The Master Detective
Percy James Brebner
Part 2 out of 6
"Well, we seem to have used up our facts," said Quarles, "and are forced
"You must not jump to the conclusion that I have failed," said the
professor quickly. "I did not promise to tell you the name of the
murderer to-night. Let me theorize for a few moments. You told me you
believed that Farrell's tragic end had hastened your brother's death. Did
your brother chance to come to the office that day?"
"Perhaps he came that night after you had left. I suppose you cannot
bring evidence that he did not?"
"Or it might have been with him that Farrell had an appointment that day,
which was connected with some affair you were not intended to know
anything about. That would account for his telling you a lie."
"I assure you--"
"Let me follow out my idea to the end," said Quarles, leaning over the
table, and emphasizing his words by patting the cloth with his open hand.
"Three years ago things were rather bad on the Stock Exchange, one or two
men in the House were hammered, and several respected firms were shaky.
Now supposing Farrell had been playing with the firm's money unknown to
his partners, or perchance unknown only to one of them--yourself. Your
brother may have--"
"Really, Mr. Quarles, you are getting absurd."
"I was going to say--"
"Oh, please, let me stop you before you say anything more foolish," said
Delverton. "At that time my brother was very ill and as weak as a rat.
How could he have administered poison to Farrell?"
"It requires no strength to administer poison, only subtlety," said
Quarles. "A glass of wine, perhaps by your brother's bedside, and the
thing would be accomplished. Or there is another alternative. Your
brother may have been playing with the firm's credit, and Farrell may
have found him out."
"Any other alternative, Mr. Quarles? Your fertile brain must hold
"Yes, one more, and two opinions which lead up to it," was the
"It is not so absurd as the others, I trust."
"The two opinions may lead you to change your ideas concerning this
mystery. First, I believe Kellner was made a partner because he knew
"I am inclined to think the discussion of a glass of my best port will
be more profitable than these speculations," said our host with a smile,
and he took up the cradle which the servant had placed beside him. "I
offered you a glass in the office the other day, but it was not such
good wine as this."
"And I was shocked at the idea of port in the middle of the morning,"
"But not now, eh?" And Delverton filled our glasses and his own.
"Of course not. My second belief is that Farrell did not leave the office
at all that day. We have only your word for it, you know."
"Shall we drink to your clearer judgment?" said Delverton.
I had raised my glass when Quarles cried out and tossed a spoon across
the table at me.
"So you don't drink, Mr. Quarles," said Delverton, putting down his
"Not this vintage. It is too strong for me, and also for my friend
"Your judgment of a vintage leaves something to be desired. That glass of
port has made me curious to hear the other alternative."
"I think it was you who had been playing with the firm's money, and your
nephew found you out," said Quarles very deliberately. "That Stock
Exchange settlement was a crisis for you. I think you induced Farrell to
drink a glass of port with you, which was so doctored that he soon fell
into a sleep from which he never woke. Perchance you smiled at his
drowsiness, and suggested he should have half an hour's sleep in his
room. You would look after things in the meanwhile. You did so, and when
a clerk came in to say Dr. Morrison had called, you said Mr. Farrell had
left for the day. You took care to wash the wine glass, but it seemed a
good point to you to leave a tumbler with a little water in it on the
table. You did not leave the office until you knew that the last of the
clerks was ready to leave, and I imagine you waited somewhere in Austin
Friars to see them safely off the premises. You had no doubt that a
verdict of suicide would be returned. Later you were surprised to find
that your clerk, Kellner, knew of your money difficulties, and to silence
him he was taken into partnership. Whether the firm of Delverton
Brothers is running straight now I have no means of knowing, nor can I
say whether Mr. Kellner has any suspicion that the death of Mr. Farrell
was more opportune than natural. You are the kind of man who is much
impressed by his own cleverness, and when you met me in Devonshire it
occurred to you to throw down a challenge, to pit your wits against mine.
I suspected you then, for you overdid certain things, and a sinister
intention had entered into your head. You confessed yourself charmed with
Miss Lester, yet your whole attitude suggested that you believed Dr.
Morrison guilty of murder. You became something more than an ordinary
criminal who takes life to save himself from the consequence of his
actions, you crossed the line and became devilish. Mrs. Morrison believes
you would have asked her to marry you almost directly after Farrell's
death had she not very plainly shown you her loathing of such a union. So
you planned to be revenged when you threw down the challenge to me, and
having failed, you now attempt to be wholesale in your destruction."
"I end by cheating you," said Delverton.
"Not me, but the hangman. I will warn your butler that the port is
poisoned, and tell him to telephone for the doctor."
"You can go to the devil," said Delverton.
He died that night, and the following day the Delverton mystery filled
columns of the papers. It was a dull season, and the press made the most
of it. It is only right to say that Kellner was not generally believed to
have known that Farrell had been done to death by his uncle. Quarles
believes he was absolutely innocent in this respect. I am doubtful on the
point, I admit.
THE MYSTERIOUS HOUSE IN MANLEIGH ROAD
The dramatic suicide of Martin Delverton, and the solution of a mystery
which had been relegated to the list of undiscovered crimes produced a
sensation. The public clamored for intimate particulars concerning
Christopher Quarles, the house in Chelsea was besieged by hopeful
interviewers, and the professor could only escape their attentions by
going out of town. It was an excellent excuse for golf, he declared, and
an opportunity to improve on his five handicap. I am bound to say that
while I was with him he never went round in less than twenty over bogey,
and when he only took twenty over he had luck.
This sudden enthusiasm on the part of the public was the cause of some
difficulty and not a little annoyance so far as I was personally
As I have said elsewhere, I have constantly received the credit of
unmasking a scoundrel simply because Quarles chose to remain in the
background, but I have never claimed any credit to which I was not
entitled. It was distinctly hard, therefore, when all the praise for
bringing a series of crimes to light was given to him when justly it
should have been accorded to me. I had been engaged on the work at the
time the case of Eva Wilkinson had cropped up, my investigations had
prevented my accompanying Quarles and Zena to Devonshire. He would be the
first to deny that he had any part in solving these problems. I daresay I
mentioned certain points about them to him, he may possibly have made a
suggestion or two, but it is only because he had really nothing to do
with them that they have found no place in his chronicle. I admit I was
much annoyed, because I rather prided myself on the astuteness I had
Curiously enough, it was not only the public who persisted in giving him
the credit, but the victims of my ingenuity as well, and the mistake was
destined to bring peril to both of us in a most unexpected manner.
I was at breakfast one morning about a week after our little golfing
holiday, when Quarles telephoned for me to go to him at once. He would
give me no information, except that it was an urgent matter, and it was
like him to ignore the possibility that I might have another
engagement. As it happened I was free that morning, and was soon on my
way to Chelsea.
I found him studying some pamphlets and letters which had apparently come
altogether in the big envelope which was lying on the table.
"Have you seen the paper this morning?" he asked.
"I had just opened it when you 'phoned to me."
"Did you read that?"
He pointed to a paragraph headed, "Strange Affair in Savoy Street," and I
read as follows:
"Last night, just after twelve o'clock, an elderly gentleman was walking
down Savoy Street, and was approaching the Embankment end, when a man
stepped from a doorway and deliberately fired at him. This was the old
gentleman's story told to half a dozen pedestrians who came running to
the spot. He seemed rather dazed, as well he might be, at the sudden
attack, and his assailant had disappeared. None of those who were first
upon the scene saw him, and although there is no doubt that a revolver
was fired, and that the gentleman's description of the assailant's
position was so exact that the bullet was found embedded in a door on the
opposite side of the street, the denouement casts some doubt on the
story. Quite a small crowd had collected by the time the police arrived,
and then the old gentleman was not to be found. In the excitement he had
slipped away without any one seeing him go. We understand that the police
theory is that there was no attempt at murder, but that the old
gentleman, having fired a revolver for a lark, or perhaps for a wager,
told a tale to save himself from the consequences of his folly, and then,
seizing his opportunity, quietly slipped away. Those who were first upon
the spot say his dazed condition may have been the result of too much to
drink. We cannot say the explanation is altogether satisfactory to us."
"Well?" said Quarles when he saw I had finished.
"I agree with the writer of the paragraph," I answered. "The explanation
is far from satisfactory. Such a story and such a smart disappearance do
not suggest drunkenness."
"Perhaps not, although it is wonderful how Providence seems to watch over
the drunken man. However, the elderly gentleman was not drunk and his
story was strictly true. I was the elderly gentleman."
"You! And your assailant?"
Quarles got up and walked slowly to the window and back again.
"It was a very near thing, Wigan, and it has got on my nerves a bit. You
know that I am held chiefly responsible for the solution of these robbery
cases with which you have been busy lately. That belief is at the bottom
of this attempt, I fancy. You remember the fellow who got off over the
first affair. There was little doubt of his guilt, but you had
insufficient evidence to bring it home to him. He was the man who fired
at me last night."
"Had you no chance of capturing him?"
"No, and the moment I saw his face clearly by the light of a street
lamp as he turned to run away, I made up my mind not to give
information. I should have got away at once, only people were on the
spot too quickly; so I told the simple truth, and slipped away at the
first opportunity to avoid being recognized by the police. It was
rather neatly done, I think."
"But I do not see why you should withhold information," I said.
"I didn't want my name mentioned in connection with the affair, and I
did not want the man to know I had recognized him. I think there is
bigger game to go for. All along I have believed that in these cases of
yours there was a connecting-link, a subtle personality in the
background. I believe you have only succeeded in bringing some of the
tools to justice."
"And you want to get at the central scoundrel?"
"I must, or he will get at me. Without knowing it I have probably escaped
other traps he has set. The fact that I am only your scapegoat does not
alter the position. He means to have me if he can. We, or rather you,
have come very near to unmasking him, I imagine, and his fear has made
"What is to be done?"
"I want you to go very carefully through those cases, treating them as
though they were all part of one problem. If necessary, you could get an
interview with one or two of the men who are doing time. When a man is
undergoing punishment, and believes that an equally guilty person has
got off scot-free, he is likely to become communicative."
"All this will take time, and in the meanwhile--"
"I am chiefly concerned with the meanwhile," said Quarles, "and it
happens rather fortunately that I have something to interest me and take
my mind off the matter. These letters and pamphlets were sent to me a few
days ago by Dr. Randall. You have heard of him, no doubt."
"I don't think so."
"He is a specialist in nervous diseases, so is naturally interested in
psychological matters. An article of mine in a psychological review
attracted his attention, and through a mutual friend--a barrister in the
Temple--we were introduced last night. To-night I am dining with Randall
at a little restaurant in Old Compton Street, and--well, I want you to
come too, Wigan."
"Oh, I can make it all right. I shall send him a note, asking if I can
bring a friend who is much interested in these matters."
"But I am not, and directly I open my mouth I shall show my ignorance."
"Then obviously you must keep your mouth shut," said Quarles. "The fact
is, Wigan, last night has got on my nerves. I am--I may as well be quite
honest--I am a little afraid of going about alone. I want you to call for
me and go with me."
"Of course I will. But surely, with your nerves on edge, it would be
wiser to keep away from psychological problems. What is the
"Randall will explain to-night, and you must at least pretend to be
interested. As regards my nerves, I can assure you this kind of thing is
a relief after the other. I do not think I am a coward as a rule, but I
am afraid of this unknown scoundrel. I have a presentiment that I am in
very real danger."
"You probably exaggerate it," I said.
"Maybe. But I never ignore a strong presentiment, and I--I slept with a
loaded revolver under my pillow last night, Wigan."
There was no doubt as to his nervous condition; he showed it in his
restlessness, in his acute consciousness of sounds in the house and in
the street. He expected to be brought suddenly face to face with danger,
and was afraid he would not be ready to meet it.
He certainly was not himself. Zena had gone to stay with friends in the
country for a few days, or I should have got her to persuade the old man
to give up this psychological business--at least until he was in a normal
The restaurant, where we found Dr. Randall waiting for us, was one of
those excellent little French places which cannot be beaten until they
have become too successful and popular, when they almost invariably
deteriorate. Randall said he was delighted the professor had brought me,
and dinner was served at once at a cozy table in a corner.
"A patient of mine originally brought me here," said the doctor. "It is
rather a discovery, I think, and personally I prefer dining where I am
unlikely to come in contact with a lot of people I know. In recent years
we have improved, of course; but in England we still eat, while in France
they dine. Here we are practically in France."
Certainly more French was spoken than English, and the doctor spoke in
French to the waiter. Quarles's nervousness, which had been apparent
during the drive from Chelsea, disappeared as dinner progressed, and I
did not suppose a stranger like Randall would notice it. He would
probably form rather a wrong impression of the professor, would look upon
him as a highly-strung man, and would not realize that he was not in a
normal condition this evening. Randall carried his profession in his
face, but for the time being his medical manner was laid aside; nor did
he speak of the business which had brought us together until we had got
to the coffee and liqueur stage.
"I suppose you read the papers I sent you, Professor?"
"Yes, but rather cursorily," Quarles answered. "I think if you told the
whole story I should understand it better; besides, my friend here knows
nothing of it, and will bring an unbiased mind to bear upon it."
"And may give us a new idea," said the doctor. "I don't know whether you
are acquainted with Manleigh Road, Bayswater. There are about fifty
houses in it--a terrace, in fact, on either side. The houses are sixty or
seventy years old, I daresay, ugly but roomy, and some few years ago a
lot of money was spent in bringing them up to date, putting in
bath-rooms, modernizing them, and redecorating them thoroughly. In spite
of this, however, they have not attracted the kind of tenant they were
intended for. Many of them have apartments to let. The house we have to
do with is No. 7. The even numbers are on one side of the road, the odd
on the other. No. 5 is a boarding-house of a very respectable kind,
frequented by young fellows in business chiefly. No. 9 is occupied by a
man who, after retiring from business comparatively wealthy, had
financial losses. His four daughters have had to go out and work. I
mention these facts to show that the surroundings are entirely
commonplace. The owner of No. 7 went abroad some years ago, owing to the
death of his wife, I understand, and left the house in the hands of an
agent. It was to be let furnished, but, except for a caretaker, it
remained empty for several months. It was then taken by a newly-married
couple. They could not remain in it. The house was haunted, they said,
and I believe the agent threatened them with legal proceedings if they
spread such an absurd report. He seemed to think they said so only to
repudiate their bargain. It was then let to a man named Greaves, about
whom nothing was known. He paid the rent in advance, and lived there
alone with a housekeeper and a young servant. One morning he was found
dead in his bed, in the large room on the first floor at the back. A
piece of cord was fastened tightly round his neck. There seemed little
doubt that he had committed suicide, for when he did not come down to
breakfast the housekeeper went to his room and found the door locked on
the inside. It had to be broken open. Perhaps you heard of the case?"
Quarles shook his head.
"Well, the door was locked on the inside, the window was shut and
fastened, there was no sign that any one had entered the room, and
nothing was missing. Foul play was out of the question, but the doctor
who was called in was troubled about the affair. It was from him that I
had these particulars. Dr. Bates had become acquainted--not
professionally, I believe--with the young couple who had lived in the
house for a time, and they had told him the place was haunted. In
bringing his judgment to bear upon Greaves' death, it is only right to
remember that his mind had received a bias."
"I take it he did not believe it was a case of suicide," said Quarles.
"His reason told him it must be, yet something beyond reason told him
"He thought it was murder?" I asked.
"No, not ordinary murder," Randall answered. "He thought it was a
"I have read the letter he wrote to you; there is nothing very definite
in it," said Quarles.
"It was his indefinite state of mind which caused him to relate the whole
story to me. When the police failed to make any discovery, he thought
some one interested in psychological research might solve the mystery."
"What, exactly, were the experiences of this young couple?" I asked.
"Chiefly noises, footsteps echoing through a silent house. Once the
shadow of a man, or so it seemed, was thrown suddenly upon the wall by a
ray of moonlight, and once the curtains and sheets of a bed were found
torn, as if hands, finding nothing else to destroy, had taken vengeance
upon them. Of course, this all comes second-hand from Dr. Bates."
"And is probably unconsciously exaggerated," said Quarles. "The ordinary
man is almost certain to overstate and to emphasize unduly one part of
"That was my feeling exactly," returned Randall, "so I spent a night in
that haunted room myself. The result was disappointing."
"Did nothing happen?" I asked.
"There was no direct manifestation--at least I saw nothing, and I do not
think I heard anything, but I am sure that I felt something. It was very
vague. You know it is my theory," Randall went on, addressing me, "that
different individuals are sensitive to different influences. For example,
let us suppose a certain spot is haunted, a spot where something
particularly desperate has taken place in the past. Now I believe that A,
B, and C, all sensitive to supernatural influences, may watch there and
seeing nothing, but that D, being sensitive to that particular influence,
or moving on that particular plane, may be successful. In another case,
where D fails, A, B, or C may be successful. I think it is this fact
which accounts for the comparatively small number of experiences which we
are able to authenticate. It was an article of the professor's, setting
forth similar views, which made me anxious to make his acquaintance."
"Are you suggesting that he should spend a night in this house?" I asked.
"I do not think I suggested such a thing," said Randall with a smile,
"but I believe that is the professor's intention."
"It is," said Quarles.
"When?" I asked.
"On Friday night."
"Greaves died on a Friday night," said Randall. "It is a small point,
perhaps, but, like myself, the professor believes in small details."
"I suppose the agent will let me have the key," said Quarles.
"I do not know the agent. I got the key through Dr. Bates, and I can give
you a card of introduction to him."
"It will be a very interesting experiment," I said, looking as learned as
I could. I thought I had kept my end up very well, and far from having to
pretend to be interested, as Quarles had suggested, I was profoundly
interested, not in the psychological discussion, but in the Bayswater
mystery. I had heard of it before, and remembered that Martin, one of the
oldest members of the force, had said that it was no more a case of
suicide than he was a raw recruit. I am far from saying that no mystery
is to be accounted for by the supernatural, but I always want to test it
in every other way first.
Quarles was pleased to jeer at me for a skeptic as we drove back to
Chelsea. He did not consider me altogether a fool as a detective, but he
had no use for me as a psychological student.
"Anyway, it is a pity you are undertaking this business in your present
nervous state," I said. "At least let me be with you on Friday night."
"Nonsense, that would make the experiment useless. You clear up the
mystery of this subtle scoundrel who has tried to get me shot and my
nervous state will soon disappear."
As a matter of fact, I couldn't settle to a careful study of my recent
cases, as the professor had suggested. I tried and failed. I could not
forget the experiment which was to be made on Friday night, and on
Wednesday morning I took action. First of all, I arranged that a special
constable should be on duty in Manleigh Road, and from his appearance no
one would have supposed that anything in the way of a genius had been
introduced into the neighborhood. He looked a fool; he was one of the
smartest men I knew. Strangely enough, on the Thursday night No. 7 was
burgled quite early in the evening as soon as it was dusk. Two men got in
at a basement window, and the constable was quite close at the time. He
had instructions, in fact, to give warning to the burglars if there was
any danger of their being seen.
I had not burgled the house alone; I had taken a young detective named
Burroughs with me. Of course, I might say it was because I wanted to give
him a chance, or because I thought we might encounter desperate
characters in the house; but as a fact, it was the supernatural element
which decided me. I do not like the idea of the supernatural; my nerves,
excellent in their way and in their own sphere, are inclined to get jumpy
under certain conditions.
We went up from the basement cautiously, and it would have needed keen
ears to have heard our movements.
Without showing a light, we went into every room in the house. Those in
front had some light in them from a street lamp outside, but those at the
back were dark, although, after a while, we got accustomed to the dark,
and could see to some extent. None of the blinds was drawn, and although
there was no moon, it was a clear, starlit night.
Our special attention was devoted to the room where Greaves had been
found dead. It was substantially furnished, mid-Victorian in character.
The lock on the door, which had been broken open, had been mended, and
the window was fastened. Systematically we examined every article of
furniture and the innocent-looking cupboard. The walls were substantial,
but we did not subject them to tapping. I did not want to arouse the
neighbors to the fact that No. 7 was not empty to-night.
"We have a long vigil before us, Burroughs," I said.
"What do you expect to discover, sir?"
"I don't know, nothing most likely; but if anything does happen it is
going to happen in this room. I am going to take up my position in this
chair by the bed, and I want you to keep watch on the landing. If you
hear any one about the house come in to me at once, but if you only hear
me move don't come in unless I call. I shall not fasten the door, but I
shall put it to. If in some way it is possible to find out that this room
is occupied, I want to appear as if I were quite alone. Do you
I saw Burroughs settled in a chair on the landing; then I entered the
room and closed the door without latching it, and there was a certain
feeling down my spine, in spite of the knowledge that I had a comrade
near at hand.
It was quite beyond me how Quarles could undertake to stay there all
alone. I could have done it had I been convinced that danger could only
come from a material foe; it was the idea of the supernatural which beat
me. I was not skeptic enough to be unmoved.
I had determined to sit beside the bed; but remembering that Greaves had
been found on the bed I first of all lay down for a minute or two. The
bed was not made up, but the mattresses were there with blankets over
them, and the hangings were in place. The key to the mystery might lie in
some hidden mechanism in the bed. Then I settled myself in the chair
beside the bed, my hand in my pocket on my revolver.
This kind of waiting is always a trial. The silence, the bodily
inactivity while the mind is strained to be keenly alert, have a sort of
hypnotic influence. An untrained man will certainly fancy he hears and
sees things, and even a trained man has to light hard against the desire
to sleep. There comes a longing for something, anything, to happen. I
think I got into a condition at last in which I should have welcomed a
ghost. There was no church clock near to break the monotony with its
striking; time seemed non-existent.
Once I thought I heard Burroughs shift his position on the landing
outside, and there presently came to me an uncontrollable desire to move.
I stood up. Just to walk to the window and back would make all the
My journey across the room was noiseless, and, coming back, I
To my left there was movement, movement without sound. In an instant my
revolver was ready, and then I felt a fool. In a recess there was a glass
fixed to the wall, we had noticed it when we examined the room, and I had
caught the dim reflection of my head and shoulders in it. The glass was
just at that height from the floor.
I went to it and called myself a fool to my reflection. I could only see
myself very dimly, so I cannot say whether the incident had driven any
color from my face.
It had the effect of quieting my restlessness, at any rate. I returned to
my chair refreshed, feeling capable of keeping a vigil, however long it
Almost unconsciously I began to consider how many deceptions
looking-glasses were responsible for, and remembered some of the
illusions I had seen at the Egyptian Hall. No doubt looking-glasses had
played a large part in some of them.
And then I began to wonder why the mattresses had been left upon the bed.
Was the agent expecting to let the house again at once, or had they been
put there for Quarles's convenience to-morrow night?
How long my mind slid from one thing to another I cannot say; but
gradually my ideas seemed to dwindle away into nothingness, and it is
easy to imagine that I slept. I do not think I did, however.
Although my mind was a blank for a time, I am convinced I never lost
consciousness of that room or of the business I had in hand. There was
absolutely no sensation of waking, only another sudden desire to move.
Again I walked to the window, and as I came back I glanced in the
direction of the glass. This time my own reflection did not startle me;
not because I was ready for it, but because I did not see it.
I must have crossed the room at a different angle, or my eyes--
I went to the glass, and then I started. There was no reflection. I was
not in the glass.
In a moment the knowledge that this room was haunted came to me in full
force. There was the glass, plainer than I had seen it before, my eyes
were not at fault. Indeed, as I stared into it, there was a dim outline
of images in the glass, the furniture of the room, but of me no
reflection at all. Was I bewitched? Surely I must be in my chair,
sleeping, dreaming, for suddenly in the glass, moving as in a mist, there
were shadows--a bed and a man lying on it, and bending over him was
another man whose hands were twisting about his companion.
I tried to call out to stop him, then I drew back, and the next moment I
was at the door, speaking to Burroughs in a whisper.
"What is it?" he asked, coming swiftly into the room.
"Look!" and I seized him by the arm and drew him to the looking-glass.
"Well, what is it?" he asked again.
His reflection and mine were looking out at us, one scared face, mine;
one full of questioning, his.
I told him what I had seen.
"You dropped off to sleep, Mr. Wigan, that's what it was."
Had I? It couldn't have been a dream, and yet faith in myself was shaken.
It was possible I had only walked across the room a second time in my
dreams. One thing is certain, I did not fall asleep again that night.
I had arranged with the constable in Manleigh Road that he should keep a
careful watch at dawn. We should leave then by the same way as we had
entered, and he was to signal to us if the coast was clear.
It was an essential part of my plan that no one should know the house had
been occupied that night. I had kept watch, thinking that if harm were
intended to Quarles the trap would be made ready previously. How and by
whom I had not fully considered. Now I determined not to leave the house
during the day.
I would be there when Quarles came that night.
I scribbled a note to him, explaining what I was doing, and I said that
if the agent should accompany him to the house I would remain hidden
until the agent had gone. This note I gave to Burroughs, and instructed
him to explain matters to the constable.
I had provided myself with a flask and some dry biscuits in case of
contingencies, and prepared to pass the day as comfortably as I could. It
is needless to say that in daylight I examined that haunted room again,
especially the looking-glass.
It was in an ornamental wooden frame fixed on the wall, formed, in fact,
a finish to a wooden dado. It was like the fixed overmantel one finds
sometimes in small modern villas, only it wasn't over the mantelpiece.
I think there was nothing in the room which I did not examine carefully,
but I did not sit there; I preferred the front room.
It was an immense relief when I saw Quarles and another man, the agent,
come through the gate.
It was between eight and nine, and I retired to the basement to be out of
the way. The agent stayed about half an hour, and they were chiefly in
the haunted room together.
"I sincerely hope your report will set at rest this silly idea that the
house is haunted," I heard the agent say as they came down to the hall.
"When my client returns he will be pretty mad about it."
"When does he return?" asked Quarles.
"I don't know. I haven't had a line from him since he went away, but
the sum I have received for him in rent doesn't amount to much, I can
I expected to find the professor rather ill-tempered at my interference,
but I found him inclined to raillery.
"Are you hunting a murderer or a ghost, Wigan?" he asked.
"I am not quite sure, but I think at the back of my mind there is an idea
to keep you out of the clutches of the subtle personality of whom you are
afraid. Come up to the haunted room; we will talk there, but it must be
in whispers. If I have had any success it is believed that you are in
this house alone to-night."
"A foolish old man alone, eh?"
"In this instance I am inclined to answer yes."
"You are quite right to say exactly what you think," he returned.
"Have you considered the possibility that some one is trading on your
known enthusiasm for psychological research?" I asked.
"Surely you do not mean Randall?"
"No, but he may have been used as a tool. Frankly now, would you have
undertaken this business just at the present time had it not been for
"So if you are being deceived it is being managed very subtly."
"You are full of supposition. Let us get to work. You speak in your
letter of an experience you had last night. What was it?"
"You will say no doubt that my fear of the supernatural got the
better of me."
I told him the story of the looking-glass as we stood in front of it, our
two faces looking out at us dimly.
"Come away from it now, Wigan," he said when I had finished. "Burroughs
thought you had fallen asleep, did he? You are convinced you were not
dreaming, I presume?"
"At the time I confess Burroughs rather shook my faith in myself, but
during the day I have become certain that I did not sleep."
Sitting on the other side of the bed--Quarles was very particular where
he sat in the room--he questioned me closely about the actions of the
shadows, and I answered him as well as I could. Only a very vague picture
was in my mind.
"It may astonish you to know, Wigan, that it was only your note this
morning which brought me to this house at all to-night, I 'phoned to you
at least a dozen times yesterday."
"I was afraid of to-night. Perhaps for the time being I have lost my grip
a little on account of my nervous condition. I have had a long talk with
Dr. Bates, and he tried to persuade me to give up the idea of spending a
night here alone. He was rather doubtful about a supernatural solution to
the mystery. Then I didn't like the agent when I went to him to arrange
about the key. I shouldn't have entered the house with him to-night had I
not known you were here."
"Anything else?" I asked.
"Always that strong presentiment of danger," he answered. "Were these
hangings on the bed last night?"
"It was exactly as you see it now."
"The agent said the mattress and blankets had been put here for my
"Did he say when they were put here?"
"I thought he meant to-day," said Quarles.
"No one has entered the house to-day," I answered.
"Yet, if Greaves was murdered, some one must have gained access to this
room somehow, in spite of the locked door and fastened window."
"You have dropped the idea of the supernatural, then?"
"I am keeping an open mind."
"Shall we give it up and go, Professor?"
"Certainly not. I am supposed to be alone in the house, so we will
await events. On the other side of that wall where the glass hangs is
No. 5, I suppose?"
"That is the boarding-house. Keep still a minute while I get an idea of
the furniture against this opposite wall. Randall said a man and his four
daughters lived at No. 9, didn't he?"
I whispered an affirmative, and could dimly see the professor going
slowly along the wall. He began tapping things, apparently with a
I warned him not to make a noise.
"I am known to be here," he answered, coming back to me. "A man who
undertakes to investigate the supernatural would be expected to take
precautions that no tricks were likely to be played upon him. It would be
suspicious if I didn't make a little noise. Now we will settle ourselves.
I shall lie on the bed. You move a chair under that glass and sit there.
I have an electric torch with me. Don't fall asleep to-night, Wigan."
"I didn't last night," I answered.
After that we were silent, and the vigil began. In one way it was a
repetition of the previous night. I lost count of time, and had sudden
desires to move, but managed to control them.
Certainly I did not sleep, and I fought successfully against the hypnotic
influence which silence and darkness exert. Not a sound of movement came
from Quarles, not a murmur from the world outside.
More than once I wanted to ask the professor whether he was all right,
but did not do so.
It seemed that this utter silence had lasted for hours, when it was
broken, not suddenly, but gradually. It was not a sound so much as a
movement which broke it. Some one or something was near us. At first it
did not seem to be in the room, but as if it were trying to get in. I
could not tell where it was, but for a time it was outside, and then just
as certainly I knew that it was in.
I cannot say positively that I heard a footfall on the carpet, but I
think I did, and then came an unmistakable sound; the swish of the bed
hangings suddenly drawn back.
Whether I shouted his name or whispered it, I do not know, but the next
moment a ray from the electric torch cut the darkness like a long sword.
There was a low, almost inarticulate cry, then a light thud upon the
floor--so light it might have been some clothes falling from the bed.
"Don't move, Wigan!" Quarles said, and a second afterwards he
fired--downwards it must have been, although he had warned me to keep
still, in case he should hit me.
There was an unearthly yell, and something rushed past my feet--a man on
all fours, a little man, a--
"The glass, Wigan! Quick!"
I sprang up. For just an instant I saw my own reflection, then it was
gone; instead, I was looking into a luminous mist out of which there
suddenly flashed a face looking into mine.
I saw it quite clearly, and then it went as quickly as it had come. It
appeared to have been jerked away.
Quarles was behind me, and in the glass, almost as I had seen them last
night, were the shadows, only now they struggled and twisted first; it
was afterwards that one lay still across the bed.
"An ape, Wigan!" Quarles said excitedly. "An ape, trained to imitate, and
now--did some one look through the glass?"
"Was it Dr. Randall?"
Directly he asked the question I knew that it was the doctor's face which
had been there.
"The subtle personality, Wigan."
"When did you guess?"
"I didn't guess--I didn't think it possible. Bates' disbelief in the
supernatural made me a little suspicious, but I didn't think it possible.
To-night--that ape--the whole plot--I could only think of Randall. There
was no one else."
We left the house at once, both of us in an excited state.
The constable I had on special duty soon had several others with him, and
before dawn No. 5 Manleigh Road was raided.
It was only a garbled statement which got into the papers, and
probably the whole truth will never be known; but I gradually gathered
the main facts, partly from the doctor's confederates, partly from
some of his victims.
Dr. Randall, posing as a nerve specialist, and fully qualified to do so,
had lived a double life. As a doctor he was respected and was fairly
successful; as the head and organizer of a small army of miscreants he
had been eminent for years.
Under the guise of a respectable boarding-house, No. 5 had been used
as the headquarters of the gang, and the operations had been so
widespread, so all-embracing in the field of crime, that after the
raid many mysteries which the police had failed to unravel were
credited to Randall. Many of these he could have had nothing to do
with, but he had quite enough to answer for. He seems to have
exercised a kind of terrorism over his subordinates, or he would
surely have been betrayed before.
Exactly at what point my investigations had jeopardized his secret I
could not find out, but he evidently thought it was in danger, and
believing Quarles was responsible, he determined to get rid of him.
I was told that he had made two attempts upon his life before the night
he was introduced to him in the Temple. That night Quarles was followed
when he left the Temple, and, as we know, was shot at in Savoy Street.
This attempt failing, the doctor, who had already asked Quarles to dinner
on the following night as an extra precaution, determined to use a method
which had already proved successful.
Quarles's enthusiasm for psychological research could hardly fail to
tempt him into the trap.
No. 7 Manleigh Road belonged to a man in the doctor's employment. It had
been prepared for eventualities some time before--probably tragedies had
occurred in the house which had never been heard of. The house agent was
one of the gang, and when, either by mistake or because he could not help
himself without causing undesirable comment, he let the house to the
young married couple, they were frightened away. The house was then let
to Greaves, a man who had become a danger to the doctor, and in due
course he was found dead in his bed.
Between the fireplace of the haunted room and that of the corresponding
room in No. 5 part of the chimney wall had been removed, so that there
was sufficient space for the ape to get from one room to the other.
This ape, some four feet in height, was exceedingly powerful and more
than usually imitative, but was not naturally vicious. Any action done in
its presence the animal would be certain to repeat at the first
opportunity; but having done so, it did not repeat it again unless the
action was performed again. The action of strangling a man in his sleep
by means of a cord was performed before the ape, and afterwards the
animal was allowed to steal through the hole in the chimney. The result
was that Greaves was found dead.
It was intended that Quarles should die in a like manner, and special
pains were taken with the ape to insure success. The action was performed
before the animal in every detail more than once, and it was kept in
strict confinement until the right moment came.
The ape was out of my sight, but I chanced to see the imitation in
progress on the Thursday night through the glass, which had unaccountably
been left open for some minutes after it had been tried to see that it
was in working order. I saw only dimly because the imitation was being
done by the light of a single candle, and that shaded as much as
possible, to suggest to the ape the gloomy conditions of the room in
which it was to repeat its lesson. Let into the wall of the room in the
boarding-house there was a glass backing on to the one in the haunted
room. A small handle swung aside the back, which was common to both, and
the looking-glass became a window from one room to the other.
When he fired Quarles evidently hit the ape. Mad with pain, the animal
dashed back through the hole in the chimney and attacked the doctor, who
was probably taken entirely unawares, as he was looking through the glass
to see what the revolver shot might mean.
The ape went through its part of the performance, and the doctor fell a
victim to his own diabolical ingenuity. The wounded animal had to be
shot before any one could get near the body.
Some people have declared that Dr. Randall was a madman, but I think
Quarles' answer hit the truth.
"Of course, in a sense, all criminals are mad," he said, "but Randall was
the sanest criminal I ever came in contact with."
THE DIFFICULTY OF BROTHER PYTHAGORAS
Whether it was my statement that criminals had grown cleverer than they
used to be which aroused Quarles's interest so effectually, or whether it
was that success made him thirst for further fields to conquer, I do not
know. I do know, however, that he grew restless if any considerable time
elapsed without my having a clue worthy of his powers.
As it happened we had two or three cases close together which stretched
his powers to the utmost, and the extremely subtle manner in which he
solved them shows him at his best.
When I sent him a telegram from Fairtown, merely requesting him to join
me there, I felt certain he would come by the first available train, and
was at the station to meet him.
"Fine, invigorating air this, Wigan," he remarked. "Is there really a
case for us to deal with, or did you merely telegraph for the purpose of
giving me a holiday?"
"The case is for you rather than for me. I am still--"
"Still waiting for something to turn up in the Beverley affair?" he
"Were I answering a layman, or even a rival detective, I should look very
wise and talk indefinitely of clues; to you I will admit a blank ten
days, not a forward step in any direction whatever."
"So you send for me."
"Upon a different matter altogether," I returned.
I had come to Fairtown ten days ago on the lookout for a man named
Beverley. His friends were anxious about him, and said they believed he
was suffering from a loss of memory; the police had reason to suspect
that he was implicated in some company-promoting frauds, and thought the
family only wanted to find him to get him out of the country. His people
were certainly not aware that I was looking for him in Fairtown, and I
need not go into the reasons which made me expect to run my quarry to
earth in this particular spot; they were sound ones, or I should not have
spent ten days on the job.
To describe Fairtown would be superfluous. Every one knows this popular
seaside resort. This year, I believe for the first time, a large tent had
been erected behind the sea-baths building, which was occupied each week
by a different company of entertainers. In my second week a troupe of
pierrots was there, the "Classical P's," they were called, and hearing
from some one in the hotel that they were quite out of the ordinary, I
went on the Thursday evening. At the opening of the performance the
leader of the troupe announced that Brother Pythagoras, after the
performance on the previous evening, had been obliged to go to town, and
unfortunately had not yet returned, so they would be without his services
that night. There was some disappointment; he had a charming tenor voice,
my neighbor told me. The full troupe numbered six, described on the
program as Brothers Pluto, Pompey, and Pythagoras, and Sisters Psyche,
Pomona, and Penelope; that night, of course, they were only five, but the
entertainment was excellent.
Sister Pomona was altogether an exceptional pianist, her interpretation
of items by Schumann and Mendelssohn being little short of a revelation.
She was pretty, too, and her scarlet dress with its white pompons, and
her pierrot's hat to match, suited her to perfection.
I was amongst the last left in the tent after the performance, partly
owing to the position of my seat, partly, at least so Zena would have it
later, and I did not contradict her, because I was lingering in the hope
of getting another glimpse of Pomona. As I moved toward the exit there
came a short scream, a terrified scream it seemed to me, from behind the
stage. I turned back and waited, and in a minute or two Brother Pluto
came from behind the curtains.
"Are you a doctor?" he asked.
"I am a doctor," said a voice behind me.
I was not invited, but I followed the doctor. The space available for
the artistes was very small. There was little more than passageway
between the tent wall and the stage built up some three feet from the
ground, and we had to step over the various paraphernalia which was
necessary for the performance. What had happened was this. A projecting
piece of woodwork had caught Pomona's dress as she passed, tearing off
one of the white pompons, which had rolled underneath the platform. She
saw it, as she supposed, lying in a dark corner, and stooped to reach
it. What she had caught sight of, and what she caught hold of, was a
man's hand, a cold hand. Brothers Pluto and Pompey were beside her a
moment afterwards, and had dragged a body from under the stage. It was
Brother Pythagoras, the performer who was supposed to have gone to
London on the previous night. He was dressed in his pierrot costume,
but had been dead some hours, the doctor said, death being due to a blow
on the head, from a stick, probably.
I told the story to Quarles as we walked to the hotel.
"Does the doctor suggest an accident?" he asked.
"How long, in his opinion, had the man been dead?"
"I particularly asked that question," I answered. "He thought death had
taken place that day."
"It may be an interesting case," said Quarles doubtfully. "I suppose I
can see the body."
"I have arranged that."
"Who are these brothers and sisters?"
"Pluto and Psyche are husband and wife, a Mr. and Mrs. Watson. She is a
Colonial, and he has been in the Colonies for a year or two. It is their
second season of entertaining in this country. Pompey, whose name is
Smith, and Penelope, otherwise Miss Travers, have been with them from the
first. Pomona, otherwise Miss Day, only joined them this season, and is
evidently a lady. The dead man, Henley by name, joined them after the
season had commenced, taking the place of a man who fell ill. He has been
very reticent about himself."
"According to Watson, I suppose?" said Quarles.
"They were all agreed upon that point," I answered.
"On what points were they not agreed?" Quarles asked quickly.
"Well, although they all spoke in the warmest terms of their comrade, it
struck me they were not all so fond of him as they made out."
"What makes you think that?"
"The way they looked at the dead man. Naturally, I was watching them
rather keenly as the doctor made his examination."
"That is rather an interesting idea, Wigan, and has possibilities in it;
still, a murdered man is not a pleasant sight, and the artistic
temperament must be taken into consideration."
We went to the mortuary that afternoon. The dead man was still in the
pierrot's dress--I had arranged this should be so, wishing to afford the
professor every facility in his investigation. He was more interested in
the dress than in the man, examining it very carefully with his lens. The
stockings and shoes came in for close inspection, also the comical
pierrot's hat, which he fitted to the dead man's head for a moment.
"Had he his hat on when he was pulled from under the platform?" he asked.
"No. It was found after the doctor's examination, close to where the body
"Who found it?"
"Who first thought of looking for it?" Quarles asked.
"I think Watson just stooped down and saw it. He would naturally think of
it, since it was part of the dress."
The professor nodded, as if the explanation satisfied him. Then he looked
at the head, neck, and hands.
"He was a singer, you say?"
"What instrument did he play?"
"I don't know."
"Ah, a sad end. Henley, you say his name was--I see there is 'H' marked
in pencil in his hat."
"He called himself Henley," I answered; "it may not have been his real
name. As I said, his companions know very little about him."
"So his friends, if he has any, cannot be advised of the tragedy. This
company of mummers is alone in its mourning for him. I should like to
examine this hat more closely, Wigan. Can I take it away with me?"
I arranged for him to do so, and we went back to the hotel.
"Do you find it an interesting case, Professor?" I asked.
"It certainly presents some difficulties which are interesting. The clue
may lie in Henley's unknown past, and that might be a difficulty not to
be overcome; or we may find the clue in jealousy."
"You surely are not thinking that--"
"Oh, I have not got so far as suspecting Watson or any of his
companions," said Quarles, "but certain facts force us to keep an open
mind, Wigan. To begin with, there was apparently no struggle before
death. The blow was not so severe that a comparatively weak arm might not
have delivered it, a woman's, for the sake of argument. We may,
therefore, deduct two theories at once. He probably had no suspicion or
fear of the person in whose company he was, and I think the doctor will
endorse our statement if we affirm that he was not in a healthy
condition. Personally, I should credit Henley with a fairly rapid past,
which may account for his companions not looking upon the body with any
particular kindness, as you noticed."
"You seem to have built more on that idea of mine than I
intended," I said.
"I have built nothing at all on it," he answered. "I argue entirely from
the appearance of the dead man. Another point. I looked for some sign
that the dress had been put on after the man was dead. The signs all
point to an opposite conclusion."
"The dress puzzles me," I said.
"Of course, if the doctor were not so certain that death had occurred
during the day, we might place the murder at some time on the previous
night, after the performance, when Henley would naturally be in his
pierrot's dress, but why should he put it on during the day. There was no
rehearsal, I suppose?"
"Nothing was said about it; besides, Henley was supposed to be in town."
"Yes, I know. That is one of our difficulties. I take it that
neither Watson nor any of his company have offered any explanation
of the tragedy?"
"I believe not. I saw the local inspector this morning, and he said
nothing further had transpired, nor had any clue been found amongst the
dead man's effects. Of course, if his companions had any guilty knowledge
they would have made some explanation."
"To mislead us."
"My dear Wigan, there are times when you jump as far to a conclusion
as a woman."
"I am arguing from a somewhat ripe experience," I retorted
"Strengthened by an interest in Sister Pomona, eh? Something of the
old-fashioned school lingers about you, which is picturesque but always a
handicap in these days. The methods of crime have changed just as the
methods of other enterprises have changed. Your bungling villain has no
chance nowadays; to succeed a criminal must be an artist, a scientist
even, and he does not fall into the error of accusing himself by
excusing himself. And since increased knowledge tends to simplify those
explanations with which we have sought to explain away difficulties in
the past, I think we shall be wise to apply modern methods to any
difficulty with which we are confronted."
Naturally, I argued the point, endeavoring to justify myself, and in the
process we nearly quarreled.
That night we went to the entertainment. It was an exceedingly full
house, showing the commercial wisdom of the proprietors of the sea-baths
in not canceling the engagement. The verve and go in the performance
astonished me. One would not have supposed that a tragedy had happened in
this little company of players. I felt that they ought to be horribly
conscious of the ghastly thing which had been found under that platform
only a few hours since. I said something of the kind to Quarles.
"Don't forget the artistic temperament," he answered.
"Surely it would be the very temperament to be influenced," I said.
"Presently we shall find out, perhaps," he whispered as Sister Pomona
went to the piano.
It was Chopin she played to-night, and Quarles, who had been more
interested in her than in the rest of the company, immediately lost
himself in the music. He applauded as vociferously as any one in the
audience, and after the performance would talk of nothing but music. It
pleased him to become learned on harmony and counterpoint; at least, I
suppose it was learned; I could not understand him.
I had suggested that he should make the acquaintance of the pierrots as
soon as the curtain was down, but this he would not do.
"To-morrow will be time enough; besides, I want to see them with the
We called on them on the following morning. They had rooms in a quiet
street in Fairtown. The landlady was accustomed to have strolling
companies as lodgers, and evidently had the knack of making them
comfortable. Quarles had a word or two with her before seeing her
visitors, and learnt that they were the nicest and quietest people
she had ever had. The poor gentleman who was dead was the quietest of
"Perhaps he was in love," laughed Canaries.
"I shouldn't be surprised," the landlady answered.
"He seemed to spend most of his time looking at Miss Day when he
didn't think she would notice him. I don't wonder. She is well worth
"Admiration is not necessarily love," remarked the professor. "By the
way, have you been to the mortuary to see the body?"
"Me!" exclaimed the landlady in horror. "No. I am not one of those
who take a morbid pleasure in that kind of thing. Nothing would
induce me to go."
"Very sensible of you," Quarles said.
We were then taken to the Watsons' sitting-room, and I explained the
reason of our call, speaking of Quarles as a brother detective. He did
not at once act up to his part. Mr. and Mrs. Watson were alone when we
first entered, but the others joined us almost at once, and I fancy they
were prepared for a visit from me; the local inspector may have said it
was likely. Quarles began to talk of music, and judging by Miss Day's
interest I concluded that he knew what he was talking about; in fact, all
of them were immensely interested in the old man, and for at least half
an hour the real reason of our being there was not mentioned.
"Bach, no, I am not an admirer of Bach," said the professor, in answer to
a question from Miss Day. "Bad taste, no doubt, but I always think
musical opinion is particularly difficult to follow. By the way, I
suppose Mr. Henley played some instrument?"
The sudden question seemed to change the whole atmosphere. Watson, I
fancy, had been ready to enter upon a defense of Shaw, and Miss Day to
convert Quarles to Bach worship; in fact, I firmly believe that every one
except myself had forgotten all about the dead man until that moment.
"Why do you ask!" Watson inquired after a pause.
"You are such a musical set, it would be strange if one of your company
could not play any instrument at all. I am told he sang tenor songs, and
was wondering whether that was all he could do."
"As a fact he played the banjo and the guitar," said Watson, "but he has
not done so in Fairtown. The people here are high-class people, and we
have to vary our performance to suit our audiences. At Brighton, where we
go next week, Henley's banjo playing might have been the most popular
item on the program."
"I can understand that. You know very little about Mr. Henley, I am
told," and he waved his hand in my direction to show where he had got his
"Very little," Watson replied. "He told us he had no relations, and he
received very few letters, which seemed to be from agents and business
people. I did not question him very closely when he applied to me. I
judged that he was down on his luck, but he fitted my requirements, and
my wife was favorably impressed with him."
"And you have no reason to regret taking him into your company?"
"On the contrary, he proved a great acquisition, a far better man than
the one whose place he took."
"That is not quite what I meant," said Quarles. "Companies of
entertainers vary, not only in ability, but in individual tastes, in
personnel. By engaging Mr. Henley you were obliged to admit him into your
private circle, and I imagine--"
"That is what I meant by saying my wife approved of him," said Watson. "I
wouldn't engage the finest tenor in the world unless he were a decent
fellow. It wouldn't be fair to the rest of us."
Quarles nodded his appreciation of such an attitude.
"Of course, as long as he behaves decently I am satisfied," Watson went
on. "I don't make my enquiries too particular. For instance, I shouldn't
bar a man because he had got into trouble."
"Have you any reason to suppose that Henley had done so?" Quarles asked.
"That might account for his mysterious death."
"I have no such suspicion," Watson answered; "indeed, he was not that
kind of man. It is my way--my clumsy way of explaining what I mean by
decent. Many a decent man has seen the inside of a prison. By being there
he pays his debt, and afterwards, in common justice, he should be free,
really free, free from his fellow-man's contempt."
"You have started my husband on his pet hobby," laughed Mrs. Watson. "He
always declares that our prisons hold some of the best men in the world."
"Some of the strongest and most potential," corrected her husband.
"I am inclined to agree with him," said Quarles.
"But I am taking up your time and not asking the one or two
questions I came especially to ask. You dress for the performance in
the tent, I suppose?"
"The men do. The ladies dress here and go down with cloaks over their
Quarles undid a small brown paper parcel--I had wondered what he had
brought with him--and produced the pierrot's hat.
"That is Henley's, I suppose?"
Watson looked at it.
"Undoubtedly. There is an 'H' in it, you see. We all put our initial in
like that so that we should know our own."
"Now, can you suggest why Henley was wearing his dress?" asked Quarles.
"That has puzzled us all," Watson answered. "I am inclined to think the
doctor is wrong as regards the time he had been dead. The last we saw of
Henley was when we left the tent that night. He was not coming back with
us, he was going straight to the station. He was a long time changing,
and I told him he would have to hurry to catch his train."
"Is there such a late train up?"
"Only during the summer."
"And none of you went down to the tent until the evening of the
They all replied in the negative.
"We are perhaps fortunate in being able to substantiate the denial," said
Watson. "We all drove to Craybourne and spent the day there, starting
soon after ten and not getting back until six."
"And in the ordinary way Henley would have gone with you?"
"Certainly. It was only just before the performance that evening that he
announced his journey to town. He said it was a matter of business."
"One more question," said Quarles, "a delicate one, but you will forgive
it because you are as desirous of clearing up this mystery as any one.
Have you any reason to suppose poor Henley was in love?"
"I have no reason to think so," said Watson.
"Nor you, Miss Travers?" said Quarles, turning to Sister Penelope.
"He certainly was not in love with me."
"I ask the question just to clear the ground," said the professor after a
short pause, and rising as he spoke. "The man whose place Henley took
might have fallen in love with one of you young ladies, and if he thought
Henley had supplanted him he might have taken a mad revenge. Such things
"There was nothing of that sort," said Mrs. Watson. "Russell, that was
the other man, has gone on a voyage for his health. Only a week ago I had
a picture postcard from him from a port in South America."
"That absolutely squashes the very germ of the theory," said the
professor with a smile. "Sometime I hope to enjoy your charming
entertainment again, and to hear you play, Miss Day. I hope it won't be
As we walked back to the hotel I asked Quarles why he had not suggested
that Henley might be in love with Miss Day instead of Miss Travers.
"My dear Wigan, you have yourself said she is undoubtedly a lady. Can
you imagine her allowing a man like the dead man to have anything to do
"Circumstances have thrown them into each other's company," I answered.
"In such a small circle she could hardly avoid him."
"I am inclined to think the company will get on better without him,"
To my astonishment the professor insisted on going back to town that
afternoon. No, he was not giving up the case, but he wanted to be in
Chelsea to think it out, and to see if Zena had got any foolish questions
to ask. This was Saturday, and on Monday I received a telegram from him,
requesting me to come to town. It was important. Of course I went, and
the three of us adjourned to the empty room.
"I am sorry to bring you off the Beverley affair, Wigan, but I think we
ought to settle this pierrot business."
"Then you have formed a theory?"
"Oh, yes, and it is for you to prove whether I am right or wrong. If my
theory be correct, it is rather a simple case, although it appears
complicated. We will accept the doctor's statement that the man had been
murdered that day, and not on the previous night. He was done to death,
therefore, during the morning probably, when for some reason he had
visited the tent, and for some reason had put on his pierrot's dress.
Watson is inclined to think that the doctor is wrong as regards time, but
we may dismiss his opinion. The dead man's face had no make-up on it; had
the murder been committed on the previous night before he had got out of
his costume, the grease paint would have been still on him."
"I think that conclusion is open to argument," I said.
"I base the conclusion rather on the doctor's opinion than on the
paint," said Quarles. "Now, it seems to follow that Henley's tale about
being called to town was false, was apparently told for the purpose of
getting out of the excursion with his comrades; and we may fairly assume
that his visit to the tent was for some purpose which he did not want his
companions to know anything about."
"Why did he put on the dress?" said Zena.
"That is her persistent question, Wigan, and she also asks another almost
as persistently: Why, in spite of friendly words concerning Henley,
should they look upon the dead body with such repugnance?"
"You make too much of that idea of mine, as I have said before," I
"Let me put it another way," said Quarles. "How was it possible for
them to show so little concern about a comrade they liked! They might
screw themselves up to go through their performance and hide their
sorrow from the public, but in private one would have expected to find
them depressed. I hardly think they showed great sorrow while we were
"They did not, certainly."
"May I say that Watson and Miss Day seemed the least concerned, and even
venture a step further and guess that they were the two who seemed to you
to look upon the dead man with repugnance?"
I admitted that this was the case, and it was then that Zena, having
heard the whole story from her grandfather, accused me of lingering in
the tent that night for the purpose of seeing Sister Pomona again.
"Now, two points as we go," said Quarles, interrupting our little
side-spar. "Miss Day volunteered no statement when I talked of love.
Could she have made an unqualified denial I think she would have done so.
I did not ask her a direct question on purpose; I thought she would be
more likely to answer an indirect one. Her silence, I fancy, was the
answer. In view of what the landlady told us, I think we are safe in
assuming that Henley admired her, and that she was aware of the fact. The
second point is Watson's defense of the men who had been in prison, his
hobby, as his wife called it. We will come back to both these points in a
moment. Let us consider the dead man first. The face was evidently that
of a fast liver, not that of a decent man such as Watson spoke of; the
throat and neck were not of the kind one expects in a singer, but, of
course, we must not argue too much from this; the hands showed breed,
certainly, but they had never been used to twang the strings of a banjo
"But Watson distinctly said--"
"And the hat with 'H' in it had never fitted the dead man," said Quarles.
"Oh, I remember perfectly what Watson said, and, moreover, I believe I
heard a good many of his thoughts which were not put into words--you can
hear thoughts, you know, only it is with such delicacy that the very idea
of hearing seems too heavy and materialistic to describe the sensation.
Watson said the hat was Henley's, he also said that Henley played these
instruments; but the pierrots all wore hats that fitted, well-made hats,
and for this reason each of them marked his hat, and the skin at the
finger tips of a banjo player always hardens. The dead man was certainly
not Brother Pythagoras, and so far the deduction is simple."
I made no comment.
"Now it is obvious since these entertainers agreed that it was the body
of their comrade, they are in a conspiracy to deceive. Why? More than one
complicated reason might be found, but let us remain simple. They knew
who the dead man was, and because of what they knew of him concluded that
their comrade was responsible for his death. Have you any fault to find
with that deduction, Wigan?"
"I don't think it follows," I said.
"If they did not know the dead man, if they had nothing to conceal, why
did they allow it to be supposed that the dead man was Henley?" said
Queries. "There would be no object. They were running a risk for nothing.
As it was, their action protected Henley. No one was likely to question
their identification. The dead man would be buried as Henley, and there
would be an end of the matter."
"But the dead man might be identified by his friends," I said.
"Evidently they thought it worth while to run that risk, knowing perhaps
that it was not a very great one. Apparently it was not, for up to now no
one has made anxious inquiries for the dead man."
"But some of the people about the sea-baths and the tent attendants would
know it was not Henley," said Zena.
"We have evidence that he was a very quiet, reticent man," said Quarles.
"They probably hardly saw him in the daytime, and at night he would have
a painted face, and the fact that he was wearing the dress would go a
long way to convince any one who chanced to see him in the dim light at
the back of the stage that night."
"And who do you suppose he was?" I asked.
"We will go back to Watson and Miss Day," said Quarles. "Miss Day was
silent on the question of love, fearful, I take it, that her natural
repugnance to the man might serve to betray the conspiracy. I believe
the conspiracy was formed on the spur of the moment, just before Watson
came from behind the curtains that evening and asked whether you were a
doctor. I should say the dead man had pestered her, and that she was
relieved by his death. I find some confirmation of this in Watson's
attitude. He talks of some of the best men having been in prison, in such
a way, in fact, that his wife hastens to laugh at his hobby, afraid that
he will betray himself. Now he could hardly have been referring to the
dead man; he declared himself that he was not thinking of Henley; I
suggest that he was thinking of himself."
"And you accused me of jumping to a conclusion!" I exclaimed.
"I haven't finished yet," answered the professor. "Here is my complete
theory. The dead man knew something of Watson's past, and was holding
that knowledge over him, blackmailing him, in fact, and I think the
company knew it. At the same time he pesters Miss Day with his
attentions, which Henley, more than half in love with Miss Day himself,
resents and determines to rid the troupe of a blackguard. He begins by
pretending some friendship for his victim, and after giving out that he
is going to town, suggests to the dead man that his absence may be an
opportunity for the other to get into Miss Day's good graces. Why should
he not dress up and take his place on the following evening? I have
little doubt that Henley expected him to come to try on the dress that
night after the performance, which would account for his being such a
long time changing. The victim did not come; by the look of him in death
I should say he had not been sober, which would account for his not
coming. Next morning Henley goes to find him, takes him to the tent, not
through the door, which would be fastened probably in some way, but
surreptitiously, through some weak spot in the pegging down very likely."
"But why should he wait until the man had got into the pierrot's dress
before murdering him?" said Zena.
"Because, my dear, he hoped the body would not be discovered until
another troupe took possession of the tent. A dead pierrot would be
discovered, and the troupe at Brighton would be communicated with. In the
meanwhile Henley would have warned them, and the same tale would have
been told, and the body been identified as Henley's. There would be no
hue and cry after the murderer. Had it not been for Miss Day's pompon
being torn off, I have no doubt this would have been the course of
events. You will have to travel to Brighton, Wigan, and put one or two
questions to our friend Watson."
"And who was the man?" I asked.
"Since no one seems to have missed him I should say he was a man not too
anxious to have inquiries made about him, one careful to cover up his
tracks, perhaps one not altogether unknown in criminal circles, a man of
the type of your Beverley, for instance. By the way, have you ever seen
"How were you to know him, then?"
"By the man in whose company he would be."
"And you have good reasons for expecting to run him to earth at
"Excellent reasons," I answered.
"Wigan, get some one who knows Beverley to go and look at the dead
pierrot. The result might be interesting."
It was. Quarles admitted that the idea was a leap in the dark, but he
pointed out that the dead man was the type he imagined Beverley to be.
The fact remains he was right. The dead man was Beverley. And, moreover,
the professor's deduction was right throughout as far as we were able to
verify it. Watson had been in prison, quite deservedly he admitted, but
having paid the debt for his fall, he was facing the world bravely. Then
came Beverley, who knew of the past, and Watson admitted that his death
was a thing that he could not help rejoicing over. He had heard nothing
from Henley, who had no doubt read of the discovery in the paper, and
thought it wiser to obliterate himself altogether.
THE TRAGEDY IN DUKE'S MANSIONS
I believe Beverley's exit from this life was a relief to his family.
Whether any very strenuous efforts were made to find Henley, I do not
know. Possibly the "Classical P's" are interrogated concerning him from
time to time, for they are still appearing at well-known watering places,
though whether Miss Day is still of the company, I cannot say.
I quickly forgot all about Henley, being absorbed in a new case, which
created considerable attention. At the outset it brought me in contact
with rather a fascinating character, a man whose personality sticks in
He was an Italian by birth, cosmopolitan by circumstances, and by nature
something of an artist. Fate had ordained that he should be man-servant
to an English M.P.; he would have looked more at home in a Florentine
studio or in a Tuscany vineyard, but then Fate is responsible for many
In well-chosen words, and in dramatic fashion, he drew the picture for
"The little dinner was over," he said, using his hands to illustrate his
speech. "I had removed everything but the wine. It had not been a merry
party, no; it was all business, I think, and serious. When I enter the
room to bring this or take that, they pause, say something of no
consequence--evidently I am not to hear anything of what they are
talking. They talk English, though only my master was English. One of his
guests was German, the other a countryman of my own, but not of Tuscany,
no, I think of the South. So there was only the wine on the table, and
cigars, and the silver box of cigarettes. My master had in his hand a
sheet of paper, and the German had taken a map from his pocket, and my
countryman was laughing at something which amused him. I can see it all
just as it was."
He paused, closed his eyes, as if he would impress for ever on his memory
what he had seen.
"And now--this," he said, throwing out his arms. "This, and not two hours
This was certainly tragic enough. A shaded electric light hanging over
the table left the corners of the room in shadow. The wine, the cigars,
the silver cigarette box were still on the table, the smoke was heavy in
the atmosphere. A tray contained cigar and cigarette ends. On either side
of the table was a chair pushed back as it would be by a man rising from
it. At the end was a chair, with arms, also pushed back a little, but it
was not empty. In it was a man in evening dress, leaning back, his head
fallen a little to one side, his arms hanging loosely. But for the arms
of the chair he would have fallen to the floor. He was dead. How he had
died was uncertain. A casual examination told nothing, and I had not
moved him. I had arrived first and was expecting the doctor every moment.
I happened to be in my office when the telephone message came through
that Arthur Bridwell, M.P., had been found dead under suspicious
circumstances in his flat at Duke's Mansions, Knightsbridge. I went there
at once and found a constable in possession. It was barely half-past
nine now, and the Italian manservant said he had last seen his master
alive at seven o'clock.
"He dined early to-night?" I said.
"Yes, at six. He was going to the House afterwards. It was important, I
heard him say so to his guests."
"And you went out at seven?"
"About seven. It is my custom to go for a walk after serving my master,"
was the answer. "I came back just before nine. I looked into this room,
not expecting to find any one here, but to put the wine away and take the
glasses, and I find this. I have moved nothing, I have touched nothing. I
called to the porter, and he fetched the police, and the policeman used
the telephone to call you."
The Italian, whose name was Masini, was the only servant. Duke's
Mansions, as you probably know, is a set of flats, varying in
accommodation, with a central service. There is a general dining-room,
and there are smoking rooms and lounges which all the tenants may use;
or meals are served in the various flats from the central kitchen.
To-night Mr. Bridwell had had dinner served for three at an early hour
in his flat.
The telephone was in the corner of the room, and I was going to it to
call up Christopher Quarles, convinced this was a case in which I should
need all the assistance I could get, when the telephone bell rang.
"Hallo!" I said. "Who's that?"
"I left my bag on the Chesterfield," came the answer. "Better not send
it. Keep it until I come again."
"When?" I asked.
There was a pause.
"Is that you, Arthur?" came the question.
"About the bag," I said, then paused. "Are you there?"
No answer. My voice had evidently betrayed me. The woman at the other
end had discovered that she was speaking to the wrong man. I looked at
the Chesterfield. There was no bag of any kind upon it now. Then I
telephoned to Quarles, telling him there was a mysterious case for him to
"Had your master any other visitors to-day?" I asked casually, turning
"Not to my knowledge. All the afternoon I was out."
"Where were you?"
"Out for my master. I took a parcel to a gentleman at Harrow."
"It was to a Mr. Fisher. It was a small parcel, a big letter rather, for
it was in an envelope that--that size. There was no answer. I just told
my master that Mr. Fisher said it was all right."
"So Mr. Bridwell might have had visitors while you were out?"
"Did he have many visitors as a rule?"
"Sometimes from what you call his constituency."
"Ah, no, signore; my master was of the other kind. He did not like the
vote for women."
"And you say you have moved nothing in this room?"
"Nothing at all."
Quarles arrived soon after the doctor had begun to examine the dead man,
so I could not then give him the particulars as far as I knew them. It
chanced that the doctor, a youngish man, was acquainted with the
professor, and was quite ready to listen to his suggestions.
"What do you make of it, Professor?" he asked.
"Is it poison!" said Quarles interrogatively.
The doctor had already examined the glasses on the table.
"I can find no signs of poison," he said. "And two hours ago the man
"That is according to the servant," I said. Masini was not in the room at
"There is no reason to doubt the statement, is there?" the doctor asked.
"No, but we have not yet corroborated it," I returned.
Quarles was already busy with his lens examining the dead man's
"You, have begun trying to find out who killed him before I have
pronounced upon the cause of death," said the doctor. "I am inclined to
think it is poison, but--"
"He didn't inject a drug, I suppose!" said Quarles.
"Not in his arm, you can look and satisfy yourself on that point. It is
just possible that he made an injection through his clothes. It requires
a more careful investigation than I can make to-night before I can give a
"Quite so, but you do not mind my looking at the body rather closely? A
little thing so often tells a big story, and the little things are
sometimes difficult to find once the body has been moved."
The doctor watched Quarles's close investigation with some amusement. The
shirt front came in for a lot of attention, and the collar was examined
right round to the back of the neck. It was a long time before Quarles
stood erect and put the lens in his pocket. I got the impression that he
had prolonged the investigation for the purpose of impressing the doctor.
"It would be virulent poison which would kill a man so quickly and while
he sat in his chair," Quarles said reflectively.
"It would, indeed," the doctor returned.
"You have formed no idea what the poison was?"
"No hypodermic syringe has been found, I suppose?" said Quarles,
turning to me.
"You see, doctor," he went on, "if the glasses there show no evidence of
poison, and nothing has been moved, and you decide that poison was the
cause of death, one might jump to the conclusion that it had been
self-administered with a syringe; that is why I ask about a syringe."
"There are such things as tablets," said the doctor, "or the poison may
have been in the food he has eaten to-night."
"Exactly," Quarles snapped irritably.
The doctor smiled; he had certainly scored a point and was
"Besides, Professor, you are a little previous with your questions. This
isn't the inquest, you know; we haven't got through the post-mortem yet."
"I generally form an opinion before the inquest," said Quarles as he
looked at each glass in turn and stirred the contents of the ash-tray
with a match.
"You must often make mistakes," remarked the doctor. "I propose having
the body moved to the bedroom; there is nothing else you would like to
look at before I do so?"
"Thanks, doctor, nothing," said Quarles with a smile which showed that he
had recovered his lost temper.
After the removal of the body the doctor departed, fully convinced, I
believe, that the professor was a much overrated person.
"Well, Wigan, shall I tell you what the result of the post-mortem is
likely to be?" said Quarles.
"If you can. Remember you have not heard what I have to say yet."
"No sign of poison will be found. No sign of violence will be discovered
anywhere upon the body. Sudden heart failure--that will be apparent. The
cause obscure. Organs seemingly healthy; no discernible disease. Muscular
failure. Death from natural causes. A case interesting to the medical
world, perhaps, but with no suggestion of foul play about it. Now let me
have your tale."
"But surely you--"
"I assure you I have formed no definite theory yet. How can I until I
have your story!"
I repeated what Masini had told me, and I told him about the
"It was a woman. You are quite sure it was a woman?"
He went to the telephone.
"There is a directory here, I see; did you touch it?"
"It wasn't open?"
"It was just as you see it now."
He took a piece of paper and made one or two notes.
"I imagine that particular call would be difficult to trace," he said.
"Duke's Mansions has a number, and from the office in the building the
particular flat required is switched on. There must have been scores of
calls during the evening. I don't remember anything particular about
Arthur Bridwell's parliamentary career, do you?"
"No, beyond the fact that he is Member for one of the divisions
Quarles looked slowly round the room.
"A bag," he mused; "one of those small chain or leather affairs which
women carry, I suppose; a purse in it, a handkerchief, perhaps a letter
or two. Bridwell would see it in all probability after the lady had
left, and he would--he would put it on a side table or slip it into a
drawer out of the way. Shall we just have Masini in and ask him a
question or two?"
Instead of questioning the Italian the professor got him to repeat the
story as he had told it to me. It was exactly the same account.
"You know nothing about these two visitors?"
"Nothing, signore. I had never seen them before, but I should know
"No names were mentioned in your presence?"
"Have you ever taken parcels to this Mr. Fisher before?" asked Quarles.
"Was the parcel hard; something of metal or leather?"
"Oh, no, signore; it was papers only."
"And you saw Mr. Fisher?"
"What was he like? Was he English?"
Masini said he was, and gave a description which might have fitted any
ten men out of the first dozen encountered in the street. He also
described the two visitors, but the portraits drawn were not startling.
"What did Mr. Fisher say when you gave him the packet? What were his
exact words, I mean?"
"He said: 'All right, tell Mr. Bridwell I shall start at once'."
"How long have you been in Mr. Bridwell's service?"
"Three years," was the answer. "He was traveling in Italy, and I
was a waiter in an hotel at Pisa. He liked me and made me an offer,
and I became his servant. I have traveled much with him in all
parts of Europe."
"Are you sure you never saw either of the men who dined here to-night
while you were traveling with your master in Italy?"
"I am sure, but on oath--it would be difficult to take an oath. His
friends were of a different kind. My master was writing a book on Italy;
he is still at work on it. Ah, signore, I should say he was at work on
it. Shall I show you his papers in the other room?"
The voluminous manuscripts proved that Bridwell was engaged upon a
monumental work dealing with the Italian Renaissance.
"Most interesting," said Quarles. "I should like to sit down at once and
spend hours with it. This is valuable. Mr. Bridwell's business man ought
to take charge of these papers. Do you know the name of his solicitors?"
"Mr. Standish, in Hanover Square," Masini answered.
The Italian declared he knew nothing about a lady's bag, and we searched
for it in vain. Then Quarles and I interviewed the hall porter. He knew
that Bridwell had had two gentlemen to dine with him that evening, but he
had not taken any particular notice of them. They left soon after eight,
he said. He corroborated the Italian's statement that he had gone out at
seven, and had returned just before nine.
"You didn't see a lady go up to Mr. Bridwell's flat?"
"No, sir, but I was not in the entrance hall at the time from eight to
nine. It is usually a slack time with me."
"I did not mean then," said Quarles. "I meant at any time during the
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