Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

8 erthygl ar y dudalen hon

, g:nnn!n!n?nnn!n!nnntnnns!n?nun!nnnHnnnnnnnnnnHn!n!nnHn!!n?…


g:nnn!n!n?nnn!n!nnntnnns!n?nun!nnnHnnnnnnnnnnHn!n!nnHn!!n? SS ?Ai? Rie?T* Rttttv?Bj S? = a I FATAL FINGERS =  By WILLIAM LE QUEUX, 5 = By WILLIAM LE QUEUX, a Author of The Money Spider," The Riddle of the Ring," &o. 5; /mIlII!JUIIllli Ii I ii I :Hnll HUUUH:1UI1: 1! IIUIJ:IIIIUilniiUIIH I :IIHIIIIIUUIIIIIU:1n; CHAPTER XVIII. (Continued). I THE MARBLE PACE. I The man concealed in the shadow regarded them idly; but suddenly it seemed as though in their backs he recognised some- thing familiar, for he bent forward, half- r ising from his seat, eager and uncertain. The pair had halted before the statue of the Earl of Ellersdale, and the girl was bending forward as she read the inscription. Then. looking up at it, she stood for a few moments quite motionless. The man was speaking—whispering rapid questions into her ear. But she neither re- sponded nor did she budge. It seemed as though the marble features of the illustrious deceased held her in strange fascination. Both their backs were turned to the silent, unseen watcher, and at that distafice in the falling gloom it had become difficult to dis- tinguish detail. He saw, however, that the man placed his hand upon the girl's arm, and, pointing up- wards, asked her something. She replied, "whereupon the man slowly nodded. Then the girl, suddenly turning her face from the life-like sculptured features, ad- dressed come quick questions to her com- panion. to which he made reply. For a few moments the pair. stood, their backs still turned, both their faces raised in eagerness to tl'3 marble effigy standing forth whit-c and ghostly in the dim, religious gloom. 0 The quick action of "Old Chestnut" was curious. He had swiftly withdrawn deeper -into the shadow beside the door, back into a niche near an old sixteenth century tomb, where he had hoped to escape observation. Sight of the strangers had startled him. His thin lips were pressed together as he stood staring at them, almost terrified, for they had both turned to retrace their steps slowly to the door. Then he turned his back, and became interested in the crumbling old tomb. His suspicions had become confirmed. He stood aghast. The serious, earnest girl who had been there to inspect the statue of the late Earl of EUersdale so closely was none other than Maidee Lambton, while her companion was Detective-Inspector Medland The pair. walking together and conversing in low whispers, passed close by the pale- faced. anxious old man, who in the gloom had his back still turned to them, and then went out again into the noise and bustle of Parliament Square. And the weird and silent watcher, gazing at the closed door after they had disap- peared. stood with a look of abject terror upon his white, haggard countenance. "Then my secret is out!" he whispered hoarsely to himself. "They know the truth I" CHAPTER XIX. MORE ABOUT JOHN AMBROSE. Just after seven o'clock that evening the man Tulloch re-appeared unexpectedly at Bruton Street. He had been down at Brighton for the past few days, he told Gordon, as he stood with him in that dim Oriental room. He had telephoned to him at the House, and the young man had rushed home. Well?" he inquired, "have you dis- covered anything, Tulluch? "Not yet." Gordon sighed disappointedly. This man of secrets constantly appeared and dis- appeared, yet his story was ever the same. He could discover nothing concerning the strange threat—or its author. "Every day increases my peril, Tulloch," declared the young man, glancing to see if the door were closed. "Only last night Maidee was asking me why, now that I am right again, I do not put the question in the House." "Don't," urged his visitor, glancing at him narrowly. "I somehow don't like that mysterious note you received. Whoever wrote it means mischief." "Neither do 1. We're fighting in the dark." "That's just it," remarked Tulloch. "And another contretemps has happened. Yester- day while walking along the King's Itoad at Brighton I met a man who recognised me. Like you, he believed me to be dead. My appearance caused him a terrible shock, I can tell vou. And-" "And what?" "Well. There are reasons, Gordon, why I should leave the country at once. I expect by this time lie has gone to the police and told them an amazing story of a dead man being alive." beip,g ,ave the country-and leave me?" gapped the young man in dismay. "I'm sorry that I must. I'm compelled to go as soon as ever I can, for—well, the fact is the little affair is so serious that I'm un- able to stay and face the music. Therefore I shall go back again—to my tomb in Italy." "But without you, Tulloch, I can do nothing. Ruin—nay, death-slares me in the face! Somebody knows my secret, and should be silenced—by fair means or by foul." The elder man, smart and spruce as usual, slowly nodded. Then he said: "To save myself I must fly. As you know, I haven't exactly a clean sheet," he laughed a trifle nervously. "I sailed near the wind in the City once or twice, and some people han-ell, t forgotten it." "And how do you manage to live now, Tulloch?" asked his friend. "Well," he hesitated; "in a certain set on, the Continent there are various ways of' earning a living which, if not cxactly honest, are scarcely criminal. One meets many pigeons to pluck in Paris, Vienna, or Rome." "Yours is not exactly an exemplary life, Tulloch, is it?" remarked Gordon. "Have a cigar ? The other man took the weed offered him and lit it, while the young man lying back upon a lounge wondered how he should act. "Well, Tulloch, what shall I do?" he asked at length, "suggest something." "I could suggest lots, if it were not for Maidee. She's the most difficult problem," said Tulloch. "While you don't put that question she will still remain suspicious that you are in possession of some facts which ought to be revealed." "You compelled me to put the query to the Home Secretary." "Yes, I did. I admit that I made a great mistake. Yet had you not put the question, the consequences might have been much worse," he said slowly. "How?" asked the young man instantly. 8C1 don't follow you." "I merely say that by putting the ques- tion you misled certain other people who were ready to think evil of you, Gordon. So congratulate yourself that though I may lave acted foolishly in compelling you to demand the truth from Scotland Yard, yet by so doing you saved yourself." "But I have not saved myself. Remem- ber that threat! he cried. "While you do not repeat the question, the mysterious person who threatened will say nothing." "Why ? < "Ah! that I can't tell, my dear fellow. It Is the motive' I've been trying to discover. If I found that, the rest would have been quite easy. The worst is, however, that I have to clear out of the country in order to save myself." "When do you go?" "As soon as ever I can. If there is any inquiry for me after I have gone, tell Newton not to admit that I have ever visited you. I am dead as far as you know—under- stand? "Quite," replied Gordon, with failing heart. While he had this clever, unscrupu- lous man at his hide, he somehow felt pro- tected from his enemies. But now he would be left to fight alone. Tulloch had not sat down, for he was in a hurry. He stood near the fire, smoking the excellent cigar, his eyes fixed upon the young man before him. Then at last he put forth his hand, say- ing: "Well, my dear boy, I must wish you au revoir. When the coast is clear I shall turn up again—never fear." "I may be dead," remarked Gordon in a half-whisper. "Dead-rot! "I can't endure this suspense much longer, Tulloch," he said in a low, hoarse voice. "You say Maidee suspects?". "Pair, and go abroad for a month or so. Plead illness and you'll get a respite from Maidee. Act with caution, and at the same time remain bold. Don't go about wearing that wretched, worried look. It will give you away, if you're not careful. Chin-chin, my bov-and the best of good luck." Then he gripped the young man's hand and went forth, leaving him seated motion- less in despair. As he passed from Bruton Street into Piccadilly Don Mario Mellini joined him, and together they walked westward along by -the park railings, deep in earnest conversa- tion. At nine o'clock Maidee, pleading a head- ache, had gone to her room, but instead of retiring had hastily exchanged her black dinner-gown for a dark stuff dress, and was in the act of tying her veil prior to going forth upon one of those clandestine excur- sions to "Uncle John," when Rayner, her discreet maid, knocked lightly and entered with a note. I "This has just come by boy-mesenger, miss," she said as she handed Maidee the note. "He said there was no answer." The girl took it, and in an instant recog- nised the handwriting of the superscription. Tearing it open with trembling fingers she read it, and then stood aghast. Her hands fell limply by her side, and she stared straight before her. "I hope nothing is wrong, miss," the maid said, alarmed at the sudden change in her. "Oil, no! Rayner," Maidee managed to say, "nothing at all—at least, really no- thing," and she tried to smile. But it was a sorry attempt. The news had utterly crushed her. She had just been about to go to Uncle Joilii and put to him a few pointed ques- tions questions arising out of certain etrange things which Medland had told he: that afternoon—when this note informed he: that he had been suddenly called away int- the country for a short time. "I will let you know where I am, a: Boon as I have a permanent address," hi wrote. In tho meantime bo wary an watchful. Remember our compact. Act ing together, we must discover the truth Though absent, I shall have constant new, of you through a third party. All gooC, wishes, and hoping soon to see you again —Your UNCLE JOHN." When the maid had gone out to attend to Lady Ravenscourt the girl sank into a chair and sat wondering. Some curious questions she had beer wnxious to put to the old man. Yet at the very moment when she was about to visit him he had been called away. Tliat day had, indeed, been an eventfui one for Maidee. What the detective had hinted had astounded her. Again her sus- picions had been aroused, and at eight Vclock she had telephoned to Gordon to call at once, as she wished to consult him. But Newton replied that his master had left for Reading, where, he had to deliver a politicaJ !peech that evening. As for old John Ambrose, he returned from Bruton Street about half-^ast seven to Wansey Street, and, having- ascertained that his landlady was in the basement he slipped in unobserved by means of his latch- key. Standing before the glass overmantel in the shabby sitting-room he rapid-ly trans- formed his features by removing various marks and adding others. Then he threw off his overcoat, and ascending to his bed- room exchanged his clothes for a suit of dark blue serge, the pea-jacket of which gave him almost a nautical appearance. As the reader may have guessed, it was Ve who, decrepit and shabby, had lingered in Westminster Abbey for so many hours— Ae who was known to the vergers as "Old Chestnut." Aboiat eix o'clock he had returned and, entering unobserved by the front door, as was his habit, changed his clothes, and in a few minutes had gone forth again as Mr. Tulloch. His change of garb never troubled him much, for the majority of landladies put his various modes of dress down to his eccentricity. When they became curious, he simply moved to other apartments. In that one day he had played three roles, and played them with such success that, as in his narrow bedroom he once again becaihe John Ambrose, he chuckled to hi &elf tn triumph. "It was fortunate that I went to the Abbey to-day—very fortunate. Or I might have remained here and been faced by tho girl-which would have been decidedly awk- ward Then, with a self-satisfied grin upon his face, the crafty old fellow busied himself in gathering up his small belongings and throwing them into an old and battered travelling trunk. From his sitting-room he got an armful of books and other things and carried them ul-wt-a Irs, afterwards care- fully collecting his various clothes, which he placed on top, and locked the lid. Afterwards he wrote upon a luggage label "John Ambrose, Totnes Station, G.W.R. To be called for," and tied it upon the handle. In a small hand-bag he plaoed his false white beard, his spectacles, and a few other mysteries of his disguises, while from beneath the carpet in his bedroom, near tho window, he took a flat envelope filled with English bank-notes. Then he descended to his sittiBg-room, called his landlady, paid her a month's rent, which greatly pleased the good woman, and, asked her to give the box over to a railway carman on the morrow. "I'm called away on business suddenly," he explained to her. "I only knew an hour ago. Probably I shall be back in April, and if so I shall return to yon." When she had gone he paced the room several times. There was nothing more to be done. He bad already ,written to Maidee. He had only now to make good his escape. So, shouting farewell to the woman, who had returned to the regions below, he put I on a thick dark grey ulster, &hd left th: house with his hand-bag, -walking to the corner of the Walworth Road, where he J hailed a passing. cab, in which he drove a.way. & l'A few hours!" he exclaimed, speaking to himself, "will carry me into safety. I've had a narrow squeak of it-a devilish narrow squeak. And even now it will re- quire all my wits if I am to avoid exposure. But for the present, I am surely quite safe." And he .laughed again in complete satis- faction. He, however, was in ignorance that ever since seven o'clock, in that deep doorway opposite the house in Wansey Street, the dark figure of a. man had been lurking, wary and vigilant, as he had watched before, or that on his emerging the man, with evil in his deep-set eyes, had stolen ewiftly after him and entered a taxi-cab waiting round the corner. And that taxi was now slowly following the four-wheeler in which the fugitive eat. CHAPTER XX. I REVEALS TREACHERY. I Having crossed Westminster Bridge and traversed Victoria Street, the cab halted at the Brighton Station at Victoria, where old Ambrose alighted, his small bag in hand. Hardly had he paid the driver when a taxi drew up a little distance away, and a thin, wiry, elderly man with deep-set eytes and a yellow complexion, and dressed in dark clothes, got out and walked into the booking-hall, closely following John Am- brose. It was Don Mario Mellini-the friend of the dead Richard Goodrick. Ambrose went to the booking-office and obtained a second-class ticket to Hay ward's Heath. Afterwards he made inquiry regard- ing the trains, and finding he had half-an- hour to wait he bought an evening paper and stood near the cloak-room leisurely reading it. At some distance away'the man who was watching while pretending to be interested in the bookstall, kept his quarry under strict observation, having tlrcady ascer- tained which ttttin he was about to take and his destination. As usual, there was much noise, bustle, and confusion, for trains were- arriving and departing every few minutes, and in order to avoid the stream of peoplo old Ambrose moved (further towards the refreshment-room. Of a sudden he apparently made up -his mind to enter there and wait, so he turned and disappeared within the door. Swift as lightning the mysterious watcher hurried across and looked into the bar. But Ambrose was not there! The man entered and looked around, utterly confounded. Not until a few minutes later did- he realise that the cunning old gentleman had played a trick upon him. He had entered the next door leading into the Grosvenor Hotel, passed through the hall and out 4nto the darkness of the Grosvenor Road. Ere the man who had been keeping such strict observation could realise the truth, th? old fellow had crossed the road and waa lost in the night. N Not before three minutes had elapsed did the priest enter the hotel breathlessly, and make inquiry of the hall porter. "Yes," replied the latter, "an old gentle- man walkei tllrou-Ii a minute or two ago. • He isn't stopping at the hotel, I think." "Perhaps he took a cab outside," said the yellow-faced man. But the outside porter declared that he had not. The old fellow, carrying, his. bag, had simply walked out in the direction of Buckingham Palace Road. The priest was beside himself with chagrin, for the action of Ambrose told him that he had suspected the presence of a watcher. For half-an-hour he continued to make inquiries, and ho was present when the train left for Hayward's Heath. When it moved out without the old man h3 cried aloud in Italian: "Madonna mia! I ought to have known that it was only a ruse—that the old black- guard is as artful as Satan himself!" Truth to toll, however, old Ambrose was quite unaware of being watched. He had simply adopted that course in order that, if anybody should discover him, they would be thrown off the scent. He was far- too wary to go straight into hiding and thus leave a trail behind. So he had just slipped through the hotel and down the steps. Th-sn crossing the road sv/iftly he had gape up Ebury Street, and walking until he found a. taxi, had driven to Liverpool Street Station, arriving there at about a quarter to nine. There he bought a first-class ticket to Brussels, and, entering the Continental train, got safely away down to Parkcston. The night was dark and wet, with the wind howling dismally, when lie, with a email crowd of follow-passengers, stapp-ed upon the quay and made his way towards the Antwerp boat lying alongside. One by one the passengers for the Conti net went up the gangway, and Ambrose, without fear of recognition, gained the steamer's deck, and at once sought the steward for a berth. He was unaware that a" dark-eyed man, dressed in semi-nautical uniform,, standing near the gangway, was watching, as he does every night, each departing passenger as he or she came up from the quay beneath the glare of the electric lamp on .j!eck. And he, the port-watcher of the police, suddenly be- came interested in the old fellow. He left his coign of vantage, and strolling across the deck rn.unagcd to get a good look at his prominent, clean-shaven features. "Isn't M enough," lie remarked to him- self, "and yet the description tallies." Then he turned and made his way quickly ashore and to the telephone. Without much delay he was on to London, asking for in- structions. But what he received was apparently not very definite, for presently he hung up the receiver, and on coming out of the telephone-box walked across to his own little office, which lie unlocked. Then switching on the light he drew out a large photograph album, in which were preserved portraits of many hundreds of persons who had absconded and were wanted by the police in various towns in England for all sorts of offences, from the non-payment of income-tax to murder. He ran rapidly through them, but found nothing which tallied with the person he suspected- For a few moments he stood puzzled. Out- side, the mails and luggage were be1) car- ried on board, and in ten minutfcs the steamer would leave. So again he returned on board; and ob- tained another good look at the fugitive, who, however, displayed no sign of anxiety. Indeed, he was standing in the salopn taping a glass of whisky and soda and changing a ifve-pound note with the steward into Bel- gian money. The detective went up to the steward and ordered a drink. Then, while taking it, he remarked to Ambrose: "Rather rough night outside, I'm afraid." "I believe so," replied the old man, speak- ing with a very pronounced Italian accent. "But these steamers are very good sea- boats." The man in semi-nautical attire drained his glass, and, wishing the traveller good night, ascended to the deck again, cursing himself as a fool. "The man wanted is an Englishman— whereas he is a foreigner," he said aloud to himself as he walked towards the gangway. "And yet there is a likeness, I'm sure—a very striking likeness. I recollect now that [ left the photograph in my other pocket at home. I was wearing my grey coat this morning when I received it from London." He stood on deck undecided. There was no time for him to go to his home over in Harwicn. Again, the fact that the man he suspected was a foreigner was not convinc- ing. The siren shrieked, announcing the sailing of the ship. Porters and others were going ashore, and the men were ready to withdraw the gangway and cast off. (To W Continued).




?ilininiffif filiffilillifillilillililli…

[No title]

f ^lfllli!nmiiUl!ll!!II!iiilllHllimil!I!lllll…

[No title]