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Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

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CHAPTER XI. Miss Lamotte. During that day the proceedings at the black, house in Harley-street had been somewhat irre- gular and out of the common. First of all, Dr. Van Mildart had gone away in a hansom very early in the morning, leaving no word as to his return. Then Miss Lamotte, after receiving patients up to twelve o'clock, had peremptorily instructed Pimpery to inform any further callers that she could see no one else that day, and had gone out and remained out until nearly dinner-time in the evening- In the meantime Dr. Van Mildart had returned to the house about two o'clock, and was eating a hasty lunch when Mr Christopher Aspinall called. A little later the doctor and Mr Aspinall went away to- gether in a hansom, the former leaving a mes- sage with Pimpery to the effect that he mijtiit not be in until very late that evening, and thSt Miss Lamotte was not to wait dinner for him. Such of Dr. Van Mildart's and Miss Lamotte's patients as turned up at the house during the afternoon had to go away disappointed there was usually quite a crowd between four o'clock and six, and Pimpery, who was obliged to attend to the door now that Service was dead, had a busy time in sending people away. Then. close upon dinner-time. Miss Lamotte returned and said that two gentlemen were coming to dinner—a matter which only troubled Pimpery in so far as that he would have to do all the waiting himself. It made no difference to Miss Lamotte as regards this arrangement to hear that Dr. Van Mildart might not be at home she had the free run of the house, and it was an understood thing between her and its master that she should invite her own friends there whenever she liked to do so. Van Mildart's table was always lavishly spread—it made little difference if half a dozen unexpected guests came to it. Anyone who had spent that particular day with Miss Lamotte would have had ample op- portunity for feeling amazed, puzzled, curious and doubtful as to what that lady was really about. Her movements, actions, doings were all more than a little mysterious. When she rose in the morning she made a more than usually elaborate toilette of the going-out-order, and she went down to breakfast in her hat. At ten o'clock came the first of the small army of cal- lers by appointment the second arrived at a quarter past: the third at half-past, and so on until at a quarter to twelve arrived a patient who Pimpery had never seen before, and whose Dame as given on her beautifully engraved card was Miss Susan Dalrymple. Miss Dalrymple was shown into Miss Lamotte's room at once the previous taker-up of her time had been shown out a good five mintutes previously. Whether Pimpery observed it or not, and most people who looked at him would have sworn a solemn oath that they believed him incapable of observing anything—Miss Dalrymple cer- tainly did not look like one who suffers; she was a very pretty little woman, with smiling eyes, and an arch expression, dressed in the height of fashion, and altogether a very bright and gay butterfly to flutter into a doctor's con- salting room. There was a formal and cere- monious greeting between her and Miss La- motte as they met, but when Pimpery had closed the door—which like all the doors in that part of Dr. Van Mildart's house was so contrived as to be quite sound proof—the con- versation between the two ladies became un- ceremonious, not to say curt and sharp. Well ?" said Miss Lamotte. Miss Dalrymple, still arch and smiling, pro- duced a sealed note from some invisible recep- tacle, and handed it over. This," she said. Miss Lamotte took the note—which anyone who could have read irfc over her shoulder would have seen to be in cypher—glanced it through. and then, lighting a taper which stood on her eminently business-like looking desk, burnt it to ashes, which she thoughtfully pounded into fine dust with the end of an ebony ruler. I think that's all right," she said presently, having considered whatever the contents of the note were in silence. To-day, then ?" said Miss Dalrymple. To-night," replied Miss Lamotte. Of course, I don't want to risk anything." Sure said Miss Dalrymple. "And that's why I want to complete the final arrangements myself," continued Miss Lamotte. "After all I've done, I'm not going to let things end in a mess at the end just for the want of »Jittle extra care." Of course," agreed Miss Dalrymple. She traeed an imaginary pattern onthe -carpet with the point of her dainty shoe, and then nodded her head towards the door. That-him?" she asked laconically. Urn," said Miss Lamotte. Before my time, of course," said Miss Dal- rymple. Good tosremenaber, though,I should think." Wasn't shaven in those days," said Miss La motte. clear enough, his affair. Nothing to the other." Any message, then.?" inquired Miss Dal- rymple. Yes,—say I'm in hand with everything for to-night, and that rll call in during the after- noon. I shall want to see the chief, mind," said Miss Lamotte. Oh, of course," replied Miss Dalrymple. Bye Bye!" said Miss Lamotte, and rang the bell for Pimpery. She rang it again two minutes later. Pimpery," she said, I am obliged to go out to a serious case, and I may not return for some hours. You must refuse all further callersLI do not know when Dr. Van Mildart will be in." Very good, madam," replied Pimpery. U Will you have the brougham ?" No, thanks," said Miss Lamotte, I'm going round to the chemist's in New Caven- dish-street. I'll get a hansom there." A few minutes later, Miss Lamotte left the house. She certainly went into New Cavendish- street, and made a brief call at the chemist's shop but after that she walked some little dis- tance in the direction of Oxford-street before the took a cab. And in the meantime calling in at a little frowsy shop in a side street, a shop wherein all sorts of odds and ends were sold— bits of old china and brass, dull pewter and faked engravings, second-hand books and dubious knick-knacks. She asked for and re- ceived two letters which were most certainly not addressed to her in the name by which she was known in Harley-street. Miss Lamotte's movements during the remain- derof the day. were to say the least of them, Somewhat erratic and peculiar. Arriving in Oxford Circus, she chartered a hansom cab, and told the driver to take her to Westminster Abbey. Arriving there, she strolled about the# cloisters for a little while, with the air of one' who meditates amongst the tombs, but even- tually went away down Victoria-street, where she disappeared within the doors of the office of the American Embassy. Coming away from this place an hour later, she walled across to the St. James's Park Station, where she took train to the Mansion House. It was just their luncheon hour in the City and the streets were swarming with men and youths. Miss Lamotte in her smart West End toilett and picture hat, all unconcerned at the admiration which she occasioned, made her way through the crowds until she came to a certain court, opening out of Threadneedle-street, within the cool shade of which she was lost to sight for some little time. When she emerged upon the street again it was in the company of a gentleman who was very immaculately hatted, garmented, and booted; with him Miss Lamotte entered an open taximeter cab, and drove to the Savoy Hotel, where they lunched together in a shady corner of the balcony overlooking the river. They spent a long time over lunch and over the coffee and liqueurs which followed it, and they were engaged from first to last in very earnest and apparently extremely confidential conv ersation. From the Savoy Hotel Miss Lamotte and her companion proceeded-this time in a cl06ed carriage—to a certain department of Scotland Yard, where they were both lost to view for a considerable part of the afternoon. When Miss Lamotte went away, it was by herself, and she took a hansom on the embankment and drove to Bond-street, where she refreshed herself with tea and cakes at a fashionable establish- ment much in favour with ladies, and amused her mind—tired, no doubt, by a long day of business—in watching the people about her. Then she went for a drive in the Park, and thought everything was very hot and dusty, and that it was time the long-spun season came to an end. And finally she returned to Harlev- street, and as she passed through the hall in- formed the butler that there would be two guests to dinner that evening. It was then past seven o'clock, and at eight Miss Lamotte, who had made a very simple toilette, came downstairs and passed into the library. The guests arrived—two finely set up men, one bearded, the other clean-shaven, big enough for the Household Cavalry, and bronzed as with much travel. Pimpery took their light overcoats, and showed them in to Miss Lamotte, who already was very well aware that Dr. Van Mildart would not be in that Even- ing, nor until well after midnight. They seemed pleasant gentlemen, he thought, as he waited upon them at dinner—scientific gentlemen who had travelled in some out-of-the-way places of the earth and seen a good deal. They, and Miss Lamotte too, dined very well indeed, and the gentlemen praised the wine and regretted Dr. Van Mildart's absence. Miss Lamotte and her two friends went into the smoking-room after they had dined, and Pimpery took coffee, and liqueurs, and cigars and cigarettes there. Miss Lamotte sat in an easy chair near the table on which the butler was arranging these matters the clean-shaven gentleman occupied a lounge near her the bearded gentleman was strolling casually around the room, inspecting the pictures he 1 got between Pimpery and the door. Pimpery presently turned round to hand him a cup of coffee; the cup fell from his hand with a crash. Two yards away from him stood the bearded gentleman, presenting a very wicked-looking revolver down the barrel of which the butler looked with horror-stricken eyes. Put your hands up, my man!" said the bearded gentleman, quietly. Pimpery's hands trembling as with a sudqen attack of ague went up above his head. He stared at his captor as if he were fascinated. The man with the revolver smiled. Not the first time he's thrown 'em up, I guess !"he said. Go through him, Jim." The clean-shaven gentleman rose from the lounge and wont through the butler's pockets, now shaking like an aspen leaf,in a very know- ing and professional way. He turned out liis pockets, lie ran his hands over his clothes. While this was going on the bearded person kept Pimpery covered with the revolver. As for Miss Lamotte, instead of betraying any surprise, she took up her coffee cup and calmly sipped its contents. That's all right," announced the man named Jim. The other man dropped his revolver and slid it lightly into his hip-pocket. He pointed to a chair, nodding his head at Pimpery. Sit down," he commanded. I Pimpery dropped into the chair.. It was evident that his nerve was gone his face was becoming ghastly. The bearded man picked up a decanter of brandy, smelled it, and poured out a small glassful. He put it into the butler's shaking hand. Drink that he said, sharply. Down with it." Pimpery drank and swallowed some colour came back to his cheek, but the fear on his face was dreadful to see. He looked from one to the other of the three faces before him, pretty much as a rabbit might look when put into the cage of three hungry snakes. The man with the beard turned a little aside —a deft movement removed his beard and whiskers. He turned, smiled sardonically, thrusting his face into Pimpery's full view. Pimpery screamed-as a rabbit would scream at the snakes' approach. The two men laughed; Miss Lamotte, sipping her coffee, smiled. Mr Macnaughten exclaimed Pimpery, as the scream died out. Mr Macnaughten laughed once more. He took up his coffee, sipped it, set it down again,'and choosing a cigar, lighted it and smoked wifh great satisfaction. Quite right, my man," he said. I knew we should meet again." He turned to Miss Lamotte. This is the man, right enough," he went on. Phineas Thomson, sentenced to death for murder five years ago escaped from Sing Sing while awaiting execution. Previous to that little affair one of the cleverest forgers in the. States. That's a truthful statement, isn't it, Thompson ?" Yes, sir," answered the captive. It's— true. But it wasn't murder, Mr Macnaughten- —upon my soul, it wasn't. He'd have killed me if I hadn't killed him." At the little shop she received two letters. I Very likely," said Macnaughten, drily. However, we aren't concerned about that. Now look here, my friend-we might be able to do a bit for you when we get you across. That is, if you do a bit for us. We want you to tell us all you know about this master of vours, Van Mildart. It was he planned your escape from Sing Sing, eh ?" Over the ci-devant Pimpery's ashen face came a sudden change. His dead eyes assumed a terrible expression they seemed to fill with blood and fire and his arms and hands became so agitated that both detectives tightened themselves up as if they expected an attack. Curse him the man burst out in an ex- plosion of rage, which was all the more violent because it had been so long bottled up. Curse him I-yes, he did manage my escape I wish he'd left me where I was—I'd rather have gone to the chair than to have gone through all that he's put on me. I've lived a living death here —and worse." Then he's—eh ?" said Macnaughten signi- ficantly. Here-take a drop more brandy." Thompson, no longer Pimpery, sipped the amber-tinted liquid gratefully. He looked round him and smiled a little. His glance rested on Miss Lamotte, and he nodded to her. I'd an idea that you were after something, miss," he said, his smile broadening. But I'm such a fool that I never thought it was me. I thought it was-him." I am after him," said Miss Lamotte. Do as Mr Macnaughten tells you-let us know what you know, and it will be the better for you." Thompson shook his head. That's a big order, miss." te said. '-He's the cleverest scoundrel I ever came across, and I've known some. But he keeps things to him- self—you'll have hard work to circumvent him. He got me out of Sing Sing, that's true, and I wondered why at the time until I found that he wanted to make use of me. As Mr Mac- naughten there says I'm a clever hand with the pen, and have done a good many jobs for him. You see, I'm under his thumb. But I cuuld have forgiven him that if he hadn't experi- mented on me." Experimented on you. What do you mpan ?" asked Miss Lamotte. It was before you came, miss," replied Thompson. "He gave me malarial fever once, and yellow fever another time-just to study the progress of the disease. And he's tried drugs on me a hundred times. Devil ?—he's worse 11 Now then, look here," said Macnaughten, do you think he's anything to do with these recent jewel robberies t—several of them have been from his patients," Drink that," he said, sharply. J Thompson shook his head knowingty. I haven't a doubt of it, Mr Macnaughten," he answered. He's the cleverest hypnotist living-it's my belief he just hypnotised these women into handing their jewels over. But I don't know any more. That poor lad, Service, was trying to find out, though—I know that much. And it's my belief that he murdered Service the other night." Murdered him Um said Macnaughten. Well, I don't see how that can be. The inquest's been held to-day, and the doctors all agreed that it was a natural death." Thompson smiled—the unpleasant smile of one who believes he knows. He's clever enough to outwit any doctors," he said. Or coroners either. I do know this- we caught Service coming back from the house next door that night, and whether he found out that he'd better silence him at once, or what it was, I don't know, but Service was dead next morning. And there was nothing wrong with him the night before." f Miss Lamotte and the two detectives looked at each other. After a moment's silence Miss Lamotte spbke. Look here, Thomson, do you know anv- thing as to where he goes when he's out at night ?" she asked. It's commonly supposed that you never go out, but I know you have been out-after him." Thomson smiled at her admiringly. That's clever of you, miss he said. It is, indeed. Yes, I have tried to track him, but never with success. He was always too clever, too slippery for me." Do you think he ever knew you did folio 3 him ?" asked Miss Lamotte. Thomson shook his head. I couldn't say, miss," he answered. Then, suddenly changing his tone, and looking half- anxiously, half-sullenly at his captors, he said Look here, I want to know what you're going to do with me t Why should I tell you all this if I'm to get nothing out of it 1 If I'm to be taken over there for-" here he made a signi- ficant gesture. Why, I may just as well keep my tongue still." I told you that we might be able to do something for you if you helped" us, Thomson," said Macnaughten. As to what we're going to do with you at present, well, we'll have to take you down to Bow-street for an extradition order." The man's face blanched and his great hands -bands whose muscular power Miss Lamotte had noticed hundreds of times as he waited at table—began to clasp and unclasp the arms of the chair in which he sat. His dull eyes grew angry, his mouth mutinous. I'm not an American subject, Mr Mac- naughten," he growled. and I wish I'd never seen your country. Will they send me back ?" .1 I should say they will, Thomson. It was a bad business you know," answered the detec- tive. But these things take a little time, and while you're waiting you'll perhaps be able to tell us a little more about your master—eh?" he added significantly. And now I think we'll just be going down quietly." He glanced significantly at the clean-shaven man, and the latter rising from his chair finished his coffee, threw the end of his cigar away and producing a pair of handcuffs motioned to Thomson to extend his wrists. The prisoner growled ominously. Now then, no nonsense, Thomson said Macnaughten. You can't do anything, you know." If I'd known you were coming," muttered Thomson, I'd have taken good care you didn't find me as unprepared as I am." That's a foolish thing to say," said Mac- naughten. I didn't mean anything against you, Mr Macnaughten," protested Thomson. I meant I'd have been dead. Those are a bit too tight," he added, looking down at his manacled wrists. "They hurt." Never mind—you'll soon be out of them," said Macnaughten, cheerily. Now it's already dusk. and I'll get a cab quietly. See to him, Robson. Here, Miss Lamotte, I want to speak to you." Miss Lamotte and Macnaughten went into the library and closed the door. He looked at her narrowly, in silence. Are you going to try it ?" he asked at last. She nodded resolutely. It'll as likely as not cost you your life," he said. She nodded again. I'm quite aware of that," she replied. But I'll try it all the same." Well," he said, slowly and thoughtfully, of course, if you've counted the cost—how- ever, it's no use discussing it now that your mind's made up. But remember-when he finds that your're a traitor, a spy—he'll shoot you How do you know I shan't shoot him first ?" she asked, with a quick flash of her keen eyes. Look at this, Mr Macnaughten— keen eyes. Look at this, Mr Macnaughten- I've wormed my way into his confidence to a tremendous extent already—all 1 want to bring off the grandest coup I've ever had in my life is the entrance to this place where he goes. I'll never run him to earth if it isn't to-night All right," said Macnaughten. See what I want is done," she said. When I leave this house during the night see that I'm followed to wherever I go in such a fashion that not even he can detect it if he's with me. That's all-you know what to do later." I'll see to it all myself," he said. There'll be half-a-dozen men close by now —I shall send Robson and two of them away with Thomson, and then I'll devote myself to you. But be careful." I've thought it all out," she answered. It's the only thing'to do." Then Macnaughten and his fellow detective took the ci-devant Pimpery very quietly and unobtrusively away, and none of the domestics downstairs knew that anything had happened. The butler had always been.of strange habits, and if they thought anything at all about him that night it was simply that he had gone to bed early.. Before eleven, in accordance with custom, they were all in bed themselves. Miss Lamotte prepared for a vigil, but first she had a slight errand to perform. Throwing a wrap round her shoulders she picked up a blank envelope from a stationery case in the library, and letting herself out at the street door. walked to the pillar-box in Cavendish- square, the envelope in her hand looking to anyone who met her in no way indistinguish- able from a letter. She did not seem to do more than deposit her letter and turn. back again, but the fingers which dropped the blank en- velope into the slit, made, in the same move- ment, a chalk mark on the red paint of the box. Mgs Lamotte went back to the house in Harley-street and sought her own room. There she made certain preparations-one of which included the cleaning and loading of a very businesslike-looking revolver. Then she went downstairs into the dining-room and drank a glass of wine and ate some biscuits, and then, refreshed, sat down in the dark, close to the window, looking out through the half-closed blinds. Twelve o'clock chimed half-past twelve then one. The street was quiet except for the occasional passing of some belated pedestrian, or of a carriage or motor-,car. The nigLt air, stealing in through the open window, was soft and warm it would have made most people sleepy. But Miss Lamotte had never been so wide awake in her life. Half-past one the street entirely quiet. She kept her eyes perpetually fixed on one spot- the circle of dim light made bv one of the lamps a little way down the opposite side of the street. Into this circle a man suddenly came whom she knew at once to be Van Mildart. As he crossed it he struck a matchjjwhich flared up for a moment, died out, and was tossed away. The man walked hurriedly on and disappeared up the street. Miss Lamotte put down and fastened the window a moment later she fet herself out of the house and after traversing several of the smaller streets on the west side of Harley-street came to a halt at the corner of Spanish-place, Van Mildart was there, smoking a cigarette in apparent calmness of mind. "Well," he said as they walked away to- gether. They've got Pimpery," she said. Mac- naughten was on his track. They've taken him off to Bow-street." Van Mildart made no sign of astonishment, and for a moment he did not speak. Throwine his cigarette away he drew out his curar-case, and selecting a cigar lighted it with great de- liberation. Macnaughten ?" he said at last. "Um! He'll turn Thomson inside out." It's not safe to go back," she said, sugges- tively. No," he answered. "No—I suppose it isn't. Um—it's rather unexpected. However, we M104, 11 He walked a few steps in silence and at last turned to her. I've trusted you a good deal," he said. Now I shall have to trust you to the full. Remember, if you're false I shall kill you." Then, turning into Wigmore-stree, he hailed one of two hansoms which stood on a rank in the centre of the road and bidding Miss La- motte enter followed her into it and presently drove away eastward. A moment later two men in evening dress came up to the other handsom and after a short conversation with the driver, entered it and went off in the same direction. (To be Continued.)





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