“安东尼·伯克利的罗杰·谢林汉姆系列”全文

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ANTHONY 
BERKELEY 


THE SILK STOCKING 
MURDERS 


Born in 1893, Anthony Berkeley (Anthony Berkeley Cox) was 
a British crime writer and a leading member of the genre’s 
Golden Age. Educated at Sherborne School and University 
College London, Berkeley served in the British army during 
WWI before becoming a journalist. His first novel, The 
Layton Court Murders, was published anonymously in 1925. 
It introduced Roger Sheringham, the amateur detective who 
features in many of the author’s novels including the classic 
Poisoned Chocolates Case. In 1930, Berkeley founded the 
legendary Detection Club in London along with Agatha 
Christie, Freeman Wills Crofts and other established mystery 
writers. It was in 1938, under the pseudonym Francis lles 
(which Berkeley also used for novels) that he took up work 
as a book reviewer for John O’London’s Weekly and The 
Daily Telegraph. He later wrote for The Sunday Times in the 
mid 1940s, and then for The Guardian from the mid 1950s 
until 1970. A key figure in the development of crime fiction, 
he died in 1971. 


THE SILK STOCKING 
MURDERS 


ANTHONY BERKELEY 


THE LANGTAIL PRESS 



. ALETTER FOR MR. SHERINGHAM 
. MR. SHERINGHAM WONDERS 
. MISS CARRUTHERS IS DRAMATIC 


TWO DEATHS AND A JOURNEY 
ENTER CHIEF INSPECTOR MORESBY 


. DETECTIVE SHERINGHAM, OF SCOTLAND YARD 
. GETTING TO GRIPS WITH THE CASE 

. AVISITOR TO SCOTLAND YARD 

. NOTES AND QUERIES 

. LUNCH FOR TWO 

. AN INTERVIEW AND A MURDER 

. SCOTLAND YARD AT WORK 

. AVERY DIFFICULT CASE 

. DETECTIVE SHERINGHAM SHINES 


MR. SHERINGHAM DIVERGES 


. ANNE INTERVENES 

. AN UNOFFICIAL COMBINATION 
. “AN ARREST IS IMMINENT” 

. MR. SHERINGHAM IS BUSY 

. ALARMS AND EXCURSIONS 

. ANNE HAS A THEORY 

. THE LAST VICTIM 


XXIII. THE TRAP IS SET 
XXIV. THE TRAP IS SPRUNG 
XXV. ROUND THE GOOD XXXX 


CHAPTER | 


A LETTER FOR MR. SHERINGHAM 


Rocer SuerincHam halted before the little box just inside the 
entrance of The Daily Courier’s enormous building behind 
Fleet Street. Its occupant, alert for unauthorised intruders 
endeavouring to slip past him, nodded kindly. 


“Only one for you this morning, sir,” he said, and 
produced a letter. 


With another nod, which he _ strove to make as 
condescending as the porter’s (and failed), Roger passed 
into the lift and was hoisted smoothly into the upper 
regions. The letter in his hand, he made his way through 
mazy, stone-floored passages into the dark little room set 
apart for his own use. Roger Sheringham, whose real 
business in life was that of a best-selling novelist, had 
stipulated when he consented to join The Daily Courier as 
criminological expert and purveyor of chattily-written 
articles on murder, upon a room of his own. He used it only 
twice a week, but he had carried his point. That is what 
comes of being a personal friend of an editor. 


Bestowing his consciously dilapidated hat in a corner, he 
threw his newspaper on the desk and slit open the letter. 


Roger always enjoyed this twice-weekly moment. In spite 
of his long acquaintance with them, ranging over nearly ten 
years, he was still able to experience a faint thrill on 
receiving letters from complete strangers. Praise of his work 
arriving out of the unknown delighted him; abuse filled him 


with combative joy. He always answered each one with 
individual care. It would have warmed the hearts of those of 
his correspondents who prefaced their letters with diffident 
apologies for addressing him (and nine out of ten of them 
did so), to see the welcome their efforts received. All 
authors are like this—and all authors are careful to tell their 
friends what a nuisance it is having to waste so much time 
in answering the letters of strangers, and how they wish 
people wouldn’t do it. All authors, in fact, are——. But that is 
enough about authors. 


It goes without saying that since he had joined The Daily 
Courier Roger’s weekly bag of strangers had increased very 
considerably. It was therefore not without a_ certain 
disappointment that he had received this solitary specimen 
from the porter’s hands this morning. A little resentful, he 
drew it from its envelope. As he read, his resentment 
disappeared. A little pucker appeared between _ his 
eyebrows. The letter was an unusual one, decidedly. 


It ran as follows: 


The Vicarage, 
Little Mitcham, Dorset. 
Dear Sir,—You will, | hope, pardon my presumption in 
writing to you at all, but | trust that you will accept the 
excuse that my need is urgent. | have read your very 
interesting articles in The Daily Courier and, studying them 
between the lines, feel that you are a man who will not 
resent my present action, even though it may transfer a 
measure of responsibility to you which might seem irksome. 
| would have come up to London to see you in person, but 
that the expense of such a journey is, to one in my position, 
almost prohibitive. 


Briefly, then, | am a widower, of eight years’ standing, 
with five daughters. The eldest, Anne, has taken upon her 
shoulders the duties, of my dear wife, who died when Anne 


was sixteen; and she was, till ten months ago, ably 
seconded by the sister next to her in age, Janet. | need 
hardly explain to you that, on the stipend of a country 
parson, it has not been an easy task to feed, clothe and 
educate five growing girls. Janet, therefore, who, | may add, 
has always been considered the beauty of the family, 
decided ten months ago to seek her fortune elsewhere. We 
did our best to dissuade her, but she is a high-spirited girl, 
and, having made up her mind, refused to alter it. She also 
pointed out that not only would there be one less, mouth to 
feed, but, should she be able to obtain employment of even 
a moderately lucrative nature, she would be able to make a 
modest, but undoubtedly helpful, contribution towards the 
household expenses. 


Janet did carry out her intention and left us, going, 
presumably, to London. | write “presumably” because she 
refused most firmly to give us her address, saying that not 
until she was securely established in her new life, whatever 
that should be, would she allow us even to communicate 
with her, in case we might persuade her, in the event of her 
not meeting with initial success, to give up and come home 
again. She did however write to us occasionally herself, and 
the postmark was always London, though the postal district 
varied with almost every letter. From these letters we 
gathered that, though remaining confident and cheerful, she 
had not yet succeeded in obtaining a post of the kind she 
desired. She had, however, she told us, found employment 
sufficiently remunerative to allow her to keep herself in 
comparative comfort, though she never mentioned the 
precise nature of the work in which she was engaged. 


She had been in the habit of writing to us about once a 
week or so, but six weeks ago her letters ceased and we 
have not heard a word from her since. It may be that there 
Is no cause for alarm, but alarm | do feel nevertheless. Janet 
is an affectionate girl and a good daughter, and | cannot 


believe that, knowing the distress it would cause us, she 
would willingly have omitted to let us hear from her in this 
way. | cannot help feeling that either her letters have been 
going astray or else the poor girl has met with an accident 
of some sort. 


My reasons, sir, for troubling you with all this are as 
follows. | am perhaps an old-fashioned man, but | do not 
care to approach the police in the matter and have Janet 
traced, when probably there is no more the matter than an 
old man’s foolish fancies; and | am quite sure that, 
assuming these fancies to have no foundation, Janet would 
much resent the police poking their noses into her affairs. 
On the other hand, if there has been an accident, the fact is 
almost certain to be known at the offices of a paper such as 
The Daily Courier. | have therefore determined, after 
considerable reflection, to trespass upon your kindness, on 
which of course | have no claim at all, to the extent of 
asking you to make discreet enquiries of such of your 
colleagues as might be expected to know, and acquaint me 
with the result. In this way recourse to the police may still 
be avoided, and news given me of my poor girl without 
unpleasant publicity or officialism. 


If you prefer to have nothing to do with my request, | beg 
of you to let me Know and | will put the matter to the police 
at once. If, on the other hand, you are so kind as to humour 
an old man, any words of gratitude on my part become 
almost superfluous.—Yours truly, 


A. E. Manners. 
P. S.—l enclose a snapshot of Janet taken two years ago, 
the only one we have. 


“The poor old bird!” Roger commented mentally, as he 
reached the end of this lengthy letter, written in a small, 
crabbed handwriting which was not too easy to decipher. 


“But | wonder whether he realises that there are about 
eight thousand accidents in the streets of London every 
twelve months? This is going to be a pretty difficult little 
job.” He looked inside the envelope again and drew out the 
Snapshot. 


Amateur snapshots have a humorous name, but they are 
seldom really as bad as reputed. This one was a fair average 
specimen, and showed four girls sitting on a sea-shore, their 
ages apparently ranging from ten to something over twenty. 
Under one of them was written, in the same crabbed hand 
writing, the word “Janet.” Roger studied her. She was pretty, 
evidently, and in spite of the fact that her face was covered 
with a very cheerful smile, Roger thought that he could 
recognise her from the picture should he ever be fortunate 
enough to find her. 


For as to whether he was going to look for her or not, 
there was no question. It had simply never occurred to 
Roger that he might, after all, not do so. Roger (whatever 
else he might be) was a man of quick sympathies, and that 
stilted letter, through whose formal phrases tragedy peeped 
so plainly, had touched him more than a little. But for the 
fact that an article had to be written before lunch-time, he 
would have set about it that very moment, without the least 
idea of how he was going to prosecute the search. 


As it was, however, circumstances prevented him from 
doing anything in the matter for another ninety minutes, 
and by that time his brain, working automatically as he 
wrote, had evolved a plan. He felt fairly certain that the girl 
was still in London, alive and flourishing, and had postponed 
writing home as the ties that bound her to Dorsetshire 
began to weaken; the old man’s anxiety was no doubt ill- 
founded, but that did not mean that it must not be relieved. 
Besides, the quest would prove a pretty little exercise for 
those sleuth-like powers which Roger was so sure he 
possessed. Nevertheless, unharmed and merely unfilial as 


he did not doubt the girl to be, it was easier to begin 
operations from the other end. If she had had an accident 
she would be considerably easier to trace than if she had 
not, and by establishing first the negative fact, Roger would 
be able the sooner to reassure the vicar. And as the only 
real clue he had was the snapshot, he had better start from 
that. 


Instead, therefore, of betaking himself to Piccadilly Circus 
in the blithe confidence that Janet Manners, like everybody 
else in London, would be certain to come along there sooner 
or later, he ran up two more flights of stairs in the same 
building, and, the snapshot in his hand, sought out the 
photo-graphic department of The Daily Courier’s illustrated 
sister, The Daily Picture. 


“Hullo, Ben,” he greeted the serious, horn-bespectacled 
young man who presided over the studio and spent most of 
his days in photographing mannequins, who left him cold, in 
garments which left them cold. “I Suppose you’ve never had 
a photograph through your hands of this girl, have you? The 
one marked Janet.” 


The bespectacled one scrutinised the snapshot with close 
attention. Every photograph that appeared in The Daily 
Picture passed, at one time or another, through his hands, 
and his memory was prodigious. “She does look a bit 
familiar,” he admitted. 


“She, does, eh?” Roger cried, suddenly apprehensive. 
“Good man. Rack your brains. | want her placed, badly.” 


The other bent over the snapshot again. “Can’t you help 
me?” he asked. “In what connection would | have come 
across her? Is she an actress, or a mannequin, or a titled 
beauty, or what?” 

“She’s not a titled beauty, | can tell you that; but she 
might have been either of the other two. | haven’t the 
faintest notion what she is.” 


“Why do you want to know if we’ve ever had a 
photograph of her through here, then?” 


“Oh, it’s just a personal matter,” Roger said evasively. 
“Her people haven’t heard from her for a week or two and 
they’re beginning to think, she’s been run over by a bus or 
something like that. You know how fussy the parents of that 
sort of girl are.” 


The other shook his head and handed back the snapshot. 
“No, I’m sorry, but | can’t place her. I’m sure I’ve seen her 
face before, but you’re too vague. If you could tell me, now, 
that she had been run over by a bus, or had some other 
accident, or been something (anything to provide a peg for 
my memory to hang on) | might have been able to—wait a 
minute, though!” He snatched the photograph back and 
studied it afresh. Roger looked on tensely. 


“I’ve got it!” the bespectacled one proclaimed in triumph. 
“It was the word ‘accident’ that gave me the clue. Have you 
ever noticed what a curious thing memory is, Sheringham? 
Present it with a blank surface, and it simply slides 
helplessly across it; but give it just the slightest little peg to 
grip on, and——” 


“Who is the girl?” Roger interrupted. 

The other blinked at him. “Oh, the girl. Yes. She was a 
chorus-girl in one of the big revues (I’m sorry, | forget which) 
and her name was Unity Something-or-other. She—good 
gracious, you really don’t know?” 

Roger shook his head. “No. What?” 

“She was a friend of yours?” the other persisted. 

“No, I’ve never met her in my life. Why?” 

“Well, you see, she hanged herself four or five weeks ago 
with her own stocking.” 


Roger stared at him. “The deuce she did!” he said blankly. 
“Hell!” 


They looked at each other. 


“Look here,” said the photographer, “I can’t be certain it’s 
the same girl, you know. Besides, this one seems to be 
called Janet. But | tell you what: there was a photo of Unity 
Something published in The Picture at the time, a 
professional one. You could look that up.” 


“Yes,” said Roger, his thoughts on the letter he would 
have to write to Dorset if all this were true. 


“And now | come to think of it, | seem to remember 
something rather queer about the case. It was ordinary 
enough in most ways, but | believe they had some difficulty 
in identifying the girl. No relatives came forward, or 
something like that.” 

“Oh?” 

“The Picture didn’t pay much attention to it, beyond 
publishing her photo; rather out of our line, of course. But | 
expect The Courier had a report of the inquest. Anyhow, 
don’t take it for certain that I’m right; it’s quite possible that 
I’m not. Go down and look up the files.” 


“Yes” said Roger glumly, turning on his heel. “I will.” 


CHAPTER II 


MR. SHERINGHAM WONDERS 


Acutey disappointed, and not a little shocked, Roger made his 
way downstairs. His thoughts were centred mainly upon that 
pathetic household in Dorsetshire, to whom his letter must 
bring such tragedy; but Roger, like most of us, while able to 
feel for other people strongly enough was at heart an egoist, 
and it was this side of his nature which prompted the 
sensation of disappointment of which he was conscious. It 
was, he could not help feeling, most unfortunate that just 
when his help had been solicited as that of an able 
criminologist, the problem should be whisked out of his 
hands in this uncompromising way. 


The truth was that Roger had been longing for an 
opportunity to put his detective capabilities into action once 
more. The letter had acted as a spur to his desires, coming 
as it did from one who evidently held the greatest respect 
for his powers in this direction. Roger himself had the 
greatest respect for his detective powers; but he could not 
disguise from himself the fact that others were obtuse 
enough to hold dissimilar views. Inspector Moresby, for 
instance. For the last nine months, ever since they had 
parted at Ludmouth after the Vane case, Inspector Moresby 
had rankled in Roger’s mind to a very considerable extent. 


And those nine months had been, from the criminologist’s 
point of view, deadly dull ones. Not an interesting murder 
had been committed, not even an actress had been 
deprived of her jewels. Without going so far as to question 


whether his detective powers might be getting actually 
rusty, Roger had been very, very anxiously seeking an 
opportunity to put them into action once more. And now 
that the chance had come, it had as swiftly disappeared. 


He began gloomily to turn back the pages of The Daily 
Picture file. 


It was not long before he found what he wanted. In an 
issue of just over five weeks ago there was, tucked neatly 
into a corner of the back page, a portrait of a young girl; the 
heading above it stated curtly: “Hanged Herself With Own 
Silk Stocking.” The letterpress below was hardly less brief. 
“Miss Unity Ransome, stated to be an actress, who hanged 
herself with her own silk stocking at her flat in Sutherland 
Avenue last Tuesday.” 


Roger pored over the picture. Like amateur snapshots, the 
pictures in an illustrated paper are considered fair game for 
the humorist. Whenever a painstaking humorist has to 
mention them he prefixes one of two epithets, “blurred” or 
“smudgy.” Yet the pictures in the illustrated dailies of to-day 
are neither blurred nor smudgy. They were once, it is true, 
perhaps so late as ten years ago, when the art of picture- 
printing for daily newspapers was an infant; nowadays they 
are astonishingly clear. One does wish sometimes that even 
humorists would move with the times. Roger had no 
difficulty in deciding that the two faces before him were of 
the same girl. 


He turned to The Daily Courier of the same date. 


There he found, unobtrusive on a page lined with 
advertisements, a laconic account of the inquest. Miss Unity 
Ransome, it seemed, had been a chorus-girl in one of the 
less important London revues. There was evidence that this 
was her first engagement on the stage, and she had 
obtained it, in spite of her inexperience, on the strength of 
her good looks and air of happy vivacity. Prior to this 


engagement, nothing was known about her. She shared a 
tiny flat in Sutherland Avenue with another girl in the same 
company, but they had met at the theatre for the first time. 
This girl, Moira Carruthers, had testified that she knew less 
than nothing about her friend’s antecedents. Unity Ransome 
not only volunteered no information concerning herself, but 
actively discouraged questions on that subject. “A regular 
oyster,” was Miss Carruthers’ happy description. 


This reticence the coroner had not been unwilling to 
emphasise, for on the face of it there appeared no reason 
for suicide. Miss Carruthers had stated emphatically that, so 
far as she knew, Unity had never contemplated such a 
thing. She had appeared to be perfectly happy, and even 
delighted at having obtained an engagement in London. Her 
salary, though not large, had quite sufficed for her needs. 
Pressed on this point, Miss Carruthers had admitted that her 
friend had more than once expressed a wish that she had 
been able to earn more, and that quickly; but, as Miss 
Carruthers pointed out, “Unity was what you might call a 
real lady, and perhaps she’d been accustomed to having 
things a bit better style than most of us.” At all events, she 
had not complained unduly. 


The police had made perfunctory efforts to trace her, 
Roger gathered, and attempts had been made, besides the 
publication of her professional portrait, to get into touch 
with any former friends or relations, but without success. To 
this also the Coroner called attention. In his concluding 
remarks, he hinted very delicately that the probability 
seemed to be that she had quarrelled with her family, left 
home (but not necessarily in disgrace, the Coroner was 
careful to add with emphasis, thereby showing quite plainly 
that this was precisely what he thought), and endeavoured 
to make a career for herself on the stage; and though she 
might appear to have met with unexpected success in this 
direction, who could say what remorse and unhappiness 


might not burden the life of a young girl cut off thus from all 
the comforts to which, it would seem, she had been 
accustomed? Or, again, she might have been an orphan, left 
penniless, and overcome by a loneliness which she felt, 
rightly or wrongly, to be unbearable. In other words, the 
Coroner was extremely sorry for the girl, but he wanted to 
get home to his lunch and the usual straightforward verdict 
was the best way of doing so. 


He got his wish. Indeed, there was little likelihood of 
anything else, for Unity Ransome had simplified matters by 
leaving a little note behind her. The note ran briefly as 
follows: “I am sick and tired of it all, and going to end it the 
only way.” It was not signed, but there was plenty of 
evidence that it was in her writing. A verdict of “Suicide 
during Temporary Insanity” was inevitable. 


Quite illegally Roger cut the little paragraph out of the file 
and put it away in his pocket-book. Then he went upstairs 
again and sought out the news-editor, with whom he usually 
lunched. 


For some reason Roger did not say anything to the news- 
editor about his activities of the morning. News-editors, 
though excellent people in private life and devoted to their 
wives, are conscienceless, unfeeling bandits when it comes 
to news. Roger’s reticence was instinctive, but had he 
troubled to search for its cause he would certainly have 
found it in the fact that the Dorsetshire Vicarage would have 
enough to bear during the next few days without a pitiless 
and lurid publicity being added to the sum of their troubles. 
That, at any rate, he could spare them. 


It was still with the secret of Unity Ransome’s identity 
undisclosed, then, that he returned later to The Courier’s 
offices and, having obtained from the bespectacled one a 
copy of the photograph which had appeared in The Daily 
Picture, prepared to write to Mr. Manners and ask him, as 
gently as possible, whether he recognised his daughter in 


the portrait of the girl who had committed suicide in the 
Sutherland Avenue flat. 


Yet, seated definitely at the task, his pen in his hands, the 
paper spread out in front of him, Roger found himself quite 
unable to make a beginning. The paper remained blank, the 
pen executed a series of neat but meaningless squiggles 
round the edges of the blotting-pad, and Roger’s brain 
buzzed busily. It was not the difficulty of the job which 
prevented him from forming even the initial “Dear Sir” of 
the letter; it was something quite different. 


“Hang it!” burst out Roger suddenly aloud, hitting the 
desk in front of him a blow with his fist. “Hang it, it isn’t 
natural!” 


It was an old cry of his, and in the past it had led to 
important things. His own spoken words made Roger prick 
up his own ears. He threw the pen absently from him, drew 
out his pipe and settled down in his chair. 


Then minutes later he struck the match he had been 
holding during that period in his hand. Five minutes later he 
struck another. Three minutes after that he applied the third 
match to his pipe. 


“Now am I,” communed Roger with himself, crossing his 
legs afresh and drawing deeply at his now lighted pipe, “am 
| getting a bee in my bonnet—am | getting hag-ridden by an 
idea—am | all that, or /s there something funny in this 
business? I’m inclined (yes, most decidedly I’m inclined) to 
think there is. Let us, therefore, tabulate our results in the 
approved manner and see where they lead us.” 


Picking up the pen again, he began to cover the blank 
Sheet at last. 

“Assuming that Janet Manners=Unity Ransome: 

“(1) Janet was not only a dutiful but an affectionate 
daughter. She was at pains to write cheerful letters home 
every week. She went out of her way not to distress her 


father in any manner, even concealing from him the fact 
that she had found work on the stage, because he probably 
would not like it. Is it not, then, almost inconceivable that 
She should have deliberately taken her own life without at 
least preparing him towards not hearing from her for a 
considerable time? The only explanation is that she acted 
on a sudden, panic-stricken impulse. 


“(2) So far aS one can see, Janet had no possible reason 
for suicide. She had been unusually lucky in getting good 
work. Her object was firstly to keep herself and so save 
expense at home, and secondly to contribute to the 
Vicarage household upkeep. She had achieved the first, and 
she was on her way to achieving the second. Not only had 
she no reason for killing herself, but she had every reason 
not to do so. In short, on the facts as known, the only 
explanation for Janet’s suicide is that she suddenly went 
raving mad. This is in accord with the panic-stricken 
impulse, and both show that all the facts are not Known. 


“(3) We know that Janet did commit suicide, because she 
tells us so herself. But in what a very stereotyped formula! 
Would a girl who had the initiative to leave a country 
parsonage and go on the stage express herself, in a note of 
such importance, in such a very hackneyed way? And what 
was She ‘sick and tired’ of? Again, this can only mean that 
we do not know all the facts. 


“(4) Why did Janet not sign that note? The omission is 
more than significant; it is unnatural. To sign such a note as 
that, or at the least to initial it, is almost a sine gua non. 
There seems no obvious explanation of this, except, 
possibly, frantic panic. 


“(5) What do we know of Janet? That she was a young 
woman of considerable character and determination. Young 
women of considerable determination do not commit 
suicide. Moreover, allowing for a father’s prejudice, her 
photograph shows clearly that Janet was not a Suicidal type. 


Once more one is driven to the conclusion that events of 
enormous importance have not yet come to light. 


“(6) Janet hanged herself with her own stocking. In the 
name of goodness, why? Had she nothing more suitable? In 
fact, Janet’s method of suicide is more than strange; it is 
unnatural. A girl bent on suicide would adopt hanging as a 
very last resource. Men hang themselves; girls don’t. Yet 
Janet did. Why? 


“(7) Is Roger Sheringham seeing visions? No, he isn’t. 
Then what is he going to do about it?—Jolly well find out 
what had really been happening to that poor kid!” 

Roger put down his pen and read through what he had 
written. 

“Results tabulated,” he murmured. “And where do they 
lead us, eh? Why, to Miss Moira Carruthers, to be sure.” 


He put on his hat and hurried out. 


CHAPTER III 


MISS CARRUTHERS IS DRAMATIC 


Ir was with no definite plan in his mind, or even suspicion, 
that Roger jumped into a taxi and caused himself to be 
conveyed to Sutherland Avenue. All he knew was that here 
was mystery; and where mystery was, there something in 
his blood raised Roger’s curiosity to such a point that 
nothing less than complete elucidation could lower it. The 
affairs of Janet Manners had, he acknowledged readily, 
nothing whatever to do with himself, and it was very 
probable that their owner, had she been alive, would very 
much have resented the poking of his nose into them. He 
appeased his conscience (or what served him on these 
occasions for a conscience) by pretending that his real 
object in making the journey was to acquire positive proof 
that Unity Ransome really was Janet Manners before he 
wrote to Dorsetshire. He did not deceive himself for a 
moment. 


His taxi stopped before one of those tall, depressed- 
looking buildings which line Sutherland Avenue, and a tiny 
brass plate on the door-post informed that Miss Carruthers 
lived on the fourth floor. There was no lift, and Roger 
trudged up, to find, with better luck than he deserved, that 
Miss Carruthers was at home. Indeed, she popped out of a 
room at him as he reached the top of the stairs, for the flat 
had no front-door of its own. 


Chorus-girls (or chorus ladies, as they call themselves 
nowadays) are divided into three types, the pert, the pretty 


and the proud, and of these the last are quite the most fell 
of all created beings. Roger was relieved to see that Miss 
Carruthers, with her very golden hair and her round, babyish 
face, was quite definitely of the pretty type, and therefore 
not to be feared. 


“Oh!” said Miss Carruthers prettily, and looked at him in 
dainty alarm. Strange men on her stairs were, it was to be 
gathered, one of the most terrifying phenomena in Miss 
Carruthers’ helpless young life. 


“Good afternoon,” said Roger, suiting his smile to his 
company. “I’m so sorry to bother you, but could you spare 
me a few minutes, Miss Carruthers?” 


“Oh!” fluttered Miss Carruthers again. “Was it—was it 
very, important?” 


“lam connected with The Daily Courier,” said Roger. 
“Come inside,” said Miss Carruthers. 


They passed into a sitting-room, the furniture of which 
was only too evidently supplied with the room. Roger was 
ensconced in a worn armchair, Miss Carruthers perched 
charmingly on the arm of an ancient couch. “Yes?” sighed 
Miss Carruthers. 


Roger came to the point at once. “It’s about Miss 
Ransome,” he said bluntly. 


“Oh!” said Miss Carruthers, valiantly concealing her 
disappointment. 


“I’m making a few enquiries, on behalf of The Courier,” 
Roger went on, toying delicately with the truth. “We’re not 
altogether satisfied, you know.” He looked extremely 
portentous. 


Miss Carruthers’ large eyes became larger still. “What not 
with?” she asked, her recent disappointment going the 
Same way as her grammar. 


, 


“Everything,” returned Roger largely. He crossed his legs 
and thought what be should be dissatisfied with first of all. 
“What was her reason for committing suicide at all?” he 
demanded; after all, he was more dissatisfied with that than 
anything else. 


“Well, reely!” said Miss Carruthers. And then she began to 
talk. 


Roger, listening intently, was conscious that he was 
hearing an often-told tale, but it lost none of its interest on 
that account. He let her tell it in her own way. 


Uny, said Miss Carruthers (“Uny!” mentally ejaculated 
Roger, and shuddered), had absolutely no reason in the 
world for going and doing a thing like that. None 
whatsoever! She’d had a slice of real luck in stepping into a 
London show straight away; she was always bright and 
cheerful (“well, as happy as the day is long, you might say,” 
affirmed Miss Carruthers); everybody liked her at the 
theatre; and what is more, she was marked out by common 
consent as one who would go far; it was generally admitted 
that the next small speaking part that was going, Uny would 
click for. And why she should want to go and do a thing like 
that——! 


In fact, Miss Carruthers could hardly believe it when she 
came in that afternoon and saw her. Hanging on the hook on 
the bedroom door, she was, with her stocking round her 
neck, and looking—well, it very nearly turned Miss 
Carruthers up just to see her. Horrible! She wouldn't 
describe it, not for worlds; it made her feel really ill just to 
think of it. —And here Miss Carruthers embarked on a 
minute description of her unhappy friend’s appearance, in 
which protruding eyeballs, blue lips and bitten tongue 
figured with highly unpleasant prominence. 


Still, Miss Carruthers was by no means such a little fool as 
it apparently pleased her to suggest. Instead of screaming 


and running uselessly out into the street as, Roger reflected, 
three-quarters of the women he knew would have done, she 
had the sense to hoist Janet somehow up on to her 
shoulders and unhook the stocking. But by that time it was 
too late; she was dead. “Only just, though,” wailed Miss 
Carruthers, with real tears in her eyes. “The doctor said if I’d 
come back a quarter of an hour earlier | could have saved 
her. Wasn’t that just hell?” 


Wholeheartedly Roger agreed that it was. “But how very 
curious that she should have done it just when you might 
have been expected back at any minute,” he remarked. “It 
couldn't be,” he added, stroking his chin thoughtfully, “that 
she expected to be saved, could it?” 


Miss Carruthers shook her golden head. “Oh, no. I’d told 
her | wasn’t coming back here, you see. | was going to tea 
with a boy, and | said to Uny not to expect me; I’d go 
straight on to the theatre. Well, now you know as much 
about it as | do, Mr.——Mr.——” 


“Sheringham.” 


“Mr. Sheringham. And what do you imagine she wanted to 
go and do it for? Oh, poor old Uny! | tell you, Mr. 
Sheringham, | can hardly bear to stay in the place now. | 
wouldn’t, if | could only get decent digs somewhere else, 
which | can’t.” 


Roger looked at the little person sympathetically. The 
tears were streaming unashamedly down her cheeks, and it 
was quite plain that, however artificial she might be in other 
respects, her feeling for her dead friend was genuine 
enough. He spoke on impulse. 

“What do | imagine she did it for? | don’t! But | tell you 
what | do imagine, Miss Carruthers, and that is that there’s a 
good deal more at the back of this than either you or | 
Suspect.” 


“What—what do you mean?” 


Roger pulled his pipe out of his pocket. “Do you mind if | 
smoke?” he asked, gaining a few seconds. He had to take a 
swift decision. Should he or should he not take this fluffy 
little creature into his confidence? Would she be a help ora 
hindrance? Was she a complete little fool who had had a 
single sensible moment, or was her apparent empty- 
headedness a pose adopted for the benefit of the other sex? 
Most of the men with whom she would come in contact, 
Roger was painfully aware, do prefer their women to be 
empty-headed. He compromised; he would take her just so 
far as he could into his own confidence without betraying 
that of others. 


“| mean,” he said carefully, as he filled his pipe, “that so 
far as I’ve been able to gather, Miss Ransome was not the 
sort of girl to commit suicide——” 


“That she wasn’t!” interjected Miss Carruthers, almost 
violently. 


“—-__and that as she did so, she was driven into it by 
forces which, to say the least, must have’ been 
overwhelming. And | mean to make it my business to find 
out what those forces were.” 


“Oh! Oh, yes. You mean——?” 


“For the moment,” said Roger firmly, “nothing more than 
that.” 


They looked at each other for a moment in silence. Then 
Miss Carruthers said an unexpected thing. 


“You belong to The Courier?” she asked, in a hesitating 
voice. “You’re doing this for them? You're going to publish 
everything you find out, whether—whether Uny would have 
liked it or not?” 


Roger found himself liking her more and more. “No!” he 
said frankly. “| am connected with The Courier, but I’m not 
on it. I’m going to do this off my own bat, and | give you my 
word that nothing shall be published at all that doesn’t 


reflect to the credit of Miss Ransome—and perhaps not even 
then. You mean, of course, that you wouldn’t help me, 
except on those terms?” 


Miss Carruthers nodded. “I’ve got a duty to Uny, and I’m 
not going to have any mud slung at her, whether she 
deserves it or not. But if you'll promise that, I’Ill help you, all 
| can. Because believe me, Mr. Sheringham,” added Miss 
Carruthers passionately, “if there’s some damned skunk of a 
man at the bottom of this (as I’ve thought more than once 
there might be), I’d give everything I’ve got in the world to 
see him served as he served poor old Uny.” 


“That’s all right, then,” Roger said easily. The worst of the 
theatre, he reflected, is that it does make its participants so 
dramatic; and drama in private life is worse than immorality. 
“We'll shake hands on that bargain.” 


“Look here,” said Miss Carruthers, doffing her emotional 
robe as swiftly as she had donned it, “look here, | tell you 
what. You wait here and smoke while | make us a cup of tea, 
and then we'll talk as much as you like. And | have got one 
or two things to tell you,” she added darkly, “that you might 
like to hear.” 


Roger agreed with alacrity. He had often noticed that 
there is nothing like tea to loosen a woman’s tongue; not 
even alcohol. 


In a surprisingly short time for so helpless-looking a 
person, Miss Carruthers returned with the tea-tray, which 
Roger took from her at the door. They settled down, Miss 
Carruthers poured out, and Roger at last felt that the time 
was ripe to embark on the series of questions which he had 
really come to ask. 


Miss Carruthers answered readily enough, leaning back in 
her chair with a cigarette between lips which even now must 
occasionally pout. Indeed, she answered too readily. 


Nevertheless, from the mass of her verbiage Roger was able 
to pick a few new facts. 


In the main her replies bore out the brief account of her 
evidence at the inquest, though at very much greater 
length, and Miss Carruthers dwelt upon her theory that her 
friend was “a cut above the rest of us, as you might say. A 
real lady, instead of only a perfect one.” To Roger’s carefully 
worded queries as to any indication of Unity Ransome’s real 
identity, Miss Carruthers was at first vague. Then she 
produced, in a haphazard way, the most important point she 
had yet contributed. 


“All | can say,” said Miss Carruthers, “is that her name 
may have been Janet, or she might have had a friend called 
Janet, or something like that.” 


“Ah!” said Roger, keeping his composure. “And how do you 
know that?” 


“It’s in a prayer-book of hers. | only came across it the 
other day. Would you like to see it?” 


“! would,” said Roger. 


Obligingly Miss Carruthers ran off to fetch it. Returning, 
she opened the book at the fly-leaf and handed it to Roger. 
He read: “To my dear Janet, on her Confirmation, 14th 
March, 1920. ‘Blessed are the pure in heart.’” The writing 
was small and crabbed. 


“| see,” Roger said, and took a later opportunity of 
Slipping the book into his pocket. Miss Carruthers had 
definitely established the main point, at any rate. 


He directed his questions elsewhere. Like Miss Carruthers, 
Roger had been struck with the idea that there might be a 
man behind things. He dredged assiduously in his 
informant’s mind for any clue as to his possible identity. But 
here Miss Carruthers was unable to help. Uny, it appeared, 
hadn’t cared for boys. She never went out with one alone, 
and would seldom consent to make up a foursome. She said 


frankly that boys bored her stiff. So far as Miss Carruthers 
knew, not only had she no particular boy, but not even any 
gentlemen-friends. 


“Humph!” said Roger, abandoning that line of enquiry. 
They sat and smoked in silence for a moment. 


“If you wanted to commit suicide, Miss Carruthers,” Roger 
remarked abruptly, “would you hang yourself?” 


Miss Carruthers shuddered delicately. “| would not. It’s the 
very last way I’d do it.” 


“Then why did Miss Ransome?” 


“Perhaps she didn’t realise what she’d look like,” 
suggested Miss Carruthers, quite seriously. 


“Humph!” said Roger, and they smoked again. 


“And with one of the stockings she was wearing,’ 
Miss Carruthers. “Funny, wasn’t it?” 


Roger sat up. “What’s that? One of the stockings she was 
actually wearing?” 


“Yes. Didn’t you know?” 


“No, | didn’t see that mentioned’. Do you mean,” asked 
Roger incredulously, “that she actually took off one of the 
stockings she was wearing at the time, and hanged herself 
with it?” 

Miss Carruthers nodded. “That’s right. A stocking on one 
leg, she had, and the other bare. | thought it was funny at 
the time. On that very door, it was; and you can still see the 
screw-mark the other side. The screw | took out, of course. | 
couldn’t have borne to look at it every time | came into the 
room.” 


“What screw?” asked Roger, at sea. 


“Why, the screw on the other side of the door, that she 
fastened the loop to.” 


, 


mused 


, 


“| don’t know anything about this. | took it for granted that 
she’d done it on a clothes’-hook, or something like that.” 


“Well, | wondered about that,” said Miss Carruthers, “but | 
expect it was because the hook in the bedroom was too low. 
And a stocking’d give a good bit, wouldn't it?” 


Roger was already out of his chair and examining the 
door. “Tell me exactly how you found her, will you?” he said. 


With many shudders, some of which may have been quite 
real, Miss Carruthers did so. Janet, it appeared, had been 
hanging on the inside of the sitting-room door from a small 
hook on the other side, which had been screwed in at the 
right angle to withstand the strain. The stocking round her 
neck had been knotted together tightly at the extreme ends. 
As far as one could gather, she must have placed it like that 
loosely round her neck, then twisted the slack two or three 
times, and slipped a tiny loop on to the hook on the further 
side of the door, over the top. She had been standing on a 
chair to do this, and she must have kicked the chair 
violently away when her preparations were complete, with 
such force as to slam the door to, leaving herself suspended 
by the little hook that was now completely out of her reach, 
so that she could not rescue herself even had she wished. 
This was an obvious reconstruction on the two facts that 
Miss Carruthers had found the door shut when she arrived, 
and an overturned chair on the floor at least six feet away. 


“Good God!” said Roger, shocked at this evidence of such 
cold-blooded determination on the part of the unfortunate 
girl to deprive herself of life. But he realised at once that 
this version did not square with his theory of panic-stricken 
impulse. Panic-stricken people do not waste time adjusting 
things to such a nicety, screwing in hooks at just the right 
height and leaving every trace of thoughtful deliberation; 
they simply throw themselves, as hurriedly as possible, out 
of the nearest window. 


“Didn't the police think all this very odd?” he queried 
thoughtfully. 


“No-o, | don’t think they did. They seemed to take it all for 
granted. And after all, as Uny did kill herself, it doesn’t 
matter much how, does it?” 


Roger was forced to agree that it didn’t. But when he took 
his leave a few minutes later, to write that letter to 
Dorsetshire which must now put things beyond all hope, he 
was more than ever convinced that there was very, very 
much more in all this than had so far met the eye. And he 
was more than ever determined to find out just exactly what 
it might be. 


The thought of that happy, laughing kid of the snapshot 
being driven into panic-stricken suicide had inexpressibly 
shocked him before. The thought of her now, driven into a 
deadly slow suicide, prepared with such tragic method and 
care, was infinitely more horrible. Somebody, Roger was 
sure, had driven that poor child into killing herself; and that 
somebody, he was equally sure, was going to be made to 
pay for it. 


CHAPTER IV 


TWO DEATHS AND A JOURNEY 


NevertHetess, during the next few days the case against the 
unknown made little progress. Roger received a reply to his 
letter from Dorsetshire which served to inflame his anxiety 
to get to the bottom of the affair, but his efforts in that 
direction seemed to be beating upon an impassable barrier. 
Try as he might, he could not connect Unity Ransome with 
any man. 


He tried the theatre. Of any girl who had been at all 
friendly with her be asked long strings of questions, the 
eager Miss Carruthers constantly at his elbow. Under her 
protecting wing he interviewed stage-doorkeepers, stage- 
managers, managers, producers, stars, their male 
equivalents, and everybody else he could think of, till he 
had acquired enough theatrical copy to last him the rest of 
his life. But all to no purpose. Nobody could remember 
having seen Unity Ransome with the same man more than 
once or twice; to nobody had she ever mentioned the name 
of a male acquaintance in anything but a joking way. 


He cast his net further afield. Armed with half-a-dozen 
pictures of Janet, enlarged from the groups outside the 
theatre, he sought out the restaurant-managers, waiters, 
teashop waitresses and _ hotel-keepers, whose various 
establishments Janet might have patronised. Here and there 
she was recognised, but it never went beyond that. Roger 
was discouraged. 


One fact, however, although it had no bearing on the 
subject of his search, did emerge during this busy week. 
Miss Carruthers having firmly appointed herself his 
theatrical guide and dramatic friend, Roger got into the 
habit of dropping in every other day or so at tea-time to 
report his lack of progress. The little creature with her 
preposterous name (she had confided by this time that her 
real one was Sally Briggs, “and what the hell,” she asked 
wistfully, “is the use of that to me?”) both amused and 
interested him. It was a perpetual joy to him to watch how 
even in her most real moments she could not help being 
consciously dramatic: with genuine tears for her friend’s 
fate streaming down her cheeks she would yet hold them up 
for the admiration of an invisible gallery. In fact, Roger 
reflected, watching her, when she was at her most genuine, 
she was most artificial. 


On one of these occasions he took advantage of her 
absence in the kitchen to study with minute care the fatal 
door. What he saw there upset him considerably. For it was 
obvious that, however anxious she might have been 
beforehand, when it actually came to the point Janet had 
not at all wanted to die. At the bottom of the door, only a 
few inches off the ground, was a maze of deep scratches in 
the paintwork, such as might have been made by a pair of 
high heels trying desperately to find some sort of foothold, 
however minute, by which to stave off eternity. 


Roger’s imagination was a vivid one. He felt rather sick. 


“But why,” he asked himself, frowning, “didn’t she grip the 
stocking above her neck and pull on that, at any rate for a 
few minutes? She could have been saved if she had. But | 
Suppose there wasn’t enough of it to grip on.” 


He turned his attention to the top of the door. There at the 
sides, and some little way down as well, were other 
scratches, fainter, but not to be mistaken. He walked out 
into the kitchen. 


“Moira,” he said abruptly, “what were Unity’s nails like? 
Do you happen to remember?” 


“Yes,” said Miss Carruthers, with a little shiver. “All broken 
and filled with paint and stuff.” 


“Ah!” said Roger. 


“And she used to keep them so nice,” said Miss 
Carruthers. 


London having thus proved blank, Roger determined to try 
the country. He felt a little diffident about intruding upon the 
grief-stricken family, and uncertain whether to acquaint the 
vicar with his suspicions or not. In the end he decided not to 
do so until he had more evidence to support them; what he 
possessed already would merely add to the old man’s 
distress without effecting anything helpful. He trusted to his 
usual luck to acquire the information he wanted (if it was to 
be acquired) by some other means. 


Having made up his mind, Roger acted with his usual 
impulsiveness. If he were to go at all, he would go the next 
day. But the next day was a Friday, and Tuesdays and 
Fridays were the days on which he spent the mornings at 
The Courier offices. Very well, then; he would write his 
article that evening, merely call in at The Courier building to 
leave it and collect his post, and so catch an early train 
down to Dorsetshire. Excellent. 


To turn out two articles a week for several months on the 
Subject of sudden death is not, after the sixth month or so, 
an easy task. Having exhausted most of the topics on which 
he had wanted to spread himself, Roger was beginning to 
find the search for fresh ones getting rather too arduous. 
And now that he was anxious to polish one off in a hurry, of 
course no subject would present itself. After nibbling the end 
of his fountain-pen for half an hour, Roger ran down into the 
street to buy an evening paper. When inspiration fails, a 
newspaper will sometimes work wonders. 


This one certainly came up to expectations. On the front 
page, in gently leaded type to show that, while startling, it 
could hardly be considered important, were the following 
headlines: 


LONDON FLAT TRAGEDY 


Girt Hanecs Hersece With Own Srtockine 


PatHetic LETTER 


Roger was able to write a very informative article indeed, 
all about mass-suggestion, neurotic types, predisposition to 
suicide and how it is stimulated by example, and the lack of 
Originality in most of us. “Within a few weeks of the first 
genius discovering that he could end his life by lying with 
his head in a gas-oven,” wrote Roger, “more than a dozen 
had followed his lead.” And he went on to prove that a novel 
method of ending life, whether one’s own or another’s, acts 
in such a way upon a certain type of mind that it constitutes 
a veritable stimulus to death. He instanced Dr. Palmer and 
Dr. Dove, Patrick Mahon and Norman Thorne, and, of course, 
the twin stocking tragedies. Altogether the article was in 
Roger’s best vein, and he was not a little pleased with it. 


The next day he set off for Dorsetshire. 


In his morning paper (not The Daily Courier), which he had 
been saving up to read in the train, was a rather fuller 
account of the tragedy, though now relegated to an 
unimportant page. Roger was quite gratified to observe that 
such details as were given corresponded almost exactly with 
those of Janet’s case; its perpetrator evidently corresponded 
exactly to the type which he had described so meticulously 
last night. Whatever he might feel for Janet, Roger had no 
sympathy with this girl; she was of the kind which is far 
better out of this world than in it. And she had copied poor 
little Janet with a slavishness that was really rather 
nauseating: the silk stocking tied in a single loop and 


twisted over the door, the screwed hook on the further side, 
the bare leg, the unsigned note—they were all there. 


Her name was Elsie Benham, “described as an actress,” 
as the paper cautiously put it. (“And of course we know what 
that means,” Roger commented caustically. “Why do they 
always ‘describe themselves as actresses’? It’s uncommonly 
tough on the real ones.”) She was known as a habituée of 
night-clubs (“That’s more like it”) and had been seen at one 
on the night of the tragedy. She was alone, and a friend who 
spoke to her mentioned that she seemed depressed. She 
left alone, at two o’clock in the morning, and must have 
killed herself very soon after reaching the flat which she 
Shared with another friend who is at the moment out of 
London (“Euphemism for week-ending in Paris,” observed 
the sarcastic reader), for when she was_ discovered 
yesterday afternoon by a man who possessed a key to the 
flat (“As | said”) the doctor who was hurriedly summoned 
gave it as his opinion that she had been dead for at least 
twelve hours. “Which is not a bad sentence, even for this 
rag,” thought Roger. 


He skimmed through the rest of the report, tossed the 
newspaper aside and opened a novel. 


It was not till two hours later, as he was idly watching the 
fields fly past the window, that two things struck Roger. The 
evening paper had exaggerated when it spoke of the 
pathetic ‘letter’ left by the dead girl. It was not a letter; it 
was merely a quotation. “How wonderful is Death!” she had 
written on a blank piece of paper. “Death and his brother, 
Sleep.” 


“How wonderful is Death. 
Death and his brother, Sleep,” 


murmured Roger. “It’s curious that a lady ‘described as an 
actress’ and known as a habituée of night-clubs should 


choose to quote Queen Mab on such an occasion. It’s 
curious that she’ could quote Shelley at all. It’s very curious 
that she could quote him correctly; I’d have taken a small 
bet that any lady ‘described as an actress,’ who might 
improbably have a nodding acquaintance with Shelley, 
would quote: ‘How beautiful is Death.’ Very curious; but not, 
apparently, impossible. Well, well, there must be more 
things in our night-clubs, Sheringham, than are dreamt of in 
your philosophy.” 
He watched a few more fields slide past. 


“And here’s another funny thing,” thought Roger. “All the 
papers this time feature the bare leg. But the bare leg 
wasn’t mentioned before, in any of the accounts | read. 
When Moira told me, it was complete news to me. | wonder 
how this woman got hold of that. | suppose it must have 
been alluded to in some paper | never saw; though | 
certainly thought I’d studied them all at one time or another. 
Curious!” 


He went on watching the fields, and set to wondering 
what he was going to say to Mr. Manners. The nearer he got 
to Dorsetshire, the more impertinent his mission began to 
appear. 


In the end he decided not to try the village inn at Little 
Mitcham, as had, been his first intention, but to put up in 
the neighbouring town of Monckton Regis. This would look 
less intrusive. He could then, finding himself so near to Mr. 
Manners, go over to Little Mitcham to pay his respects with 
perfect propriety. 

This course he duly followed. Mr. Manners welcomed him 
eagerly, carried him off at once to his study, and plied him 
with questions which Roger found a good deal of difficulty in 
answering tactfully. The old man seemed very depressed, as 
was only to be expected, but his grief was dignified and 
unembarrassing. Pressed with warmth to stay to luncheon 


and meet the rest of the family, Roger acceded after 
protest, quietening his conscience with the reflection that at 
such a time as this the presence of a stranger might be a 
blessing in disguise to the stricken household; at the least it 
would take their minds for a few hours off their loss. 


The other four daughters were aged respectively twenty- 
four, seventeen, fourteen and twelve, and with the eldest, 
Anne, Roger found himself almost immediately on terms of 
good friendship. She was one of those capable girls whom 
the emergency seems so often to produce; and unlike most 
capable girls, she was good to look upon as well. Not so 
pretty as Janet had been, perhaps, but in a way more 
beautiful, and built in miniature; and her air of reposeful 
efficiency (not the assertive efficiency which most capable 
women possess) Roger found extremely attractive. Making 
his mind up with his usual rapidity during lunch, he sought 
an opportunity after the meal was over to take her aside, 
and, under pretext of admiring the garden in its garment of 
budding spring, proceeded to tell her the whole story. 


If Anne was shocked, she scarcely showed it; if she was 
much upset, she concealed her feelings. She merely replied, 
gravely: “Il see. This is extraordinarily good of you, Mr. 
Sheringham. And thank you for telling me; | much prefer to 
know. | quite agree with your conclusions, too, and I'll do 
anything to help you confirm them.” 


“And you can?” Roger asked eagerly. 


Anne shook her small head. She was small all over, 
delicately boned, with small, rather serious features set in a 
small, oval face. “At the moment,” she confessed, “I don’t 
see that | can. Janet knew plenty of men round here, of 
course, and | can give you a list of the ones she knew best, 
but I’m quite sure that none of them could be at the bottom 
of it.” 


“We could at any rate find out which of them had been in 
London since she went up there,” Roger said, loath to 
abandon the line on which all his hopes were now pinned. 


“We could, of course,” Anne agreed. “And we will, if you 
think we should. But I’m convinced, Mr. Sheringham, that it 
isn’t here that we must look for the cause of my sister’s 
death. When she left here she hadn’t a care in the world, | 
know. Janet and I——” Her voice faltered for a moment, but 
recovered immediately—“Janet and | were a good deal more 
than sisters; we were the most intimate of friends. If she’d 
been worried before she left here. I’m certain she would 
have told me.” 


“Well,” said Roger, with more cheerfulness than he felt, 
“we'll simply have to see what we can do; that’s all.” 


The upshot was that Roger spent a very pleasant week- 
end in Dorsetshire, saw a great deal of Anne, who, to his 
great delight, did not seem to have the faintest wish to 
discuss his books with him, and returned to London on the 
Monday apparently not an inch nearer his objective. 
“Though a week-end in Dorsetshire in early April,” be told 
the lady in the office as he paid his hotel-bill, “is a thing no 
man should be without.” 


“Quite,” agreed the young lady. 


Roger strolled down to the station. He had made a point of 
mentioning to Anne the time of his train, in case anything 
cropped up that she might want to communicate to him at 
the last moment. As he walked on to the platform, he looked 
up and down to see if she were there. She was not. 


With a sense of disappointment which he could not 
remember having experienced for at least ten years, and of 
which he became instantly as near to being ashamed as 
Roger could concerning anything connected with himself, he 
made his way to the bookstall and bought a paper. Opening 
it a few minutes later, his eye at once caught certain 


headlines on the centre page. The headlines ran as follows: 


ANOTHER SILK STOCKING TRAGEDY 


Society Beauty Hanes Hersetr 


Lapy Ursuta Graeme’s SHockine Fate 


“This,” said Roger, “is becoming too much of a good 
thing.” 


CHAPTER V 


ENTER CHIEF INSPECTOR 
MORESBY 


Seated in the train, Roger began to peruse the account of 
Lady Ursula’s death. Now that it had to deal with the 
daughter of an earl instead of an obscure habituée of 
nightclubs, the story had been allotted two full columns on 
the centre page, and every detail, relative or not, that could 
be hastily scraped together had been inserted. Briefly, the 
facts were as follows. 


Lady Ursula had left her home in Eaton Square, where she 
lived with her widowed mother (the present Earl, her eldest 
brother, was in the Diplomatic Service abroad), shortly 
before eight. She dined with a party of friends at a dance- 
club in the West End, where she stayed, dancing and 
talking, till about eleven. She then began to complain of a 
headache and tried to induce one of the others to 
accompany her for a little run in her car; the rest of the 
party refused, however, as it was raining and the car was an 
open two-seater. Lady Ursula then left the club, saying that 
she would go for a run alone to blow her headache away, if 
no one would accompany her. 


At half-past two in the morning a girl called Irene 
Macklane, an artist and a friend of Lady Ursula’s, returned to 
her studio in Kensington from a party in a neighbouring 
studio and found Lady Ursula’s car outside. She was not 
Surprised at this, as Lady Ursula was in the habit of calling 
on her friends at the most unusual of times of the day and 


night. On going inside and calling, however, she could at 
first see no sign of her. 


The studio had been made out of the remains of some old 
stables, and spanning its width in the centre was a large oak 
beam, some eight feet above the ground, in the middle of 
which, on the underside, was a large hook, from which Miss 
Macklane had hung an old-fashioned lantern. This lantern 
contained an electric light bulb which was connected by a 
flex to a light-point farther down the room. On turning the 
switch at the door, Miss Macklane was surprised to see the 
lantern light upon the floor some distance away from the 
beam instead of in its normal position. She lifted it up and 
was then horrified to see Lady Ursula hanging in its place 
from the hook in the beam. 


The details of her death corresponded almost exactly with 
those of Janet’s and the other woman’s. An overturned table 
lay on the floor a few feet away, and Lady Ursula had made 
use of one of the stockings which she was wearing at the 
time; the leg from which she had taken it was bare, though 
the foot still wore its brocade slipper. A loop had been 
formed by tying the extreme ends of the stocking together, 
this had been passed over Lady Ursula’s head, the slack 
twisted round three or four times, and a tiny loop at the end 
slipped over the hook. She had then apparently kicked the 
table away and met her death, like the other two, from slow 
asphyxiation. 

The note she had left for Miss Macklane, however, was a 
little more explicit than those of the others, though its 
wording gave scope for conjecture. It ran: 


I’m so sorry to have to do this here, my dear, but there’s 
simply nowhere else, and mother would have a fit if | did it 
at home. Don’t be too terribly furious with me! 


U. 


There followed a eulogistic account of Lady Ursula, “by a 
friend,” expatiating on her originality, her lack of convention 
and her recent engagement to the wealthy son of a wealthy 
financier. Whether it was the engagement, or her 
determination at all costs to be original, that had led Lady 
Ursula to dispense with a life with which, as she was in the 
habit of informing her friends, she had for many years been 
bored stiff, the writer obviously found some difficulty in 
deciding. 

Roger put the paper across his knees and began absently 
to fill his pipe. This was, as he had commented, too much of 
a good thing. It was becoming a regular epidemic. Fantastic 
pictures floated across his mental vision of the thing 
becoming a_ society craze, and all the debutantes 
suspending themselves in rows by their own stockings. He 
pulled himself together. 


The real trouble, of course, was that this did not square 
with the article he had written before leaving London. It 
upset things badly. For though the unknown habituée of 
night-clubs might have possessed the predisposition to 
suicide about which he had expatiated so glibly, he was 
quite sure that Lady Ursula Graeme did not. And from what 
he knew about the lady, even apart from the friend’s article 
upon her, he was still more sure that, if by any strange 
chance she had decided to do away with herself, she would 
most certainly not imitate the method of an insignificant 
chorus-girl and a wretched little prostitute. If she were to 
imitate anybody it would be in the grand manner. She might 
cut an artery in a hot bath, for instance. But far more 
probably she would evolve some daringly unconventional 
method of suicide which should ensure her in death an even 
greater publicity than she had been able to attain in life. 
Lady Ursula, in short, would set the fashion in suicide, not 
follow it. 


And that letter, too. It might be more explicit in its terms 
than the other two, but it was even more puzzling. 
Whatever one might think about them in other ways, one 
does give our aristocracy credit for good manners; and by 
no stretch of etiquette can it be considered good manners 
to suspend oneself by one’s stocking in somebody else’s 
studio. Indeed, it would be far more in keeping with the 
lady’s character that she should have chosen a lamp-post. 
And would the dowager have no fit so long as her daughter 
did not suspend herself actually in Eaton Square? 


It was all very curious. But it wasn’t the least good arguing 
about it, Roger decided, turning to another page of the 
paper, for there was no getting away from the fact that Lady 
Ursula had done all these things which she couldn’t possibly 
have done. 


He proceeded to wade through the leading articles with 
some determination. 


Lady Ursula’s death provided, of course, a three-days’ 
wonder. The inquest was fixed for Wednesday morning, and 
Roger made up his mind to attend it. He was anxious to see 
whether any of these little points which had struck his own 
attention, so small in themselves but so interesting in the 
aggregate, would strike that of anyone else. 


Unfortunately Roger was not the only person who had 
conceived the idea of attending the inquest. On a 
conservative calculation, three thousand other people had 
done so as well. The other three thousand, however, had 
not also conceived the idea of obtaining a press-pass 
beforehand; so that in the end Roger, battered but more or 
less intact, was able to edge his way inside by the time the 
proceedings were not much more than half over. The first 
eye he caught was that of Chief Detective Inspector 
Moresby. 


The Chief Inspector was wedged unobtrusively at the back 
of the court like any member of the public, and it was plain 
that he was not here in any official capacity. “Then why in 
hades;” thought Roger very tensely, as he wriggled gently 
towards him, “is he here at all?” Chief Detective Inspectors 
do not attend inquests on fashionable suicides by way of 
killing time. 

He grinned in friendly fashion as he saw _ Roger 
approaching (so friendly, indeed, that Roger winced slightly, 
remembering what must be inspiring most of the grin), but 
Shook his head in reply to Roger’s raised eyebrows of 
inquiry. Brought to a halt a few paces away, Roger had no 
option but to give up the idea of further progress for the 
moment. He devoted his attention to the proceedings. 


A man was on the witness-stand, a tall, dark, good-looking 
man of a slightly Jewish cast of countenance, somewhere in 
the early thirties; and it did not need more than two or three 
questions and replies to show Roger that this was the fiancé 
to whom allusion had been made. Roger watched him with 
interest. If anybody ought to have known Lady Ursula, it 
Should be this man. Would he give any indication that he 
considered anything curious in the case? 


Regarding him closely, Roger found it difficult to say. He 
was evidently suffering deeply (“Poor devil!” thought Roger. 
“And being made to stand up and show himself off before all 
of us like this, too!”), and yet there was a subtle suggestion 
of guardedness in his replies. Once or twice he seemed on 
the verge of making a comment which might be 
enlightening, but always he pulled himself up in time. He 
carried his loss with a dignity of sorrow which reminded 
Roger of Anne’s bearing in the garden when he had first told 
her of his suspicions; but it was clear that there were points 
upon which he was completely puzzled, the main one being 
why his fiancée should have committed suicide at all. 


“She never, gave me the faintest indication,” he said in a 
low voice, in answer to some question of the Coroner’s. 
“She seemed perfectly happy, always.” He spoke rather like 
a small boy who had been whipped and sent to bed for 
something which for the life of him he can’t understand to 
be a crime at all. 

The Coroner was dealing with him as sympathetically as 
possible, but there were some questions that had to be 
asked. “You have heard that she was in the habit of saying 
that she was bored stiff with life. Did she say that to you?” 

“Often,” replied the other, with a wan imitation of a smile. 
“She frequently said things like that. It was her pose. At 
least,” he added, so low that Roger could hardly hear, “we 
thought it was her pose.” 

“You were to have been married the month after next in 
June?” 

“Yas,” 

The Coroner consulted a paper in his hand. “Now, on the 
night in question you went to a theatre, | understand, and 
afterwards to your club?” 

“That is so.” 

“You therefore did not see Lady Ursula at all that 
evening?” 

“No.” 

“So you cannot speak as to her state of mind after five 
o'clock, when you left her after tea?” 

“No. But it was nearer half-past five when | left her.” 

“Quite so. Now you have heard the other witnesses who 


spent the evening with her. Do you agree that she was in 
her usual health and spirits when you saw her at tea-time?” 


“Absolutely.” 


“She gave you no indication that anything might be on her 
mind?” 
“None whatever.” 


“Well, | won’t keep you any longer, Mr. Pleydell. | know 
how distressing this must be for you. I'll just ask you finally: 
can you tell us anything which might shed light on the 
reason why Lady Ursula should have taken her own life?” 


“l’m afraid | can’t,” said the other, in the same low, 
composed voice as that in which he had given all the rest of 
his evidence; and he added, with unexpected emotion: “I 
wish to God | could!” 


“He does think there’s something funny about it,” was 
Roger’s comment to himself, as Pleydell stepped down. “Not 
merely why she should have done such a thing at all, but 
some of those other little points as well. | wonder—| wonder 
what Moresby’s here for!” 


During the next twenty minutes nothing of importance 
emerged. The Coroner was evidently trying to make the 
case as little painful for the Dowager Countess and Pleydell 
as possible, and since it was apparently so straightforward 
there was no point in spinning out the proceedings. The jury 
must have thought the same, for their verdict came pat: 
“Suicide during temporary insanity caused by the unnatural 
conditions of modern life.” Which was a kind way of putting 
“Lady Ursula’s life.” 


There was first the hush and then the little stir which 
always succeeds the delivery of a verdict, and the densely 
packed court began slowly to empty. 


Roger saw to it that the emptying process brought him in 
contact with Moresby. Having already tested the strength of 
that gentleman’s official reticence, he had not the faintest 
hope of expecting to crack it on this occasion; but there is 
never any harm in trying. 


“Well, Mr. Sheringham,” was the Chief Inspector’s genial 
greeting as they were brought together at last. “Well, | 
haven't seen you for a long time, sir.” 


“Since last summer, no,” Roger agreed. “And you'll oblige 
me by not talking about last summer over the drink we’re 
now about to consume. Any other summer you like, but not 
last one.” 


The Chief Inspector’s grin widened, but he gave the 
necessary promise. They walked sedately towards a hostelry 
of Roger’s choosing; not the nearest, because everybody 
else would be going there. The Chief Inspector knew 
perfectly well why he was being invited to have a drink; 
Roger knew that he knew; the Chief Inspector knew that 
Roger knew that he knew. It was all very amusing, and both 
of them were enjoying it. 


Both of them knew, too, that it was up to Roger to open 
the proceedings if they were to be opened. But Roger did 
nothing of the kind. They drank up their beer, chatting 
happily about this, about that and about the other, but 
never about Coroner’s inquests and Chief Detective 
Inspectors from Scotland Yard at them; they drank up some 
more beer, provided by Moresby, and then they embarked 
on yet more beer, provided again by Roger. Both Roger and 
the Chief Inspector liked beer. 


At last Roger fired his broadside. It was a nice, unexpected 
broadside, and Roger had been meditating it at intervals for 
three glasses. In the middle of a conversation about sweet- 
peas and how to grow them, Roger remarked very casually: 


“So you think Lady Ursula was murdered too, do you, 
Moresby?” 


CHAPTER VI 


DETECTIVE SHERINGHAM, 
OF SCOTLAND YARD 


Ir is given to few people in this world to see a Chief 
Inspector of Scotland Yard start violently; yet this was the 
result which rewarded Roger’s broadside. With intense 
gratification he watched the Chief Inspectorial countenance 
Shiver visibly, the Chief Inspectorial bulk tauten, and the 
Chief Inspectorial beer come within an inch of climbing over 
the side of the glass; and in that moment he felt that the 
past was avenged. 


“Why, Mr. Sheringham, sir,” said Chief Inspector Moresby, 
with a poor attempt at bland astonishment, “whatever 
makes you say a thing like that?” 


Roger did not reply at once. Now that he had got over the 
slight numbness that followed the success of his little ruse 
(he had hoped perhaps to make the Inspectorial eye-lid 
quiver slightly, but hardly more), he was filled with a 
genuine astonishment of no less dimensions than that which 
Moresby was so gallantly attempting to simulate. In 
attributing Lady Ursula’s death to murder he had not so 
much been drawing a bow at a venture as deliberately 
making the wildest assertion he could think of, in order to 
Shock the Inspector into giving away the much more 
insignificant cause of his presence at the inquest. But, 
perhaps for the first time in his life, the Chief Inspector had 
been caught napping and given himself away, horse, foot 
and artillery. The very fact that he had been on his guard 


had only contributed to his disaster, for he had been 
guarding his front and Roger had attacked him in the rear. 


In the meantime Roger’s brain, jerking out of the coma 
into which the inspector’s start had momentarily plunged it, 
was making up for lost time. It did, not so much think as 
look swiftly over a rapid series of flashing pictures. And 
instantly that which had before been a mystery became 
plain. Roger could have kicked himself that it should have 
taken a starting Inspector to point out to him the obvious. 
Murder was the only possible explanation that fitted all 
those puzzling facts! 


“Whew!” he said, in some awe. 


The Chief Inspector was watching him uneasily. “What an 
extraordinary idea, sir!” he observed, and laughed hollowly. 


Roger drank up the rest of his beer, looked at his watch 
and grabbed the Chief Inspector’s arm, all in one 
movement. “Come on,” he said. “Lunch time. You're 
lunching with me.” And without waiting for a reply he began 
marching out of the place. 


The Chief Inspector, for once at a decided disadvantage, 
was left with no option but to follow him. 


Quivering all over, Roger hailed a taxi and gave the man 
the address of his flat. 


“Where are we going, Mr. Sheringham?” asked the Chief 
Inspector, whose countenance bore none of the happily 
expectant look of those about to lunch at another’s 
expense. 


“To my rooms,” replied Roger, for once economical of 
words. “We shan’t be overheard there.” 
The groan with which the Chief Inspector replied was not 


overheard either. It was of the spirit. But it was a very 
substantial spiritual groan. 


In an extravagant impulse not many months ago Roger 
had walked into the Albany, fortified by a visit to his 
publisher’s and the news of the sales of his latest novel, and 
demanded rooms there. A set being fortunately vacant at 
the moment, he had stepped straight into them. Thither he 
led the helpless Chief Inspector, now gently perspiring all 
over, thrust him into a chair, mixed him a short drink in 
spite of his protests in which the word “beer” was 
prominent, and went off to see about lunch. During the 
interval between his return and the serving of the meal, he 
regaled his victim with a vivid account of the coffee-growing 
business in Brazil, in which he had a young cousin. 


“Anthony Walton, his name is,” he remarked with non 
chalance. “| believe you met him once, didn’t you?” 


The Chief Inspector had not even the spirit left to forget 
his earlier promise and retort in kind. 


Let it not be thought that Chief Inspector Moresby shows 
up in an unworthy light in this episode. Roger had him in a 
cleft stick, and Moresby knew it. When police inquiries are in 
progress that necessitate the most profound secrecy, the 
Smallest whisper of their existence in the Press may be 
enough to destroy the patient work of weeks. The Press, 
which may be bullied on occasions with impunity, must on 
others be courted by the conscientious Scotland Yard man 
with more delicate caution than ever lover courted the 
shyest of mistresses: Roger knew all this only too well, and 
only too well Chief Inspector Moresby knew that he knew it. 
But this time the situation was not amusing at all. 


In the orthodox manner Roger held up any discussion of 
the topic at issue until the coffee had been served and the 
Cigarettes were alight, just as big business men always do in 
the novels that are written about them (in real life they get 
down to it with the hors a’ zuvres and don’t blether about, 
wasting valuable time). “And now,” said Roger, when that 
stage had arrived, “now, Moresby, my friend, for it!” 


“For it?” repeated Chief Inspector Moresby, still game. 


“Yes; don’t play with me, Moresby. The boot’s on the other 
foot now. And what are we going to do about it?” 


The Chief Inspector tidily consumed the dregs in his 
coffee-cup. “That,” he said carefully, “depends on what 
we’re talking about, Mr. Sheringham.” 


“Very well,” Roger grinned unkindly. “I'll put it more 
plainly. Do you want me to write an article for The Courier 
proving that Lady Ursula must have been murdered—and 
not only Lady Ursula, but Elsie Benham and Unity Ransome 
as well? Am | to call on the police to get busy and follow up 
my lead? It’s an article I’m simply tingling to write, you 
know.” 

“You are, sir? Why?” 


“Because I’ve been following up the Ransome case since 
the day after the death,” said Roger with emphasis but 
without truth. 


In spite of himself, and the traditions of Scotland Yard 
concerning amateurs, the Chief Inspector was impressed. 
Nor did he take any trouble to hide it. “You have, sir?” he 
said, not without admiration. “Well, that was very smart of 
you. You tumbled to it even then that it was murder?” 

“| did,” said Roger, without blenching. “Ah, now we’re 
getting on. You agree that it was murder, then?” 

“If you must know,” said the harassed Chief Inspector, 
seeing nothing else for it, “I do.” 

“But you didn’t realise it as soon as | did?” pursued the 
unblushing Roger. “You didn’t realise it, in fact, till Lady 
Ursula’s case came along?” 

“It’s only suspicion, even now,” replied Moresby, adroitly 
avoiding a direct answer. 

Roger drew for a few moments at his cigarette. “I’m sorry 
Scotland Yard’s tumbled to the idea of murder,” he said, 


after a pause. “I’d been looking on this as my own little 
affair, and I’ve been putting in some hard work on it too. 
And you needn’t think I’m going to drop out just because 
you've stepped in. I’m determined to get to the bottom of 
the business (I’ve something like a personal interest in it, as 
it happens), with or without the police. And at present I’m 
far and away ahead of you.” 


“How’s that, Mr. Sheringham?” 


“Well, to take only one point, do you know Unity 
Ransome'’s real identity?” 


“Not yet, we don’t, no,” the Chief Inspector had to 
confess. 


“Well, | do,” said Roger simply. 
There was another pause. 


“What's in your mind, Mr. Sheringham?” Moresby broke it 
by asking. “There’s something, | can see.” 


“There is,” Roger agreed. “It’s this: | want us to work 
together on this case. | wanted to at Ludmouth last summer, 
but you wouldn’t. Now I’m in a much stronger position. 
Because don’t forget that | can help you very considerably 
as your assistant. | don’t mind your looking on me as an 
assistant,” he added magnanimously. 


“You could help me, could you, Mr. Sheriagham?” the 
Chief Inspector meditated. “Now | wonder exactly how?” 


“No, you don’t,” Roger retorted. “You know perfectly well. 
In the first place there’s the material I’ve got together 
already. But far more than that, there’s the question of the 
murderer. The circumstances of Lady Ursula’s death make it 
quite obvious to me that the murderer is a man of good 
social position, or, at the least, somebody known to her (all 
Lady Ursula’s friends weren’t of good social position, | 
admit). Well, now, this is going to be a very difficult case, | 
think. We’re dealing, | take it, with a homicidal maniac who 


is probably quite sane on all other subjects. There are only 
two ways of getting him: one is to catch him red-handed, 
and the other is to get into his confidence and attack him 
from behind (and we needn't have any sporting scruples in 
this case). Do you agree so far?” 


“All that seems reasonable enough,” Moresby conceded. 


“Quite so. Well, as to the first method, does one usually 
take homicidal maniacs of the sexual type red-handed? You 
people at the Yard ought to know, with your experience of 
Jack the Ripper. And I’m assuming that our man isn’t quite 
such a dolt as Neill Cream, who almost invited the police to 
come and investigate him. Then only the second method 
remains. Well, now, Moresby, | don’t want to be offensive, 
but are you the fellow to get into the confidence of such a 
man? Let’s look at it quite reasonably. We narrow our 
Suspicions down, say, to an old Etonian, who is a member 
of, perhaps, the Oxford and Cambridge Club. Do you think 
you could induce a man like that to confide anything further 
to you than the best thing for the three-thirty? You can’t join 
his club, you see, and get at him that way, can you?” 


“| see your point all right, Mr. Sheringham,” Moresby 
smiled. “Yes, there’s a good deal in that. But of course we’ve 
got plenty of people at the Yard who could do all that. What 
about the Assistant Commissioner? He was at Eton himself.” 


“Do you really imagine,” said Roger with fine scorn, that a 
man who has committed at least three murders is going to 
confide in the Assistant Commissioner of Scotland Yard? 
Don’t pretend to be puerile, Moresby. You know well enough 
that nobody even remotely connected with Scotland Yard is 
going to be any good for that. It’s just there where my 
position is so useful to you. I’m not connected with Scotland 
Yard. I’m known to the general public simply as a writer of 
fiction. Why, the man we're looking for has probably, never 
seen even a copy of The Courier in his life.” 


“Well, as | said, there’s plenty of sense in all this, Mr. 
Sheringham. And if | do refuse to take you on as an 
assistant, | Suppose you mean you'll blow the gaff and do 
your best to queer our pitch?” 


“| shall hold myself free to write what | choose about 
these cases,” Roger corrected with dignity. 


“Um.” The Chief Inspector tapped absently on the table 
and appeared to be ruminating. “I’m in charge of the 
investigation at present, of course. But we’re not by any 
means certain yet that they are murders. There’s a lot in 
that stuff you wrote in The Courier the other day about 
Suggestion acting on a certain type of mind, you know.” 


“Ah! So you read my articles, do you?” said Roger, 
childishly pleased. “But Lady Ursula’s wasn’t that type of 
mind, you know. That’s the whole point. Still, we’ll go into 
that later. Are you or are you not going to take me on?” 


“We're not allowed to do anything like that, not without 
permission, you know,” the Chief Inspector demurred. 


“Yes, and | know equally well that you'll get the 
permission in this case for the asking,” Roger retorted, 
without modesty. 


The Chief Inspector ruminated further. “Well,” he said at 
length, “I’m not saying that you might not be able to help 
me, Mr. Sheringham, in this particular case. Quite a lot. And 
certainly you’re no fool,” he added kindly. “I thought that at 
Ludmouth, though you were a bit too clever there. But it 
was really smart of you to tumble to murder in the Ransome 
case, before those others. I’ll admit that it never occurred to 
us at all. Yes, very well, then, sir; we’ll consider that settled. 
I'll apply for permission to take you in with us as soon as | 
get back to the Yard.” 


“Good man!” Roger cried in high delight. “We'll open a 
bottle of my precious ‘67 brandy to celebrate my official 
recognition.” 


Over the reverent consumption of a couple of glasses of 
the '67, Roger made known to his new colleague the result 
of his researches into the case of Unity Ransome, first 
stipulating that her real identity should not be made public 
unless circumstances absolutely necessitated it; he was 
resolved to use any influence he had to save that unhappy 
family from further trouble. The Chief Inspector agreed 
readily enough and, now that it was no longer a case of 
rivalry but of collaboration, complimented his companion 
ungrudgingly on his astuteness. He had himself already paid 
a couple of visits to the Sutherland Avenue flat, but had 
made little progress from that end of the complicated case. 


“What put Scotland Yard finally on the suspicion of 
murder?” Roger asked, having told all he knew. 


“Something beyond your own~ knowledge, Mr. 
Sheringham,” replied the Chief Inspector. “On examining 
Lady Ursula’s body, our surgeon reported that there were 
distinct signs of bruises at her wrists. | had a look at them 
myself, and though they were faint enough, I’m ready to 
swear to my belief that her hands had been tied together at 
some time. Well, she wouldn’t have tied her own hands, 
would she?” 


Roger nodded. “And the other cases?” 


“Nothing was noticed at the time, but we’re taking steps 
to find out.” 


“Exhumation? Yes. Well now, Moresby, let’s hear your 
theory about it all.” 


“Theory, sir’? Well, | Suppose we do have theories. But 
Scotland Yard works more on clues than theories. The 
French police, now, they work on theories; but they’re 
allowed a good deal more latitude in their inquiries than we 
are. They go in a lot for bluff, too, which we can’t use. All we 
can do is to follow up the pointers in a case, and see where 
they lead to.” 


“Well, let’s examine the pointers, then. What do you 
consider we’ve got to work on, so far?” 


Inspector Moresby looked at his watch. “Good gracious, 
sir,” he exclaimed, in artless surprise, “I’d no idea it was as 
late as this. They’ll be wondering whatever’s happened to 
me. You'll have to excuse me, Mr. Sheringham. | must get 
back to the Yard at once.” 


Roger understood that not until official permission had 
actually come through would the Chief Inspector discuss the 
case with him further than to pick his brains. He smiled, well 
enough content with the result of his lunch-party. 


CHAPTER VII 


GETTING TO GRIPS WITH THE CASE 


Soon after eight o’clock that same evening, in response to a 
telephoned hint from Roger, Chief Inspector Moresby again 
visited the Albany, official permission to discard his 
reticence at last duly obtained. Roger welcomed him with a 
choice of whisky or beer, pipe tobacco or cigarettes, and 
they settled down in front of the fire, pipes alight and a 
pewter tankard at each elbow, to go into the case with real 
thoroughness. 


“By the way, have you seen The Evening Clarion?” 
Moresby remarked first of all, pulling the paper in question 
from his pocket. “You journalists do give us a lot of trouble, 
you know.” He handed it over, marking a certain paragraph 
with his thumb. 


The paragraph was at the end of an account of the 
inquest on Lady Ursula that morning. Roger read: “From the 
unobtrusive presence among the spectators at the back of 
the court of a certain highly placed official at Scotland Yard, 
it may be argued that the police are not altogether satisfied 
with the case as it stands at present. Certainly there seem 
to be many obscure points which require clearing up. It 
must not be supposed that the said official’s interest in the 
proceedings necessarily means that Scotland Yard definitely 
suspects foul play, but it is not too much to assume that we 
have not yet heard the last of this tragic affair.” 


“Very cleverly put,” was Roger’s professional comment. 
“Damn, the fellow!” he added, unprofessionally. 


“It’s a nuisance,” agreed his companion. “I’ve put a stop 
to any more, of course, and | dare say there’s no harm done 
really; but that sort of thing’s very annoying when you're 
doing all you can to keep your inquiries a close secret. 
Anyhow, there’s one blessing: nobody’s brought up the 
Monte Carlo business yet.” 


“Monte Carlo? What’s that?” 


“Oh, didn’t you know about that, Mr. Sheringham?” asked 
the Chief Inspector, his eyes twinkling. “I made sure you had 
that at your fingers’ ends. Why, a French girl—a croquette, 
or whatever they call ’em over there——” 


“A cocotte,” Roger corrected without a smile. “Described 
as an actress. Yes?” 


“Well, a French cocotte was found dead in her bedroom in 
February in just the same way. She’d lost a good deal of 
money in the Casino, so of course they assumed she’d 
hanged herself. It was more or less hushed up (those things 
always are there) and | don’t think it was even mentioned in 
the papers over here. We heard about it, unofficially.” 


“Monte Carlo this February, eh?” Roger said thoughtfully. 
“That ought to be a bit of a help.” 


“It’s about all we’ve got to go on,” said the Chief 
Inspector, rather dolefully. “Il mean, assuming that this is 
murder at all and that the same man’s responsible for it. 
That, | should say, and the note.” 


“The note? Oh, you mean the note Lady Ursula left. Yes, 
I'd realised of course that if it was murder, all those notes 
must have been written with quite a different meaning than 
the one everybody gave them later. The murderer’s a clever 
man, Moresby, there’s no getting away from it.” 

“He is that, Mr. Sheringham. But there’s a bit more to be 
got out of Lady Ursula’s than the others. If it was murder, 
then that note must have meant something quite different, 


as you Say. But its importance to us is that it was creased. 
You can see it at the Yard any time.” 


“| see,” Roger nodded. “And it hadn’t been left in an 
envelope, you mean. In other words, it must have been in 
another envelope at one time, and therefore was definitely 
not written on that occasion.” 


“Or in somebody’s pocket. The paper’s a tiny bit rubbed at 
the creases as if it had been in a pocket. Well, Mr. 
Sheringham, find the person to whom that note was written, 
and we've gone a long way towards solving the mystery. It’s 
the only clue we’ve got, but | shouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t 
going to be the only one we shall want. Mark my words, sir, 
it’s that note that’s going to clear up this affair for us, if we 
can only find out who it was written to.” 


“| shouldn’t be surprised,” Roger replied noncommittally. 
Privately, however, he did not feel so sure. He recognised 
that Scotland Yard was going to regard the letter as the 
Dominant Clue; but the method of the Dominant Clue, 
though often brilliantly successful (or rather, not so much 
brilliantly as painstakingly), was liable to fall to the ground 
when the clue in question did not come up to scratch. By 
disregarding the side-issues in these latter cases Scotland 
Yard had many failures in its records which a less single- 
aimed method, such as the French with its inductive 
reasoning, would almost certainly have solved; and it was 
no palliative to point out that the reverse also was equally 
true, and that there are unsolved mysteries in the French 
annals which the more laborious method of Scotland Yard 
would probably have cleared up. 


A really rogue-proof detective-service, Roger had long ago 
decided, should not stick to one method at all, but make use 
of them all; and he determined that the partnership 
between himself and Moresby should be such a service in 
miniature. Let Moresby pursue the Dominant Clue and call 
on the organised resources of Scotland Yard to help him do 


so; he himself would look at the problem as a whole, from 
every possible side, and do his best to combine the amazing 
deductive powers of the Austrian criminological professors 
with the imaginative brilliance of the star French detectives. 
It is characteristic of Roger that he took this tremendous 
task on his shoulders with complete composure, between 
two pulls at his tankard. 


The two settled down into a steady talk. 


During the next half-hour Roger found himself much 
impressed with the common sense level-headedness of his 
colleague, whom he had been inclined to regard, in 
consequence of his preference for, a Dominant Clue, as 
lacking in perception of the finesses of scientific criminology. 
He was also a little chagrined to find that Moresby’s 
knowledge of criminal history was even more complete than 
his own. 


As the discussion progressed Roger was not the only one 
to make discoveries. The Chief Inspector, too, hitherto 
disposed to regard Roger as a volatile-witted amateur intent 
Only upon proving impossible theories of his own erection, 
now found himself considerably more impressed than he 
had anticipated by his companion’s quick grasp of 
essentials and the vivid imagination he was able to bring to 
bear on the problem. If he had felt any misgivings about 
taking a leaf out of the story-books and admitting an 
amateur into his councils, they were not long in 
disappearing. By the end of half an hour the partnership 
was on a firm basis. 


As if to mark the fact, Roger rose and replenished the 
tankards. The beer, it may be remarked, was a good sound 
XXXX, Of a dark fruity colour, from a cask in the next room, 
Roger’s study. Oh, all you young women, distrust a man who 
does not drink good sound fruity XXXX with zest as you 
would one of your own sex who did not care to powder her 
nose. 


“Now it seems to me,” said Roger as he sat down again, 
“that we’ve been talking too much at random. Let’s take 
things under their proper heads, one at a time. First of all 
the deaths themselves. We’ve agreed that any other 
hypothesis but that of murder is putting too great a strain 
on coincidence, haven’t we? Well, then, let’s take a leaf out 
of the French notebook and reconstruct the crime.” 


“Very well, Mr. Sheringham, sir. I'd like to hear you do 
that.” 


“Well, this is how | see it. The murderer first of all selected 
his victim with a good deal of care. She must fulfil certain 
conditions. For instance, she must above all be so far 
familiar with his appearance, at any rate, as to feel no alarm 
on seeing him. Then the opportunity would be chosen with 
equal cunning. It must be when she is alone and likely to 
remain so for at least half an hour. But all that’s quite 
elementary.” 


“There’s never any harm in running over the elementary 
parts with the rest,” said the Chief Inspector, gazing into the 
fire. 

“Well, having got the girl and the opportunity together, he 
proceeds to overpower her. | say that, because no girl is 
going to submit tamely to being hanged, still less is she 
going to take off one of her stockings and offer it for the 
purpose; and yet none of them show any obvious evidence 
of a struggle. Even the marks on Lady Ursula’s wrists can’t 
be called that. Well, now, how did he overpower them?” 


“That’s it,” observed Chief Inspector Moresby. 


“He was devilish clever,” Roger continued, warming to his 
work. “You try overpowering an ordinary, healthy girl and 
see whether there isn’t going to be a deuce of a struggle. Of 
course there is. So it’s an elementary deduction to say that 
he must be a strong, and probably very big man. And they 
didn’t even cry out. Obviously, then, he must have stopped 


that first. I’m not so childish, by the way, as to suggest 
chloroform or anything fatuous like that; anybody but the 
writers of penny dreadfuls knows that chloroform doesn’t 
act like that, to say nothing of the smell afterwards. No, 
what | do suggest is a woollen scarf thrown unexpectedly 
across her mouth from behind and drawn tight in the same 
instant. How’s that?” 


“| can’t think of anything better, and that’s a fact.” 


“Well, a strong man could easily knot that at the back of 
her head, catch her wrists (her hands would be instinctively 
trying to pull at the stuff over her mouth) and twist them 
into the small of her back. | admit that it’s more of a job to 
fasten them there, but a knowledge of ju-jitsu might help; 
he could put her, | mean, in such a position that she couldn’t 
move without breaking an arm, hold both her wrists there 
with one hand and tie them together with the other. And as 
there are only the faintest bruises there, he would obviously 
have to fasten them with something that isn’t going to cut 
the skin—one end of the same woollen scarf, for instance.” 
Roger paused and moistened his clay. 


“Go on, Mr. Sheringham,” urged Moresby politely. 


“Well, then, of course, he’d got her where he wanted, her. 
It wouldn’t be difficult after that, | imagine, to remove one of 
her stockings; and then he could proceed with his 
preparations at leisure, screwing the hook in the door, 
arranging a chair to stand her on, and all the rest of it. And 
after he’d hanged her all he would have to do is to unfasten 
the scarf and untie her wrists and ankles.” 

The Chief Inspector nodded. “That’s about what 
happened, no doubt of it.” 

“Well, there’s the reconstruction, and | don’t see that it 
gives us anything fresh, except perhaps the woollen scarf, 
and that’s only a guess. As to the man’s psychology, that’s 
obvious enough. He’s mad, of course. His only possible 


motive, so far aS one can see, is murder for love of killing. 
Homicidal mania, developed to hopeless insanity. The 
victim’s own stocking, for instance. And | imagine it would 
have to be silk. Yes, that brain of his must be full of strange 
twists; the idea of hanging a girl with a lisle-thread stocking 
would probably shock him as much as it would you or me.” 


“It’s on Jack the Ripper lines, right enough,” commented 
the Chief Inspector. 


“That’s another heading: Criminological Parallels. There’s 
Jack the Ripper, as you say, and Neill Cream, though he’s 
rather different psychologically. | never could understand 
him not wanting to watch his victims die, could you? | 
should have imagined that was the whole object of that type 
of murderer. Can you think of any other similar cases 
besides those two?” 


“Sexual murders, Mr. Sheringham, or lust-murders, as the 
psychologists call them? Well, they’re not very common in 
this country, are they? Most of the foreign ones are like Jack 
the Ripper, too, aren’t they? Stabbing, | mean. | suppose, 
taking ‘em all round, the best-known are Andreas Bickel, 
Menesclou, Alton, Gruyo and Verzeni. Then there was an 
outbreak of stabbing murders in New York in July 1902, and 
another in Berlin, funnily enough, the same month. Then 
there was Wilhelm Damian, In Ludwigshafen in Germany, in 
1901, and——” 


“Great Scott, Moresby!” interrupted the astonished Roger. 
“You must have been sitting up late since they made you a 
Chief Inspector. How on earth do you know all this?” 

“It’s my business, Mr. Sheringham,” replied the Chief 
Inspector austerely, and drowned his smile in good XXXxX. 

“Well, what | meant,” Roger continued, in somewhat 
chastened tones, “is, can we learn anything from these 
parallels?” 


“| doubt it, sir, except that of all murderers these are the 
most difficult to catch; and it won’t need any criminological 
parallels to teach us that, I’m afraid.” 


“Well, let’s go on to the next heading: Victims. What do 
they give us? The Monte Carlo woman—do you know 
anything about her?” 


“Not yet. I’ve written over for all details. But if it was the 
Same man, we get that he must have been in Monte Carlo 
at the time, of course.” 


“Yes, that may help us a lot. What about getting hold of a 
list of all English visitors at Monte Carlo last February?” 


“I’ve done that, Mr. Sheringham,” replied the Chief 
Inspector with a tolerant smile; in matters of routine no 
amateur could teach him anything. “And in Nice, Cannes 
and all the other Riviera places as well.” 


“Good man,” said Roger, uncrushed. “Well, then there’s 
Janet Manners—or Unity Ransome, as | think we’d better go 
on calling her. The only thing | can see there is that he must 
have been known to her; and pretty well too for her to have 
taken him into her sitting-room when she was alone in the 
flat; that is, if | read her rightly. That may be a useful help to 
us.” 


“That’s true enough.” 


“Elsie Benham, so far as | see, gives us nothing at all. He 
might have been known to her or he might not. In the 
second alternative she must have picked him up between 
the club and her flat off the Tottenham Court Road; in the 
first, he might have been waiting for her at the flat. The only 
hope is that the constable on the beat caught sight of them 
together.” 


“And he didn’t,” put in the Inspector. “I’ve already 
ascertained that. But I’m having inquiries made as to 
anyone else having done so, though | don’t think there’s 
much hope.” 


“And that leaves Lady Ursula. Well, you know, | can’t see 
that there’s much more there. When one comes to think of 
it, he needn’t have known her at all. He could have 
introduced himself easily enough in the street as a friend of 
a friend of hers; a little thing like that wouldn’t have worried 
Lady Ursula. Or he might have been a friend of the girl who 
owns the studio, and knocked in passing on seeing a light 
inside. | can’t see that there’s much more.” 


“There’s the note, Mr. Sheringham,” the Chief Inspector 
reminded him. “In my opinion that shows that the thing was 
premeditated, and the note was brought for the purpose.” 


“But how could he have known that she was going to the 
studio? She never said anything about it to her friends. 
Probably she didn’t know herself. She passed by on her way 
out of London and called in to see if the girl would go for a 
run with her.” 


“That’s possible, of course, but we mustn’t lose sight of 
the notion that she had an assignation there, knowing her 
friend was going to be out, and all that talk about the run 
was to put the others off the scent. She’d guess well enough 
that none of them would go with her.” 


“Humph!” said Roger, who was quite willing to lose sight 
of that notion, in which he did not believe for a moment. “By 
the way,” he went on, aS a memory occurred to him, “I’ve a 
shrewd idea that that fellow she was engaged to—what’s his 
name? Pleydell—has his suspicions. Did you notice him in 
the court this morning? Half a dozen times he seemed to me 
on the verge of saying something significant.” 


“Yes, | thought he might have something in his mind. | was 
going to have a talk with him to-morrow morning.” 


“It’s a rotten position for him,” Roger said thoughtfully. 
“And it’ll be rottener still if he has got a suspicion that 
everything isn’t as straightforward as it might be. To have 
one’s fiancée commit suicide is bad enough, but to have her 


murdered!... Look here, Moresby, why not hold up your talk 
with him for a day or two?” 


“Why, Mr. Sheringham?” 


“Well, it’s rather a nice point. If he has got his suspicions, 
you see, would he let things stay as they are, to save her 
family any further scandal, or would he do his damnedest to 
get at the truth? In my opinion he’d want the truth. But he’s 
not going to be quite sure at first what he wants. Well, if you 
descend on him before he’s made up his mind, he might be 
driven into holding his tongue. A sort of counter-instinct, you 
know. And if he’s got anything to tell us that would be a pity. 
On the other hand, if you leave him till he’s quite clear 
about it, | shouldn’t be at all surprised if he doesn’t come to 
you; and in that case you’d get far more out of him than in 
any other way. This is all on the assumption that he /s 
Suspicious, of course, which may not be the case at all.” 


The Chief Inspector consumed a little more beer. “There’s 
a good deal in that,” he admitted, wiping his mouth 
delicately on a large blue silk handkerchief. “Yes, perhaps | 
was a little hasty, and that’s the one thing we ought not to 
be. Very well, I'll give him three days and see if you’re right. 
It'll be a feather in your cap if you are.” 


Roger looked over the notes he had been taking of the 
conversation. “Well, what it seems to amount to,” he said, 
“is that we’ve got to look for a man who touches our circle 
at various points, including Monte Carlo last February. He’s 
probably a hefty fellow, and a gentleman (or passing for 
one), and we can’t necessarily expect anything abnormal in 
his mental make-up except on this one topic. If we narrow 
our search down to one man, | shall try to get him to talk on 
that topic (which won’t be too easy to introduce, by the 
way), and if he gives himself away we can be pretty certain 
we’re on the right track.” 


“And then we've got to prove it against him,” added the 
Chief Inspector with gloom, “and that’s going to be the most 
difficult job of the lot. If you’d been at the Yard as long as | 
have, Mr. Sheringham, you’d know that—— Hullo, isn’t that 
your telephone?” 


Roger rose and went to the instrument in his study 
adjoining. In a moment he was back. “For you, Moresby,” he 
said. “Scotland Yard.” 


Moresby went out of the room. 


When he returned a few minutes later, his face bore an 
expression of rather reluctant admiration. “That was a smart 
bit of psychological deduction you put in only a few minutes 
ago, Mr. Sheringham,” he said. 

“What do you mean?” Roger asked, agog. 

The Chief Inspector stooped and plucked out a feather 
which, was protruding from the cushion in his chair. “Here 
you are, sir,” he said. “Put it in your cap. Mr. Pleydell’s 
waiting at the Yard to see me at this, minute. Care to come 
round too?” 


“You bet | would,” said Roger, with fervour. 


CHAPTER VIII 


A VISITOR TO SCOTLAND YARD 


Pieyoeu. Was IN a waiting-room when Roger and the Chief 
Inspector arrived in Scotland Yard. There had been some 
discussion between the two on the way, as to whether 
Roger should appear at this first interview or not; and it had 
been decided that, as Pleydell would probably be still a little 
torn between reticence and the reverse, the presence of a 
third person might tend to tip the balance in favour of the 
former. In order that Roger should not, however, miss any of 
the conversation, he was to lurk behind a screen in a corner 
of the room. 


Moresby had given instructions over the telephone that no 
hint should be given to Pleydell that the police were already 
taking an interest in his fiancée’s death, so that whatever 
he had come to say should be completely spontaneous. It 
was therefore with eager anticipation that Roger retired into 
his corner, where he was pleased to find that, by applying 
an eye to a carefully cut aperture in the screen, he could 
watch the proceedings as well as hear them. A few 
moments later Pleydell was shown in. 


Roger wondered at first whether their precautions had 
been unnecessary, for Pleydell seemed perfectly composed. 
“Good evening,” he said, in reply to Moresby’s greeting. “1 
know nothing about the procedure here, but | wish to see 
somebody on a highly delicate matter.” 


“That’s right, sir,” Moresby assured him. “You can say 
whatever you wish to me.” 


Pleydell looked a little doubtful. “Il was thinking that 
perhaps the Assistant Commissioner...” 


“Sir Paul is out of town this evening, sir,” Moresby replied 
untruthfully. “At the moment I’m in charge. You can say 
anything you wish to me. Take a chair, won’t you?” 


Pleydell hesitated a moment, as if still not quite contented 
with a mere Chief Inspector, then seemed to accept the 
inevitable. As he turned to take the chair, Roger was not 
quite so sure of his composure; there were little lines at the 
corners of his mouth and eyes that might indicate mental 
strain. His self-control, however, was strong. Now that Roger 
could observe him more nearly than in the court, he saw 
that the Jewish blood in him was not just a strain, but filled 
his veins. Pleydell was evidently a pure Jew, tall, handsome 
and dignified as the Jews of unmixed race often are. Roger 
liked the look of him at once. 


“Now, sir,” Moresby resumed when they were both 
seated, “what did you want to see us about?” He spoke in 
easy, conversational tones, as if his visitor might have 
come, for all he knew to sell him a drawing-room suite on 
the instalment system. 


“My name is Pleydell,” said the other. “I don’t suppose 
that conveys anything to you, but | am—I was,” he corrected 
himself painfully, “engaged to be married to Lady Ursula 
Graeme.” 


The Chief Inspector’s face took on the correct look of 
condolence. “Oh, yes. A shocking business, that, sir. | 
needn’t say how | sympathise with you.” 


“Thank you.” Pleydell fidgeted for a moment in his chair. 
And then his composure and his self-control alike 
disappeared. “Look here,” he blurted out abruptly, “this is 
what I’ve come round for—I’m not satisfied about it!” 


“Not satisfied, sir?” The Chief Inspector’s voice was a 
model of polite surprise. “Why, how do you mean?” 


“I’m not satisfied about my fiancée’s death. I’m sure that 
Lady Ursula would have been the last person in the world to 
kill herself like that, without any reason. It’s—it’s grotesque! 
| want you to look into it.” 


The Chief Inspector drummed on the table with his 
knuckles. “Look into it, sir?” he repeated. In cases such as 
this Chief Inspector Moresby carried on most of his share of 
the conversation by echoing, in an interrogatory form, the 
last two or three words of his companion’s last speech. It 
was a good method, for it saved him from sitting dumbly 
and it also saved him from contributing anything of his own 
to the conversation. Moreover, it is an excellent way of 
drawing out one’s interlocutor. 


“Yes.” Now that his outburst was over and Pleydell had got 
his chief trouble off his chest, his calm was returning. “I’m 
convinced there’s something behind all this, Inspector. My 
fiancée must have had some good reason for doing what 
she did. She must have been threatened or blackmailed, or 
—or something horrible. | want the police to find out what 
that reason was.” 


“| see, sir.” Moresby continued to drum absently on his 
table. “But that’s really hardly a matter for us, is it?” he 
suggested. 


“How do you mean?” Pleydell retorted, his voice 
indignant. “I tell you, Lady Ursula must have been hounded 
into taking her life. She was driven into suicide. She must 
have been. And isn’t that tantamount to murder? Supposing 
it was blackmail, for instance. That’s a matter for you, isn’t 
it?” 

“Oh, quite, sir, if you put it like that. What | mean is, this is 
all too vague. It’s only what you think, after all, isn’t it? Now 
if you could give us some evidence, to support what you’re 
saying—well, that might be a different matter.” 


Roger smiled. He appreciated the Chief Inspector’s 
method. By pretending to make light of his visitor’s 
Suspicions he was hoping to goad him into revelations 
concerning his fiancée which otherwise he might be most 
reluctant to make. 


It seemed, however, as if Moresby’s subtlety was not to be 
rewarded. “Evidence?” said Pleydell, more calmly. “That’s 
difficult. | don’t think I’ve got any evidence to give you. Lady 
Ursula never gave me the slightest hint that anything was 
amiss. In fact, the whole dreadful business is a complete 
mystery to me. All | know is that she wouldn’t have done a 
thing like that without reason, and we don’t know of any 
reason. Therefore that reason ought to be found. Surely it’s 
up to you to unearth the evidence, not me.” 


Roger reflected that, up to the present, Pleydell’s 
Suspicions almost exactly corresponded with his own 
concerning Janet Manners. Indeed, had not that chance 
bombshell flung vaguely in Moresby’s direction blown away 
the cobwebs from his own brain in its bursting, they would 
probably be the suspicions that he still held. And what would 
Pleydell say when he found that it was not a case of hidden 
reasons for suicide at all, but of simple murder? 


Roger studied him carefully through the little aperture. 
Under that normally composed, almost cold exterior, no 
doubt the fires of passion could burn as fiercely as anywhere 
else. More fiercely perhaps; for it is those who habitually 
keep a tight hand on their emotions, whose outburst, when 
it does occur, is far more violent than that of the normal 
individual. And after all, in this case the blood was Oriental 
in origin, however remote that origin might be. With the lust 
for vengeance which must sweep over him as he learnt the 
truth, Pleydell might prove a useful help in the investigation. 
Roger decided that he ought to be told the truth at once. 


The Chief Inspector was ambling gently round the 
question at issue. “But do you think the Countess would like 


Scotland Yard called in, sir?” he was asking. “Now that 
everything’s settled, wouldn’t it be better to leave it like 
that, and not rake up what may turn out to be a nasty 
scandal?” 


Pleydell flushed. “I’m not necessarily ‘calling you in,’” he 
replied. “One only does that when there’s something 
definite to call you in for, | suppose. I’ve merely come here, 
after considerable reflection, to report to you my personal 
opinion that there is something behind the scenes here 
which ought to be brought into the light. You may, of course, 
hint at ‘a nasty scandal’ in connection with my fiancée; | 
prefer to look on her as the probable victim of a 
blackguardly conspiracy which has ended by driving her to 
take her own life. And in my opinion you people here ought 
to investigate the matter. That’s all I’ve got to say.” He rose 
to his feet, picked up his hat and gloves and walked towards 
the door. “Good evening,” he added curtly. 


Moresby rose too. “One minute, sir. If you’re not in a hurry, 
| wonder if you’d mind waiting a short time before you go. 
There may be something in what you say, and perhaps we 
ought to look into it. I’d like to mention it quickly to a 
colleague, and he might care to see you. In cases like this, 
you see, sir, we have to be very careful not to...” His voice 
droned away down the passage outside. 


In a moment or two he was back. “Well, Mr. Sheringham? 
What do you make of all that?” 

“He’s thinking exactly as | did at first about Unity 
Ransome. Knows there’s something very wrong, but can’t 
just see what it is. We ought to tell him.” 

The Chief Inspector looked dubious. “Tell him it’s murder?” 

“Yes. He might be very useful. He’s our chief lever for 
uncovering Lady Ursula’s case, | should say.” 

“Um! But | don’t think we’ll tell him straight out what we 
think, Mr. Sheringham, if you don’t mind. It’s a thing we 


never do unless there’s a very definite object to be gained, 
and there isn’t here. But I’ve no objection to letting him 
know that we’re already investigating the case.” 


“Very well. And ask him if he can throw any light on that 
note of Lady Ursula’s.” 


“Of course. Well, I’ll fetch him back.” 


Returning, the Chief Inspector introduced Roger to Playdell 
as “Mr. Sheringham, who is going to look into this case with 
me,” 


Pleydell seized on the point immediately. “Ah!” he said. 
“So you are going to look into it?” 


The Chief Inspector contrived to smile an apologetic smile 
in which there was no apology. “I’m afraid | wasn’t quite 
open with you just now, sir. You mustn’t mind; we’re very 
fond of our secrets here.” He winked maliciously at Roger. 
“To tell you the truth, we’re investigating this case already, 
in a quiet way. Have been for the last two days, in fact.” 


“Ah!” Pleydell stroked his chin thoughtfully. “So my 
coming wasn’t such a Surprise to you after all?” 


“We wondered if you might,” Moresby agreed. “Mr. 
Sheringham was only saying a short time ago that he’d an 
idea that the same things that had struck us, might 
probably have struck you.” 


Pleydell turned sharply to Roger, the ghost of a smile on 
his lips. “They did, Mr. Sheringham; very forcibly indeed. 
And I’ve been spending the last half-hour trying to induce 
the Chief Inspector to look into the case officially, without, 
as | thought, the least success.” 


“Well; well,” said the culprit paternally, “let’s sit down and 
talk it over. Mr. Sheringham’Il tell you that official secrecy is 
rather a vice of mine. But now that the cat is out of the bag, 
so to speak, no doubt you can help us considerably.” As a 
metaphor applied to the circumstances of Lady Ursula’s 


death, Roger could not help thinking this was an unfortunate 
one. 


Roger and the Chief Inspector sat down on one side of the 
table, and Pleydell, removing his overcoat, took a chair 
opposite them. He was in evening kit, in which his tall, well- 
made form showed to advantage, unlike those of most of 
the financiers Roger had met. Moresby began by putting his 
questions, which the other answered as readily as he could, 
and Roger took the opportunity, while the familiar ground 
was being covered once more without anything fresh 
appearing to emerge from it, to study their visitor anew. 


The term financier conjures up a slightly repulsive picture. 
It is unfortunate that financiers, in the abstract, should 
constitute an idea that is repulsive, but so it is. No doubt 
they will bear it. The ideal financier is short, stubby, with 
squat fingers, small eyes, no hair and a protruding stomach. 
Pleydell had none of these marks of the tribe; considered as 
a specimen of humanity he was pleasant to look on, with 
sharp clear features, dark brown eyes that were perhaps the 
slightest bit hard but only if one looked at them very 
searchingly, and plenty of black, crisp hair; considered as a 
financier, he was an Apollo. His age was somewhere 
between twenty-eight and thirty-five; it might have been 
either. Of course Roger had heard of him before the tragedy, 
as he had heard of Lady Ursula Graeme. Pleydell senior was 
of the financial rank that is known as “the power behind the 
throne,” meaning, in these days, the power behind the 
party; Pleydell junior had been spoken of for some years as 
more than a worthy successor, with several exploits of sheer 
genius on the financial battlefield already to his credit. 
Father and son were outstanding for another reason also; 
they were scrupulously honest, they were behind no shady 
deals, and they never crushed unless they were 
unnecessarily attacked. 


Noting the lines of young Pleydell’s jaw, the glint in his 
dark eyes and the tiny lines about the corners of his mouth, 
Roger summed up his impression in a sentence: “When that 
man does learn that she was murdered, he’s not going to 
rest for a minute till he’s seen the judge put on the black 
cap.” A not unpleasing little thrill ran through him. Though 
he was the other’s junior by perhaps half a dozen years, he 
found himself looking at him just as, in his early ‘teens, he 
had looked at his House football captain. It was not often 
that Roger suffered from an inferiority complex, but he 
came perilously near it at that moment. 


Moresby, having hitherto been able to elicit nothing of 
very much help, was questioning Pleydell about the note 
Lady Ursula had left; warily, because he did not yet wish 
him to grasp their suspicions of murder. Roger understood 
that the Chief Inspector considered that more might be 
brought to light in these early stages if Pleydell remained in 
ignorance of that. Murder, especially where one’s own 
fiancée is concerned, is apt to upset one’s sense of 
proportion. 


“No,” Pleydell said, “| agree that the wording is curious, 
but | can’t tell you anything else about it. It’s in her hand- 
writing, of course; otherwise | might have been tempted to 
suggest that it had nothing to do with the case at all.” 


“You're sure of that, naturally?” Moresby asked. “That it’s 
in her handwriting, | mean. Quite sure?” 


“Of course,” Pleydell replied, surprised. “What else—oh, 
you mean, it might not have been left by her at all?” 


“Something like that. Look at it this way. The wording’s so 
curious that we might almost say that it was written on 
some other occasion altogether and got there by mistake, 
mightn’t one? Well, can you give us any help on those lines? 
Ever seen it before, for instance, or heard of it?” 


Pleydell looked puzzled. “No, | can’t say | have. But how 
should I? | mean, supposing it had been left there for Miss 
Macklane at some other time.” 


“But it wasn’t. I’ve ascertained that. You’re quite sure you 
can’t help us with that note, then?” 


“Quite. Except that | agree with you that the wording is so 
remarkable that it might well refer to some different 
occasion altogether.” 


The Chief Inspector studied the ceiling with some care. 
“You and Lady Ursula were in Monte Carlo last February, 
weren’t you?” he asked, apparently of a small fly. 


“We were, yes,” said Pleydell, surprised again. 


Roger pricked up his ears. Moresby had not mentioned 
this fact to him, and he did not at first see its significance. 
The next moment he understood. 


“Do you happen to remember what date you got there?” 
the Chief Inspector asked casually. 


Roger listened intently. The French “croquette,” he 
remembered, had died on the 9th of February. 


Pleydell was consulting a small engagement book. “I got 
there on the 14th of February. But Lady Ursula went there 
earlier, at least a fortnight before me.” He flicked the pages. 
“Yes, she left London on the 27th of January.” 


“| wonder if it would be giving you too much trouble, Mr. 
Pleydell,” remarked the Chief Inspector, “to make out a list 
some time for me of all Lady Ursula’s men friends, or even 
acquaintances, who were already in Monte Carlo or the 
neighbourhood when you arrived.” 


“| will, yes,” Pleydell said, looking considerably mystified, 
“if you really want it. But what can that have——” 


“! do want it,” beamed the Chief Inspector; and that was 
that. 


Pleydell accepted his rebuff in good part, though it was 
plain that he had not an idea why he had been rebuffed at 
all, which is the most irritating kind of rebuff there is. “When 
| arrived?” he said. “Not the ones that came after myself. 
Lady Ursula, by the way, stayed on after | did. | left on the 
3rd of March, and she was there for another fortnight or so.” 


“Well, take the second week in February, Mr. Pleydell,” 
said Moresby with apparent carelessness. “The ones that 
were there when you arrived, or any you’d heard of who left 
during the preceding week. As full as you can make it. That 
will do well enough.” 


A few minutes later it was intimated that Pleydell might 
leave and that the police could now be considered to have 
the matter in hand. Should anything further occur to him he 
could always reach the Chief Inspector on the telephone. 


“Well, we didn’t get as much as I’d hoped,” Roger said, 
rather ruefully, when they were alone together. 


“Except that about Monte Carlo,” Moresby pointed out. 
“That’s a bit of luck, you know, Mr. Sheringham. He hadn’t 
been engaged long then, and he’d be bound to have noticed 
all Lady Ursula’s friends of his own sex, couldn’t have better 
conditions for the observation we want; we might just as 
well have been there ourselves. Mark my words, his memory 
won't slip a single man that Lady Ursula spoke to that 
fortnight.” 


“Oh, and talking of lists, there’s something | forgot to tell 
you,” said Roger, not without excitement, and went on to 
explain the one of Janet’s Dorsetshire friends which he had 
obtained from Anne. 


“Ah!” said Moresby significantly. 


“In other words,” Roger pointed out unnecessarily, “if by 
any luck one name figures on both lists, we’ve got our 
man!” 


“We know who he is,” corrected the Chief Inspector, and 
left the rest unsaid. 


CHAPTER IX 


NOTES AND QUERIES 


Rocer was thoughtful as he returned to the Albany that 
evening and mixed himself a nightcap before going to bed. 
This case was so different from his others that he was in 
danger of finding himself a little lost in it. With the others it 
had always happened that he had a multiplicity of motives 
and possible criminals, so that a solution had involved 
merely the narrowing down of the evidence till it pointed 
definitely to one of the suspects. 


Here was the complete opposite. In place of several 
possible motives there was, in reason, no motive at all, 
except that of a sexual lust-murder planned by a twisted 
mentality; and in consequence the valuable pointer which 
an obvious motive affords, and which is in nine cases out of 
ten the thing which first directs the attention of the police 
towards the person ultimately proved guilty, simply did not 
exist at all. Moreover, in place of the large company of 
former suspects, was just blank nothingness. Nobody was 
suspect, everybody was suspect. The canvas Roger had to 
survey was so vast that it might be considered as infinite. 
The whole world was suspect. 


He got into bed and tried to sleep, but his brain buzzed, 
revolving determinedly round the endless possibilities of the 
case. The note of optimism on which he had parted from 
Moresby had ceased to resound in his mind; the early hours 
of the night are no place for optimism. Before he had been 
in bed thirty minutes he had decided, once and for all, that 


there could not be the slightest possibility of the same name 
appearing on both Anne Manners’ and Pleydell’s lists. A 
lucky coincidence like that belonged only to fiction; things 
did not turn out that way in real life. No, he must give up 
that tenuous hope and find some other angle from which to 
attack the problem. 


And the annoying thing was that, out of all the puzzles he 
had tackled, this was the one, the most baffling of the lot, 
that he was most anxious to solve; for if he did not 
contribute something of very real value to the partnership 
which he had succeeded in inaugurating, he was quite 
certain that neither Moresby nor the authorities at Scotland 
Yard would ever let him in on the inside of a really 
interesting case again. And Roger was extremely eager to 
be in on the inside of really interesting cases. 


He kicked and turned. It was too much to hope that he 
could solve the case off his own bat, with Moresby there as 
well and all the resources of Scotland Yard behind him; but 
he did want to direct the lines of the chase along the right 
trail. Moresby, of course, was concentrating on Lady 
Ursula’s note; and if by any chance he could find out to 
whom it had been written, the case was as good as solved. 
But how could he? Was it worth Roger’s while to concentrate 
on the note too? Hardly. At following up a single outstanding 
clue Scotland Yard had no rival in the world; for an amateur 
to work on the same lines was simply a waste of time. 


No, he would leave that to Moresby, and if, against all 
probability, Moresby was successful, then he deserved all 
the credit; in the meantime Roger would get to work in a 
different way, collecting all the infinitesimal data which 
Moresby was inclined to ignore, and trying to deduce 
something from them. And if he was successful he would 
not only deserve the credit but, so far as the authorities at 
Scotland Yard were concerned, would jolly well see that he 
got it! After Ludmouth, Roger was not at all inclined to stand 


modestly aside from a brilliantly successful solution, in the 
manner of the _ story-book sleuths, and present the 
blundering police-detective with all the credit. 


He spent two and a half hours in examining all the 
infinitesimal data and was unable to draw a single further 
deduction from them. He then rose, swallowed three 
aspirins in a strong whisky-and-soda, and returned to bed. 
This time he got to sleep. 


On paying a visit to Scotland Yard at eleven o’clock the 
next morning (it gave him an infantile thrill to pass the 
guardian of the door with a nod and be allowed to proceed 
unquestioned to Moresby’s room), he found the Chief 
Inspector seated at his table, concentrating. In front of him 
lay the note. Roger smiled a secret smile. It was as if the 
prosaic Moresby was invoking its essence to rise up and 
proclaim its secret. 


“Morning, Mr. Sheringham,” he said, with an abstracted 
nod. “Just take a look at this letter, will you? Notice anything 
queer about it?” 


“Beyond what you pointed out, that it seems to have seen 
a little wear and tear, no.” 


“Ah, but what about the paper it’s written on?” 


“I know nothing about papers,” Roger smiled, seating 
himself on the edge of the table. “That sort of thing’s your 
prerogative. It’s no good giving me a bit of scrap paper like 
that and expecting me to be able to furnish its complete 
history from the time it was a Celanese vest, or whatever 
they do make that kind of paper from.” 


There was a gleam of triumph illuminating the Chief 
Inspector’s rather stolid face. “Scrap paper, eh? But you 
see, Mr. Sheringham, that’s just what it isn’t.” 

“Oh?” said Roger politely. It was clear that Moresby 
considered it of the highest importance that this scrap of 
paper should not be scrap paper, but exactly why Roger was 


unable to see. “I'll buy it,” he added. “Explain the 
excitement.” 


“Even we poor boobs at Scotland Yard can make a 
deduction or two occasionally,” Moresby grinned unkindly, 
“even though we don’t write clever articles about 
murderers’ psychology for the newspapers. Just take a look 
at that piece of paper again, Mr. Sheringham. Feel it in your 
hand. That isn’t scrap paper; it’s a bit of real expensive 
notepaper.” 


“Ah!” said Roger, understanding. 


“Yes, and it’s been cut,” went on Moresby. “And there was 
a reason for the cutting. Now do you sec what | mean?” 


“| do. The address has been cut off. Good for you. It would 
be a printed address, ten to one, and you can——” 


“And there was something cut off as well as the address,” 
interrupted the Chief Inspector, who was making no bones 
about enjoying his own perspicacity; it has been mentioned 
in a former chronicle that even Chief Inspectors are human. 
He paused deliberately. 


“I told you I'd buy it,” Roger urged in humble tones. 


“I’m surprised at you, Mr. Sheringham,” the Chief 
Inspector mocked. “I am really. | thought you were such a 
one for clever deductions. You don’t see what | mean, even 
now? Well, well! Just think what you’d do if you were writing 
a note to a friend in a hurry like that; in his own rooms, too, 
as the wording of that note shows. Wouldn’t you——” 


“Write the friend’s name at the top, and draw a line under 
it!” Roger exclaimed. “Yes, of course | should. Moresby, 
you're a genius.” 

“Well, you tumbled to it at last,” said the Chief Inspector, 
in distinctly disappointed tones. “And | won’t say it wasn’t 
clever of you to think of that line,” he added handsomely, 


“when you did get there. Just look at the right middle of the 
top edge—there.” 


Roger examined the part of the paper indicated by 
Moresby’s broad thumb. The extreme end of a pencilled line 
was distinctly discernible. He nodded. “And the paper’s been 
carefully cut with a knife,” he observed, turning it on edge. 


The Chief Inspector leaned back in his chair. “This is how | 
look at it, Mr. Sheringham. If you study the creases in that 
paper, you'll see that the fold across the centre doesn’t 
exactly bisect its length. Look, it’s nearly an inch out. Well, 
to do that is all wrong; it——” 


“It isn’t natural,” Roger interjected. 


“No, it isn’t; it’s almost an instinct to fold a piece of paper 
as nearly mathematically exact as possible. Therefore that 
paper was folded before the top was cut off. Therefore we 
can tell from that the exact size of the missing bit. Therefore 
we can tell also the exact size of the original sheet.” 


“I get you,” said Roger. 
Moresby pressed a bell on his table. “This is where 


Scotland Yard has the pull over an outsider,” he said, and 
pulled a sheet of paper towards him. 


When the messenger appeared in answer to the bell, 
Moresby sent him in search of Sergeant Burrows. 


“Morning, Burrows,” he nodded a minute later, as a man 
with a particularly alert face entered the room. “This is Mr. 
Sheringham, who’s attached to us for a time. Here’s a job 
for you. Burrows | want you to find out everything about the 
paper this note’s written on. Take a look at it. I’ve noted 
down the description and watermark for you here, and the 
size of the original sheet; this one’s been cut, you can see. 
Let me know who makes it, what stationers in London stock 
it, especially in the West End, and find out also the names of 
any clients who buy it, and still more, any who have an 
address printed on it as well. I’ve noted all that down for you 


too. That’s going to take you some time, so put five men on 
to it. | want the full lists as soon as possible.” 


“Very good, sir,” said Sergeant Burrows, and made a 
Smart exit. 


“Yes,” Roger agreed. “That’s where Scotland Yard has the 
pull.” 


The Chief Inspector pulled out his pipe, and Roger offered 
his pouch. He was impressed. Moresby was going to play 
that note for all it was worth, and Roger could not help 
feeling that it was going to lead to discoveries in which he 
could claim no share. 


“By the way,” he said, thinking it time that his own end of 
the investigations was brought a little more to the fore. “By 
the way, here’s that list of names | told you about, that Miss 
Manners made out for me.” He produced the list from his 
pocket and handed it across. “That’s a copy for you to keep. 
I’ve got the original.” 


The Chief Inspector ran his eyes down the thirty-odd 
names as he filled his pipe. “Um!” he commented. “Seems 
to have moved in pretty good society at home. Lord This 
and Sir Somebody That and the Honourable The Other.” 


“Her family was a pretty good one, and | expect they know 
most of the county set in those parts,” Roger answered 
carelessly. “There are a lot of big houses in the 
neighbourhood, and the children would mix.” 


“Seems funny none of those big pots did anything for her 
when she came up to London to get a job.” 


“| don’t suppose for a moment that she asked them. They 
probably didn’t even know she was looking for work. The 
Manners may be poor, but they’re probably devilish proud, if 
| Know the type.” 


“Not too proud to show herself off on the stage as a show- 
girl though?” Moresby suggested, applying a match to 


Roger’s tobacco. 


“What’s that nowadays?” Roger retorted, a little irritably. 
“Don’t be so infernally Victorian, Moresby.” But the thought 
occurred to him that he would be very sorry to see Anne 
following in her younger sister’s footsteps. 


“Um!” grunted Moresby, and went on studying the list in 
silence. 


Roger kicked his heels against the table-leg. He had a 
strong feeling that he ought to be out and doing something, 
but for the life of him he could not see what. Moresby 
seemed to be doing all that could be done at the moment. 
That infernal note. Was it going to take things out of his 
hands by providing the solution after all? Roger had an 
uneasy premonition that it was. Not without exasperation he 
picked it up and examined it again. 


“Yes, this edge has been carefully cut with a sharp knife,” 
he announced. “That argues premeditation, doesn’t it?” 


The Chief Inspector looked up’ from_ his _ list. 
“Premeditation?” he echoed. “Why, yes. That’s what | said 
last night.” 


“So you did. And | was inclined to query it. Well, | think the 
cutting clinches that, though | still don’t think that the place 
was premeditated, although the crime was. | should say that 
whoever did kill Lady Ursula had had the intention of doing 
so for some days, and carried the note about with him for 
the purpose of using it whenever an opportunity presented 
itself. The meeting at the studio was simply a chance one.” 


“That’s likely enough,” Moresby agreed. “In fact | wasn’t 
too keen myself on the idea of an assignation at that studio. 
| just put it forward as a possibility we mustn’t overlook. 
Well, that might help things. You mean, we could have a 
look round for someone with a good motive for killing Lady 
Ursula?” 


“No, | don’t,” Roger thumped the table crossly. “That’s just 
the devil of this case; motive doesn’t help! We’ve got the 
motive for Lady Ursula’s death. There it is—that note. When 
Lady Ursula dashed off that little note, she signed her own 
death-warrant, as the story-books Say.” 


“Ah!” said the Chief Inspector with interest. “Yes, | hadn’t 
looked at it that way. That’s very ingenious, Mr. 
Sheringham.” 


“But very obvious,” Roger retorted, though not ill-pleased. 
“This maniac is on the constant look-out for victims, you 
see. A girl whose death he can’t twist into the appearance 
of suicide is no use to him. He’s very fond of killing, but he’s 
running no risks himself—so far as he knows. And devilish 
cunning he is at avoiding them! Of course, for his particular 
methods, suicide is the safest camouflage. Well, when that 
note of Lady Ursula’s falls into his hands, she’s simply a gift, 
isn’t she? There’s his next victim booked at once. All he’s 
got to do is to wait for his opportunity, and in the meantime 
carry that note about with him everywhere so as not to miss 
it when it comes. Elementary, my dear Moresby.” 


“But still leaving us pretty well where we were before, Mr. 
Holmes. But you’re right about motive in this case, Mr. 
Sheringham, sir; it means we’ll have nothing but circum 
stantial evidence about movements and that sort of thing to 
found our case on. In fact, however sure we may be one day 
of knowing between ourselves who the guilty party is, about 
all we’ll ever be able to prove is opportunity. And what’s the 
good of that?” 


“Not much,” Roger confessed. 
They looked at one another gloomily. 


“Without, that is,” added the Chief Inspector, “we have a 
bit of better luck next time.” 


“Next time?” echoed Roger. 


“Yes,” said the Chief Inspector matter-of-factly. “The next 
girl that’s murdered.” 


“Oh!” said Roger. 


The telephone-bell interrupted his unhappy musings. 
“Yes?” Moresby answered it. “Yes, this is Chief Inspector 
Moresby speaking.—Oh, yes. Good morning, sir.—You have? 
Good—If you wouldn’t mind, sir. Yes, as soon as you like— 
Very well, sir.” He hung up the receiver. “Pley-dell,” he said. 
“Coming round with that list.” 


“Ah! Well, let’s hope and pray we have a bit of luck there. | 
don’t like sitting still like this while that brute may be 
planning to attack another girl at this very minute.” 


“But what can we do, sir,” Moresby reasonably pointed 
out, “not even knowing who he is yet?” 


“Humph!” said Roger. There is nothing so irritating as 
reason, when it does not happen to fit in with desire. “I 
suppose he wi// go for another girl?” 


“Not a doubt of it, sir,” responded the Chief Inspector, 
with the greatest cheerfulness. “Bound to; they always do. 
Especially at this sort of stage. He’s just tickled to death 
now with the idea of killing, hasn’t had time to cool off yet. 
They,” added the Chief Inspector with a judicial air, “kill 
about a dozen before they get tired of it.” 


“The deuce they do!” Roger said violently. “But look here, 
yon can’t leave this maniac loose without warning the public 
against him. You must put these wretched girls on guard, at 
least.” 


“And put him on his guard, too? No, sir; that’s no good. 
We'd never catch him that way, and he’s too dangerous to 
be left without being caught, even if it does mean one more 
girl being killed before we get him.‘Her death may save a 
dozen others. But what we want to do is to get him first, and 
I’m going to push on my inquiries as fast as ever | can, now 


that I’m fairly certain that it is murder and a homicidal 
maniac that we’re up against.” 


Roger was unconvinced. He thought that a warning of 
some sort ought to be given, if only to unprotected girls, 
girls living alone, prostitutes and so on; he thought so 
strongly, and he said so with equal strength. The Chief 
Inspector remained adamant, and pointed out from a long 
experience that it never does any good to warn prostitutes 
of anything; they rarely pay the slightest attention. In the 
middle of their argument Pleydell was announced. 


He greeted them with his usual grave, collected courtesy, 
which had an old-fashioned air in so young a man, and 
produced the list he had brought. Without even glancing at 
it Moresby tossed it carelessly on to his desk and engaged 
Pleydell in a brief conversation, asking what his movements 
were going to be that day in case Moresby wanted to get 
hold of him suddenly. Pleydell outlined them roughly, and 
promised to ring up Scotland Yard and leave word should he 
change his plans to any extent during the day. He had 
seemed a little surprised at the request to do so, but had 
complied with the utmost readiness. Roger, watching him, 
saw that he had not yet arrived at the full truth concerning 
his fiancée’s death. 


He stayed about five minutes only, and immediately the 
door had closed behind him the two laid out the lists side by 
side and pored over them eagerly. 


“Ah!” said Roger an instant later. 
“Hullo!” exclaimed Moresby the next moment. 
“Great jumping Jupiters!” shouted Roger within a second. 


There was not merely one name that coincided on both 
lists, but three. 


CHAPTER X 


LUNCH FOR TWO 


“Arter all,” Roger was saying a few minutes later, “it isn’t 
such a coincidence as it seemed at first sight, you know. 
Half the Dorsetshire list are the sort of people who go to 
Monte Carlo in the season. Now one realises, it would have 
been even stranger if there hadn’t been any name to 
coincide.” 


“Well, it isn’t what | was expecting,” said Moresby. “Not 
three.” 


“No, but it isn’t any more odd than that | should know two 
of the three myself. It’s a pretty small crowd, you know, the 
Ascot, Goodwood, Hurlingham, Monte Carlo lot; and if you 
get mixed up with them at all, it doesn’t take long to run up 
against most of them. Not that I’ve had much to do with 
them myself, but I’ve met a few at various functions, and 
just as it happens Beverley is one of them. | don’t know him 
at all well, of course. Personally, I’m afraid | can’t stand the 
man.” 


“Ah!” said the Chief Inspector interestedly. “What’s the 
matter with him, Mr. Sheringham?” 


“Oh, nothing. He’s just precious. Very tall, very slim, very 
beautiful, very fair hair, very blue eyes, and insufferably 
conceited. He writes poetry. Not that I’ve any prejudice 
against poetry, Moresby, or even the people who write it (I 
used to try my hand at it myself, before | discovered that 


nature never intended me for a poet); but he calls his stuff 
poetry, and | don’t.” 


“What do you call it, then, Mr. Sheringham?” 


“Tripe. Also the fellow wears a beard, which no decent, 
self-respecting modern poet ought to do. In fact, Moresby, | 
won't disguise from you the fact that the man is a poisonous 
creature, although, | fear, hopelessly harmless. The one 
thing I’d swear in his favour is that he couldn’t kill a fellow- 
creature to save his own life. No, | wish he was our man, but 
he can’t be, not possibly. He’s a son of Lord Beverley, of 
course.” 


“Um!” observed Chief Inspector Moresby. “And this other 
one you know, Gerald Newsome?” 


“Jerry Newsome? Oh, he used to be a great friend of mine. 
We were at school together, and then Oxford. Yes, | 
remember he came from Dorsetshire. Oh; Jerry’s out the 
question. A charming fellow, without a kink in his length or 
breadth. He got a half-blue for tennis, | remember. Smote a 
very vicious ball indeed.” 


“Ah!” said Moresby, with an expressionless face. “Strong 
sort of chap?” 


“Very wiry, yes; not particularly big, but— Oh, | see. No, 
Moresby, | don’t think you need worry about Jerry. He’s even 
more out of the question than Beverley.” 

“Then that seems to leave only George Dunning.” said the 
Chief Inspector, consulting the lists. 

“Then George Dunning it is, whoever he may be,” replied 
Roger with complete conviction. “We concentrate on George 
Dunning, Moresby.” 

“Um!” said Chief Inspector Moresby, and reached for 
Who’s Who. 

Of the three suspects only Beverley figured in Who’s Who, 
but beyond the fact that the poet had been educated at 


Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, and had published two 
volumes of verse and one of plays, that omniscient volume 
added little to their knowledge. As to Newsome, Roger had 
fallen out of touch with him of recent years, but had an idea 
that he had retired to look after his estate in Dorsetshire on 
the death of his father. A slip of paper despatched by 
Moresby to some unknown destination brought the 
information in a very short time that this was the case, and 
the place in question was found to be within ten miles of 
Litthe Monckton. The same slip also brought the information, 
a few minutes later, that George Dunning was a bachelor, 
about thirty years old, with a large private income, who 
occupied a flat in one of the expensive streets off Piccadilly; 
he was a member of several clubs, duly mentioned, had 
been educated at Rugby and Cambridge, and had played 
Rugger several times for the latter without, however, 
obtaining his blue. 


“Hullo,” said Roger, studying this record with attention, 
“he’s a member of the Oxford and Cambridge, is he? | 
wonder if he ever goes there. | could scrape acquaintance 
with him, perhaps.” 


“Do, if you can, Mr. Sheringham,” approved Moresby. “But 
don’t give anything away, of course,” he added, not without 
a certain anxiety. “He mustn’t know we're on his track.” 


Roger looked at his collaborator with dignity. 


“And don’t start trying to pump him till | give you the 
word,” added the Chief Inspector, unabashed by the look. “1 
don’t want him frightened. And remember, we haven't 
finished checking yet. There’s the results of that notepaper 
inquiry to come in first, and that’s pretty sure to knock two 
of ’em out.” 


“Leaving George Dunning in,” Roger retorted. “Very well, 
Moresby, I'll try to refrain from telling him everything about 


us the first time | meet him, and | think it’s very good of you 
to trust me so far.” 


Chief Inspector Moresby beamed paternally. 


Leaving shortly after, Roger made his way to the Oxford 
and Cambridge Club for lunch, feeling that he could not get 
on Mr. Dunning’s trail too soon. As he walked briskly along 
he had not the least doubt that the murderer had been 
identified; now all that remained was proof. And in the 
collecting of proof Roger was glad not to be hampered by 
the restrictions set on the professional detective. He saw the 
glimmerings of one or two pretty little plans to that end 
which would certainly not have met with official approval. 


On enquiring of the porter he learned that Mr. Dunning 
was not in the club at the moment. Enquiring further, he 
was told that Mr. Dunning did not come very often, not 
above two or three times a month. This was discouraging. 
However, Roger adhered to his scheme, feeling that after all 
it was quite time he did lunch at the Oxford and Cambridge, 
not having done so for at least a year, and soon found 
himself seated in the dining-room in solitary state. He chose 
a fillet steak and fried potatoes, with a pint of old beer, and 
looked round for a friendly face. Not one was in sight. 


Nevertheless, Roger was not to lunch alone that day. Just 
as his steak was being set before him ten minutes later a 
voice hailed him, a little doubtfully, from behind his left 
Shoulder. Spinning round he saw Pleydell standing by his 
chair and jumped up at once. 


“You've saved me,” he_ said swiftly, grasping the 
opportunity before it could elude him. “I was frightened to 
death that I’d got to eat my lunch in complete silence, a 
thing | abhor. If you’re not meeting anyone, come and lunch 
with me, won’t you?” 

“| should be very glad,” returned Pleydell courteously, and 
took the opposite chair. 


“You're Roger Sheringham, the novelist, aren’t you?” he 
went on, when they were seated. “I thought your face was 
familiar to me when | met you at Scotland Yard yesterday.” 


“And | had a vague idea I’d seen you before, too,” Roger 
agreed. “I remember now; it was here, of course, though | 
didn’t know your name. Didn’t we meet in a rubber of bridge 
about two years ago? | remember Frank Merriman was 
playing.” 

“That’s right,” Pleydell acquiesced with a smile. “It’s 
extraordinary how one meets fellows like that for a short 
time, without gathering their names or anything about 
them, and then perhaps doesn’t see them again for years, 
isn’t it?” 

They exchanged a few conventional reminiscences, and 
Roger learnt that his guest had been at Cambridge but had 
had to leave early owing to the War. Having exhausted 
reminiscences the conversation hovered uneasily, while the 
minds of both were full of all the things that were not being 
said. Roger knew that the other must be wondering how he 
could tactfully find out how on earth such a person as Roger 
Sheringham could have come to be mixed up in a police 
inquiry into the circumstances of his own fiancée’s tragic 
death; and Roger himself was wondering what in the world 
he was going to reply when the feeler was inevitably put 
forth. 


Pleydell led up to it gradually. “That Chief Inspector | saw 
at Scotland Yard,” he remarked, almost carelessly, after the 
conversation had stumbled, paused, tried desperately to 
plod on again, and finally halted. “Moresby, his name was, 
wasn’t it? Is he a sound sort of chap?” 


“Oh, yes,” said Roger, with an equally casual air. “Very 
Sound, | think.” 


“He didn’t seem surprised to see me turn up yesterday 
evening,” hinted Pleydell. 


“No,” Roger parried. “We rather thought you might.” 


“You’re connected with Scotland Yard,” said Pleydell, 
framing his remark in the form of an assertion rather than a 
question. “It must be extraordinarily interesting.” 


“Yes, it is,” Roger agreed, accepting the implication, as 
indeed he could hardly help doing. 


Pleydell looked him in the face. “You’re a man of sense,” 
he said abruptly. “What do you think about my fiancée’s 
death?” 


This time Roger refused the advance. “We thought it 
sufficiently strange to warrant a little investigation,” he 
replied colourlessly, trying to re-establish the impersonal 
note. 


“It certainly is that,” Pleydell muttered. “You think there’s 
a man at the back of it?” he attacked again. “At least, that 
seems the inference from the list Moresby wanted.” 


“It’s always possible, isn’t it?” Roger fenced. 


“Oh, why not be open with me, Sheringham?” Pleydell 
said swiftly in a low voice that nevertheless shook a little. 
“Can't you see that the whole thing is torturing me beyond 
endurance? | shall go mad if it isn’t cleared up soon.” 


Roger was taken aback. An appeal to the emotions was 
the last thing he was expecting from the collected, self- 
contained Pleydell. He realised something of what the man 
must be suffering to expose his innermost feelings to a 
complete stranger like himself, and guessed that perhaps no 
other person in the world had ever been granted such a 
view of the human fires that were hidden under that cool 
exterior—except, of course, Lady Ursula. 


“You don’t suppose I’d ever have brought myself to go to 
Scotland Yard and talk to a damned policeman about—about 
her,” Pleydell continued, crumbling the bread on his plate 
with shaking fingers, “if | hadn’t reached my own limit, do 


you? For heaven’s sake tell me what they really think, and 
what they’re going to do about it.” 


Roger was alarmed. His earlier conviction, that once 
Pleydell learned the truth he would be ruthless in his 
vengeance, returned in doubled strength. Far more 
formidable because normally so self-controlled, once he 
reached his breaking-point the man would be dangerous. In 
his own interest he must be restrained. 


And yet, if he stumbled on the truth by himself (as sooner 
or later he surely must), would he not be even more 
dangerous, because out of reach of control? Would it not be 
better to give him an idea of the truth now and bind him not 
to take individual action? If he really gave his word, Roger 
was inclined to think that he would abide by it. And in any 
case Moresby was going to break the news to him on the 
next day, as he must before putting the further questions 
that were necessary; it could hardly make any difference to 
forestall him by twenty-four hours, and it would give the 
poor devil a certain measure of relief; to Know the worst is 
always better than to fear it. 


Roger had to make up his mind in an instant, and be did 
SO. 


“What do you think about it first, Pleydell?” he asked, ina 
tone of voice different from the defensive one in which he 
had spoken hitherto. 


Pleydell looked at him quickly, and the expression he read 
in his host’s face showed that he was to be fenced with no 
longer. “I?” he said slowly. “I hardly like to tell you what | 
think. You might call it too fantastic.” 


“Then put it this way,” Roger said bluntly, now sure that 
the other’s suspicions went nearer towards the truth than he 
had thought before. “Put it this way: do you think Lady 
Ursula took her own life?” 


Pleydell did not flinch. It was as if he had feared all the 
time the hint conveyed by Roger’s question and so was not 
unprepared. “Ah!” he said, scarcely above a whisper. “So it 
was murder, was it?” 


Roger was relieved. The man was taking it bravely, that 
Roger had expected; but it was not such a shock to him as it 
might have been had the idea been a new one. After all, 
Pleydell was no fool. It was a possibility that must have 
occurred to him. 


“We don’t know for certain,” he said, though in a voice 
that held out little hope. “But coming after those others, you 
know.” 


Pleydell nodded. Now that suspicion had been changed 
into certainty he had pulled himself together, and when he 
spoke it was in tones that were almost matter-of-fact. Roger 
marvelled again at his self-control. 


“Yes,” he said. “| was afraid of it as soon as | realised that. 
In fact, it was that which sent me to Scotland Yard. But when 
| got there | hardly liked to say so straight out. It d/d seem 
fantastic, somehow. Ursula, you know, and the idea of 
murder.... Incongruous, to the point of absurdity.” He sighed. 
“But | Suppose murder always does seem fantastic when 
applied to somebody in one’s own circle. Have you got any 
clues?” 


“Precious few,” Roger said ruefully. “We'll lay our hands on 
him sooner or later, | promise you; but it’s not going to be 
an easy job. By the way, Pleydell...” He paused awkwardly. 

Pleydell looked up. “Yes?” 

“Look here,” said Roger in some embarrassment, “you 
mustn’t forget the man’s mad, of course.” 

“Mad?” 

“Yes. A sexual maniac. | mean, it isn’t like an ordinary case 
of murder, where one can feel as rancorous as possible 


against the murderer. | don’t know whether the law will hold 
this man responsible for his actions, but | very much doubt 
it.” 

“Do you?” said Pleydell, with a certain dry grimness. “But | 
think we’d better make sure of catching him all the same.” 


“Yes, yes, of course. But——” 


“And | need hardly say,” Pleydell interrupted, as if hardly 
conscious that Roger was speaking at all, “that if you want 
anything in the nature of funds to help you do so, you’ve 
only got to mention it to me. I’m a pretty rich man, but I’d 
give almost everything I’ve got to see that swine brought to 
the scaffold.” 


“Oh, yes,” murmured Roger, acutely uncomfortable. “Of 
course.” 


“And any other way | can help ...” 


“Yes!” said Roger abruptly. “There’s one way you can help. 
Scotland Yard’s got the matter in hand, and they’re the best 
man-hunting machine in the world. | want you to remember 
just that. In other words, | want you to promise not to 
attempt anything off your own bat. You couldn’t effect 
anything, and you might very easily queer our pitch.” It was 
remarkable how Roger, now that he was firmly established 
in an official status, seemed to have imbibed also the official 
ideas about enthusiastic amateurs and their  well- 
intentioned industry. 


Pleydell looked extremely unwilling to give any such 
under-taking. 


“I’ve told you a lot more than | ought,” Roger urged, “and 
| want you to reciprocate by giving me your word on this 
point. It’s important, honestly.” 

Pleydell appeared to be considering. “Very well,” he said 
Slowly. “I'll give you my word on one condition, and that is 
that you keep me closely informed about how you get on 


and any discoveries you may make. Otherwise | shall hold 
myself free to employ private detectives, if | want, to 
Supplement your efforts.” 


“Oh, don’t do that!” said the Scotland Yard man, with all 
the correct horror of such a notion. “Yes, I'll keep you 
informed all right (unofficially, of course, and you must keep 
anything | tell you a close secret); but for heaven’s sake 
don’t go and let a lot of private detectives loose on us. Why, 
nobody outside Scotland Yard except yourself even guesses 
that we’re looking into these cases at all. Our great hope is 
to capture the chap by complete surprise.” 


“Very well, then,” said Pleydell briefly. “That’s a bargain. 
Tell me exactly how the case stands at present.” 


As he complied, Roger felt that he had succeeded in 
turning what might have proved an awkward situation into a 
helpful one. Without doubt Pleydell, if handled properly and 
kept within bounds, could help the investigation to a very 
considerable extent. 


Having given his guest a synopsis of the facts and the 
hopes entertained, he proceeded to his chief reason for 
asking Pleydell to lunch. “So you see,” he concluded, “that a 
good deal depends on these three men whose names are on 
both the lists. That is, on one of them, because in my 
private opinion both Newsome and Beverley are quite out of 
the running. By the way, | Suppose you know nearly all of 
the men on your own list pretty well, don’t you?” 


“Most of them, more or less, yes. Well, | understand now 
what the Chief Inspector wanted that list for, which | must 
Say puzzled me; but it’s a great pity that | wasn’t at Monte 
Carlo myself at the time of that girl’s death. The fellow may 
have gone before | got there, you see.” 


“It’s possible, of course. But | don’t think it’s very likely. 


There’s a gap of only five days, you see. Of course he may 
have got frightened and bolted at once, but we can easily 


find out who did leave during those five days. Personally, | 
think he would have stayed.” 


Pleydell looked grave. “All this is rather a shock to me, 
Sheringham. It never occured to me that this brute could be 
actually one of our own friends.” 


“It seems as if he must be. And you must remember that 
the fellow is quite probably sane enough in all other 
respects, except for this fatal kink. No doubt Jack the Ripper, 
whoever he was, was regarded in private life as a model 
citizen.” 


“This is rather horrible,” Pleydell murmured. 


“Well, anyhow,” Roger went on briskly, “there are sure to 
be some people on your list whose careers | shall want to 
look into, and | think the best way of approaching them will 
be through you. Can you manage that for me?” 


“Certainly, if they’re men | know. | only wish you could 
give me something more difficult to do. | can tell you, 
Sheringham, I’m just itching to get my hands on that 
fellow.” 


“Well,” said Roger, disregarding his companion’s hands, 
“I'd like to make a start with George Dunning. Do you know 
him?” 

“Know George? Oh, yes. But it’s evident that you don’t.” 

“Why?” 

Pleydell glanced at his watch. “You'll see. I'll take you 
round to his rooms directly we've finished lunch on some 
pretext or other, and leave you there. George will never 
smell a rat. But | warn you, Sheringham,” he added, with a 
Slight smile, “if you really suspect Dunning you’re making a 
hopeless mistake. George couldn’t put a kink into his brain if 
he tried with curling-tongs.” 


“Oh!” said Roger, somewhat dashed. 


CHAPTER XI 


AN INTERVIEW AND A MURDER 


Circumstances Which, applied to ourselves, can only bear one 
interpretation find themselves carrying quite different ones 
when applied to other people. On finding Gerald Newsome’s 
name on the list of suspects Roger had no hesitation in 
affirming, and thoroughly believing his affirmation, that he 
could not possibly be guilty because Roger knew he could 
not be; and he expected this statement to be accepted as 
authoritative. But when Pleydell, with equal certainty, 
pronounced that George Dunning could not possibly be 
guilty because he could not possibly be, Roger was able to 
set this down at once as mere personal prejudice. 


Yet it must be admitted that, when confronted an hour 
later with the gentleman in question, Roger’s heart did sink. 
Instead of the potentially sinister, secretly vicious creature 
whom his imagination had tricked him into anticipating, he 
found himself face to face with a large mountain of 
transparent guilelessness and innocent benevolence. If 
appearances counted for anything at all in this world, 
George Dunning could no more be a potential murderer in 
cold blood than could Roger himself. Less so, if anything, for 
whereas Roger was at least able to put himself in that 
murderer’s place and obtain some faint understanding of 
the horrible enjoyment experienced by that warped brain, 
George Dunning was obviously incapable of putting himself 
in any other place but his own, and possibly not always 
even there. 


Only one thing did strike Roger as mildly curious, and that 
was the evident lack of ease which Dunning seemed to 
experience in Pleydell’s presence. Even that, however, was 
explained when Pleydell, having settled the excuse which 
had brought him, a matter of a mooted bachelor dinner- 
party which would now have to be cancelled owing to his 
mourning, somewhat abruptly took his departure without 
offering to take Roger as well. 


Dunning turned to his unsought guest with something of 
the aspect of a bewildered but well-meaning ram faced with 
a new shepherd. It was obvious that though perfectly ready 
to be hospitable, he had not the least idea what to do with 
this Pleydell-imposed encumbrance. 


His countenance cleared. “Have a drink, eh?” he said, with 
relief. 


“Well, thank you,” Roger agreed. A drink would at least 
serve him with an excuse for a twenty-minutes’ stop. 


“Great fellow, old Pleydell,” observed George Dunning, 
mixing the drinks with skill. “You know him well?” 


“Oh, fairly well, yes,” said Roger, his back to the fire. He 
looked round the very comfortable room, in which fishing- 
rods, an oar and other sporting trophies figured prominently. 
Like most bachelor rooms, it seemed typical of its owner. 
Women’s rooms, like their figures, are rarely individual. 

“Rotten, that business about poor old Ursula, eh?” 
pronounced Dunning, squirting soda. “Say when. Makes one 
feel all thumbs with Pleydell, doesn’t it? Don’t know what 
the deuce to say to a feller whose fiancée’s just hanged 
herself. Devilish awkward.” 

“Devilish,” Roger agreed. “When.” 

Dunning approached him with a half-filled tumbler. “Well, 
chin-chin,” said the suspect. 


“Good luck,” said the man from Scotland Yard. 


They settled themselves in chairs before the fire. 


“You. were at Rugby, weren’t you?” said Roger 
conversationally. “| wonder if you knew J. B. Fotherington?” 


“The games-bird?” rejoined Dunning, with some approach 
to enthusiasm. “Rather. | should jolly well say so. Why, he 
taught me to play rugger.” 


“Did he really? | knew him very well at Oxford. We had 
rooms on the same staircase.” 


Confidence being thus established, Roger allowed it to be 
increased by a judicious conversation upon sporting topics, 
in the course of which he allowed Mr. Dunning to elicit the 
fact that he had once upon a time been awarded a half-blue 
for playing golf against Cambridge. 


“And now you write books, eh?” pursued Mr. Dunning, in 
the course of his artless questionnaire. “Pleydell said you 
were the Sheringham who wrote novels, didn’t he?” 


Roger admitted modestly that he wrote novels. 


“Dashed good too,” said Mr. Dunning politely. “I’ve read 
one or two. Jolly interesting. Look here, finish that up and 
have another.” Roger suspected that it was the half-blue 
rather than his art that had prompted the offer, but he 
accepted readily enough. 


“Yes,” he said in a meditative voice when Dunning 
returned from the sideboard, “I’ve been lunching with 
Pleydell. He seems very cut up.” 

“Well, naturally,” pointed out Dunning, with reason. 

“You knew Lady Ursula pretty well, didn’t you?” Roger 
asked innocently. 

“Oh, so-so, you know. Not so frightfully. Not my type, 
exactly.” 

“No,” said Roger. Dunning’s type, he knew without being 
told, would be small, fluffy, blue-eyed and extremely 


clinging; he shuddered slightly; it was not his own type. 
“She was a very modern sort of person, wasn’t she?” 


“Oh, yes, fairly hectic. Awfully good sort and all that, of 
course, but a bit—well, hectic, you know. Not exactly loud, 
but—well, hectic.” 


“| know,” said Roger gravely. “Hectic. The kind that calls 
every man ‘my dear,’ whether she’s known him ten minutes 
or ten years.” 


“That’s it, exactly.” 


“One gathered that,” observed Roger to his glass, “from 
that note she left.” 


“Oh, yes; rather. Exactly like her, that note. Just the sort of 
thing she would leave.‘Mother have a fit,’ eh? Jolly good.” 


“But it was the sort of thing she would do?” 


“What, hang herself? No, that I’m dashed if it was; | could 
hardly believe it at first. Last thing in the whole world Ursula 
would go and do, if you’d asked me.” 


“So I'd gathered,” said Roger. 
They sat in silence for a few minutes. 


Suddenly Roger started. “Oh, good Lord, I’ve just 
remembered a note I’ve got to get written in a frightful 
hurry. | must run round to my club and get it done at once.” 


“Oh, rot,” said the hospitable Mr. Dunning. “No need to do 
that. Why not write it here?” 


“That’s very good of you,” Roger murmured. “Thanks. I'd 
like to.” 


A moment later he was seated at his host’s writing table, 
a sheet of thick creamy notepaper before him as unlike the 
bluish-grey paper of Lady Ursula’s note as he had feared. 
Neatly printed at the top was Mr. Dunning’s address. There 
was no possibility even that this was a new lot, hastily 
ordered. 


Roger scribbled something on the sheet, put it into an 
envelope and thrust it into his pocket. 


“My man can run out to the post with it for you,” Dunning 
suggested as Roger rose. 


“Oh, no, thanks,” Roger replied carelessly. “It’s only a 
memorandum about some work, and | shall be passing the 
place. | can drop it in now as | go by.” He resumed his seat. 
To himself he was thinking: “Well, there’s not the slightest 
hope, but I'll try the last card. Though how on earth does 
one steer the conversation on to such matters with this 
simple creature?” 


“I’ve just been reading Freud, Dunning,” he remarked, a 
little abruptly. 


“Most interesting. Have you ever read him?” 
“Good Lord, no,” replied that gentleman, shying violently. 


Shortly afterwards Roger took his leave, with the full 
knowledge that whenever his name should be mentioned 
hereafter in Mr. Dunning’s presence, the formula would 
greet it: “That Chap? Oh, yes, not a bad fellow, really. Got a 
half-blue for golf, you know. But a bit of a bore in these 
days. Will talk a hell of a lot of rot about sex and all that sort 
of thing. Get a bit fed up with that sort of thing nowadays, 
don’t you?” 

But one thing was as certain as anything in this world not 
based upon evidence can be: Mr. George Dunning could be 
wiped forthwith off the list of suspects. 


So that left the Hon. Arnold Beverley and Gerald 
Newsome. And neither of them could possibly have done 
the thing. 


Roger took a taxi and drove back to Scotland Yard to 
report lack of progress. Moresby was out, and, somewhat 
disconsolately, Roger returned to his rooms, leaving a 
message that he should be rung up when the Chief 


Inspector returned, there to ruminate alone on the other 
possibilities presented by this annoying case. 


An hour later he was still in the same quandary. George 
Dunning could not be the man, and Jerry Newsome could 
not be the man; therefore, if one of those three it was, it 
must be Arnold Beverley. And Arnold Beverley could not be 
the man. The only conclusion seemed to be that it was none 
of them, and the whole case must be begun afresh. Chief 
Inspector Moresby, looking in on chance before returning to 
Scotland Yard, found his distracted colleague on the verge of 
pressing for the preventive detention of every person on 
either list. 


“Or would it be a woman, Moresby?” he _ asked 
despairingly, having given his account of the day’s results. 
“We've never considered that, have we?” 


“Now, Mr. Sheringham,” soothed the Chief Inspector, “you 
mustn’t get upset because results don’t fall into your hands 
right away. | shouldn’t be surprised if we don’t get hold of 
anything really definite for another month. These things 
have to be done gradually, Mr. Sheringham.” 


“Blast gradually!” returned his collaborator rudely. 


With imperturbability Moresby retailed his own activities 
since they parted. He had put men on to inquiring into the 
movements of the three suspects on and around the dates 
in question, and he had himself taken a hand in the 
investigation into the notepaper. The makers had been 
identified, and Moresby had been to see them and asked for 
a list of stationers, wholesale and retail, to whom it had 
been supplied. He remained confident of important results 
from this line of inquiry. 

“It’s our only clue, Mr. Sheringham, to say clue,” he 
pointed out. “We’re bound to follow it up as hard as we 
can.” 


“Of course,” said Roger thoughtfully, “it’s the Monte Carlo 
list that’s the really important one. The fellow must have 
been in Monte Carlo then, and assuming that he knew Lady 
Ursula (of which the probabilities are in favour, to put it at 
its lowest), he ought to figure on that list. But he needn’t be 
on the other one at all. There’s no reason why Miss Manners 
Should know the names of a// her sister’s male friends, 
however intimate the two were.” 


“Yes, and as to that, even if he isn’t on Mr. Pleydell’s list 
he'll be on the one the French are getting out for us, of all 
English residents in and around Monte Carlo on February the 
ninth. That ought to be quite enough to check by, when we 
get our results from that notepaper.” 


“I suppose he /s an Englishman?” queried Roger. 


The Chief Inspector laughed. “Oh, don’t go suggesting 
things like that, Mr. Sheringham. We've got all England to 
consider as it is before we lay our hands on him; don’t go 
making it the whole world.” 


“It is the whole world,” replied Mr. Sheringham, with 
gloom. “But at any rate don’t forget that the Germans go in 
for this kind of murder more than any other nation. Except 
perhaps America.” 


The Chief Inspector promised, not to lose sight of that 
point. 


They continued to debate, but nothing fresh seemed to 
emerge from the talk. 


“Well,” said Moresby, rising, “Il must be getting back to the 
Yard. There may be a report or two in by now, though it’s a 
bit early. Care to come round on the off-chance, Mr. 
Sheringham?” 


Roger glanced at his watch. “Ten to four. Yes, I'll come 
round with you; and the British nation can stand me a cup of 
tea in your office. There’s nothing like—— Excuse me a 
minute, there’s the telephone.” He crossed to the 


instrument. “For you, Moresby,” he said, laying down the 
receiver. “Scotland Yard. Well, let’s hope something’s turned 
up.” 

Moresby spoke into the telephone. “Hullo? Yes, Chief 
Inspector Moresby speaking. Oh, yes, sir.—Good gracious, 
sir, is that so?” He pulled out a notebook and pencil and 
began to jot down notes. “Yes. Yes. Six Pelham Mansions, 
Gray’s Inn Road? Yes. Inspector Tucker, yes. Very good, Sir. 
And we'd better have Dr. Pilkington, hadn’t we? 
Superintendent Green will see to the rest. Very well, I'll 
meet you there in twenty minutes. Oh, and you don’t mind if 
| bring Mr. Sheringham along, do you? Seeing that he’s been 
working with me on the other cases, | mean. Yes, exactly. 
Very well, sir. In twenty minutes.” He hung up the receiver. 


Roger, who had hardly been able to contain himself in the 
background, gushed forth into a stream of questions. 


The Chief Inspector nodded with a grave air. “Yes, this is a 
nasty business, Mr. Sheringham. There’s been another girl 
murdered in just the same way, in one of those blocks of 
flats in the Gray’s Inn Road. We’re going round at once.” 


Roger opened the door into the passage feeling, in spite of 
all sense, as if he were personally to blame for the death of 
this further victim. 


The Chief Inspector, however, retained his professional 
outlook. “It’s only once in a lifetime that one meets with 
these mass murderers, you know, Mr. Sheringham,” he said 
conversationally, as they put on their coats. “It’s a real 
experience. I’m glad they put me in charge of the other 
investigations.” 


CHAPTER XIl 


SCOTLAND YARD AT WORK 


To one who, like Roger, has never seen his country’s 
criminal-hunting machine in action, the spectacle of 
Scotland Yard’s first concentration upon the scene of a 
murder is extraordinarily impressive. It is often said that the 
detection of crime has been reduced to a science, but it 
would perhaps give a clearer impression to say that it has 
been expanded into a business, with its card-indexes, its 
heads of departments, its experts in various branches, and 
its smooth-running efficiency; the way in which it is 
organised is, in fact, far more closely related to that of a 
commercial enterprise than to the more rigid and less 
imaginative efficiency of the Army or the other 
administrative governmental departments. If the murderer 
himself could catch a glimpse of the activity which prevails 
upon the spot he has recently left, all hopes he had fondly 
entertained of escaping arrest must abruptly disappear; he 
would watch the skilled and methodical pains that are taken 
to ensure his capture with a feeling of helpless despair. 


When Roger and Moresby arrived the business was just 
getting into its stride. From the moment that an agitated girl 
had run out into Gray’s Inn Road, clutched the arm of the 
first constable she could find, and gasped out that the friend 
who shared a flat with her had hanged herself on the sitting- 
room door while she herself was out at lunch—from that 
moment the machinery had been set in motion. The 
constable had hurriedly reported the news to a policeman 


on point duty within a few yards before accompanying the 
girl back to the flat, and he had got in touch with his station; 
the sergeant there had telephoned through to the Divisional 
Inspector, who had immediately communicated with 
Scotland Yard before jumping into a car and going round to 
the block in person. Scotland Yard had notified the Chief 
Inspector who had the other investigations in hand, luckily 
finding him at the first number they called, and had already 
rushed round the necessary experts; a superior officer or 
two, including perhaps the Assistant Commissioner himself, 
were following in a few minutes. The Divisional Surgeon was 
summoned, and constables told off to guard the entrance to 
the flat and stand by for any further orders. 


The constable who was the first on the scene had lifted 
the body down from the door on which it was hanging, 
having first been careful to form a mental picture of its 
exact position and appearance, and had laid it on a divan 
which filled one corner of the small room; otherwise nothing 
else had been touched. Everybody was anxiously excited. 
All stations had already been acquainted with the tentative 
conclusions reached by Headquarters in the other cases of 
this nature, and a warning had been issued that any further 
deaths in the same category were to be regarded prima 
facie aS murder, evidence in the form of farewell letters to 
the contrary notwithstanding. Considerable anxiety 
therefore existed as to whether this case might provide a 
definite clue at last. 


It seemed to Roger, as he entered the little sitting-room in 
Moresby’s wake, that the confusion prevailing was such that 
any possible clues must be obliterated. It took him exactly 
thirty seconds to realise that exactly the opposite was the 
case; the small room was full of men, it was true, but there 
was no confusion; each had his own job and he was doing it 
quietly and methodically, and without getting in the way of 
anybody else. Roger, feeling exceedingly unimportant in the 


middle of all this scientific bustle, stepped unobtrusively 
into the nearest corner, where he might be more or less out 
of the way, and watched what was happening. 


Moresby had joined the Divisional Inspector by the divan, 
and they were bending over the body; a photographer was 
setting up his camera near them; a finger-print expert was 
closely examining all the shining or polished surfaces in the 
room; a constable, evidently used to the job, was making 
notes for the plan he was going to draw; in the bedroom 
adjoining another constable had even been told to look after 
the dead girl’s friend, and was there administering what 
consolation he could. 


The more Roger looked, the smaller he felt. It was not 
difficult, in face of this sort of thing, to understand 
something of Scotland Yard’s good-humoured scorn for the 
amateur detective. 


From the conversation about him Roger gathered the main 
facts. The circumstances of the death were almost exactly 
the same as those of the others, Lady Ursula’s excepted. 
The hook screwed into the further side of the door, the 
overturned chair, the silk stocking and bare leg, the way in 
which it had been arranged round the victim’s neck, all were 
precisely the same. The only minute points of difference, so 
far as he could hear, were that the girl was dressed only in 
her underclothes and that the usual farewell notice instead 
of being written consisted of a printed line or two of poetry, 
apparently cut from a book, and was pinned on to her 
clothes at the breast with a brooch. A mauve silk wrapper 
lay across the back of an armchair. 


Roger’s lonely vigil did not last long. He had hardly had 
time to realise what was going on around him and take in 
these few facts before Moresby beckoned to him to join 
them by the divan, where he proceeded to introduce him to 
the Divisional Inspector, a_ soldierly-built figure with a 
carefully-waxed moustache. 


“You take a look at her, Mr. Sheringham,” said the Chief 
Inspector, “and see if you can make anything fresh of her, 
because I’m blessed if | can.” 


Roger had seen plenty of violent death during his service 
in France during the War, but dead men are different from 
dead girls, and girls dead through slow strangulation are 
different from any others. He shuddered in spite of his 
efforts to control himself as his gaze rested on the distorted 
face. She may have been pretty in life, but she certainly was 
not pretty in death. By her sides lay her hands, tightly 
clenched. 


She was a small girl, not much more than five feet in 
height and slightly built, and she was dressed in her 
underclothes only, with a lightcoloured silk stocking on one 
leg; the other stocking still lay, though now loosely, round 
her neck. 


“Who was she?” Roger asked, in a low voice. 


The Divisional Inspector answered him. “Name of Dorothy 
Fielder, sir,” he said briskly. “An actress, she was. Had one of 
the small parts in that play at The Princess’s, Her Husband’s 
Wife. The other girl, Zelma Deeping, she’s in it too; 
understudying, | believe.” 


“| see,” said Roger. He bent over the body and read the 
wording on the little piece of paper pinned to her breast: 


One more unfortunate 
Weary of breath, 
Rashly importunate, 
Gone to her death. 


“Hood.” he said. “The Bridge of Sighs. Well, that’s 
certainly a little more usual than Queen Mab, but | don’t see 
how it’s going to help.” 


“Now you see the advantage of having a literary 
gentleman to help us, Tucker,” said Moresby jovially to the 
Divisional Inspector, who smiled politely. “By a poet called 
Hood, is it, Mr. Sheringham? Now, | wonder whether they’d 
be likely to have a volume of his works here. You might look 
in that bookcase, Tucker. And be careful, of course, if there 
is one.” 


Tucker nodded, and crossed the room. 


The photographer came forward. “The doctor’ll be here 
any minute, Chief Inspector. Shall | take my photographs 
now?” 


“Yes, Bland, you may as well. | shall want the usual, and 
you'd better take one or two close-ups of the face and neck. 
Don’t touch her till the doctor’s finished, of course. And 
stand by when you’re through; we may want some more 
later, if there’s any bruises on the body.” Roger had already 
noticed that, though the two Inspectors had bent over the 
body and examined it as closely as possible, they had been 
careful not to touch it. 


“This is pretty damnable, isn’t it?” Roger muttered, as the 
photographer, who had focused his camera in advance, now 
proceeded to expose his plates. 


“It is that, Mr. Sheringham. But even now there doesn’t 
seem any way of proving murder. It still might be suicide, 
you know.” 


“It might, but it isn’t,” snapped Roger, whose nerves were 
beginning to feel the strain. 


“Well, Tucker tells me Superintendent Green (he’s the 
Superintendent of this district; one of the Big Four you 
newspaper men are always talking about)—he may be 
coming. And | shouldn’t be surprised if the Assistant 
Commissioner (it was him who spoke to me on the 
telephone) didn’t turn up too. If these are murders, and I’m 


not saying you’re not right about ’em, then we’ve got to get 
busy at the Yard. You don’t know Sir Paul Graham, do you?” 


“The Assistant Commissioner? No. He’s new, isn’t he? It 
was Sir Charles Merriman | came up against, over that 
Wychford business eighteen months ago. What’s he like?” 


“You'll like him, Mr. Sheringham. A very nice gentleman. 
But of course he hasn’t hardly shaken down yet. Hullo, 
here’s the doctor. Afraid you'll have to excuse me, Mr. 
Sheringham. Good afternoon, Dr. Pilkington. Nasty business 
this, by the look of it.” 


Roger turned away and saw Inspector Tucker approaching 
with a book held gingerly in one hand. “Would this be the 
one, sir?” he asked. 


Roger glanced at the title and nodded. “Yes, that’s the 
man. Let’s see if that passage has been cut out of this 
copy.” 

“One minute, sir, first, please.” Tucker beckoned to the 
finger-print expert and held out the volume. “Just take a look 
at this, Andrews, will you?” 


Andrews took the book in a cautious grasp and examined 
it minutely. Sprinkling over one corner a little light-grey dust 
out of a receptable like a pepper-box, he scrutinised the 
result, then shook his head regretfully and gave the book 
back. “Nothing, I’m afraid. Or anywhere else either, except 
the two girls’. Why, did he handle this?” 


“Half a minute, and I'll tell you. Could you find the place, 
Mr. Sheringham, sir?” 


Roger glanced at the index and turned to a page. Neatly 
cut out of it were the lines in question. He pointed to the 
blank space in silence. 

Andrews nodded and made a rueful grimace. “That 
establishes that he worked in gloves, then, at any rate. And 
those’ll be the scissors he cut it out with.” He gestured 


towards a small pair of nail-scissors lying on a side-table. 
“I’ve examined them already and there’s not a mark. No, 
I’m afraid there’s nothing for me here.” 


“You seem to be taking it for granted that there is a ‘he,’” 
Roger remarked mildly. “Il thought Scotland Yard hadn't 
made up their minds on that point yet?” 


Andrews regarded him with a smile of amusement, in 
which Tucker joined. Roger had an uncomfortable feeling 
that he must have made a fool of himself somehow, but 
could hardly see how. Andrews proceeded to enlighten him. 


“There’s no prints at a// on that book, sir,” he pointed out 
gently. “If the girl had cut it out herself she’d have been 
bound to leave her own prints. And so would anyone else. 
But somebody cut it out, didn’t they? Therefore that 
somebody must have been wearing gloves.” He spoke as to 
a very small child, grappling with its ABC. 


“Oh—um—yes,” Roger agreed. “Well, anyhow, that 
certainly does clinch the fact of the extra ‘he,’ doesn’t it?” 


“It does that, sir,” said the Divisional Inspector grimly, and 
went over to report to Moresby, who was talking to the 
doctor as the latter bent over the body. 


A minute later the door opened and three further men 
came in. Two of these Roger was able to identify as 
Detective Superintendent Green, whom he had met for a 
few minutes once before, and Sir Paul Graham; the other, he 
learned on enquiry of Andrews, was an Inspector who was 
an expert in strangulation cases. Roger gathered that 
Scotland Yard was now seriously perturbed about this 
unknown maniac and his gruesome work, whatever its 
representatives might pretend to himself. 


He listened to the conversation which followed. 


“Found anything, Moresby?” the Superintendent asked 
laconically, after a cursory glance at the body. 


Moresby shook his head. “I haven’t been here long. Tucker 
tells me he had a look round before | came, but couldn’t get 
hold of anything.” 


“I'll look round myself,” remarked the Superintendent, 
who was a large man beginning to show signs of corpulence. 
Without more ado he dropped on his hands and knees. 
“Haven't opened the hands yet, | see,” he grunted as he did 
SO. 


“Been waiting for the doctor,” Moresby replied. “He’s only 
just got here.” 


Roger watched the large form of the Superintendent with 
interest. While Sir Paul joined the doctor and Moresby by the 
divan, he began to crawl with lumbering agility up and down 
the carpet, subjecting every square inch of it to a minute 
examination; and when the carpet was exhausted, he 
examined the boards round it with equal care, poking his 
head under tables and chairs, but never shifting any piece 
of furniture from its position. At the end of seven or eight 
minutes he arose and shook his head at Moresby. “Not a 
sign,” he wheezed. 


In the meantime the doctor had completed his first 
examination, flexing the limbs, moving the head between 
his hands, taking careful note of the skin round the neck and 
the condition of the features. He now proceeded to open the 
clenched fingers. Moresby and the Assistant Commissioner 
bent forward eagerly as he did so, only to draw back again 
the next moment with expressions of acute disappointment. 
The small hands were empty. 


“There’s not the least sign of a struggle even, that | can 
see,” muttered the doctor, examining the dead girl’s nails. 
“Look—nothing here at all.” 


“Hell!” muttered Moresby under his breath. It is in the 
hands, as Roger knew, that the most valuable clue is usually 
to be discovered if any sort of a struggle has taken place. 


“Well,” Moresby added, “I'd like to know if there are any 
bruises on the body.” 


“At once?” asked the doctor. “I shall be examining her 
later on in any case, of course.” 


“l’d like to know at once, | think, doctor. It’s most 
important to find out if there are any signs of a struggle on 
the body.” 


“All right,” said the doctor. “I’ll get her undressed. But | 
don’t think there will be any such signs, judging by the 
hands.” 


Superintendent Green, who, his crawlings over, had joined 
the other three at the divan (Roger was holding himself a 
little uneasily aloof, not knowing quite what to do), turned 
round. “All right, Bland,” he said to the photographer, “you 
can wait in the hall; and you, too, Andrews.” He gave similar 
directions to the plan-drawing constable and the other 
subordinates, who filed out. “No need for a whole Sunday- 
school treat in here while the doctor’s examining her, sir,” 
he grunted to the Assistant Commissioner, “is there?” It was 
the first sign of feeling he had yet shown. 


With practised hands the doctor proceeded to examine 
the body. “I'll take the temperature first,” he said. 


There was a dead silence for half a minute. 


“No sign of any bruising on the front, was there, doctor?” 
said Moresby. 


The doctor, who had been bending over the body, looked 
up. “None that | saw, but I’ll examine it more closely in a 
moment. Don’t seem to be any here either. There was no 
struggle. Hullo, what’s this, though?” 

Conquering his reluctance, Roger drew nearer. The four 
were looking at two indistinct marks that lay transversally 
across the backs of the girl’s thighs, about a third of the way 


down. They were very faint indentations, not discoloured, 
and each was about four to five inches long. 


“Funny,” observed the doctor. “What do you make of 
them, Superintendent? They must be recent. Made shortly 
before death, | should imagine, or they’d be discoloured. Too 
late for bruises, and too early for post-mortem staining.” 


Superintendent Green looked puzzled. “Looks as if she’d 
been hit smartly across the legs, almost, doesn’t it? With a 
thin bit of cane, or something like that.” 


The doctor frowned. “Oh, no. That couldn’t possibly have 
produced them. It must have been a steady pressure, and 
applied for some considerable time; otherwise they’d have 
flattened out by now. They’re not much more than half an 
inch broad, you see. | should say she’s been sitting for at 
least half an hour well forward on a chair that had a sharp 
metal edge raised an inch or so in the front.” 


“What on earth would she want to do that for?” asked 
Moresby in perplexity. 

“Don’t ask me,” retorted the doctor. “And | don’t suppose 
for a moment she did. I’m only suggesting the kind of thing 
that could have made those marks.” 


“Do you attach any importance to them, doctor?” asked 
the Assistant Commissioner. 


“Not the least,” replied the doctor briskly. “The cause of 
death is perfectly obvious, strangulation by hanging. Well, 
let’s have a look at this thermometer.” He plucked it out and 
examined it. “Humph!” was all he said. 


“And the front, doctor?” suggested Moresby, who seemed 
anxious to have this point cleared up. 


The doctor turned the body over and scrutinised the skin 
with close attention. “Not a mark!” he announced finally. “I'll 
carry out an autopsy, Sir Paul, if you like, but | don’t see that 
there’s anything to be learnt from it.” 


“Better, | think,” murmured the Assistant Commissioner. 
“And you see no signs of a struggle?” 


“None at all. There can’t have been a struggle. Even her 
wrists aren’t bruised; nor her ankles. And she’s been dead, | 
Should say, about three hours. Not more than three and a 
half at the outside. What’s the time now? Half-past four. As 
near as | can put it, she died between one-twenty and one- 
thirty-five; she was almost certainly alive at one o’clock, and 
she was almost certainly dead by a quarter-to-two. Rigor 
hasn’t set in yet, you see. Well, that’s all | can do here. You'll 
have the body moved to the mortuary later, | suppose.” 


“You've, finished, doctor?” said the Superintendent. “Then 
will you turn her on her face again? | want those marks on 
her legs recorded.” 


The doctor nodded and did so, spreading the flimsy little 
garment over her before making his preparations for 
departure. 


Roger was staring at the still form. “One o’clock!” he was 
thinking. “At one o’clock, when she was alive, | was ordering 
Pleydell’s steak; at one-thirty when she was probably dying, 
| ordered another half-pint of beer; at two o’clock, when she 
was certainly dead, | was paying my bill.” It seemed 
somehow horribly callous and shocking that he and Pleydell 
should have been eating lunch while this unhappy girl was 
being done to death. Yet people must eat as well as die. 


Roger told himself, without much conviction, that he was a 
sentimental fool. 


CHAPTER XIII 


A VERY DIFFICULT CASE 


Wr the departure of the doctor the group round the divan 
broke up. The photographer was brought back and, while 
Moresby and Inspector Tucker conferred in low tones near 
by, Superintendent Green gave his orders. 


“See these marks?” he said, exposing the backs of the 
dead girl’s thighs again, but keeping the rest of the body 
covered. “I want as good a picture of them as you can get. 
Move the divan if the light’s better for you from behind, but 
put it back again in the same place. You can go and get the 
plates developed after that; there are no other marks on the 
body.” 


He joined Moresby and Tucker. “As the doctor said, | don’t 
Suppose they’re of any importance, those marks,” he 
observed, “but we’d better have a record of them, just in 
case.” 


“If he can get one,” agreed Moresby. “Not an easy thing to 
photograph.” They went on talking. 


Roger strolled across the room and examined the door. He 
had already noticed that there were no scratches on the 
lower part such as might have been made by a pair of high- 
heeled shoes, struggling desperately, as had been the case 
with Janet Manners; he now saw that there were no marks 
on the upper part either, which bore out the doctor’s 
statement that nothing was to be learnt from the girl’s nails. 
Evidently poor little Dorothy Fielder had died peacefully at 


any rate, which neither Janet nor (as he had heard since) 
Elsie Benham had done. 


In front of the door, lying on its back with the top rail 
towards the doorway, was still the overturned chair. Roger 
looked at it closely, but could not see that anything was to 
be learnt from it. The chair was of the low-seated, high- 
backed prie-dieu type, with a moulded wooden rail at the 
top of the back; in fact, the seat was so low that Roger was 
a little surprised that it had proved adequate for its purpose. 
The surface was only about a foot above the castors, and 
unless the girl had been standing on it on tiptoes he would 
have expected the stocking to be stretched far enough to 
enable her to get her toes on the ground. Then he 
remembered that the chair was, after all, merely part of the 
stage-setting for suicide and had no other importance. But it 
was curious, nevertheless, that the murderer, so very much 
on the spot in all other respects, should have chosen the 
one chair in the room which suited his purpose least. 


He turned away, and saw the Assistant Commissioner 
approaching him. 


“You're Sheringham, aren’t you?” said Sir Paul pleasantly 
holding out his hand. “I must apologise for not speaking to 
you before, but things have been so busy. My predecessor 
told me about that brilliant piece of work of yours down at 
Wychford. Well, what do you feel about all this?” 


“That | oughtn’t to be here” Roger replied promptly. “| 
never felt so insignificant in my life.” 


“Oh, we're all insignificant cogs in the same big wheel, if it 
comes to that,” laughed the other. He swept a glance round 
the room and his eyes grew grave again as they rested on 
the dead girl. “This is really an appalling business isn’t it?” 
he said soberly. “Assuming. | mean, that it really is murder. 
It’s the first big case I’ve had since my appointment, of 
course, and candidly | don’t like it at all. And there’s going 


to be some fur flying when the papers get hold of it, of 
course, if we can’t lay our hands on the man. Do you 
remember what they had to say about us at the time of Jack 
the Ripper?” 


“Yes, but it wasn’t Scotland Yard’s fault. They had nothing 
to work on.” 


“Nor have we now,” responded Sir Paul ruefully. “We 
haven’t unearthed a single fresh clue here yet. The man 
must be a criminal genius. Not a sign of a finger-print, 
even.” 


“It’s the devil,” muttered Roger. 


“It certainly is,” agreed the Assistant Commissioner with 
gloom. “And so is he.” 


They watched the others for a few moments in silence. 
The room was getting emptier now. The photographer had 
gone, and so had the Divisional Inspector, to give orders to 
his men about keeping the approaches to the flat guarded 
and the removal of the body. The finger-print man had 
returned and continued to prowl, but his face had quite lost 
its hopeful expression. Moresby and the Superintendent 
were still conferring in a corner. 


“And | was having lunch at my club when it happened,” 
Roger muttered. “Hell! With Pleydell, by the way; Lady 
Ursula’s fiancé, you remember.” 


“Yes, | know him slightly. He’ll be smelling a rat soon.” 
“He’s smelt it already.” 


The Assistant Commissioner sighed. “We can’t keep it out 
of the papers much longer.” 


They fell into silence again. 


“And there are no signs of a struggle at all, this time,” 
Roger mused. “It’s curious.” 


“None in the room, as you can see; and so far as the 
doctor could find, none on the body. He’s going to carry out 


an autopsy, but | can’t see how that can add anything to our 
knowledge. The cause of death is obvious enough, even to 
our lay eyes.” 


“And no bruises at the wrists.” 
“Apparently not even that, nor the ankles.” 


Roger ruminated. “Lady Ursula’s wrists were faintly 
bruised, weren’t they? Yes, | remember they were. And her 
ankles too?” 


“Yes, very slightly. She’d evidently been bound, if that’s 
what you mean.” 


“And this girl hadn’t? That’s odd. Or with something that 
didn’t mark, at any rate.” 


“| don’t suppose he used exactly the same methods every 
time,” said the Assistant Commissioner. “The other two 
girls’ wrists weren’t bruised, did you know?” 


“No, | didn’t. Moresby told me they were going to be 
examined.” 


“Yes, | got the report this morning. No bruises on the 
bodies of either of them; in other words, apparently no 
struggle. Yes, Superintendent?” 


Superintendent Green had approached. He nodded 
Slightly to Roger as if to convey that though they were only 
just acquainted he knew enough about him not to resent his 
presence; but it was not a very cordial nod. 


“I’m afraid this case isn’t going to help us much, sir,” he 
said. “Moresby and | can’t find a blessed thing. This man 
knows his job all right, but it’s none of our regulars, I'll 
swear.” 


“No,” agreed Sir Paul. “I never thought it was. Well, you 
and Moresby had better go over the ground again, just to 
make sure you've missed nothing. We've simply got to get 
this fellow somehow, you know, now that the absence of 


finger-prints on that book does seem to point definitely to 
his existence at last.” 


The Superintendent seemed a trifle hurt; it was clear that 
he did not like the suggestion that he might have missed 
something. Roger was inclined to agree with him. The 
Superintendent looked as if he would miss very little. 


“And the papers will be on to us now, | expect,” Sir Paul 
added unhappily. “| wonder we haven’t had any journalists 
nosing round here already.” 


The Superintendent glanced at Roger as if not quite sure 
that one was not here already. “What are we to tell them if 
they do come, sir?” he asked. “We don’t want to scare our 
bird by letting them tell him that we’re on his tail.” 


“No, certainly not. You’d better have a chit sent round to 
the various editors asking them not to comment on the 
case, | think. You can just say tactfully that Scotland Yard 
isn’t altogether satisfied, but doesn’t want any public 
interest roused pending their investigations. You know, the 
usual sort of thing.” 


“Yes, sir. I'll see to it.” 


“And by the way, Superintendent, what about another line 
of approach? This man’s obviously mad, as Moresby says. | 
think you’d better have inquiries made as to any homicidal 
maniacs at large for the last couple of months.” 


“Yes, sir, we can do that, of course,” admitted the 
Superintendent, a little condescendingly. “But | think if you 
or | were to meet him, not knowing who he was, we’d no 
more guess he was mad than we should each other.” 

“That’s just what I’ve been saying all the time,” Roger put 
in. 

“Is that so, Mr. Sheringham?” said the Superintendent 
very politely but without the least interest, and turned back 
to Moresby. 


The Assistant Commissioner smothered a smile; he knew 
his Superintendent Green. “Well, Sheringham,” he said, “we 
can’t do much more here. Come along to my club and have 
a cup of tea. I’d like to have a chat with you about the case 
and hear what you think of it so far.” 


“Thanks,” Roger replied. “I’d like to.” Roger never refused 
an invitation to talk. 


As they passed out on to the stone landing Sir Paul jerked 
his head backwards. “There’s that other girl, of course, but 
we'll let those two question her. It’s their business and 
they’d do it better than us, and too many of us would 
probably confuse her; she’s half hysterical as it is. But | 
don’t anticipate the slightest information from her. Heigho! 
This really is a perfectly damnable case.” 


They got into a taxi and were driven to Pall Mall. 


Finding a secluded table in a corner of the big lounge, Sir 
Paul ordered tea and they settled down. Roger described 
how his suspicions had been first aroused, and detailed the 
various conclusions at which he had arrived. Sir Paul was an 
admirable listener. Roger went on to express his doubts as 
to the advisability of pinning everything to the clue of the 
notepaper. But here Sir Paul was not in agreement. 


“After all,” he pointed out, exactly as Moresby had done, 
“it’s the only real clue we’ve got, you know. It must be 
followed up to the limit.” 


“I’ve a feeling,” said Roger, “that this case isn’t going to 
be solved by your ordinary methods. The clue isn’t strong 
enough. It was the same with Jack the Ripper, you 
remember. 

| always have thought that the French way of approach 
might have produced results there.” 

“We've got to stick to our own ways,” returned Sir Paul. 
“The British public would never stand for anything else. 
Look what a fuss there was not long ago about taking a 


suspect’s finger-prints. The man had nothing to lose by it if 
he was innocent, and possibly plenty to gain; but the great 
British public thought it an infringement of their liberty, and 
the papers talked a lot of nonsense about un-English 
methods, so that now our hands are tied and we're not 
allowed to do even a small thing like that. No, Sheringham, 
it’s no good telling me to change our ways, even to catch a 
murderer. The British public would rather have all its 
murderers uncaught than change anything in the means of 
catching them. Surely you ought to know that.” It was 
evidently a subject on which Sir Paul felt rather strongly. 


“| suppose there is a good deal in that,” Roger had to 
admit. 


“There’s everything,” said Sir Paul, with feeling. “Besides, 
you must remember that a British jury, too, isn’t the same 
as a French jury. Only definite evidence carries any weight 
with a British jury. A Frenchman takes a pleasure in clever 
reasoning, but the Britisher doesn’t care a hang for it. You 
can try to dazzle him with brilliant reasoning and the most 
cunning deductions, and prove your case on those lines, to 
the hilt; but unless it rests on a firm basis of solid facts, your 
British jury won’t even blink. It’s unanswerable facts that 
we’ve got to lay before our courts of law, not just 
cleverness.” 


“Yes,” Roger had to agree. “Moresby’s always rubbing into 
me the difference between being sure of your man and 
proving your case against him sufficiently to satisfy the law. 
And he seems to think that when we have found our man, 
we’re going to have a good deal of difficulty in proving 
things against him, in these cases.” 


“I'll bet we are,” Sir Paul concurred gloomily. “The beggar 
simply won’t leave us anything to fasten our proof on to. 
Just look at this last case. Except for that one bit of negative 
evidence about the lack of finger-prints on the books, which 
may convince us but wouldn’t necessarily convince a jury at 


all—except for that, there simply /sn’t anything to prove that 
it isn’t suicide. We know it can’t be suicide, but how on earth 
are we going to prove merely that it’s murder at all, without 
even considering the case to be made but against any one 
man? Oh, we’re up badly against it here.” 


“We certainly are,” said Roger, and registered his silent 
conviction yet again that, as the case stood at present, 
ordinary police methods would never secure a conviction. 
And if that really were so, what was he going to do about it? 
The answer, to Roger, was obvious. Scotland Yard might be 
hampered; he, on the other hand, was not. 


They dropped into a desultory discussion of the crime in 
its relation to criminology in general, of which Sir Paul, like 
Roger, was an eager student. 


“It’s almost perfect,” Sir Paul said, lighting a fresh 
cigarette. “So far as one can see, there isn’t a flaw. It’s the 
almost perfect crime—and it takes a madman to do tit. 
There’s a nice comment on the professional criminal.” 


“‘Almost perfect?” Roger echoed. “Why not quite 
perfect?” 


“Surely the quite perfect crime,” Sir Paul smiled, “is the 
one that never gets suspected of being a crime at all.” 


“The point is yours, yes. By the way, you've noticed, of 
course, how few of these lust-murderers ever do get found 
out.” 


“Well, naturally; unless they deliberately give themselves 
away, like Neill Cream did, there’s simply nothing to go on. 
No starting-point for inquiry at all. In other words, no motive 
that’s going to lead anywhere. After all, it’s motive that 
really puts a man in the dock in nine cases out of ten. 
Motive and opportunity together make a_ professional 
detective carol with joy; he knows he’s got his man all right 
then.” 


“| suppose it’s because I’m an amateur,” Roger sighed, 
“but | must say | do like quick results. It frets me to have to 
sit quiet while this brute murders half a dozen more 
unfortunate girls before we can get our hands on him, as no 
doubt he will.” 


“But you must realise the immense amount of patient 
research work that a case of this sort requires, Sheringham, 
before an arrest can be made. Stupendous! Why, do you 
realise that it took Superintendent Neil nearly a whole year’s 
hard work to establish his case against Smith,‘the brides-in- 
the-bath man,’ as the newspapers christened him?” 


Roger nodded. “Yes, | Know. But for all that, delay irks me 
horribly. I’m afraid | shouldn’t have made a_e good 
professional detective at all. Look here, are you going back 
to Gray’s Inn Road?” 


“Meaning you're itching to get back there yourself?” 


“Frankly, | am. They ought to be through with the 
examination of the other girl, and I’m very anxious to hear 
whether they’ve found out anything from her. And then 
there are all the other inquiries, whether anybody saw him 
come in or leave, and all that sort of thing. | suppose 
they’ve got all that in hand?” 


“Oh, yes; Tucker will have seen to that. That’s just routine- 
work of course. Well, you get along if you want to, 
Sheringham. | can’t come with you, I’m afraid; | must be 
getting back to the Yard myself.” 


“And | say, Sir Paul,” Roger added very earnestly, “I don’t 
want to butt in or make a nuisance of myself, but if you 
could arrange for any information about these crimes that 
happens to come in, to be telephoned on to me at my flat, | 
Should be most awfully grateful. Do you think it could be 
done?” 


Sir Paul smiled. “I think it might,” he said. 


Roger’s voluble thanks were cut short by a club attendant, 
who interposed to tell Sir Paul that he was wanted on the 
telephone. He excused himself, and Roger accompanied him 
as far as the hall, where they parted company, Roger to 
retrieve his hat and coat. He had conceived a shrewd 
Suspicion that his removal from the flat was not accident but 
design, to leave the official portion of the investigation to 
perform its routine-work unoverlooked by its unofficial 
colleague. If that were so, he considered that the others had 
had quite enough time to themselves by now, and his return 
could not be resented. And even if it were, Roger would not 
be so overcome with grief as to hurry away at once. 


He was just going down the steps outside the club when 
he heard his name called. Sir Paul was standing in the 
doorway, beckoning. Roger turned and ran back to join him. 


“You've had some news!” he declared. 


Sir Paul nodded. “The first bit of luck yet,” he said, in a 
voice that could not be overheard by the porter. “I thought 
you might like to know. Moresby’s just telephoned through 
that he’s been able to get hold of a really good description 
of the man we want.” 


“Joy on earth and mercy mild!” exclaimed Roger in high 
delight, and fled off to catch a passing taxi. 


CHAPTER XIV 


DETECTIVE SHERINGHAM SHINES 


Moressy welcomed Roger’ kindly enough (if the 
Superintendent did look a little bleak) and told him what 
had happened. 


From the other girl, Zelma Deeping, they had been able to 
learn nothing. So far as she knew Dorothy Fielder had been 
expecting no visitor, nor could she even suggest who the 
visitor might have been; so many dozens of men, mostly 
connected with their profession, dropped in from time to 
time if they happened to be in the neighbourhood, that it 
was impossible to say who this one might have been. 


Briefly, her information was merely negative. Dorothy had 
been expecting nobody, Dorothy was not engaged to 
anybody, Dorothy had no particularly favoured men-friends. 
Nor (and here Moresby looked significantly at Roger) had 
Zelma Deeping ever heard the names George Dunning or 
Gerald Newsome. She had, she thought, heard of Arnold 
Beverley, but in what connection she could not recall; at any 
rate, she was sure of never having met him. She had been 
cautioned to say nothing whatever of the afternoon’s 
events, and been allowed to go, under police supervision, to 
the house of a married friend in Hampstead, where she 
would stay till the police had finished with her flat. 


From the porter of the block of mansions, however, 
valuable information had been obtained. The porter lived in 
a small basement flat on the left of the entrance, his 
windows being half-above and half-below the level of the 


pavement, behind a narrow area. The approach to the 
entrance of the Mansions was by means of a flight of eight 
stone steps, which led into the hall and towards the 
staircase. This was the only possible way in to any flat in the 
block, except by climbing over the roofs. 


It was the porter’s fortunate habit to sit, when not actively 
portering, in the front room of his little flat in such a position 
that he could see anyone going up or coming down the 
flight of steps outside; and there he would read his 
newspaper, especially in the latter part of the mornings 
when his first duties were over, glancing up from time to 
time when anyone passed up or down the steps. He had got 
into the habit of doing this, because he could often tell, from 
the manner in which a stranger entered, whether his own 
services would be required; and from his position, he was 
enabled to get a good view of all entrants, but could see 
only the backs of those departing unless they turned in the 
direction of his flat, when he was able to see their profiles as 
they passed. The porter was an old sergeant in the regular 
army and a member of the Veterans’ Corps, and Moresby 
had considered him to be not only reliable, but 
unexpectedly intelligent. 


The porter had given a list of the strangers whom he had 
seen enter the Mansions between shortly before twelve, 
when he ensconced himself in his chair, and one o'clock, 
when he was called away to his dinner. He would not 
guarantee its accuracy, but affirmed that his memory was 
not a bad one on the whole. Moresby, at any rate, seemed 
quite satisfied with it. 


Just before twelve a girl had come in whom the porter had 
no difficulty in setting down as an actress; she had only 
been inside a few minutes. At about five minutes past 
twelve a youngish man, with the appearance of a good-class 
artisan, had gone in, and the porter had not seen him leave. 
Just after him an elderly woman had entered and after her, 


at about a quarter past twelve, an elderly man, wearing 
gold-rimmed glasses, a short beard and a top-hat and 
looking like a family solicitor; he had been inside about 
twenty minutes and had then picked up a taxi outside and 
driven off in it. During his stay another man had arrived, at 
about half-past twelve, and had come out ten minutes later 
with one of the girls who had a flat there. There were one or 
two other women visitors between twelve-thirty and one 
and then, just before one o’clock, a gentleman had arrived 
who seemed in rather a hurry. He got out of a taxi outside, 
paid off the driver, and ran quickly up the steps; but not so 
quickly that the porter had been unable to get a good look 
at him. 


He seemed to be between thirty and forty years old, was 
well-built and well-dressed, good-looking, with a small dark 
moustache, wearing a blue overcoat and a bowler hat and 
carrying a pair of wash-leather gloves, not particularly tall, 
but certainly not short, good average height in fact, and the 
porter had no doubt that he could recognise him if he saw 
him again. He had not seen him come out, for he had been 
called to his dinner a few minutes later. 


“And that, Mr. Sheringham,” said Moresby impressively, “is 
our man.” 


“Good egg!” quoth Roger. 


They were in the little sitting-room of the flat. The girl’s 
body had now been removed, and the injunction against 
disturbing the furniture lifted. No one was left on the 
premises but Moresby and the Superintendent; even 
Inspector Tucker had gone, to make out his report. Evidently 
it was expected that nothing further was to be learnt from 
the flat itself. A constable, however, still remained on guard 
at the front door. 


Superintendent Green, who had been looking at Roger 
with a long, unwinking stare, took up the conversation. “Yes, 


and now all that remains is for us to identify him, Mr. 
Sheringham. Perhaps you'll tell us how we're going to do 
that?” 


“Oh, that’s routine-work, surely,” Roger smiled. “I leave all 
that sort of thing to you.” 


“Umph!” observed Superintendent Green, and turned 
away. He did not return Roger’s smile. Not a_ very 
companionable man, Superintendent Green. But, as Roger 
perfectly well knew, a very clever detective; little though he 
looked like the popular idea of one. 


Roger turned back to Moresby. “What about the taxi he 
came in? You'll be able to trace it, of course?” 


“Oh, yes, we should be able to get hold of the driver all 
right. He may help, us, or he may not. He’s our chief hope, 
though. But Mr. Sheringham!” 


“Hullo?” 


To Roger’s surprise Chief Inspector Moresby looked 
decidedly ill at ease. His manner was almost diffident. A 
diffident Chief Inspector is nearly a contradiction in terms, 
and Roger’s surprise was not small. “Yes?” he repeated, as 
Moresby seemed to have some difficulty in continuing. 


“Well, | think I’ve got a pretty good idea who our man is, 
said the Chief Inspector, almost with the effect of a small 
child blurting out a confession. 


Roger took it that Moresby was apologising for having 
forestalled him with the solution—though certainly Moresby 
had not on former occasions shown any such nicety of 
feeling. “What, already?” he replied genially, with the effect 
of saying: “That’s all right, my child; but don’t do it again.” 
Perhaps he felt something of the sort, for he added quickly: 
“That’s uncommonly smart of you.” 


“Yes, isn’t it?” said Chief Inspector Moresby, with the 
greatest unhappiness. 


Roger stared at him in astonishment. “Well, who is the 
fellow, then?” 


Roger’s surprises were not yet over. With as guilty an air 
as if he had committed the murders himself, Moresby 
replied: “Well, Mr. Sheringham, do you mind if | don’t tell 
you that just yet? Not till I’ve checked up on it, | mean. | will 
if you press me, of course, considering our agreement, and 
everything; but Il’d rather not at the moment, sir, honestly. 
You'll see why later, I’m afraid.” 


“All right,” Roger said, mystified. “I don’t know what 
you’re driving at, but don’t tell me if you make such a point 
of it.” It had occurred to him that Sir Paul at any rate would 
not have these curious qualms about divulging such 
important news. “But look here,” he added suddenly, “if it’s 
anything about publication, | should have thought you would 
have known me better by now than to——” 


“No, Mr. Sheringham,” the Chief Inspector interrupted 
hastily. “No, it’s nothing to do with publication. Nothing of 
that sort at all. Well, that’s very good of you. We’ll put it off 
till ve checked my results, then. That’ll be much better.” 


“And talking of checking,” Roger remarked, thinking it 
better to change the subject, “Il suppose you will make 
inquiries about the other men who came in during that 
hour? Just to be on the safe side, | mean.” 


“Oh, yes,” agreed Moresby, wearing an air of almost 
comic relief. “Yes, of course we do that. We don’t leave any 
loopholes, you know.” 


“Loopholes,” grunted the Superintendent, from the other 
side of the room. “Seems to me the whole case is nothing 
but loopholes, hung together with a couple of bits of string 
for evidence. How are we going to establish that he did the 
thing when we do catch him, eh? That’s what | want to 
know.” 


There was a little pause, during which all three evidently 
wondered the same thing. 


“But with the porter’s evidence,” hesitated Roger. 


“What's to prevent him saying that he just ran up to take 
the girl out to lunch, couldn’t get an answer, and ran down 
again?” demanded Superintendent Green. “That'll be his 
story, of course; and we can’t disprove it. Where’s the 
porter’s evidence then, Mr. Sheringham, eh?” 


“| see,” murmured Roger, abashed. 


“What’s even to prove that he had anything to do with 
this flat at all?” demanded the Superintendent, following up 
his advantage. “There’s not a blessed thing to connect him 
with it. Not a fingerprint in the whole place. All the porter’s 
evidence does is to prove that he had the opportunity, after 
the other girl had gone out; and what’s the good of that?” 


“Quite so,” agreed the humbled Mr. Sheringham. 


“Supposing he says he tried some other door and couldn’t 
get an answer,” the Superintendent clinched the matter. 
“The door of that girl the porter saw come out at about 
twelve-thirty. We can’t say he didn’t. All we can Say is:‘Yes, 
sir, perhaps. But, you see, we don’t think you did, so 
there!’” The tone in which the Superintendent saw fit to 
present this piece of repartee on the part of Scotland Yard 
was ironical in the extreme. “And that’s a lot of use to us, 
Mr. Sheringham, isn’t it?” 


“Yes,” said Roger hastily. “I mean, no.—Er—what time did 
the other girl come out, Moresby—Zelma Deeping? You 
didn’t mention that.” 


“Oh, guite early,” replied the Chief Inspector, who, his 
recent diffidence apparently forgotten, had been watching 
the discomfiture of his colleague with an abashed grin. “Not 
long after eleven, leaving this one in the flat alone. Said she 
had some _ shopping to do before keeping a_ lunch 
appointment at one.” 


“Il see. And we've only got the porter’s observation from 
twelve o'clock. That leaves a margin of about an hour, 
doesn’t it?” 

“You mean, if anybody came between eleven and twelve, 
but didn’t kill the girl till a couple of hours later?” Moresby 
said tolerantly. “Well, it’s possible, of course; but | don’t 
think we need worry about that.” 


“| was just thinking that the defending counsel would 
worry about it,” Roger pointed out mildly. 


“Oh, it does leave the loophole; there’s no doubt about 
that. But then, as the Superintendent says, the whole case 
is full of loopholes.” 


The Superintendent, still prowling about, with an 
enormous magnifying-glass, grunted in the distance, as if to 
emphasise the multiplicity of loopholes. 


A thought occurred to Roger. “What about the family 
solicitor, with the beard and the gold-rimmed spectacles?” 


“Well, what about him, Mr. Sheringham?” 


“I mean, he sounds much more like the type we're after 
than the athletic-looking, handsome man you've, picked 
out. Have you checked up on him yet? Does anybody in the 
Mansions own to a bearded solicitor in a top-hat?” 


“No, we haven’t started that end yet. Tucker will get on to 
that as soon as he’s free. But anyhow, Mr. Sheringham,” 
Moresby pointed out patiently, “it’s no good you saying that 
the other one doesn’t sound like the type we’re after. We’ve 
got to go on facts, not types. The old gentleman couldn’t 
have done it, because he was out of the place just after half- 
past twelve and the murder wasn’t committed-till one 
o'clock at the very earliest, probably half-past. No, it lies 
between the artisan-chap and the other, with the odds 
heavily on the other, because I’ve no doubt Tucker will be 
able to find out all about the artisan to-morrow.” 


“| suppose it does,” Roger agreed, with a reluctance which 
rather surprised himself. “But it doesn’t seem _ right, 
somehow.” 


“It'll be right enough when we catch him,’ 
with happy optimism. 

“Well.” came a grumbling voice from the other side of the 
room, “if you two ’ve done arguing, I’m going to get back to 
the Yard. And you’d better come with me, Moresby. | want to 
see how those photos ‘ve come out.” 


“There doesn’t seem much more we can do here,” said 
Moresby. “You'll keep the man on at the door, | Suppose?” 


“Oh, yes. We won’t let anyone in yet awhile. You never 
know. Well, this has been a waste of my time, I’m afraid. Are 
you coming, Mr. Sheringham?” Roger was evidently not to 
be allowed to investigate without supervision. 


Roger jerked his mind off finger-prints, their prevalence in 
fiction, and their irritating absence in real life. “Yes,” he said. 
“I may as well go to—— Wait a minute! | believe I’ve got an 
idea!” 

The two detectives looked at him without enthusiasm. 
Roger’s ideas, it would appear, left them cold. 


“You have, Mr. Sheringham?” said Moresby, but more by 
way of making conversation than anything else. 


“Yes. You were saying there were no finger-prints to 
connect this man with the flat. Superintendent. | take your 
word for it that there aren’t any inside, but have you 
thought of looking outside?” 


“And where,” queried the Superintendent heavily, “might 
a man be expected to make any finger-prints that are going 
to be any use to us outside the flat, Mr. Sheringham?” 

“On the bell-push, Superintendent,” said Roger sweetly. 
He thought the Superintendent deserved that much. 


“Well, that’s a good idea, now,” said Moresby handsomely. 


, 


said Moresby 


The Superintendent bestowed a sour look on him. It was 
the Superintendent’s rule, one rather gathered, never to 
praise the ideas of amateurs to their faces. Praise is not 
good for amateurs, clearly considered the Superintendent. 


Nevertheless, he consented to look at the bell-push. 


“He ought to have been the last person to push it,” Roger 
explained happily, as they trooped out into the hall. “Miss 
Deeping wouldn’t; she’d use her key, of course. And the 
door’s been open ever since then, more or less. Besides, 
you remember the porter said that our man was carrying a 
pair of wash-leather gloves, not wearing them. There is a 
chance that he didn’t put them on till he got inside.” 


On the landing the Superintendent bent down and 
examined the bell-push through his magnifying-glass. 
“Humph!” he grunted, and produced a little tin of black 
powder. Pouring some of the powder into the palm of his 
hand; he blew it very gently at the-bell-push, then blew 
away the superfluous powder. On the white porcelain stood 
out in clear, black relief the imprint of the middle portion of 
the ball of a thumb, the important papillary ridges standing 
out distinctly. He bent again and scrutinised it for a long 
minute. 

“Not either of the girls’,” he announced at last, with no 
sign of emotion. “This may be one to you, Mr. Sheringham. 
Moresby, see that this isn’t disturbed and have a 
photograph taken of it as soon as possible, will you?” 


Roger looked as demure as he could and said nothing. 


CHAPTER XV 


MR. SHERINGHAM DIVERGES 


Tuat evening Roger suffered badly from reaction. 


It seemed inexpressibly tame to remain at home alone, 
thinking over the events of that momentous day; and yet to 
go out for mere amusement, to a theatre or a concert, 
would be sheer anticlimax. He badly wanted to talk over the 
case with somebody, but had not the face to inflict himself 
further on Moresby or anybody else at Scotland Yard; 
especially since, from being something like a joint-partner 
on equal terms, he had now shrunk to a mere excrescence 
on the great organisation which had at last taken the affair 
definitely in hand. Roger rather resented being looked upon 
as an excrescence. 


He toyed with the idea of a visit to the little creature who 
had shared Janet’s flat, Moira Carruthers. It was some days 
now since he had seen her, and after what she had done for 
him in the early stages of the case he did not wish to appear 
neglectful of her now that it had passed out of her orbit. 
Then he remembered that she would be at the theatre and 
gave up that idea, not without relief. Was there nobody else 
with whom he could discuss things, and not have to be too 
guarded in what he said? 


Of course there was! He jumped out of his chair grabbed 
the telephone-book and looked up Pleydell’s number. 


Luckily Pleydell was at home. To Roger’s carefully worded 
query as to whether he would care to come round to the 


Albany and talk over a matter of some importance which 
had arisen since they lunched together, Pleydell replied with 
some emphasis in the affirmative, adding that he would be 
round within twenty minutes. Roger understood the 
emphasis. The evening papers had been discreet, but one 
and all they had reported the new tragedy, though Scotland 
Yard’s interest in it had not, of course, been mentioned. 


Roger filled in the time till Pleydell’s arrival by adding the 
developments of the day to the rough diary he had been 
keeping of the case, with everything that had been learned 
from the porter and Miss Deeping in such detail as there 
was. He also chronicled the discovery of one finger-print, 
and by whom. 


Pleydell arrived punctually during the twentieth minute 
and at once began to question Roger as to the latest 
development. His perturbation, for so imperturbable a man, 
was obvious. He repeated his threats to call in the best 
private detectives that money could hire; he even talked of 
sending over to America for some of Pinkerton’s men, 
reputed to be the best private detectives in the world. The 
account of the porter’s evidence and the finding of the 
finger-print (on which he congratulated Roger with a warmth 
which was in strong contrast with Superintendent Green’s 
official coolness) did something to soothe him, and Roger 
set himself to do the rest. 


“Don’t spoil the broth, Pleydell!” he urged. “You promised 
you'd do nothing if | kept you in touch, and I’m doing that. 
We’ll get to the bottom of it all right. Why, Moresby told me 
straight out that he’s got a pretty shrewd notion already 
about the identity of the finger-print maker.” 


“He has?” Pleydell said eagerly, pausing in the restless 


perambulations he was making up and down the room. 
“Who does he think it is?” 


“Well, he wouldn’t actually tell me the name,” Roger said, 
not without a little embarrassment. It is difficult, after 
pointing out that you are hand-in-glove with Scotland Yard, 
to have to explain that the hand is not always in the glove. 
“Wouldn't commit himself till he’d verified it, or some 
nonsense. | believe the Superintendent must have been at 
him about me. It’s quite evident that he doesn’t like the idea 
of me being mixed up officially with Scotland Yard.” Roger 
managed to convey the idea that there existed a good deal 
of jealousy at Scotland Yard of gifted amateurs. 


“But he thinks he knows, eh?” said Pleydell, disregarding 
the gifted amateurs and the professional jealousy they have 
to suffer. “Well, that’s something. Good God, Sheringham, | 
wish they’d hurry up and get this man. | shan’t have any 
peace till they do. This wretched girl this afternoon—l 
couldn't help feeling when | read about it in the paper that 
somehow / was responsible. | ought to have prevented it 
somehow; | knew this brute was loose and | hadn’t managed 
to catch him.” 


Roger nodded. “I know. That’s exactly how | felt. It’s 
absurd, of course, but it seemed to me horribly callous to 
think that you and | must just have been tackling our jam 
omelettes when the poor girl was being killed. | remember 
saying as much to the Assistant Commissioner.” Roger was 
not actually hinting that though unlettered Superintendents 
might be cool with him, Assistant Commissioners fed 
eagerly out of his hand; but the words rolled smoothly off 
his tongue. 


“The Assistant Commissioner? Oh, Sir Paul Graham, yes; 
he’s the Assistant Commissoner now, isn’t he? | know him 
Slightly.” 

“Yes, he said he’d met you. Now look here, Pleydell,” 
Roger said firmly, “stop pacing up and down like a lion ina 
cage, help yourself to a whisky and soda, and sit down here 


by the fire. | want to talk to you, and | can’t while you're 
rampaging up and down.” 
“What do you want to talk about?” 


“This case, of course. | always have to talk about these 
things to somebody,” Roger said frankly. “It’s a dreadful 
nuisance for my victims, of course, but it helps me a lot; it 
clarifies what ideas | may have as no amount of silent 
thinking can do.” 


“Well, you can have the use of my vile body for your 
talking-stool till the small hours,” Pleydell said, with a faint 
smile, “and the more you talk, the better I’ll be pleased. 1’ll 
help myself to that whisky and soda and sit down at once, to 
show I’m in earnest.” He did so. 


Roger refilled his pipe and lit it with some deliberation. He 
wanted to collect his ideas. 


“This is what | want to get off my chest,” he began, “and 
you can see why the police, not excepting my excellent 
friend Chief Inspector Moresby, can’t qualify for the role of 
confidant in this particular matter. I’ve got a feeling in my 
bones that Scotland Yard’s working on the wrong lines!” 


“You have?” said Pleydell, with the interest proper to a 
Watson. 


“Yes. I’ve been saying so all the time about that notepaper 
clue they’ve been pinning their faith to, and | feel it in this 
new case just as strongly. In my opinion this is not the kind 
of crime that’s going to be solved by the ordinary police 
methods of this country. It has a psychological basis which, 
I’m quite convinced, can only be uncovered by the 
application of imaginative psychological methods.” 


“I’m inclined to agree with you there,” said Pleydell. 


Roger thought for a moment. “Take this finger-print, for 
instance. What’s the good even of a finger-print if they can’t 
find the finger that fits it? There’ll be no specimen of that 


print in their records, as there probably would be if it was a 
case of burglary that we were considering. The only use of it 
is to check their conclusions when they've found their man; 
it isn’t going to help them to find him. And the porter’s 
description of the fellow with the blue overcoat and the 
wash-leather gloves might apply to several thousand young 
men in London alone. No, the more | think of it, the more 
sure | am that this latest crime isn’t going to help us in the 
least towards finding our man. Which means that the police 
will be thrown back more or less into the state they were 
before, and will go on concentrating on that notepaper clue 
for their results. And they may get them that way, of 
course,” Roger was ready to admit, “but | very much doubt 
it.” 

“Well?” 

“Well, if that’s the case, it seems to me that Scotland Yard 
and | are going to diverge henceforward in our lines of 
investigation. | don’t consider myself bound to follow them 
in the least. If | think they’re on the wrong track, | shall 
break off it into one of my own making.” 


“Quite right.” 


“And,” said Roger, “Il want you to help me.” He shot a 
glance at the other. 


“With pleasure,” Pleydell said quietly. “It’s very good of 
you, and | welcome the opportunity. You know I’m as 
anxious as you to lay this devil by the heels. And,” he added 
soberly, “I’ve a good deal more personal interest in doing 
SO.” 


Roger nodded. This had not been an impulsive offer. He 
had considered its feasibility before ever telephoning to 
Pleydell. What was in his mind was that no harm could 
possibly come of its acceptance (he never doubted that it 
would be accepted) and the probabilities were that it would 
lead to a great deal of good. Pleydell was a very clever man, 


and no doubt a shrewd judge of the human animal, and his 
co-operation could not fail to be helpful on these counts 
alone. But above that, by being drawn into the official net 
he would be effectually prevented from acting as a possibly 
disturbing free-lance; and Roger was very anxious that a 
superfluity of cooks should not spoil this particular broth. 


“It’s this way, too,” he added, smoking thoughtfully “The 
Scotland Yard machine is excellent as a criminal-hunting 
organisation; none better. But it’s just this very kind of case 
that puts grit in its bearings. The ordinary murderer, you 
see, isn’t a criminal at all in one sense; | mean, he very 
often hasn’t got a criminal mind. I’m not referring to the 
burglar who loses his head when trapped and shoots in 
panic; | just mean the usual, unpremeditating murderer—for 
of course the great majority of murders” are 
unpremeditated.” 


“So | suppose,” Pleydell murmured. 


“Well, if you examine the records of successfully detected 
murders in this country,” Roger continued, now firmly 
mounted on his hobbyhorse, “you will see that the criminal 
already known to the police who turns murderer, is nearly 
always caught; once he gets on the records of Scotland Yard 
his chances of getting away with a murder are almost nil. In 
murders of that type our detective service probably has a 
better record than any other. The thoroughness of the 
entries are astonishing; not merely’ the physical 
characteristics but the psychological idiosyncrasies as well— 
Bill Jones likes a bit of raspberry jam out of the larder when 
he’s finished a burglary;Alf Smith always enters a house 
through a trap-door in the roof; Joe Robinson kisses the 
maidservant whom he’s held up with his revolver; that sort 
of thing. No wonder the criminal-murderer leaves half a 
dozen characteristic signs, quite apart from definite clues, 
by which the police can tell his identity at once.” 


“Really?” said Pleydell, much interested. “I had no idea 
the records were as thorough as that.” 


“Yes,” said Roger, “but when the police have to deal with 
the other sort of murderer, the man about whom they know 
nothing in advance, you'll find that, unless he’s left some 
very definite clue or there crops up some quite direct 
evidence, he simply isn’t caught. That he nearly always is 
caught, by the way, simply means that he nearly always 
does leave such a clue or such evidence.” 


“I Suppose the average murderer is a bit of a fool,” 
nodded Pleydell. “Otherwise he wouldn’t be a murderer at 
all.” 


“Quite so. In a word, if you examine the unsolved murder 
mysteries of the last fifty years, you'll find they are all in this 
last category; there was no direct evidence and no clue, or 
the one clue on which the police seized didn’t lead to 
anything. Well, | ask you—if that notepaper clue doesn’t turn 
up trumps, doesn’t this case fall quite definitely into this 
category?” 

“| should say so, decidedly.” 


“Exactly. And the police are going to fall to the ground 
over it. In a word, if we want this man caught we've got to 
catch him ourselves.” Having, reached his climax Roger 
relighted his pipe, which had gone out during this harangue, 
and proceeded to smoke in impressive silence. 


They sat looking into the fire for a few minutes. 


“I’m glad you've invited my co-operation, Sheringham,” 
Pleydell observed at last, “because I’ve got an idea which | 
think is really worth considering. | wouldn’t have bothered 
you with it otherwise; | should probably have followed it up 
myself. But now I'd like to hear what you think about it, 
though most probably there’s nothing in it at all.” 


“I'd very much like to hear it,” said Roger, with truth; any 
idea of Pleydell’s was bound to be worth consideration. 


“Well,” Pleydell said slowly, “has it ever occurred to you 
that we might get at this man through his profession? If we 
could narrow him down to a doctor, for instance, and then 
look up the visitors’ lists to the Riviera last February and 
pick out the doctors, we should have gone a very long way 
towards identifying our man.” 


“We certainly should,” Roger agreed warmly. “Why, do you 
mean that you know what he is?” 


“Oh, no; nothing as definite as that. It has only suggested 
itself to me that he might possibly belong to a certain 
profession. | wonder if you'll see it if | put the facts to you in 
this way. Leaving the woman at Monte Carlo out of it, Unity 
Ransome was an actress, Dorothy Fielder was an actress, 
the night-club woman had been on the stage, | gathered; at 
any rate, she probably mixed with the shadier elements of 
the profession. Add to this that it seems most likely that the 
murderer was personally known to his victims—and doesn’t 
it occur to you what he might have been?” 


“An actor!” Roger cried promptly. 

“Precisely.” 

They smoked again in silence for a minute or two. 
“This,” said Roger, “is interesting.” 

“So | thought,” Pleydell agreed modestly. 

“We must follow this up.” 


“I’m glad you say so. | was going to myself in any case. 
And as it happens, I’m in rather a good position to do so.” 


“That’s more than | am,” said Roger, thinking of Miss 
Carruthers, one of his few links with the theatrical world. 


“Yes,” Pleydell explained, “I’m financially interested in one 
or two productions, and so is my father. | could certainly get 
any introductions we might want, and possibly some useful 
inside information as well.” 


“That’s excellent. Well, the first thing to do is to get hold 
of the list of English visitors on the Riviera. | can get a copy 
of that from Moresby; but till it comes | don’t see what we 
can do on these lines.” 


“No, I’m afraid nothing, except perhaps make a few 
inquiries about the actor friends of these girls.” 


“I'll mention that to Moresby. The police can do that sort 
of thing far better than we ever could. Their inquiries cover 
all the possible ground, you know, and without missing a 
single person who might have information to give. They’ll 
begin that in earnest now, | expect. Every single intimate 
friend of the murdered girls will be examined, and every 
single person as well whom they happen to mention, and 
then everyone whom they mention, and so on and so on till 
something does turn up. The patience of the police is 
amazing. Moresby tells me that sometimes they examine 
dozens of people, in a big and particularly difficult case, 
perhaps even a hundred, before any vital information is 
elicited; but when they do get hold of a bit they’re on to it 
like bulldogs.” 


“You make it unpleasantly graphic,” Pleydell said, with a 
little smile. “I hope | never murder anyone and have the 
pack of bulldogs on to me.” 


“I’ve often thought that,” Roger concurred. “It must be 
most disturbing to one’s night’s rest. The description of that 
man whom the porter saw, by the way, will be in the hands 
of every station in London and the country by now, | expect, 
sent out over the telephones, as soon as the Superintendent 
got back to Scotland Yard. The London railway termini are 
being watched for him; at every port they’re on the qui vive 
for him, every policeman on every beat is keeping a sharp 
look-out for yellow wash-leather gloves and the rest the hue 
and cry is in full throat. By Jove, | wouldn’t like to be in that 
man’s wash-leather gloves.” 


“And you think he’ll be caught?” 


“That’s different. I’m not at all sure about that. If he’s got 
any sense at all, he won’t be. The description’s too vague; it 
applies to too many people. Alter one or two details, and 
you've got an entirely different man. No,” said Roger 
weightily, “I do not think he’ll be caught, on that description. 
But | wouldn’t like to be in his gloves for all that!” 


“And we've got his finger-prints,” Pleydell pointed out, 
with grim satisfaction, “thanks to you.” 


“That,” Roger agreed, “is perfectly true.” 


They sat on talking into the small hours, but the case 
remained unadvanced. 


CHAPTER XVI 


ANNE INTERVENES 


Innbceev, SO far aS Roger was concerned, the case remained 
unadvanced for some days. In response to questions about 
his researches, Moresby became more and more reticent. 
From being amused Roger became hurt, from being hurt, 
angry, and from being angry, resigned, but in none of these 
states of mind could he induce Moresby to discuss the affair 
frankly with him as in the early stages. Roger thought he 
knew the reason, and blamed Superintendent Green with a 
good deal of bitterness. The divergence he had anticipated 
became a fact. 


He was allowed to take a copy of the list of English visitors 
staying on the Riviera at the crucial date, however, when in 
due course this arrived, and he handed it over to Pleydell, 
who undertook to have the actors on it picked out by a 
competent authority. The latter, informed him moreover, 
that no friends of Lady Ursula seemed to figure in it who 
were not already on his own lists. Roger was also allowed to 
see the report from the French police on the Monte Carlo 
death, though he was subtly given to understand that this 
was no longer a right so much as a favour. In any case it did 
not help him in the least. The French police had had no 
doubt at the time of its being suicide, and apparently they 
thought so still; all the facts pointed to suicide, and they 
could see no cause to suspect anything else. 


Certainly, if the case was to be considered as an isolated 
one, the French police had reason; as usual there were no 


signs of a struggle, no bruises either on the body or the 
wrists, and the farewell letter had been a good deal more 
explicit than the English ones, signed and, it seemed, 
perfectly convincing. A copy of it was attached, and Roger 
had to admit that, though a little vague, it might quite well 
have been genuine. In short, the French police not only still 
thought their own case one of Suicide, but hinted with 
considerable delicacy that the English ones too might quite 
possibly (they were tactful enough not actually to write 
“porobably”) turn out to be the same, and they added a few 
helpful remarks about neurotic women and suggestion. 


“Which | did much better in my own article,” commented 
Roger disgustedly. “Well, there certainly doesn’t seem to be 
much help there.” 


On the principle of returning good for evil, Roger 
mentioned to Moresby the theory that the wanted man 
might be an actor. Moresby received the suggestion with 
gratitude, but spoilt the effect by adding that such an idea 
had already occurred to Superintendent Green and himself. 


“Then | suppose you’re making your inquiries on those 
lines?” asked Roger. 

“We're making inquiries on a//lines, Mr. Sheringham,” said 
the Chief Inspector politely, and went on to talk about the 
weather. 

“Damn the weather,” said Roger, not at all politely, “and 
you too, Moresby.” 

On another occasion Roger tried to find out how the clue 
of the notepaper was progressing. 

Moresby was as evasive as ever. “We haven’t got all the 
reports in yet, Mr. Sheringham,” he said, 

“Well, can | see the ones that are in?” 


“Better wait till they’re all in; then you can look at them all 
together, can’t you?” 


“Well, hang it, tell me if you’ve found out anything from 
rh 

“I’ve always said we should get results from that 
notepaper in the end, Mr. Sheringham,” beamed Chief 
Inspector Moresby. 


Roger went away in a naughty temper. 


But his temper did not remove his powers of thought. 
Moresby had found out something, and something rather 
important too. And he very much did not want to share his 
information. Why not? There must be something more in all 
this than the whims and preferences of Superintendent 
Green. 


He sought out Sir Paul and demanded to know why he was 
being shouldered out of the inquiry. Had Scotland Yard held 
out the sop of official recognition to him merely in order to 
pick his brains and, having discovered from him all they 
could, thrown him aside like a sucked orange? demanded 
Roger, not without warmth. 


“Nothing of the kind,” replied Sir Paul, with manifest 
uneasiness. Oh, no; oh, dear, no: he mustn’t think anything 
like that. 


“Well, what am | to think, then?” Roger wanted to know. 


Sir Paul hedged. The investigations were just reaching a 
very delicate stage; the official detectives had thought it 
best to keep things in their own hands just at present; the 
Home Office had enjoined particular secrecy for the 
moment; if Sheringham wouldn’t mind keeping in the 
background for just a very few days... 


Sheringham did mind, very much; but there was clearly 
nothing else for it. In the background, then, a distinctly 
fuming but undeniably helpless figure Sheringham 
remained. 


One morning, three days after his conversation to be 
precise, the telephone bell in the background rang. 
Answering it, Roger heard a feminine voice and groaned, for 
feminine voices on his telephone almost invariably meant 
invitations to dinners, dances or some other form of social 
torture, which Roger would give large sums of money to 
avoid; and that meant the manufacture on the instant of a 
credible excuse. 


“Hullo!” said the feminine voice. “Is that Mr. Sheringham?” 
“Yes,” groaned Roger. 
“This is Anne Manners speaking,” said the voice. 


Roger stopped groaning. “Miss Manners? Good gracious, 
are you speaking from Dorsetshire?” 


“No, from London; about half a mile away from you. Mr. 
Sheringham, are you busy this morning?” 


“Not in the least,” Roger replied promptly, and with 
perfect truth. 


“Well, I’m very sorry to bother you, but | want to see you. 
In fact, I've come up to London especially to do so. Could 
you meet me somewhere, where we could have a cup of 
coffee perhaps, and talk?” 


“1 should be delighted,” said Roger. “Where do you 
fancy?” 


They arranged a place, in the restaurant of a big stores 
near Piccadilly Circus (the choice was Anne’s), and agreed 
to meet there in a quarter of an hour. 


Roger was a firm bachelor. He knew very little about 
women in general, and cared less; his heroines were the 
weakest part of his books; the idea of meeting a girl in the 
restaurant of a big stores held not a single thrill for him. 

But even Roger, when brought face to face with her fifteen 


minutes later, had to admit that Anne Manners was a 
pleasant person to meet, even in the restaurant of a stores 


catering entirely for women. She was wearing a dark-grey 
tailored coat and skirt, and a close-fitting little grey felt hat 
without any ornamentation; in the enormous restaurant she 
looked smaller than ever. Roger discovered that he rather 
liked small women. They gave him a pleasing feeling of 
male superiority and capabilities of protection. 


Not that Anne Manners appeared to need any protection 
at all. If anything, it was Roger who needed the protection; 
for, aS soon as the waitress had brought them their coffee 
and biscuits, Anne proceeded to attack her companion with 
calm vigour. 


“Why haven’t you written to me about Janet, Mr. 
Sheringham?” she demanded. “You promised.” 


Roger met the attack bravely. “I know. | ought to have 
done.” 


“You certainly ought,” Anne agreed with severity. 


“But | was waiting till a few more details were cleared up,” 
Roger continued, a little lamely. 


Anne pounced on this. “Oh! So you have found out 
something, then?” 


“A—a certain amount, yes,” Roger almost stammered. 
Really, this was going to be very difficult. What was he 
going to tell the poor child? Hardly the truth. At any rate, 
not yet. 

“What?” fired Anne, point-blank. 

“Oh, well, not very much, you know. Nothing quite 
definite. We haven’t—I mean, | haven’t been able to identify 
the man at the back of it yet.” 

“There was a man at the back of it, then?” 

“Oh, | think so. At least, it seems probable, doesn’t it? 
That is to say— well, | always thought that the most likely 
explanation.” It was not often that Roger found himself ill at 
ease, and to some persons (one Alexander Grierson, for 


instance) the sight would have been an enjoyable one. If he 
had been present in the restaurant department of those 
stores at this particular moment, Alec might have 
considered many old scores wiped out. 


Anne looked her blethering vis-a-vis in the eyes. “I’m nota 
child, Mr. Sheringham,” she said, the knuckles of her small 
gloved hand beating an impatient tattoo on the table. 
“Please don’t play with me in this silly way. | want you to tell 
me straight out—was my sister murdered?” 


Roger gaped at her. It was just by this same method that 
he had taken Moresby by surprise, but now that it had been 
used against himself he was equally taken aback. “What— 
whatever makes you think that, Miss Manners?” he said; 
trying to gain time. 

“By putting two and two together, of course,” Anne replied 
tartly. “Besides, there’s a certain amount of gossip, you 
know, on those lines.” 


“Is there?” Roger frowned. “Who told you so?” he asked, 
brought back to normal by this information. 

“That girl, Moira Carruthers, who lived with Janet.” 

“Ah! You've called there?” 

“I’m living there,” Anne returned. 

“You are? Good gracious! Why?” 

Anne did not reply at once. Her knuckles continued their 
tattoo for a few moments, while she seemed to be making 
up her mind on what course to pursue. She drew a little 
quick breath. 

“Look here, Mr. Sheringham,” she said quietly, “you’re not 
playing fair with me. If anybody has a right to know the 
truth about my sister’s death, | have; and | intend to 
discover it. I’ve come up to London and left things at home 
to Mary, although she’s barely eighteen, for that very 


purpose. Please don’t fence with me. I’m convinced that 
Janet was murdered. Was she?” 


“Yes,” Roger replied simply. “I’m afraid she must have 
been.” 


The girl’s small oval face whitened for an instant. “Thank 
you,” she said, biting her lip. 


Roger looked away while she recovered herself. 


“l was sure of it,” she said after a short pause, “but it’s 
good of you to be frank with me. Do they know who—who 
killed her?” 


“No, not yet. The police have it in hand, of course. I’ve 
been helping them as far as | could.” 


“Then all those other girls were murdered, too?” 


“I’m afraid so. Did you suspect all this before you left 
home, Miss Manners?” 


“Oh, no. But | knew you were right when you said there 
must be something behind it all, and as | didn’t hear from 
you | came up to see if | could find out what it was. Then 
Moira told me what they were saying at the theatre, and | 
felt | must ask you if it was true.” 


“They’re saying that at the theatre, are they?” Roger 
asked quickly. 


“Il think they’re saying it everywhere, aren’t they?” Anne 
replied, with a dreary little smile. “Everywhere except in the 
newspapers, and some of those have hinted. Of course 
nobody at the theatre has said anything to me about it, but 
Moira told me because she thought | ought to know. She 
was very fond of Janet, in her own queer way, and she’s 
almost as anxious as | am that the horrible business should 
be cleared up and the— the murderer (if Janet was 
murdered) caught.” 


“Yes,” Roger murmured, “she’s a good little soul—in her 
own queer way, as you say. She did her best to help me at 


the beginning, but nothing seemed to emerge from that line 
of inquiry.” 

“Yes, she told me. And | think the others, or the 
management at any rate, have a pretty shrewd idea of what 
I'm after, because they let me join the chorus at once as 
soon as they heard | was Janet’s sister. Luckily a girl wanted 
to leave to get married, so there was a vacancy; but she 
would have stayed on ordinarily till the end of the run. She 
guessed too, I’m sure.” 


“But you’re not in the chorus of Thumbs Up! are you?” 
asked Roger in astonishment and not a little dismay. Of all 
the girls in this world Anne Manners looked the least fitted 
to be a show-girl in a not very high-class revue. 


Anne nodded. “I’m stepping into Janet’s shoes both on 
and off the stage, and there | stay till the devil who killed 
her is caught.” 


“But—but why?” 


“Because there’s always the possibility that he might try 
to attack me too, you see; and then | should know who he 
was. That’s my great hope. | want to catch him myse/f Oh, 
Mr. Sheringham, if | only could!” Her normally rather elfin 
face wore the rapt fierceness of a tigress contemplating the 
tearing to bits of the hunter who had shot one of her cubs. 


Roger respected her lust for vengeance. He had no use for 
the watery theory that man should not ensure his own 
revenge. He wanted vengeance on this brute himself, quite 
impersonally, on behalf of society in general, and he 
applauded the same sentiment in those who, like Anne and 
Pleydell, had a closer claim upon it. And both those two, in 
their own individual ways, seemed determined to achieve it. 
Well, if he could help them towards it, so much the better. 


He spoke on impulse. “Shall | tell you exactly how the 
case stands at present, so far as | know?” 


“If you will, please,” said Anne, quietly, as if it was her 
right to know—as indeed, Roger thought, it was; hers and 
Pleydell’s and anybody else’s who was wearing mourning on 
account of it at the present moment. He had no qualms in 
telling her. By their own action the police had as good as 
absolved him from loyalty to them; he was going to work 
this case as a free-lance now, enlisting such recruits to help 
him as he, and he alone, considered suitable. He had 
already enlisted Pleydell; now he would enlist Anne 
Manners. 


He gave her a brief account of the state of affairs to date 
and of the hopes, official and otherwise, for the future. She 
only interrupted once, when he came to mention the 
Original three suspects whose names had been on both her 
own and Pleydell’s lists. “Il know Mr. Dunning, and Mr. 
Newsome very slightly,” she said. “It couldn’t be either of 
them. And I’ve met Mr. Beverley once or twice too; he’s 
certainly not the man. No, it’s none of those three.” 


“Exactly what | said; we were on the wrong lines if the 
possibilities had been narrowed down to those three; they 
could none of them be the fellow, I’m convinced,” Roger 
agreed, and went on with his outline. 


Anne sat for a few moments considering, when he had 
finished, her chin on her hands. Apparently there had been 
little in Roger’s narrative that was unexpected to her, but 
she wished to assimilate the facts she had heard before 
relating them to her own course of action. 


“My idea, when | joined Moira and secured Janet’s place at 
the theatre,” she said slowly at last, “was to set myself up 
as a kind of decoy. | wanted to make myself as like as 
possible to the sort of girl who seems to attract him. | shall 
go on with that idea.” 


“But look here, Miss Manners,” Roger was beginning, “you 
might be running into real danger. | don’t see——” 


“Except that now,” Anne continued, as if he had not 
spoken at all, “I shall place myself at your disposal as well. 
Under your orders, if you like. | quite agree that Scotland 
Yard, tied as they are, are quite likely to fail in this case; but 
| think that a combination of you, Mr. Pleydell and myself, 
not tied in any way, might have a chance of success. And 
any rate, it’s worth trying.” 


“But,” began Roger again. 


“You'll be in charge, of course, aS you've done this sort of 
thing before; Mr. Pleydell will certainly agree to that. And | 
Shall be on hand when required. There may be something in 
this idea about an actor, you see, and if you two are able to 
narrow your suspicions down to a few people, then you'll be 
able to make use of me for the final weeding-out.” 


“But Miss Manners—hang it all—Anne!—I can’t allow——” 


“What | mean is that we must advertise the information, 
in an unobtrusive way, to all the people we suspect, that at 
certain times of the day (the late mornings and the 
afternoons, say) | shall be alone in our flat. Moira will go out 
ostentatiously every day. Then | shall simply sit in my 
parlour and wait for the fly. He won’t be able to take me by 
Surprise, you see, which must be his usual method, so it’s 
no good talking to me about danger; there won’t be any. 
And even if there, were, what on earth does that matter? In 
any case, there won’t.” 


“But the responsibility——” 


“You'll be somewhere within call, you see. We can arrange 
a code of signals, or something like that. Well, now, Mr. 
Sheringham, can you suggest a better plan than that? And 
do you agree to make use of me? Because if you don’t, | 
Shall simply do it on my own, and that will be much more 
dangerous.” 


“You put me in a very difficult position, Anne,” said Roger, 
with some feeling. 


“| mean to,” replied Anne serenely. “Well, is it a bargain, 
and do | join your combination?” 

“You jolly well do!” Roger cried, casting all scruples to the 
winds. “Between the three of us we’ll take a leaf out of the 
French notebooks and teach Scotland Yard a thing or two 
they never knew.” 


CHAPTER XVII 


AN UNOFFICIAL COMBINATION 


Berore leaving her, Roger had arranged with Anne to meet 
again at teatime when he would try to get hold of Pleydell 
so that the two lieutenants of the combination could be 
introduced; but fate, in the curious way it so often has on 
such occasions, forestalled him. Walking down Piccadilly 
soon after lunch with Pleydell, and having just that minute 
told him of this new development and ensured his presence 
at tea, Roger ran into Anne and Miss Carruthers coming 
straight towards them, and introduced Pleydell to the former 
then and there. And because Miss Carruthers was present, 
he could do no less than introduce Pleydell to her too. 


“So pleased to meet you,” languished Miss Carruthers, 
with all the respectful deference due from a chorus-girl to an 
extremely rich young bachelor. “So you’re Mr. Pleydell. Well, 
fancy that!” 

“And you’re Miss Carruthers,” responded Pleydell gallantly. 
“| should have recognised you at once.” 

“| say, would you really?” simpered Miss Carruthers, 
looking incredibly young and innocent. 

“Hullo, do you two know each other already?” Roger 
asked. 

“Well, not to say know, exactly,” murmured Miss 
Carruthers in ladylike accents. “But I’ve often seen Mr. 
Pleydell in front when we were rehearsing.” 


Pleydell nodded. “I told you I’d got theatrical interests,” he 
said to Roger. “Thumbs Up! is one of them. But, for heaven’s 
sake, don’t mention it beyond our four selves,” he added, 
smiling, “or my reputation as a business-man would be 
exploded for ever. No really good business-man ever 
touches the theatre, you know.” 


“Well, | never knew you were the Mr. Pleydell, and that’s a 
fact,” fluttered Miss Carruthers. 


“Nor does the stage-doorkeeper, nor the box-office 
manager, nor even the producer himself,” Pleydell laughed. 
“I’m strictly incognito as soon as | step into a theatre, | can 
tell you. So now you see what a weighty secret you have in 
your keeping. If the newspapers got hold of the fact that I’d 
put money into a revue, | should be ruined in twenty-four 
hours.” 


“Well, | never!” said Miss Carruthers, much impressed. 


Roger had been confirming the tea-appointment with 
Anne during this exchange, and the four now split into two 
again and resumed their respective ways. 


“And now,” said Pleydell, when they were safely out of 
earshot, “you can see why Miss Anne stepped so easily into 
Thumbs Up! But I’m quite serious about keeping my 
theatrical interests a close secret, so don’t mention it to 
anybody, even by way of joke, there’s a good fellow.” 


“Certainly not,” Roger acquiesced promptly. “Yes, | must 
admit I’d wondered how that came about. It sounded 
curious when she told me. And you'd gathered that she’d 
come up with that plan in mind?” 


“Oh, dear, no; it never occurred to me. But | remembered 
your mentioning that the family were a bit hard up, and | 
thought this girl might have come up to relieve the pressure 
at home, or even contribute her mite to it; so when | heard 
that a sister of Unity Ransome’s had been asking for a job, | 
told them she was to have one. That’s all.” 


“Your word goes, so far as Thumbs Up! is concerned, 
then?” 


“I’ve got a controlling interest in the rotten thing, 
Pleydell carelessly. 


Roger, no less than Miss Carruthers, was impressed. If he 
himself had possessed a controlling interest in a London 
revue, even a minor one, he would certainly not have 
mentioned the fact with such unstudied carelessness. He 
bought Pleydell a drink in token of his respect. The 
respectful poor are always ready to buy the drinks of the 
careless rich. 


But money has other uses beyond saving its possessor 
from having to buy his own drinks. Some of them were in 
evidence at the tea-table conference that same afternoon. 


Seated round a secluded table in the most exclusive, and 
therefore the most expensive hotel in London, the three 
discussed in low tones their plan of campaign, “just like real 
conspirators,” as Anne observed, with one of her unusual 
smiles. Roger had put forward for Pleydell’s opinion the 
suggestions Anne had made regarding the part to be played 
by herself in the partnership together with his own qualms 
as to the wisdom of it, and after careful consideration 
Pleydell had pronounced favourably upon the proposal. 


“I’m bound to say that | think it most unlikely to lead to 
any results,” he said, “but if it did they would be so valuable 
as to justify our risking the waste of time involved. And | 
don’t think that, if the proper precautions are taken, there is 
any real danger to Miss Manners.” 


“None whatever,” Anne said briefly. “I’m not an idiot.” She 
did not add that even if the danger were great she would 
not be in the least deterred, because that savoured of 
bragging; and bragging and braggarts constituted one of 
Anne’s particular aversions. 


” 


Said 


“And of course,” Pleydell added in natural tones, “I shall 
consider myself responsible for the precautions we do take; 
financially, | mean. Let us have that understood from the 
beginning, by the way; all matters of finance are my 
pigeons. Goodness knows it’s small enough, but | feel that’s 
going to be my chief use to you.” 


Roger nodded, and Anne made no demur. She saw rightly 
that Pleydell’s wealth was an inestimable asset to the 
combination, and that through it things became possible 
which to anyone else in their position, rashly challenging the 
official police, would have been out of the question. Besides, 
as she told Roger later, it seemed almost a kindness to let 
Pleydell soend as much money as he could on the pursuit of 
his fiancée’s murderer; schooled and _ apparently 
unperturbed as he was, she could see something of the 
forces that were tearing him to bits inside and knew that he 
was on tenter hooks to do something, no matter what, that 
would achieve his end; and the spending of money is always 
a safety-valve, even to the very rich. 


They proceeded to settle the details. 


It was decided at once that the afternoons would be most 
convenient for the experiment, and the hours from two- 
thirty to  half-past four were fixed. Every afternoon 
punctually at two-thirty Moira would leave the house as 
ostentatiously as possible, and Anne would stay, quite 
alone, in the sitting-room for two hours. At the end of that 
time she too would go out, for after four-thirty she would no 
longer be guarded. 


The matter of her guarding was less easy to determine. 
The first consideration, of course, was that the murderer 
must have no suspicions of what was in hand; and the sight 
of Roger or Pleydell entering the house at about the time 
Miss Carruthers was leaving it would simply defeat their 
whole object. Nor would it prove very practicable if the 


guardian had to arrive so early that he would not be seen to 
enter if the house were watched. 


In the end, Pleydell solved the problem in the grand 
manner. They would take a room in the house next door, or 
if there was no room available there, as near as possible, 
and there either Roger or Pleydell would lie in wait each 
afternoon during the crucial two hours. A bell was to be 
installed in this waiting-room, with its button under a rug in 
Anne’s sitting-room, so that she could press it with her foot 
without alarming her visitor, as soon as he disclosed his 
intentions. The watcher would then hurry down his stairs, 
change houses and run up the others (a performance 
estimated to take, at the outside, ninety seconds) and catch 
the man red-handed. 


“Excellent,” Roger approved. “But we must guard against 
a surprise attack as well. | suggest that Miss Manners 
presses the bell throughout the two hours at intervals of ten 
minutes to show that all is well—a short, sharp flick of the 
button. Then if we don’t get that signal we shall know that 
something’s wrong.” 


“Yes, and to distinguish the ten-minutes’ ring from the real 
danger-signal | could make the latter a long, steady 
pressure, couldn’t 1?” put in Anne, whose cheeks were 
flushing with excitement at the prospect of action at last. 

“That is the idea, exactly,” Pleydell agreed. “Well, | think 
that covers everything, doesn’t it?” 

“Yes, if things fall out right. But shall we be able to get a 
room at all in these days?” Roger wondered. 

“You can leave that to me,” said Pleydell, with quiet 
confidence. “I'll get a room all right.” And Roger had no 
doubt that he would. 

“And supposing they won’t let us fit up the bell-wire 
between the houses?” Anne suggested. 


“They won’t know,” Pleydell answered serenely. “You can 
leave that to me too. I'll have all that done quite secretly. 
The wire could be taken along the roof, | imagine, or the 
outside wall.” 


“And of course,” he added, by way of an afterthought, but 
so obvious that there was really no need for him to put it 
into words, “of course if there is any trouble with the 
landlords, I'll have the two houses bought.” 


Before such supreme omnipotence no further objections 
were raised. 


“Now, how about advertising our trap to the various 
people we’re setting it for?” said Roger. “I Suppose we must 
include George Dunning, though it seems_ quite 
unnecessary.” 


“We must include everybody,” Pleydell said firmly, “likely 
or unlikely.” 


“Yes, | suppose we must really. Well, will you undertake 
Dunning? You know him better than | do, of course. I'll put 
the hint to Jerry Newsome, though of all the impossible— 
however! | wonder where he is, by the way? I haven’t seen 
him since before the war. It’ll be jolly to get into touch with 
Jerry again.” 

“| think he’s in London,” Anne put in. “He only comes 
down to our part of the country in the middle of the summer 
for a few months, so far as | know.” 


“Oh, well, | can easily find out his whereabouts. And that 
poisonous creature, Arnold Beverley; | wish you’d undertake 
him too, Pleydell.” 


“I don’t know him, I’m afraid.” 

“Il can manage him for you, Mr. Sheringham,” Anne said, 
with a faint smile. “I told you this morning that I’d only met 
him once or twice. That’s quite true, because he’s very 
careful whom he’s seen about with in our neighbourhood 


(they’re the great people of the district, of course, the 
Beverleys); but | fancy he might not be so particular in 
London. Anyhow, I'll send a line to him and say quite 
brazenly that I’m always in, alone, between two-thirty and 
four-thirty, shall 1?” 


“| wish you would,” said Roger fervently. “I hardly know 
the man, but a little went a long way with me—about a mile 
out of his way every time | saw him in the distance ever 
after. And in any case, | don’t quite see how | could 
introduce the fact that you’re open to receive visitors during 
those hours if he wants to take advantage of it.” 


“Very well. Of course if it comes out (and from what one 
hears of Mr. Beverley such a thing is more than possible) my 
reputation’s gone for ever; but | don’t mind that.” 


“1 do, though,” said Roger. “And especially as it’s so 
completely unnecessary in Beverley’s case. The man’s been 
out of the running from the very beginning | haven’t even 
troubled to look him up or go into his movements or 
anything. If anybody on this earth since it flew off the sun 
has ever been incapable of murder of any sort, let alone 
this, Arnold Beverley is that man. Need we really worry 
about him, Pleydell, do you think?” 


“We must worry about everybody,” Pleydell replied, with a 
smile that was not without a certain grimness. “And talking 
of that, I’ve got two more for you to worry over.” 

“Two more suspects?” Roger asked eagerly. 

Pleydell nodded. “The only two actors on those Riviera 
lists. Here you are—Sir James Bannister and Billy Burton.” 

Roger’s face fell. “Only those two? Oh, dear. Bannister 
might have played second murderer once on a time, but I’m 
Sure he’s far too important to play even first murderer 
nowadays. And Billy Burton—well, why not Charlie Chaplin?” 

“Yet I’ve no doubt that both tragedians and comedians are 
quite human off the stage,” remarked Pleydell dryly. 


“But candidly, Pleydell; can you see either of those two in 
this particular role? And don’t talk about humanity; there’s 
nothing human about the brute we'’re after.” 


“Candidly, | can’t, no. But | don’t pretend to be a 
psychologist. There may be hidden forces in one of them to 
impel him to do things that he may perhaps shudder over 
himself when his blood’s run cold again—just as there are, 
I’m told, in all of us, though some control them better than 
others.” 


“Well. | suppose they must be warned, like the others, but 
really—— ! However, if it comes to that, all five of our 
suspects to date seem to fail signally to qualify. If the 
murderer really /s among them——” 


“And he is,” Pleydell put in with quiet conviction. “He must 
be. All the evidence points to it.” 


“Well, if he is, he’s going to turn out the most unexpected 
one of this century. Who’s going to warn those two? | don’t 
know either of them.” 


“| think | can manage that for you. | know Bannister very 
Slightly, and | can easily arrange to meet Burton.” 


“Thanks. And I'll see what | can find out about their 
movements round the important dates. Which reminds me, | 
must go to Scotland Yard to-morrow and try to worry out of 
Moresby what he’s discovered about the movements of the 
other three. And that artisan too.... I’m not happy about 
him. | hope the police have been able to trace him. Have 
you considered, Pleydell, that though an actor fits the bill, so 
does an artisan? You let a plumber or a man from the 
electric light company or anybody like that into your house 
without either a qualm or an introduction. | wonder if we 
ought to follow that up?” 


Pleydell shrugged his shoulders. “How can we? There are 
probably several thousand plumbers alone in London, to say 


nothing of men from electric light companies and the rest. 
That sort of inquiry would be entirely beyond our scope.” 


“I suppose it would,” Roger had to agree. “But I’m not at 
all sure that it isn’t there that the truth lies.” 


Pleydell rose to his feet and made his excuses. He had 
overstayed his time already, and had an_ important 
appointment in a short time. 


Roger and Anne sat on for a few mintures after he had 
gone. 


“I’ve never met a Jew | liked so much before, 
remarked. 


“The real pure-blooded Jew, like Pleydell,” Roger told her, 
“is one of the best fellows in the world. It’s the hybrid Jew, 
the Russian and Polish and German variety, that’s let the 
race down so badly.” 


“And yet he seems as reserved and unimpassioned as an 
Englishman,” Anne mused. “I should have thought that the 
pure-blooded Jew would have retained his Oriental 
emotionalism almost unimpaired.” 


Roger could have kissed her for the slightly pedantic way 
she spoke, which, after a surfeit of hostesses and modernly 
Sslangy young women, he found altogether charming. 


“I suppose it’s a matter of upbringing, and the sinister 
influence of the English public school,” he said lightly, 
thinking of one occasion at any rate when Pleydell had been 
neither reserved nor unimpassioned. 

“And his money doesn’t seem to have spoilt him a bit,” 
Anne concluded. “That’s very rare, isn’t it?” 

“Very,” Roger agreed, feeling absurdly jealous of the 
object of these encomiums. Yet what was he to Anne or 
Anne to him? 

Then Anne discovered that she had only just time to get to 
Sutherland Avenue to fetch a clean handkerchief, or 


” 


Anne 


something equally unnecessary, if she was not to be late at 
the theatre. Roger’s offer to buy her a dozen handkerchiefs 
for every quarter of an hour she would remain where she 
was now was treated with the severity it deserved. 


Roger paid the bill and they went. 


Having put Anne into the tube which she insisted on 
patronising rather than a taxi at Roger’s expense, that 
discarded novelist proceeded to his club to conduct a search 
for the present whereabouts of Gerald Newsome. By the 
time he had discovered the address in the London telephone 
directory, it was past seven, and, on calling the number, he 
learned that Newsome had just gone out and was not 
expected back till late. He left a message, arranging for 
lunch the next day, and went home to dine. 


Feeling at a loose end after dinner, it occurred to him that 
he might just as well try Scotland Yard that evening as the 
next morning. Taking a chance, he rang up and was lucky 
enough to catch Moresby. By sheer tactlessness he forced 
the Chief Inspector into offering him a halfhearted invitation 
to go round. 


Without more ado Roger went. 


To his surprise Moresby greeted him with something of his 
old geniality. To Roger’s request for information regarding 
the movements of the three original suspects on the 
important dates, Moresby replied at once that, though the 
reports were not yet complete, it seemed that any one of 
the three might be the guilty man so far as movements 
went. None of the alibis for the period covering the death of 
Janet Manners were confirmed; at the time when Elsie 
Benham must have died all three were reported to be in bed 
(and all three, Roger remembered, were bachelors), and two 
of the three at any rate had no entirely convincing alibis for 
the Dorothy Fielder case; the report on the third was not yet 
in. 


So far as could be gathered from the Chief Inspector, the 
chances were still evenly balanced. 


“Humph!” said Roger, distrusting the air of bland 
innocence with which this information had been given. 
There was something in the background somewhere, Roger 
was convinced, but he was equally convinced that the Chief 
Inspector was not going to divulge what it was. 


He went on to ask about the artisan and the solicitor who 
had visited the Mansions within an hour of the murder. 


There had been no difficulty in tracing the artisan, 
Moresby told him without hesitation, and gave details freely; 
Roger gathered that the police attached no importance to 
him. Nor did they to the solicitor-like old gentleman, who 
had, indeed, been out of the place at least half an hour 
before the murder was committed. The taxi which he picked 
up outside had been found, and the driver reported that he 
had set down his fare at Piccadilly Circus; the old gentleman 
had not been traced beyond that point. His business in the 
Mansions was still obscure, and nobody reported having 
received a visit from him or even knowing anything about 
him; but it was possible that he might have been to see 
Dorothy Fielder herself, who was of course alive at the time 
of the visit. In any case the police had not bothered very 
much about him, as he could not by any possibility be 
considered to have any connection with the murder. 


“And the taxi that brought our real suspect—the man with 
the wash-leather gloves?” Roger asked. 


“Oh, yes; we traced that easily enough,” replied the Chief 
Inspector glibly. “It was picked up in—let me see now!—one 
of those streets off Piccadilly. Half-Moon Street, or one of 
those. But that,” said the Chief Inspector airily, “doesn’t 
help us much.” 


“Doesn't it?” said Roger thoughtfully. 


The Chief Inspector added a few remarks on the difficulty 
of tracing movements, even before the scent has had time 
to get cold. 


“And that,” said Roger to himself, as he came away, “is 
that. Now Moresby knows something, I’m absolutely sure, 
and something of tremendous importance at that. And he’s 
particularly anxious that | shan’t learn what it is. And, 
moreover, Moresby is convinced either that he’s already 
solved the problem or else that he’s just on the point of 
solving it; he wore every sign of ‘an arrest is imminent.’ Now 
what can it be that is making friend Moresby so insufferably 
pleased with himself?” 


The answer to that question was to be sitting on Roger’s 
breakfast-table when he arrived the next morning, in a 
purple silk dressing-gown and mauve silk pyjamas, to 
consume his eggs and bacon. 


CHAPTER XVIII 


“AN ARREST IS IMMINENT” 


Tue letter which Roger leisurely opened the next morning, 
and began to read while pouring out, his coffee with one 
hand, ran as follows: 


DEAR RoGER,—What have you been doing with yourself all 
these years, and why the deuce have you never looked me 
up? It’s no good asking me why | haven’t looked you up 
either, because | got in first with that question. Congratters 
on your books and all that sort of thing, but what | want to 
know is what’s the poor old public coming to when you can 
be a best-seller? Great Scott, when | think of... But | expect 
you're above all that sort of thing nowadays. 


Well, in case you’re wondering why I’ve broken our vow of 
silence, I’ll tell you. I’ve seen the tosh you’ve been writing in 
The Courier on crime and so forth, and | wondered if you’d 
like to be in on a cause cé/ébre before the arrest, because 
as far as | can make out there’s going to be one soon, and 
I’m going to be it. 

Seriously, old lad, | appear to be in a bit of a mess. You 
may not credit it, but | really think the police are going to 
nab me on a charge of murder, of all unpleasant things. By a 
damned unfortunate coincidence I’ve got myself mixed up 
in this case the papers are all being so suspiciously quiet 
about (I expect you’ve heard rumours); a girl called Dorothy 
Fielder, who hanged herself with a stocking in her flat in 
Gray’s, Inn Road a week ago—the last of a batch to do the 


same, including Lady Ursula Graeme. But you’re sure to 
know all about it. 


Anyhow, the long and the short of it is that the police 
seem to think that she never did anything of the sort, but 
that | murdered her, if you please. Cheerful, isn’t it? They 
haven’t told me that in so many words, but it’s obviously 
what they think. Anyhow, they’ve taken a statement from 
me, and taken my finger-prints, and interviewed me half a 
dozen times, and even taken samples of my notepaper! In 
fact they’ve asked such a lot about my movements since 
the beginning of February that I’m not at all sure they don’t 
suspect me of doing in the whole lot of them. 


Well, now, we all Know what you did at Wychford, and 
even |, who know you for what you are, Roger Sheringham, 
must admit it was a pretty smart bit of work. What | mean 
is, do you feel inclined to take a hand in my little show and 
cheat the gallows of its prey? Because between you and me, 
Roger, I’ve never murdered anyone in my life. It may be old- 
fashioned of me, but there it is. 


Anyhow, if you feel like it ring me up, to-morrow morning 
when you've read this. | can tell you all the facts when | see 
you. Telephone number, Hyde 1266. I’ve seen my solicitor, 
of course, but | ask you, why are solicitors? 


Yours moriturus, 
Jerry Newsome. 


“My God!” said Roger, and dived for the telephone. 


“Is that you, Jerry?” he asked, when the connection had 
been made. “Roger speaking. Are you dressed? You are? 
Then come round here at once. No, never mind about 
waiting for lunch. You wrote to me before you got my 
message last night, | suppose? Yes, our thoughts crossed. At 
once, by taxi, aeroplane or big gun, but Aurry! Right!” He 
hung up the receiver. 


“So that’s why friend Moresby’s been so reticent lately,” 
thought Roger, cramming eggs and bacon into his system at 
top speed. “No wonder, as I’d given away that Jerry used to 
be a great friend of mine. Didn’t want his bird warned. And it 
would have put me in a rotten position, certainly. But I’m 
free to do what | like now. Good Lord, was Jerry really the 
fellow with the wash-leather gloves? This /s going to be a 
hell of a mess.” 


Disposing of his breakfast in record time, Roger had just 
lighted the best pipe of the day when Gerald Newsome was 
Shown in. He was a stocky, well-built man of Roger’s own 
age, which was somewhere in the late thirties, still retaining 
the air of health and vigour of his athletic youth; his dark 
hair was getting a little thin on the temples, and his 
cheerful, alert face was red like a countryman’s. He gripped 
Roger’s hand in a way that made that gentleman wince. 


“Well, Jerry,” said Roger, when the first greetings that had 
to bridge a fourteen-year gap had been exchanged. “Well, 
you've gone and got yourself into a nice scrape, haven't 
you?” 

Newsome’s face fell. “Roger,” he said frankly, “it appears 
to me that I’m in a devil of a hole.” 


“You are,” Roger agreed, no less frankly. “There’s only one 
worse, and that would be if you really had carried out those 
very interesting murders. You’re quite sure you didn’t, | 
Suppose?” 

“Quite,” Newsome grinned. “I’ve got a rotten memory, | 
know, but it’s not as bad as all that.” 

“Well, sit down and tell me all about it. By the way, | must 
explain first that you’ve come to just about the right man, 
Jerry. As it happens, I’ve been in on the inside of this 
business from the very beginning.” 


“The devil you have!” commented Mr. Newsome. 


They settled down, and Roger explained briefly the part 
he had played in the matter and how he was situated at the 
moment. 


“This explains why they’ve been shutting me out, you 
see,” he concluded. “And it’s jolly lucky they did, because | 
can go right ahead now on any lines | like. And the line we’d 
better take first of all, | should think, is to prove that you’re 
not the man they want.” 


“You'll have your work cut out, then,” opined Newsome, 
with gloom. “I was in the blessed building at the time, you 
see. That’s the devil of it.” 


“You were the man with the wash-leather gloves, then?” 


“Yes, curse it; | was. And they seem to have got a finger- 
print of mine somewhere too.” 


“Tell me exactly what happened,” said Roger. 
Gerald Newsome began his account. 


He had not very much to tell. He had known the dead girl, 
but only very slightly. Met her at a supper-party once, and 
exchanged a word or two in the street with her afterwards 
on two occasions. He was therefore surprised when she rang 
him up, on the morning of the murder, at about twelve- 
thirty, and hinted, not too delicately, that she would like to 
be taken out to lunch, to discuss ‘this exciting idea.’ 


“What exciting idea?” asked Roger. 


“God knows! I’m telling you just what she said. | didn’t 
know anything about an exciting idea in connection with 
Dorothy Fielder, but she seemed to take it for granted that | 
did; so | thought it up to me to be tactful and pretend. | 
said:‘Oh, yes; rather.’ Or words to that effect.” 


“Yes,” said Roger. “Go on.” 


“Well, she asked me to call for her punctually at one, so | 
said | would. And | did. | rang the bell three or four times, 
but couldn’t get an answer. | hung about on the landing for 


” 


ten minutes or so, but she didn’t appear, so | thought she 
must have altered her arrangements in the haphazard way 
these stage-people do and no longer wanted to be taken out 
to-lunch punctually at one. So | came away. And that’s all.” 


“You came away? At what time?” 


“Oh, soon after one. About ten or a quarter past, | 
Suppose.” 


“Leaving your finger-print neatly planted on the bell- 
push.” 


“Oh, is that where it was?” 


“Yes, and | found it, deuce take the thing. | wish | hadn’t 
been so devilish clever. That’s a nasty bit of evidence. You 
can’t possibly deny being in the building that morning.” 


“| don’t want to. | told the police | was there when they 
asked me. Why shouldn't |?” 


“Why, indeed?” said Roger. “And did you pick up a taxi 
outside the building?” 


“No, | walked along to Holborn and had some lunch in a 
restaurant there.” 


“Well, that ought to be an alibi for you.” 


“So | thought. But the police don’t seem to agree. They 
don’t say so, of course, but when | told them | got to the 
restaurant by about twenty past one, at any rate not later 
than half-past, they said,‘Yes, yes,’in a soothing sort of way, 
which is only another way of remarking,‘You’re a liar.’At 
least, that’s how it struck me.” 


“I'll look into that,” said Roger, and made a note. 


“| didn’t get served at once, it’s true, and there was a big 
crowd there. It’s one of these places that cater for the 
business-men in Kingsway. | suppose the waiter wouldn’t 
swear to the time | came in. After all, | don’t suppose he 
could. But the real trouble was that he couldn’t pick me out 
in the identification parade.” 


“Oh, Lord, have you had one of them?” 


“! should say so. At the Gray’s Inn Road police station. 
They lined me up with about seven other fellows, and the 
porter of the Mansions spotted me at once. So, though not 
so quickly, did the taxi-driver who drove me there. The 
waiter, of course, didn’t.” 


“Humph! | wonder why they haven’t arrested you already. 
| suppose their case isn’t complete yet. It’s going to make a 
sensation when the facts do come out, and no doubt they’re 
taking no chances. And they know you won’t bolt.” 


“It wouldn’t be much good if | wanted to. I’m as good as 
arrested already; under a sort of open arrest. I’m followed 
wherever | go, and there’s always a man outside my place. 
There’ll be one outside here at this minute.” 


“Well, good luck to him. Now, you made a statement, did 
you?” 

“Yes, they had me up at Scotland Yard two or three times 
asking questions. | answered everything, of course; | 
thought the only thing to do was to tell the absolute truth 
immediately, always.” 


“Quite the best,” Roger agreed. 


“Well, after the last time they asked me if I’d have any 
objection to signing a statement embodying the various 
things I’d told them. | said not in the least. They presented 
me with a document, which | looked through and it seemed 
all right, so | signed it.” 


“Um! And the document referred only to the Dorothy 
Fielder case?” 

“No, that it didn’t. It referred to the whole jolly lot. I’m 
sure they think I did them all, Roger.” 


“Well, the fellow who killed Dorothy Fielder killed the 
others too; that’s all right. But | don’t see what they can 
have you on as regards the others. In fact, that’s what must 


be holding them up. Oh, by the way, the notepaper: what 
happened about that?” 


“Oh, they seemed most interested in that. Why, God 
knows. | use a sort of bluish-grey stuff, with my address in 
Clarges Street——” 


“Not Princess Bond Superfine, is it?” 

“Yes, | believe that is the name, or something like it. 
Why?” 

Roger groaned. “Merely another nasty coincidence for 
you. All right, go on. What else did they ask you about?” 


Newsome flushed, and shifted uneasily in his chair. “They 
asked me a hell of a lot of impertinent questions about 
Ursula Graeme,” he said gruffly. 


“They would, yes, of course. And you knew nothing about 
the lady?” 


“On the contrary,” said Newsome reluctantly. “I knew her 
uncommonly well.” 


Roger nearly jumped out of his chair. “You did? Oh, Lord, 
Jerry, this gets worse and worse.” 


“But why? | can’t understand. Why on earth shouldn't | 
know Ursula well? That doesn’t mean | killed her, does it?” 


“No, of course not. But—well, it’s very awkward, that’s all. 
Tell me how well you did know her and all about it.” 


“All right, | suppose | may as well, by this stage. The police 
seem to know all about it anyhow. Well, to put it shortly, 
Ursula and | were rather close at one time. | believe there 
was the usual amount of chit-chat about us. Old hags 
spreading the glad news that we were going to get married, 
and all that sort of thing. Till Pleydell came along, of 
course.” 


“Oh, my hat! And Pleydell cut you out?” 


“Good Lord, no. That was all poppycock. We’d never 
thought of getting married for a moment. We went about a 
lot together, but that was all. Weren’t in love with each 
other, or any rot like that. Nobody was more pleased than | 
was when Ursula got hooked up with a really decent fellow 
like Pleydell, for all he’s got a bit of the Jew in him. For a 
man who doesn’t know how much he can sign his name for, 
Pleydell’s the nicest chap | know; though he is a bit cold for 
a high-spirited girl like Ursula was. No, that’s just the whole 
point; I’d been telling her for months that she’d better hurry 
up and get engaged, or she’d lose her chances.” 


“Very tactful of you,” Roger commented. “Still, if you were 
on those terms with her | quite see there was nothing in the 
rumours. However, the police have undoubtedly got hold of 
those rumours, and they’re going a long way to make things 
look uncommonly nasty for you, my son.” 


“Oh, | shall come out of it all right,” said Newsome, but he 
spoke without too much conviction. 


“Oh, yes,” Roger rejoined with great heartiness. “We'll get 
you out of it all right. | was only thinking that we’ve got to 
get busy pretty quickly. Well, that’s all about the last two 
cases. The one before that, Elsie Ben-ham,‘described as an 
actress,’ anyone might have done. Now what about the first 
one in this country? Haven’t you got an alibi for the 
afternoon Unity Ransome was killed?” 


“| don’t know what | was doing that afternoon. How can | 
possibly remember? I'd just got back to London, about a 
week previously; that’s all | know. Of course | can’t get hold 
of an alibi.” 


They went on talking. Roger put what other questions 
occurred to him, but the main ground had now been 
explored, and nothing further of importance cropped up. 
Newsome, in spite of his efforts to carry it off, evidently felt 
his position strongly, and Roger pressed him to stay to lunch 


and hear the result of a visit he proposed to pay at once to 
Scotland Yard; a change of scene, and companionship, he 
felt, was the best tonic he could prescribe. 


Newsome accepted at once, and Roger retired to don 
garments more suitable to visiting Scotland Yard than the 
ones he was wearing at the moment. 


Half an hour later he was demanding audience with 
Moresby. 


The Chief Inspector received him with a somewhat 
Shamefaced grin. “I’ve been waiting in for you, Mr. 
Sheringham,” he said. “I’ve been expecting you any time 
during the last hour.” 


“Yes. | suppose your sleuth telephoned through that he 
was now stationed at the Albany. Well, Chief Inspector 
Moresby, what have you got to say for yourself, eh?” 


“| knew you’d find out sooner or later, Mr. Sheringham,” 
said Moresby, with an effect of penitent impenitence, “but 
we had to keep you in the dark as long as we could. We 
didn’t want your friend warned, you see, and you could have 
got in our way a lot if you’d wanted to.” 


“You're forgiven,” Roger said magnanimously. “| Suppose 
it’s no good telling you that you’ve got the wrong man, is 
jee 

Moresby shook his head. “I was afraid you’d say that, Mr. 
Sheringham. And | only wish it was true, for he doesn’t 
seem to fit the part a bit, as you’ve no doubt come to tell 
me,” 


“Something like that,” Roger admitted. 


“And you must allow that we’re giving him every chance. 
We could have arrested him days ago on the evidence 
we’ve got, but we’re straining all the rules to make dead 
certain before we do. / don’t want him to be the guilty party, 
Mr. Sheringham; don’t think that. He’s a nice fellow and a 


proper gentleman, and | must say it doesn’t seem hardly 
possible. But look at the evidence! How can we help 
believing it on that?” 


“Yes, | know. Well, you’re showing better feeling than | 
gave you credit for, Moresby; and I'll reciprocate by 
admitting that the evidence is a facer. In fact, it’s hell!” 
Roger perched himself on a corner of the Chief Inspector’s 
table and swung a moody foot. 


“| don’t know how much_ you've’ gathered, Mr. 
Sheringham,” went on the Chief Inspector, dropping into his 
chair, “but I’ve no objections now the cat is out of the bag to 
telling you all we know. And if you can show us that your 
friend isn’t guilty and another man is, why, nobody will be 
more pleased than we shall.” 


“Moresby,” said Roger, “this is highly unprofessional 
conduct. You don’t seem to have read the story-books at all. 
No detective from Scotland Yard ever wants his selected 
victim to escape, you should know. Well, just run over the 
evidence, will you?” 


Moresby complied, and his recital followed precisely the 
same lines as Roger had anticipated. In the absence of any 
other strange man in the building at the time Dorothy 
Fielder died, except the artisan whose alibi was complete, 
Newsome must be the murderer, both by a process of 
elimination and by the direct evidence of his connection 
with the flat in question given by the porter and the taxi- 
driver; the alibi he had attempted to set up had fallen 
completely to the ground; the waiter was not prepared to 
swear that he came in any earlier than a quarter to two, and 
the doctor had said that death might have taken place as 
early as one-fifteen. So far as the Fielder case was 
concerned, Newsome hadn’t a leg to stand on. 


The Graeme case was almost as conclusive, and here as 
well there was the important addition of a powerful motive. 


Lady Ursula had thrown Newsome over for another man; 
how many murders had been committed on account of that 
very thing? “If | can’t have her, then no man shall,” 
explained the Chief Inspector. “That’s the sort of idea.” Then 
the notepaper had been traced to Newsome, alone of all the 
three original suspects; and the police were in a position to 
prove that the very note supposed to be left by Lady Ursula 
had actually been written to Newsome himself the day 
before her death. 


“Oh?” said Roger. “I didn’t know that. That’s very 
interesting. How do you prove it?” 


Well, admitted the Chief Inspector, the proof wasn’t 
absolute, but it was as near as made no odds. Newsome’s 
valet had stated that Lady Ursula had at one time often 
dropped in to tea and that sort of thing, but after her 
engagement her visits had been a good deal rarer. On the 
afternoon of the day before her death, however, she rang 
the bell and told the valet that her dog, a little white 
sealyham, had jumped out of her arms almost outside the 
door and run out into the road, where, besides being nearly 
killed half a dozen times, it had got smothered in mud, and 
she wanted to know if she could clean it up in the bathroom. 


“| gathered,” said the Chief Inspector, “that with Lady 
Ursula asking for permission to do something and saying 
she was jolly well going to do it, was about the same thing. 
Anyhow, she made short work of the valet’s objections, if he 
raised any, and marched straight into the bathroom and 
gave the dog a bath. The valet did protest a bit when he 
Saw what a mess she was making of the place, but she only 
laughed at him and said she’d leave a note for Newsome to 
explain that he hadn’t been bathing a dog in his master’s 
wash-basin himself.” 


“Ah!” said Roger, who had been listening with deep 
interest. 


“Well,” Moresby went on, “she did leave the note. She left 
it in Newsome’s sitting-room, and the valet saw it there 
himself. In fact he positively identifies the one we’ve got 
with the one she left. But Newsome swears he’s never seen 
it before in his life. If it was left for him, he says, he never 
got it. Now, what do you make of that, Mr Sheringham?” 


“I’m going to take it as an axiom that what Newsome says 
is true, Moresby,” Roger said seriously, “and if the facts 
don’t square with what he does say, then it’s the facts that 
are at fault, not him. Which simply means that we don’t 
know them all yet.” 


“Um!” The Chief Inspector did his best not to look 
sceptical, for he was a kind man and he saw that Roger was 
seriously perturbed, but his effort was not very successful. 
“Well, | hope you'll find out plenty more, Mr. Sheringham,” 
he said politely. 


“When are you going to arrest Newsome?” Roger asked 
bluntly. 


“That depends. He’s not going to run away, is he? You've 
taken on the responsibility now, Mr. Sheringham, and you'll 
have to be answerable for him.” 


“Very well; | agree to that. No, he won’t run away.” 


“Then I'll tell you what I'll do. We were going to arrest him 
to-day, but if you undertake that he’ll hold himself at our 
disposal so to speak, and not on any account leave London, 
then I'll put it off till the day after to-morrow to give you a 
last chance, Mr. Sheringham. That’s the very best | can do, 
and that’s stretching things a lot, you know.” 

“Forty-eight hours to prove Jerry’s innocence,” murmured 
Roger. “My sacred hat! All right. Moresby. Thanks. That’s a 
bargain.” 


” 


CHAPTER XIX 


MR. SHERINGHAM IS BUSY 


One promise Moresby obtained from Roger before he left, 
and that was that Newsome’s impending arrest should 
remain a profound secret between the two of them; he had 
no objection to Newsome himself being told as he must 
already have guessed so much and there was no object in 
secrecy, but beyond that it must not go. Roger bound 
himself to silence, although this meant that he would not be 
able to share his knowledge with his two lieutenants, and 
gave a similar promise on behalf of Newsome. 


As he taxied back to the Albany he tried hard to grapple 
with the problem. If he was to establish Newsome’s 
innocence in a paltry two days he had got to get to work 
without delay, but where was he to start? He could see no 
jumping-off place from which to attack in a new direction. 
The valet and the note, perhaps? That seemed the only new 
fact that had come to light. 


His first action on arriving at his rooms was to ring up 
Pleydell. While keeping strictly to his promise, he told the 
latter that events of great importance might be expected at 
any minute, and it was essential that the arrangements 
made yesterday should be put in hand with the utmost 
speed. Pleydell replied that they had been in hand since 
yesterday, but that he would hurry them up so that the first 
sitting could be held that same afternoon; he had already 
warned the men that had been allotted to him. On Roger’s 
Surprised query as to how this could be done, as it was 


already past eleven o'clock, he said laconically that if he 
said it should be done, it would. Accepting this, Roger asked 
him if he would mind taking the sitting that afternoon as he 
himself was going to be busy in another direction. Pleydell 
replied that he would, with pleasure. 


“My aunt, that man doesn’t let grass grow under his feet,” 
Roger commented as he hung up the receiver. 


“Pleydell?” said Newsome. “Whatever was all that about?” 


Roger told him of the alliance that had been formed, and 
its plans. 


“The Jerry Newsome Defence League, | think we ought to 
call it now,” he concluded. “By the way, you mustn’t tell 
anybody about it, or what we’re going to do; especially not 
the police.” 


“But good Lord, is there the slightest hope that you'll get 
any results?” 


“Not the faintest, | should imagine,” Roger replied 
equably. “If the man does turn up, he must be mentally 
deficient in all ways instead of only one; and I’m quite sure 
he’s not that. But there is a tiny hope in the plan, and 
there’s none in any other that | can see, so we’re going to 
give it a trial at least.” 


“I'd like to meet that girl again,” remarked Newsome. 
“Anne Manners, by Jove! | wouldn’t have believed it. She 
must be a well-plucked ‘un.” 


“She’s got the smallest body and the biggest heart of any 
nice girl I’ve ever met,” affirmed Roger, with unwonted 
feeling. “I’m jolly well going to make her the heroine of my 
next book.” 


“The poor kid!” commented Mr. Newsome, into whom not 
even impending arrest could apparently instil any respect 
for his boyhood’s friend’s literary talents. “Whatever has 
she done to deserve that?” 


Roger disregarded this ribaldry. “Stop being funny, Jerry, 
and tell me this; did the police ask you about a note Lady 
Ursula was supposed to have left for you the day before she 
was killed?” 


“Yes, they did say something about one. But they’ve got 
hold of the wrong end of the stick. | never, had one from 
her. She called in to wash a dog or something equally mad, 
Johnson told me (that’s my man), but——” 


“Come on,” Roger interrupted. “We’ve got no time to 
waste.” 


“Where are we going?” 
“To have a word with Johnson.” 
They hurried off. 


Johnson proved to be a small, desiccated man with 
protruding teeth, who was plainly devoted to his master, 
and just as plainly not at all devoted to the police. Before he 
had been speaking to him three minutes, Roger began to 
realise what a task they must have had to extract from him 
such information as they did. 


Yet his story was simple enough. Lady Ursula had left such 
a note. He had seen it with his own eyes lying on the table 
when she went into Mr. Newsome’s bedroom to tidy herself 
after washing the dog (one gathered that the minor 
conventions meant nothing in Lady  Ursula’s life). 
Undoubtedly it was the same one that the police had got. 

Johnson had had no idea that his master had not received 
it, or he would not have said a word about it. 

“It was lying flat on the table, then?” Roger asked. “Not 
folded and put in an envelope?” 

No, it was lying flat. Johnson would not have read it if he 
had known what it was, it went without saying, but seeing it 
lying there he had fancied it was something of Mr. 


Newsome’s and was going to tidy it away till he saw that it 
was Lady Ursula’s note. 


“What was written on the top?” Roger asked. “Was there a 
name or anything like that?” 


“To the best of my knowledge the word‘Jerry’ was written 
on the top, sir,” replied Johnson, with a deprecatory air, as if 
apologising for having to allow his master’s nickname to 
pass the barrier of his teeth. 


“I see. Now, who came here between Lady Ursula’s 
departure and Mr. Newsome'’s return?” 


“No one, sir,” Johnson replied with decision. 
“No one? Then how did the note vanish?” 


“I can’t say, sir, I’m sure. | left it here, | know. | can only 
surmise that Mr. Newsome overlooked it, and it was tidied 
away the next morning without my noticing it.” 


“So that both of you overlooked it? No, that doesn’t seem 
right. Now this is an important point, Johnson, so try and jog 
your memory. Are you certain you let nobody else in here 
that afternoon?” 


“Quite certain, sir. You see, | went out myself shortly after 
Lady Ursula went. | remember distinctly. Mr. Newsome was 
going to be out till late, and he had kindly said that | need 
not stay in if | cared to take a little air. | remained out till 
past six o’clock.” 

“What doing?” Roger asked sharply. 

Johnson looked hurt. “Il went to a_ cinematograph 
performance, sir,” he replied, with dignity. 

Roger forbore to comment on Johnson’s preference in air. 
“Well, this seems a mystery,” he said. “Somebody’s got hold 
of that letter somehow, I’m convinced. Has the porter 
downstairs a pass-key to this flat?” 

“No, sir. But since you raise the matter | might mention 
that one of our own keys appears to have been mislaid. 


There used to be three, and now there are only Mr. 
Newsome’s and my own. The spare one has been lost.” 


“For how long?” 


“Oh, for some months now. But perhaps it would be as 
well not to attach too much importance to that, sir.” 
Johnson's parched face again took on its deprecatory look. 
“Mr. Newsome sometimes does lose things, if he will forgive 
my mentioning it.” 

“Johnson's trying to tell you politely that | lost the extra 
key myself,” Newsome laughed. “It was my own key, and | 
had my pocket picked. | not only lost the key, but my 
pocket-book as well, with a nice little bundle of notes in it. 
There’s nothing in that.” 


Roger nodded. “Thank you, Johnson. That’s all.” 


When they were alone he turned to Newsome. “It’s 
deuced odd about that note. It can’t have been overlooked 
by both of you. Is Johnson absolutely reliable?” 


“Absolutely,” Newsome said emphatically. “He’s been with 
our family since he was a boy.” 


“Well, he had one interesting thing to tell us,” Roger 
mused. “The note was not in an envelope, you heard. Well, 
when we got it it had been folded.” 


“Wouldn't the fellow who got hold of it have folded it?” 


“He would, yes. But the interesting part is the way in 
which it was folded. Not that it helps us in the slightest, and 
I’m afraid it won’t interest the police; as a matter of fact it’s 
just a tiny point in your favour, but we won’t bother about it 
now. I’ve got to run up to Maida Vale and warn Anne 
Manners to be ready for the sitting this afternoon.” 


“I'll run up with you,” said Newsome promptly. 


“Right you are,” Roger agreed. “And your sleuth can run 
behind.” 


They went out into the street and Newsome looked up and 
down it. “Hullo,” he said. “My sleuth doesn’t seem to be 
here.” 


Roger looked. Not a lounger, a passer-by or a loiterer was 
in sight. “Well, that /s sporting of Moresby,” Roger said 
warmly. “I'll tell the world it is.” 


Anne and Miss Carruthers received them kindly, and 
Newsome proceeded to renew his slight acquaintance with 
the former. Roger, however, had no time for light dalliance. 
He was not quite sure what he ought to do, but he knew it 
had got to be done at once. Newsome, on the other hand, 
could very well be left where he was for the time being. 
Apparently there was nothing more to be learnt from him, 
and his present surroundings might be even better for his 
morale than Roger’s own flat. 


On pretext of being shown out, Roger drewAnne out on to 
the landing with him, firmly shut the sitting-room door and 
told her that the sittings were to begin that very afternoon. 


Anne’s eyes sparkled. “Oh, | am so glad,” she said. “The 
men were in here so early this morning that | hoped we 
might be able to begin to-day. | told the landlord they were 
plumbers to see the kitchen taps, and he seemed so 
relieved at not being expected to pay for them that he took 
it without a word. He lives on the ground-floor.” 


“And you’re not a bit frightened, Anne?” Roger asked. 


“| shan’t have time to be frightened; | shall be too busy 
longing to catch him. But did | say you could call me 
‘Anne’?” 

“Didn't you?” Roger smiled. “How forgetful of you, if you 
didn’t. But | warn you, | always call my female accomplices 
by their Christian names. And all girls under the age of 
twenty-one, too.” 


“Good morning, Mr. Sheringham,” said Anne, and took a 
step towards the door. 


“Oh, and by the way, Anne,” Roger said quickly, “be kind 
to my excellent friend Jerry, won’t you?” 


“I'll be polite. But you’re not forgetting that he’s on our list 
of suspects, are you?” 


“He’s not, any longer. But you’re not to tell anyone that, 
even Pleydell. It’s a deadly secret. Between ourselves, Anne 
(and this is highly confidential), he’s not our man, but the 
evidence looks very much as if he were.” 


“Do you mean that the police are after him?” asked Anne, 
round-eyed. 


“If they’re not,” Roger replied evasively, “they’re failing in 
their duty. He’s in a very ticklish position. I’ve told him of 
our plans, by the way.” 


Anne looked doubtful. “Was that wise, Mr. Sheringham?” 


“May | remind you, Anne Manners,” retorted Roger, with 
dignity, “that / am in charge of this investigation? To your 
duty, girl. | shall be up at four-thirty to see if you're still 
alive. Till then, au revoir.” 


As he ran down the steps outside Roger glanced at his 
watch. The time was just after half-past twelve. He would 
pay a flying visit to Gray’s Inn Road before lunch. 


It was in Roger’s mind that, when it came down to hard 
facts, the only way of definitely clearing Newsome was to 
find out who really had committed the murders; in face of 
the accumulation of evidence anything less than that would 
not meet the case. And besides, how was he to prove by 
any other means that Newsome could not be guilty? The 
facts at present showed almost conclusively that he was. 
Even in the case of Janet Manners the connection was there. 


But if Gerald Newsome had not killed Dorothy Fielder, 
then who had? The artisan was cleared, the solicitor-like old 
gentleman was not on the premises. The only conclusion 
was that the real murderer must have arrived after the 


porter had gone to his lunch, past one o’clock. But as 
against this, there was the fact that Jerry had received no 
answer to his ring at one o'clock exactly. 


Seated in his taxi, Roger tried to thrash out this particular 
point. Dorothy Fielder had asked, almost blatantly, to be 
taken out to lunch. Was it likely that she would not have 
answered his ring, knowing from the time that it must be he, 
if she were in a position to do so? Certainly not. Then she 
could not have been in a position to do so. Why not? 
Assuming that she had not changed her mind, the only 
answer seemed to be that’ she had been forcibly detained. 
But she could not have been forcibly detained, because the 
murderer could not have arrived before one o'clock; that 
was definitely established. 


“Hell!” said Roger, and lit a cigarette. 


But was it definitely established, though? There was that 
gap between eleven o'clock, when the other girl, Zelma 
Deeping, came out, and twelve o’clock when the porter 
began his observations. Could the murderer have arrived 
during that interval? In that case he must have been in the 
flat till, after the girl’s death at about one-thirty. Why, if that 
were the case, did he put off killing her so long.? Was it 
because he knew that the porter would not be looking out 
between one and two and he would be able to escape 
unobserved? That, thought Roger, was a very interesting 
idea; it argued a close acquaintance on the murderer’s part 
with conditions in the Mansions—in other words, close 
acquaintance with Miss Dorothy Fielder herself. How did this 
square with Pleydell’s theory of an actor? Uncommonly well. 
But then one came up against Sir James Bannister and Billy 
Burton again, and neither the stately Sir James nor the lanky 
and elongated piece of humorous quicksilver, known to a 
hilarious public as Billy Burton, could possibly be the man 
they were after. Damn! 


But was the field of actors so very limited? Must the 
murderer have been at Monte Carlo at the time of the first 
death? Couldn’t (and here Roger sat up with a jerk) the truth 
be that the Monte Carlo death was a genuine suicide, which 
had so tickled the imagination of the super-sadistic 
murderer that he had felt impelled to go and do the same 
thing for himself? Now there was an idea. 


It brought him to the front door of the Mansions. 


Shelving further consideration for the moment of this new 
possibility, Roger sought out the porter. 


“Good morning,” he said briskly. “You remember me. | was 
here with the police last Thursday, regarding the death of 
Miss Fielder in flat Number Six.” 


“Oh, yes, sir,” Murmured the porter. 


“There are one or two further points | want to learn from 
you,” Roger continued in a tone of authority. “It seems 
obvious from what you tell us that the murderer must have 
arrived either after one o’clock or before twelve. Now is 
there any way of obtaining information as to the arrivals 
here between the time when Miss Deeping went out, soon 
after eleven, and twelve o'clock?” 


The porter shook his head. “No, sir. I’m afraid there isn’t. 
Anybody might have come then, and none of us be any the 
wiser.” 


“Il see. That’s a pity. Well, tell me this. Supposing the 
murderer entered the Mansions between eleven and twelve, 
but for some reason did not want to get into the flat till 
considerably later: is there any place where he could have 
remained in hiding? A cupboard, say, or a box-room at the 
top—anything like that?” 

Again the porter shook his head. “No, sir. The stairs are 
quite bare, aS you can see. There’s no cupboards or 
anything like that. Without he’d been in one of the other 


flats, | don’t see how he could have stayed out of sight 
inside the building.” 


“Ah!” said Roger thoughtfully. “Yes, it hadn’t occurred to 
me that he might have been—— Look here, | want a list of 
the names and professions of the other people who have 
flats in this block. Will you tell them to me while | write them 
down? No. 1, that’s yours. No. 2?” 


The porter proceeded to supply him with the information. 
“You seem to have a lot of stage-folk here,” Roger 
commented, as the list proceeded. 


“There’s stage-folk and stage-folk,” said the porter darkly. 
“| mean, there’s them that say they’re on the stage because 
they really are on the stage, and there’s them that say 
they’re on the stage because they’ve got to say something.” 


““Described as an actress,’ in other words. But you don’t 
mean to say you’ve got any of that sort here?” 


“Bound to have all sorts in a big place like this, sir,” said 
the porter, with an air of resignation. 


“But isn’t the landlord strict?” 


“Well, he is, sir, yes. But it’s not always too easy, you 
know. | mean, if it’s a lady like No. 7, who only has... Well, 
what | mean, sir,” said the porter desperately, ceasing to 
make efforts to wrap up stark facts, in a decent piece of 
circumlocution, and explained what he did mean. 


“Dear, dear!” said Roger. “I suppose it would be indiscreet 
to ask anything further?” 


“I’m well enough paid to keep my mouth shut, sir,” replied 
the porter significantly. 


Roger, who had no intention of paying him well enough to 
open it again, for information of a purely scandalous 
interest, smiled with equal significance and went on with his 
list. 


CHAPTER XX 


ALARMS AND EXCURSIONS 


Wuen Roger arrived back at the Albany, ten minutes late for 
his lunch, he had the list in his pocket; but that did not say 
that he quite knew what to do with it. To investigate in 
person the circumstances of the twenty-odd people whose 
names appeared on it would take far more than the three 
Short days he had at his disposal; yet he was not at all sure 
that such an investigation should not be undertaken. The 
case was so dark that any possible means of throwing light 
upon it must not be ignored; and improbable though it 
might seem, who knew whether the vital clue he was 
seeking did not lie inside that block of Mansions rather than 
outside it? 


Over lunch he made up his mind. The police, no doubt, 
would know something about the other flat-holders, but the 
line of inquiry which they would have followed would not be 
the same as the one which Roger would want examined. He 
would therefore take the list round to a firm of inquiry 
agents and put them on to it, no expense to be spared, a full 
report within thirty-six hours. He rang up Scotland Yard 
immediately after the meal, obtained the name of such a 
firm, conducted by an ex-C.I.D. Chief Inspector, and went 
round at once to put the matter in hand. He was assured 
that everything he wanted (and he mentioned particularly 
what he did want) could be obtained in the time. 


His next move he had already planned. Obviously he must 
pay a call on Miss Zelma Deeping. Her temporary address 


he knew already. Once more he hailed a taxi (Roger felt that 
this was the most expensive case he had ever handled) and 
was driven to Hampstead. 


Miss Deeping, whom he had not hitherto met, was a 
vivacious, dark-haired young woman of twenty-eight or 
thereabouts. Roger had no difficulty in getting her to talk. 
She told him frankly that she would talk to him for a year on 
end if it would help to catch the man who had murdered 
Dorothy. (Roger noticed that she used the word “murder.” 
Evidently Miss Deeping had no doubts as to how her friend 
had met her death.) 


Without beating about the bush, he proceeded to the 
questions he wanted to put. 


“How was Miss Fielder dressed when you left her?” 


“She wasn’t,” replied Miss Deeping promptly. “She was in 
the bath.” 


“Oh! Then she might not have been fully dressed at all 
that morning?” 


“No, | shouldn’t say she was. She’d been having what we 
called one of our lazy mornings. We used to have them if we 
felt extra tired, or had a headache, or anything like that. The 
one who was going to be lazy would stay in bed, and the 
other would bring her breakfast; the lazy one would get up 
when she felt like it have her bath, and be a perfect lady till 
lunch-time.” Zelma Deeping was trying to speak in a light 
voice, but her tones shook every now and then, and once 
she dabbed surreptitiously at her eyes. 


“| see,” said Roger, who was terrified of her bursting into 
tears. He assumed a very matter-of-fact, brisk tone. “You 
think it probable that she was wearing the underclothes she 
was found in, and just a wrapper over them (the one that 
was on a chair, | Suppose), when she let her murderer in?” 


“Yes,” agreed Miss Deeping, “| suppose she must have 
been.” She spoke in a hesitating way. 


“Why aren’t you sure?” Roger asked quickly. 


“Well, it doesn’t sound a bit like Dorothy to let anyone in 
when she was in her wrapper. We weren’t so very 
conventional, either of us, but once you go beyond a certain 
limit, if you happen to be on the stage, your reputation’s 
gone, whether you’ve done anything to deserve it or not. 
Dorothy and | were always rather careful in that way. | don’t 
mean we were so silly as not to give a man tea if either of 
us was alone in the flat; but | shouldn’t have said Dorothy 
would have entertained a man in the morning in her 
wrapper.” 


“What would she have done, then?” 


“Either told him he couldn’t come in, or else, if she knew 
him very well, pushed him into the sitting-room while she 
went to slip on a frock.” 


“Supposing if it were a plumber, or a man to see about 
the electric light—that sort of man?” 


Miss Deeping smiled. “Oh, well, that’s different. | suppose 
it’s silly, but it /s different, you know. After all, one doesn’t— 
what shall | say?—dally with a plumber, does one?” 


“The point is well taken; yes, it is different. And supposing 
it had been an actor? She would have gone to slip ona 
frock?” 


“Yes, I’m sure she would.” 

“And yet she didn’t,” Roger pointed out. “Can you suggest 
any explanation, Miss Deeping? It seems to me quite an 
important point.” 

Zelma Deeping considered. “The only thing | can think of 
is that he took her by surprise as soon as she’d opened the 
door. Couldn’t that be what happened?” 

“Yes, quite well. Now, I’ve gathered that Miss Fielder didn’t 
take much interest in men. That is so, isn’t it?” 


“No particular interest. She didn’t flirt, if that’s what you 
mean. We both had plenty of men friends. But they weren’t 
any more than friends.” 


“You're quite sure that Miss Fielder had not recently begun 
to have an affair with somebody?” Roger already knew that 
Dorothy Fielder’s moral character had been all that the most 
zealous advocate of the purity of the British stage would 
have desired. But that did not say that she was not prepared 
to receive just one man in her wrapper. 

Miss Deeping promptly extinguished this hope. “No, I’m 
sure she hadn't. She’d certainly have told me (we've lived 
together for over six years now), but she never said a word 
about one man more than any other.” 


“Humph!” said Roger, disappointed; so far this interview 
had yielded nothing. He tried a new tack. “Of course you’re 
sure that when you went out you left Miss Fielder alone?” 


“Quite sure,” agreed the girl, surprised. “Why, | couldn’t 
have overlooked anyone in the hall, could |?” 


“No, | suppose not,” Roger admitted. “Well, did you see 
anybody loitering on the stairs, or coming in as you went 
out, or generally behaving in a furtive manner?” 


“No. I’m afraid | didn’t.” 
“That’s a nuisance,” said Roger. 


“Are you meaning that the murderer might have arrived as 
early as eleven o'clock?” asked Miss Deeping. “Because if 
you think that, I’m quite sure you’re wrong. Dorothy might 
have stayed a few minutes in her wrapper, if he’d come on 
really important business, but she certainly wouldn’t have 
been with him like that for two hours. That | can tell you is 
out of the question, Mr. Sheringham.” 


“Is it? Then something is established. Now here’s another 


thing | want to ask you about; had Miss Fielder ever 
mentioned the name of Newsome to you?” 


Miss Deeping shook her dark head. “The police asked me 
that too. No, I’m sure she didn’t. At any rate, | haven’t the 
least recollection of the name.” 


“Not with regard to a supper-party once, and a casual 
meeting in the street once or twice afterwards?” Roger 
prompted. 


“No, I’m sorry, | don’t seem to remember it.” 


“I’m very glad you don’t. He’s rather a friend of mine. 
Well, here’s something else. Was she excited about anything 
that morning? Had she said anything about an interesting 
proposition that had been put up to her? Something to do 
with the stage, | should imagine?” 


Miss Deeping looked bewildered. “No, this is the first I’ve 
heard of such a thing. No, certainly Dorothy wasn’t excited 
at all; quite the opposite. And | know for a fact that she’d 
had nothing but a couple of bills by that morning’s post.” 

“There isn’t another post, before half-past twelve?” 

“There is, but it’s at half-past ten. It had come before | 
went out. Dorothy got nothing by it at all.” 

Roger paused for a moment. “All this is important,” he 
said. “You’re sure of your answers?” 

“About the excitement and the posts? Positive. Quite 
positive.” 

“Good!” said Roger. “Well, | think that about exhausts my 
questions this visit. May | come up here and see you again if 
| think of anything else that you can clear up?” 


“Please do! | shall be in most of the time, except when I’m 
at the theatre of course. I’d do anything to help you, Mr. 
Sheringham, really.” 


She continued to press him to make use of her in any way 
possible till the front door had closed behind him. 


“| like theatrical people, | think,” observed Roger to 
himself, as he walked quickly away. 


It was now nearly half-past three, and he was not due in 
Sutherland Avenue for an hour. He turned in the direction of 
the Heath. 


It was a fine, warm afternoon, and there is no time of the 
year, when the weather does happen to be fine and warm, 
to compare with the latter half of April—as the poet 
Browning has already hinted. Roger found a seat and settled 
down for half an hour’s bask. While basking, he turned over 
in his mind the result of his late visit. There were several 
points that he felt deserved his close attention. 


An hour later, punctually at half-past four, he was climbing 
the stairs towards Anne’s flat, his heart a little inclined to 
thump. Had he and Pleydell been wise in allowing such a 
small person to take the risk? Supposing by any weird 
chance something had... 


The sound of voices and laughter from the top floor 
relieved his anxiety. He tapped on the sitting-room door, and 
Anne’s voice told him to enter. Standing in front of the 
fireplace smoking a pipe, and with every appearance of 
being thoroughly at home, was Newsome. 

“Hullo, Jerry,” said Roger, with creditable mildness. “You’re 
very smartly back on the mark.” 

“Back?” retorted the unabashed gentleman. “I haven’t 
been off it yet.” 

Roger frowned. “You haven't been here the whole 
afternoon?” 

“| have, Roger. Don’t look at me so fiercely. We forgot the 
time.” 

“Don’t let him tease you. Mr. Sheringham,” Anne smiled. 
“He hasn’t been in this room. But I’m afraid he absolutely 
refused to leave the house. | couldn’t do anything with him.” 

“What about that tea you promised you’d give me, Anne?” 
Newsome cut in before Roger could speak. “And you can get 


a cup for Roger too; | expect he’ll only make a fuss if you 
don’t.” 


“And Mr. Pleydell will probably look in, now it’s the half- 
hour,” said Anne. “Very well. Oh, don’t look so cross, Mr. 
Sheringham. Gerald was only pulling her leg.” 


“‘Gerald!’” quoted Roger nastily. 


Anne blushed fiercely, but retained her dignity. “Well, I’ve 
known him all my life—off and on,” she countered, and 
made a good exit. 


Roger turned to Newsome. “Jerry, would you mind telling 
me what you really have been doing?” 


“Yes.” Newsome was looking more serious. “Roger, | think 
you must have been out of your senses to let that kid sit 
here all alone waiting to be murdered like her sister was. | 
can’t imagine what you were doing.” He went on to say 
more in the same style, a good deal more; and he became 
considerably warmer. 


“But, my dear Jerry!” Roger tried to stem the tide. “She 
was Safe enough, with one of us next door all the time.” 


“Next door!” snorted Mr. Newsome. “What the deuce is 
the good of that?” He continued his monologue. The worst 
of the friends of one’s youth is that they consider that they 
have the privilege of being so unpleasantly outspoken. 


“All right, all right,” Roger interrupted in despair two 
minutes later. “Il deliberately tried to get the girl killed; | 
took advantage of her offer and telephoned to the murderer 
that there was another little job waiting for him; I’m not fit 
to be trusted to protect a Brussels sprout. We’ll take all that 
for granted. Now will you please tell me what you’ve been 
doing?” 

“Looking after Anne, of course. If you’d had the gumption 
of a woodlouse you’d have discovered, as | did, that there’s 
a trap-door in the ceiling on the landing outside, which leads 


into a sort of cubby-hole in the roof. That was the place to 
lie in wait, of course. Not rig up a silly arrangement of bells, 
which ten to one’ll go wrong when they’re really needed. My 
dear chap!” 


Roger tried to explain that the main object had been to 
escape the attention of any possible watcher with his eye on 
this particular house, but Newsome waved his words aside. 


“You can watch over an alarm clock in Birmingham, if you 
like,” he said forcibly. “but I’m going to skulk in that roof.” 


Roger reflected that Newsome’s presence would, after all 
do no harm, for though he himself might be known to be 
connected with the police investigations, and Pleydell, of 
course, was already concerned in the case, there was no 
reason why the murderer should have any suspicion about 
Jerry. But one thing he must promise, and that was to arrive 
inside the house not less than an hour before the séances 
began. 


“Oh, right-o,” Newsome grinned. “I’m with you there. In 
fact, better make it two, | should say. There’s nothing like 
being on the safe side, is there?” 


A tap sounded on the door, to be followed the next instant 
by the appearance of Pleydell. His eyebrows rose a little as 
he saw Newsome. 


“Hullo, Newsome,” he said, naturally enough, keeping any 
Surprise he might have felt out of his voice. “I didn’t expect 
to see you here.” 


“I’ve just been hauling Roger over the coals for the way 
you two have been offering Miss Manners’ neck to the 
knife,” Newsome replied good-temperedly. “I might have 
expected it of Roger, but | didn’t of you, Pleydell.” 

“Jerry seems to have joined us as a new recruit,” Roger 
remarked, seeing Pleydell’s bewilderment, and he explained 
the steps which the former proposed to take. 


Pleydell assented with his usual courteousness, but Roger 
could see that he was not particularly pleased with the 
arrangement. Suggesting that Newsome should go and give 
Anne a hand with the tea (an idea which was at once taken 
up with the greatest enthusiasm), he made the opportunity 
to tell Pleydell privately that, between themselves, 
Newsome could be struck off the list of suspects henceforth. 


Pleydell seemed a little dubious. “Are you sure?” he asked. 
“Can he prove his innocence? | admit that Newsome was a 
friend of mine,” he added pointedly, “and personally | agree 
with you that he is quite incapable of being the man we 
want; but till this business is cleared up | have no friends.” 


“Yes, yes,” said Roger, a little uncomfortably. “That’s the 
only attitude, of course. But I’ve been looking into 
Newsome’s movements, and | think he’s cleared all right.” 
This was untrue, and Roger knew it; moreover, he had an 
uncomfortable idea that Pleydell knew it too. Pleydell, Roger 
Saw, was not an easy man to lie to. 


“Definitely?” was all that Pleydell said, whatever he might 
have thought. 


“In my opinion,” Roger replied, this time nearer to the 
truth. 


Pleydell shrugged his shoulders’ perceptibly. “Well, 
Sheringham, we agreed that you should be in charge of our 
independent inquiry, and | am the last to dispute your 
leadership. But to my mind nobody should be definitely 
considered innocent until somebody else has been definitely 
proved guilty.” 

Which thought Roger, as Anne tactfully put an end to a 
rather difficult situation by appearing with the tea-pot, is 
exactly what | was saying myself a few hours ago. How very 
awkward! 


Pleydell had intimated plainly enough that he disapproved 
of the new addition to the partnership, inasmuch as the 


newcomer had stepped straight from the réle of suspect into 
that of subordinate sleuth, but no hint of this appeared 
during tea. He was as gravely charming to Newsome himself 
as he was to Anne; though Roger, watching them with a 
somewhat uneasy amusement, thought he had never seen 
two men more totally dissimilar. 


The conversation not unnaturally turned upon Anne's 
recent ordeal, which, now that it was over for the day, she 
was ready to admit that she had not enjoyed at all. “It was 
much worse than | expected,” she said. “I tried to read a 
book, but | simply couldn’t. | had an unpleasant feeling that 
the horrible man was going to appear suddenly in the 
middle of the room and grab hold of me before | could reach 
that bell.” 


“Yes, and what would you have felt like if | hadn’t been 
actually in the same house?” Newsome asked, with what 
Roger privately considered a fatuous grin. The years, Roger 
felt sadly, had not improved Jerry Newsome. He had always 
been obvious, but now he was positively blatant. 


“Exactly the same, | suppose,” said Anne, in a tone which 
would have been imputed to any other girl as nothing less 
than pert. 


“I Suppose you two have arranged some sort of signal on 
which you would drop down from the roof, like a deus ex 
machina, Newsome?” asked Pleydell. “I mean, you don’t 
intend to appear unless you're definitely needed?” 

“Oh, no,” Anne answered quickly. “He’s promised most 
faithfully not to come out unless | scream.” 

“And you promised just as faithfully to do that on the least 
sign of danger,” Newsome reminded her. 


“Oh, | should,” said Anne, with some feeling. “By the way, 
Mr. Sheringham, it may interest you to know that | had a 
productive afternoon, if not in the way we expected.” 


“Oh? How was that?” 


“| did some hard thinking. And | made one or two rather 
interesting discoveries. | began to put two and two together, 
in fact. Do you know, Mr. Sheringham, | think you’ve been 
rather blind.” 


“I’ve no doubt about it,” said Roger. “But I’d be very 
grateful if you’d open my eyes.” 

“| think | shall, in a day or two,” Anne replied serenely. “1 
want to work out a nice little theory I’m beginning to form, 
and if certain things turn out to be as | suspect | rather 
fancy | may surprise you all.” 


“| don’t think anything else in this affair could surprise 
me,” said Pleydell, with a gloomy little smile. 


“I think this will,” Anne replied sweetly. 


“But Anne, we share ideas, you know,” Roger put in. “All 
ideas go into the common pool.” 


“Except this one,” Anne smiled. “There are just one or two 
points | want to verify first. | shouldn’t like you all to laugh at 
me, so I’m not going to be premature; but—let me see, 
you're my guardian to-morrow, aren’t you? Well, if you come 
in and have tea at four-thirty, quite alone, | might be able to 
tell you by then.” 


“Oh, | say, Anne,” objected Newsome, “does that mean | 
don’t get any tea to-morrow?” 

“Not at all,” said Anne, still more sweetly. “There are 
plenty of cheap tea-shops in the Kilburn High Road.” 


CHAPTER XxX! 


ANNE HAS A THEORY 


lr was now Thursday and, unless Roger could produce valid 
reason to the contrary, Newsome was to be arrested on 
Saturday afternoon. And so far Roger could produce no such 
reason whatever. He acknowledged frankly to himself, as he 
returned with the suspected party to the Albany an hour or 
so later, that he was so far not even on the track of a 
reason. Certain curious facts had emerged in_ his 
conversation with Zelma Deeping, but that was really all the 
first day’s efforts had to show. 


He had carried Newsome back to dine with him because 
he badly wanted to talk about the case. Only by 
indefatigable discussion, he felt, could some new aspect of 
the business be brought into sight, or some _ fresh 
enlightenment be thrown on the case of Dorothy Fielder 
from the facts now at his disposal. And there certainly were 
possibilities of enlightenment, Roger felt, though at present 
the various issues were too confused in his mind to let him 
see clearly between them. 


To Gerald Newsome, therefore, during cocktails, during 
dinner and afterwards, he talked with a will. And Newsome, 
whose neck after all might depend on this talk, bore it like 
man. 


“And so,” said Roger, as they sat over coffee, “we might 
tabulate our conclusions as follows. The man can’t have 
arrived between eleven and twelve, because Dorothy Fielder 
would not have stayed with him in her wrapper all that time. 


Therefore it would appear that he must have arrived after, 
Say a quarter past one. But already we have Dorothy Fielder 
not answering your ring at one, from which we deduce that 
She must have been forcibly prevented; in other words; the 
murderer was already in there with her. But her actions were 
unrestrained at any rate up till twelve-thirty, because she 
rang you up then and appeared perfectly normal. The 
conclusion would appear to be, then, that the murderer 
arrived between twelve-thirty and one o’clock.” 


“But according to the porter’s evidence, he didn’t.” 


“Precisely; and that’s just what we must now consider. Is 
the porter right? He seems to have no doubt himself. Then 
are we wrong? | think we are. For consider this, Jerry. When 
the Zelma girl left, Dorothy had had no exciting news about 
propositions from you. When she rang you up, an hour and a 
half later, she had. Therefore somebody had communicated 
with her during that time, either by telephone or in person. 
That’s plain enough.” 


Newsome nodded. “Yes, now you point it out.” 


“Well, I’m inclined to favour the personal visit. The 
telephone is possible of course, but if this communication 
was made to her with the object that | imagine, she was put 
under restraint, so to speak, immediately she’d rung off 
after speaking to you.” 


“The deuce she was! And what was the object, then?” 


Roger looked curiously at his friend. “Why, my Jerry,” he 
said softly, “of course to throw suspicion on you.” 


Newsome Sat upright. “Hell! But why?” 


“Well, | think that’s clear enough. The murderer knew that 
you were mixed up in the Lady Ursula case in a way which, 
if the police ever did look into it, would certainly cause a 
measure of alarm and despondency to your friends. And | 
take it that he was just taking the simple precaution of 
ensuring, by your presence at one o’clock on the doorstep, 


that should his peccadilloes ever come in for official 
investigation, the trail would lead straight to you.” 


“Blast the fellow!” observed Mr. Newsome uneasily. “He 
seems to have succeeded, too.” 


“And as soon as your footsteps resounded on the stairs 
again, he just got on with the job and proceeded to hang the 
lady at his leisure.” 


“Well, but who was he?” 


“That, | must say,” Roger had to admit, “does completely 
baffle me. According to our evidence, it can’t have been 
anyone. Bother that old solicitor! His time of arrival is 
exactly right, he sounds like the type, he’d be our man for a 
certainty—if only he hadn’t most inconveniently gone away 
before the girl could have died. Well, we decided that the 
murderer must have arrived between twelve and one, so the 
only inference is that the porter did overlook him. And | 
don’t believe he did for a minute!” 


“This seems a bit of a muddle,” observed Mr. Newsome 
Sapiently. 

Roger mused for a while in silence. “Supposing he tied the 
girl up, went away to establish his alibi in full view of the 
porter, and came back after one-fifteen to finish her off. 
How’s that? That fits the facts. And it means a knowledge of 
the Mansions’ internal arrangements which, as I’ve already 
thought, would be interesting if it were true.” 


“| believe you've hit on it,” said Newsome triumphantly. 
“Roger, | do really. It was the solicitor. Now then, how the 
deuce are we going to get hold of him?” 

“How, indeed? That’s just as much of a problem as the 
other. And what’s his connection with the other cases? So 
far aS we know, none. No bearded solicitor crops up in any 
of the other cases to my knowledge.” 


“No,” agreed Newsome. “That certainly is a bit of a snag.” 


“Nevertheless, the murderer must have been tolerably 
well known to Janet Manners, to Lady Ursula and to Dorothy 
Fielder. Can’t we possibly find anyone whose orbit touched 
the case at those three points? Not, I’m afraid, in the time at 
our disposal.” 


They lapsed into silence again. Roger had carried his 
conclusions a little further forward, but once again they 
seemed to have brought him into a blind alley. 


“That damned old solicitor,” Roger murmured. “He’s our 
man right enough.” 


Newsome remained respectfully silent. 


“Let’s try something else,” Roger went on after a minute 
or two. “There’s been something at the back of my mind all 
along concerning Dorothy Fielder. I’ve just remembered 
what it is: those indentations on the backs of her thighs.” He 
explained what had been pointed out to them by the doctor. 
“He didn’t seem to attach any importance to them, nor did 
the police. But | wonder...” 


The audience was as expectantly attentive as the most 
exacting detective could require. 


Roger reflected. 


“They were made during life, of course, and the girl had 
been dead about three hours when we saw them. That 
means they must have been very much deeper at the time 
of death. Now what on earth could have caused dents so 
deep that their traces remained three hours after death? 
Steady pressure, the doctor said, applied for quite a 
considerable time. When the man tied her up, did he leave 
her with her legs pressing on some sharp-edged object, in 
such a position that most of her weight came on them? It’s 
Curious.” 


“But look here,” Newsome ventured to interpose, “about 
his tying her up and going away for a time; | thought you 
said some time ago that this girl hadn’t been tied up, so far 


as they could tell? No marks on the wrists or ankles, and all 
that.” 


Roger’s face fell. “By Jove, yes; I’d forgotten that. And no 
marks on the body either, except these two small dents. No 
signs of a struggle, in fact. And she wouldn’t have let him tie 
her up without a struggle, would she?” 


“Perhaps he chloroformed her?” 


Roger told his companion in a few well-chosen words of 
the fatuity of this suggestion. 


“Well, biffed her on the head, then, and put her out.” 


“The doctor said nothing about a bruise,” Roger pointed 
out. “He’d certainly have found it if there’d been one.” 


“Then | give it up,” said Newsome. 


Roger summed up his own convictions. “If there was no 
struggle and he didn’t tie her up, then he laid her out in 
some other way; for of one thing, Jerry, I’m sure, and that is 
that when you rang that bell the girl was alive inside, but 
unconscious. We know she was alive, and I’m certain she 
was both in the flat and unconscious. But how on earth 
could he have managed it? It’s no good suggesting morphia 
or anything like that. The doctor would have found out at 
the post-mortem if any drug had been used on her, and it 
hadn’t. Great Scott, this man’s a genius in his own line.” 


And there, for that evening, they left it. For, as Roger 
remarked, they had now clarified the issues as much as 
possible and any further discussion would only addle them. 


“| want to clear my mind of the whole thing and come 
back to it later on quite fresh,” he said. “That’s the way to 
get results. So what about a few shillings’ worth of that 
rotten show where Anne is wasting her talents and friend 
Moira is enhancing hers?” 


Newsome agreed with alacrity. 


They went, and Roger spent an unhappy evening. Let it be 
enough to say that he had a respectful admiration for Anne, 
and to be compelled to watch her impersonate in turn a 
Hawaiian belle, a small girl of six, a private in a Scotch 
regiment, a powder-puff, a blue bird (Species unknown), a 
lingerie mannequin, an ornament on a wedding-cake and a 
Deauville bathing beauty, in company with Miss Carruthers 
and some twenty-two other mechanically smiling maidens, 
left him not merely cold, but frozen. He would have stalked 
out of the place as soon as the Scotch regiment appeared, 
had not Mr. Newsome seemed to find these representations 
the last word in wit, beauty, art and dramatic genius. 


However, if Roger wanted contrast with his recent pre- 
occupations he had the consolation of knowing that he had 
certainly found it. 


It was between two and three a.m. that inspiration had 
the habit of paying Roger a happy visit. In previous cases he 
had found that, after turning them over and over in his mind 
for a couple of hours after getting into bed, just when 
everything seemed so inextricably muddled that nothing 
could ever evolve out of the chaos, some illuminating ray 
would suddenly shoot across his mental vision. And so it 
was that night. Having decided that the only thing left to do 
was to get up, go to his study, read through six pages 
chosen at random from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 
swallow a strong whisky and then go back to bed again— 
having already lifted one arm out of the coverings to switch 
on the lamp by his bedside, there suddenly occurred to 
Roger in one single blinding, flash exactly what that 
villainous old solicitor really had done, and precisely what 
those dents on Dorothy Fielder’s legs must mean. 


Whereupon he turned over on his other side and fell 
instantly asleep. 


The next morning conviction was not quite so strong, but 
it remained conviction. As he shaved, Roger argued against 


his idea, battered it, pummelled it, and generally did his 
best to reduce it to pulp. Nothing of the sort happened. The 
idea continued to stand, upright and smiling, and quite 
refused even to be shaken. 


Impressed, Roger went out after breakfast to test it. 


There was only one test he could think of to apply, and 
that involved an interview with the constable whose arm 
Zelma Deeping had clutched in Gray’s Inn Road. This 
constable, therefore, Roger sought out and finally ran down 
on his beat not a hundred yards from the same block of 
Mansions. 


He introduced himself, and the constable, who 
remembered seeing him in intimate conversation on the 
very scene of the crime with no less a person than Chief 
Inspector Moresby of the C. |. D., felt no compunction in 
giving such information as the gentleman seemed to 
require. 


“Now tell me this very carefully,” Roger said in his most 
impressive manner. “When you opened the door of the 
room, did it open quite easily or did it seem to be obstructed 
in any way?” 

“Well, it opened easily enough, sir, but the chair was lying 
close up against it, and of course that had to be pushed 
back as the door opened.” 


Roger nodded as if that information, at any rate, was no 
news to him. “Do you remember if the chair was actually 
lying up against the door, or did the door strike on it when it 
was partly open?” 

The constable ruminated. “Well, sir, it’s difficult to say 
now, but to the best of my recollection it was lying right up 
against the door. At least, | don’t seem to remember it 
Striking on it. | should have gone steady if I’d felt it do that.” 


“Yes. And when you got inside, the chair was lying just as 
we saw it later? On its back, with the feet pointing at an 


angle away from the doorway?” 


“That’s right, sir. It wasn’t touched any more till the 
Superintendent and Mr. Moresby went.” 


“And the wrapper was where | saw it, over the back of that 
green chair?” 


“Yes, sir. Nothing was touched at all but the body, which | 
lifted down to make sure life was extinct.” 


“That’s right. Well, | want to have a look at the flat. Is 
there still a constable there?” 


“No, sir. The place is locked up, but the porter’s got a key. 
Nobody’s allowed in but the police; but if | walk back with 
you and tell the porter, that’ll be all right, sir.” 


They paced majestically along the pavement. Even at so 
solemn a moment Roger could not help wondering whether 
any of the passers-by were under the impression that he 
was in custody and, if so, what particular crime they would 
favour him with. 


On the constable’s gruff injunctions Roger was shown into 
the flat and left there. He waited till the outer door was 
closed, then hurried into the sitting-room and examined the 
inner side of the door with minute attention. After a lengthy 
search he found exactly what he had hoped to find—two 
very slight dints in the surface, so shallow as to have hardly 
more than dinted the paint, about eighteen inches apart and 
a couple of feet from the bottom, on the side farther from 
the hinges; from each dint ran a faint scratch right to the 
bottom edge of the door. Roger measured their distance 
apart with a pocket tape-measure, scrutinised them through 
a strong magnifying-glass which he had brought for the 
purpose, and made one or two other measurements. Then 
he rose from his hands and knees, opened the door to its 
fullest extent and with the magnifying-glass began minutely 
to examine the paint-work on the inside of the frame, on the 
hinge side of the door. 


“Ah!” he exclaimed happily, as a deeper dint, from which 
the paint had been chipped, caught his eye. He pounced 
down on his knees and began poking about with a finger in 
the dust at the angle where the lining met the floor. 
Fragments of a nutshell emerged into the light. He picked up 
the largest and looked at it. 


“Walnut!” he muttered, with satisfaction. “Yes, of course. 
That would be much better.” 


Putting the pieces of shell back where he had found them, 
he rose and made his way out of the flat. Not for the first 
time in his life Roger was uncommonly pleased with Roger. 


On the steps he ran straight into Anne Manners. 
“Oh!” she exclaimed, and blushed rather nicely. 


“Anne Manners,” said Roger sternly. “Subordinate Anne 
Manners, or rather, insubordinate Anne Manners—what are 
you doing here?” 


“Investigating,” said Anne Manners, with a_ certain 
defiance. 


Roger grasped her elbow, turned her round and walked 
her down the street. “This is the time for my elevenses,” he 
said, taking no notice of her vehement protests. “A cup of 
malt extract and a rusk. You’re coming too.” 


“I’m not!” said Miss Manners, who never had liked malt 
extract and had always hated rusks. 


“You are,” said Roger. “I’ve got a few questions | want to 
ask you, Anne Manners.” 


As Anne had no wish (a) to cause a crowd to collect by 
belabouring Roger with her umbrella; (6b) to be picked up 
and carried in broad daylight down Gray’s Inn Road and into 
Holborn, she went quietly. 


Seated some minutes later in the best restaurant in 
Holborn, with a cup of coffee and cream by her side and a 


plate of opulent and delightfully indigestible cakes in front of 
her, Anne consented to thaw. 


“Very well, very well,” she said, unable to help smiling at 
her companion’s insistence. “I'll tell you. | wanted to talk to 
the porter about beards.” 


“Beards?” repeated Roger. “Oh! | see. Anne Manners, this 
is very clever of you. Beards, | take it, in connection with 
elderly solicitors?” 


Anne nodded. “Exactly.” 


Roger regarded his subordinate with admiration. “Do you 
mean to say you’d hit on the solicitor too, Anne? Really and 
truly? Quite on your own?” 


“Oh!” Anne exclaimed excitedly. “Then you think so too? 
He’s the man, Mr. Sheringham. I’m sure he is. What made 
you think so?” 

“Wait a minute,” said Roger. “You realise that according to 
the porter’s evidence he can’t possibly be the man, don’t 
you?” 

“Evidence!” said Anne scornfully. “| know he’s the man.” 


“Well, between ourselves, so do I. And | think | know how 
he comes to be the man, in spite of the porter. But what | 
don’t know is who he can be. He’s disguised, of course. The 
gold-rimmed spectacles and all that. Obviously a disguise. 
Why, a silk hat’s almost a disguise in itself nowadays.” 


“lI know who he is,” said Anne, and looked extremely wise. 
“At least, | think | do. | just wanted to ask the porter a few 
questions to see if | could make sure.” 

“And he certainly wouldn’t have answered them. So you 
know who he is, do you? | suppose this is what you were 
being so mysterious about at tea yesterday?” 

“Il believe | did refer to it,” said Anne with dignity, and 
took another cake. 


“Would it be too much for your superior officer to ask you 
to tell him who it is?” 


“Much,” said Anne, through cake. “I said I'd tell you at tea 
to-day, and so | will. But not before. | think we shall have got 
a little more proof by then.” 


“‘Wel’” Roger repeated. “Are you working with Jerry on 
this?” 

It is difficult to look dignified when struggling with an 
éclair, but Anne did her best. “Certainly not. With Mr. 
Pleydell. As a matter of fact,” Anne confided, “I did ring you 
up, just after breakfast, but you were out; so | rang Mr. 
Pleydell up instead.” 


“What about?” 


Anne looked dubious. “I’m not sure that | ought to tell 
you.” 


“Why ever not?” 


“Well, we thought it would be rather fun to see if we could 
find out by ourselves, and not tell you till we were sure.” 

“Pleydell’s getting very playful, isn’t he?” said Roger drily. 

“It was my idea, | think. Anyhow, I'll tell you this much. 
Yesterday afternoon | thought how silly we’d been; we'd 
quite overlooked a most important line of inquiry. Don’t you 
see what ought to be the man’s weak spot in Lady Ursula’s 
case?” 

“The possibility of having been seen with her, do you 
mean?” 

“No! That's just what it isn’t. If he thought he’d been seen 
with her, he wouldn’t have killed her. Obviously his weak 
spot is the possibility of having been seen without her— 
coming away from the studio!” 


“Ah!” said Roger. 


” 


“Don’t you see,” Anne went on excitedly, “that if the 
police have been making inquiries about that at all, they’ll 
only have been interested in a man answering to Gerald 
Newsome’s description, won’t they?” 


“| rather doubt that,” said Roger. “The police aren’t fools, 
you know. However, go on.” 


“Well, what we ought to do is to comb the neighbourhood 
with inquiries about a man with a beard coming away at 
that time. Of course | couldn’t do that myself, so | thought 
we ought to get a firm of private detectives on to it at once. 
| rang you up, but you were out, so | rang up Mr. Pleydell, 
and he promised to have it done at once. He seemed to 
think it an awfully good idea,” Anne added, with pride. “He 
said it might quite well put us on the right track at last.” 


“But if the beard is a disguise,” said Roger stupidly, “he 
may not have——” 


“The beard isn’t a disguise!” Anne interrupted impatiently. 
“The other things may be, but not the beard. Come, Mr. 
Sheringham, don’t you see? Isn’t there a beard, in this case 
already? Oh, | Suppose | may as well tell you now, though | 
didn’t tell even Mr. Pleydell this. Why, surely it’s obvious. | 
mean——” 


“Good God!” 
“No,” said Anne. “Arnold Beverley.” 


CHAPTER XXIil 


THE LAST VICTIM 


Rocer arrived in Sutherland Avenue that afternoon for his 
vigil in a somewhat mixed frame of mind. He was certain 
that, at last, he was on the right lines; he was certain that 
he could not possibly complete the vast amount of 
investigation necessary within a mere twenty-four hours; he 
was certain that the police would make a colossal mistake if 
they really did arrest Gerald Newsome; he was certain now 
that Anne was mistaken in her identification of the solicitor 
with Arnold Beverley; and he was certain that he himself 
had not got the faintest idea who the man really was. On 
the whole, he was not sorry for the prospect of a couple of 
quiet hours in which to reflect on these difficult matters. 


Throwing his hat on to the table which, with a comfortably 
solid armchair, constituted the sole furniture of the little 
room, he dropped into the latter with a sigh of relief. The 
strain of the case was beginning to tell on him, and he felt 
tired. When it was over (if it ever was) he would go away 
and take a holiday somewhere. 


He had ascertained from Pleydell on the previous 
afternoon that the bell worked perfectly and the ten-minute 
signals came through without a hitch. Glancing at his watch 
as he settled himself in the chair, he saw that it was exactly 
half-past two. As if to confirm its accuracy a short, sharp 
tinkle sounded from the corner in which the bell had been 
installed. Roger laid the watch on his knee in order to check 
the intervals and tried to concentrate. 


As regards Anne, he was not unduly perturbed, even after 
the candid remarks which Newsome had addressed to him. 
The more one considered it, the more fantastic it seemed 
that, out of all possible victims, the murderer should hit on 
Anne. As to the attraction supposed to be exercised on a 
murderer by the scene of the crime, which might be 
believed to lure him back to Sutherland Avenue, Roger did 
not put any credence in it at all. But Anne had conceived the 
idea and she thought she was doing something towards 
avenging her sister by carrying it out, so by all means let 
the poor kid go on with it. 


Thus Roger. 


Slowly the hands of the watch crept on, to a quarter to 
three, three o’clock, half-past; and punctually at every ten 
minutes the bell in the corner uttered an abrupt little ring. 
But to Roger no illumination came. He concentrated and 
concentrated; he cried, presumptuously, in his spirit. “Let 
there be light,” but no light appeared; he wandered dizzily 
through the endless mazes of the case, and every time 
found himself in a fresh blind alley. By four o’clock he had 
given it up in despair and was longing whole-heartedly for 
tea and companionship. 


He looked at his watch. The time was three minutes past 
four. He started guiltily. Had the bell rung at four o’clock or 
hadn’t it? He had been so immersed in his own woes that 
the rings of late had been only subconsciously noted. But 
now he was aware of a blank. No, he was sure there had 
been no ring at four o’clock. 


He stood up. It was no good leaving a thing like this to 
chance, he must run across at once. After all, perhaps he 
had minimised the danger. What if the murderer had got 
hold of their plan and, fearing they might be on his trail, had 
determined to take this opportunity to rid himself of one of 
his pursuers? That was aé_ possibility he had never 
considered. He looked at his watch again before putting it 


back in his pocket; it was practically five past four. He 
hurried towards the door. As his hand touched the knob the 
bell in the corner spoke at last; but this time its ring was 
loud, long and insistent—the signal of alarm. 


Roger rushed down the stairs three at a time and into the 
next house. 


The sitting-room door resisted his efforts to open it. 


“Anne!” he called at the top of his voice, regardless of 
what the people in the flats below might think. “Anne!” 


There was a bump and a thud in the passage beside him, 
and Newsome appeared, tumbled out of his cubby-hole. 
“What's the matter?” he asked anxiously. 


“Alarm signal,” panted Roger pushing at the door with all 
his strength. “Can’t get an answer. The man’s inside, | 
think.” 


Newsome joined him, adding a sturdy shoulder. Trying to 
find some other way of attacking it, Roger looked up: and 
what he saw made him feel for a moment quite sick. At the 
top of the door was a hook, screwed firmly into the wood, 
and from it, disappearing over the door, was a thin strip of 
some silky-looking material. 


Roger shook Newsome’s shoulder and pointed at it. 
“Charge the thing together,” he grunted. “Not a second to 
lose.” 


They drew back, paused for an instant, and then flung 
themselves forward, shoulders against the heavy cross- 
piece of the old-fashioned door. This time the obstruction, 
whatever it had been, gave way, and the door flew open. 


“Guard the doorway!” Roger gasped, as they tumbled into 
the room. He utilised the force of the motion to fling himself 
round the edge of the door. Hanging on the back of it, her 
feet a good twelve inches above the floor, was Anne. 


In the same movement Roger lifted her up and shouted to 
Newsome to unfasten the stocking from the hook on the 
farther side, loosening the portion round her throat at the 
same time. As Newsome freed the stocking from the hook, 
Roger carried Anne over to a couch and laid her gently 
along it. 


“Get the fellow, Jerry,” he said, without looking round. “I'll 
see to Anne.” He bent over her. 


She was quite unconscious, and her face was horribly 
distorted, but to Roger’s unspeakable relief she was still 
breathing. Without even a glance round the room he began 
to flex her limbs and apply the usual methods of relief to her 
strained lungs. 


“I say,” said Newsome’s voice behind him, “this is ghastly. 
Is she—is she alive?” 


“Yes, she'll be all right in a minute. Have you got him?” 


“There wasn’t anybody! The room was empty, except for 
—Anne.” 


“Nonsense!” Roger retorted. “He must be in here 
somewhere. Look round. And keep your eye on the door. 
He’ll make a dash for it. I'll look after Anne. She’s getting 
better already.” 


Newsome made a circuit of the room, looking into every 
available hiding-place, without result. The fox had gone to 
ground. 


“Then run out and telephone to Pleydell to come up here 
at once,” said Roger, still bending over the unconscious girl. 
“Hurry!” 


“Look here, hadn’t | better get a doctor first?” suggested 
Newsome, gazing down at Anne, whose bloodless lips were 
only just beginning to lose something of their ghastly hue. 
“She looks awful. We must——” 


“Go and telephone Pleydell!” Roger cut in, speaking in an 
authoritative voice. “I’m in charge here now, Jerry, officially; 
and | want Pleydell up here as soon as he can get. We've 
got to consult whether to inform the police about this or not, 
and it all depends on what Anne has to tell us. She’s all 
right; she’ll be round in a few minutes. And we don’t want a 
doctor unless we can’t avoid it; he’d ask too many awkward 
questions. Go and telephone, there’s a good fellow; | don’t 
know whether there’s an instrument downstairs or not. You 
can find out.” 


Newsome hesitated for a moment, then he went. Roger 
resumed his ministrations. 


Before Newsome returned, five minutes later, Anne’s 
eyelids were fluttering and her hands were making little 
movements by her sides. 


“Thank God!” Newsome uttered, noting these signs of 
returning animation. “Pleydell’s got ‘a directors’ meeting 
on,” he said to Roger. “He’s not in his office. | left word that 
they were to get hold of him at once and send him up here, 
on a matter of life and death.” 


Roger nodded, and the two stood watching Anne. The next 
moment her head began to turn slowly from side to side on 
the cushion which Roger had placed under it; one hand went 
jerkily up to it and clutched her forehead. 


“My head!” she whispered, in a cracked little voice. “Oh, 
my head.” 

Roger started violently and bent over her again, touching 
the back of her head with infinitely gentle fingers. He 
frowned. 

“Curious!” he muttered, and went on feeling. 


Still almost completely dazed, Anne began to mutter. “I’m 
—l’m going to be—to be——” 


Roger wheeled round suddenly on Newsome. “Jerry! Get 
out!” 


“What?” asked that astonished gentleman. 


“Get out!” Roger snapped. “This is going to be no place 
for you. Hurry!” He herded the protesting Newsome forcibly 
from the room and locked the door on him. 


Hurling some dried leaves out of a large flower-vase, he 
Snatched it up and ran back to the couch. He was just in 
time. 


“Wet nurse, dry nurse, three bags full,” Roger was 
murmuring distractedly three minutes later, administering 
frantic first-aid with a silk handkerchief in one hand and a 
cushion-cover in the other. “There, Anne, dear, are you 
feeling comfier—not to say tidier?” 


Anne smiled at him with watery eyes. “Roger 
Sheringham,” she said, “you’re a dear. But I’ll never be able 
to look you in the face again without blushing.” 


Roger cast a harassed eye unostentatiously under the 
couch to make sure that the evidence was out of sight. “He 
hit you on the head, didn’t he?” 


“! should say he did,” Anne agreed, feeling the back of it 
with cautious fingers. 


“l guessed as much,” Roger nodded, “and just managed 
to get Jerry out of the room in time. Anne, did you see him?” 


“Yes!” Anne was recovering quickly now. “Roger, it was 
the solicitor!” 


“It was, eh? Top-hat, beard, spectacles and all?” 


“Yes; and gloves. | only caught one tiny glimpse of him, 
and he hit me before | could even open my mouth to 
scream. Or rather, | think | was so petrified with terror that | 
simply couldn’t scream. | never heard a sound till he was 
right inside the room. | was reading and looked up, and 
there he was, with his right arm all ready lifted to hit me.” 


She shuddered violently. “Roger, | was terrified! Oh, and |’d 
thought once | was so brave.” She began to laugh weakly, 
while her eyes filled with tears. 


Roger tried to soothe her, but she continued to giggle 
foolishly. “Anne, stop!” he said in desperation. “Stop, or I'll 
kiss you.” And she did not stop, so he did kiss her—once, 
twice, three times, four, five, lots of times... 

It took Anne quite half a minute to realise what Roger was 
doing, and then she did stop. She stopped Roger too. 

“Roger!” said Anne, blushing fiercely. 

“If you get hysterical again, I'll kiss you again,” Roger 
threatened, unabashed. Anything to take her mind off what 
she’s gone through (he was thinking behind his smile), and 
this seems the very best way. 

“If you do, I'll be sick again,” Anne retorted promptly. 

Roger judged that the cure was complete. 

“But oh,” Anne murmured, holding her forehead, “my 
head does ache.” 

“You poor child! Anne Manners, you’re the pluckiest girl 
I’ve ever met. And you’ve solved our problem, remember.” 

“But we still don’t know who he is.” 

“We're jolly soon going to,” replied Roger grimly. He dived 
under the couch and retrieved the evidence, wrapping it 
decently in the cushion-cover, and marched out to give it 
burial. “I’ll be back in a minute,” he said airily. 

“Very well,” said Anne, looking at the ceiling and 
pretending hard not to Know what he was doing. 

Outside the door a wild-eyed Newsome confronted him. 


“Is she all right?” he babbled. “| heard her making the 
most awful——” 


“She’s all right,” Roger cut him short. “Go in and see for 
yourself.” He stalked on to the cemetery. 


Some twenty minutes later, when Pleydell arrived, Anne 
was sufficiently recovered to be lying back in a chair and 
submitting to having her forehead bathed in eau-de-Cologne 
by Newsome. Roger gave Pleydell a hasty account of what 
had happened, and the latter, evidently deeply shocked, 
congratulated Anne warmly on her pluck and her escape. 


“Wedged the door with a chair underneath the handle, 
eh?” he said, looking at the splintered object that had held 
up their attempts to enter. 


“Yes,” said Roger, “it must have been very cunningly 
balanced.” 


“But in spite of everything, you couldn’t identify the 
man?” Pleydell asked Anne. 


She shook her head. “I’m afraid not. He hardly gave me 
time, either.” 


Pleydell frowned. “This is very serious. Sheringham, do 
you realise that Miss Manners is by no means out of danger 
yet? This was no chance attack, you may be sure. He had 
some object, and it isn’t attained. When he learns that, I’m 
very much afraid that he may make a second attempt.” 


“Yes, I’d thought of that,” Roger nodded. “We must get 
them away from here, both of them. Miss Carruthers won’t 
be safe here either.” 


“Il quite agree. | think they should go as soon as possible. 
It’s out of the question for them to appear at the theatre to- 
night, even if Miss Manners were fit to, which she isn’t.” He 
thought for a moment. “I have a small cottage in Surrey, on 
the Banstead Downs. | can put that at their disposal.” 


“That’s very good of you, Mr. Pleydell,” Anne. said 
gratefully. “Thank you so much.” 

“Is that wise, though, do you think?” Roger demurred. “I’m 
inclined to think they’d be safer in London, at one of the big 
hotels. Supposing they were traced down to Surrey, you see. 


Isolation in a cottage might be even more dangerous than 
here.” 


“| see your point,” Pleydell said, and paused. There was a 
moment’s silence. “Oh, Newsome,” he went on, “would you 
do something for me? | was called away from my meeting in 
a hurry, of course, and | find I’ve brought an important 
document with me. They’ll be entirely hung up for it. 


Could you slip down to the city with it and hand it in at an 
address in Leadenhall Street for me?” 


Newsome looked a little surprised at this rather cool 
request, and still more so when Roger proceeded strongly to 
back it. “Yes, Jerry, there’s nothing you can do here, and we 
mustn’t forget in all this excitement that Pleydell’s time is, 
quite truly, money. Cut along to Leadenhall Street, there’s a 
good chap. And you can change and come back to my 
rooms’ afterwards. I’m dining with some_ people in 
Kensington, for my sins, and they asked me to bring an 
extra man. You’re going to be the extra man.” 


“But | say,” expostulated the recipient of these 
commands. 


“Jerry,” said Roger, with mock severity, “I'd have you 
remember that you’re under orders. Now you've got ’em, so 
cut!” His voice was light, but there was an undertone of real 
command in it. 


Newsome looked sulky, but prepared to obey. “Oh, all 
right, | suppose, if you make such a point of it,” he said, with 
no very good grace. 

Pleydell drew a long envelope out of his breast-pocket, 
scribbled an address on it, and handed it over. “Thank you 
very much,” he said courteously. “That will save a great deal 
of trouble.” 


Newsome nodded and went out without a further word. 


Pleydell turned to Anne as if no rather uncomfortable 
atmosphere had been generated. “I think,” he said quietly, 
“if you are feeling well enough, that you should pack at 
once, Miss Manners. It is no good losing time, and the 
sooner you are out of here, the better.” 


“Oh, yes,” Anne said cheerfully. “Il can manage now, | 
think.” She rose and went out of the room. 


Pleydell, who had opened the door for her, shut it 
carefully. He waited for a moment then walked up to Roger. 
In that short instant his normally rather sallow face had 
become suffused with blood, and Roger could see that he 
was trembling all over. “Now can you doubt, Sheringham?” 
he said, in a low voice that vibrated with passion. “Now can 
you doubt?” 


With the utmost deliberation Roger drew out his pipe and 
began to fill it. “Newsome, you mean?” he said matter-of- 
factly. 


His pointed ordinariness had its intended effect. Pleydell 
pulled himself together, though it cost him a visible effort to 
do so. “The only one on the premises, the only one with the 
opportunity, the only one who even knew,” he said, in tones 
which still shook a little in spite of his attempts to keep 
them even. “God, | could hardly keep my hands off his 
throat.” 


Roger nodded casually. “I’m afraid there can’t be any 
doubt of it now. | couldn’t believe it at first, but—well, as you 
say, it’s impossible to think anything else now. You 
understood that was why | helped you to get rid of him?” 


“Yes. He mustn’t learn where Miss Manners is going, at 
any cost. My God, Sheringham, if he tries it again | wi// take 
the law into my own hands, now I’m certain. Nobody has a 
better right than | to punish that man.” 


Roger, praying hard that no further hysterics should be 
inflicted on him (he could hardly try the same cure with 


Pleydell), grew more and more normal as the other grew 
warmer. “Oh, | shouldn’t do that,” he said, as if he were 
talking about the next day’s big race. “You'll get your 
revenge all right when you see the judge calling for his 
black cap. This is a police matter, you must remember, and 
after this last effort it passes into their hands. And | know for 
a fact,” he added confidentially, “if it will make your mind 
any easier, that Newsome’s arrest is only a matter of 
hours.” 


Pleydell’s eyes gleamed. “Is that so? Then | think | may 
forgo my private vengeance. Yes, of course you’re right, 
Sheringham. This is a police matter. But do you know how 
hard it is to realise that simple fact? All this time I’ve looked 
on it as my matter, my matter, and nobody else’s. | tried to 
get the police to move (you were there yourself), and it 
seemed that they did nothing. |——” 


“Oh, yes, they jolly well did,” Roger interrupted. “They’ve 
put together a perfect case against Newsome; and this will 
clinch it. Don’t you worry, Pleydell; the police have been 
busy all right.” 


“I’m very glad to hear it. But | shan’t rest till he’s under 
lock and key. Think—any moment he may attack some other 
unfortunate girl.” 


“That’s all right,” Roger said soothingly. “Didn’t you hear 
me make sure of that? You can depend on it that I’m going 
to keep him under my eye for the short time he’s still at 
liberty.” 


“Thank you. | would have done so myself if you hadn't. 
Now about these two girls. | agree that Surrey might be 
unwise. Where do you suggest?” 

“The Piccadilly Palace,” Roger replied at once. “They'll be 
far safer in a big, noisy place like that than in a smaller one. 
I'll take them there myself.” 


Pleydell nodded. “Excellent. Ring me up about them this 
evening, will you? It’s very good of you to undertake all 
these duties, Sheringham. | feel I’m shirking my share. But 
as it happens to-day is a very busy one with me, and though 
I'd gladly shelve everything if | can be of any real use, | will 
be extremely grateful if you can take on the smaller duties 
for me.” 


“Of course,” Roger said heartily. “That’s quite all right. You 
push off at once, if you’re busy. There’s nothing at all for you 
to stay for. I'll see to everything.” 


And that, | suppose, Roger reflected as Pleydell went, just 
about sums up the Jewish outlook. They’d give up 
everything in the world to save the life of a dying friend, or 
even to ensure that he had a really luxurious funeral if he 
wanted one; but that doesn’t prevent them from asking the 
undertaker for a cash discount. And why should it? We call it 
callous, but it’s only practical. That’s our trouble; we can’t 
distinguish between real and false sentiment. And the Jews 
do. 


But it had been a nervous ten minutes, for all its 
aftermath of peaceful moralising. 


CHAPTER XxXIill 


THE TRAP IS SET 


Wren Gerald Newsome, obedient to discipline but not 
unresentful, arrived at the Albany that evening, he found a 
Surprisingly cheerful trio awaiting him. Kensington, 
apparently, had vanished from the map. Certainly it seemed 
that neither Roger, Anne nor Miss Carruthers had the 
slightest intention of going to such a foolish place. In the 
Albany they were going to dine, and the Albany had been 
commanded to do its best for them. 


“I must apologise for talking to you like a sergeant-major, 
Jerry,” Roger said to his bewildered guest, whom he took the 
opportunity of waylaying in the hall. “But | could see that 
Pleydell was thirsting for your blood, and | had to get you 
out of the way before he began drawing it.” 


“My blood? What on earth for?” 


“Because he holds very strong opinions about you, my 
poor Jerry. He’s quite convinced that you’re the villain of this 
piece, and | knew’ it wasn’t the least use trying to shake his 
convictions. | had to humour him by pretending to agree 
with him. At present we’re both gloating over your 
impending arrest to-morrow.” 

“Good Lord!” 

“Well, really one can’t blame him,” Roger pointed out. “In 
addition to all the other evidence against you, we’re now 
faced with the fact, to be explained away somehow, that 
you are really the only person who could have attacked 


Anne. He thinks you jumped out of your little cubby-hole, 
complete with whiskers and gold-rimmed spectacles, and 
simply fell on her.” 


“Damn the fellow!” said the indignant suspect. 


“No, aS | said, one can’t blame him. But you’re safe from 
him here, | fancy; though he did mention that he was itching 
to get his fingers round your throat. Now that’s enough shop 
till after dinner. Anne’s got to recover completely during the 
evening, and | want to take her mind off this business 
completely. I’ve unhooked the telephone, and we’re all 
under orders to talk of nothing but frivolities till further 
notice. Now come along and have some of your cocktails.” 

“Anne? Is she here?” 

“She is. And so is my excellent friend, Miss Carruthers.” 

“Great Scott! Then—then we’re not going to Kensington 
after all?” 

“Where is Kensington?” queried Roger blandly. 

And the result was a very cheerful little dinner-party and, 
so far as one could see, the complete recovery of Anne. 

One thing Newsome was surprised to learn, and that was 
that both the girls were going to spend the night under their 
host’s bachelor roof. 

“Il tried to get rooms at the Piccadilly Palace, you see,” 
Roger explained lightly, “but the place was full up. And if it’s 
safety that’s wanted, what could be safer than the Albany? 
Why, the place is a veritable fortress at night.” 

“Shop!” said Anne, and Roger bowed his head. 

But when the two girls had gone into the sitting-room and 
Roger and Newsome were left alone, Roger dropped the 
bantering air he had worn all the evening and became very 
serious indeed. 

“This is a perfectly damnable business, Jerry,” he said, 
“and | simply don’t know what to do about it. We’ve got to 


get that man under lock and key somehow, and pretty 
quickly too. Anne’s life isn’t worth a halfpenny if we don’t, 
I’m convinced.” 


“I say,” Newsome gasped. “Is it really as bad as that?” 


“Well, | may be exaggerating, of course, but | don’t think 
so. And then there’s your arrest to-morrow. That’s bound to 
stop police activities for a time, till they do find out that 
you're the wrong man.” 


“And you haven't any idea at all who this damned man is 
who disguises himself as a solicitor?” 


“Well, | don’t mind admitting that | have got a theory now. 
But it’s really only a theory. And | may be miles off the track. 
/ don’t know.” 


“Can't you get hold of any evidence to support it?” 


“None, that | can think of; at least, not without a search- 
warrant. And even then almost certainly none either. | can’t 
prove it, though | feel in my bones I’m right.” 


“Who do you think it is?” 


Roger hesitated. “Well, | don’t think I'll say that yet, even 
to you. But I'll tell you that if | published my theory in The 
Courier there’d be such a shout of laughter throughout the 
entire country that my ear-drums would immediately burst. 
And you, Jerry, would probably be shouting as loud as any of 
them. I’m afraid that at first hearing my theory might sound, 
to put it mildly, a trifle fantastic.” 


“But do you think you’re on the right lines?” 


Roger got up and began to pace restlessly up and down 
the room. “I think so. In fact, I’m almost sure. When the idea 
first occurred to me, only a little time ago, | nearly laughed 
at myself. But I’ve applied every conceivable test since 
then, and it seems to stand up to them all right. It stretches 
the probabilities here and there, it’s true, but not into 
impossibilities by a long chalk. Oh, damn it, I’m certain I’m 


right. But | can’t prove it! And I’ve simply got to, if you’re to 
marry Anne and bring up a family of small Jerries.” 


“What!” exclaimed his astonished audience “I say, Roger, 
you don’t think—l say, she wouldn’t think of——Good Lord, 
do you really think she——” 


“Stop blethering! We’re up against the stiffest proposition 
either of us has ever encountered, not excluding the War, 
and you sit there and bleat like a sheep about would she, 
and do | think and does she think, and do | really think. Do | 
really think? My hat, I’ve got to really think to-night, | can 
tell you. And so have you, so begin at once.” 


“Oh, hell!” muttered the discomfited swain, and lapsed 
into silence. 


Roger continued to prowl. 


“| remember saying once that Scotland Yard’s methods 
would never solve this case,” he burst out after a minute or 
two, “but that French ones might. | still think I’m right about 
the first part, but French methods haven’t proved very 
successful yet, have they?” 


“Was that a French method this afternoon?” asked 
Newsome, almost timidly. 


“As French as a haricot bean,” said Roger shortly. “And if 
only the brute hadn’t been wearing his whiskers, we’d have 
got him by now.” 


“| say, I’ve been wanting to ask you ever since: how on 
earth did he get away?” 


“Thought he’d done the job, and was going down the 
stairs when he heard me bounding up like a bull elephant. If 
I'd been in carpet-slippers I’d have run straight into him. As 
it was all he had to do was to step aside, into a bathroom or 
anywhere, wait for me to pass, and then walk calmly out.” 


“And you knew something was up because the ten- 
minutes’ bell didn’t ring? By Jove, it was lucky that was 


, 


arranged.” 


“Partly, | was just going on that account, when suddenly 
the alarm signal went off. The fellow must actually have 
stepped on it himself, of all ironical things. Thank heaven for 
that, at any rate. Anne might have been dead now if he 
hadn’t. The luckiest accident!” 


“My hat!” Newsome breathed. “But, | say, it’s funny that, 
isn’t it? | thought the idea was that he’d found out about the 
arrangements, and wanted to eliminate Anne in spite of 
them. He evidently hadn’t found out that one.” 


“So it would seem,” Roger said absently. “Oh, Jerry, my 
excellent but thick-skulled Jerry, isn’t there anything you can 
suggest? We've got about eighteen hours to get this 
creature, and it would take me about eighteen weeks to 
collect enough evidence to prove my case in the orthodox 
way, even assuming | could do so at all, which | very much 
doubt. Because we’ve got to remember that this fellow is 
just about as cunning a maniac as there’s ever been.” 


“Any other sort of French method?” 


“A trap!” Roger mused. “We ought to set a trap for him. If 
he can’t be found out, he must be made to give himself 
away. How?” 


“They debated this matter in silence. 


Suddenly Roger halted in his stride. “Supposing,” he said 
Slowly, “Supposing we staged a—— Could it be done? Good 
Lord, | do believe it could. It’s a horrible risk, but really... 
Well, it all depends on Anne. | must... Oh, yes, | think that 
might work. It’s our only possible chance, anyway.” 


“What, Roger?” Newsome asked, bulging with curiosity. 


“Another leaf from the French notebook. Look here, run 
along and ask Anne to come in here, Jerry, will you? And 
then stop in the other room and make charming 


conversation to Moira. Everything depends on what Anne’s 
got to Say.” 


“But what /s the idea, man?” 


“I'll tell you when I’ve talked to Anne. Quick, Jerry, I’m 
simply bursting with excitement.” 


“Roger, you are the most irritating devil,” grumbled Mr. 
Newsome, but went. 


In a moment Anne arrived. Roger, sitting on the edge of 
the table, contemplated her with professional rather than 
human interest. Yet the human interest she might have 
been expected to arouse was quite strong. 


“You wanted me, Roger?” she said. 


“Yes. How are you feeling now, Anne? Pretty well 
recovered?” 


“Oh, yes, thank you. My head still aches a bit, and my 
throat is a little sore, but otherwise I’m quite recovered.” 


“| wonder what you'll be feeling like to-morrow morning,” 
Roger said. 


“Perfectly all right, | should imagine. Why?” 


Roger got up and conducted her with ceremony to a chair. 
“Sit down, Anne. We’ve got to hold very serious converse. | 
want you to realise this first of all: as long as this man is at 
liberty and unsuspected, your life, to put it frankly, isn’t 
worth fourpence. In fact, | put it at a halfpenny to Jerry just 
now.” 


“Oh!” said Anne, wide-eyed. 
“Moreover, if he isn’t laid by the heels actually by midday 
to-morrow, your Jerry will be arrested; and | can tell you that 


once a suspect is arrested it’s no easy matter to get him 
released.” 


Anne nodded. “Yes?” 


“Well, it seems to me that it’s up to us to get him before 
it’s too late. You and I, Anne. We’re the only ones who can 
do it. And neither of us can do it without the other. Most of 
all, | can’t do it without you. No,” Roger corrected himself, 
“that’s not true. | could with Moira, | suppose. But we’ll talk 
about that later.” 

“Oh! You've got a plan, Roger?” 

“| have, my child. A perfect brute of a plan. | hate and 
loathe my plan, but I’m blessed if | can see another. And it 
ought, with any luck at all, to work. But before | tell it you, | 
want to make this clear. If this man remains at liberty, not 
only you, but dozens of other girls are in deadly danger. You 
realise that?” 


“Yas, ” 


“Well, | want to ask you this question; in order to provide 
me with a chance (and it’s only a chance, mind) of catching 
the beast, are you prepared to risk your life?” 


“Yes, Roger.” 


“I! don’t mean a slight risk. | mean a really dangerous risk, 
with the chances possibly balanced against you. | shall take 
every possible precaution, naturally, but there aren’t many | 
can take. You must realise that first of all.” 


“Roger,” Anne said earnestly, “at present I’ve only got one 
aim before me. I’ve left home to achieve it; I’ve planted 
myself in a new world which | really don’t like at all; | display 
myself ever night in public in the minimum amount of 
clothing the censor will allow, which | simply detest—and all 
to gain my object, the discovery of my sister’s murderer. Of 
course I’ll take any risk you like.” 


“Anne,” said Roger fervently, “| am about to kiss you.” 
And he did so. 

“So now,” said the blushing Anne, having been duly 
kissed, “perhaps you'll tell me what this plan of yours is.” 


Roger did so. But this time he was careful not to mention 
his supposed identification of the murderer. It was an 
important part of his plan that Anne should be in ignorance 
of who her attacker had been. If Roger shared his suspicions 
with her, she could hardly avoid the infinitesimal gesture or 
glance that would put him on his guard; and the whole point 
of Roger’s plot was surprise. 


Anne listened intently. “Why,” she said, when he had 
finished, “there’s no danger in that.” 

“You think so?” said Roger grimly. “And supposing | didn’t 
rescue you in time, or there was a struggle, or anything 
unforeseen happened?” 


“| shall be quite content,” said Anne, “to trust myself 
entirely to you, Roger.” 


“You darling!” said Roger. “But you realise that it’s going 
to be quite damnably uncomfortable, to put it at the very 
least? | may have to leave you till you’ve actually lost 
consciousness, if the psychological moment doesn’t arrive 
before, you know.” 


“Oh, it’ll be horrible, of course,” Anne said, with a prim 
little smile. “I shall simply hate it at the time, and probably | 
Shall be quite unnecessarily frightened as well. But none of 
that matters. If you think there’s a good chance of catching 
him in this way, then you can do just what you like with me. 
Besides,” she added in a lower tone, “just think of all the 
other lives | may be able to save through a few minutes’ 
discomfort.” 


They discussed the details for some time, and then Anne 
was ordered off to bed. Moira, who was far too excited by all 
these stirring events to remember her carefully acquired 
refinement and had been in consequence a much more 
amusing companion than ever before, was summoned from 
the sitting-room and given strict injunctions that Anne was 
to be got to sleep at once and caused to sleep all night long. 


“Like hell she shall!” affirmed Sally Briggs, (late Moira 
Carruthers). “If | have to sit up all night singin’ at her.” 


As soon as the two men were left alone, Roger fulfilled his 
promise and told Newsome of his intentions. He had 
expected Jerry to be difficult, and Jerry was difficult. Very 
difficult indeed. He had many things to say, and he said 
them all. 


Finally Roger took a peremptory line. “Very well, Jerry,” he 
said. “If that’s your attitude, you can’t be present. This 
thing’s going through; Anne’s said so, and it’s her 
responsibility, not yours. | was going to ask you to take on 
the responsibility of rescuing her when | give the word; but if 
| can’t trust you to sit still through it all, however horrible 
and dangerous it seems to you, until | do give the word— 
why, then | simply won’t have you present at all. I’ll stage it 
the day after to-morrow instead, when you're safe in jail.” 


After which, of course, Mr. Newsome could put up no 
further fight. 


“And now,” said Roger, “I’ve got just a little telephoning to 
do.” 


CHAPTER XXIV 


THE TRAP IS SPRUNG 


Tue party from Scotland Yard was the first to arrive the next 
morning, for Roger had asked them to come at half-past 
eleven, whereas the rest were not expected till twelve 
o’clock. It was with an air of disapproving amusement that 
Chief Inspector Moresby, Superintendent Green and the 
Assistant Commissioner himself greeted their host and 
consented to imbibe the glasses of old pale sherry which he 
had prepared to soothe their feelings. 


“Now remember,” he said, having seen a portion of the 
Sherry safely down on its soothing path, “remember that 
you're here quite unofficially. It isn’t because you’re from 
Scotland Yard that I’ve asked you to come and watch my 
little cat-and-mouse act. Nothing of the kind. It’s simply 
because Sir Paul Graham, Mr. Green and Mr. Moresby are 
friends of mine and | thought I’d like to have them to my 
party.” 

“Humph!” said Superintendent Green, unsmiling. 

“Ah!” said Chief Inspector Moresby, smiling. 


“Sheringham, you're incorrigible,” said the Assistant 
Commissioner, also smiling. “But | don’t approve, you 
know.” 


“And on the other hand,” Roger retorted, “you don’t 
disapprove, because you don’t know what on earth I’m 
going to do.” 


“Well, what are you going to do?” asked Sir Paul. 


“That,” said Roger, “is just what you don’t know, isn’t it? 
Have some more sherry.” He refilled the glasses, to a refrain 
of politely protesting murmurs which he disregarded; as, 
indeed, their makers fully intended him to do. 


“Well, anyhow,” persisted the Assistant Commissioner, 
“what do you want us to do?” 


“Just sit still and look on at the little drama Miss Manners 
and | are going to perform. And above everything, not 
interfere by so much as a grunt till | show I’m ready for you. 
| warn you, you'll find it a ticklish business to sit still and say 
nothing, but | want your three promises to do so, even 
though you think I’m killing Miss Manners under your very 
eyes. Do you agree?” 


“| don’t like this,” said the Assistant Commissioner 
uneasily. 


Roger became as persuasive as he could. This, he knew, 
was the moment upon which everything depended. If 
Scotland Yard refused its presence, the whole plan became 
useless. He pointed out with all the eloquence at his 
command that any methods were admissible in such a case, 
unorthodox as these might seem, and that Scotland Yard 
was not being invited actively to co-operate, but merely to 
sit aloof and step in only if they cared to do so; and he 
pleaded pathetically to be allowed just this one chance of 
saving Jerry Newsome from arrest and the police from the 
blunder of arresting him and of proving a fantastic theory of 
his own which they would simply laugh at if he were to voice 
it prematurely. 


In the end Sir Paul consented. It was the argument 
concerning Newsome which probably brought him to agree 
to grace this unconventional scene with his own presence 
and that of two of his chief officers; for Sir Paul was by no 
means as convinced as were the two officers that Newsome 
was the man they wanted. Like Roger, he simply could not 


see him in the rdle; and circumstantial evidence, after all, 
though nearly always infallible if strong enough, is not 
invariably so. 


Much relieved, Roger emptied the bottle among them and 
proceeded to give them their instructions. Moresby and 
Green were not to be in evidence at all; they were to lurk 
behind a screen which had been drawn across a corner of 
the room, and only come out when Roger called for them. 
The Assistant Commissioner was to be introduced, if any 
introduction was necessary, and Mr. Blake and_ his 
connection with Scotland Yard not revealed; he would sit in 
a dark corner and make himself as unobtrusive as possible. 
Would he do that? He would. 


“Well, Mr. Sheringham,” said Chief Inspector Moresby 
jovially, “we shall expect some startling results from you 
after all this.” 


“Il think you'll be startled all right, Moresby,” said Roger. 


Superintendent Green continued to say nothing in a very 
masterly way. Even Roger’s excellent sherry had not 
softened that dour man. Except while actually imbibing it, 
his face was eloquent of his opinion that of all the time- 
wasting, silly businesses, this was going to be the silliest 
and waste the most valuable time. Superintendent Green, it 
was clear, was not going to be an appreciative audience. 


Having completed his arrangements, Roger called in Anne 
and introduced her. 


“Now, Anne,” he said in businesslike tones, “I want you to 
tell these three doubting Thomases that you are doing this 
of your own free will, that you fully understand the risks you 
are going to run even to the extent of losing your life, and 
that you don’t want them to interfere with what | am doing 
to you until | myself give the word.” 


“That is so,” Anne agreed gravely. “And | should like to 
add that even though | knew it meant certain death, | think | 


Should still go through with it because | am sure that if 
necessary one life should be sacrificed to save the others 
that this man will certainly take if he’s not caught, and also 
that if Mr. Sheringham had refused to carry out his plan with 
me after consideration, because he thought it too risky, | 
should not have rested until I’d found somebody else who 
would.” 


There was a short silence after Anne had spoken. Even 
Moresby looked more or less serious. 


“It is a fact, then, that this scheme involves real danger to 
Miss Manners’ life ?” asked Sir Paul uncomfortably. 


“The gravest,” Roger assured him. 


“Then | suggest,” said Sir Paul, “that for your sake, she 
put in writing what she has just told us.” 


“That’s a very good idea,” said Anne, with equanimity. “I'll 
go and do it at once.” 


The Assistant Commissioner, who had entertained vague 
hopes of frightening her out of this hare-brained business, 
looked nonplussed. 


Anne went out of the room. 


“You realise, Sheringham,” said Sir Paul, “that what she 
said doesn’t make the slightest difference legally? If you do 
cause the girl’s death, you will be responsible in the usual 
way.” 

Roger nodded. “Oh, yes, | know that, of course. But | 
thought you'd like to hear her own opinion. By the way, I’ve 
been guilty of a gross dereliction of duty. It will interest you 
gentlemen to hear that, although | haven’t yet reported it, 
Miss Manners was attacked yesterday by this brute and very 
nearly lost her life then.” He gave the details briefly and 
answered such questions as the three asked him. 


“Newsome!” said Chief Inspector Moresby, without 
hesitation. 


“Newsome, of course,” grunted Superintendent Green, in 
disgust. 


“Really,” said Sir Paul, almost convinced in spite of his 
feelings, “it does look as if Newsome is the man.” 


“So Pleydell said,” agreed Roger equably. “And yet he 
isn’t, you know.” 


“And you really think you know who it is?” 


“I’m convinced of it. But this business will prove once and 
for all whether I’m right or not. And it’s the only thing that 
will.” He handed to Sir Paul an ordinary envelope, sealed. 
“By the way, here’s the name of the man | suspect. Put it in 
your pocket and don’t open it till the show’s over. | should 
hate you to say afterwards that I’d been afraid to commit 
myself in advance.” 


Sir Paul took it with a slight smile and stowed it away in 
his breast-pocket. 


“And now,” said Roger, “I think you’d better take up your 
positions. The others will be arriving at any minute.” 


They had been so far in Roger’s study. He now led them 
across the hall into the sitting-room. This was a room of 
tolerably large dimensions, long and not very narrow. There 
was a window in one end and two in one of the sides; the 
door opened in the middle of the end wall opposite the 
window. Across one corner at the window end the screen 
had been placed, and in the other corner was Sir Paul’s 
chair. Roger saw them into their places, and then drew the 
curtains half-way over all the windows so that the two 
corners were thrown into shadow. 


He had only just completed these arrangements when the 
front-door bell rang, and he excused himself. 

George Dunning was the first arrival, puzzled but good- 
humoured as ever, and Roger took him at once into the 
study, where Newsome had now materialised, from his 


lurking place in Roger’s bedroom. In the spare bedroom 
Anne was completing her document, a little frightened now, 
but determined not to show it, and watched over anxiously 
by a far more frightened Moira, who was under orders to 
stand by to render such first-aid as might prove necessary, 
but otherwise to put in no public appearance. 


In the study Roger, Newsome and George Dunning were 
exchanging stilted conversation, the last far too well- 
mannered to ask what on earth the strangely urgent 
invitation he had found waiting for him when he got home 
on the previous evening, might portend. 


The next arrival, however. Sir James Bannister, was less 
diffident. 


“Mr. Sheringham?” he asked, as Roger opened the door to 
him (his man had been sent out for the morning). 


“That’s right,” Roger agreed cheerfully, allowing him to 
enter. 


“| received a message from you asking me to call here this 
morning on a matter affecting not only my personal honour 
and reputation, but my actual physical safety, Mr. 
Sheringham,” said Sir James weightily. “These are serious 
matters, sir. May | ask you to explain yourself?” 


“Certainly, Sir James. Take off your hat and coat and come 
inside. | shall explain things to you in a few minutes.” 


Sir James raised his heavy black eyebrows, but consented 
to do as he was requested. Roger took him at once into the 
sitting-room and sat him down on one of a semi-circular row 
of chairs which had been set out across the end of the room 
facing the door. Newsome, as had been previously arranged, 
brought Dunning in at the same time and the two of them 
took other chairs. 

It was now a minute or two past twelve o’clock, and the 


rest of the audience arrived almost together, the first, a 
stranger to Roger, in a beautifully cut blue overcoat, the 


effect of which was marred only by a too bright tie and a 
pair of patent-leather boots with cloth uppers, proving to be 
the great Billy Burton himself, most popular of whimsical 
stage humorists, whose yearly earnings amounted to just 
about five times as much as the Prime Minister of his 
country. Almost on his heels came Arnold Beverley, and with 
him Pleydell. 


The last Roger detained for a moment in the hall. “Haven’t 
got time to go into it with you, Pleydell, but | want you to 
back me up. | couldn’t get hold of you last night, but | think 
I’m on the verge of great things. 


All | want you to do is to sit tight (you'll see my idea ina 
minute) and remember that all the responsibility is mine. 
Come along, and I'll show you where to sit.” 


Pleydell looked surprised, but there was no time to explain 
anything further, and Roger hurried him into the vacant 
chair at the end of the arc, just in front of the corner where 
Sir Paul was sitting. “Be ready to back me up if | want you,” 
he whispered, a little anxiously. Stepping past him, he 
dropped a note unostentatiously in Sir Paul’s lap before 
making his way to the middle of the room. 


Roger drew a quick little breath as he glanced at his 
audience. Among those seven men facing him was, he felt 
utterly convinced, the callous but unbalanced brain that was 
responsible for the deaths of at least four girls and was 
probably planning already the murder of others. And now 
the crucial moment had arrived, by which he was to stand 
or fall. Roger was not often nervous, but his heart beat a 
little irregularly as he thought of the tremendous 
responsibility which the next few minutes must bear. 


“Gentlemen,” he said, in an ordinary, conversational 
voice, “most of you know why | have called you together 
this morning so urgently. Let me explain. You may have seen 
in the newspapers recently the reports, from time to time, of 


a novel form of suicide in which the victim, always a girl, 
hangs herself with one of her own _ stockings. Quite 
unofficially | have been looking into these cases, in an 
amateurish way, and the conviction has been forced upon 
me that they are not cases of suicide at all, but of murder. 


‘If this is the case, gentlemen, a very serious state of 
affairs has arisen. In the middle of our community there is a 
man at liberty with a brain so unbalanced that his supreme 
joy in life is the killing of defenceless girls. He is worse than 
a homicidal maniac, for in all other respects he may be quite 
sane. | will not trouble you now with the way in which this 
conclusion has forced itself upon me, though | shall be ready 
to give anybody any information on this point later; but the 
important thing is that there is not a jot of evidence, in the 
legal sense, to support it. Not one jot! | am, therefore, as 
you will see, in a very difficult position. | know that these 
deaths are not suicides, but murders; but if | went to 
Scotland Yard and told them so they would, on the only kind 
of evidence | could produce, simply laugh at me. 


“It has therefore occurred to me to form a committee of 
respectable citizens drawn from representative lines of our 
national life, to relieve me of the responsibility of my 
knowledge and consult as to what should be done. You, 
gentlemen, are the committee | have, quite gratuitously, 
selected. It is up to anyone to refuse to have anything to do 
with it, as | need not say; but first, | ask you to hear me a 
little further.” Roger paused and moistened his lips. The 
audience were quite still, and their intense interest was 
evident. 


“To discover the means by which these unfortunate girls 
met their deaths has necessitated a long and arduous 
inquiry,” he resumed, encouraged. “The many details had to 
be worked out or deduced each by itself, much had to be 
imagined, much was only brought to light after weeks of 
work. To explain all these steps and enumerate the various 


points in detail would take far too long. | therefore propose 
to give you here and now a representation of how this man 
goes about his work. 


“| warn you, the thing will not be easy to watch. It is my 
intention to bring home to you the gravity of the state of 
affairs by showing you exactly how these girls have died. 
There will be no faking or rigging. A lady has kindly placed 
herself at my disposal, and | am going to bring her within an 
inch of death before your very eyes; and | should tell you 
that, so strongly does she feel on the subject, that she has 
told me that if the experiment results in her actual death (as 
| am bound to confess that it may) she will consider the 
sacrifice worth while if only public opinion can be stirred up 
to hunt this brute down. That is all | have to say, except to 
ask you to sit absolutely still and silent while the 
representation is being performed, and to remember that 
any well meant attempt at interference when matters have 
reached a critical stage will almost certainly have the 
opposite effect and result in causing the lady’s death. 
Please use every ounce of self-restraint you possess!” 


As Roger had anticipated murmurs of protest rose the 
moment he had finished speaking, but disregarding them he 
went to the door and threw it open. At once Anne walked in, 
pale but perfectly collected. Roger had coached her well in 
the time at his disposal, and she began to speak at once. 


“! want to add to what Mr. Sheringham has said,” she said, 
in her rather precise tones, “that the responsibility for what 
is going to happen is entirely mine. | want nobody to 
interfere or do anything at all except sit quite still, even if | 
scream for help or seem to be quite at my last gasp. If you 
do, you will spoil everything. Thank you. I’m quite ready, Mr. 
Sheringham.” 

Roger turned to the audience. “What you are now going to 
see,” he said, “is an exact replica of what must have 
happened each time one of those girls died. You must 


imagine that you are in the room of a flat belonging to one 
of the girls.” He hurried out of the room. 


Anne picked up a book and, seating herself in a chair, 
began to turn the pages. In a moment Roger entered the 
room again, and she jumped up. 


“Why, hullo, Mr. Sheringham!” she said, in a pleased 
voice. “You’re quite a stranger.” They shook hands. 


“| was passing,” said Roger, “and thought I'd like to look in 
and see you. Where’s Phyllis?” 


“She’s gone out to do some shopping, and then she’s 
going on to lunch with a friend.” 


“| see. You're all alone, then?” 
“Yes, quite.” 


“Good. | was wondering if you’d come out and have some 
lunch with me, perhaps. You haven’t any engagements, or 
anyone coming round to see you?” 


“No, nobody. I’m quite free till the theatre this evening.” 


“Excellent. Well, what about getting your hat on and 
coming out?” 

“Yes, I’d love to. Will you wait here?” She turned towards 
the door, and Roger drew a black object from his pocket 
Shaped not unlike a small pestle, and concealed it behind 
his back. “I’ll open the door for you,” he said, following 
Anne. 


“Thank you.” She stood aside while he opened the door. “| 
won't be a minute,” she said, and began to walk out. 
Immediately her back was turned, Roger made believe to 
Strike her on the back of the head. Without a sound she 
sank back, and he caught her in his arms, lifted her off her 
feet, and laying her on a settee near by, tiptoed to the door. 


A little gasp had sounded from the audience as Anne 
collapsed, but a tense silence now prevailed. 


With infinite caution Roger stole just outside the room and 
stood for a moment listening. Then, drawing a small hook 
from his pocket, he screwed it quickly into the top of the 
further side of the door, opening the latter wide so that the 
audience could see exactly what he was doing. Closing it 
again, he walked over to the settee and, slipping off her 
shoe, began to unfasten one of her stockings, which were of 
pale-coloured silk. Stripping it from her leg, he proceeded to 
tie the two extreme ends tightly together, testing the 
strength of the knot with his knee. He placed the loop over 
her head so that it was lying loosely round her neck, and put 
the shoe back on her foot. 


Somebody in the audience pushed a chair back sharply, 
but otherwise there was no sound. 


Taking no notice of them, without even a glance in their 
direction, Roger picked up a chair and placed it squarely in 
front of the half-open door, its back towards the door, 
shifting its position as if at some pains to get it exactly right. 
Satisfied at last, he strolled back to the settee, his hands in 
his pockets, and again stood looking down at its occupant. 


Anne began to show signs of returning to consciousness. 
She moved her head more freely, and made little fluttering 
motions with her hands. Immediately Roger picked her up 
and carried her over to the door. 


There, amid a tense silence, he propped her in such a 
position that she was half-sitting on the chair-back, her feet 
on its seat, and holding her there he gave the loop round 
her neck three or four twists, passed it over the top of the 
door and slipped the other loop so formed over the hook. 
Then he lifted her up in both arms, pushed the door shut 
and, dragging the chair up to it with his feet, replaced her in 
the same position as before; but now that the door behind 
her was firm she could be so balanced as to remain there 
without being held. He stepped away from her. 


Slowly Anne’s eyes opened and she gazed round the room 
as if dazed, her hands gripped the chair-back under her, her 
lios fluttered, she seemed to be trying to speak. 


Roger waited till it was clear that she had practically 
recovered all her faculties, then darted forward and, lifting 
her up, kicked away the chair. “Darling Anne!” he 
whispered, his face as white as hers. “Be brave, my dear!” 
And lowering her with slow deliberation, he stood back. Her 
head well above the top of the door, her feet at least 
eighteen inches above the floor, Anne hung by her neck. A 
little choking cry had broken from her as Roger lowered her, 
but now she was plainly incapable of uttering a sound. 


There were stifled noises from the audience. Some were 
leaning forward in horror, others had half risen. A voice, low 
but authoritative, said: “Keep still, everyone, please.” It was 
Newsome; who had risen from his chair at the other end of 
the arc from Pleydell and was standing with his back to the 
screen, his face deadly pale, but gallantly doing what he 
had been told. 


All eyes were fixed upon Anne in horrified fascination. She 
had been hanging there only a few seconds, but already her 
face was crimson and contorted; the veins were swelling 
rapidly as if they were going to burst through the skin, her 
lips were drawn back in a hideous grin; her feet scrabbled 
on the door as if trying desperately to find some lodging- 
place, one hand was tearing at the stocking round her neck, 
the other clutching at the air in front of her. 


It was a horrible spectacle, and normal flesh and blood 
could hardly bear it. Everywhere there was the sound of 
chairs falling as their occupiers pushed them back in rising. 
Cries of protest began to fill the room. Though he was 
trembling himself in every limb, Newsome had to restrain Sir 
James Bannister by sheer force from rushing forward. 


Disregarding entirely the din, Roger strolled forward 
nonchalantly, his hands in his pockets, towards the corner 
occupied by Sir Paul. In front of the latter still sat Pleydell, 
the only one still remaining in his chair. 

“That’s how you do it, Pleydell, isn’t it?” Roger asked 
easily. 

Pleydell looked up at him with bright, mad eyes. “No,” he 
said in a thick voice. “I hold them up every now and then, to 
stop them——” He broke off abruptly. 

“Hold him, Graham!” shouted Roger, and hurled himself 
towards Anne. 


Just as he reached her, the convulsively struggling body 
went suddenly limp. 


CHAPTER XXV 


ROUND THE GOOD XXXX 


Rocer leaned back in his chair and drew in two or three 
satisfying lungfuls of smoke. “So the good old French 
method, of reconstructing the crime in the presence of the 
suspected person, can claim one more triumph,” he said. 


“It’s a pity Scotland Yard is so conservative, isn’t it?” 


“For all that, Mr. Sheringham,” observed Superintendent 
Green, “conservative methods pay all right, in most cases.” 


“But they never would have in this,” Roger retorted, “and 
So I’ve said from the very beginning. Haven't |, Moresby?” 


“You have, Mr. Sheringham,’’ Moresby agreed. He could 
not help himself; Roger certainly had said that. More than 
once. 


It was three o’clock, rather more than two and a half 
hours after Pleydell had been removed, raving and 
struggling, from the Albany, and a quartette was sitting in 
Roger’s study composed of the triumphant novelist himself, 
the Assistant Commissioner and the two officers in charge of 
the case. In the next room Anne was still lying down after 
her ordeal, with Moira holding one of her hands and Jerry 
Newsome the other; completely happy in the vindication of 
the desperate plan in which she had played so gallant a 
part. Her lapse into unconsciousness had been but 
momentary (although it seemed hours at the time, her 
period of suspension had actually been only forty seconds, 
according to Roger’s wristwatch) and her recovery 


considerably more rapid, and less unpleasant, than on the 
previous day, when she had had a severe blow on the head 
to contend with as well. 


The terrible shock of realising himself unmasked before all 
those witnesses had toppled Pleydell’s brain, merely 
balanced on the verge as it had been, finally over into the 
abyss of complete insanity. In his own financial line he had 
been a genius, and genius being already abnormal the 
curtain between it and the more ultimate abnormality of 
madness is always thin; in Pleydell’s case it had always 
been not merely thin, but ragged; a severe shock at any 
time and of any sort, such as financial disaster, might have 
sufficed to tear it down altogether; and now that the shock 
had come, down it had gone. A general, sigh of relief had 
gone up when the fact became realised. It was far the best 
thing that could have happened, for had Pleydell remained 
Sane, repudiated his confession and pleaded not guilty, it 
was still a little doubtful whether he could have been 
convicted on such actual evidence as there was against him. 


The Assistant Commissioner, in his relief generous without 
stint of praise and congratulations, had stayed, to lunch in 
the Albany, and now the two officers; their prisoner safely 
disposed of and the formalities duly performed, had come 
back to listen to their amateur colleague’s story. To them, no 
less than to the Assistant Commissioner himself, the 
identification of Pleydell with the maniac they had been 
hunting had come as a complete and paralysing surprise. 


“And we can’t say that you were watching them all and hit 
on him as the most likely, Mr. Sheringham,” Moresby 
admitted, “because you’d written his name in that envelope 
you gave the Commissioner beforehand.” 

“That’s why | gave it him,” Roger grinned. “Il knew you’d 
say something like that if | didn’t.” 


“And Mr. Sheringham dropped a note on my knee at the 
beginning, telling me to keep my eye on Pleydell, too,” Sir 
Paul added. 


“| was afraid he might get violent,” Roger explained. 
“That’s why | put you in a place of vantage behind him.” 


“When did you first begin to suspect him, Mr. 
Sheringham?” asked Superintendent Green. The 
Superintendent had thawed considerably since twelve 
o'clock, but it was evident that he still considered an 
amateur had no right at all to succeed where the Yard had 
failed. 


“Yesterday afternoon,” Roger replied. “After the attack on 
Miss Manners, that’s all. | won’t say he hadn’t crossed my 
mind before that, but never really seriously. And when | did 
come to consider him seriously, of course, | soon became 
positive. The more | thought about it, in fact, the more 
obvious it became. And | knew the real criminal, whoever he 
was, must have a key to Newsome'’s front door, a false 
beard and a pair of gold-rimmed spectacles, to say nothing 
of that pestle-shaped weapon of hard rubber; so that’s how | 
was able to include the list of those things as waiting for you 
in Pleydell’s rooms, in the envelope | gave Sir Paul 
beforehand.” 


“Yes, and there we found them right enough,” admitted 
Moresby readily, “though, as you said, they weren’t much in 
the way of real proof. But how did you get over his alibis, Mr. 
Sheringham? | don’t understand that even now. How did he 
kill that girl in Pelham Mansions at the same time as he was 
eating lunch with you at your club?” 


Roger took a pull at the tankard by his side. Out in the 
world a grandmotherly government was forbidding its 
citizens to quench their noble thirsts with good XXXxX; in the 
Albany, with the help of a nice, round-bellied cask, such 
feeble puerilities could be disregarded. 


“Fill up, you two,” said Roger. “There’s a gallon or two left, 
and | hate stale beer. I’m going to begin at the beginning, so 
fortify yourselves.” 


With happy grins the two representatives of the same 
grandmotherly government took the necessary step towards 
fortifying themselves. 


“Monte Carlo is the beginning,” said Roger, “so I'll begin 
there. Well, the truth is that there never was a murder at 
Monte Carlo at all. The French police were right; that was a 
perfectly genuine suicide. So there goes alibi No. 1. But that 
was what gave Pleydell his idea. He arrived just afterwards, 
you remember, and must have heard plenty of talk about it. 
The thing tickled his imagination. He may have been 
overworking or his health may have been bad; anyhow, he 
had probably got into a queer state. You can picture him 
brooding over that girl hanging on the door by one of her 
own stockings. He loved it. Nothing would satisfy him but 
that he must see such a thing happen. So the first thing he 
does when he gets back to England is to do it. 


“You must remember that Pleydell suffered badly from 
megalomania. I’d noticed that on several occasions.'‘lf | say 
a thing is, then it is; if | say the impossible shall be done, 
then it shall.’ But he was so quiet about it, while the usual 
megalomaniac iS so bombastic, that one simply didn’t 
recognise it for what it was. Anyhow, that gave him the idea 
that all was possible to him; that if it amused him to see 
girls die in this way then it was only right that girls should 
die for his pleasure; and that of course he could never be 
even suspected, much less found out. 


“l was with him once in the street when we met Miss 
Carruthers and was rather surprised to find that he knew 
her. It turned out, however, that he was financially behind 
the show she’s in. It never occurred to me at the time, but 
of course there was his connection with Unity Ransome. 
Perhaps he didn’t even go to Sutherland Avenue with the 


idea of killing her. He may have seen his opportunity and 
just taken it. Probably that is what happened. 


“As for the note left in that case, and the next, | can’t tell 
you exactly how he induced the girls to write them; but you 
can picture well enough the sort of thing that must have 
happened. Perhaps he offered them a new fountain-pen and 
wanted to see how it suited their writing; perhaps he was 
pretending to tell their characters from their handwriting, 
anything like that. All we can say definitely is that he 
dictated and induced them, somehow or other, to take down 
his words verbatim. But it evidently wasn’t easy, because in 
the last case, where he had no time to waste, he contented 
himself with cutting out a verse from a handy volume of 
poetry. 


“Well, the death of Janet Manners whetted his appetite. 


He stood off for six weeks, then he went for that poor little 
prostitute, Elsie Benham. That, of course, was his safest 
line. There’s no connection to be traced in those cases at 
all. But | don’t expect he was worrying about being traced. 
He would be immune from that sort of thing. And so next we 
have him actually killing his own fiancée.” 


“Now that | do not see how anyone could be expected to 
tumble to, Mr. Sheringham,” said Moresby, without much 
grammar, but with considerable feeling. 


“Why not?” Roger retorted. “Neither of us did, as it 
happens, but that was because we both fell into the same 
error. We assumed that the engagement was a happy one. 
As a matter of fact it wasn’t anything of the kind. That never 
came out at the inquest, of course, but it was common 
gossip among their own small circle of intimates. That 
complete idiot Newsome only thought to mention it to me at 
one a.m. this morning, after I’d been questioning him about 
the two of them for a couple of hours on end. But you made 
a worse mistake than | did, because when you heard that 


Newsome and Lady Ursula had been very thick at one time, 
you thought that her subsequent engagement to Pleydell 
gave Newsome a motive for killing her. Knowing Newsome, | 
never thought that. What it actually did was to give Pleydell 
the motive.” 


The Assistant Commissioner, who had heard all this 
before, nodded sagely. 


“From what | can gather,” Roger went on, “Lady Ursula 
was always in love with Newsome, and engaged herself to 
Pleydell in sheer desperation when she became convinced 
that Newsome wasn’t in love with her. He had no idea of 
this, of course, and hasn’t now; but it’s quite plain to me. 
Well, that didn’t make for a happy engagement, did it? As | 
see it, they were continually quarrelling, and Lady Ursula 
was always on the verge of breaking it off, till they fell in 
with each other that night (Pleydell never had a real alibi for 
that night, you remember) and had one final grand bust-up 
when Lady Ursula, very nervy and suffering from a bad 
headache, finally gave him his congé. Probably they went 
into that studio to have their quarrel in private, and Pleydell, 
his megalomania utterly outraged, simply took what he 
considered the proper steps to restore it to self-respect. 
There was a struggle in that case, because he hadn't got his 
weapon with him, and he had to tie her wrists and ankles, 
and no doubt he gagged her in the way | first suggested, 
Moresby, when we reconstructed the case, if you 
remember.” 


Moresby nodded. “Yes, | remember. With a scarf or 
something like that, you said. But what about the note, Mr. 
Sheringham?” 


“Ah, yes, that note,” Roger smiled. “I felt in my bones all 
the time that the note was taking you on the wrong track, 
Moresby, but you wouldn’t listen. You see, one thing struck 
me forcibly about that note, but | didn’t mention it to you 
because | knew you wouldn’t pay any attention. It was the 


way it was folded. You pointed out that the main fold didn’t 
come in the middle, and so something must have been cut 
off the top; but you quite missed the point later on that, if it 
was the man for whom it had been left who made use of it 
afterwards, the fold wou/d have been in the centre, because 
he would have cut the top off before he folded it, not after. 
That told me (as soon as | heard from the valet that the note 
had not been left in an envelope) that it was not the man for 
whom it had been left who used it, but someone else who 
had got possession of it, folded it and carried it off before 
cutting it. You see?” 


“Oh, Mr. Sheringham, come!” expostulated Moresby. 
“That’s too subtle altogether.” 


“That’s exactly what | knew you'd say,” Roger replied 
equably. “So | didn’t say it. But | deduced from that subtle 
bit of reasoning that somebody might be in_ illegal 
possession of one of Newsome’s keys; and lo! when | 
questioned his valet, | found that one of his keys actually 
was missing. Newsome had had his pocket picked some 
weeks ago, and his keys and wallet stolen. It was Pleydell, of 
course, looking for letters from Lady Ursula; and no doubt 
he thought the keys would come in uncommonly handy too. 


“The truth is patent enough, if one reads between the 
lines. Pleydell knew all about Newsome and Lady Ursula, 
and he was mad-jealous of Newsome. He was always trying 
to get some evidence that the two were on more intimate 
terms than those of happy-go-lucky friendship; hence the 
pocket-picking. I’ve no doubt he was in the habit of 
Shadowing Lady Ursula; at any rate he must have seen her 
go into Newsome’s flat the day before the murder. That may 
have clinched his suspicions; we can’t tell. Anyhow, as soon 
as the valet was out of the way, he went in too, with that 
handy key, and found the note. He took it, seeing at once 
the use to which he could put it if occasion arose. Oh, 
Moresby, why didn’t you take a hint from me and try what 


would happen if one assumed that Newsome was speaking 
the truth and it was the facts, not he, that were at fault? 


“Well, | don’t know whether Pleydell realised at the time, 
though he certainly did later, that he had, wittingly or 
unwittingly, built up a very pretty case against Newsome. 
The next thing to do was to develop it. And so we came to 
the last murder. 


“So far we’ve had murders with two different motives. Out 
of the series of four only the first two were pure lust- 
murders. Lady Ursula’s was a vengeance-murder, or a 
megalomania-murder if you like. The last was a murder 
committed with the sole motive of increasing the strength of 
the case against the man he loathed. By being preferred to 
himself in Lady Ursula’s affections, you see, Newsome had 
committed the unforgivable sin. He must be eliminated at 
all costs, and very cunningly the trap was laid.” Here Roger 
paused to prevent a little more beer from going stale. 


“Pleydell was a cunning man, you see. Oh, very cunning. 
Do you know what brought him to Scotland Yard, Moresby? 
Not any vague suspicions, as we thought at the time, but 
that paragraph in The Evening Clarion which you showed 
me, saying that the police were taking an interest in Lady 
Ursula’s death and hinting at exciting developments. 
Pleydell knew well enough that the police don’t take an 
interest in death unless something like murder is suspected. 
He did a bit of hard thinking, put himself in our minds, and 
proceeded to act precisely as we should expect him to; and 
very well he played his part too. But he wanted more than 
that. He wanted to keep abreast of our investigations and 
know every minute just what we thought, were doing, and 
were going to do. And there | admit frankly that | was the 
mug. | offered him what he wanted with both hands. 


“Well, Pleydell didn’t mind the police investigation. Not he. 
He welcomed it. And it amused him terribly. There was no 
question that he himself could ever be suspected, you see, 


and now he could go right ahead with his case against 
Newsome. And he went. Having worked out his plot, he 
proceeded to put it into operation. He went in disguise to a 
girl in one of his shows (did you know he was behind Her 
Husband’s Wife too? | found that out from Miss Deeping on 
the telephone last night), so that he wouldn’t be recognised 
if seen outside, rang her bell, whipped off the disguise and 
went in. No doubt he’d telephoned to her in advance or 
knew in some other way that the coast was perfectly clear 
till well after lunch. Well, he’d worked out a very clever alibi, 
and had no time to waste. The first thing he does is to tell 
the girl that a friend of his called Gerald Newsome is 
extremely interested in her (all this is only guesswork, of 
course, but it must be near enough to the facts) and has 
consulted him about putting up the money for a show in 
which she would be the star. (Of course he’d have chosen a 
girl who did know Jerry.) Newsome has said something about 
taking her out to lunch that day to discuss the proposition; 
has she heard from him? 


““No,’ says the girl, thoroughly excited, she hasn’t.‘Then if 
| were you | should ring him up at once and clinch it,’ says 
Pleydell; ‘and tell him one o’clock, not earlier, because | 
want to talk it over with you myself till then.’And naturally 
the girl promptly does it. So there is Newsome’s presence 
guaranteed for one o’clock, with the certainty that the 
porter will see him enter. | was assuming, by the way, that 
Pleydell knew enough about Pelham Mansions to have heard 
about that porter; that also was confirmed last night, as I'll 
explain later. 


“Now, this next bit of deduction, | must tell you, is one 
that | really am proud of It’s all based on those dints in the 
girl’s legs. I'd already made up my mind, you see, that the 
solicitor-looking man was the murderer, and his trimmings 
were a disguise, though | hadn’t the least idea then who he 
was; but | was Sure that his object was to establish an alibi. 


And | had become convinced, independently, that the girl 
was alive inside when Newsome rang the bell, but under 
forcible restraint. | shouldn’t say ‘deduction,’ by the way; 
this was pure induction. | took these various assumptions 
and deliberately built up my case to prove them. Very 
naughty, wasn’t it, Moresby? 


“Putting myself in his place, then, | asked myself how | 
could cause that girl to die exactly three-quarters of an hour 
after | was safely out of the way. That puzzled me for some 
time, till | began to wonder—wasn’t there some method by 
which, having made her unconscious, | could place her in 
such a physical position that the very act of regaining 
consciousness would make her bring about her own death? 
To have thought of that question was the great step; the 
answer soon came. Yes, by stunning her with some yielding 
instrument on the principle of the sandbag by means of a 
blow hard enough to keep her unconscious for an hour or so 
without cracking her skull. That would leave no bruise, you 
see, and would be quite undiscoverable at a post-mortem 
unless the actual brain were examined, which would be 
highly unlikely. | needn’t explain to you experts, of course, 
that a blow with an instrument of that nature stuns by 
bruising the brain which, being a little loose inside the skull, 
is thrown violently against the bone on the farther side. | 
didn’t actually hit on the idea of hard rubber as the material 
then, but of course when Miss Manners explained to me 
later the short glimpse she had caught of the weapon which 
stunned her, | realised what it must be. 


“Well, having stunned her in that way, with a blow 
sufficiently forcible to keep her unconscious for about an 
hour, the next thing he would do, | imagined, would be to 
prop her on the back of a chair, leaning back and balanced 
against an open door, with the stocking already in position 
round her neck and fastened to the hook, and the chair 
tilted in such a way that the slightest movement would 


destroy the balance of the whole erection. The door would 
then swing to, you see, the chair on whose back she was 
half-sitting, half-lying, would follow it, sinking gradually to 
the floor as the door closed, and the girl would be left 
hanging. And the particular beauty of the plan is that the 
first movement made by a person who has been knocked 
out is a rolling of the head, which would effect nothing, but 
the second is a sort of stretching movement of the legs and 
the body. I’ve been knocked out myself more than once, and 
| know. The latter movement, of course, would cause her 
feet to press on the seat of the chair, which would at once 
push herself, and the door, away from it. The next impulse, 
by the way, is to be sick, but the immediate strangulation 
would prevent that.” 


“And you worked all that out just from those dints in her 
legs, Mr. Sheringham?” asked Superintendent Green, with 
real respect at last. 


“More or less,” said Roger proudly. “Together with the 
particular chair he used, with a very high back, and the fact 
that she was not wearing her wrapper; if he had gone to the 
trouble of removing that from her it must have been with 
some particular reason, and the only reason | could see was 
that it was getting in the way of whatever he wanted to do 
with her. And what is more, Superintendent and Chief 
Inspector both, having worked it out | went round to the flat 
to examine the door for the two tiny dints which the knobs 
on either side of the chair-back should have made in the 
paint-work, and the infinitesimal scratches they ought to 
have left as they slithered down to the floor. And there | 
found them.” 


“Well,” said the Superintendent, nobly burning all his 
boats, “that’s as clever a piece of reasoning as ever | 
heard.” 

“Thank you,” said Roger. “And all by the inductive method, 
which you people don’t use. By the way, one other thing 


had occurred to me. A limp body is a difficult thing to 
balance like that, and | thought he would anticipate some 
difficulty in preventing the door from shutting prematurely. 
What, in that case, would be better than a nut, wedged in 
between the frame and the door? It would hold the balance, 
you see, and yet crack when the extra pressure was applied. 
And there, in the dust at the bottom, | found the fragments 
of a walnut-shell.” 


“Well, I’ll be blowed!” quoth Chief Inspector Moresby. 


Expanding like a flower before the warmth of these official 
compliments, Roger continued. “And it was the wrapper, | 
Should add, which told me that Pleydell’s first action on 
getting inside the flat was to tell her the exciting news 
connected with Newsome, and that he struck her down as 
soon as she’d hung up the telephone receiver. That was a 
simple deduction from what Miss Deeping had to say about 
the habits of her friend concerning visitors and wrappers. 


“Well, that was that. All the murderer had to do then was 
to put on his disguise again and walk out, and his alibi was 
established by the porter. At first, when | began to realise 
that the solicitor was our man, | had thought that, knowing 
the habits of the porter, he had sneaked back as soon as the 
latter had gone to lunch, but | was right in thinking | had 
made a mistake there and the man wanted not only the 
porter’s negative evidence, but somebody else’s positive 
testimony as well. | provided the latter for him, by paying 
for his lunch. And when Newsome rang the bell later, 
according to plan, the girl was still alive inside. Could 
anything have been neater? And the case against Newsome 
after that was nothing less than glaring, as Pleydell knew it 
would be. 


“And that brings us to the attack on Miss Manners 
yesterday. Pleydell would have been better advised to forgo 
that; it gave him away at last. And the curious thing is that, 
lost to everything else as the girl lay helplessly at his mercy, 


he not only forgot to give the ten-minute signal himself, as 
of course he intended, but actually stepped on his own 
alarm-bell! Could anything be more ironical? What a perfect 
mixture of superhuman cunning and complete idiocy. Yes, 
that last attempt was a real madman ’s effort. He realised, of 
course, aS soon as he’d done it, and darted out to hide on 
the lower landing till | had fled past; but by that time he’d 
spoilt his own game. 


“At first | was hopelessly at sea. I’d never expected for a 
moment to get any results with such a poor little trap for 
such a very clever spider. | began by thinking that it must 
be one of our five suspects, and wondered if it really could 
be Beverley, as Miss Manners had told me the same 
morning. 

“This attack cleared up certain points on which | had been 
still doubtful, and confirmed others. It definitely settled the 
question of the weapon, and explained the absence of any 
struggle, except in Lady Ursula’s case; it also showed that | 
had been wrong in my first reconstruction, regarding the 
scarf, but that did not help much. Then it occurred to me 
that there might be a double object in this case, not only to 
eliminate Miss Manners, but also to throw still further 
suspicion on Newsome; for | was convinced by this time that 
somebody was deliberately trying to do just that thing, and 
with a malicious vindictiveness that argued a substantial 
motive. Did that give me a pointer? Who had anything 
against Newsome? So far as | could see, only Pleydell; and 
as | told you, | laughed at myself. 


“Then | thought: why should anyone want to eliminate 
Miss Manners? Even if the existence of our trio of inquiry 
were known, she was the least important member of it. Why 
not eliminate Pleydell or myself? Could there possibly be 
any reason for her elimination beyond her membership of 
our trio? Because it was clear that this was not a haphazard 
attack (or so | thought); there was some hidden reason for 


it. And at once | remembered a conversation she had had 
with me that same morning. 


“Briefly, she had suggested then a new line of inquiry: to 
put out feelers as to whether a man, not answering to 
Newsome’s description but wearing a beard and gold- 
rimmed glasses, had been seen in the neighbourhood of 
Miss Mack-lane’s studio after the crime. That was 
Significant, you see; and she had already arrived at the 
independent conclusion that the bearded man at Pelham 
Mansions was the real murderer, though she thought he was 
Arnold Beverley and | had an open mind. But what now 
occurred to me as in the highest degree interesting was that 
she had mentioned this to Pleydell earlier in the morning 
and he had as good as asked her not to say anything about 
it to me, and had got her to agree that it would be fun to 
follow it up behind my back. You see? There was evidently 
something in it, and he didn’t want it investigated. 
Moreover, he had heard her say the day before that she had 
a new idea and that we had been blind, and she had 
promised to tell me after tea the next day. If Pleydell were 
the murderer, | thought, that would give him a real motive 
for getting rid of her before she had told me anything. 


“Well, that put me on to the idea of Pleydell in real 
earnest. And immediately things began to fall into their 
places. Pleydell was not in his office in the city when we 
rang him up immediately after the attack. Why not? 
Because he was in Maida Vale. He arrived in Sutherland 
Avenue much quicker than he could have done from his 
board-meeting. Why? Because he was so anxious to see if 
he were suspected after the incident of the alarm-bell. His 
first action on being alone with me was vehemently to 
accuse Newsome afresh. Why? To put me off himself. And 
one of the first things he said was that it must be Newsome, 
because he was ‘the only one who knew.’ Why did he say 
that? Newsome wasn’t. Pleydell really had passed the word 


to the other suspects, about the sittings. But what was 
significant was that. Pleydell was the only one who knew 
that Newsome was, on the premises. 


“And there were hundreds of other little things of the 
same kind, not only in that case, but in all the others. In 
fact, once | had begun to see seriously whether Pleydell 
wouldn't fit, he fitted everywhere. | spent an interesting ten 
minutes soothing him by pretending to agree about 
Newsome and doing my utmost to get the girls out of his 
clutches. | told him | was going to take them to the Piccadilly 
Palace (where doubtless he would have followed and 
attacked Miss Manners again in the middle of the night), but 
when we got there | told the others to wait in the taxi while | 
booked their rooms; then | ran inside, waited a minute, and 
ran out to tell them that the place was full. | didn’t want 
them to suspect Pleydell, you see, because | wasn’t sure; 
but | did want to get those two safe inside the Albany for the 
night. 


“Well, if | wasn’t sure before dinner, | was after. Apart from 
the few but very significant things | found out from 
Newsome and on the telephone, | got a report I’d asked for 
about the other inhabitants of Pelham Mansions. One of the 
girls there was reputed to be kept by Pleydell. That, to my 
mind, clinched it. 


“Then | was up against the problem of proving it. And 
there was no real proof. At least, none that could not quite 
easily be explained away. | was morally convinced, but 
what, as Moresby says, is the good of that? And as for 
attempting to assemble any convincing proofs. within 
eighteen hours, to prevent you people from arresting 
Newsome—well, | ask you! So | thought of the usual French 
method of reconstructing the crime and testing the 
suspect’s reactions, and wondered whether anything could 
be done in that line. And the more | thought of it the more | 
was Sure not only that it was the only possible way but that 


some sort of reaction might be confidently expected—/f we 
made the scene convincing and horrible enough. 


“So | hit on that quite impossible plan, enlisted plucky 
little Miss Manners (to whom, and that undeserving Jerry 
Newsome who’s going to get her, | drain this tankard), 
cajoled Scotland Yard into sitting through the performance, 
forced myself through quite the most unpleasant ten 
minutes of my life—and there we are. Oh, and of course | 
couldn’t warn Pleydell, even by innuendo, what the real 
object of the mummery was, and so | had to spin that yarn 
about a representative gathering of citizens, and all that 
nonsense. That’s all. 


“But | do wish Pleydell hadn’t gone quite mad at the end. | 
should like to have had a chance to probe into his mind a 
little further first. His psychology, of course, is absorbing. | 
don’t suppose for a moment that he considered, himself a 
murderer, you know. He killed, but he didn’t murder; his 
mind, when the action was applied to himself, is sure to 
have conceived some subtle differentiation. And he really 
had rather a nice sense of humour, you know, with it all. He 
must have been hugging himself all this time, not only 
looking on at the futile hunt for himself; but even assisting 
in it. How his tongue must have been in his cheek, when | 
think of some of the things he’d said to me. Well, well, it’s a 
pity that quite the most interesting brain that any of us is 
likely to meet has turned out to be a mad one; but | Suppose 
one can’t have everything. And that really does appear to 
be all.” The remaining contents of the tankard descended 
the way of all good beer. “Facilis descensus taverni,” said 
Roger, smacking his lips. 


He looked round at the three thoughtful faces and grinned 
widely. He was feeling rather more pleased with Roger 
Sheringham than ever before, and he wanted a victim. 
Moresby was the selection. Roger felt he owed Moresby just 
what that Chief Inspector was going to get. 


He rose and clapped him happily on the shoulder. “Do you 
know what’s the matter with you real detectives at Scotland 
Yard, Moresby?” he asked kindly. “You don’t read enough of 
those detective stories.” 



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