fingertips, but the man was English.

Needless to say the man was Hellier.

Cécile Lefarge gazed at the newcomer for a moment and then advanced,
with hand out-stretched, in such a kindly and frank manner as quite to
captivate even the unemotional Freyberger.

“I need not ask you,” she said, “for I am quite sure you are the
gentleman mentioned by M. Hamard as having telegraphed to Paris for an
interview with me. I am Cécile Lefarge.”

“Mademoiselle,” replied the detective, with a charming modesty that was
half false. “The communication to M. Hamard came from the Chief of the
Criminal Investigation Department of Scotland Yard. I am but the humble
instrument deputed by him to inquire into a certain case. A crime has
been committed in England. In the investigation of the matter, I, by a
strange chance, came upon the records of a crime committed in Paris—”

“Eight years ago.”

“Pardon me, mademoiselle, eight years and five months ago.”

“You are exact.”

“I am exact, but before I proceed, I must ask you to excuse me. This is
an important matter. In speaking of it I wish to be sure of whom I am
addressing. You are Mademoiselle Lefarge, this lady—”

“Is my aunt, Madame de Warens.”

“Thank you, and this gentleman?”

Cécile Lefarge blushed slightly. “He is our very good friend, Mr
Hellier.”

Hellier produced his visiting card and handed it to Freyberger.

“That is my name and address,” said he. “I assure you that anything you
say before me will not pass beyond me. Mademoiselle Lefarge has
entrusted me with the painful details of the case that occurred in Paris
eight years ago, and I have made investigations myself in the matter. I
have spent some time in Paris studying the reports of the case, and I
may be able to assist you in an humble way, if my assistance would not
be out of place.”

Freyberger bowed very stiffly. He had a horror of the amateur detective,
the Gyde case was his own especial problem, he wished for no help in its
solution.

“Thank you,” he said. Then turning to Mademoiselle Lefarge:

“I like to be always perfectly frank, I have brought you a long journey,
my message was urgent, yet I can give you no word of hope on the
question that has troubled your heart for eight years.”

“Hope!”

“My meaning is this, I can give you no hope that M. Lefarge is alive.”

“Alive! Ah, no! He is dead, my dear father is dead, some instinct has
long told me that; all I hope for is revenge.”

“I may give you that,” said Freyberger quite simply.

They were standing opposite to one another. Mademoiselle Lefarge sank
down on a fauteuil near by and motioned the detective to take a chair.

“I must tell you first,” said he, taking a seat close to her, “that a
terrible crime has been committed in England, a crime almost exactly
similar to that which was committed in the Rue de Turbigo eight years
ago.”

“Ah!”

“We are investigating that crime, we believe the active agent in it to
be the active agent in the crime of the Rue de Turbigo. If we can prove
this incontrovertibly by the capture of the active agent for whom we are
seeking, your father’s name will be quite cleared of any imputation.”

Cécile Lefarge sighed deeply. She sat with her hands clasped across one
knee and her eyes fixed upon the man before her.

She divined, in this plain, clean-shaved, fresh-coloured and
youngish-looking man, whose face might have been that of a café waiter,
whose manner was yet so calm and authoritative and assured, and whose
eye was so full of steadfastness and energy, she divined in this person
the man for whom she had been seeking for years—her avenger.

“Go on, please,” she said.

“I must first,” said Freyberger, taking a parcel from his pocket, “ask
you to look at this.”

He handed a photograph to the girl.

She looked at it and gave a short, sharp cry, as though some one had
struck her.

“Müller!” she said, holding the thing away from her with a gesture of
terror.

Freyberger took it and replaced it in his pocket after Hellier had
glanced at it.

“You recognize it as the portrait—”

“Of the man who executed the bust of my father. Oh, yes, indeed, I
recognize it. His face is burnt upon my brain. Were I to live a thousand
years, it would be there still.”

“Now,” said Freyberger, “I do not wish to pain you, yet I must say some
unpleasant things. You know that in the eyes of the world at the time of
this affair, M. Lefarge appeared guilty.”

“Alas!” said she, “in the eyes of the world my dear father must appear
as guilty as he did then.”

“You know the terrible mass of evidence that was produced against him?”

“Yes.”

“You have weighed it logically yourself?”

“Yes.”

“Have you ever believed your father to have been guilty of the crime
imputed to him?”

“Never.”

“Have you any special reason for this disbelief?”

“No.”

“Yet—”

“Yet I know him to have been innocent. Ah, M. Freyberger! logic is not
everything in this world, instinct with some people counts for much
more. I know my dear father to have been innocent, and you ask me how I
know it. I can only answer, ‘how do I know that the sun shines,’ the
thing is plain before me, and we will not speak of it again.”

“We will speak, then, of this man, Müller. He impressed you.”

She looked around as if seeking for a metaphor.

“He impressed me with horror, he filled me with the terror of a
nightmare.”

“You saw him several times?”

“Yes, my dear father brought him to our house. My father was so good, so
pleasant, so genial, he saw no harm in anyone. If a man were only
clever, that was enough for him. Many an artist who is now well-to-do in
the world owes everything to the help received from him.”

Freyberger had been studying Mademoiselle Lefarge from the first moment
of his entering the room. This was no woman of the ordinary type.

This was an individual of spirit and sense and intellect, who had been
studying the Lefarge case for eight years. He determined to put the
whole matter of the Gyde case before her and its connexion with the case
of Lefarge.

This he did in the space of ten minutes, clearly and concisely and with
that precision that never misses a necessary or includes an unnecessary
word.

“If what you have told me is correct,” said Mademoiselle Lefarge, when
he had finished, “it only confirms my belief that Müller by some
horrible alchemy, known only to himself, destroyed my father both in
body and reputation, just as he has destroyed Sir Anthony Gyde.”

“That, too, is my belief,” said Hellier, who had been listening, amazed
at the tale of Freyberger, and full of admiration at his process of
reasoning.

“Now,” said the detective, “have you the bust this man executed of M.
Lefarge?”

“Yes,” replied Cécile, “I have it in the next room, I brought it with me
to-day, hoping it might be of use.”

Freyberger looked at her with admiration.

“It will be of great use, and I must thank you for bringing it. I would
like to see it and to show it to a friend whom I expect here shortly. He
is a Greek who has reconstructed the Gyde bust, and his opinion is
necessary to me in the case.”

Mademoiselle Lefarge passed into an adjoining room, from which she
presently emerged, carrying something in her arms; something wrapped in
a white cloth.

She placed this object on a table and, removing the cloth, exposed the
bust of M. Lefarge, which we have already seen.

Freyberger examined the thing attentively, murmuring to himself as he
did so. Mademoiselle Lefarge, watching him narrowly, imagined that he
seemed pleased.

“Well,” she said at last, “do you think it will be of service to you in
your investigations? What do you think of it?”

“Ah, mademoiselle,” he replied, “my opinion on a work of art is,
perhaps, of no great value and for that reason I have sent for a friend
who is a magician where these matters are concerned, but,” looking at
his watch, “he is late, this magician.”

Scarcely had he spoken than a knock came to the door and a waiter
appeared bearing a salver, on which reposed a filthy-looking visiting
card.

Cécile took the thing, on which was scrawled:

“I. Antonides, art dealer, 1006 Old Compton Street.”

“Gentleman is outside, miss,” said the waiter, whose cast-iron face was
struggling with a grin and conquering it.

“Show him in,” said Cécile, and I. Antonides entered.

Dressed in a shabby old fur-lined coat, from which half the buttons were
gone, and holding a shabby old silk hat in one hand he stood for a
moment in the doorway, blinking and then, catching sight of Freyberger,
he beckoned.

Freyberger went to him and Antonides, catching him by the lapel,
whispered, “A word in your ear, Mr Freyberger.”

“Well, what is it?” asked the detective, following the old man into the
corridor.

“Am I dealing in this matter with you, or the young woman?”

“I suppose by the young woman you mean Mademoiselle Lefarge?”

“Yes.”

“Well, you are dealing with me. Why do you ask?”

“Only this,” said Antonides, who, from one brief glimpse, had summed up
the financial position of this girl, who was able to afford a private
suite of rooms on the first floor of the Langham.

“It’s nothing to you, here or there, a pound or two in my pocket, so
long as it doesn’t come out of your pocket, won’t make _her_ pocket any
the lighter. Mr Freyberger, consider our bargain off, like a good friend
and let me do the skinning.”

“Now look here,” said Freyberger, “you bargained to come here and view
the thing for two pounds.”

“Guineas.”

“And the cab fare, that’s what you’ll get and not a penny more.
Skinning, indeed! Do you take me for an—art dealer? See here, I have the
money for you, here’s two pounds, here’s two shillings, and what’s the
cab fare?”

“Five.”

“Three, you mean; anyhow, here’s five. What a funny man you are.”

“I am never funny in business, but in return for your compliment, I will
give you a piece of advice—never, never, stir a foot in business without
settling your terms in advance. Once I lost eight shillings and a
halfpenny, the single fare to Leicester by omitting to carry out that
precept. It was seven years ago, Mr Freyberger, seven years, and I have
never got that eight and a halfpenny back from the world yet, and never
will. Now to our consultation.”

They returned to the sitting-room, Freyberger introduced the old man in
a word or two and then pointed to the bust.

The Greek took a spectacle case from his pocket, drew forth a pair of
steel-rimmed spectacles and adjusted them upon his nose. Then he
examined the bust attentively.

“Well?” asked Freyberger.

“Well,” answered the other, quite disregardless of the other people
present. “Where are your eyes, could you not see that this bust is, from
an artistic point of view, the twin brother of that which I repaired for
you?”

“I was sure of it,” said Freyberger.

“Then why did you ask my opinion?”

“Because I wanted to make doubly sure.”

“Well, you have done so,” said Antonides, taking his spectacles off and
replacing them in his pocket. “You may take my word for it that the man
who executed this bust was also the author of that admirable piece of
work which some Philistine smashed with his coal hammer.”

Antonides bowed slightly to the ladies, seized his old hat, which he had
placed on a chair, and, escorted by Freyberger, left the room.

When Freyberger returned, Mademoiselle Lefarge was still standing in
exactly the same place where she had stood whilst the old man was giving
his opinion on the bust.

Hellier was still seated in the background; he had not spoken a word,
content to listen and leave the case entirely in the capable hands of
the detective.

The girl took a seat and motioned Freyberger to do the same.

He took the chair which she had pointed out, then he sat for a moment in
thought. At last he said.

“You have told me everything that you know?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I want you to tell me something more. I want you to tell me, more
precisely, what you think.”

She looked puzzled.

“Your knowledge of the facts of this case,” said he, “does not, perhaps,
exceed my own. Your memory may not be able to cast new light on the
matter, but your imagination may. You have pondered over it, you have
dreamt of it, for eight years and more it has been with you. What does
your imagination say? what have you fancied about it?”

“I have fancied this,” said she, “or, rather, I have been assured of
this. That whoever was murdered in the Rue de Turbigo, it was not
Müller. I know all the evidence, and of the tattooed marks upon the
body. The two letters ‘W.M.,’ which were his initials. But might they
not have been the initials of some other man? No one gave evidence to
say that such marks had ever been seen upon Müller. No matter. I believe
that Müller was _not_ murdered; I believe that Müller was the assassin
of whoever _was_ murdered, and I have felt that he was such a terrible
man that he was sure to repeat his crime, murder some one else, and
probably get caught. God help me! I have hoped so. For years it has been
my hope that this demon might act again as he acted in the Rue de
Turbigo, and fall into the hands of justice, just as a tiger who eats
men returns to his feeding place and falls into the hands of the
hunters.

“Was my belief correct? Look at the case of Sir Anthony Gyde, of which
you told us to-night.”

“Your belief was, I am convinced, correct,” answered Freyberger.

“I believe,” went on Mademoiselle Lefarge, speaking as if under the
influence of an inspiration, “that this man has not limited his hand to
Sir Anthony Gyde, I believe that he has committed many murders. He is a
_murderer_. I can fancy him strangling a fellow creature from pure
hatred and the lust of blood or money.”

“Ah! Good heavens!” cried Hellier, striking himself on the forehead.

Every one turned towards him.

“What is it?” asked the girl.

“I have been a fool, forgive me. I remember now; listen to me.”

“Yes, yes.”

“I undertook to investigate this case. I went to Paris, I saw every one
who could in the least throw light on it, I went into all the evidence.
I said to myself, the case is hopeless; forgive me for having said this
even to myself. Well, one day, by chance, in an old file of the _Petit
Journal_, I saw the case of an old man named Mesnier; he had been
strangled for no apparent reason, and an important witness said that he
had seen a man leaving Mesnier’s room shortly after the time the tragedy
must have taken place, and he said that he would have sworn that this
man was Müller, only for the fact that Müller was known to be dead.”

“Ah, ah!” said Freyberger, who was listening intently. “How long after
the Lefarge affair was this?”

“A few days. Then a few days later a woman was strangled in a field for
no apparent motive save murder, and a few days later a child was also
killed upon the high road near Paris in a similar manner. I read these
things, but though they made an impression upon me, I said to myself,
Müller is dead, they can have no relationship to the crime in the Rue de
Turbigo. Now I have heard of the Gyde case, it proves that Müller is
still alive, and now I feel convinced that these crimes were committed
by this demon. Can you forgive me, my friend, for having for a moment
doubted the innocence of your father?”

“There is nothing to forgive,” said the girl, gazing at the young man
with an expression that spoke volumes of her feelings towards him, “and
if there were I would forgive you a hundred times, for you have
struggled against the disbelief caused by terrible and crushing
evidence. What you say proves to me again that this man is alive; but,
alas! of what use to us can these other crimes be? He was not caught,
they occurred years ago and can give justice no thread.”

Freyberger did not seem to fall in with this opinion. He had risen from
his chair and was pacing up and down, a sure sign that he was deeply
excited or disturbed.

“You are sure of what you say?” he said, suddenly turning on Hellier.

“Certain.”

“You saw these crimes reported in the _Petit Journal_?”

“Yes.”

“Have you files of the papers?”

“No. I read it in Paris. I can supply you with the dates.”

“No use; I don’t want to know details. Simply the fact that these crimes
were committed suffices me.”

“Do you think the fact will be of use to you?” asked the girl.

Freyberger laughed hoarsely. He had let his excitement get away with
him. In a flash he had seen the means and the method of laying his hand
upon the man he wanted. This was what he had been waiting for, just this
accidental sidelight. “Chance will give him to us,” he had told the
Chief of the Criminal Investigation Department, and now he felt that the
chance had come. But he was not going to show his hand, especially
before Hellier. He wanted to keep the Gyde case to himself till it was
completed, just as a sculptor keeps a statue from view till the moment
of unveiling.

“It may and it may not,” he replied. “And now, Mademoiselle, I will take
leave of you. There is much work to be done and I am required elsewhere.
I will keep you informed of our progress, that is to say, as far as it
is in my power. You are staying at the hotel?”

“Yes, for some time.”

“Thank you; good evening.” He bowed to old Madame de Warens, who had
been a somewhat unintelligent spectator of all that had passed, he gave
a slight, stiff bow to Hellier and left the room.

Hellier rose to his feet. “I must speak to that man,” he said, taking
Cécile Lefarge’s hand in both his. “I must catch him before he leaves
the hotel. May I see you to-morrow?”

“Yes, come early.”

He left the room with something in his hand. It was a small bunch of
violets she had taken from her breast.

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