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Ui'M7" t- .f "W i, i\Tm. 9TS rasa a- ,r 7° ..T-TT, JS-; r„ J,IL- ,Tf (A\ o mt 1-1 ( LE tl 1) LHL I LE I L .> J» '■ '• ■'■»■' ■ — ■■ »■» «l ~I —I ■■ M iXn. nil ■<■ ■ — .■ ■ ■ — ■■■ » Synopsis of Previous Chapters. CHAPTERS 1.& II.—Gerard Granville Gough, familiarly known as "Granny," com- plains to hii fr **ad, Phil Ralston, that he has been swindled by a man named Garshore. Gough had been on the point of securing a valuable concession in connection with some oil wells in Rcumania. Garshore, taking an unfair advantage- of some information Gough had given him, steps in and secures the concession over the latter's head. A lady frieiid of the Minister Soutzo's —toy name Lydia-Popescu, had been bribed by Garshore to help him in the matter. Ralston induces Gough to accompany him back to London. Granny tells his friend that he is secretly engaged to Miss Myra Stapleton. but that he is now too poor to marry her. Ralston and Gough "are at the Hotel Cecil when they see Garshore and Lvdia. Popescu driving away together in a hansom. On parting Gough tells Ralston that he may be leaving town., but will wire his address. Next morning RaJston sees a startling headline in the papers. He rushes to the Cecil to find that Granny's bed has not been slept in. CHAPTERS-HI & TV.—Ralston asks the hotel porter the address which Garshore gave tothecabmattonthe previous night, and is told 127a, Redcliffe Gardens, West Brompton also that Gough had made similar inquiries. The morning' newspapers all contain ah account of a mysterious tragedy of the night at Redcliffe Gardens. A handsome woman of foreign appearance had been murdered, evidently after a desperate struggle. Ralston learns that Garshore, as well as Gough,. has left town that morning. He at once concludes that the dead woman is Lydia Popescu. Going to see his journalistic friend, George Cunliffe, he finds him engaged on the case, and accompanies" him to Red- cliffe Gardens. RatetOn learns that no mark has been found on the body to indicate the cause of death, nor can the jpoliCe assign any motive for the crime. tie is told that the maid who had rented the house on the previous day is missing, and the police are trying to trace her. An old It&Kan poig-ftard which Ralston recognises as his oWn is;found in the room. He attributes its presence to Gough. Lifting up the sheet from the dead woman's face he is amazed to find that it is not that of Lydia Po- pescu. CHAPTERS V. & Vj.—»It transpires that the front door of the house in Redcliffe Gar- dens had been found open after the crime, but as there is some possibility of the woman having died a natural death,secrecy is enjoined on Cunline. That same afternoon Gough turhs np at Ralston's chambers. Granny tells his friend that a banker wishes him to go over to America on business, but that although he is practically penniless, he does not feei equal to the task. He goes on to speak of the money he has made and lost, but tells Ralston that he has provided for his adopted daughter Gertie, whom he loyes almost as much as his fiancee, Myra Stapleton. Ralston asks Gough if the woman they saw leaving the Cecil with Gar- shore was Lydia Popeseue. Granny asks why Ralston should doubt him, and aeka Him never to repeat what, he has said about her. CHAPTTER VII. Dissects a M&ri's Heart. Granny Gough's ■curious request that his de- nunciation of the fair Lydia should be kept a strict secret, aroused within me increased sus- picion. Why was he so feverishly anxious that none should know'of his antagonism towards the woman, save myself ? What could it mean ? There was mystery in his attitude. And yet, when I came to reflect, the woman dead.atJEledcliffe Gardens was cer- tainly not the woman be had pointed out to me as the Roumanian whose presence in Bu- charest had been found -undesirai>le by His Ex- cellency the Minister Souteo! There was mystery-deep", unfathomable. I looked straight into his big, open face. About his lips was a nervousness quite unusual to him. He was keeping back from me some- thing he wished to tell me. I felt sure. For a long time we smoked on. I longed to ask him certain questions regarding that woman, sight of whom had filled him with such resentment. AC last, ia order to approach the subject, I asked-— Is Garshore still at the Cecil ?" I don't know," he snapped. The fellow's movements are no concern of mine. He didn't play the game wHiirme, and I have no further use for curs of that breeds" "No. T quite agree, old felloW. He served V'ju a very :sCúrry trick." And did me out of what- was just within my grasp he declared. If I had had no conscience I could have used that woman as a lever to obtain the concession from Soutzo. But I've never, to nrt' knowledge, served a voman a low-down trick—and I hope, Phil, I never shall. Now Garshore has got the concession signed he'll drop her acquaintance; I suppose," was my remark. Of course," he laughed. She, no doubt, believes in him. Wotheh are so easily misled by flattery stud a little attention. But, I ad- mit, he acted very oleverly, and it only shows the fellow's canning, He got all the details of the business from tne) and then went to work Oimself." You're a little too fond of speaking about your own I said. Perhaps "I «or. I'm "too fond of believing that every man is made like myself." He laughed, blowing the smoke from his lips. So Gertie is-still at Brighton ?" I remarked, turning the conversation into a different chan- nel. Yes, dear Itttle aoul. She's growing into a charming child,he «a«i< pteasant contented expression overspreading his fatfe. As you know, I put her into a family—tradespeople they are—living alofag at Hove. They send her to a very good ttchool, and she's getting on capitally. See, ahe's been showing me to-day how she can write and draw," and the big fellow puHedfrom his breast-pocket a piece of paper en which was some childish writing and some crude sketches of ducks and houses. He.. the man whom the world called an adventurer I was proud ol it, for he loved that child better than his life. I took the paper and looked at it, remarking that she must be getting on well. Rather, my dear chap. She's as sharp as a needle, and she grows prettier every day. The good people, keep her very nicely drtpsed, but of course, they're well paid for it." i ThanloS to you, Granny," I remarked. Her existence is one of your secrets, isn't "Thankll to you, Granny," I remarked. Her existence is one of your secrets, isn't it Yes," he said hi a low voice. Nobody knows threat troth. only you, Phil. You recollect, Tro doubt, what I told you—how, late one winter's night while I was going along Hoi- born I met a po^r shivering woman, thinly clad, and iso ill with rheumatism that she could scarce drag one foot after the other. Her face was wan and pinched ^and she wore a dark grey summer dress although it was mid-winter. By the hand she led a tiny fair-haired child. As I hurried p afet on tay way back to the Cecil the woman held out her hand, offering me matches, but saying no word, I brushed past her, but as I did so a look in the eyes Of the poor pinched little child caused me to halt and turn back. Well, I didn't buy the matches, but I gave the woman a soereign. She almost collapsed with thankfulness, for they were both starving. They had not tasted meat for a month, for she was a-Widow, and too ill to work. And to cut a long story short, I gave the poor woman from time to time money to put her on her legs again. Two months went past, and she had already obtained work, and was again earning -her living, when she was suddenly taken ill, attd died before I knew of her seizure-Tattle Gertie was left-alone—and so I adopted her, and afhe is mine." A strange and pathetic meeting," I said with a sigh. Surely no man would believe that at the bottom of Granville Gough's heart was such deep sympathy for the poor and afflicted. Had I not known the truth myself I should have scouted the idea. C'( You love the child, I know." Love her t" he echoed, turning m his chair. U She's all the, world to me, Phil. I tell you that I atways thank Providence for giving me the money-I've, invested for her. She will never want again." And while ;you are hafd up hke this she has every'luxury What does it matter.?" he laughed, lightly. I never think .of the morrow for myself. Never have done in aU my life. You'fe tot» td yOur friends,' I declared,-recoHecting the many open-handed actions which I had knosvn him perform- Well," h^ said, "rm fast coming to the conclusion that the more one helps one's friends the jess one is thought of. Why,the very men whom been able to tide over a crisis are those who have afterwards been my worst enemies 1 And when a man like myself has an enemy it's-a^-serious matter, I can tell you. One word against me has often been the means of preventing me from bringing off a lucrative gtroke of business. One" case I recollect especially. I was in Athens selling to the Greek Government two torpedo boat destroyers built in Italy. Pauletfci's, of Genoa, had given them into my hands to sell at a big commission. I had worked all my cards with the Greeks— backsheesh, etc.—aad was just on the point of getting the pttrchase signed, when there sprang up in Athens a man who was one of mj worst enemka—fiv £ n though I had once saved bimfromarrest in Vienna. This gentleman—he was a Clerman, by the way—wrote to the Greel Minister of Marine denouncing me as a cheva- lier d'industrie. The result was that I Waf compelled to pa^k tny traps and take the boa4 back to BrindiSi;" «' Most tiaen Eire"betted Off without friends/ f declared. —. «' You're quite right, Phil," he said. ] wish I could straggle on without them; bui somehow I pick up so many." Because of your power to attract them The man who has no- Mends usaaJiy grows rich. rr, j < You mean niiserlyskunk-ek?'f know the type. Yes, The really rich man has,few friends. He's clever enough not to make any." Yes. But that requires more tact than I possess. My forte is cheek, I believe. I pride myself that, if occasion require it, I can tell a lie perfectly. Indeed, in my profession, I've brought lying to a fine art." In that I quite believe you, my dear Granny I laughed. You're a better liar i even than an Old Bailey lawyer." When necessity dictates." Granville Gough was surely a man of com- plex nature. A light-hearted, careless, devil- may-care adventurer, without fixed habita- tion, but with hosts of friends, he lived in all the capitals of Europe by turn, a few days herfe, a few days there, until he was just as much at home in the Puerta. del Sol in Mad- rid, as in the Corso in Rome, the Nevski in Petersburg, or our own familiar Strand. His friends, too, were of every sort, from Princes and Ministers of State, whom he would invite to dinner, down to those ragged night-birds, the scum of a Continental city, who knew him to be a crook, and were ever ready to fur- nish him with information or render him a ser- vice. I, perhaps, was the only man who knew Granny Gough intimately. Many a man and many a woman who reads these lines will have met him in London and on the Continent— under a different name, of e-oirrse-always ex- quisitely dressed, always affable, and always affluent, for never once within my experience has he ever allowed the world to believe him anything but prosperous. It was one of the tenets of his religion. Put on a bold front, and order a good dinner,even though you have to pawn your portmanteau afterwards," he used to say. When Granny Gough put his wits together there was not a cleverer man on the whole face of Europe. I have known him to get the best of the most expert diplomat, and to con- vince a Minister of State against his will. When he intended to carry his point he would fix his opponent with his big clear blue eyes with a look of intensity which seemed somehow to hypnotise and fascinate. How it was I cannnot tell. In this chronicle of strange events I am simply setting down what actually occurred. I am not seeking the reason Of my friend's marvellous and amazing power over his fellow- men but I am relating a curiously romantic and extraordinary chain of facts of which I myself have been witness in this past year or so of my own cosmopolitan life. I myself have been a constant and homeless wanderer on the Continent, like Gough, but in a different sphere. Circumstances, curious in themselves, had drawn us closely together, and now, at the period of which I am writing, r found that o-tirhves had become, almost before I was aware of it, closely aasocia.ted; He was my friend. Men might call him an adventurer. Those whom he had befriended— and they were many—might hold up their- hands m pious horror that they had ever asso- ciated with an outsider. For that I cared no- thing. I knew the true heart of the big-handed, big- faced, clean-shaven man with the fair curly hair,who always reminded me of an overgrown boy that heart which had sympathised with the starving woman and-her child that heart that loved little Myra Stapleton so dearly, which delighted in Nietzche's philosophy, and was now broken because of the dastardly treachery of a man whom he had foolishly treated as his friend. Again I looked at him, as he smoked on in thoughtful silence. CHAPTER VITI. I The Perfect Stranger, I Next morning I received some rather dis- concerting news. A letter informed me that a favourite aunt of mine—from whom I had considerable ex- pectations, by the way-was lying seriously ill at a nursing home down at Worthing. There- fore I drove at once to Victoria and took the next train down. Though a good many people were travelling, I managed to find an empty first-class smoker, but scarcely had I settled myself when another man, dark-bearded, middle-aged, well-dressed, and without luggage, like myself, entered and seated himself in the opposite corner. Ere the train moved off he made a casual remark to me, and we began to chat. He seemed a pleasant fellow, and struck me as a City man making a flying visit to hi- wife and family at the seaside, &K is so often the case. We had smoked and chatted pleasantly for half-an-hour or so when the topic of conversa- tion turned upon traveling. I mentioned that I travelled a good deal on the Continent, when he exclaimed with a sigh Ah! yes and so do I." I then put him down as a commercial tra- veller, for he spoke of the various capitals of Europe with intimate knowledge, My life is spent in almost constant tra- vel," he went on. But, after all, there's no place like England." I agreed with him heartily. Though a cos- mopolitan, I love my own country, notwith- standing its mud and fogs. Then we cnatted all the way down to Worth- ing, where we parted. But before doing so I exchanged cards with my pleasant companion, whose name I discovered was Mr Charles Grinfield." I lunched at Warne's, spent the afternoon at my aunt's bedside, and at 6.33 caught the express to Victoria. An agreeable surprise awaited me when I found my fellow-traveller of the morning lounging up and down the platform awaiting the train. Hullo he cried, pleasantly. I wondered if you might be returning by my train." So together we entered an empty compart- ment and continued our chat. There was something about the man which struck me as indescribably mysterious. Why, I cannot tell. Somehow he seemed unduly in, quisitive regarding my recent movements. That he was a detective was, of conrsc, out of the question. Besides, why should the police keep observation upon myself 1-1 had com- mitted no crime. But I dismissed such weird thoughts from my mind. Perhaps it was that, owing to my cosmopoli- tan existence, I had become distrustful of every stranger. Indeed, I never travelled without a revolver in my Mp-pocket, a habit acquired abroad, and one which had on many occasions secured for me a peaceful night. Alone, in a strange and lonely house, in a strange land, it is really remarkable what security one feels with a handy sii-shooter under one's pillow. "You're too generous to your friends," I declared. Now I confess that before we got to Croydon I entertained some shrewd suspicion of my engaging fellow-traveller who had given his name as Grinfield. Be had been a little too ready to give me his card, and I always dis- trust that action. Quickly made friendships have usually some ulterior motive. And yet, as he sat back in the corner, enjoy- ing his excellent cigar, there was nothing sus- picious about, him. Nevertheless, why had he waited in Worthing to travel back with me T Once in the afternoon I had caught sight of him in the town, but he had instantly aisap- appeared. ttadhe been watching my move- ments ? Some of his remarks were certainly inquiries regarding myself. And this imquisitiveness I naturally resented. This he apparently noticedfot while we were waiting in Croydon Station he suddenly looked me straight in the face and said Mr. RalBton, I see that you are just a little annoyed with me in prying into your affairs." And his bearded face relaxed into a smile. Well," I answered. I confess I don't quite follow your object in asking certain of the questions you have asked. I tell you frankly I consider it a bit of impertinence. How i can my private affairs concern you-—a perfect stranger T" i They concern me greatly," was his prompt L response. I admit that I have been imperti- nent, and for that I apologise and ask your forgiveness. You are no doubt annoyed—I should be if I were in your place." You followed me down to Worthing. Admit t that." Certainly, I admit that, I came down with you in order to have a chat." Then I will leave yflu and get into another [ carriage," I said, rising in anger. 0 b No. Remain here. We shall be in Victoria in a few minutes," he qrged. "I want to speak to you in strictest ^'confidence. If you 3 answer my questions truthfully it will be dia- tinctly to your advantage." •A- I looked him straight in the face in wonder. What could the stranger mean ? At that moment.the train moved slowly off therefore I could only resume my seat. Now, let us be frank, Mr Ralston," said the stranger, his dark eyes fixed upon mine. You are a cosmopolitan, and we have met on many previous occasions, though we have never spoken. Philip Ralston is known in all the capitals—so am I, but under a different name to that I gave you this morning." Then you are masquerading," I cried re- sentfully. Of necessity. I could not exhibit my hand at once to you." And what's in your hand, pray ?" "The winning cards-if you'll help me to play them." I don't follow you." He laughed. Of course you don t. But I will try to explain if you will reply to one or two simple questions." Well ?" You were in Bucharest quite recently ?" I was." And you were at the Hotel Boulevard with a certain Granville Gough ?" I was. Why ?" Mr Gough is a friend of yours ? I have known him a good many years." Rather—er—well, rather an undesirable acquaintance—shall we say T" No," I replied. He is my friend." The stranger who had given me a false name smiled ratiier sarcastically. Surely a rather dangerous friend, Mr. Ralston ? Permit me to say so." No. I do not permit you to say anything against a man who is my friend," I exclaimed, quickly. Not if that friendship constitutes a danger to yourself ?" To myself," I cried. What danger need I fear ?" Well, one hardly likes to be known as the friend or accomplice of an adventurer." I choose my friends, and take the risk, »- was my response. lien I will leave you and get into another carriage," I said. He shrugged his should ersand tossed the end of his cigar out of the wipdow. Very well, my hear sir, I Will say no more, he exclaimed. I approached you as a friend—" And an enemy of Gough," I mterrupted. Ah, there you have entirely misjudged me," the stranger said. Gough is my friend, though his friendship is dangerous-veryt dan- gerous—to me In what way ?" That's a question we cannot enter into now. It is outside this present discussion. I simply tell you that Gough is my friend." What proof have I of that ?" The easiest. Gough is in London, I know. You will see him to-night or to-morrow. See him this very night if you can, and ten hfm,— well, tell him you've met Tom Winch." Winch," I repeated, very well I shall yemember the name." The stranger's attitude puzzled me. He seemed to be treating me with unconcern. IDs chief interest was Granny. If you know that Gough is in London, and is in the habit of visiting me, you surely need not have taken the t ;x>uble to follow me to Worthing, Mr Winch," I remarked. I have reasons for not approaching him." May I not know them ?" I had a motive in speaking to you thus privately—because I am Gough's friend. Ask him and he will tell you whether I speak the truth." Was this man a crook, like Granny ? I ex- amined his dress, and saw that it was just a trifle showy. Was he an adventurer and a. sharper ? It struck me that he was, therefore I grew a little more confidential. I'll certainly see him. Where are you stay- ing, if he wishes to see you See me," he gasped. I hope be won't see me." But he's your friend." That's just why I don't wish to see him." You're speaking in enigmas," I said Why don't you tell me openly what your game is ?" My game is rather an intricate one," he laughed as we swung through one of the sub- urban stations. It is to betray your friend." To betray Granny Gough," I cried, Well my dear sir, you're at least frank." I told you I would be if you replied, to my questions. Granny Gough lives in a glass- house, and stones are dangerous. Certain peolpe are now throwing stones. Do you now follow me ?" Not exactly." Well, then, I will speak plainer. I am here to betray Granny Gough into the hands of the police." y And yet you are his friend," I cried, staring at him. I repeat what I have said, Mr Ralston, Because I am his friend I do not go near him. I have travelled with you to-day in order to speak with you and to Warn him." Of what ?" "Of imminent danger,"was the man Winch's earnest reply. See him to-night as soon as you get to London, and tell him that you'. met me, and that I urge him to disappear at once. Every moment brings the peril of arrest nearer. It you are his real friend, Mr Ralston, assist him to get, away from London to-night. Tell him not to try and get back to the Con- tinent. Better for him to remain in hiding in England." But he's at the Hotel Cecil," I exclaimed in apprehension. If the police are in search of him they will easily find him." He is no longer at the Cecil," was the stranger's cool reply. I have already seen to that. This morning I forged your name to a telegram—forgive me for it-telling him to go at once in secret to the Queen's Hotel, near the Crystal Palace, and there await your arrival at nine-thirty to-night. So as soon as we get to .Victoria,take train down to the-Crystal Palace, meet him, and get him clear of London. He only escaped from the Cecil to-day just in time. They are now watching for him there— expecting him to return." « All this is very alarming," I declared. Is there real danger "? Tell me plainly." Danger echoed the stranger. Why, there's the greatest danger. By this time the whole police of England are seeking for him. Therefore arrange his hiding-place in some out-of-the-way place in the country. If he Attempts to leave by any of the Continental routes he'll be arrested instantly. For what ?" Upon a terrible charge—a charge of mur- der I" (To be continued.)








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