The Yellow Claw
Part 6 out of 7
"But where is it?"
"It is somewhere between Limehouse Causeway--is it not called so?--
and the riverside. But although I have been there, myself, I can
tell you no more. . . ."
"What! you have been there yourself?"
"But yes--most decidedly. I was there some nights ago. But they
are ingenious, ah! they are so ingenious!--so Chinese! I should
not have known even the little I do know if it were not for the
inquiries which I made last week. I knew that the letters to Mr.
Leroux which were supposed to come from Paris were handed by Soames
to some one who posted them to Paris from Bow, East. You remember
how I found the impression of the postmark?"
Dunbar nodded, his eyes glistening; for that discovery of the
Frenchman's had filled him with a sort of envious admiration.
"Well, then," continued Max, "I knew that the inquiry would lead me
to your east-end, and I suspected that I was dealing with Chinamen;
therefore, suitably attired, of course, I wandered about in those
interesting slums on more than one occasion; and I concluded that
the only district in which a Chinaman could live without exciting
curiosity was that which lies off the West India Dock Road." . . .
Dunbar nodded significantly at Sowerby, as who should say: "What
did I tell you about this man?"
"On one of these visits," continued the Frenchman, and a smile
struggled for expression upon his mobile lips, "I met you two
gentlemen with a Mr.--I think he is called Stringer--" . . .
"You met US!" exclaimed Sowerby.
"My sense of humor quite overcoming me," replied M. Max, "I even
tried to swindle you. I think I did the trick very badly!"
Dunbar and Sowerby were staring at one another amazedly.
"It was in the corner of a public house billiard-room," added the
Frenchman, with twinkling eyes; "I adopted the ill-used name of
Levinsky on that occasion." . . .
Dunbar began to punch his left palm and to stride up and down the
floor; whilst Sowerby, his blue eyes opened quite roundly, watched
M. Max as a schoolboy watches an illusionist.
"Therefore," continued M. Max, "I shall ask you to have a party
ready on Tuesday night in Limehouse Causeway--suitably concealed,
of course; and as I am almost sure that the haunt of Mr. King is
actually upon the riverside (I heard one little river sound as I
was coming away) a launch party might cooperate with you in
affecting the raid."
"The raid!" said Dunbar, turning from a point by the window, and
looking back at the Frenchman. "Do you seriously tell me that we
are going to raid Mr. King's on Tuesday night?"
"Most certainly," was the confident reply. "I had hoped to form
one of the raiding party; but nom d'un nom!"--he shrugged, in his
graceful fashion--"I must be one of the rescued!"
"Of the rescued!"
"You see I visited that establishment as a smoker of opium" . . .
"You took that risk?"
"It was no greater risk than is run by quite a number of people
socially well known in London, my dear Inspector Dunbar! I was
introduced by an habitue and a member of the best society; and
since nobody knows that Gaston Max is in London--that Gaston Max
has any business in hand likely to bring him to London--pardieu,
what danger did I incur? But, excepting the lobby--the cave of the
dragon (a stranger apartment even than that in the Rue St. Claude)
and the Chinese cubiculum where I spent the night--mon dieu! what a
night!--I saw nothing of the establishment" . . .
"But you must know where it is!" cried Dunbar.
"I was driven there in a closed limousine, and driven away in the
same vehicle" . . .
"You got the number?"
"It was impossible. These are clever people! But it must be a
simple matter, Inspector, to trace a fine car like that which
regularly appears in those east-end streets?"
"Every constable in the division must be acquainted with it,"
replied Dunbar, confidently. "I'll know all about that car inside
the next hour!"
"If on Tuesday night you could arrange to have it followed,"
continued M. Max, "it would simplify matters. What I have done is
this: I have bought the man, Soames--up to a point. But so deadly
is his fear of the mysterious Mr. King that although he has agreed
to assist me in my plans, he will not consent to divulge an atom of
information until the raid is successfully performed."
"Then for heaven's sake what IS he going to do?"
"Visitors to the establishment (it is managed by a certain Mr. Ho-
Pin; make a note of him, that Ho-Pin) having received the necessary
dose of opium are locked in for the night. On Tuesday, Soames, who
acts as valet to poor fools using the place, has agreed--for a
price--to unlock the door of the room in which I shall be" . . .
"What!" cried Dunbar, "you are going to risk yourself alone in that
"I have paid a very heavy fee," replied the Frenchman with his odd
smile, "and it entitles me to a second visit; I shall pay that
second visit on Tuesday night, and my danger will be no greater
than on the first occasion."
"But Soames may betray you!"
"Fear nothing; I have measured my Soames, not only anthropologically,
but otherwise. I fear only his folly, not his knavery. He will
not betray me. Morbleu! he is too much a frightened man. I do
not know what has taken place; but I could see that, assured of
escaping the police for complicity in the murder, he would turn
King's evidence immediately" . . .
"And you gave him that assurance?"
"At first I did not reveal myself. I weighed up my man very
carefully; I measured that Soames-pig. I had several stories in
readiness, but his character indicated which I should use.
Therefore, suddenly I arrested him!"
"Pardieu! I arrested him very quietly in a corner of the bar of
'Three Nuns' public house. My course was justified. He saw that
the reign of his mysterious Mr. King was nearing its close, and
that I was his only hope" . . .
"But still he refused" . . .
"His refusal to reveal anything whatever under those circumstances
impressed me more than all. It showed me that in Mr. King I had to
deal with a really wonderful and powerful man; a man who ruled by
means of FEAR; a man of gigantic force. I had taken the pattern of
the key fitting the Yale lock of the door of my room, and I secured
a duplicate immediately. Soames has not access to the keys, you
understand. I must rely upon my diplomacy to secure the same room
again--all turns upon that; and at an hour after midnight, or later
if advisable, Soames has agreed to let me out. Beyond this, I
could induce him to do nothing--nothing whatever. Cochon!
Therefore, having got out of the locked room, I must rely upon my
own wits--and the Browning pistol which I have presented to Soames
together with the duplicate key" . . .
"Why not go armed?" asked Dunbar.
"One's clothes are searched, my dear Inspector, by an expert! I
have given the key, the pistol, and the implements of the house-
breaker (a very neat set which fits easily into the breast-pocket)
to Soames, to conceal in his private room at the establishment
until Tuesday night. All turns upon my securing the same
apartment. If I am unable to do so, the arrangements for the raid
will have to be postponed. Opium smokers are faddists essentially,
however, and I think I can manage to pretend that I have formed a
strange penchant for this particular cubiculum" . . .
"By whom were you introduced to the place?" asked Dunbar, leaning
back against the table and facing the Frenchman.
"That I cannot in honor divulge," was the reply; "but the
representative of Mr. King who actually admitted me to the
establishment is one Gianapolis; address unknown, but telephone
number 18642 East. Make a note of him, that Gianapolis."
"I'll arrest him in the morning," said Sowerby, writing furiously
in his notebook.
"Nom d'un p'tit bonhomme! M. Sowerby, you will do nothing of that
foolish description, my dear friend," said Max; and Dunbar glared
at the unfortunate sergeant. "Nothing whatever must be done to
arouse suspicion between now and the moment of the raid. You must
be circumspect--ah, morbleu! so circumspect. By all means trace
this Mr. Gianapolis; yes. But do not let him SUSPECT that he is
being traced" . . .
Helen Cumberly and Denise Ryland peered from the window of the
former's room into the dusk of the Square, until their eyes ached
with the strain of an exercise so unnatural.
"I tell you," said Denise with emphasis, "that . . . sooner or
later . . . he will come prowling . . . around. The mere fact that
he did not appear . . . last night . . . counts for nothing. His
own crooked . . . plans no doubt detain him . . . very often . . .
Helen sighed wearily. Denise Ryland's scheme was extremely
distasteful to her, but whenever she thought of the pathetic eyes
of Leroux she found new determination. Several times she had
essayed to analyze the motives which actuated her; always she
feared to pursue such inquiries beyond a certain point. Now that
she was beginning to share her friend's views upon the matter, all
social plans sank into insignificance, and she lived only in the
hope of again meeting Gianapolis, of tracing out the opium group,
and of finding Mrs. Leroux. In what state did she hope and expect
to find her? This was a double question which kept her wakeful
through the dreary watches of the night. . . .
Denise Ryland grasped her by the arm, pointing out into the
darkened Square. A furtive figure crossed from the northeast
corner into the shade of some trees and might be vaguely detected
coming nearer and nearer.
"There he is!" whispered Denise Ryland, excitedly; "I told you he
couldn't . . . keep away. I know that kind of brute. There is
nobody at home, so listen: I will watch . . . from the drawing-
room, and you . . . light up here and move about . . . as if
preparing to go out."
Helen, aware that she was flushed with excitement, fell in with the
proposal readily; and having switched on the lights in her room and
put on her hat so that her moving shadow was thrown upon the
casement curtain, she turned out the light again and ran to rejoin
her friend. She found the latter peering eagerly from the window
of the drawing-room.
"He thinks you are coming out!" gasped Denise. "He has slipped . . .
around the corner. He will pretend to be . . . passing . . .
this way . . . the cross-eyed . . . hypocrite. Do you feel capable
. . . of the task?"
"Quite," Helen declared, her cheeks flushed and her eyes sparkling.
"You will follow us as arranged; for heaven's sake, don't lose us!"
"If the doctor knew of this," breathed Denise, "he would never . . .
forgive me. But no woman . . . no true woman . . . could refuse
to undertake . . . so palpable . . . a duty" . . .
Helen Cumberly, wearing a warm, golfing jersey over her dress, with
a woolen cap to match, ran lightly down the stairs and out into the
Square, carrying a letter. She walked along to the pillar-box, and
having examined the address upon the envelope with great care, by
the light of an adjacent lamp, posted the letter, turned--and
there, radiant and bowing, stood Mr. Gianapolis!
"Kismet is really most kind to me!" he cried. "My friend, who
lives, as I think I mentioned once before, in Peer's Chambers,
evidently radiates good luck. I last had the good fortune to meet
you when on my way to see him, and I now meet you again within five
minutes of leaving him! My dear Miss Cumberly, I trust you are
"Quite," said Helen, holding out her hand. "I am awfully glad to
see you again, Mr. Gianapolis!"
He was distinctly encouraged by her tone. He bent forward
"The night is young," he said; and his smile was radiant. "May I
hope that your expedition does not terminate at this post-box?"
Helen glanced at him doubtfully, and then down at her jersey.
Gianapolis was unfeignedly delighted with her naivete.
"Surely you don't want to be seen with me in this extraordinary
costume!" she challenged.
"My dear Miss Cumberly, it is simply enchanting! A girl with such
a figure as yours never looks better than when she dresses
The latent vulgarity of the man was escaping from the bondage in
which ordinarily he confined it. A real passion had him in its
grip, and the real Gianapolis was speaking. Helen hesitated for
one fateful moment; it was going to be even worse than she had
anticipated. She glanced up at Palace Mansions.
Across a curtained window moved a shadow, that of a man wearing a
long gown and having his hands clasped behind him, whose head
showed as an indistinct blur because the hair was wildly
disordered. This shadow passed from side to side of the window and
was lost from view. It was the shadow of Henry Leroux.
"I am afraid I have a lot of work to do," said Helen, with a little
catch in her voice.
"My dear Miss Cumberly," cried Gianapolis, eagerly, placing his
hand upon her arm, "it is precisely of your work that I wish to
speak to you! Your work is familiar to me--I never miss a line of
it; and knowing how you delight in the outre and how inimitably you
can describe scenes of Bohemian life, I had hoped, since it was my
privilege to meet you, that you would accept my services as
cicerone to some of the lesser-known resorts of Bohemian London.
Your article, 'Dinner in Soho,' was a delightful piece of
observation, and the third--I think it was the third--of the same
series: 'Curiosities of the Cafe Royal,' was equally good. But
your powers of observation would be given greater play in any one
of the three establishments to which I should be honored to escort
Helen Cumberly, though perfectly self-reliant, as only the modern
girl journalist can be, was fully aware that, not being of the
flat-haired, bespectacled type, she was called upon to exercise
rather more care in her selection of companions for copy-hunting
expeditions than was necessary in the case of certain fellow-
members of the Scribes' Club. No power on earth could have induced
her to accept such an invitation from such a man, under ordinary
circumstances; even now, with so definite and important an object
in view, she hesitated. The scheme might lead to nothing; Denise
Ryland (horrible thought!) might lose the track; the track might
lead to no place of importance, so far as her real inquiry was
In this hour of emergency, new and wiser ideas were flooding her
brain. For instance, they might have admitted Inspector Dunbar to
the plot. With Inspector Dunbar dogging her steps, she should have
felt perfectly safe; but Denise--she had every respect for Denise's
reasoning powers, and force of character--yet Denise nevertheless
might fail her.
She glanced into the crooked eyes of Gianapolis, then up again at
The shadow of Henry Leroux recrossed the cream-curtained window.
"So early in the evening," pursued the Greek, rapidly, "the more
interesting types will hardly have arrived; nevertheless, at the
Memphis Cafe" . . .
"Memphis Cafe!" muttered Helen, glancing at him rapidly; "what an
"Ah! my dear Miss Cumberly!" cried Gianapolis, with triumph--"I
knew that you had never heard of the true haunts of Bohemia! The
Memphis Cafe--it is actually a club--was founded by Olaf van Noord
two years ago, and at present has a membership including some of
the most famous artistic folk of London; not only painters, but
authors, composers, actors, actresses. I may add that the peerage,
male and female, is represented."
"It is actually a gaming-house, I suppose?" said Helen, shrewdly.
"A gaming-house? Not at all! If what you wish to see is play for
high stakes, it is not to the Memphis Cafe you must go. I can show
you Society losing its money in thousands, if the spectacle would
amuse you. I only await your orders" . . .
"You certainly interest me," said Helen; and indeed this half-
glimpse into phases of London life hidden from the world--even from
the greater part of the ever-peering journalistic world--was not
lacking in fascination.
The planning of a scheme in its entirety constitutes a mental effort which not
infrequently blinds us to the shortcomings of certain essential details.
Denise's plan, a good one in many respects, had the fault of being over-
elaborate. Now, when it was too late to advise her friend of any
amendment, Helen perceived that there was no occasion for her to
suffer the society of Gianapolis.
To bid him good evening, and then to follow him, herself, was a
plan much superior to that of keeping him company whilst Denise
Moreover, he would then be much more likely to go home, or to some
address which it would be useful to know. What a VERY womanish
scheme theirs had been, after all; Helen told herself that the most
stupid man imaginable could have placed his finger upon its weak
But her mind was made up. If it were possible, she would warn
Denise of the change of plan; if it were not, then she must rely
upon her friend to see through the ruse which she was about to
practise upon the Greek.
"Good night, Mr. Gianapolis!" she said abruptly, and held out her
hand to the smiling man. His smile faded. "I should love to join
you, but really you must know that it's impossible. I will arrange
to make up a party, with pleasure, if you will let me know where I
can 'phone you?"
"But," he began . . .
"Many thanks, it's really impossible; there are limits even to the
escapades allowed under the cloak of 'Copy'! Where can I
communicate with you?"
"Oh! how disappointed I am! But I must permit you to know your own
wishes better than I can hope to know them, Miss Cumberly.
Therefore"--Helen was persistently holding out her hand--"good
night! Might I venture to telephone to YOU in the morning? We
could then come to some arrangement, no doubt" . . .
"You might not find me at home" . . .
"But at nine o'clock!"
"It allows me no time to make up my party!"
"But such a party must not exceed three: yourself and two others" . . .
"Nevertheless, it has to be arranged."
"I shall ring up to-morrow evening, and if you are not at home,
your maid will tell me when you are expected to return."
Helen quite clearly perceived that no address and no telephone
number were forthcoming.
"You are committing yourself to endless and unnecessary trouble,
Mr. Gianapolis, but if you really wish to do as you suggest, let it
be so. Good night!"
She barely touched his extended hand, turned, and ran fleetly back
toward the door of Palace Mansions. Ere reaching the entrance,
however, she dropped a handkerchief, stooped to recover it, and
glanced back rapidly.
Gianapolis was just turning the corner.
Helen perceived the unmistakable form of Denise Ryland lurking in
the Palace Mansions doorway, and, waving frantically to her friend,
who was nonplussed at this change of tactics, she hurried back
again to the corner and peeped cautiously after the retreating
There was a cab rank some fifty paces beyond, with three taxis
stationed there. If Gianapolis chartered a cab, and she were
compelled to follow in another, would Denise come upon the scene in
time to take up the prearranged role of sleuth-hound?
Gianapolis hesitated only for a few seconds; then, shrugging his
shoulders, he stepped out into the road and into the first cab on
the rank. The man cranked his engine, leapt into his seat and
drove off. Helen Cumberly, ignoring the curious stares of the two
remaining taxi-men, ran out from the shelter of the corner and
jumped into the next cab, crying breathlessly:
"Follow that cab! Don't let the man in it suspect, but follow, and
don't lose sight of it!"
They were off!
Helen glanced ahead quickly, and was just in time to see
Gianapolis' cab disappear; then, leaning out of the window, she
indulged in an extravagant pantomime for the benefit of Denise
Ryland, who was hurrying after her.
"Take the next cab and follow ME!" she cried, whilst her friend
raised her hand to her ear the better to detect the words. "I
cannot wait for you or the track will be lost" . . .
Helen's cab swung around the corner--and she was not by any means
certain that Denise Ryland had understood her; but to have delayed
would have been fatal, and she must rely upon her friend's powers
of penetration to form a third in this singular procession.
Whilst these thoughts were passing in the pursuer's mind,
Gianapolis, lighting a cigarette, had thrown himself back in a
corner of the cab and was mentally reviewing the events of the
evening--that is, those events which were associated with Helen
Cumberly. He was disappointed but hopeful: at any rate he had
suffered no definite repulse. Without doubt, his reflections had
been less roseate had he known that he was followed, not only by
two, but by THREE trackers.
He had suspected for some time now, and the suspicion had made him
uneasy, that his movements were being watched. Police surveillance
he did not fear; his arrangements were too complete, he believed,
to occasion him any ground for anxiety even though half the
Criminal Investigation Department were engaged in dogging his every
movement. He understood police methods very thoroughly, and all
his experience told him that this elusive shadow which latterly had
joined him unbidden, and of whose presence he was specially
conscious whenever his steps led toward Palace Mansions, was no
He had two theories respecting the shadow--or, more properly, one
theory which was divisible into two parts; and neither part was
conducive to peace of mind. Many years, crowded with many
happenings, some of which he would fain forget, had passed since
the day when he had entered the service of Mr. King, in Pekin. The
enterprises of Mr. King were always of a secret nature, and he well
remembered the fate of a certain Burmese gentleman of Rangoon who
had attempted to throw the light of publicity into the dark places
of these affairs.
From a confidant of the doomed man, Gianapolias had learned, fully
a month before a mysterious end had come to the Burman, how the
latter (by profession a money-lender) had complained of being
shadowed night and day by someone or something, of whom or of which
he could never succeed in obtaining so much as a glimpse.
Gianapolis shuddered. These were morbid reflections, for, since he
had no thought of betraying Mr. King, he had no occasion to
apprehend a fate similar to that of the unfortunate money-lender of
Rangoon. It was a very profitable service, that of Mr. King, yet
there were times when the fear of his employer struck a chill to
his heart; there were times when almost he wished to be done with
it all . . .
By Whitechapel Station he discharged the cab, and, standing on the
pavement, lighted a new cigarette from the glowing stump of the old
one. A fair amount of traffic passed along the Whitechapel Road,
for the night was yet young; therefore Gianapolis attached no
importance to the fact that almost at the moment when his own cab
turned and was driven away, a second cab swung around the corner of
Mount Street and disappeared.
But, could he have seen the big limousine drawn up to the pavement
some fifty yards west of London Hospital, his reflections must have
been terrible, indeed.
Fate willed that he should know nothing of this matter, and, his
thoughts automatically reverting again to Helen Cumberly, he
enjoyed that imaginary companionship throughout the remainder of
his walk, which led him along Cambridge Road, and from thence, by a
devious route, to the northern end of Globe Road.
It may be enlightening to leave Gianapolis for a moment and to
return to Mount Street.
Helen Cumberly's cabman, seeing the cab ahead pull up outside the
railway station, turned around the nearest corner on the right (as
has already appeared), and there stopped. Helen, who also had
observed the maneuver of the taxi ahead, hastily descended, and
giving the man half-a-sovereign, said rapidly:
"I must follow on foot now, I am afraid! but as I don't know this
district at all, could you bring the cab along without attracting
attention, and manage to keep me in sight?"
"I'll try, miss," replied the man, with alacrity; "but it won't be
an easy job."
"Do your best," cried Helen, and ran off rapidly around the corner,
and into Whitechapel Road.
She was just in time to see Gianapolis throw away the stump of his
first cigarette and stroll off, smoking a second. She rejoiced
that she was inconspicuously dressed, but, simple as was her
attire, it did not fail to attract coarse comment from some whom
she jostled on her way. She ignored all this, however, and, at a
discreet distance followed the Greek, never losing sight of him for
more than a moment.
When, leaving Cambridge Road--a considerable thoroughfare--he
plunged into a turning, crooked and uninviting, which ran roughly
at right angles with the former, she hesitated, but only for an
instant. Not another pedestrian was visible in the street, which
was very narrow and ill-lighted, but she plainly saw Gianapolis
passing under a street-lamp some thirty yards along. Glancing back
in quest of the cabman, but failing to perceive him, she resumed
She was nearly come to the end of the street (Gianapolis already
had disappeared into an even narrower turning on the left) when a
bright light suddenly swept from behind and cast her shadow far out
in front of her upon the muddy road. She heard the faint thudding
of a motor, but did not look back, for she was confident that this
was the taxi-man following. She crept to the corner and peered
around it; Gianapolis had disappeared.
The light grew brighter--brighter yet; and, with the engine running
very silently, the car came up almost beside her. She considered
this unwise on the man's part, yet welcomed his presence, for in
this place not a soul was visible, and for the first time she began
to feel afraid . . .
A shawl, or some kind of silken wrap, was suddenly thrown over her
She shrieked frenziedly, but the arm of her captor was now clasped
tightly about her mouth and head. She felt herself to be
suffocating. The silken thing which enveloped her was redolent of
the perfume of roses; it was stifling her. She fought furiously,
but her arms were now seized in an irresistible grasp, and she felt
herself lifted--and placed upon a cushioned seat.
Instantly there was a forward movement of the vehicle which she had
mistaken for a taxi-cab, and she knew that she was speeding through
those unknown east-end streets--God! to what destination?
She could not cry out, for she was fighting for air--she seemed to
be encircled by a swirling cloud of purplish mist. On--and on--and
on, she was borne; she knew that she must have been drugged in some
way, for consciousness was slipping--slipping . . .
Helpless as a child in that embrace which never faltered, she was
lifted again and carried down many steps. Insensibility was very
near now, but with all the will that was hers she struggled to fend
it off. She felt herself laid down upon soft cushions . . .
A guttural voice was speaking, from a vast distance away:
"What is this that you bwring us, Mahara?"
Answered a sweet, silvery voice:
"Does it matter to you what I bringing? It is one I hate--hate--
HATE! There will be TWO cases of 'ginger' to go away some day
instead of ONE--that is all! Said, yalla!"
"Your pwrimitive passions will wruin us" . . .
The silvery voice grew even more silvery:
"Do you quarrel with me, Ho-Pin, my friend?"
"This is England, not Burma! Gianapolis" . . .
"Ah! Whisper--WHISPER it to HIM, and" . . .
Oblivion closed in upon Helen Cumberly; she seemed to be sinking
into the heart of a giant rose.
IN DUNBAR'S ROOM
Dr. Cumberly, his face unusually pale, stood over by the window of
Inspector Dunbar's room, his hands locked behind him. In the chair
nearest to the window sat Henry Leroux, so muffled up in a fur-
collared motor-coat that little of his face was visible; but his
eyes were tragic as he leant forward resting his elbows upon his
knees and twirling his cap between his thin fingers. He was
watching Inspector Dunbar intently; only glancing from the gaunt
face of the detective occasionally to look at Denise Ryland, who
sat close to the table. At such times his gaze was pathetically
reproachful, but always rather sorrowful than angry.
As for Miss Ryland, her habitual self-confidence seemed somewhat to
have deserted her, and it was almost with respectful interest that
she followed Dunbar's examination of a cabman who, standing cap in
hand, completed the party so strangely come together at that late
"This is what you have said," declared Dunbar, taking up an
official form, and, with a movement of his hand warning the taxi-
man to pay attention: "'I, Frederick Dean, motor-cab driver, was
standing on the rank in Little Abbey Street to-night at about a
quarter to nine. My cab was the second on the rank. A young lady
who wore, I remember, a woolen cap and jersey, with a blue serge
skirt, ran out from the corner of the Square and directed me to
follow the cab in front of me, which had just been chartered by a
dark man wearing a black overcoat and silk hat. She ordered me to
keep him in sight; and as I drove off I heard her calling from the
window of my cab to another lady who seemed to be following her. I
was unable to see this other lady, but my fare addressed her as
"Denise." I followed the first cab to Whitechapel Station; and as
I saw it stop there, I swung into Mount Street. The lady gave me
half-a-sovereign, and told me that she proposed to follow the man
on foot. She asked me if I could manage to keep her in sight,
without letting my cab be seen by the man she was following. I
said I would try, and I crept along at some distance behind her,
going as slowly as possible until she went into a turning branching
off to the right of Cambridge Road; I don't know the name of this
street. She was some distance ahead of me, for I had had trouble
in crossing Whitechapel Road.
"'A big limousine had passed me a moment before, but as an electric
tram was just going by on my off-side, between me and the
limousine, I don't know where the limousine went. When I was clear
of the tram I could not see it, and it may have gone down Cambridge
Road and then down the same turning as the lady. I pulled up at
the end of this turning, and could not see a sign of any one. It
was quite deserted right to the end, and although I drove down,
bore around to the right and finally came out near the top of Globe
Road, I did not pass anyone. I waited about the district for over
a quarter-of-an-hour and then drove straight to the police station,
and they sent me on here to Scotland Yard to report what had
"Have you anything to add to that?" said Dunbar, fixing his tawny
eyes upon the cabman.
"Nothing at all," replied the man--a very spruce and intelligent
specimen of his class and one who, although he had moved with the
times, yet retained a slightly horsey appearance, which indicated
that he had not always been a mechanical Jehu.
"It is quite satisfactory as far as it goes," muttered Dunbar.
"I'll get you to sign it now and we need not detain you any
"There is not the slightest doubt," said Dr. Cumberly, stepping
forward and speaking in an unusually harsh voice, "that Helen
endeavored to track this man Gianapolis, and was abducted by him or
his associates. The limousine was the car of which we have heard
so much" . . .
"If my cabman had not been such a . . . fool," broke in Denise
Ryland, clasping her hands, "we should have had a different . . .
tale to tell."
"I have no wish to reproach anybody," said Dunbar, sternly; "but I
feel called upon to remark, madam, that you ought to have known
better than to interfere in a case like this; a case in which we
are dealing with a desperate and clever gang."
For once in her life Denise Ryland found herself unable to retort
suitably. The mildly reproachful gaze of Leroux she could not
meet; and although Dr. Cumberly had spoken no word of complaint
against her, from his pale face she persistently turned away her
The cabman having departed, the door almost immediately reopened,
and Sergeant Sowerby came in.
"Ah! there you are, Sowerby!" cried Dunbar, standing up and leaning
eagerly across the table. "You have the particulars respecting the
Sergeant Sowerby, removing his hat and carefully placing it upon
the only vacant chair in the room, extracted a bulging notebook
from a pocket concealed beneath his raincoat, cleared his throat,
and reported as follows:
"There is only one car known to members of that division which
answers to the description of the one wanted. This is a high-
power, French car which seems to have been registered first in
Paris, where it was made, then in Cairo, and lastly in London. It
is the property of the gentleman whose telephone number is 18642
East--Mr. I. Gianapolis; and the reason of its frequent presence in
the neighborhood of the West India Dock Road, is this: it is kept
in a garage in Wharf-End Lane, off Limehouse Causeway. I have
interviewed two constables at present on that beat, and they tell
me that there is nothing mysterious about the car except that the
chauffeur is a foreigner who speaks no English. He is often to be
seen cleaning the car in the garage, and both the men are in the
habit of exchanging good evening with him when passing the end of
the lane. They rarely go that far, however, as it leads nowhere."
"But if you have the telephone number of this man, Gianapolis,"
cried Dr. Cumberly, "you must also have his address" . . .
"We obtained both from the Eastern Exchange," interrupted Inspector
Dunbar. "The instrument, number 18642 East, is installed in an
office in Globe Road. The office, which is situated in a converted
private dwelling, bears a brass plate simply inscribed, 'I.
Gianapolis, London and Smyrna.'"
"What is the man's reputed business?" jerked Cumberly.
"We have not quite got to the bottom of that, yet," replied
Sowerby; "but he is an agent of some kind, and evidently in a large
way of business, as he runs a very fine car, and seems to live
principally in different hotels. I am told that he is an importer
of Turkish cigarettes and" . . .
"He is an importer and exporter of hashish!" snapped Dunbar
irritably. "If I could clap my eyes upon him I should know him at
once! I tell you, Sowerby, he is the man who was convicted last
year of exporting hashish to Egypt in faked packing cases which
contained pottery ware, ostensibly, but had false bottoms filled
with cakes of hashish" . . .
"But," began Dr. Cumberly . . .
"But because he came before a silly bench," snapped Dunbar, his
eyes flashing angrily, "he got off with a fine--a heavy one,
certainly, but he could well afford to pay it. It is that kind of
judicial folly which ties the hands of Scotland Yard!"
"What makes you so confident that this is the man?" asked the
"He was convicted under the name of G. Ionagis," replied the
detective; "which I believe to be either his real name or his real
name transposed. Do you follow me? I. Gianapolis is Ionagis
Gianapolis, and G. Ionagis is Gianapolis Ionagis. I was not
associated with the hashish case; he stored the stuff in a china
warehouse within the city precincts, and at that time he did not
come within my sphere. But I looked into it privately, and I could
see that the prosecution was merely skimming the surface; we are
only beginning to get down to the depths NOW."
Dr. Cumberly raised his hand to his head in a distracted manner.
"Surely," he said, and he was evidently exercising a great
restraint upon himself--"surely we're wasting time. The office in
Globe Road should be raided without delay. No stone should be left
unturned to effect the immediate arrest of this man Gianapolis or
Ionagis. Why, God almighty! while we are talking here, my
daughter" . . .
"Morbleu! who talks of arresting Gianapolis?" inquired the voice of
a man who silently had entered the room.
All turned their heads; and there in the doorway stood M. Gaston
"Thank God you've come!" said Dunbar with sincerity. He dropped
back into his chair, a strong man exhausted. "This case is getting
Denise Ryland was staring at the Frenchman as if fascinated. He,
for his part, having glanced around the room, seemed called upon to
give her some explanation of his presence.
"Madame," he said, bowing in his courtly way, "only because of very
great interests did I dare to conceal my true identity. My name is
Gaston, that is true, but only so far as it goes. My real name is
Gaston Max, and you who live in Paris will perhaps have heard it."
"Gaston Max!" cried Denise Ryland, springing upright as though
galvanized; "you are M. Gaston Max! But you are not the least bit
in the world like" . . .
"Myself?" said the Frenchman, smiling. "Madame, it is only a man
fortunate enough to possess no enemies who can dare to be like
He bowed to her in an oddly conclusive manner, and turned again to
"I am summoned in haste," he said; "tell me quickly of this new
Sowerby snatched his hat from the vacant chair, and politely placed
the chair for M. Max to sit upon. The Frenchman, always courteous,
gently forced Sergeant Sowerby himself to occupy the chair,
silencing his muttered protests with upraised hand. The matter
settled, he lowered his hand, and, resting it fraternally upon the
sergeant's shoulder, listened to Inspector Dunbar's account of what
had occurred that night. No one interrupted the Inspector until he
was come to the end of his narrative.
"Mille tonnerres!" then exclaimed M. Max; and, holding a finger of
his glove between his teeth, he tugged so sharply that a long rent
appeared in the suede.
His eyes were on fire; the whole man quivered with electric force.
In silence that group watched the celebrated Frenchman;
instinctively they looked to him for aid. It is at such times that
personality proclaims itself. Here was the last court of appeal,
to which came Dr. Cumberly and Inspector Dunbar alike; whose
pronouncement they awaited, not questioning that it would be final.
"To-morrow night," began Max, speaking in a very low voice, "we
raid the headquarters of Ho-Pin. This disappearance of your
daughter, Dr. Cumberly, is frightful; it could not have been
foreseen or it should have been prevented. But the least mistake
now, and"--he looked at Dr. Cumberly as if apologizing for his
barbed words--"she may never return!"
"My God!" groaned the physician, and momentarily dropped his face
into his hands.
But almost immediately he recovered himself and with his mouth
drawn into a grim straight line, looked again at M. Max, who
"I do not think that this abduction was planned by the group; I
think it was an accident and that they were forced, in self-
protection, to detain your daughter, who unwisely--morbleu! how
unwisely!--forced herself into their secrets. To arrest Gianapolis
(even if that were possible) would be to close their doors to us
permanently; and as we do not even know the situation of those
doors, that would be to ruin everything. Whether Miss Cumberly is
confined in the establishment of Ho-Pin or somewhere else, I cannot
say; whether she is a captive of Gianapolis or of Mr. King, I do
not know. But I know that the usual conduct of the establishment
is not being interrupted at present; for only half-an-hour ago I
telephoned to Mr. Gianapolis!"
"At Globe Road?" snapped Dunbar, with a flash of the tawny eyes.
"At Globe Road--yes (oh! they would not detain her there!). Mr.
Gianapolis was present to speak to me. He met me very agreeably in
the matter of occupying my old room in the delightful Chinese hotel
of Mr. Ho-Pin. Therefore"--he swept his left hand around
forensically, as if to include the whole of the company--"to-morrow
night at eleven o'clock I shall be meeting Mr. Gianapolis at
Piccadilly Circus, and later we shall join the limousine and be
driven to the establishment of Ho-Pin." He turned to Inspector
Dunbar. "Your arrangements for watching all the approaches to the
suspected area are no doubt complete?"
"Not a stray cat," said Dunbar with emphasis, "can approach
Limehouse Causeway or Pennyfields, or any of the environs of the
place, to-morrow night after ten o'clock, without the fact being
reported to me! You will know at the moment that you step from the
limousine that a cyclist scout, carefully concealed, is close at
your heels with a whole troup to follow; and if, as you suspect,
the den adjoins the river bank, a police cutter will be lying at
the nearest available point."
"Eh bien!" said M. Max; then, turning to Denise Ryland and Dr.
Cumberly, and shrugging his shoulders: "you see, frightful as your
suspense must be, to make any foolish arrests to-night, to move in
this matter at all to-night--would be a case of more haste and less
speed" . . .
"But," groaned Cumberly, "is Helen to lie in that foul, unspeakable
den until the small hours of to-morrow morning? Good God! they
may" . . .
"There is one little point," interrupted M. Max with upraised hand,
"which makes it impossible that we should move to-night--quite
apart from the advisability of such a movement. We do not know
exactly where this place is situated. What can we do?"
He shrugged his shoulders, and, with raised eyebrows, stared at Dr.
"It is fairly evident," replied the other slowly, and with a
repetition of the weary upraising of his hand to his head, "it is
fairly evident that the garage used by the man Gianapolis must be
very near to--most probably adjoining--the entrance to this place
of which you speak."
"Quite true," agreed the Frenchman. "But these are clever, these
people of Mr. King. They are Chinese, remember, and the Chinese--
ah, I know it!--are the most mysterious and most cunning people in
the world. The entrance to the cave of black and gold will not be
as wide as a cathedral door. A thousand men might search this
garage, which, as Detective Sowerby" (he clapped the latter on the
shoulder) "informed me this afternoon, is situated in Wharf-End
Lane--all day and all night, and become none the wiser. To-morrow
evening"--he lowered his voice--"I myself, shall be not outside,
but inside that secret place; I shall be the concierge for one
night--Eh bien, that concierge will admit the policeman!"
A groan issued from Dr. Cumberly's lips; and M. Max, with ready
sympathy, crossed the room and placed his hands upon the
physician's shoulders, looking steadfastly into his eyes.
"I understand, Dr. Cumberly," he said, and his voice was caressing
as a woman's. "Pardieu! I understand. To wait is agony; but you,
who are a physician, know that to wait sometimes is necessary.
Have courage, my friend, have courage!"
Luke Soames, buttoning up his black coat, stood in the darkness,
His constitutional distaste for leaping blindfolded had been over-
ridden by circumstance. He felt himself to be a puppet of Fate,
and he drifted with the tide because he lacked the strength to swim
against it. That will-o'-the-wisp sense of security which had
cheered him when first he had realized how much he owed to the
protective wings of Mr. King had been rudely extinguished upon the
very day of its birth; he had learnt that Mr. King was a sinister
protector; and almost hourly he lived again through the events of
that night when, all unwittingly, he had become a witness of
strange happenings in the catacombs.
Soames had counted himself a lost man that night; the only point
which he had considered debatable was whether he should be
strangled or poisoned. That his employers were determined upon his
death, he was assured; yet he had lived through the night, had
learnt from his watch that the morning was arrived . . . and had
seen the flecks at the roots of his dyed hair, blanched by the
terrors of that vigil--of that watching, from moment to moment, for
the second coming of Ho-Pin.
Yes, the morning had dawned, and with it a faint courage. He had
shaved and prepared himself for his singular duties, and Said had
brought him his breakfast as usual. The day had passed
uneventfully, and once, meeting Ho-Pin, he had found himself
greeted with the same mirthless smile but with no menace. Perhaps
they had believed his story, or had disbelieved it but realized
that he was too closely bound to them to be dangerous.
Then his mind had reverted to the conversation overheard in the
music-hall. Should he seek to curry favor with his employers by
acquainting them with the fact that, contrary to Gianapolis'
assertion, an important clue had fallen into the hands of the
police? Did they know this already? So profound was his belief in
the omniscience of the invisible Mr. King that he could not believe
that Power ignorant of anything appertaining to himself.
Yet it was possible that those in the catacombs were unaware how
Scotland Yard, night and day, quested for Mr. King. The papers
made no mention of it; but then the papers made no mention of
another fact--the absence of Mrs. Leroux. Now that he was no
longer panic-ridden, he could mentally reconstruct that scene of
horror, could hear again, imaginatively, the shrieks of the
maltreated woman. Perhaps this same active imagination of his was
playing him tricks, but, her voice . . . Always he preferred to
dismiss these ideas.
He feared Ho-Pin in the same way that an average man fears a
tarantula, and he was only too happy to avoid the ever smiling
Chinaman; so that the days passed on, and, finding himself
unmolested and the affairs of the catacombs proceeding apparently
as usual, he kept his information to himself, uncertain if he
shared it with his employers or otherwise, but hesitating to put
the matter to the test--always fearful to approach Ho-Pin, the
But this could not continue indefinitely; at least he must speak to
Ho-Pin in order to obtain leave of absence. For, since that
unforgettable night, he had lived the life of a cave-man indeed,
and now began to pine for the wider vault of heaven. Meeting the
impassive Chinaman in the corridor one morning, on his way to valet
one of the living dead, Soames ventured to stop him.
"Excuse me, sir," he said, confusedly, "but would there be any
objection to my going out on Friday evening for an hour?"
"Not at all, Soames," replied Ho-Pin, with his mirthless smile:
"you may go at six, wreturn at ten."
Ho-Pin passed on.
Soames heaved a gentle sigh of relief. The painful incident was
forgotten, then. He hurried into the room, the door of which Said
was holding open, quite eager for his unsavory work.
In crossing its threshold, he crossed out of his new peace into a
mental turmoil greater in its complexities than any he yet had
known; he met M. Gaston Max, and his vague doubts respecting the
omniscience of Mr. King were suddenly reinforced.
Soames' perturbation was so great on that occasion that he feared
it must unfailingly be noticed. He realized that now he was
definitely in communication with the enemies of Mr. King! Ah; but
Mr. King did not know how formidable was the armament of those
enemies! He (Soames) had overrated Mr. King; and because that
invisible being could inspire Fear in an inconceivable degree, he
had thought him all-powerful. Now, he realized that Mr. King was
unaware of the existence of at least one clue held by the police;
was unaware that his name was associated with the Palace Mansions
The catacombs of Ho-Pin were a sinking ship, and Soames was first
of the rats to leave.
He kept his appointment at the "Three Nuns" as has appeared; he
accepted the blood-money that was offered him, and he returned to
the garage adjoining Kan-Suh Concessions, that night, hugging in
his bosom a leather case containing implements by means whereof his
new accomplice designed to admit the police to the cave of the
Also, in the pocket of his overcoat, he had a neat Browning pistol;
and when the door at the back of the garage was opened for him by
Said, he found that the touch of this little weapon sent a thrill
of assurance through him, and he began to conceive a sentiment for
the unknown investigator to whom he was bound, akin to that which
formerly he had cherished for Mr. King!
Now the time was come.
The people of the catacombs acquired a super-sensitive power of
hearing, and Soames was able at this time to detect, as he sat or
lay in his own room, the movements of persons in the corridor
outside and even in the cave of the golden dragon. That mysterious
trap in the wall gave him many qualms, and to-night he had glanced
at it a thousand times. He held the pistol in his hand, and
buttoned up within his coat was the leather case. Only remained
the opening of his door in order to learn if the lights were
extinguished in the corridor.
He did not anticipate any serious difficulty, provided he could
overcome his constitutional nervousness. In his waistcoat pocket
was a brand new Yale key which, his latest employer had assured
him, fitted the lock of the end door of Block A. The door between
the cave of the dragon and Block A was never locked, so far as
Soames was aware, nor was that opening from the corridor in which
his own room was situated. Therefore, only a few moments--fearful
moments, certainly--need intervene, ere he should have a companion;
and within a few minutes of that time, the police--his friends!--
would be there to protect him! He recognized that the law, after
all, was omnipotent, and of all masters was the master to be
There was no light in the corridor. Leaving his door ajar, he
tiptoed cautiously along toward the cave. Assuring himself once
again that the pistol lay in his pocket, he fumbled for the lever
which opened the door, found it, depressed it, and stepped quietly
forward in his slippered feet.
The unmistakable odor of the place assailed his nostrils. All was
in darkness, and absolute silence prevailed. He had a rough idea
of the positions of the various little tables, and he stepped
cautiously in order to skirt them; but evidently he had made a
miscalculation. Something caught his foot, and with a muffled thud
he sprawled upon the floor, barely missing one of the tables which
he had been at such pains to avoid.
Trembling like a man with an ague, he lay there, breathing in
short, staccato breaths, and clutching the pistol in his pocket.
Certainly he had made no great noise, but. . .
Soames summoned up courage to rise and to approach again the door
of Block A. Without further mishap he reached it, opened it, and
entered the blackness of the corridor. He could make no mistake in
regard to the door, for it was the end one. He stole quietly
along, his fingers touching the matting, until he came in contact
with the corner angle; then, feeling along from the wall until he
touched the strip of bamboo which marked the end of the door, he
probed about gently with the key; for he knew to within an inch or
so where the keyhole was situated.
Ah! he had it! His hand trembling slightly, he sought to insert
the key in the lock. It defied his efforts. He felt it gently
with the fingers of his left hand, thinking that he might have been
endeavoring to insert the key with the irregular edge downward, and
not uppermost; but no--such was not the case.
Again he tried, and with no better result. His nerves were
threatening to overcome him, now; he had not counted upon any such
hitch as this: but fear sharpened his wits. He recollected the
fall which he had sustained, and how he had been precipitated upon
the polished floor, outside.
Could he have mistaken his direction? Was it not possible that
owing to his momentary panic, he had arisen, facing not the door at
the foot of the steps, as he had supposed, but that by which a
moment earlier he had entered the cave of the golden dragon?
Desperation was with him now; he was gone too far to draw back.
Trailing his fingers along the matting covering of the wall, he
retraced his steps, came to the open door, and reentered the
apartment of the dragon. He complimented himself, fearfully, upon
his own address, for he was inspired with an idea whereby he might
determine his position. Picking his way among the little tables
and the silken ottomans, he groped about with his hands in the
impenetrable darkness for the pedestal supporting the dragon. At
last his fingers touched the ivory. He slid them downward, feeling
for the great vase of poppies which always stood before the golden
image. . . .
The vase was on the LEFT and not on the RIGHT of the pedestal. His
theory was correct; he had been groping in the mysterious precincts
of that Block B which he had never entered, which he had never seen
any one else enter, and from whence he had never known any one to
emerge! It was the fall that had confused him; now, he took his
bearings anew, bent down to feel for any tables that might lie in
his path, and crept across the apartment toward the door which he
Ah! this time there could be no mistake! He depressed the lever
handle, and, as the door swung open before him, crept furtively
into the corridor.
Repeating the process whereby he had determined the position of the
end door, he fumbled once again for the keyhole. He found it with
even less difficulty than he had experienced in the wrong corridor,
inserted the key in the lock, and with intense satisfaction felt it
slip into place.
He inhaled a long breath of the lifeless air, turned the key, and
threw the door open. One step forward he took . . .
A whistle (God! he knew it!) a low, minor whistle, wavered through
the stillness. He was enveloped, mantled, choked, by the perfume
The door, which, although it had opened easily, had seemed to be a
remarkably heavy one, swung to behind him; he heard the click of
the lock. Like a trapped animal, he turned, leaped back, and found
his quivering hands in contact with books--books--books . . .
A lamp lighted up in the center of the room.
Soames turned and stood pressed closely against the book-shelves,
against the book-shelves which magically had grown up in front of
the door by which he had entered. He was in the place of books and
roses--in the haunt of MR. KING!
A great clarity of mind came to him, as it comes to a drowning man;
he knew that those endless passages, through which once he had been
led in darkness, did not exist, that he had been deceived, had been
guided along the same corridor again and again; he knew that this
room of roses did not lie at the heart of a labyrinth, but almost
adjoined the cave of the golden dragon.
He knew that he was a poor, blind fool; that his plotting had been
known to those whom he had thought to betray; that the new key
which had opened a way into this place of dread was not the key
which his accomplice had given him. He knew that that upon which
he had tripped at the outset of his journey had been set in his
path by cunning design, in order that the fall might confuse his
sense of direction. He knew that the great vase of poppies had
been moved, that night. . . .
God! his brain became a seething furnace.
There, before him, upstood the sandalwood screen, with one corner
of the table projecting beyond it. Nothing of life was visible in
the perfumed place, where deathly silence prevailed. . . .
No lion has greater courage than a cornered rat. Soames plucked
the pistol from his pocket and fired at the screen--ONCE!--TWICE!
He heard the muffled report, saw the flash of the little weapon,
saw the two holes in the carven woodwork, and gained a greater,
hysterical courage--the courage of a coward's desperation.
Immediately before him was a little ebony table, bearing a silver
bowl, laden to the brim with sulphur-colored roses. He overturned
the table with his foot, laughing wildly. In three strides he
leapt across the room, grasped the sandalwood screen, and hurled it
to the floor. . . .
In the instant of its fall, he became as Lot's wife. The pistol
dropped from his nerveless grasp, thudding gently on the carpet,
and, with his fingers crooked paralytically, he stood swaying . . .
and looking into the face of MR. KING!
Soames' body already was as rigid as it would be in death; his mind
was numbed--useless. But his outraged soul forced utterance from
the lips of the man.
A scream, a scream to have made the angels shudder, to have
inspired pity in the devils of Hell, burst from him. Two yellow
hands leaped at his throat. . . .
THE SECRET TRAPS
Gaston Max, from his silken bed in the catacombs of Ho-Pin, watched
the hand of his watch which lay upon the little table beside him.
Already it was past two o'clock, and no sign had come from Soames;
a hundred times his imagination had almost tricked him into
believing that the door was opening; but always the idea had been
illusory and due to the purple shadow of the lamp-shade which
overcast that side of the room and the door.
He had experienced no difficulty in arranging with Gianapolis to
occupy the same room as formerly; and, close student of human
nature though he was, he had been unable to detect in the Greek's
manner, when they had met that night, the slightest restraint, the
slightest evidence of uneasiness. His reception by Ho-Pin had
varied scarce one iota from that accorded him on his first visit to
the cave of the golden dragon. The immobile Egyptian had brought
him the opium, and had departed silently as before. On this
occasion, the trap above the bed had not been opened. But hour
after hour had passed, uneventfully, silently, in that still,
suffocating room. . . .
A key in the lock!--yes, a key was being inserted in the lock! He
must take no unnecessary risks; it might be another than Soames.
He waited--the faint sound of fumbling ceased. Still, he waited,
Half-past-two. If it had been Soames, why had he withdrawn? M.
Max arose noiselessly and looked about him. He was undecided what
to do, when . . .
Two shots, followed by a most appalling shriek--the more frightful
because it was muffled; the shriek of a man in extremis, of one who
stands upon the brink of Eternity, brought him up rigid, tense,
with fists clenched, with eyes glaring; wrought within this
fearless investigator an emotion akin to terror.
Just that one gruesome cry there was and silence again.
What did it mean?
M. Max began hastily to dress. He discovered, in endeavoring to
fasten his collar, that his skin was wet with cold perspiration.
"Pardieu!" he said, twisting his mouth into that wry smile, "I
know, now, the meaning of fright!"
He was ever glancing toward the door, not hopefully as hitherto,
but apprehensively, fearfully.
That shriek in the night might portend merely the delirium of some
other occupant of the catacombs; but the shots . . .
"It was SOAMES!" he whispered aloud; "I have risked too much; I am
fast in the rat-trap!"
He looked about him for a possible weapon. The time for inactivity
was past. It would be horrible to die in that reeking place,
whilst outside, it might be, immediately above his head, Dunbar and
the others waited and watched.
The construction of the metal bunk attracted his attention. As in
the case of steamer bunks one of the rails--that nearer to the
door--was detachable in order to facilitate the making of the bed.
Rapidly, nervously, he unscrewed it; but the hinges were riveted to
the main structure, and after a brief examination he shrugged his
shoulders despairingly. Then, he recollected that in the adjoining
bathroom there was a metal towel rail, nickeled, and with a heavy
knock at either end, attached by two brackets to the wall.
He ran into the inner room and eagerly examined these fastenings.
They were attached by small steel screws. In an instant he was at
work with the blade of his pocket-knife. Six screws in all there
were to be dealt with, three at either end. The fifth snapped the
blade and he uttered an exclamation of dismay. But the shortened
implement proved to be an even better screw-driver than the
original blade, and half a minute later he found himself in
possession of a club such as would have delighted the soul of
He managed to unscrew one of the knobs, and thus to slide off from
the bar the bracket attachments; then, replacing the knob, he
weighed the bar in his hand, appreciatively. His mind now was
wholly composed, and his course determined. He crossed the little
room and rapped loudly upon the door.
The rapping sounded muffled and dim in that sound-proof place.
Nothing happened, and thrice he repeated the rapping with like
negative results. But he had learnt something: the door was a very
He made a note of the circumstance, although it did not interfere
with the plan which he had in mind. Wheeling the armchair up
beside the bed, he mounted upon its two arms and, ONCE--TWICE--
THRICE--crashed the knob of the iron bar against that part of the
wall which concealed the trap.
Here the result was immediate. At every blow of the bar the trap
behind yielded. A fourth blow sent the knob crashing through the
gauze material, and far out into some dark place beyond. There was
a sound as of a number of books falling.
He had burst the trap.
Up on the back of the chair he mounted, resting his bar against the
wall, and began in feverish haste to tear away the gauze concealing
the rectangular opening.
An almost overpowering perfume of roses was wafted into his face.
In front of him was blackness.
Having torn away all the gauze, he learned that the opening was
some two feet long by one foot high. Resting the bar across the
ledge he extended his head and shoulders forward through this
opening into the rose-scented place beyond, and without any great
effort drew himself up with his hands, so that, provided he could
find some support upon the other side, it would be a simple matter
to draw himself through entirely.
He felt about with his fingers, right and left, and in doing so
disturbed another row of books, which fell upon the floor beneath
him. He had apparently come out in the middle of a large book-
shelf. To the left of him projected the paper-covered door of the
trap, at right angles; above and below were book-laden shelves, and
on the right there had been other books, until his questing fingers
had disturbed them.
M. Max, despite his weight, was an agile man. Clutching the shelf
beneath, he worked his way along to the right, gradually creeping
further and further into the darkened room, until at last he could
draw his feet through the opening and crouch sideways upon the
He lowered his left foot, sought for and found another shelf
beneath, and descended as by a ladder to the thickly carpeted
floor. Grasping the end of the bar, he pulled that weapon down;
then he twisted the button which converted his timepiece into an
electric lantern, and, holding the bar in one tensely quivering
hand, looked rapidly about him.
This was a library; a small library, with bowls of roses set upon
tables, shelves, in gaps between the books, and one lying
overturned upon the floor. Although it was almost drowned by their
overpowering perfume, he detected a faint smell of powder. In one
corner stood a large writing-table with papers strewn carelessly
upon it. Its appointments were markedly Chinese in character, from
the singular, gold inkwell to the jade paperweight; markedly
Chinese--and--FEMININE. A very handsome screen lay upon the floor
in front of this table, and the rich carpet he noted to be
disordered as if a struggle had taken place upon it. But, most
singular circumstance of all, and most disturbing . . . there was
no door to this room!
For a moment he failed to appreciate the entire significance of
this. A secret room difficult to enter he could comprehend, but a
secret room difficult to QUIT passed his comprehension completely.
Moreover, he was no better off for his exploit.
Three minutes sufficed him in which to examine the shelves covering
the four walls of the room from floor to ceiling. None of the
books were dummies, and slowly the fact began to dawn upon his mind
that what at first he had assumed to be a rather simple device,
was, in truth, almost incomprehensible.
For how, in the name of Sanity, did the occupant of this room--and
obviously it was occupied at times--enter and leave it?
"Ah!" he muttered, shining the light upon a row of yellow-bound
volumes from which he had commenced his tour of inspection and to
which that tour had now led him back, "it is uncanny--this!"
He glanced back at the rectangular patch of light which marked the
trap whereby he had entered this supernormal room. It was situated
close to one corner of the library, and, acting upon an idea which
came to him (any idea was better than none) he proceeded to throw
down the books occupying the corresponding position at the other
end of the shelf.
A second trap was revealed, identical with that through which he
It was fastened with a neat brass bolt; and, standing upon one of
the little Persian tables--from which he removed a silver bowl of
roses--he opened this trap and looked into the lighted room beyond.
He saw an apartment almost identical with that which he himself
recently had quitted; but in one particular it differed. It was
occupied . . . AND BY A WOMAN!
Arrayed in a gossamer nightrobe she lay in the bed, beneath the
trap, her sunken face matching the silken whiteness. Her thin arms
drooped listlessly over the rails of the bunk, and upon her left
hand M. Max perceived a wedding ring. Her hair, flaxen in the
electric light, was spread about in wildest disorder upon the
pillow, and a breath of fetid air assailed his nostrils as he
pressed his face close to the gauze masking the opening in order to
peer closely at this victim of the catacombs.
He watched the silken covering of her bosom, intently, but failed
to detect the slightest movement.
"Morbleu!" he muttered, "is she dead?"
He rent the gauze with a sweep of his left hand, and standing upon
the bottom shelf of the case, craned forward into the room, looking
all about him. A purple shaded lamp burnt above the bed as in the
adjoining apartment which he himself had occupied. There were
dainty feminine trifles littered in the big armchair, and a motor-
coat hung upon the hook of the bathroom door. A small cabin-trunk
in one corner of the room bore the initials: "M. L."
Max dropped back into the incredible library with a stifled gasp.
"Pardieu!" he said. "It is Mrs. Leroux that I have found!"
A moment he stood looking from trap to trap; then turned and
surveyed again the impassable walls, the rows of works, few of
which were European, some of them bound in vellum, some in pigskin,
and one row of huge volumes, ten in number, on the bottom shelf, in
"It is weird, this!" he muttered, "nightmare!"--turning the light
from row to row. "How is this lamp lighted that swings here?"
He began to search for the switch, and, even before he found it,
had made up his mind that, once discovered, it would not only
enable him more fully to illuminate the library, but would
constitute a valuable clue.
At last he found it, situated at the back of one of the shelves,
and set above a row of four small books, so that it could readily
be reached by inserting the hand.
He flooded the place with light; and perceived at a glance that a
length of white flex crossing the ceiling enabled anyone seated at
the table to ignite the lamp from there also. Then, replacing his
torch in his pocket, and assuring himself that the iron bar lay
within easy reach, he began deliberately to remove all of the books
from the shelves covering that side of the room upon which the
switch was situated. His theory was a sound one; he argued that
the natural and proper place for such a switch in such a room would
be immediately inside the door, so that one entering could ignite
the lamp without having to grope in the darkness. He was
encouraged, furthermore, by the fact that at a point some four feet
to the left of this switch there was a gap in the bookcases,
running from floor to ceiling; a gap no more than four inches
Having removed every book from its position, save three, which
occupied a shelf on a level with his shoulder and adjoining the
gap, he desisted wearily, for many of the volumes were weighty, and
the heat of the room was almost insufferable. He dropped with a
sigh upon a silk ottoman close beside him. . . .
A short, staccato, muffled report split the heavy silence . . . and
a little round hole appeared in the woodwork of the book-shelf
before which, an instant earlier, M. Max had been standing--in the
woodwork of that shelf, which had been upon a level with his head.
In one giant leap he hurled himself across the room--. . . as a
second bullet pierced the yellow silk of the ottoman.
Close under the trap he crouched, staring up, fearful-eyed. . . .
A yellow hand and arm--a hand and arm of great nervous strength and
of the hue of old ivory, directed a pistol through the opening
above him. As he leaped, the hand was depressed with a lightning
movement, but, lunging suddenly upward, Max seized the barrel of
the pistol, and with a powerful wrench, twisted it from the grasp
of the yellow hand. It was his own Browning!
At the time--in that moment of intense nervous excitement--he
ascribed his sensations to his swift bout with Death--with Death
who almost had conquered; but later, even now, as he wrenched the
weapon into his grasp, he wondered if physical fear could wholly
account for the sickening revulsion which held him back from that
rectangular opening in the bookcase. He thought that he recognized
in this a kindred horror--as distinct from terror--to that which
had come to him with the odor of roses through this very trap, upon
the night of his first visit to the catacombs of Ho-Pin.
It was not as the fear which one has of a dangerous wild beast, but
as the loathing which is inspired by a thing diseased, leprous,
contagious. . . .
A mighty effort of will was called for, but he managed to achieve
it. He drew himself upright, breathing very rapidly, and looked
through into the room--the room which he had occupied, and from
which a moment ago the murderous yellow hand had protruded.
That room was empty . . . empty as he had left it!
"Mille tonneres! he has escaped me!" he cried aloud, and the words
did not seem of his own choosing.
WHO had escaped? Someone--man or woman; rather some THING, which,
yellow handed, had sought to murder him!
Max ran across to the second trap and looked down at the woman whom
he knew, beyond doubt, to be Mrs. Leroux. She lay in her death-
like trance, unmoved.
Strung up to uttermost tension, he looked down at her and listened--
Above the fumes of the apartment in which the woman lay, a stifling
odor of roses was clearly perceptible. The whole place was
tropically hot. Not a sound, save the creaking of the shelf
beneath him, broke the heavy stillness.
Feverishly, Max clutched at the last three books upon the shelf
adjoining the gap. Of these, the center volume, a work bound in
yellow calf and bearing no title, proved to be irremovable; right
and left it could be inclined, but not moved outward. It masked
the lever handle of the door!
But that door was locked.
Max, with upraised arms, swept the perspiration from his brows and
eyes; he leant dizzily up against the door which defied him; his
mind was working with febrile rapidity. He placed the pistol in
his pocket, and, recrossing the room, mounted up again upon the
shelves, and crept through into the apartment beyond, from which
the yellow hand had protruded. He dropped, panting, upon the bed,
then, eagerly leaping to the door, grasped the handle.
"Pardieu!" he muttered, "it is unlocked!"
Though the light was still burning in this room, the corridor
outside was in darkness. He pressed the button of the ingenious
lamp which was also a watch, and made for the door communicating
with the cave of the dragon. It was readily to be detected by
reason of its visible handle; the other doors being externally
indistinguishable from the rest of the matting-covered wall.
The cave of the dragon proved to be empty, and in darkness. He ran
across its polished floor and opened at random the door immediately
facing him. A corridor similar to the one which he had just
quitted was revealed. Another door was visible at one end, and to
this he ran, pulled it open, stepped through the opening, and found
himself back in the cave of the dragon!
"Morbleu!" he muttered, "it is bewildering--this!"
Yet another door, this time one of ebony, he opened; and yet
another matting-lined corridor presented itself to his gaze. He
swept it with the ray of the little lamp, detected a door, opened
it, and entered a similar suite to those with which he already was
familiar. It was empty, but, unlike the one which he himself had
tenanted, this suite possessed two doors, the second opening out of
the bathroom. To this he ran; it was unlocked; he opened it,
stepped ahead . . . and was back again in the cave of the dragon.
"Mon dieu!" he cried, "this is Chinese--quite Chinese!"
He stood looking about him, flashing the ray of light upon doors
which were opened and upon openings in the walls where properly
there should have been no doors.
"I am too late!" he muttered; "they had information of this and
they have 'unloaded.' That they intend to fly the country is
proven by their leaving Mrs. Leroux behind. Ah, nom d'un nom, the
good God grant that they have left also." . . .
Coincident with his thoughts of her, the voice of Helen Cumberly
reached his ears! He stood there quivering in every nerve, as:
"Help! Help!" followed by a choking, inarticulate cry, came,
muffled, from somewhere--he could not determine where.
But the voice was the voice of Helen Cumberly. He raised his left
fist and beat his brow as if to urge his brain to super-activity.
Then, leaping, he was off.
Door after door he threw open, crying, "Miss Cumberly! Miss
Cumberly! Where are you? Have courage! Help is here!"
But the silence remained unbroken--and always his wild search
brought him back to the accursed cave of the golden dragon. He
began to grow dizzy; he felt that his brain was bursting. For
somewhere--somewhere but a few yards removed from him--a woman was
in extreme peril!
Clutching dizzily at the pedestal of the dragon, he cried at the
top of his voice:--
"Miss Cumberly! For the good God's sake answer me! Where are
"Here, M. Max!" he was answered; "the door on your right . . . and
then to your right again--quick! QUICK! Saints! she has killed
It was Gianapolis who spoke!
Max hurled himself through the doorway indicated, falling up
against the matting wall by reason of the impetus of his leap. He
turned, leaped on, and one of the panels was slightly ajar; it was
a masked door. Within was darkness out of which came the sounds of
a great turmoil, as of wild beasts in conflict.
Max kicked the door fully open and flashed the ray of the torch
into the room. It poured its cold light upon a group which, like
some masterpiece of classic statuary, was to remain etched
indelibly upon his mind.
Helen Cumberly lay, her head and shoulders pressed back upon the
silken pillows of the bed, with both hands clutching the wrist of
the Eurasian and striving to wrench the latter's fingers from her
throat, in the white skin of which they were bloodily embedded.
With his left arm about the face and head of the devilish half-
caste, and grasping with his right hand her slender right wrist--
putting forth all his strength to hold it back--was Gianapolis!
His face was of a grayish pallor and clammy with sweat; his crooked
eyes had the glare of madness. The lithe body of the Eurasian
writhing in his grasp seemed to possess the strength of two strong
men; for palpably the Greek was weakening. His left sleeve was
torn to shreds--to bloody shreds beneath the teeth of the wild
thing with which he fought; and lower, lower, always nearer to the
throat of the victim, the slender, yellow arm forced itself, forced
the tiny hand clutching a poniard no larger than a hatpin but sharp
as an adder's tooth.
"Hold her!" whispered Gianapolis in a voice barely audible, as Max
burst into the room. "She came back for this and . . . I followed
her. She has the strength of . . . a tigress!"
Max hurled himself into the melee, grasping the wrist of the
Eurasian below where it was clutched by Gianapolis. Nodding to the
Greek to release his hold, he twisted it smartly upward.
The dagger fell upon the floor, and with an animal shriek of rage,
the Eurasian tottered back. Max caught her about the waist and
tossed her unceremoniously into a corner of the room.
Helen Cumberly slipped from the bed, and lay very white and still
upon the garish carpet, with four tiny red streams trickling from
the nail punctures in her throat. Max stooped and raised her
shoulders; he glanced at the Greek, who, quivering in all his
limbs, and on the verge of collapse, only kept himself upright by
dint of clutching at the side of the doorway. Max realized that
Gianapolis was past aiding him; his own resources were nearly
exhausted, but, stooping, he managed to lift the girl and to carry
her out into the corridor.
"Follow me!" he gasped, glancing back at Gianapolis; "Morbleu, make
an effort! The keys--the keys!"
Laying Helen Cumberly upon one of the raised divans, with her head
resting upon a silken cushion, Max, teeth tightly clenched and
dreadfully conscious that his strength was failing him, waited for
Gianapolis. Out from the corridor the Greek came staggering, and
Max now perceived that he was bleeding profusely from a wound in
"She came back," whispered Gianapolis, clutching at the Frenchman
for support. . . "the hellcat! . . . I did not know . . . that . . .
Miss Cumberly was here. As God is my witness I did not know!
But I followed . . . HER--Mahara . . . thank God I did! She has
finished me, I think, but"--he lowered the crooked eyes to the form
of Helen Cumberly--"never mind . . . Saints!"
He reeled and sank upon his knees. He clutched at the edge of his
coat and raised it to his lips, wherefrom blood was gushing forth.
Max stooped eagerly, for as the Greek had collapsed upon the floor,
he had heard the rattle of keys.
"She had . . . the keys," whispered Gianapolis. "They have . . .
tabs . . . upon them . . . Mrs. Leroux . . . number 3 B. The door
to the stair"--very, very slowly, he inclined his head toward the
ebony door near which Max was standing--"is marked X. The door . . .
at the top--into garage . . . B."
"Tell me," said Max, his arm about the dying man's shoulders--"try
to tell me: who killed Mrs. Vernon and why?"
"MR. KING!" came in a rattling voice. "Because of the . . .
carelessness of someone . . . Mrs. Vernon wandered into the room
. . . of Mrs. Leroux. She seems to have had a fit of remorse . . .
or something like it. She begged Mrs. Leroux to pull up . . .
before . . . too late. Ho-Pin arrived just as she was crying to
. . . Mrs. Leroux . . . and asking if she could ever forgive her
. . . for bringing her here. . . . It was Mrs. Vernon who . . .
introduced Mrs. . . . Leroux. Ho-Pin heard her . . . say that she
. . . would tell . . . Leroux the truth . . . as the only
means" . . .
"Yes, yes, morbleu! I understand! And then?"
"Ho-Pin knows . . . women . . . like a book. He thought Mrs.
Vernon would . . . shirk the scandal. We used to send our women
. . . to Nurse Proctor's, then. . . to steady up a bit . . . We let
Mrs. Vernon go . . . as usual. The scene with . . . Mrs. Leroux
had shaken . . . her and she fainted . . . in the car . . .
Victoria Street. . . . I was with her. Nurse Proctor had . . .
God! I am dying! . . . a time with her; . . . she got so hysterical
that they had to . . . detain her . . . and three days later . . .
her husband died; Proctor, the . . . fool . . . somehow left a
paper containing the news in Mrs. Vernon's room. . . . They had
had to administer an injection that afternoon . . . and they
thought she was . . . sleeping." . . .
"Morbleu! Yes, yes!--a supreme effort, my friend!"
"Directly Ho-Pin heard of Vernon's death, he knew that his hold
. . . on Mrs. Vernon . . . was lost. . . . He . . . and Mahara . . .
and . . . MR. KING . . . drove straight to . . . Gillingham . . .
Street . . . to . . . arrange. . . . Ah! . . . she rushed like a
mad woman into the street, a moment before . . . they arrived. A
cab was passing, and" . . .
"I know this! I know this! What happened at Palace Mansions?"
The Greek's voice grew fainter.
"Mr. King followed . . . her . . . upstairs. Too late; . . . but
whilst Leroux was in . . . Cumberly's flat . . . leaving door open
. . . Mr. King went . . . in . . . Mahara . . . was watching . . .
gave signal . . . whistle . . . of someone's approach. It was
thought . . . Mr. King . . . had secured ALL the message . . . Mrs.
Vernon . . . was . . . writing. . . . Mr. King opened the door of
. . . the lift-shaft . . . lift not working . . . climbed down that
way . . . and out by door on . . . ground floor . . . when Mr. . . .
the Member of Parliament . . . went upstairs." . . .
"Ah! pardieu! one last word! WHO IS MR. KING?"
Gianapolis lurched forward, his eyes glazing, half raised his arm--
pointing back into the cave of the dragon--and dropped, face
downward, on the floor, with a crimson pool forming slowly about
An unfamiliar sound had begun to disturb the silence of the
catacombs. Max glanced at the white face of Helen Cumberly, then
directed the ray of the little lamp toward the further end of the
apartment. A steady stream of dirty water was pouring into the
cave of the dragon through the open door ahead of him.
Into the disc of light, leaped, fantastic, the witch figure of the
Eurasian. She turned and faced him, threw up both her arms, and
laughed shrilly, insanely. Then she turned and ran like a hare,
her yellow silk dress gleaming in the moving ray. Inhaling
sibilantly, Max leaped after her. In three strides he found his
foot splashing in water. An instant he hesitated. Through the
corridor ahead of him sped the yellow figure, and right to the end.
The seemingly solid wall opened before her; it was another masked
Max crossed the threshold hard upon her heels. Three descending
steps were ahead of him, and then a long brick tunnel in which
swirled fully three feet of water, which, slowly rising, was
gradually flooding the cave of the dragon.
On went the Eurasian, up to her waist in the flood, with Max
gaining upon her, now, at every stride. There was a damp freshness
in the air of the passage, and a sort of mist seemed to float above
the water. This mist had a familiar smell. . . .
They were approaching the river, and there was a fog to-night!
Even as he realized the fact, the quarry vanished, and the ray of
light from Max's lamp impinged upon the opening in an iron sluice
gate. The Eurasian had passed it, but Max realized that he must
lower his head if he would follow. He ducked rapidly, almost
touching the muddy water with his face. A bank of yellow fog
instantly enveloped him, and he pulled up short, for,
instinctively, he knew that another step might precipitate him into
He strove to peer about him, but the feeble ray of the lamp was
incapable of penetrating the fog. He groped with his fingers,
right and left, and presently found slimy wooden steps. He drew
himself closely to these, and directed the light upon them. They
led upward. He mounted cautiously, and was clear of the oily
water, now, and upon a sort of gangway above which lowered a green
and rotting wooden roof.
Obviously, the tide was rising; and, after seeking vainly to peer
through the fog ahead, he turned and descended the steps again,
finding himself now nearly up to his armpits in water. He just
managed to get in under the sluice gate without actually submerging
his head, and to regain the brick tunnel.
He paused for a moment, hoping to be able to lower the gate, but
the apparatus was out of his reach, and he had nothing to stand
upon to aid him in manipulating it.
Three or four inches of water now flooded the cave of the golden
dragon. Max pulled the keys from his pocket, and unlocked the door
at the foot of the steps. He turned, resting the electric lamp
upon one of the little ebony tables, and lifting Helen Cumberly,
carried her half-way up the steps, depositing her there with her
back to the wall. He staggered down again; his remarkable physical
resources were at an end; it must be another's work to rescue Mrs.
Leroux. He stooped over Gianapolis, and turned his head. The
crooked eyes glared up at him deathly.
"May the good God forgive you," he whispered. "You tried to make
your peace with Him."
The sound of muffled blows began to be audible from the head of the
steps. Max staggered out of the cave of the golden dragon. A
slight freshness and dampness was visible in its atmosphere, and
the gentle gurgling of water broke its heavy stillness. There was
a new quality come into it, and, strangely, an old quality gone out
from it. As he lifted the lamp from the table--now standing in
slowly moving water--the place seemed no longer to be the cave of
the golden dragon he had known. . . .
He mounted the steps again, with difficulty, resting his shaking
hands upon the walls. Shattering blows were being delivered upon
the door, above.
"Dunbar!" he cried feebly, stepping aside to avoid Helen Cumberly,
where she lay. "Dunbar!" . . .
DAWN AT THE NORE
The river police seemed to be floating, suspended in the fog, which
now was so dense that the water beneath was invisible. Inspector
Rogers, who was in charge, fastened up his coat collar about his
neck and turned to Stringer, the Scotland Yard man, who sat beside
him in the stern of the cutter gloomily silent.
"Time's wearing on," said Rogers, and his voice was muffled by the
fog as though he were speaking from inside a box. "There must be
"Work it out for yourself," said the C. I. D. man gruffly. "We
know that the office in Globe Road belongs to Gianapolis, and
according to the Eastern Exchange he was constantly ringing up East
39951; that's the warehouse of Kan-Suh Concessions. He garages his
car next door to the said warehouse, and to-night our scouts follow
Gianapolis and Max from Piccadilly Circus to Waterloo Station,
where they discharge the taxi and pick up Gianapolis' limousine.
Still followed, they drive--where? Straight to the garage at the
back of that wharf yonder! Neither Gianapolis, Max, nor the
chauffeur come out of the garage. I said, and I still say, that we
should have broken in at once, but Dunbar was always pigheaded, and
he thinks Max is a tin god." . . .
"Well, there's no sign from Max," said Rogers; "and as we aren't ten
yards above the wharf, we cannot fail to hear the signal. For my
part I never noticed anything suspicious, and never had anything
reported, about this ginger firm, and where the swell dope-shop
I've heard about can be situated, beats me. It can't very well be
UNDER the place, or it would be below the level of the blessed
"This waiting makes me sick!" growled Stringer. "If I understand
aright--and I'm not sure that I do--there are two women tucked away
there somewhere in that place"--he jerked his thumb aimlessly into
the fog; "and here we are hanging about with enough men in yards,
in doorways, behind walls, and freezing on the river, to raid the
Houses of Parliament!"
"It's a pity we didn't get the word from the hospitals before Max
was actually inside," said Rogers. "For three wealthy ladies to be
driven to three public hospitals in a sort of semi-conscious
condition, with symptoms of opium, on the same evening isn't
natural. It points to the fact that the boss of the den has
UNLOADED! He's been thoughtful where his lady clients were
concerned, but probably the men have simply been kicked out and
left to shift for themselves. If we only knew one of them it might
"It's not worth worrying about, now," growled Stringer. "Let's
have a look at the time."
He fumbled inside his overcoat and tugged out his watch.
"Here's a light," said Rogers, and shone the ray of an electric
torch upon the watch-face.
"A quarter-to-three," grumbled Stringer. "There may be murder
going on, and here we are." . . .
A sudden clamor arose upon the shore, near by; a sound as of
sledge-hammers at work. But above this pierced shrilly the call of
a police whistle.
"What's that?" snapped Rogers, leaping up. "Stand by there!"
The sound of the whistle grew near and nearer; then came a voice--
that of Sergeant Sowerby--hailing them through the fog.
"DUNBAR'S IN! But the gang have escaped! They've got to a motor
launch twenty yards down, on the end of the creek" . . .
But already the police boat was away.
"Let her go!" shouted Rogers--"close inshore! Keep a sharp lookout
for a cutter, boys!"
Stringer, aroused now to excitement, went blundering forward
through the fog, joining the men in the bows. Four pairs of eyes
were peering through the mist, the damnable, yellow mist that
veiled all things.
"Curse the fog!" said Stringer; "it's just our damn luck!"
"Cutter 'hoy!" bawled a man at his side suddenly, one of the river
police more used to the mists of the Thames. "Cutter on the port
"Keep her in sight," shouted Rogers from the stern; "don't lose her
for your lives!"
Stringer, at imminent peril of precipitating himself into the
water, was craning out over the bows and staring until his eyes
"Don't you see her?" said one of the men on the lookout. "She
carries no lights, of course, but you can just make out the streak
of her wake."
Harder, harder stared Stringer, and now a faint, lighter smudge in
the blackness, ahead and below, proclaimed itself the wake of some
rapidly traveling craft.
"I can hear her motor!" said another voice.
Stringer began, now, also to listen.
Muffled sirens were hooting dismally all about Limehouse Reach, and
he knew that this random dash through the night was fraught with
extreme danger, since this was a narrow and congested part of the
great highway. But, listen as he might, he could not detect the
sounds referred to.
The brazen roar of a big steamer's siren rose up before them.
Rogers turned the head of the cutter sharply to starboard but did
not slacken speed. The continuous roar grew deeper, grew louder.
"Sharp lookout there!" cried the inspector from the stern.
Suddenly over their bows uprose a black mass.
"My God!" cried Stringer, and fell back with upraised arms as if
hoping to fend off that giant menace.
He lurched, as the cutter was again diverted sharply from its
course, and must have fallen under the very bows of the oncoming
liner, had not one of the lookouts caught him by the collar and
jerked him sharply back into the boat.
A blaze of light burst out over them, and there were conflicting
voices raised one in opposition to another. Above them all, even
above the beating of the twin screws and the churning of the inky
water, arose that of an officer from the bridge of the steamer.
"Where the flaming hell are YOU going?" inquired this stentorian
voice; "haven't you got any blasted eyes and ears" . . .
High on the wash of the liner rode the police boat; down she
plunged again, and began to roll perilously; up again--swimming it
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