The Box with Broken Seals
E. Phillips Oppenheim
Part 3 out of 5
They all listened intently. Again they could hear the hooting of a
steamer in the distance.
"Between ourselves," Crawshay went on confidentially, "the captain
seems to me rather worried. That steamer has been following us for
hours. She is evidently waiting for the fog to lift, to see who
"How does she know about us?" Katharine asked. "We haven't blown our
"We don't need to," was the fractious reply. "That's where we are
being over-careful. She can hear our engines distinctly."
"Who does the captain think she is, then?"
Crawshay's voice was dropped to a mysterious pitch, but though he
leaned towards the girl, his eyes were fixed upon her companion.
"He doesn't go as far as to express a definite opinion, but he thinks
that it might be that German raider--the _Blucher_, isn't it? She can
steal about quite safely in the fog, and she can tell by the beat of
the engines whether she is near a man-of-war or not."
Not a muscle of Jocelyn's face twitched, but there was a momentary
gleam in his eyes of which Crawshay took swift note. He glanced aft to
where the two seamen were standing by the side of their guns.
"If it really is the German raider," he remarked, "they might as well
fire off a popgun as that thing. She is supposed to be armed with four
six-inch guns and two torpedo tubes."
"So I told the captain. We might have a go at a submarine, but the
raider would sink us in two minutes if we tried to tackle her. What a
beastly voyage this is!" he went on, in a depressed tone. "I can't get
over the fact that I risked my life to get on board, too."
Jocelyn Thew, with a little word of excuse, had swung around and
disappeared. Katharine looked at her companion curiously.
"Do you believe that it really is the raider, Mr. Crawshay?" she
He hesitated. In Jocelyn's absence his manner seemed to undergo some
subtle change, his tone to become crisper and less querulous.
"We had some reason to hope," he said cautiously, "that she was on a
different course. It is just possible, however, that in changing it
she might have struck this bank of fog and preferred to hang about
for a time."
"What will happen if she finds us?"
"That depends entirely upon circumstances."
"I have an idea," Katharine continued, "that you know more about this
matter than you feel inclined to divulge."
"Perhaps," he admitted. "Nowadays, every one has to learn discretion."
"Is it necessary with me?" "It is necessary with any friend of Mr.
Jocelyn Thew," he told her didactically.
"What a suspicious person you are!" she exclaimed, a little
scornfully. "You are just like all your countrymen. You get hold of an
idea and nothing can shake it. Mr. Jocelyn Thew, I dare say, possesses
a past. I know for a fact that he has been engaged in all sorts of
adventures during his life. But--at your instigation, I suppose--they
have already searched his person, his stateroom, and every article of
luggage he has. After that, why not leave him alone?"
"Because he is an extremely clever person."
"Then you are not satisfied yet?"
"Am I, may I ask, under suspicion?" she enquired, with faint sarcasm.
"I should not like to say," he replied glibly, "that you were
altogether free from it."
She laughed heartily.
"I should not worry about the army if I were you," she advised. "I am
quite sure that secret-service work is the natural outlet for
"I shouldn't be surprised," he confided, "if headquarters didn't
insist upon my taking it up permanently. It will depend a little, of
course, upon what success I have during this voyage."
She laughed in his face and turned away.
"I will tell you what I find so interesting about you, Mr. Crawshay,"
she said. "You must be either very much cleverer than you seem, or
very much more foolish. You keep me continually guessing as to
which it is."
Towards six o'clock that evening, without any apparent change in the
situation, Captain Jones descended from the bridge and signalled to
Crawshay, whom he passed on the deck, to follow him into his room. The
great ship was still going at full speed through a sea which was as
smooth as glass.
"Getting out of it, aren't we?" Crawshay enquired.
The captain nodded. His hair and beard were soaked with moisture, and
there were beads of wet all over his face. Otherwise he seemed little
the worse for his long vigil. In his eyes, however, was a new anxiety.
"Another five miles," he confided, "should see us in clear weather."
"Steamer's still following us, isn't she?"
"Sticking to us like a leech," was the terse reply. "She is not out of
any American port. She must have just picked us up. She isn't any
ordinary cargo steamer, either, or she couldn't make the speed."
"I've worked it out by your chart," Crawshay declared, "and it might
very well be the Blucher. I don't think I made the altered course wide
enough, and she might very well have been hanging about a bit when she
struck the fog and heard our engines."
The captain lit a pipe. "I am not in the habit, as you may imagine,
of discussing the conduct of my ship with any one, Mr. Crawshay," he
said, "but you come to me with very absolute credentials, and it's
rather a comfort to have some one standing by with whom one can share
the responsibility. You see my couple of guns? They are about as
useful as catapults against the _Blucher_, whereas, on the other hand,
she could sink us easily with a couple of volleys."
"Just so," Crawshay agreed. "What about speed, Captain?"
"If our reports are trustworthy, we might be able to squeeze out one
more knot than she can do," was the doubtful reply, "but, you see,
she'll follow us out of this last bank of fog practically within rifle
range. I've altered my course three or four times so as to get a
start, but she hangs on like grim death. That's what makes me so sure
that it's the _Blucher_."
"Want my advice?" Crawshay asked.
"That's the idea," the captain acquiesced.
"Stoke her up, then, and drive full speed ahead. Take no notice of any
signals. Make for home with the last ounce you can squeeze out
"That's all very well," Captain Jones observed, "but there will be at
least half an hour during which we shall be within effective range.
She might sink us a dozen times over."
"Yes, but I don't think she will."
"If the theory upon which I started this wild-goose chase is correct,"
Crawshay explained, "there is something on board this ship infinitely
more valuable than the ship itself to Germany. That is why I
think that she will strain every nerve to try and capture you, of
course, but she will never sink you, because if she did she would lose
everything her Secret Service have worked for in Germany ever since,
and even before the commencement of the war."
"It's an idea," the captain admitted, with a gleam in his eyes.
"It's common sense," Crawshay urged. "When I left Halifax, I was ready
to take twenty-five to one that we'd been sold. I wouldn't mind laying
twenty-five to one now that what we are in search of is somewhere on
board this steamer. If that is so, the _Blucher_ will never dare to
sink you, because there will still remain the chance of the person on
board who is in charge of the documents getting away with them at the
other end, whereas down at the bottom of the Atlantic they would be of
no use to any one."
"I see your point of view," the other agreed.
"Then you'd better take my tip," Crawshay continued. "There isn't a
passenger on board who didn't know the risk they were running when
they started, and I'm sure no one will blame you for not surrendering
your ship like a dummy directly you're asked. They're a pretty
sporting lot in the saloon, you know. All those newspaper men are real
The captain's face brightened.
"Next to fighting her," he soliloquised, stroking his beard,--
"The idea of fighting her is ridiculous," Crawshay interrupted. "Look
here, you haven't any time to lose. Send to the engineer and let him
give it to them straight down below. I'll give a tenner apiece to the
stokers, if we get clear, and if my advice turns out wrong, I'll see
you through it, anyway."
"We can leg it at a trifle over nineteen knots," Captain Jones
declared, as he picked up his cap, "and, anyway, anything's better
than having one of those short-haired, smooth-tongued, blustering
Germans on board."
He hurried off, and Crawshay followed him on deck to watch
developments. Already, through what seemed to be an opening in the
walls of fog, there was a vision in front of clear blue sea on which a
still concealed sun was shining. Soon they passed out into a new
temperature of pleasant warmth, with a skyline ahead, hard and clear.
The passengers came crowding on deck. Every one leaned over the
starboard rail, looking towards the place whence the sound of the
hooting was still proceeding. Suddenly a steamer crept out of the fog
mountain and drew clear, barely half a mile away. The first glimpse at
her was final. She had cast off all disguise. Her false forecastle was
thrown back, and the sun glittered upon three exceedingly
formidable-looking guns, trained upon the _City of Boston_. A row of
signals, already hoisted, were fluttering from her mast.
"It's the _Blucher_, by God!" Sam West muttered.
"We're nabbed!" his little friend groaned.
"Wonder what they'll do with us."
Every eye was upturned now to the mast for the answering signals. To
the universal surprise, none were hoisted. The captain stood upon the
bridge with his glass focussed upon the raider. He gave no orders,
only the black smoke was beginning to belch now from the funnels, and
little pieces of smut and burning coal blew down the deck. Jocelyn
Thew, who was standing a little apart, frowned to himself. He had seen
Crawshay and the captain come out of the latter's cabin together.
The blue lightnings were playing now unchecked about the top of the
Marconi room. Another more imperative signal flew from the pirate
ship. A minute later there was a puff of white smoke, a loud report,
and a shell burst in the sea, fifty yards ahead. Crawshay edged up to
where Jocelyn Thew was standing.
"This is a damned unpleasant affair," he said.
"It is," was the grim reply.
"You know it's the _Blucher_?"
"No doubt about that."
"What on earth are we up to?" Crawshay continued, in a dissatisfied
tone. "We haven't even replied to her signals."
"It appears to me," Jocelyn Thew pronounced irritably, "that we are
going to try and get away. I never heard of such lunacy. They can blow
us to pieces if they want to."
"I think," he protested, "that some one ought to remonstrate with the
captain. Look, there's another shell coming! Damned ugly things!"
There was another puff of white smoke, and this time the projectile
fell within a steamer's length of them, sending a great fountain of
water into the air. "They are giving us plenty of warning," Jocelyn
Thew observed coolly. "I suppose we shall get the next one amidships."
"I find it most upsetting," his companion declared. "I am going down
to the cabin to get my lifebelt."
He turned away. Presently there was another line of signals, more
shots, some across the bows of the steamer, some right over her, a few
aft. Nevertheless, the _City of Boston_ stood on her course, and the
distance between the two steamers gradually widened. Katharine, who
had come up on deck, stood by Jocelyn Thew's side.
"Is this really the way that they shoot," she asked, "or aren't they
trying to hit us?"
"They are not trying," he told her. "If they were, every shot they
fired at this range would be sufficient to send us to the bottom."
"Why aren't they trying?" she persisted.
"There's a reason for that, which I can't at the moment explain," was
the gloomy reply. "They want to capture us, not sink us! What I can't
understand, though, is how the captain here found that out."
"How is it that you are so well-informed?" Katharine asked curiously.
"You had better not enquire, Miss Beverley. It's just as well not to
know too much of these things. Here's Mr. Crawshay," he added.
"Perhaps he'll tell you."
Crawshay appeared, hugging his lifebelt, on which he seated himself
"Can't imagine what the captain's up to," he complained. "A chap who
understands those little flags has just told me that they've
threatened to blow us to pieces if we go on.--Here comes another
shell!" he groaned. "Two to one they've got us this time!--Ugh!"
They all ducked to avoid a shower of spray. When they stood upright
again, Katharine studied the newcomer for a minute critically. There
was a certain air of strain about most of the passengers. Even Jocelyn
Thew's firm hand had trembled, a moment ago, as he had lowered his
glasses. Crawshay, seated upon his lifebelt, with a mackintosh
buttoned around him, his eyeglass firmly adjusted, his mouth
querulous, was not exactly an impressive-looking object. Yet
"Give me your hand," she asked suddenly.
He obeyed at once. The fingers were cool and firm.
"Why do you pretend to be afraid?" she demanded. "You aren't in the
"Amateur theatricals," he replied tersely, "coupled with a certain
amount of self-control. I am a cool-tempered fellow at most
times.--Jove, this one's meant for us, I believe!"
They all ducked instinctively. The shell, however, fell short.
Crawshay measured the distance between the two steamers with his eyes.
"Dashed if I don't believe we're giving them the slip!" he exclaimed.
"I wonder why in thunder they're letting us off like this! The captain
must have known something."
Jocelyn Thew turned around and looked reflectively at the speaker. For
a single moment Crawshay's muscles tingled with the apprehension
of danger. There was a smouldering light in the other's eyes, such a
light as might gleam in the tiger's eyes before his spring. Crawshay's
hand slipped to his hip pocket. So for a moment they remained. Then
Jocelyn Thew shrugged his shoulders, and the tense moment was past.
"There seems to be some one on this ship," he said quietly, "who knows
more than is good for him."
The _City of Boston_ passed through the danger zone in safety, and
dropped anchor in the Mersey only a few hours later than the time of
her expected arrival. Towards the close of a somewhat uproarious
dinner, during which many bottles of champagne were emptied to various
toasts, Captain Jones quite unexpectedly entered the saloon, and,
waving his hand in response to the cheers which greeted him, made his
way to his usual table, from which he addressed the little company.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "I have an announcement to make to
which I beg you will listen with patience. Both the English and the
American police, whether with reason or not, as we may presently
determine, have come to the conclusion that a large number of very
important documents, collected in America by the agents of a foreign
power, have been smuggled across the Atlantic upon this ship, in the
hope that they may eventually reach Germany. In a quarter of an hour's
time, a number of plainclothes policemen will be on board. I am going
to ask you, as loyal British and American subjects, to subject
yourselves, without resistance or complaint, to any search which they
may choose to make. I may add that my own person, luggage and cabin
will be the first object of their attention." The captain, having
delivered his address, left the saloon again amidst a little buzz of
voices. There had probably never been a voyage across the Atlantic in
which a matter of forty passengers had been treated to so many rumours
and whispers of strange happenings. Sam West got up and spoke a few
words, counselling the ready assent of every one there to submit to
anything that was thought necessary. He briefly commented upon their
unexplained but fortuitous escape from the raider, and heaped
congratulations upon their captain. Very soon after he had resumed his
seat, the shrill whistle of a tug alongside indicated the arrival of
visitors. A steward passed back and forth amongst the passengers with
a universal request--all were asked to repair to their staterooms.
Twenty-seven exceedingly alert-looking men thereupon commenced
Seated upon the couch in her room, with a cup of coffee by her side
and a cigarette between her lips, Katharine listened to the
conversation which passed in the opposite room, the one which had been
tenanted by Phillips. For some reason, the end of the voyage, instead
of bringing her the relief which she had expected, had only increased
her nervous excitement. She was filled with an extraordinary
prescience of some coming crisis. She found herself trembling as she
listened to Doctor Gant's harsh voice and the smooth accents of his
"Well, that completes our search of your belongings, Doctor Gant," the
latter's voice observed. "Now I want to ask a few questions with
reference to the Mr. Phillips who I understand died the day before
yesterday under your charge." "That is so," Doctor Gant agreed. "He
had no luggage, as we only made up our minds to undertake the journey
with him at the last moment. The few oddments he used on the voyage,
"And the body, I understand,--"
"You can examine it at once, if you will," the doctor interrupted. "We
have purposely left the coffin lid only partly screwed down. I should
like to say, however, that before arranging the deceased for burial, I
asked the ship's doctor to make an examination with me of the coffin
and the garments which I used. He signed the certificate, and he will
be ready to answer any questions."
"That seems entirely satisfactory," the detective confessed. "I will
just have the coffin lid off for a few moments, and will see the
doctor before I leave the ship."
The men left the room together and were absent some ten minutes.
Presently the detective returned to Katharine's room, and with him
came Crawshay. Katharine had discarded the nurse's costume which she
had usually worn on board ship, and was wearing the black tailor-made
suit in which she had expected to land. In the dim light, her pallor
and nervous condition almost startled Crawshay.
"You will forgive my intrusion," he said. "I have just been explaining
your presence here to Mr. Brightman, the detective, and I don't think
he will trouble you for more than a few minutes."
"Please treat me exactly as the others," she begged.
The search proceeded for a few moments in silence. Then the detective
looked up from the dressing case which he was examining. In his hand
he held the envelope addressed to Mrs. Phillips.
"Do you mind telling me what this is, Miss Beverley?" he asked.
"It is a roll of bills," she replied, "that belonged to Mr. Phillips.
I promised to see them handed over to his wife."
Brightman glanced at the address and balanced the envelope on the palm
of his hand.
"It is against the law," he told her, "for a passenger to be the
bearer of any sealed letter."
Katharine shrugged her shoulders.
"I am very sorry," she said, "but the packet which you have did not
come from America at all. It was sealed up on board this ship at the
time when I accepted the charge of its delivery. There is no letter or
communication of any sort inside."
"You will not object," the detective enquired, "to my opening it?"
She frowned impatiently.
"I can assure you," she repeated, "that I saw the notes put inside an
empty envelope. Mr. Crawshay will tell you that my word is to be
"Implicitly, Miss Beverley," Crawshay pronounced emphatically, "but
under the circumstances I think no harm would be done if you allowed
our friend just to glance inside. The notes can easily be sealed up in
"Just as you like," she acquiesced coolly. "You will find nothing but
Brightman tore open the envelope and glanced inside as though he did
not intend further to disturb it. Suddenly his face changed. He shook
out the contents upon the little table. They all three looked at the
pile of papers with varying expressions. In Katharine's face there was
nothing but blank bewilderment, in Crawshay's something of horror, in
the detective's a faint gleam of triumph. He pressed his finger down
on the heading of the first sheet of paper.
"I am not much of a German scholar," he observed. "How do you
translate that, Mr. Crawshay?"
Crawshay was silent for several moments. Then in a perfectly
mechanical tone he read out the heading:
"'List of our agents in New York and district who may be absolutely
trusted for any enterprise.'"
There was another dead silence, a silence, on Katharine's part, of
complete mental paralysis. Crawshay's face had lost all its smooth
petulance. He was like a man who had received a blow.
"But I don't understand," Katharine faltered at last. "That packet has
not been out of my possession, and I saw the notes put into it."
"By whom?" Crawshay demanded.
"By Mr. Phillips," she declared steadfastly, "by Mr. Phillips and
Doctor Gant together."
The detective turned the envelope over in his hand.
"The bills seem to have disappeared," he observed.
"They were in that envelope," Katharine persisted. "I have never seen
those papers before in my life."
Brightman's face remained immovable. One by one he slipped the papers
back into the envelope, thrust them into his breast pocket, and,
turning round, locked the door.
"You must forgive me if the rest of our investigations may seem
unnecessarily severe, Miss Beverley," he said.
Katharine sank back upon the sofa. She was utterly bewildered by the
events of the last few minutes. The search of her belongings was now
being conducted with ruthless persistence. Her head was buried in her
hands. She did not even glance at the contents of her trunk, which
were now overflowing the room. Suddenly she was conscious of another
pause in the proceedings, a half-spoken exclamation from the
detective. She looked up. From within the folds of an evening gown he
had withdrawn a small, official-looking dispatch box of black tin,
tied with red tape, and with great seals hanging from either end.
"What is this?" he asked.
Katharine stared at it with wide-open eyes.
"I have never seen it before," she declared.
There was another painful, significant silence. Crawshay bent forward
and examined the seals through his glass.
"This," he announced presently, "is the official seal of a neutral
Embassy. You see how the packet is addressed?"
"I see," the detective admitted, "but, considering the way in which we
have found it, you are not suggesting, I hope, that we should not
"Opened it certainly must be," Crawshay admitted, "but not by us in
this manner. When you have finished your search, I should be glad if
you will bring both packets with you to the captain's room."
Brightman silently resumed his labours. Nothing further, however, was
found. The two men stood up together.
"Miss Beverley," Brightman began gravely,--
Crawshay laid his hand upon the man's arm.
"Wait for a moment," he begged. "I wish to have a few words with you
outside. We shall be back before long, Miss Beverley."
The two men disappeared. Katharine, with a sinking of the heart, heard
the key turn on the outside of her stateroom. She watched the lock
slip into its place with an indescribable sense of humiliation. She
had been guilty--of what?
She lost count of time, but it was certain that only a few minutes
could have passed before a strange thing happened. The sight of that
lock, which seemed somehow to shut her off from the world of
reasonable, honest men and women, had fascinated her. She was sitting
watching it, her chin resting upon her hands, something of the horror
still in her eyes, when without sound, or any visible explanation, she
saw it glide back to its place. The door was opened and closed.
Jocelyn Thew was standing in her stateroom.
"You?" she exclaimed.
"I am not disappointed in you, I am sure," he said softly. "You will
keep still. You will not say a word. I have risked the whole success
of a great enterprise to come and say these few words to you. I am
ashamed and sorry for what you are suffering, but I want to tell you
this. Nothing serious will happen--nothing serious can happen to you.
Everything is not as it seems. Will you believe that? Look at me. Will
you believe that?"
She raised her eyes. Once more there was that change in his face which
had seemed so wonderful to her. The blue of his eyes was soft, his
mouth almost tremulous. She answered him almost as though mesmerised.
"I will believe it," she promised.
As silently and mysteriously as he had come, he turned and left her.
She watched the latch. She saw the lock creep silently once more into
its place. She heard no movement outside, but Jocelyn Thew had gone.
During the few remaining minutes of her solitude, Katharine felt a
curious change in the atmosphere of the little disordered stateroom,
in her own dazed and bruised feelings. She seemed somehow to be
playing a part in a little drama which had nothing to do with real
life. All her fears had vanished. She rose from her place, smoothed
her disordered hair carefully, bathed her temples with eau-de-cologne,
adjusted her hat and veil, and, turning on the reading lamp, opened a
novel. She actually managed to read a couple of pages before there was
a knock at the door and the two men reappeared. She laid down her book
and greeted them quite coolly.
"Well, have you come to pronounce sentence upon me?" she asked.
"Our authority scarcely goes so far," Brightman replied. "I am going
on shore now, Miss Beverley, to fetch the consul of the country to
which this packet is addressed. It will be opened in his presence. In
the meantime, Mr. Crawshay has given his parole for you. You will
therefore be free of the ship, but it will be, I am afraid, my duty to
ask you to come with me to the police station for a further
examination, on my return."
"I am sure I shall like to come very much," she said sweetly, "but if
you go on asking me questions forever, I am afraid you won't come any
nearer solving the problem of how that box got into my trunk, or how
those bills got changed into those queer-looking little slips of
papers. However, that of course is your affair."
The detective departed with a stiff bow. Crawshay, however, lingered.
"Aren't you going with your friend?" she asked him.
He ignored the question.
"Miss Beverley," he said, "you will forgive me saying that I find the
present position exceedingly painful."
"Why?" she demanded. "I don't see how you are suffering by it."
"It was at my instigation," he went on, "that suspicion was first
directed against your travelling companions. I am convinced that the
first idea was to get these documents off the ship upon the person of
Phillips, if alive, or in his coffin if dead. The instigators of this
abominable conspiracy have taken fright and have made you their
victim. Certainly," he went on, "it was a shrewd idea. I myself
suggested to Brightman that your things might remain undisturbed. But
for the finding of that envelope, your trunk would certainly not have
been opened. You see the position I have placed myself in. I am driven
to ask you a question. Did you know of the presence of those papers
and dispatch box amongst your belongings?"
"I had no idea of it," she answered fervently.
He drew a little breath of relief.
"You realise, of course," he went on, "that there is only one man who
could have placed them there?"
"And who is that?" she enquired.
"And why do you single him out?"
"Because," Crawshay told her patiently, "we had evidence in America to
show that he was working with our enemies. It is true that he has not
been associated to any extent with the German espionage system in
America, but he has been well-known always as a reckless adventurer,
ready to sell his life in any doubtful cause, so long as it promised
excitement and profit. It was known to us that he had come into touch
with a certain man in Washington who has been looking after the
interests of his country in America. It was to shadow Jocelyn Thew
that I came on this steamer. His friends cleverly fooled Hobson and
me, and landed us in Chicago too late, as they thought, to catch the
boat. That is why I made that somewhat melodramatic journey after you
on the seaplane. Do please consider this matter reasonably, Miss
Beverley. It was perfectly easy for him to slip across and place these
things in your luggage as soon as he found that his original scheme
was likely to go wrong. You were the one person on the steamer whom
he reckoned would be safe from suspicion. You were part of his plot
from the very first, and no more than that."
"I cannot believe this," she said slowly.
Crawshay's face darkened.
"It is no business of mine, Miss Beverley," he declared, "but if you
will forgive my saying so, you must be infatuated by this man. The
evidence is perfectly clear. You are a prominent citizeness of a great
country, and you have been made an accessory to an act of treason
against that country. Yet, with plain facts in my hands, it seems
impossible for me to shake your faith in this person. What is the
reason of it? What hold had he upon you that he should have induced
you to leave your work and your home and betray your country?"
"He has no hold upon me at all," she replied indignantly. "Since you
are so persistent, I will tell you the truth. I once saw him do a
splendid thing, a deed which saved me from great unhappiness."
"There we have it then at last!" Crawshay exclaimed eagerly. "You are
under obligations to him."
"I certainly am," she acknowledged.
"And he has taken advantage of it," Crawshay continued, "to make you
"Whatever he has done," she replied, "rests between Jocelyn Thew and
me. I am not in the least disposed to excuse myself or to beg for
mercy from you. If you represent the law, directly or indirectly, I do
not ask for any favours. I shall be perfectly ready to go to your
police station whenever I am sent for." There was a knock at the
door. They both turned around. In reply to Katharine's mechanical
"Come in," Jocelyn Thew entered.
"I beg your pardon," he said, "was I mistaken or did I hear my name?"
"We were speaking of you," Crawshay admitted, turning towards him,
"but I do not think that either Miss Beverley or I have anything to
say to you at the moment."
"That's rather a pity," was the cool reply, "because you may not see
me again. I was looking for Miss Beverley, in fact, to say good-by. We
are docking in half an hour, and those who have been searched can go
on shore, if they like to leave their hold luggage. As I have been
searched twice in the most thorough and effective fashion, I have my
"You mean that you are going away altogether to-night?" Katharine
"Only so far as the Adelphi," he told her. "I have some friends to see
who live near Liverpool, so I shall probably stay there for two or
"I was coming to look for you on deck presently," Crawshay intervened,
"but if your departure is so imminent, I will say what I have to say
to you here."
"That would seem advisable," Jocelyn Thew agreed.
"I think it is only right that you should know, sir," Crawshay
continued, "that a very serious position has arisen here in which Miss
Beverley is unfortunately involved. Incriminating documents have been
found in her luggage, placed there obviously by some unscrupulous
person, who was in search of a safe hiding-place."
"Is this true?" Jocelyn Thew asked, looking past Crawshay to
"I am afraid that it is," she assented.
"The person who placed them there," Crawshay proceeded, the anger
gathering in his tone, "may believe for the present that he has been
able to escape from his dangerous position by this dastardly attempt
to incriminate a woman. He may, on the other hand, find that his
immunity will last but a very short time."
Jocelyn Thew nodded in calm acquiescence.
"I am at a loss," he said, "to account for your somewhat melodramatic
tone, but I really do not think that Miss Beverley has very much
"There I agree with you," Crawshay declared. "She has not so much to
fear as the criminal who is responsible for what has happened. He may
think that he has escaped by saddling his crime upon a woman's
shoulders. On the other hand, he may discover that this attempt, which
only aggravates his position, will turn out to be futile."
Jocelyn Thew held out his hand towards Katharine.
"Really," he said, "the tone of this conversation takes one back to
the atmosphere of the dear old Drury Lane melodrama. I feel, somehow
or other," he went on, looking into Katharine's eyes, "that our friend
here has cast me for the part of the villain and you for the injured
heroine. I am wondering whether I dare ask you for a farewell
Katharine did not hesitate for a moment. Her shapely, ringless hand
was grasped firmly by his brown, lean fingers. She felt the pressure
of a signet ring, the slight tightening of his grip as he leaned a
little towards her. Again she was conscious of that feeling of
exuberant life and complete confidence which had transformed her whole
and humiliating situation so short a time ago.
"The injured heroine is always forgiving," she declared,--"even though
she may have nothing to forgive. Good-by, Mr. Thew, and good
fortune to you!"
The morning--grey, slightly wet--broke upon Liverpool docks, the ugliest
place in the ugliest city of Europe. A thin stream of people descended at
irregular intervals down the gangway from the _City of Boston_ to the dock,
and disappeared in various directions. Amongst the first came a melancholy
little procession--a coffin carried by two ship's stewards, with Doctor
Gant in solitary attendance behind. After the passengers came a sprinkling
of the ship's officers, all very smart and in a great hurry. Then there was
a pause of several hours. About midday, two men--Brightman and a
stranger--came down the covered way into the dock and boarded the steamer.
They were shown at once into the captain's room, where Crawshay and Captain
Jones were awaiting them.
"This," Brightman said, introducing his companion, "is Mr. Andelsen. I was
fortunate enough to find him on the point of leaving for London."
Mr. Andelsen shook hands and accepted a chair. Upon the table in front of
the captain was the sealed dispatch box. Crawshay had a suggestion to make.
"I think," he said, "that Miss Beverley should be here herself when this is
"I have no objection," Brightman assented.
The captain rang for his steward and sent down a message. Mr. Andelsen--a
tall, thin man, dressed in a sombre grey suit--handled the seals for a
moment, looked at the address of the box, and shook his head.
"I could not take upon myself the responsibility of opening this," he
declared. "It is certainly the seal of the Embassy of my country, but the
box is addressed specifically to our Foreign Secretary at the Capital."
"We quite appreciate that," Crawshay admitted. "The captain, I believe, is
not asking you to break it. We simply wish you to be present while we do
so, in order to prove that no disrespect is intended to your country, and
in order that you yourself may have an opportunity of taking a note of the
"So long as it is understood that I am only here as a witness," the consul
acquiesced, a little doubtfully, "I am quite willing to remain."
Katharine was presently ushered in. She was dressed for landing in a smart
tailor-made suit, and her appearance was entirely cheerful. Crawshay
stepped forward and handed her a chair.
"Dear me," she said, "this all seems very formidable! Am I under arrest or
"The captain is about to open the dispatch box found in your trunk, Miss
Beverley," Crawshay explained, "in the presence of Mr. Andelsen here, who
represents the country whose seals are attached. I have already expressed
my opinion that this box has been surreptitiously placed amongst your
belongings, and although, of course, our chief object was to gain
possession of it, I regret very much the position in which you are placed."
"You are very kind, Mr. Crawshay," she rejoined, without much feeling. "It
is certainly a fact that I never saw the box before it was dragged out of
my trunk yesterday."
The captain broke the seals, untied the tape, and with a chisel and hammer
knocked the top off the box. They all, with the exception of Katharine,
gathered around him breathlessly as he shook out the contents on to the
table. They were all sharers in the same shock of surprise as the neatly
folded packets of ordinary writing paper were one by one disclosed.
Crawshay seized one and dragged it to the light. The captain kept on
picking them up and throwing them down again. Brightman mechanically
followed his example.
"The whole thing's a bluff!" Crawshay exclaimed. "These sheets of paper are
all blank! There isn't any trace even of invisible ink."
The consul rose to his feet with a heavy frown.
"This is a very obvious practical joke," he said angrily. "It seems a pity
that I should have been compelled to miss my train to town."
"A practical joke!" the captain repeated. "If it is I'm damned if I
understand the point of it!"
"Give me the envelope which held the notes," Crawshay demanded.
The captain unlocked his safe and produced it. Crawshay glanced through
some of the documents hastily.
"These are all bogus, too!" he exclaimed. "There are no such streets as
this in New York--no such names. The whole thing's a sell!"
"But what the--what in thunder does it all mean?" the captain demanded,
pulling himself up as he glanced towards Katharine.
Brightman, who had scarcely spoken a word, leaned across the table.
"Probably," he said drily, "it means that some one a little cleverer than
us has got away with the real stuff whilst we played around with this
"But how?" Crawshay expostulated. "Not a soul has left this ship who hasn't
been searched to the skin. The luggage in the hold is going out trunk by
trunk, after every cubic foot has been ransacked. We have had a guard at
every gangway since we were docked."
There was a knock at the door. The ship's doctor entered. He glanced at the
little company and hesitated.
"I beg your pardon, Captain," he said, "could I have a word with you?"
The captain moved towards the threshold.
"Ship's business, Doctor?"
"It's just a queer idea of mine about these papers," the doctor confessed.
"It's perhaps scarcely worth mentioning--"
"You'd better come in and tell us about it," the captain insisted. "That's
what we're all talking about at the present moment."
Crawshay closed the door behind the newcomer, whose manner was still to
some extent apologetic.
"It's really rather a mad idea," the latter began, "and I understand you
found a part of what you were searching for, at any rate. But you know the
man Phillips, who'd been operated upon for appendicitis--your patient, Miss
Beverley, who died during the voyage?"
"What about him?" the captain demanded.
"Just one thing," the Doctor continued. "There was no doubt whatever that
he had been operated upon for appendicitis, there was no doubt about the
complications, there was no doubt about his death. I helped Doctor
Gant--who seemed a very reasonable person, and who is known to me as one of
the physicians at Miss Beverley's hospital--in various small details, and
at his request I went over the clothing of the dead man and even knocked
the coffin to see that it hadn't a double bottom. Doctor Gant appeared to
welcome investigation in every shape and form, and yet, now that it's all
over, there is one curious thing which rather bothers me."
"Get on with it, man," the captain admonished. "Can't you see that we're
all in a fever about this business?"
The doctor produced from his pocket a small strip of very fine quality
"It's just this," he explained. "They left this fragment of bandaging in
the stateroom. Phillips was bound up with it around the wound, as was quite
natural, but it isn't ordinary stuff, you see. It's made double like a
tube, with silk inside. He must have had a dozen yards of this around his
leg and side, which of course was not disturbed. It's a horrible idea to a
layman, I know," he went on, turning apologetically to Katharine,--
"Captain, will you send at once for the steward," Crawshay interrupted,
"who carried the coffin out?"
The captain sent a message to the lower deck. Katharine was leaning a
little forward, intensely interested.
"Perhaps, Miss Beverley, you can throw some light upon this?" the former
enquired--"in your capacity as nurse, I mean."
She shook her head.
"I am sorry that I cannot," she replied. "As a matter of fact, I was never
allowed to touch the bandages. Doctor Gant did all that himself."
"Have you ever seen any bandaging of this sort?" Brightman asked, showing
her the fragment which he had taken from the doctor's fingers.
Crawshay drew a little breath between his teeth. He was on the point of
speech when a steward knocked at the door. The captain called him in.
"Harrison," he asked, "were you one of the stewards who was looking after
"Yes, sir," the man replied.
"You helped to carry the coffin out, didn't you?"
"That's so, sir. We were off at six o'clock this morning."
"Was there a hearse waiting?"
The steward shook his head.
"There was a big motor car outside, sir. We put the coffin in that and the
doctor drove off with it--said he was to take it down to the place where
the man had lived, for burial."
"Do you know where that was?"
"No idea, sir."
The captain glanced towards Brightman.
"Do you want to ask the man any questions?"
"Questions? No, sir!" the detective replied bitterly. "We've been
done--that's all there is about it. Never mind, they've only got six hours'
start. We'll have that car traced, and--"
"Does any one know what time Mr. Jocelyn Thew left the steamer?" Crawshay
"He got away last night," the steward replied. "There were three or four of
them went up to the Adelphi to sleep. Some of them came back for their
baggage this morning, but I haven't seen Mr. Jocelyn Thew."
Katharine rose to her feet. Her tone and expression were impenetrable.
"Am I still suspect?" she asked.
Crawshay glanced at Brightman, who shook his head.
"There is no charge against you. Miss Beverley," he admitted stiffly. "So
far as I am concerned, you are at liberty to leave the ship whenever you
She held out her hand to the captain.
"I can't make up my mind, Captain," she said, smiling at him delightfully,
"as to what sort of a voyage I have had on this steamer, but I do
congratulate you on that escape from the raider. Good-by!"
Crawshay walked with her along the deserted deck as far as the gangway.
"I am afraid I cannot offer my escort any further, Miss Beverley," he
regretted. "I must have a little conversation with Brightman here."
"Of course," she answered. "I quite understand. Perhaps we may meet in
London. It seems a pity, doesn't it," she went on sympathetically, "that
that wonderful voyage of yours was taken for nothing? Some one on this ship
has been very clever indeed."
"Some one has," Crawshay replied bitterly, "and you and I both know who it
is, Miss Beverley. But," he went on, holding the gangway railing as she
turned to descend, "it's only the first part of the game that's over. Our
friend has won on the sea, but I have an idea that we shall have him on
land. We shall have him yet, and we'll catch him red-handed if I have
anything to do with it. Will you wish us luck?"
She turned and looked at him. Her lips parted as though she were about to
speak. Instead she broke into a little laugh, and, turning away, descended
the gangway. From the dock she looked up again at Crawshay.
"Do come and look me up if you are in town," she begged. "I shall stay at
Claridge's, and I shall be interested to hear how you get on."
The _City of Boston_ docked in Liverpool on Sunday night. On Tuesday, at
five o'clock in the afternoon, Crawshay, who had been waiting at Euston
Station for a quarter of an hour or so, almost dragged Brightman out of the
long train which drew slowly into the station.
"We'll take a taxi somewhere," the former said. "It's the safest place to
talk in. Any other luggage?"
"Only the bag I'm carrying," the detective replied. "I have got some more
stuff coming up, if you want me to keep on this job."
"I think I shall," Crawshay told him. "I want to hear how you got on. I
gathered from your first telegram that you were on the track. Where did you
mean to stay?"
"I've no choice."
"The Savoy, then," Crawshay decided. "Jocelyn Thew is staying there, and
you may be able to keep an eye on him. Here we are. Taxi?--Savoy!--Now,
"You don't want me to make a long story of it, sir," Brightman observed, as
they drove off.
"Just the things that count, that's all."
"Well, we got on the track of the car all right," the detective began, "and
traced it to a small village called Frisby, the other side of Chester, and
to the house of a Mrs. Phillips, a woman in poor circumstances who had just
removed from Liverpool. She was the widow, all right. She showed us
letters, and plenty of them, from her husband in New York. It appears that
Gant alone had brought the coffin, which was left at the cemetery, and the
funeral will have taken place t his afternoon. Mrs. Phillips was full of
his praises, and it seems that he had paid her over the whole of the money
you spoke about--five thousand dollars."
"There was no chicanery so far, then," Crawshay observed. "The man was
dead, of course?"
"Absolutely," Brightman declared, "and his death seems to have taken place
exactly according to the certificate. Here comes the point, however. With
the aid of the local police and the doctor whom we called in, the bandage
around the wound was removed. We found in its place a perfectly fresh one,
bought in Liverpool, not in the least resembling the silk-lined fragment
which the ship's doctor brought into the cabin."
Crawshay looked gloomily out of the window.
"Well, I imagine that that settles the question of how the papers got into
England," he sighed.
"Our job, I suppose," the detective reminded him, "is to see that they
don't get out again."
"In a sense," Brightman continued, "that is a toughish job, isn't it,
because whoever has them now can make as many copies as he chooses, and one
set would be certain to get through."
"As against that," Crawshay explained, "some of the most valuable documents
are signed letters, of which only the originals would be worth anything.
There are also some exceedingly complicated diagrams of New York harbours,
a plan of all the battleships in existence and projected, a wonderful
submarine destroyer, and a new heavy gun. These things are very
complicated, and to carry conviction must be in the original. Besides
that," he added, dropping his voice, "there is the one most important thing
of all, but of which as yet no one has spoken, and of which I dare scarcely
speak even to you."
"Is it in the shape of a drawing?" Brightman asked.
"It is not," was the whispered reply. "It is a letter, written by the
greatest man in one of the greatest countries in the world, to the greatest
personage in Europe. There is a secret reward offered of half a million
dollars for the return of that letter alone."
"The affair seems worth looking into," Brightman remarked, stroking his
little black moustache.
"I can promise you that the governments on both sides will pay handsomely,"
Crawshay assured him. "I have had my chance but let it slip. You know I had
my training at Scotland Yard, but out in the States I found that I simply
had to forget all that I knew. Their methods are entirely different from
ours, and you see what a failure I have made of it. I have let them get
away with the papers under my very nose."
"I can't see that you were very much to blame, Mr. Crawshay," the detective
observed. "It was a unique trick, and very cleverly worked out."
They had turned off the main thoroughfare and were now brought to a
standstill in the courtyard leading to the Savoy. Suddenly Crawshay gripped
his companion by the arm and directed his attention to a man who was buying
some roses in the florist's shop.
"You see that man?" he said. "Watch him carefully. I'll tell you why when
we get inside."
The eyes of Mr. Brightman and Jocelyn Thew met over the gorgeous cluster of
red roses which the girl was in the act of removing from the window, and
from that moment the struggle which was to come assumed a different
character. Brightman's thin mouth seemed to have tightened until the line
of red had almost disappeared. There was a flush upon his sallow cheeks.
The hand which was gripping his walking stick went white about the
knickles. But in Jocelyn Thew there was no change save a little added
glitter in the eyes. There was nothing else to indicate that the
recognition was mutual.
"Well, what about him?" Brightman asked, as their taxicab moved on. "What
does he call himself?"
"Mr. Jocelyn Thew is his name," Crawshay replied. "He was on the steamer.
It is he, and not Gant, whom we have to make for. The plot which we have to
unravel, which Gant and Phillips, and, unwittingly, Miss Beverley carried
through, was of his scheming."
"Mr. Jocelyn Thew," the detective repeated as they passed through the swing
doors. "So that is how he calls himself now!"
"You know him?"
"Know him!" Brightman repeated bitterly. "The last time I saw him I could
have sworn that I had him booked for Sing Sing prison. He got out of it, as
he always has done. Some one else paid. It was the greatest failure I had
when I was in the States. So he is in this thing, is he?"
"He is not only very much in it," Crawshay replied, "but he is the brains
of the whole expedition. He is the man to whom Gant delivered those
documents some time last night."
They found two easy-chairs in the smoking room and ordered cocktails. Mr.
Brightman sat forward in his chair. He was one of those men whose
individuality seems to rise to any call made upon it. He was indifferently
dressed, by no means good-looking, and he had started life as a policeman.
Just now, however, he seemed to sink quite naturally into his surroundings.
Nothing about his appearance seemed worthy of note except the determination
of his very dogged mouth.
"I accepted your commission a short time ago, Mr. Crawshay," he said, "with
the interest which one always feels in Government business of a
remunerative character. I tell you now that I would have taken it on
eagerly if there had not been a penny hanging to it. I can't tell you
exactly why I feel so bitterly about him, but if I can really get my hands
on to the man who calls himself Jocelyn Thew, it will be one of the
happiest days of my life."
"You really know something about him, then? He really is a bad lot?"
Crawshay asked eagerly.
"The worst that ever breathed," Brightman declared, "the bravest, coolest,
best-bred scoundrel who ever mocked the guardians of the law. Mind you, I
am not saying that he hasn't done other things. He has travelled and fought
in many countries, but when he comes back to civilisation he can't rest.
The world has to hear of him. Things move in New York underground. The
moment he takes rooms at the Carlton-Ritz, things happen in a way that they
have never happened before, and we know that there's genius at the back of
it all, and Jocelyn Thew smiles in our faces. I tell you that if anything
could have kept me in America, although I very much prefer Liverpool, the
chance of laying my hands on this man would have done it."
Through the swing doors, almost as Brightman had concluded his speech, came
Jocelyn Thew. He was dressed in light tweeds, carefully fashioned by an
English tailor. His tie and collar, his grey Homburg hat with its black
band, his beautifully polished and not too new brown shoes, were exactly
according to the decrees of Bond Street. He seemed to be making his way to
the bar, but at the sight of them he paused and strolled across the room
"Getting your land legs, Mr. Crawshay?" he enquired.
"Pretty well, thank you. You finished your business in Liverpool quickly, I
"More urgent business brought me to London. I dined and spent last evening,
by-the-by, with Doctor Gant--the doctor who was in attendance upon that
poor fellow who died on the way over."
"A very ingenious gentleman," Crawshay observed drily.
"Ah! you appreciate that, do you?" Jocelyn Thew replied, with a faint
smile. "You should go and cultivate his acquaintance. He is staying over at
the Regent Palace Hotel."
"One doesn't always attach oneself to the wrong person, Mr. Thew."
"Even the stupidest people in the world," Jocelyn Thew agreed, "can
scarcely make mistakes all the time, can they? By the way," he went on,
turning towards the detective, "is it my fancy or have I not had the
pleasure of meeting Mr. Brightman in America? I fancied so when I saw him
board the steamer in the Mersey on Sunday, but it did not fall to my lot to
receive the benefit of his offices."
"I was just telling Mr. Crawshay that I had had the pleasure of
professional dealings with you," Brightman said drily. "I was also
lamenting the fact that they had not ended according to my desires."
"Mr. Brightman was always ambitious," the newcomer observed, with gentle
satire. "He is, I am sure, a most persevering and intelligent member of his
profession, but he flies high."
"I am much obliged for your commendation," Brightman said bluntly. "As
regards professions, I was just explaining to Mr. Crawshay that you were
almost at the top of the tree in yours."
"If you have discovered my profession," Jocelyn Thew replied, "you have
succeeded where my dearest friends have failed. Pray do not make a secret
of it, Mr. Brightman."
"I have heard you called an adventurer," was the prompt reply.
"It is a term with which I will not quarrel," Jocelyn declared. "I
certainly am one of those who appreciate adventures, who have no pleasure
in sitting down in these grey-walled, fog-hung cities, and crawling about
with one's nose on the pavements like a dog following an unclean smell. No,
that has not been my life. I have sought fortune in most quarters of the
globe, sometimes found it and sometimes lost it, sometimes with one weapon
in my hand and sometimes with another. So perhaps you are right, Mr.
Brightman, when you call me an adventurer."
"These very uncomfortable times," Crawshay remarked, "rather limit the
sphere in which one may look for stirring events."
"You are wrong, believe me," Jocelyn Thew replied earnestly. "The stories
of the Arabian Nights would seem tame, if one had the power of seeing what
goes on around us in the most unsuspected places. But we are digressing.
Mr. Brightman and I were speaking together. It occurred to me, from what he
said, that he has not quite the right idea as to my aspirations, as to the
place I desire to fill in life. I shall try to give him an opportunity to
form a saner judgment."
"It will give me the utmost pleasure to accept it," the detective
confessed, with ill-concealed acerbity.
Jocelyn Thew sighed lightly. He had seated himself upon the arm of a
neighbouring easy-chair and was resting his hand upon the head of a cane he
"If our friend Brightman here has a fault," he said, "in the execution of
his daily duties, it is that he brings to bear into his task a certain
amount of prejudice, from which the mind of the ideal detector of crime
should be free. Now you would scarcely believe it, Mr. Crawshay, I am sure,
to judge from his amiable exterior, but Mr. Brightman is capable of very
strong dislikes, of one of which, alas! I am the object. Now this is not as
it should be. You see what might happen, supposing Mr. Brightman were
engaged to watch a little coterie, or, in plainer parlance, a little gang
of supposed misdemeanants. If by any possible stretch of his imagination he
could connect me with them, I should be the one he would go for all the
time, and although I perhaps carry my fair burden of those peccadilloes to
which the law, rightly or wrongly, takes exception, still, in this
particular instance I might be the innocent one, and in Mr. Brightman's too
great eagerness to fasten evil things upon me, the real culprit might
escape.--Thank you, Mr. Crawshay," he added, accepting the cocktail which
the waiter had presented. "Let us drink a little toast together. Shall we
say 'Success to Mr. Brightman's latest enterprise, whatever it may be!'"
Crawshay glanced at his companion.
"I think we can humour our friend by drinking that toast, Brightman," he
"I shall drink it with great pleasure," the detective agreed.
They set down their empty glasses. Jocelyn Thew rose regretfully to his
"I fear," he said, "that I must tear myself away. We shall meet again, I
trust. And, Mr. Brightman, a word with you. If you are in town for a
holiday, if you have no business to worry you just at present, why not
practise on me for a time? Watch me. Find out the daily incidents of my
life. See what company I keep, where I spend my spare time--you know--and
all the rest of it. I can assure you that although I am not the great
criminal you fancy me, I am a most interesting person to study. Take my
advice, Mr. Brightman. Keep your eye upon me."
They watched him on the way to the door--a little languid but exceedingly
pleasant to look upon, exceedingly distinguished and prepossessing. A look
of half unwilling admiration crept into Brightman's face.
"Whatever that man really may be," he declared, "he is a great artist."
The swing door leading from the room into the café was pushed open, and a
woman entered. She stood for a moment looking around until her eyes fell
upon Jocelyn Thew. Crawshay suddenly gripped the detective's arm.
"Is there anything for us in this, my friend?" he whispered. "Watch Jocelyn
For a few seconds Jocelyn Thew was certainly taken aback. His little start,
his look of blank astonishment, were coupled with a certain loss of poise
which Crawshay had been quick to note. But, after all, the interlude was
"Exactly what does this mean, Nora?" he demanded.
Her vivid brown eyes were fastened upon his face, eager to understand his
attitude, a little defiant, a little appealing. There was nothing to be
gathered from his expression, however. After that first moment he was
entirely himself--well-mannered, unemotional, cold.
"I came over on the _Baltic_," she explained, "I guessed I'd find you here.
Fourteenth Street was getting a little sultry. The old man hopped it to San
Francisco the day you left."
"Sit down," he invited.
They found places on a lounge and were served with cocktails. The girl
sipped hers disapprovingly.
"Rum stuff, this," she declared. "I guess I'll have to get my shaker out."
"You are staying here, then?" he enquired.
"Why not?" she replied, with a faint note of truculence in her tone. "You
know I'm not short of money, and I guessed it was where I should find you."
He raised his eyebrows.
"That is very nice and companionable of you," he said, "and naturally I
shall be very glad to be of any assistance possible whilst you are over
here, but I hope you will remember, Nora, that I did not encourage you to
"I'm wise enough about that," she admitted. "I never expected you to care
two pins whether you ever saw me again or not, and I know quite well," she
went on hastily, "that I haven't any right to follow you, or anything of
that sort. But honestly, Mr. Thew, we were being watched down there, and
New York wasn't exactly healthy."
"Yes," he assented, "no doubt you are right. They have awkward methods of
cross-examination there, although I don't think they'd get much out of you,
"I'd no fancy to have them try," she admitted. "Besides, I've never had
that trip to Europe that uncle and I were always talking about, and it
seemed to me that if I wanted to see the old country whole, now or never
was the time. You may all be a German colony over here by next year."
"I have no right or any desire," he told her quietly, "to interfere in any
way with your plans, but I must warn you that just at present I am living
in the utmost jeopardy. I have no friends to whom I can introduce you, nor
any of my own time or attentions to offer. Unless you choose to exercise
tact, I might find your presence here not only embarrassing but a positive
hindrance to my plans."
"I guess I can lie close," she replied, looking at him through half-closed
eyes. "Just how am I to size that up, though?"
He looked at her appraisingly, a little cruelly. The effect of her
beautiful figure was almost ruined by the cheap and unbecoming clothes in
which she was attired. Her hat, with its huge hatpins and ultra-fashionable
height, was hideous. She exuded perfumes. Her silk stockings and suede
shoes were the only reasonable things about her. The former she was
displaying with some recklessness as she leaned back upon the settee.
"I once told you," he said calmly, "that there was no woman in the world
for whom I felt the slightest affection."
"That is no longer the case."
Her eyes glittered.
"Who is she?"
"It is not necessary for you to know," he answered coldly. "She happens,
however, to be concerned in the business which I have on hand. She has been
of great assistance to me, and she may yet be the means of helping me to
final success. I cannot afford to have her upset by any false impressions."
She looked at him almost wonderingly.
"If you're not the limit!" she exclaimed. "Nothing matters to you except to
succeed. You tell me in one breath that you care for a woman for the first
time in your life, and in the next you speak of using her as your tool!"
"You perhaps find that incomprehensible," he observed. "I do not blame you.
At present, however, I have only one object in life, and that is to succeed
in the business I have on hand. Whatever I may find it necessary to do to
attain my ends, I shall do."
She had gone a little pale, and her white teeth were holding down her full
"Buy me another cocktail," she demanded.
He obeyed, and she drank it at a gulp.
"So you are not going to be nice to me?" she asked in a low tone.
"That depends upon what you call nice," he answered. "I am rather up
against a blank wall. Even if I succeed, I remain in this country at very
considerable personal danger. I am not sure that even for your sake, Nora,
it is well for you to associate with me. Why not go home? You'll find some
of your people still there--and an old sweetheart or two, very likely."
"It isn't a very warm welcome," she remarked, a little wistfully.
"You have taken me by surprise," he reminded her. "I had not the slightest
idea of your coming."
"I know that," she sighed. "I suppose I ought not to have hoped for
anything more. You've never been any different to me than to any of the
others. You treat us all, men and women, just alike. You are gracious or
cold, just according to how much we can help. I sometimes wonder, Mr.
Jocelyn Thew, whether you have a heart at all."
For a single moment he looked at her kindly. His hand even patted hers. It
was a curious revelation. He was a kindly ordinary human being.
"Ah, Nora," he said, "I am not quite so bad as that! But for many years I
have had a great, driving impulse inside me, and at the back of it the most
wonderful incentive in all the world. You know what that is, Nora--or
perhaps you don't. To a woman it would be love, I suppose. To a man it is
She drew a little further away from him, as though something which had
flamed in his eyes for a moment had frightened her.
"Yes," she murmured, "you are like that."
Jocelyn Thew was himself again almost at once.
"Since we understand one another, Nora," he said, a little more kindly,
"let me tell you that I am really very glad to see you, although you did
give me rather a shock just now. I want you, if you will, to turn your head
to the left. You see those two men--one seated in the easy-chair and the
other on its arm?"
"I see them."
"They are the two men," he continued, "who are out to spoil my show if they
can. You may see them again under very different circumstances."
"I shan't forget," she murmured. "The dark one looks like Brightman, the
detective you were up against in that Fall River business--the man who
believed that you were the High Priest of crime in New York."
"You have a good memory," he remarked. "It is the same man."
"And the other," she continued, with a sudden added interest in her
tone--"Why, that's the Englishman who had me turned off from the hotel in
Washington. Don't you remember, I went there for a month on trial as
telephone operator, just before the election? You remember why. That
Englishman was always dropping in. Used to bring me flowers now and then,
but I felt certain from the first he was suspicious. He got me turned off
just as things were getting interesting."
"Right again," Jocelyn Thew told her. "His name is Crawshay. He is the man
who was sent out from Scotland Yard to the English Embassy. He crossed with
me on the steamer. We had our first little bout there."
"The first trick fell to me," he acknowledged grimly.
"And so will the second and the third," she murmured. "He may be brainy,
though he doesn't look it with that monacle and the peering way he has, but
you're too clever for them all, Jocelyn Thew. You'll win."
He smiled very faintly.
"Well," he said, "this time I have to win or throw in my chips. Now if you
like we'll have some lunch, and afterwards, if you'll forgive my taking the
liberty of mentioning it, you had better buy some clothes."
"You don't like this black silk?" she asked wistfully. "I got it at a store
up-town, and they told me these sort of skirts were all the rage over
"Well, you can see for yourself they aren't," he remarked, a little drily.
"London is a queer place in many ways, especially about clothes. You're
either right or you're wrong, and you've got to be right, Nora. We'll see
about it presently."
They left the room together. Crawshay looked after them with interest.
"This affair," he told his companion, "grows hourly more and more
interesting. You've been up against Jocelyn Thew, you tell me. Well, I am
perfectly certain that that girl, whose coming gave him such a start, was a
young woman I had turned away from an hotel in Washington. She was in the
game then--more locally, perhaps, but still in the same game. I used to sit
and talk to her in the afternoons sometimes. Finest brown eyes I ever saw
in my life. I wonder if there is anything between her and Jocelyn Thew," he
added, looking through the door with a faintly disapproving note in his
tone,--a note which a woman would have recognised at once as jealousy.
"If you ask me, I should say no," the other answered. "I've kept tabs on
Jocelyn Thew for a bit, and I've had his _dossier_. There's never been a
woman's name mentioned in connection with him--don't seem as though he'd
ever moved round or taken a meal with one all the time he was in New York.
To tell you the truth, Mr. Crawshay, that's just what makes it so difficult
to get your hands on a man you want. Nine times out of ten it's through the
women we get home. The man who stands clear of them has an extra chance or
two--Say, what time this evening?"
"Come to my rooms at 178, St. James's Street, at seven o'clock," Crawshay
directed. "I've a little investigation to make before then."
Crawshay took a taxicab from the Savoy to Claridge's Hotel, sent up his
card and was conducted to Katharine Beverley's sitting room on the first
floor. She kept him waiting for a few moments, and he felt a sudden
instinct of curiosity as he noticed the great pile of red roses which a
maid had only just finished arranging. When she came in, he looked towards
her in surprise. She appeared to have grown thinner, and there were dark
rims under her eyes. Her words of greeting were colourless. She seemed
almost afraid to meet his steady gaze.
"I ought to apologise for calling in the morning," he said, "but I ventured
to do so, hoping that you would come out and have some lunch with me."
"I really don't feel well enough," she replied. "London is not agreeing
with me at all."
"You are ill?" he exclaimed, with some concern.
She looked at the closed door through which the maid had issued.
"Not exactly ill. I have some anxieties," she answered. "It is kind of you
to keep your promise and come. Please tell me exactly what happened? You
know how interested I am."
"I have unfortunately nothing to report but failure," he replied.
"Everything seems to have happened exactly as the doctor on the ship
suggested. The detectives at Liverpool were quite smart. We were able to
trace the car without much difficulty, and the body of your patient
Phillips was found at his home, the other side of Chester. We obtained
permission to make an examination, and we found that, just as we expected,
fresh bandages had been put on only a few hours previously."
"And Doctor Gant?"
"He is at an hotel in London. He is watched night and day, but he seems to
divide his time between genuine sight-seeing and trying to arrange for his
passage home. Naturally, the whole of his effects have been searched, but
without the slightest result."
"And--and Mr. Jocelyn Thew?"
"His business in Liverpool seems to have detained him a very short time. He
is staying now at the Savoy Hotel. Needless to say, his effects too have
been thoroughly searched, without result."
"You know that he sent me these?" she asked, glancing towards the roses.
"I saw him buying them."
Her fingers had strayed over one of the blossoms, and he noticed that while
they talked she was convulsively crushing it into pulp.
"Were these detectives from Liverpool," she asked, "able to keep any watch
upon Doctor Gant and Mr. Jocelyn Thew after--Chester?"
"To some extent. There is no doubt that Jocelyn Thew spent the first night
in Liverpool. After that he travelled to London and took up his residence
at the Savoy. Here Doctor Gant, who had travelled up from Chester, called
upon him, late in the afternoon of the day of his arrival. They spent some
time together, and subsequently the doctor took a room at the Regent Palace
Hotel. The two men dined together at the Savoy grill, and took a box at the
Alhambra music-hall, where they spent the evening. They appear to have
returned to Jocelyn Thew's rooms, had a whisky and soda each and separated.
There is no record of their having spoken to any other person or visited
any other place."
"And their rooms have been searched?"
"By the most skilled men we have."
She pulled another of the roses to pieces.
"So it comes to this," she said. "All these documents, of whose existence
both you and the American police knew, have been brought from America to
England, and even now you cannot locate them."
"At present we cannot," he confessed drily, "but I am not prepared to admit
for a single moment that they are ever likely to reach their destination."
"Jocelyn Thew is very clever," she reminded him calmly.
"I am tired of being told so," he replied, with a touch of irritation in
"You probably need your luncheon! If you care to come downstairs with me,"
she invited, "we can finish our conversation."
"I shall be only too pleased."
Katharine Beverley's table was in a quiet corner, and she sat with her back
to the window, but even under such circumstances the change in her during
the last few days was noticeable. There was a frightened light in her eyes,
her cheeks were entirely colourless, her hands seemed almost transparent.
Such a change in so short a time seemed almost incredible. Crawshay found
himself unable to ignore it.
"I am very sorry to see you looking so unwell," he observed
sympathetically. "I am afraid the shock of your voyage across the Atlantic
has been too much for you."
"I am terribly disturbed," she confessed. "I am disappointed, too, in Mr.
Jocelyn Thew. One hates to be made use of so flagrantly."
"You really knew nothing, then, until those things were discovered in your
"That question," she replied, "I am not going to answer."
"But the main part of the plot?" he persisted, "the bandages?"
"Doctor Gant never allowed me to touch them. That is what I found so
inexplicable,--what first set me wondering."
"The whole scheme was very cleverly thought out," Crawshay pronounced, "but
if you will forgive my repeating a previous speculation, Miss Beverley, the
greatest mystery about it all, to me, is how you, Miss Katharine Beverley,
whose name and reputation in New York stands so high, were induced to leave
your work, your social engagements and your home, at a time like this, when
your country really has claims upon you, to act as ordinary sick nurse to a
New York clerk of humble means who turns out to have been nothing but the
tool of Jocelyn Thew."
"I am still unable to explain that," she told him.
He realised the state of tension in which she was and suddenly abandoned
the whole subject. He spoke of the theatres, asked of her friends in town,
discussed the news of the day, and made no further allusion of any sort to
the mystery which surrounded them. It was not until after they had been
served with their coffee in the lounge that he reverted to more serious
"Miss Beverley," he said, "for your own sake I am exceedingly unwilling to
leave you like this. I may seem to you to be an inquisitor, but believe me
I am a friendly one. I cannot see that you have anything to lose in being
frank with me. I wish to help you. I wish to relieve the anxiety from which
I know that you are suffering. Give me your confidence."
"You ask a very difficult thing," she sighed.
"Difficult but not impossible," he insisted. "I can quite understand that
your discovery of the fact that you had been made use of to assist in the
bringing to England of treasonable documents is of itself likely to be a
severe shock to you, but, if you will permit me to say so, it is not
sufficient to account for your present state of nerves."
"You don't know all that is happening," she replied, in some agitation.
"There is a very astute lady detective who has a room near mine, and a man
who shadows me every time I come in or go out. I am expecting every moment
that the manager will ask me to leave the hotel."
"That is all very annoying, of course," he acknowledged sympathetically,
"and yet I believe that at the back of your head there is still something
else troubling you."
"You are very observant," she murmured.
"In your case," he replied, "close observation is scarcely necessary. Why,
it is only four days since we left the steamer, and you look simply the
wreck of yourself."
"A great deal has happened since then," she confessed.
He seized upon the admission.
"You see, I was right.--There is something else! Miss Beverley, I am your
friend. You must confide in me."
"It would be useless," she assured him sadly.
"You cannot be sure of that," he insisted. "If this espionage gets on your
nerves, I believe that I have influence enough to have it removed, provided
that you will let me bring a friend of mine to see you here and ask you a
She shook her head.
"It is not the espionage alone," she declared. "I am confronted with
something altogether different, something about which I cannot speak."
"Is this man Jocelyn Thew connected with it in any way?" he demanded.
"Why should you ask that question?"
"Because it is perfectly clear," he continued, "that Jocelyn Thew exercises
some sort of unholy influence over you, an influence, I may add, which it
is my intention to destroy."
She smiled bitterly.
"If you can destroy anything that Jocelyn Thew means to keep alive," she
"Oh, please don't believe that Jocelyn Thew is infallible," he interrupted.
"I have had a long experience of diplomatists and plotters and even
criminals, and I can assure you that no man breathing is possessed of more
than ordinary human powers. Jocelyn Thew has brought it off against us this
time, but then, you see, one must lose a trick now and then. It is the next
step which counts."
"Oh, the next step will be all right!" she replied, with a hard little
laugh. "He has brought his spoils to England, although there must have been
twenty or thirty detectives on board, and you won't be able to stop his
disposing of them exactly as he likes."
"I don't agree with you," he assured her confidently. "That, however, is
not what I want to talk about. You are in a false position. In the struggle
which is going on now, your heart and soul should be with us and against
Her eyes were lit with a momentary terror.
"You don't suppose for a moment," she said, "that my sympathies are not
with my own country and our joint cause?"
"I don't," he replied. "On the other hand, your actions should follow upon
your sympathies. There is something sinister in your present state. I want
you to tell me just what the terror is that is sitting in your heart, that
has changed you like this. Jocelyn Thew has some hold upon you. If so, you
need a man to stand by your side. Can't you treat me as a friend?"
She softened at his words. For a moment she sat quite silent.
"I can only repeat to you what I told you once before," she said. "If you
are picturing Jocelyn Thew to yourself as a blackmailer, or anything of
that sort, you are wrong. I am under the very deepest obligations to him."
"But surely," he protested, "you have paid your debt, whatever it was?"
"He admits it."
"And yet the terror remains?"
"It remains," she repeated sadly.
Crawshay meditated for a moment.
"Look here, Miss Beverley," he said, "I have a friend who is chief in this
country of a department which I will not name. Will you dine with me
to-night and let me invite him to meet you?"
She shook her head.
"It is a very kind thought," she declared, "but I am engaged. Mr. Jocelyn
Thew is dining here."
Crawshay's face for a moment was very black indeed. He rose slowly to his
"I know that you mean to be kind," she continued, "and I fear that I must
seem very ungrateful. Believe me, I am not. I am simply faced with one of
those terrible problems which must be solved, and yet which admit of no
help from any living person."
Crawshay's attitude had grown perceptibly stiffer.
"I am very sorry indeed, Miss Beverley," he said, "that you cannot give me
your confidence. I am very sorry for my own sake, and I am sorry for
"Is that a threat?" she asked.
"You know the old proverb," he answered, as he bowed over her fingers.
"'Those who are not on my side are against me.'"
"You are going to treat me as an enemy?"
"Until you prove yourself to be a friend."
At a quarter to eight that evening, a young man who had made fitful
appearances in the lounge of Claridge's Restaurant during the last
half-hour went to the telephone and rang up a certain West End number.
"Are these Mr. Crawshay's rooms?" he asked.
"Mr. Crawshay speaking," was the reply.
Crawshay turned away from the telephone and handed the receiver to the
"What news, Henshaw?" the latter enquired.
"Miss Beverley dines at her usual table, sir, at eight o'clock," was the
reply. "The table is set for three."
"For three?" Brightman exclaimed.
"For three?" Crawshay echoed, turning from the sideboard, where he had been
in the act of mixing some cocktails.
"You are quite sure the third place isn't a mistake?" Brightman asked.
"Quite sure, sir," was the prompt reply. "I am acquainted with one of the
head waiters here, and I understand that two gentlemen are expected."
"Nothing, sir. Miss Beverley sent away two parcels this afternoon, which
were searched downstairs. They were quite unimportant."
"I shall expect to hear from you again," Brightman directed, "within half
an hour. If the third person is a stranger, try and find out his name."
"I'll manage that all right, Mr. Brightman. The young lady has just come
down. I'll be getting back into the lounge."
Brightman turned around to Crawshay, who was in the act of shaking the
"A third party," he observed.
"Interesting," Crawshay declared, "very interesting! Perhaps the
intermediary. It might possibly be Doctor Gant, though."
The detective shook his head.
"Three quarters of an hour ago," he said, "Doctor Gant went into Gatti's
for a chop. He was quite alone and in morning clothes."
Crawshay poured the amber-coloured liquid which he had been shaking into a
frosted glass, handed it to his companion and filled one for himself.
"Here's hell to Jocelyn Thew, anyway!" he exclaimed, with a note of real
feeling in his tone.
"If I thought," Brightman declared, "that drinking that toast would bring
him any nearer to it, I should become a confirmed drunkard. As it is,
sir--my congratulations! A very excellent mixture!"
He set down his glass empty and Crawshay turned away to light a cigarette.
"No," he decided, "I don't think that it would be Doctor Gant. Jocelyn Thew
has finished with him all right. He did his job well and faithfully, but he
was only a hired tool. Speculation, however, is useless. We must wait for
Henshaw's news. Perhaps this third guest, whoever he may be, may give us a
clue as to Jocelyn Thew's influence over Miss Beverley."
The telephone rang a few minutes later. Crawshay this time took up the
receiver, and Brightman the spare one which hung by the side. It was
"Miss Beverley has just gone in to dinner," he announced. "She is
accompanied by Mr. Jocelyn Thew and a young officer in the uniform of a
"What is his name?" Crawshay asked.
"I have had no opportunity of finding out yet," was the reply. "I believe
that he is staying in the hotel, and he seems to be on very intimate terms
with Miss Beverley."
"On no account lose sight of the party," Crawshay directed, "and try and
find out the young soldier's name. Wasn't he introduced to Jocelyn Thew?"
"Not a bit of it," was the prompt reply. "They shook hands very much like
"Go back and watch," Crawshay directed. "I must know his name. The sooner
you can find out, the better. I want to get away within a few minutes, if I
They left the instrument. Crawshay, who seemed a little nervous, took a
cigarette from an open box which he passed across to his companion, and
strolled up and down the room for a few moments with his hands in his
"A young officer," he remarked, "presumably English, known to both Miss
Beverley and Jocelyn Thew, seems rather a puzzle. He may be the connecting
link. I hope to goodness your man won't be long, Brightman."
"Are you in a hurry?" the detective asked.
"I want to get round to the Savoy," he announced.
Brightman smiled slightly.
"Were you thinking about the young lady, sir?" he asked.
"I thought it might be useful to renew my acquaintance with her," Crawshay
explained, a little laboriously. "I shouldn't think she'd go out alone."
"She has probably made some friends by this time," Brightman observed.
Crawshay dropped his eyeglass and polished it.
"From my experience of the young lady," he said, a little stiffly, "I
should think it improbable. I happened to meet her twice in New York, and
she struck me as being an extraordinarily well-behaved and, in her natural
way, very attractive person."
"Do you suppose that she came to Europe after Jocelyn Thew?" Brightman
"Oh, damn Jocelyn Thew!" Crawshay replied. "I should think it most
unlikely. You and I have both seen the man's _dossier_. Most cold-blooded
The telephone broke in once more upon their conversation. Crawshay took up
the receiver. It was Henshaw speaking.
"I made a mistake about the uniform, sir," he announced. "The young man is
in the Canadian Flying Corps and he is the young lady's brother. He is
called Captain Beverley."
"Her brother!" Crawshay exclaimed.
"The connecting link!" Brightman murmured.
Meanwhile, the little dinner at Claridge's, of which sketchy tidings were
being conveyed to the two occupants of Crawshay's flat by Henshaw, was
settling down, so far as the two men were concerned, into a cheery enough
meal. There had been a little strangeness at first, but Jocelyn Thew's
hearty welcome of his young friend, and his genuine pleasure at seeing him,
had quickly broken the ice. Katharine, however, although she had a shade
more colour than earlier in the day, had sometimes the air of a Banquo at
the feast. She listened almost feverishly to Jocelyn Thew, whenever he
seemed inclined to turn the conversation into a certain channel, and she
watched her brother a little anxiously as the waiter filled up his glass,
unchecked, every few minutes. The likeness between the two was apparent
enough, although marked by certain differences. Beverley was tall, of
exceedingly powerful build, and with a fresh, strong face which would have
been remarkably attractive but for the weak mouth and the slightly puffy
"I can't conceive anything more fortunate than this meeting," Jocelyn Thew
declared, as he inspected the cigars which had been brought round to him,
with the air of a connoisseur. "Quite an extraordinary coincidence, too,
that you should turn up in London on five days' leave, the very day that
your sister arrives from the States. Tell me, are you right up at the
"Right beyond it, most days," was the cheerful reply. "We spend most of our
time over the German lines."
"Lucky fellow!" Jocelyn Thew sighed. "You are getting now what a few years
ago one had to defy the law for--real, thrilling sensations. It's a life
for men, yours."
The young man's hand shook a little as he raised his glass. He looked
towards Jocelyn Thew almost appealingly.
"It's a splendid life," he assented, talking rapidly and with the air of
one who wishes to stifle conversation. "I had hard work to get my wings,
but I guess I'm all right now. The engine part of it never gave me any
trouble, but I suffered from a kind of sickness the first few times I went
up. It's a gorgeous sensation, flying. The worst of it is we never know
when those cunning Germans aren't coming out with something fresh. They
stung us up last week with a dozen planes of an entirely new pattern, two
hundred and fifty horse-power engines on a small frame. Gee, they gave some
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