Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

7 erthygl ar y dudalen hon

---------------Synopsis of…


Synopsis of Previous Chapters. CHAPTERS I. and IT.-The atory opens among oichids, and the central figure 53 Sir Clement Frobisher, an orchid fancier. Rafid, his manservant, announces Paul Lopez, who has brought Frobisher an exceedingly rare orchid. I which when strung in the orchid house bursts inlo bloom. It is the Cardinal Moth. When Hafid sees it he is like one demented, and cries out to have it destroyed. Lopez bids Frobisher farewell as Hafid announces two more visitors, Count Lefroy and his secretary, Manfred but Frobisher postpones their visit till luncheon next day. Angela Lyne, Sir Clement's ward and rteice.comes to him fcr seme orchids. She attends neice.comes to him fcr seme orchids. She attends Lady Marchgrave's charity concert, and is after- I wards one of the dinner guests. Her dinner partner is George Arnott.a would-be suitor whove claims are favoured by Sir Clement. She meets there Harold Denvers, her lover, but there is no I engagement between them, only an understand- ing. He presents her with a specimen of the Cardinal Moth. On her return home she lets herself in with a latchkey. She sees a strange man creeping towards the conservatory, whither she was taking her orchid. She follows quickly, but arrivine there she finds he has vanished. Hafid confronts her and begs her to Take and burn it." CHAPTERS I-IL and IV.—Frobisher sees Count Lefroy and his secretary Manfred. Frobisher and Lefroy are fighting against each other to obtain some concessions from the Shan of Koordstan. Frobisher inlorm3 Lefroy that the Shan will dine with him to-night, which Le- Zroy determines to circumvent. Frobisher shows the Cardinal Moth to Lefroy, who is enraged be- cause he has lost it, and strikes Manfred on the mouth. Afterwards he reasons that his secretary could not have betrayed him, and apologises. They go to Manfied's rooms to discuss a plan of action for the dinner. Manfred reads out an account of the mysterious death of a man who was murdered in a greenhouse at Streatham while trying to obtain possession of some orchids. The Shan of Koordstan h sitting over hia breakfast. The man servant announces Harold Denvers. The Shan, who has a liking for him, informs him that Sir Clement intends to bestow Angela Lyne on George Arnott. He says Danvers cannot have the concessions, as he has pledged the Blue Stone of Ghan. Denvers says that be has ob- tained a specimen of the Cardinal Moth, and ihat he has placed it in a nursery at Streatbam. Count Lefrov 13 announced. CHAPTER V.—Frobisher'3 luncheon party Count Lefrov is announced. CHAPTER V.—Frobisher'3 luncheon party takes place. Manfred pleads sudden indisposi- tion, and retires. Count Lefroy insults Lord I Saltcur. They wrestle together, bnt are finally parted. Explanations follow, and the matter is jmoothed over. Hafid discovers the body of Manfred lying on the floor of the conservatory- juice dead. Hafid is beside himself with terror, Mid murmurs, 41 Take it and barn it, and destroy it," over and over again. Frobisher seek3 Lefroy ind for once the veil of diplomacy is drawn a3ide, ind for once the veil of diplomacy is drawn aside, and they speak heart to heart. Frobisher gains I the victory in this war of words. The guestj depart, rad Frobisher tries to shake sense into Hafid. Angela, who has been aroused by the commotion, comes to Sir Clement. He give3 her 30 much information as be deems wise, and then dismisses her. Angela sees Harold Denvers creeping from bush to bush m the garden. He tells her it is a matter of life and death, and she I jets him in. CHAPTER VI. A Bit of the Rope. Sir James Brownsmith thought that on the Whole he wou!d walk home from Piccadilly to EEarleystreet. The coachman touched his hat, Lnd the neat little brougham moved on. The aminent surgeon had ample food for reflection it seemed to him that he was on the verge of a groat discovery. Somebody accosted him two o three times before he came back to earth again. That you, Townsond ?'' he asked, abruptly' H You want to speak to we ? Certainly. Only. is I am rather tired to-night if you will cut it as short as possible, I shall be glad." ri I am afraid I can't, Sir James," Inspector Townsend replied. Indeed, I was going to sug- gest that 1 walked as far as your house and had a shaft over matters." Sir James shrugged his shoulders, and tlariey- street was reached almost in silence. In the small consulting-room the surgeon switched on a brilliant light and handei over cigars and whisky and soda. Now, go on," he said. It's all about to- night's business, I suppose ?" Precisely,sir. You ve helped ns a good many times with your wonderful scientific knowledge and I daresay you will again. This Piccadilly mystery is a queer business altogether. Do yon feel quite sure that poor fellow was raally mur- deredafter all ?" I Sir James inviteil the Inspector to enter the house ————————— I Brownsmth looked fixedlv at the speaker. He had considerable respec' for Townsend, whose intellect was decidedly above the usual Scotland Yard level. Townsend waa a man of imagination and a master of theory. He went beyond motive and a cast of a footmark—he wa3 no rule of thumb workman. I On the face of it I should say there can be no possible doubt," said Sir James. Mnrdered by strangulation, sir ? The same as that man at Streatham. As you have made 1 P. cueful examination oi both bodies you ought to know." Is there any form of murder unknown to me, Townsend ?" Sir James asked. Is there any trick of the assassin's trade that I have not mastered ?" Oh, I admit your special knowledge, sir. But it's a trick of mine to-be always planning new crimes. I conld give you three ways of commit- ting murder that are absolutely original. And I've got a theory about this business that I don't care to disclose yet. Still, we can aiscuss the matter up to a certain point. Both these men were destroyed—or lost their lives—in the same way." Both strangled, in fact. It's the Indian thng dodge-J Bat you know all about that, Town- send ? We'll admit for the moment that both vic- tims have been destroyed by Thugee. But isn't it rather strange that both bodies were found in close juxtaposition to valuable orchids ? We know, of course, that Sir Clement's orchids are almost priceless. The Streatham witness,Silver- thorne, says that a very rare orchid was recently placed in the Lennox Conservatory. Now, isn't it fair to argue that both murdered men lost their lives in the pursuit of those orchids ?" Sir James nodded thoughtfully. He had for- gotten the Cardinal Moth for the moment. I see you have pushed your investigations a long way in this direction," he said. This being so, have you ascertained for a fact that the Lennox nursery really contained nothing cut of the common in the way of Orchidacoe ? You know what I mean ?" Quite so, sir. That I have not been able to ascertain because the proprietor of the Lennox nursery has no special knowledge of his trade. His great line is cheap ferns for the London market. But he says a gentleman whom he could easily recognise left him an orchid to look after —a poor dried-up stick it seemed to be—with in- structions to keep it in a house not too warm, where it might remain at a small rent till wanted." Ob, indeed. You are interesting me, Town- send. Pray go on." Well, Sir Jamesi I wanted to see the flowers after the murder, not that I expected it to lead to anything at that time. Seeing what has hap- pened this evening, it becomes more interesting. Would you believe it, sir, that the flower iD ques- tion was gone ?" Yon mean that it had been stolen ? Really, Townsend, we seem to be on the track of some- thing important." Yes, Sir James, the flower had goive. Now, what I want to know is this-hos Sir Clement Frobisher added anything special to his collec- tion lately?" Sir Jitmes shot an admiring glancei at his questioner. Seeing, that he was working almost entirely in the dark, Townsend had developed his theory with amazing cleverness. It's a treat to work with you," the great sur- geon said. As a matter of fact Sir Clement had got hold of something that struck me as abso- lutely unique. It's a flower called the Cardinal Moth. A flower on a flower, so to speak, a large cluster of whitey-piflk blossoms with little red blooms hovering over like a cloud of scarlet moths. Sir Clement is very pleased about it." t- From what you say I gather that he has not had it long, sir ?" Oh, I should say quite recently. But you are not going to tell me chaff you suspect Fro- bisher ?" At present I don't suspect anybody, though Six Clement is an unmitigated rascal who would not stop at Iony crime to serve his own ends. I don't go-so far aa to say that he had a band in I the business, but I do say that he could tell us exactly how.the tragedy took place." Sir James shot an admiring gJtmce in the dJrectJOn of the speaker. Frobisher's selfiHb in. terest in. tbe crime and his amazing sangfroid under the circumstances had struck the snrgeoa unpleasantly. Townsend looked reflctjvely into the mahogany depths of his whisky and soda. It is one thing to know that, and quite another to make a man like Pir Clement speak," he said. I am more or less with you, sir, over the Thcgee business, but was the crime com- mitted with a rope ? I shall not be surprised to find that it was done with a bramble, something j like honeysuckle or the like. But at the Fame time, as you seemed so certain about the rope, why Have you done aa much with the poor fellow at Sir Clement's residence?" he asked. No, bnt I shall do so in the morning. This is a, carious sort of stuff, Townsend, and cer- tainly not made in England. It is not rope or cord in our commercial sense of the word, but a strong Manilla. twist of native fibre. Thus we are going to introduce a, foreign element into the solution. Townsend smiled as he produced a. little packet from his pocket and laid it on the table. You are building up my theory for me, won- derfully, sir," he said. I have also something of the same sort here, only I have more than you to have collected, here is the same sort of fibre from Mr Manfred's collar stud, so that he must have been strangled over his collar, which means a powerful pressure. I didn' think it possible for human hands to put a pres- sure like that, but there it is." "My word, we've got a powerful assassin to look for," Sir James exclaimed. Like you, I should not have deemed it possible. Did you find all that on Manfred's collar stud ?" Not all of it, sir. The collar stud was bent up as if it had been a bit of tinfoil. But I found the bulk of this under the dead man's finger nails. They are long nails, and doubtless in the agony of strangulation they clutched frantically at the cord. I am quite sure that you will find this fibre to ba identical with that which you took from the neck of the Streatham victim." And thin caretaker you speak of. Is he a respectable man ? Silvsrthorne you said his name was, I fancy." That's the man, sir. He has been in his present employ for one and twenty years, a hard- working saving man, with a big family. Oh, I should take his word for most things that he told me." Sir James revolved the problem slowly in his mind, us he inhaled bis cigarette smoke. If the Lennox nursery had been deliberately made the centre of a puzzling murder mystery, it was quite sure that neither the nursery proprietor nor his man knew anything whatever about it. And yet it bad been necessary for some reason that a glasshouse should play an important part, for both murders had taken place under glass, and both suggested that tbe orchid was at the bottom of it. Again,Townsend was not the kind of man to make reckless statements, and when he boldly averred that Sir Clement Frobisher could ten all about it if he liked he had assuredly some very strong evidence to go upon. A great deal depended upon the analysis of the red liquid atain on the fibre taken by Townsend from the body of Manfred. If these little bits of stuff could speak what tales they could tell," Sir James said, as he care- fully locked up both packets ef ifbre. I'll get up an hour earlier in the morning and have a dig at these, Townsend. And meanwhile, a3 my days are bnsy ones, and it's pa3h one o'clock, I shall have to get you to finish your drink and give me your room instead of your company." Townsend took the hint and his hat and re- tired. But though Sir Jamea had expregDed hig intention of retiring almost immediately, he stretched out his hand for another cigarette and lignted it thoughtfully. Was it possible, ha wondered, if Sir Clement Frobisher really could solve the mystery ? And had he anything to do with it ? Not directly, Sir Jamea felt sure Frobisher was not that kind of man. He was much more likely to get the thing done for him. He waa secretive, too, over the Cardinal Moth ho had behaved so queerly over that business of Count Lefroy and his insult of Frobisher's guest, Brownsmith pitched his cigarette into the grate and switched off the electric light impatiently. Why should I worry my head about it ?" he mutteied. I'll go to bed." CHAPTER VII. A Grip of Steel. Sir Clement had not gone to bed yet. He sat over 11 final pipe in his dressing-room the fames of the acrid tobacco lingered » everywhere. The owner of the house leant back, his eyes half closed, and the smile on hia face soggestive of one who is recalling some exquisite comedy. A shocking tragedy had been enacted almost under his very eyes, and yet from Frobisher's attitude the thing had pleased him;4iewas not in the least disturbed. He began to kick off his clothing slowly, the filthy clay pipe between hia lips. He touched a bell, and Rafid slid into the room. There was tenor in his eyes enough and to spare. He j mif at have been a detected murderer in the pres- once of his accuser. He trembled, bls lips were I torching piteously, there was something about him r-f the rabbit trying to escape. j Well, mooncalf," Frobisher said, with bitter rai 'sry, Well, my paralytic pearl of idiots. Why do you stand there as if somebody was ticJùing your midriff with a. bowie knife ?" Take it and burn it, and destroy i; Hafid mattered. The man was silly with terror. Take it and burn it, and destroy it." Oh, Lord, was there ever such a fool since the world began 1" Frobisher cried. If you make that remark again I'll jam your head against the wall till your teeth cha.tter." Take it and burn it, and destroy is," Hafid went on mechanically. Master, I can't help it. My tongue does not seetn able to say any- thing else. Let me go send me away. I'm not longer to be trusted. I shall run wild into the night with my story." Yes, and I shall ran wild with my story in the day time. and where will you be then, my blusterer ? What's the matter with the man ? Has anybody been murdeced ?" No," Hafid said slowly, as if the words were being dragged out of him. "At least the law could not say so. ND, master, nobody has been murdered." Then what are you making all this silly fuss about ? Nobody has been murdered, but an in- quisitive thief who has accidentally met with bis death. Other inquisitive tbisyea are likely to -meet with the same fate. Past master amongst congenial idiots, go to bed." Frobisher shouted the command backed up by a sounding smack" on tho side of Hafid's head. lie went off without sense or feeling indeed, he was hardly conscious of the blow. Frobisher sat there smiling, sucking at the marrow of his pipe, and slowly preparing for bed. His alert- ness and attention never relaxed a moment, his quick ears lost nothing. Who's moving in the house ?" he muttered, "I heard a door open softly. When people want to get about a house at of night it is a mis- take to move softly. The action is suspicious, whereas if the thing were openly done one doesn't trouble." Frobisher snapped out the lights and stood in the doorway, rigid to attention. Presently the darkness seemed to rustle and breathe, there was a faint suggestion of air inmbtion, and then silence again. Frobisher grinned to himself aa he slipped back into his room. r. Angela," he said softly I could detect that faint fragrance of her åi1ywbere. Now what's she creeping about the house at this time for ? If she isn't back again in a quarter of an hour I shall proceed to inveangate.Mycold and haughty Angela on assignation bent. Oh, oh." Angela slipped silently down the broad stair- way, utterly unconscious of the fact that she had been discovered. She was usually self-contained enough, but her heart was beating a little faster than usual. In some vague way she could not dissociate this visit of Harold's from the traedy of tho earlier evening. And to a certain extent Harold was compromising her, a thing he would have hesitated to do unless the need had been very pressing. By instinct Angela had found her way to the garden room window, the well-oiled catch came back with a click, and Harold was in the room. They wanted no light the moon was more than sufficient. Harold's face was pale and distressed in the softened rays of light. My dearest, I had to come," he whispered in extenuation. It was my only chance. 1 could not possibly enter Sir Frobisher's house by legitimate means, and yet at the same time it is important that I should see certain things here. If I could only ten you everything." Tell me all or as little as yon like," Angela whispered. I can trust you all the same," It is good to hear yon say that. Angela. It was wrong of me to come, and yet there was no other way- Did you Bhow Sir Clement those j blossoms that I gave you ?" My dear, there was no possible chance. I placed the spray in the conservatory, intending to give my guardian a pleasant stlYprise to-mor- row, and then the tragedy happened. Bat of course you know nothing of that." Indeed I do, Angela. I know all about it. Jessop, the judge, who dined bere to-night, came mto the club full of it. Manfred,Count Lefroy's secretary, wasn t it ? j The- same man. I cannot understand its Harold. There was a man in the conservatory, I or rather there was a man going towards the J conservatory who had no business there. Any- body could see that from his manner. My idea was to place the spray there and to ask the in- truder what be was doing. When I reached the conservatory the place was empty. Absolutely empty, and yet I had seen the man enter There is no exit either. I went back to my room not knowing what to think. And shortly afterwards I heard Hand cry out. From the top of the stairs I heard all that was going on. And the man who had been strangled in the conservatory was the very man I had seen. Denvers said nothing for the moment. He was breathing hard and his face was pale with horror. Angela could feel his hand trembling as she laid her own upon it. I think you understand, she whispered. I fancy that you know. Harold, tell me what all this strange mystery means." Not yet," Denvers replied. "Yoa must wait. Nobody ever heard the like of it before. And so long as you are onder the same roof 808-- but what am I talking about ? But this much I may say the whole horrible problem revolves round the Cardinal Motlh" Round the flower that you gave me to-night, Harold And that so innocent looking and beautiful." Well, there it is. I have been on the fringe of it for some time. Angela, you must give me back that spray of blossom, you must not men- tion it to Sir Clement at all. And now I mast have a look into the conservatory, indeed I came on purpose." You came expecting to find something, a cine to the mystery there ?" 11 Well, yes, if you like to put it that way." Denvers murmured, avoiding Angela's eye3 for the fust time. I had a plant of that Cardinal Moth which I deemed; safely hidden in Streat- ham. Why I had to bide it I will tell yon in due course. It bad a great deal to do between myself an3 the Shan of Koordstan, with whom I hoped to do important business. I mentioned i!; to him and be showed me a paragraph in a paper which for tba moment has scattered all my plans. As soon as I read that paragraph I felt certain that my Moth had been stolen though itcoat one life to get it. When rheard of the tragedy hare to- night, I was absolutely sure as -,o my facts. Angela, my Moth is in the conservatory here, and Manfred lost his life trying to steal it for somebodv else." Angela listened with a vague feeling that she would wake presently and find it all a dream. A new horror had been added to the house in the last few minutes. Let U3 hope you are wrong," she said, with a shudder. Come and see at once. But what do you propose to do if you find that your sus- picions are correct ?" Denvera hardly knew, he had had no time to think that part out. He reached out to find a switch for the light, but Angela's gentle hand detained him. The moon must suffice," she said. Sir Clement has ears like a hawk. What's that ?" A thud in the hall followed by an unmistak- able cry of pain. It was only just for an instant and then there was silence again. Angela drew her lover back into the shadow of the curtain. T I will go and see for myseif," said Harold. That was Sir Clement," she whispered. Whether he has found me out or has merely come down for something, I can't say. Probably he kicked against something in the dark, Harold For Harold had darted oat from the curtain and gripped something that looked like a shadow. As he dragged his burden foiward the moon shone on the dull fe&tures of Hafid. Taken suddenly as he had been he did not display the slightest traces of feir. My beautiful mistress is watched," he said smoothly. "I came to warn her. Sir Clement has gone up to his dressing room for his slippers. He struck his illustrious toe against P, marble table and- —" Then follow him and lock him in," Harold said hurriedly. Do that and you shall not be forgotten. Lock the dressing room door whilst you are pretending to look for the slippers." You could do me no greater service," Angela whispered sweetly. Hafid hastened off as noiselessly as a cat. There was nothing short of murder that he would not have done for Angela. There was no light in Frobisher's dreasing room by the aid of the moon he was fumbling for his slippers. He turned as Hafid entered. My master was moving and I heard him," Hafid said. Is there anything that I can do ?" Yes," Frobisher said crisply. You can hunt round and find my confounded slippers. That fool of a man of mine never puts things in the same place twice." ffatid came back nresently with the missing articles. The key of the dressing room was in his pocket, he slipped through the bedroom and locked that door also. Frobisher stood listening a minuts or two with a queer uneasy grin on his face. Evidently his little accident had not frightened the game away. He turned the handle softly, but with no effect. He shook the door passionately. Something seemed to have gone wrong with the lock. That Hafid should have dared to play such a trick never for one moment entered Frobisher's mind. With bis well-trained philosophy Frobisher sat down and filled his pipe. What a woman had done safely once, she was certain to attempt again, he argued, per- haps try and attempt a better move. And there were other light nights before the moon had passed the full. Denvers stood listening, but no further sound came. The attempt must be made now or never. Show me the conservatory," he whispered. There are long folding steps of course ? Then you can stay in the doorway till I have finished. My darling I am truly sorry to expose you to all this, but-" Angela led the way. It was fairly light in the great glass tank with its tangle of blooms, But as Denvers entered a great gash of steam shot up from the automatic pipe and filled the dome with vapour. Harold quickly drew the long steps to the centre and mounted. He disap- peared in the mist and was quickly lost amongst the tangles of ropes and bfosaoms. He had to wait for the periodical cloud of vapour to pass away before he could make a searching examina- tion. So far as Angela could see nobody was in the roof at all, it was as if Denvers had disap- peared leaving no trace behind. There was another gash of steam followed by a shower of falling blossoms, and a qnick cry of pain from thedome. As Angela darted forward the cry of pain came again, there was a confused vision II of a struggling figure, and then Denvers came staggering down the steps hoi ding his right arm to his side, his face bedabbled with moisture that was caused by something beyond the heated atmosphere. What has happened ?" Angela asked hurriedly. Have you had an accident with your arm." Denvers stood there gasping and reeling for a moment. The steam bad all evaporated now and there was nothing to be seen in the dome but a tangle of blossoms on their rigid cords. At Denvers feet lay a spray of the Cardinal Moth. Despite his pain he placed it in his pocket. co Look here," he said hoarsely. "This is witchcraft-Somebody grasped my arm, some unseen force clutched me. I managed to get away by sheer strength, but look here." There was a. ring of blood all round Denver's wrist, the fifsh had been cut almost to the bone. It seemed almost impossible for a human hand to grasp like that, but there it was. And up in the dome now there was nothing to be seen but the tangled masses of glorious blooms. (To be-continued.)



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