Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

8 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



giniiiniiiuiiHUiiiHiEtiHiiiiEiiiiiuimiiiiiitiiiiiuiiiuiiiiinuuiiiiiniiiiiiinmu: X [ALL EIGHTS RZnB'BD. ZZ  = | FATAL FIMOERS |  £ By WILLIAM LE QUEUX, E a Author of The Money Spider," The Riddle of the Ring," &c. S; 5111111 II i III Ii 111111 iI I I U 11111111111 n: 11 111111 it 11111111111 11111111111111 J 11111 i! I II II i II 11111111 L IŒ I CHAPTER II. (Continued.) I THE NIGHT OF THE SEVENTEENTH. ] As far as could be ascertained, the assassin had left no clue to his identity The three detectives, after examining the latch Upon the firont-door, agreed that the mur- derer must have entered there in company with his victim. Yet Burgess, the only ser- vant remaining up, had heard no sound Until the front-door had slammed. Lady Ravenscourt and Miss Maidee-ait Irene was always called-had accompanied Sir George to the Foreign Office, where a brilliant reception had been held in honour of the visit of a foreign prince, and leaving at eleven had taken him in his motor to the Travellers' where they had dropped him, proceeding home and retiring to their rooms. The whole affair was a complete mystery. Somehow the papers had already got wind of it, far by three o'clock reporters arrived hot-foot, thirsting for information, which the shrewd Hurgess, at the instigation 01 the detctives,. strenuously withheld. Burgess, as soon as he could slip away for a moment, entered his pantry and, locking the door, took from his pocket the crumpled manuscript, which his master had been in the act of writing when struck down. Spreading it out with trembling fingers, he read it from end to end. "That's strange! he gasped astounded. "Why did Sir George so earnestly desire this to be burned? Perhaps, after all, I ought to have told the police everything." He stood motionless, gazing upon the floor of the narrow pantry, the strange document in his hand. Faithful servant that he was, he was now div led in his duty towards hie master and his duty to assist the ends of justice. He was entirely at a loss to know how to act. To give the paper to the detectives would be to disclose a fact which, at all hazards, his dead master wished suppressed. Yet, if he burned it, he might be destroying a very valuable clue. Burgees suddenly resolved to disobey the promise he had given to the dying man, and consult her ladyship, and ascending the ctairs lie tapped softly at the door of her room. Miss 'Maidee gave permission to enter, and the old servant found the pair plunged in the deepest grief. Excuse me, your ladyship, but-well, may I speak to you for one moment alone? 1 would not disturb you at this hour of grief were it not absolutely imperative." "Lady Ravenscourt can see f no one, Burgess," replied the tearful girl quickly. You ought surely to know that!" "But I deeply regret, miss, I must speak fith her-alone." The widow raised her tear-stained face, and motioned to the girl to go out of the for a. moment. Then, when the door had closed, Burgess advanced to the grief- etricken woman, and explained how he had discovered Sir George, and what the dying man had said, afterwards handing her the paper which her husband had penned. t Swiftly she read it through, then, staring straight before her, her white hands tremb- hug. her eves filled with tears she cried: "What can all this mean, Burgess? Why did my husband so eagerly desire to conceal the fads? It must be given to the police, by all means. They should not remain in ignorance of this another moment." "If that is your ladyship's decision, I will carry it out," replied the grave-faced man. and, bowing respectfully, he retired, closing the door softly after him. Big Ben slowly boomed forth the hour of five as he descended the stairs and called Detective-inspector Medland into the long dining-room. To him he made a. full statement, after- wards producing the crumpled manuscript which Sir George had been so anxious should be destroyed. The quick-eved, dark-haired detective looked suspiciously for a second into the butler's round face, then taking the sheet of paper, read the lines of crabbed writing from end to end. "That's most extraordinary! he declared when he had finished. "Why didn't you produce this before, eh ?" "Because of the promise I had made to my dying master. I was compelled to con- sult my mistress first." The inspector grunted in evident dissatis- faction, but returning to the library, held secret council with the two officers accom- panying him, as a result of which both the latter came hurriedly out and put on their hats and coats. "You'll not have much difficulty in find- ing Charlwood Street," Medland said briskly. "It's a short turning running be- tween Denbigh Street and Lupus Street- number 78. Be as quick as you can, and 'phone me anything fresh you discover." The Chief of the Criminal Investigation Department himself arrived in a motor-car some twenty minutes later, and Medland, standing in the library, was engaged in ex- plaining the principal points of the mysterious alfair to his Chief when the tele- phone-bell rang sharply, and the inspector crossed to the instrument. "Yes," he answered'; "Medland speaking. Is that you, Wagner? Well?" And then the inspector listened. "What? Is that so? You've found the man Richard Goodrick murdered-killed in exactly the same manner as Sir George! This is most extraordinary!" Then, turn. ing quickly to his Chief, he said: "Perhaps, eir, yoii'd like to listen to this amazing re- port of Sergeant Wagner!" And he handed him the receiver, telling his assistant to repeat the facts to his Chief. "Well, Medland," exclaimed. the gentle- manly-looking official, gazing at the in- spector with a bewildered expression, when he had heard all the detective had to say and had himself asked one or two ques- tions, "this certainly is a most remarkable and complicated piece of business! Why, I .wonder, did Sir George want to burn that record he had written. We had, I think, better both go over to Charlwood Street at once-" CHAPTER III. I THE ATFAIB, AT CHARLWOOD STREET. AA the Chief drove Inspector Medland along in the landaulette, which had been waiting, the detective again took from his pocket the document which Sir George had been so anxious to destroy before his death. He read, by the little light in the car, as follows: "I, George Ravenscourt, Baronet, desire, on this seventeenth OJ] of January, 1908, to place upon recv-r(il a most strange and. &mazing circumstance which has occurred here, in the city of Westminster. Eighteen years ago the nation suffered an irrepar- able, loss by the death of one who was a great Imperialist. Without one showy ac- complishment, without wit to amuse or eloquence to persuade, with a voice un- melodious and a manner ungraceful, and barely able to speak plain sense in still plainer language, he nevertheless exercised in the Rouse of Commons an influence, and even a dominion, greater than Pitt the father, Pitt the son, Canning or Castlereagjh, and did more to extend tbp Empire Beyond the seas than any statcs- man of the century. "Suddenly, while at the zenith of his power, he became attacked by a virulent disease, which within a week proved fatal. England still mor.rns his death, and will continue to do so for a long time to come. "And to-day I have, by merest chance, discovered a mcst romantic and remark- able circumstance—one that has held me completely astounded, and staggers belief. "Sworn to secrecy, I am penning this record to be attached to my will, in order that you, my executors, alone shall learn the remarkable truth, which I desire and direct shall remain undisclosed for at least ten years after my death, when it may be published in whatever manner you may think most fitting. "My bewildering discovery was made in the following circumstances: This afternoon, at three o'clock, I called at a house, No. 78, Charlwood Street, Pimlico, there to consult a certain gentleman named Richard Goodrick, a retired school- master, whose hobby is the collection of curios. I was, unfortunately, by no means a welcome guest, though we had been friends through many years. I went there with a distinct, yet most unusual, object, for I carried with me negotiable securities to the value of fifty thousand pounds, ready to hand to him in exchange for a certain secret which he held. My negotia- tions were, alas! unsuccessful. The old gentleman's anger was aroused, and- There the uneven manuscript ended. That was all. In the act of penning that last sen- tence the writer had been struck down. The Chief had been looking over the de- tective's shoulder ss he read. "It is a mysterious and tantalising record, to say the least," he said. "And the mcrre extraordinary now that the man he visited to-day—the man with the secret—has also been assassinated." "Well, the statesman, whoever he was, who di-ecl eighteen years ago, could have had no hand in the affair-that's very clear. He can't concern us," declared Medland. "Somebody else wanted to learn the secret of this old man Goodrick—that's very evi- dent." It was still dark as the car approached Victoria Station, and, turning up Vauxhall Bridge Road, pulled up before the house in Charlwood Street. Wagner opened the door, and as the in- spector entered said in a voice of suppressed excitement; "There's a very strange mystery here, sir. We knocked the people up-a Mr. and Mrs. Ayres. who are the occupiers—and they told us that their lodger, an old gentleman named Goodrick, had gone out about six o'clock last night and had not returned. In face of your orders, we were not satisfied, so we asked to see his rooms—and we found him dead in the sitting-room yonder." The trio passed along the narrow passage, where, at the foot of the stairs, stood the frightened landlady and her husband. "We 'àd no idea 'e'd come in!" exclaimed the white-faced woman. "We didn't, 'ear 'im, though we left the door on the latch at half-past twelve, in case 'e came in. My 'usband and I listened, but we 'eard nothing." "No sound at all?" asked Midland quickly. "None—till the police banged at the front door and woke us up with a start. They gave us a terrible turn, I can tell you." Medland grunted, and followed Wagner into the stuffy little room heaped with curios, where the flaring gas-jet revealed the body of Richard Goodrick lying near the fire- place, crouched with his knees to his chin, quite dead. "We've found no weapon-onlv this," ex- claimed Wagner, handing his Chief an old flint-lock horse-pistol, "and it hasn't been fired for years." "Didn't you hear any sound?" asked Med- land of Mrs. Ayres, for it seemed incredible. "Well, sir, I did 'ear a sound in the night, but I thought it were somcthink out in the street. It must 'ave been the street- door. "What time was it, do you think?" "Well, as far as I can guess, it must 'ave been nearly three o'clock. I recollect a 'earing Big Ben a-chiming the three-quarters past two. It was soon after that." "Mrs. Ayres," exclaimed Medland, "did your lodger have a visitor yesterday after- noon—a well-dressed man with a rather red, pi nply face? "Yes, sir. 'E stayed about an 'our and a 'all', and they were shut in together a-talkin' business. "Had you ever seen that gentleman be- fore? "Never, sir, to my knowledge. Mr. Good- rick seldom, if ever, 'ad any visitors." "Who were the persons who visited him? "Well, sir, there was my brother-in-law, Tom Maguire, who lives out at Ealin', and old Mr. Mellini, the Italian priest, who lives up Denbigh Street. They were 'is two closest friends. 'E was a very reserved man, as you might say. 'E never spoke of 'is business or affairs to anybody." "Well, Mrs. Ayres," said the detective calmly. "It's quite plain that your lodgor has been murdered. Somebody crept behind him and struck him with some sharp instru- ment which had been poisoned." "But who could have done it?" asked her bewildered husband, a. thin, insignificant little man with a large grey moustache. "Somebody who had a grudge against him, I should fancy," replied MedLand. "You say he was a rather quarrelsome man. Did he keep any money here? If so, robbery might have been a motive," he added, recol- lecting the fifty thousand pounds mentioned by Sir George. "I don't think 'e ever kept much 'ere," was the good woman's reply. 'E always paid 'is bill regularly, but 'e wasn't too flush o' funds, 'E spent it all on 'is curiosi- ties. Soiivetimes 'e went away for days 'an dave." "He bought all these antiques?" re- marked the detective. "He must have had money to do so. We'll have to search the place," he added, gazing around in bewil- derment upon the hopeless chaos. The doctor-the same divisional surgeon who had earlier in the night been called to Carlton House Terrace, summoned by tele- phone—arrived, and made an examination of the dead man. Life had been extinct about three hours, as far as he could judge. In the nape of the neck, just among the short hair, was a tiny puncture, exactly aa in the, case of Sir George Ravenscourt. "This Mr. Mellini! Did he visit him frequently?" asked Medland of Mrs. Ayres. "Not very often, sir.. 'E was 'ere about three days ago," was the woman's reply. "Mr. Goodrick called 'im Don Mario." The detectives examined the lock of the front door, but found no trace of its having been tampered with. "The assassin must have entered with a key," remarked Medland. "Or perhaps the guilty person might have been in here when the victim came in," remarked the doctor. "Possibly," said Medland. "Yet the chief mystery is the connecting link between this tragedy and the death of Sir George Ravenscourt. Was the asswin one and the  4ame person?" "Fm inclined to suspect so," remarked the Chief. "Why should Sir George desire that record to be destroyed—unless he feared some evil result?" "What evil result could he feir?" asked Medland. Save that in the terror of his dying moments he did not recollect how much he had written, or the exact extent of the truth which the record contained." "There was evidently some great mystery surrounding this man," the Chief said, pointing to the rigid body. "When you have cleared that up, Medland, the rest should not be difficult. The priest Don' Mario should be seen." "I quite agree," replied the detective, his eyes searching around the narrow, over- crowded room. There's some very remark- able connection between the two crimes. If we are to be successful no word of what has really happened must transpire to the Press. "Exactly. You must arrange that at the coroner's court it must appear a case of suicide. Understand," the other said, turn- ing to the landlady and her husband, "Mr. Goodrick swallowed poison. That is the report we shall give to the world. If the reporters ask you anything, just tell them that it was a clear case of suicide. Then leave the rest to us." "Very well, sir," was Mrs. Ayres' re- sponse. "We'll do exactly as you say, sir. But it wasn't suicide at all." "Of course not. But in order to evado our inquisitive friends of the Press that is the verdict which must be given before the coroner. It will clear the ground for In- spector Medland and his officers. We must find the assassin at all costs. I CHAPTER IV. I YET ANOTHER PROBLEM. Expert detectives that they were, they went to work quietly and methodically, Medland taking charge of the inquiry and directing operations. The body of Goodrick was conveyed up- stairs to the narrow back bedroom and laid upon the bed covered with a sheet, a grim object in the cold grey dawn. Below, the police oiffcers rummaged the littered sitting-room to see if there were any papers which might reveal anything concerning the dead man's friends. Wagner and his colleagues turned over the miscel- laneous pile of antiques of all sorts, from bits of moth-eaten tapestry to fine but tarnished objects in old silver, chalices, cups, reliquaries, and the rest. Coloured prints of value, parchment rolls with big seals attached, old maps and other docu- ments lay about, while upon antique furni- ture, moth-eaten and shabby, were piled pictures, china and bric-a-brac of all de- scriptions, sufficient to stock a fair-sized shop. 'E never went out but what 'e brought 'ome somethink for me to clean up and polish," Mrs. Ayers declared. 'E used to give ridiculous prices for them bits of old cracked china and rusty swords an', daggers an' things. Why, 'e'd think nothink of givin' ten or fifteen. pounds for one o' them old books over there. Sheer madness, I call it!" Wagner remarked that the old fellow seemed to buy anything, whether complete or not, as he held up the centre of the old Sheffield plate candelabra. Then, ignorant that within its fluted column reposed one of Richard Goodrich's greatest treasures, he cast it aside as rubbish. Just after half-past eight there came a sharp ring at the hall door, and a telegraph boy handed in a reply-paid message ad- dressed to the dead man. Medland opened it eagerly and found that it had been dispatched from the Charing Cross office at 7.25, and read "Appeal to you most earnestly to re- consider your decision. When and where can you meet me this evening? I do not wish to re-visit Charlwood Street. "RAVENSCOURT." "Why!" cried the inspector, "here is Sir George, who is dead, telegraphing to his dead friend. I must go at once to the telegraph office and see the original of this message. A dead man has asked for a reply from the dead!" Entering the car again with the Chief, he drove rapidly along Victoria Street and Whitehall, and was quickly in conversation with the clerk who had received the mys- terious message. "A youth about nineteen handed it in," said the clerk. "He was a tall, slim, clean- shaven young man in a dark blue suit." That was all the information the inspector could gather. Therefore, re-entering the car, he called at the house of mourning in Carlton House Terrace, and showed the original of the telegram to Lady Ravens- court, who, terribly broken down, was un- decided whether it was in herhusband's handwriting. The only explanation was that Sir George must have written the message overnight and given it to someone to take to the Charing Cross office. The person in ques- tion had failed to do so until this morning. After consultation with the two police officers on duty at the house, the inspector returned to Scotland Yard, where he dropped his chief and then went to Don Mario's address in Denbigh Street, only to find that be had left his lodgings about ten days before. Mr. Goodrick had called one morning, and soon afterwards the lodger had paid his bill and left. Wagner, his face and hands dirty and his clothes covered with the dust of years, was still busy turning over the miscellaneous i collection of odds and ends. Medland was much puzzled. He could see no connection between the tragedy in society and the one out of it. And yet there was, lie felt, some strange and re- markable connection. It seemed as though the assassin, having killed Sir George, had walked boldly and deliberately out of the house, slamming the door after him, and had then gone to Charlwood Street and there committed the second crime. The police surgeon had, during Medland's absence, made a further examination of the bodv udstairs. and now, on his return, de- scended, and in an eager, strained voice, called him aside. "There's some great mystery surrounding the deceased," he said excitedly. "While I was making an examination I discovered a very significant fact—that his beard is a false one Medland went upstairs and gazed upon the dead white face, now devoid of beard. Then he sought Mrs. Ayres, who was in the regions below. "Lor' bless yer, sir; we knowed that," she laughed. "Mr. Goodrick's wore & false beard theso past six years. 'E was very p iiud of 'is beard, but one day, when 'e wor reading with a lamp 'e upset it, an' all 'is whiskers got singed' off. So 'e went to a wig-makers an' got a new 'un. 'E didn't like to be seen without 'is beard, for 'e was very peculiar like. Sometimes 'e'd alter 'ie features with paint and things." "Then he always wore his false beard?" "Always, sir. I never saw 'im without ft." Medland was a very experienced officer, who had successfully conducted many- very intricate cases, but none, he admitted within himself, had been so full of curious features as the present. He noted many small points which his assistant had overlooked. (To be Continued).

[No title]



[No title]

11111 liiii liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiill…

[No title]

I ;. ¡! [! 1 ¡¡ I!I ¡!II I…