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In the Fog (1901)
Richard Harding Davis


The Grill is the club most difficult of access in the world. To be
placed on its rolls distinguishes the new member as greatly as though
he had received a vacant Garter or had been caricatured in "Vanity

Men who belong to the Grill Club never mention that fact. If you were
to ask one of them which clubs he frequents, he will name all save
that particular one. He is afraid if he told you he belonged to the
Grill, that it would sound like boasting.

The Grill Club dates back to the days when Shakespeare's Theatre stood
on the present site of the "Times" office. It has a golden Grill which
Charles the Second presented to the Club, and the original manuscript
of "Tom and Jerry in London," which was bequeathed to it by Pierce
Egan himself. The members, when they write letters at the Club, still
use sand to blot the ink.

The Grill enjoys the distinction of having blackballed, without
political prejudice, a Prime Minister of each party. At the same
sitting at which one of these fell, it elected, on account of his
brogue and his bulls, Quiller, Q. C., who was then a penniless

When Paul Preval, the French artist who came to London by royal
command to paint a portrait of the Prince of Wales, was made an
honorary member--only foreigners may be honorary members--he said,
as he signed his first wine card, "I would rather see my name on that,
than on a picture in the Louvre."

At which. Quiller remarked, "That is a devil of a compliment, because
the only men who can read their names in the Louvre to-day have been
dead fifty years."

On the night after the great fog of 1897, there were five members in
the Club, four of them busy with supper and one reading in front of
the fireplace. There is only one room to the Club, and one long table.
At the far end of the room the fire of the grill glows red, and, when
the fat falls, blazes into flame, and at the other there is a broad
bow window of diamond panes, which looks down upon the street. The
four men at the table were strangers to each other, but as they picked
at the grilled bones, and sipped their Scotch and soda, they conversed
with such charming animation that a visitor to the Club, which does
not tolerate visitors, would have counted them as friends of long
acquaintance, certainly not as Englishmen who had met for the first
time, and without the form of an introduction. But it is the etiquette
and tradition of the Grill, that whoever enters it must speak with
whomever he finds there. It is to enforce this rule that there is but
one long table, and whether there are twenty men at it or two, the
waiters, supporting the rule, will place them side by side.

For this reason the four strangers at supper were seated together,
with the candles grouped about them, and the long length of the table
cutting a white path through the outer gloom.

"I repeat," said the gentleman with the black pearl stud, "that the
days for romantic adventure and deeds of foolish daring have passed,
and that the fault lies with ourselves. Voyages to the pole I do not
catalogue as adventures. That African explorer, young Chetney, who
turned up yesterday after he was supposed to have died in Uganda, did
nothing adventurous.  He made maps and explored the sources of rivers.
He was in constant danger, but the presence of danger does not
constitute adventure. Were that so, the chemist who studies high
explosives, or who investigates deadly poisons, passes through
adventures daily. No, 'adventures are for the adventurous.' But one no
longer ventures. The spirit of it has died of inertia. We are grown
too practical, too just, above all, too sensible. In this room, for
instance, members of this Club have, at the sword's point, disputed
the proper scanning of one of Pope's couplets.  Over so weighty a
matter as spilled Burgundy on a gentleman's cuff, ten men fought
across this table, each with his rapier in one hand and a candle in
the other. All ten were wounded. The question of the spilled Burgundy
concerned but two of them. The eight others engaged because they were
men of 'spirit.' They were, indeed, the first gentlemen of the day.
To-night, were you to spill Burgundy on my cuff, were you even to
insult me grossly, these gentlemen would not consider it incumbent
upon them to kill each other. They would separate us, and to-morrow
morning appear as witnesses against us at Bow Street. We have here
to-night, in the persons of Sir Andrew and myself, an illustration of
how the ways have changed."

The men around the table turned and glanced toward the gentleman in
front of the fireplace. He was an elderly and somewhat portly person,
with a kindly, wrinkled countenance, which wore continually a smile of
almost childish confidence and good-nature. It was a face which the
illustrated prints had made intimately familiar. He held a book from
him at arm's-length, as if to adjust his eyesight, and his brows were
knit with interest.

"Now, were this the eighteenth century," continued the gentleman with
the black pearl, "when Sir Andrew left the Club to-night I would have
him bound and gagged and thrown into a sedan chair. The watch would
not interfere, the passers-by would take to their heels, my hired
bullies and ruffians would convey him to some lonely spot where we
would guard him until morning. Nothing would come of it, except added
reputation to myself as a gentleman of adventurous spirit, and
possibly an essay in the 'Tatler,' with stars for names, entitled, let
us say, 'The Budget and the Baronet.'"

"But to what end, sir?" inquired the youngest of the members. "And why
Sir Andrew, of all persons--why should you select him for this

The gentleman with the black pearl shrugged his shoulders.

"It would prevent him speaking in the House to-night. The Navy
Increase Bill," he added gloomily. "It is a Government measure, and
Sir Andrew speaks for it. And so great is his influence and so large
his following that if he does"--the gentleman laughed ruefully--"if he
does, it will go through. Now, had I the spirit of our ancestors," he
exclaimed, "I would bring chloroform from the nearest chemist's and
drug him in that chair. I would tumble his unconscious form into a
hansom cab, and hold him prisoner until daylight. If I did, I would
save the British taxpayer the cost of five more battleships, many
millions of pounds."

The gentlemen again turned, and surveyed the Baronet with freshened
interest. The honorary member of the Grill, whose accent already had
betrayed him as an American, laughed softly.

"To look at him now," he said, "one would not guess he was deeply
concerned with the affairs of state."

The others nodded silently.

"He has not lifted his eyes from that book since we first entered,"
added the youngest member. "He surely cannot mean to speak to-night."

"Oh, yes, he will speak," muttered the one with the black pearl
moodily.  "During these last hours of the session the House sits late,
but when the Navy bill comes up on its third reading he will be in his
place--and he will pass it."

The fourth member, a stout and florid gentleman of a somewhat sporting
appearance, in a short smoking-jacket and black tie, sighed enviously.

"Fancy one of us being as cool as that, if he knew he had to stand up
within an hour and rattle off a speech in Parliament. I'd be in a
devil of a funk myself. And yet he is as keen over that book he's
reading as though he had nothing before him until bedtime."

"Yes, see how eager he is," whispered the youngest member. "He does
not lift his eyes even now when he cuts the pages. It is probably an
Admiralty Report, or some other weighty work of statistics which bears
upon his speech."

The gentleman with the black pearl laughed morosely.

"The weighty work in which the eminent statesman is so deeply
engrossed," he said, "is called 'The Great Rand Robbery.' It is a
detective novel, for sale at all bookstalls."

The American raised his eyebrows in disbelief.

"'The Great Rand Robbery'?" he repeated incredulously. "What an odd

"It is not a taste, it is his vice," returned the gentleman with the
pearl stud. "It is his one dissipation. He is noted for it. You, as a
stranger, could hardly be expected to know of this idiosyncrasy. Mr.
Gladstone sought relaxation in the Greek poets, Sir Andrew finds his
in Gaboriau. Since I have been a member of Parliament I have never
seen him in the library without a shilling shocker in his hands. He
brings them even into the sacred precincts of the House, and from the
Government benches reads them concealed inside his hat. Once started
on a tale of murder, robbery, and sudden death, nothing can tear him
from it, not even the call of the division bell, nor of hunger, nor
the prayers of the party Whip. He gave up his country house because
when he journeyed to it in the train he would become so absorbed in
his detective stories that he was invariably carried past his
station." The member of Parliament twisted his pearl stud nervously,
and bit at the edge of his mustache. "If it only were the first pages
of 'The Rand Robbery' that he were reading," he murmured bitterly,
"instead of the last! With such another book as that, I swear I could
hold him here until morning. There would be no need of chloroform to
keep him from the House."

The eyes of all were fastened upon Sir Andrew, and each saw with
fascination that with his forefinger he was now separating the last
two pages of the book. The member of Parliament struck the table
softly with his open palm.

"I would give a hundred pounds," he whispered, "if I could place in
his hands at this moment a new story of Sherlock Holmes--a thousand
pounds," he added wildly--"five thousand pounds!"

The American observed the speaker sharply, as though the words bore to
him some special application, and then at an idea which apparently had
but just come to him, smiled in great embarrassment.

Sir Andrew ceased reading, but, as though still under the influence of
the book, sat looking blankly into the open fire. For a brief space
no one moved until the Baronet withdrew his eyes and, with a sudden
start of recollection, felt anxiously for his watch. He scanned its
face eagerly, and scrambled to his feet.

The voice of the American instantly broke the silence in a high,
nervous accent.

"And yet Sherlock Holmes himself," he cried, "could not decipher the
mystery which to-night baffles the police of London."

At these unexpected words, which carried in them something of the tone
of a challenge, the gentlemen about the table started as suddenly as
though the American had fired a pistol in the air, and Sir Andrew
halted abruptly and stood observing him with grave surprise.

The gentleman with the black pearl was the first to recover.

"Yes, yes," he said eagerly, throwing himself across the table. "A
mystery that baffles the police of London.

"I have heard nothing of it. Tell us at once, pray do--tell us at

The American flushed uncomfortably, and picked uneasily at the

"No one but the police has heard of it," he murmured, "and they only
through me. It is a remarkable crime, to, which, unfortunately, I am
the only person who can bear witness. Because I am the only witness, I
am, in spite of my immunity as a diplomat, detained in London by the
authorities of Scotland Yard. My name," he said, inclining his head
politely, "is Sears, Lieutenant Ripley Sears of the United States
Navy, at present Naval Attache to the Court of Russia. Had I not been
detained to-day by the police I would have started this morning for

The gentleman with the black pearl interrupted with so pronounced an
exclamation of excitement and delight that the American stammered and
ceased speaking.

"Do you hear, Sir Andrew!" cried the member of Parliament jubilantly.
"An American diplomat halted by our police because he is the only
witness of a most remarkable crime--_the_ most remarkable crime, I
believe you said, sir," he added, bending eagerly toward the naval
officer, "which has occurred in London in many years."

The American moved his head in assent and glanced at the two other
members. They were looking doubtfully at him, and the face of each
showed that he was greatly perplexed.

Sir Andrew advanced to within the light of the candles and drew a
chair toward him.

"The crime must be exceptional indeed," he said, "to justify the
police in interfering with a representative of a friendly power. If I
were not forced to leave at once, I should take the liberty of asking
you to tell us the details."

The gentleman with the pearl pushed the chair toward Sir Andrew, and
motioned him to be seated.

"You cannot leave us now," he exclaimed. "Mr. Sears is just about to
tell us of this remarkable crime."

He nodded vigorously at the naval officer and the American, after
first glancing doubtfully toward the servants at the far end of the
room, leaned forward across the table. The others drew their chairs
nearer and bent toward him. The Baronet glanced irresolutely at his
watch, and with an exclamation of annoyance snapped down the lid.
"They can wait," he muttered. He seated himself quickly and nodded at
Lieutenant Sears.

"If you will be so kind as to begin, sir," he said impatiently.

"Of course," said the American, "you understand that I understand that
I am speaking to gentlemen. The confidences of this Club are
inviolate.  Until the police give the facts to the public press, I
must consider you my confederates. You have heard nothing, you know no
one connected with this mystery. Even I must remain anonymous."

The gentlemen seated around him nodded gravely.

"Of course," the Baronet assented with eagerness, "of course."

"We will refer to it," said the gentleman with the black pearl, "as
'The Story of the Naval Attache.'"

"I arrived in London two days ago," said the American, "and I engaged
a room at the Bath Hotel. I know very few people in London, and even
the members of our embassy were strangers to me. But in Hong Kong I
had become great pals with an officer in your navy, who has since
retired, and who is now living in a small house in Rutland Gardens
opposite the Knightsbridge Barracks. I telegraphed him that I was in
London, and yesterday morning I received a most hearty invitation to
dine with him the same evening at his house. He is a bachelor, so we
dined alone and talked over all our old days on the Asiatic Station,
and of the changes which had come to us since we had last met there.
As I was leaving the next morning for my post at Petersburg, and had
many letters to write, I told him, about ten o'clock, that I must get
back to the hotel, and he sent out his servant to call a hansom.

"For the next quarter of an hour, as we sat talking, we could hear the
cab whistle sounding violently from the doorstep, but apparently with
no result.

"'It cannot be that the cabmen are on strike,' my friend said, as he
rose and walked to the window.

"He pulled back the curtains and at once called to me.

"'You have never seen a London fog, have you?' he asked. 'Well, come
here. This is one of the best, or, rather, one of the worst, of them.'
I joined him at the window, but I could see nothing. Had I not known
that the house looked out upon the street I would have believed that I
was facing a dead wall. I raised the sash and stretched out my head,
but still I could see nothing. Even the light of the street lamps
opposite, and in the upper windows of the barracks, had been smothered
in the yellow mist. The lights of the room in which I stood penetrated
the fog only to the distance of a few inches from my eyes.

"Below me the servant was still sounding his whistle, but I could
afford to wait no longer, and told my friend that I would try and find
the way to my hotel on foot. He objected, but the letters I had to
write were for the Navy Department, and, besides, I had always heard
that to be out in a London fog was the most wonderful experience, and
I was curious to investigate one for myself.

"My friend went with me to his front door, and laid down a course for
me to follow. I was first to walk straight across the street to the
brick wall of the Knightsbridge Barracks. I was then to feel my way
along the wall until I came to a row of houses set back from the
sidewalk. They would bring me to a cross street. On the other side of
this street was a row of shops which I was to follow until they joined
the iron railings of Hyde Park. I was to keep to the railings until I
reached the gates at Hyde Park Corner, where I was to lay a diagonal
course across Piccadilly, and tack in toward the railings of Green
Park. At the end of these railings, going east, I would find the
Walsingham, and my own hotel.

"To a sailor the course did not seem difficult, so I bade my friend
good night and walked forward until my feet touched the paving. I
continued upon it until I reached the curbing of the sidewalk. A few
steps further, and my hands struck the wall of the barracks. I turned
in the direction from which I had just come, and saw a square of faint
light cut in the yellow fog. I shouted 'All right,' and the voice of
my friend answered, 'Good luck to you.' The light from his open door
disappeared with a bang, and I was left alone in a dripping, yellow
darkness. I have been in the Navy for ten years, but I have never
known such a fog as that of last night, not even among the icebergs of
Behring Sea. There one at least could see the light of the binnacle,
but last night I could not even distinguish the hand by which I guided
myself along the barrack wall. At sea a fog is a natural phenomenon.
It is as familiar as the rainbow which follows a storm, it is as
proper that a fog should spread upon the waters as that steam shall
rise from a kettle. But a fog which springs from the paved streets,
that rolls between solid house-fronts, that forces cabs to move at
half speed, that drowns policemen and extinguishes the electric lights
of the music hall, that to me is incomprehensible. It is as out of
place as a tidal wave on Broadway.

"As I felt my way along the wall, I encountered other men who were
coming from the opposite direction, and each time when we hailed each
other I stepped away from the wall to make room for them to pass. But
the third time I did this, when I reached out my hand, the wall had
disappeared, and the further I moved to find it the further I seemed
to be sinking into space. I had the unpleasant conviction that at any
moment I might step over a precipice. Since I had set out I had heard
no traffic in the street, and now, although I listened some minutes, I
could only distinguish the occasional footfalls of pedestrians.
Several times I called aloud, and once a jocular gentleman answered
me, but only to ask me where I thought he was, and then even he was
swallowed up in the silence. Just above me I could make out a jet of
gas which I guessed came from a street lamp, and I moved over to that,
and, while I tried to recover my bearings, kept my hand on the iron
post. Except for this flicker of gas, no larger than the tip of my
finger, I could distinguish nothing about me. For the rest, the mist
hung between me and the world like a damp and heavy blanket.

"I could hear voices, but I could not tell from whence they came, and
the scrape of a foot moving cautiously, or a muffled cry as some one
stumbled, were the only sounds that reached me.

"I decided that until some one took me in tow I had best remain where
I was, and it must have been for ten minutes that I waited by the
lamp, straining my ears and hailing distant footfalls. In a house near
me some people were dancing to the music of a Hungarian band. I even
fancied I could hear the windows shake to the rhythm of their feet,
but I could not make out from which part of the compass the sounds
came. And sometimes, as the music rose, it seemed close at my hand,
and again, to be floating high in the air above my head. Although I
was surrounded by thousands of householders--13--I was as completely
lost as though I had been set down by night in the Sahara Desert.
There seemed to be no reason in waiting longer for an escort, so I
again set out, and at once bumped against a low iron fence. At first I
believed this to be an area railing, but on following it I found that
it stretched for a long distance, and that it was pierced at regular
intervals with gates.  I was standing uncertainly with my hand on one
of these when a square of light suddenly opened in the night, and in
it I saw, as you see a picture thrown by a biograph in a darkened
theatre, a young gentleman in evening dress, and back of him the
lights of a hall. I guessed from its elevation and distance from the
sidewalk that this light must come from the door of a house set back
from the street, and I determined to approach it and ask the young man
to tell me where I was. But in fumbling with the lock of the gate I
instinctively bent my head, and when I raised it again the door had
partly closed, leaving only a narrow shaft of light. Whether the young
man had re-entered the house, or had left it I could not tell, but I
hastened to open the gate, and as I stepped forward I found myself
upon an asphalt walk. At the same instant there was the sound of quick
steps upon the path, and some one rushed past me. I called to him, but
he made no reply, and I heard the gate click and the footsteps
hurrying away upon the sidewalk.

"Under other circumstances the young man's rudeness, and his
recklessness in dashing so hurriedly through the mist, would have
struck me as peculiar, but everything was so distorted by the fog that
at the moment I did not consider it. The door was still as he had left
it, partly open. I went up the path, and, after much fumbling, found
the knob of the door-bell and gave it a sharp pull.  The bell answered
me from a great depth and distance, but no movement followed from
inside the house, and although I pulled the bell again and again I
could hear nothing save the dripping of the mist about me. I was
anxious to be on my way, but unless I knew where I was going there was
little chance of my making any speed, and I was determined that until
I learned my bearings I would not venture back into the fog. So I
pushed the door open and stepped into the house.

"I found myself in a long and narrow hall, upon which doors opened
from either side. At the end of the hall was a staircase with a
balustrade which ended in a sweeping curve. The balustrade was covered
with heavy Persian rugs, and the walls of the hall were also hung with
them. The door on my left was closed, but the one nearer me on the
right was open, and as I stepped opposite to it I saw that it was a
sort of reception or waiting-room, and that it was empty. The door
below it was also open, and with the idea that I would surely find
some one there, I walked on up the hall. I was in evening dress, and I
felt I did not look like a burglar, so I had no great fear that,
should I encounter one of the inmates of the house, he would shoot me
on sight. The second door in the hall opened into a dining-room. This
was also empty. One person had been dining at the table, but the cloth
had not been cleared away, and a nickering candle showed half-filled
wineglasses and the ashes of cigarettes. The greater part of the room
was in complete darkness.

"By this time I had grown conscious of the fact that I was wandering
about in a strange house, and that, apparently, I was alone in it. The
silence of the place began to try my nerves, and in a sudden,
unexplainable panic I started for the open street. But as I turned, I
saw a man sitting on a bench, which the curve of the balustrade had
hidden from me. His eyes were shut, and he was sleeping soundly.

"The moment before I had been bewildered because I could see no one,
but at sight of this man I was much more bewildered.

"He was a very large man, a giant in height, with long yellow hair
which hung below his shoulders. He was dressed in a red silk shirt
that was belted at the waist and hung outside black velvet trousers
which, in turn, were stuffed into high black boots. I recognized the
costume at once as that of a Russian servant, but what a Russian
servant in his native livery could be doing in a private house in
Knightsbridge was incomprehensible.

"I advanced and touched the man on the shoulder, and after an effort
he awoke, and, on seeing me, sprang to his feet and began bowing
rapidly and making deprecatory gestures. I had picked up enough
Russian in Petersburg to make out that the man was apologizing for
having fallen asleep, and I also was able to explain to him that I
desired to see his master.

"He nodded vigorously, and said, 'Will the Excellency come this way?
The Princess is here.'

"I distinctly made out the word 'Princess,' and I was a good deal
embarrassed. I had thought it would be easy enough to explain my
intrusion to a man, but how a woman would look at it was another
matter, and as I followed him down the hall I was somewhat puzzled.

"As we advanced, he noticed that the front door was standing open, and
with an exclamation of surprise, hastened toward it and closed it.
Then he rapped twice on the door of what was apparently the
drawing-room.  There was no reply to his knock, and he tapped again,
and then timidly, and cringing subserviently, opened the door and
stepped inside. He withdrew himself at once and stared stupidly at me,
shaking his head.

"'She is not there,' he said. He stood for a moment gazing blankly
through the open door, and then hastened toward the dining-room. The
solitary candle which still burned there seemed to assure him that the
room also was empty. He came back and bowed me toward the
drawing-room. 'She is above,' he said; 'I will inform the Princess of
the Excellency's presence.'

"Before I could stop him he had turned and was running up the
staircase, leaving me alone at the open door of the drawing-room. I
decided that the adventure had gone quite far enough, and if I had
been able to explain to the Russian that I had lost my way in the fog,
and only wanted to get back into the street again, I would have left
the house on the instant.

"Of course, when I first rang the bell of the house I had no other
expectation than that it would be answered by a parlor-maid who would
direct me on my way. I certainly could not then foresee that I would
disturb a Russian Princess in her boudoir, or that I might be thrown
out by her athletic bodyguard. Still, I thought I ought not now to
leave the house without making some apology, and, if the worst should
come, I could show my card. They could hardly believe that a member of
an Embassy had any designs upon the hat-rack.

"The room in which I stood was dimly lighted, but I could see that,
like the hall, it was hung with heavy Persian rugs. The corners were
filled with palms, and there was the unmistakable odor in the air of
Russian cigarettes, and strange, dry scents that carried me back to
the bazaars of Vladivostock. Near the front windows was a grand piano,
and at the other end of the room a heavily carved screen of some black
wood, picked out with ivory. The screen was overhung with a canopy of
silken draperies, and formed a sort of alcove. In front of the alcove
was spread the white skin of a polar bear, and set on that was one of
those low Turkish coffee tables. It held a lighted spirit-lamp and two
gold coffee cups. I had heard no movement from above stairs, and it
must have been fully three minutes that I stood waiting, noting these
details of the room and wondering at the delay, and at the strange

"And then, suddenly, as my eye grew more used to the half-light, I
saw, projecting from behind the screen as though it were stretched
along the back of a divan, the hand of a man and the lower part of his
arm. I was as startled as though I had come across a footprint on a
deserted island. Evidently the man had been sitting there since I had
come into the room, even since I had entered the house, and he had
heard the servant knocking upon the door. Why he had not declared
himself I could not understand, but I supposed that possibly he was a
guest, with no reason to interest himself in the Princess's other
visitors, or perhaps, for some reason, he did not wish to be observed.
I could see nothing of him except his hand, but I had an unpleasant
feeling that he had been peering at me through the carving in the
screen, and that he still was doing so. I moved my feet noisily on the
floor and said tentatively, 'I beg your pardon.'

"There was no reply, and the hand did not stir. Apparently the man was
bent upon ignoring me, but as all I wished was to apologize for my
intrusion and to leave the house, I walked up to the alcove and peered
around it. Inside the screen was a divan piled with cushions, and on
the end of it nearer me the man was sitting. He was a young Englishman
with light yellow hair and a deeply bronzed face.

"He was seated with his arms stretched out along the back of the divan,
and with his head resting against a cushion. His attitude was one of
complete ease. But his mouth had fallen open, and his eyes were set
with an expression of utter horror. At the first glance I saw that he
was quite dead.

"For a flash of time I was too startled to act, but in the same flash
I was convinced that the man had met his death from no accident, that
he had not died through any ordinary failure of the laws of nature.
The expression on his face was much too terrible to be misinterpreted.
It spoke as eloquently as words. It told me that before the end had
come he had watched his death approach and threaten him.

"I was so sure he had been murdered that I instinctively looked on the
floor for the weapon, and, at the same moment, out of concern for my
own safety, quickly behind me; but the silence of the house continued

"I have seen a great number of dead men; I was on the Asiatic Station
during the Japanese-Chinese war. I was in Port Arthur after the
massacre. So a dead man, for the single reason that he is dead, does
not repel me, and, though I knew that there was no hope that this man
was alive, still for decency's sake, I felt his pulse, and while I
kept my ears alert for any sound from the floors above me, I pulled
open his shirt and placed my hand upon his heart. My fingers instantly
touched upon the opening of a wound, and as I withdrew them I found
them wet with blood. He was in evening dress, and in the wide bosom
of his shirt I found a narrow slit, so narrow that in the dim light it
was scarcely discernable. The wound was no wider than the smallest
blade of a pocket-knife, but when I stripped the shirt away from the
chest and left it bare, I found that the weapon, narrow as it was, had
been long enough to reach his heart. There is no need to tell you how
I felt as I stood by the body of this boy, for he was hardly older
than a boy, or of the thoughts that came into my head. I was bitterly
sorry for this stranger, bitterly indignant at his murderer, and, at
the same time, selfishly concerned for my own safety and for the
notoriety which I saw was sure to follow. My instinct was to leave the
body where it lay, and to hide myself in the fog, but I also felt that
since a succession of accidents had made me the only witness to a
crime, my duty was to make myself a good witness and to assist to
establish the facts of this murder.

"That it might possibly be a suicide, and not a murder, did not
disturb me for a moment. The fact that the weapon had disappeared, and
the expression on the boy's face were enough to convince, at least me,
that he had had no hand in his own death. I judged it, therefore, of
the first importance to discover who was in the house, or, if they had
escaped from it, who had been in the house before I entered it. I had
seen one man leave it; but all I could tell of him was that he was a
young man, that he was in evening dress, and that he had fled in such
haste that he had not stopped to close the door behind him.

"The Russian servant I had found apparently asleep, and, unless he
acted a part with supreme skill, he was a stupid and ignorant boor,
and as innocent of the murder as myself. There was still the Russian
Princess whom he had expected to find, or had pretended to expect to
find, in the same room with the murdered man. I judged that she must
now be either upstairs with the servant, or that she had, without his
knowledge, already fled from the house. When I recalled his apparently
genuine surprise at not finding her in the drawing-room, this latter
supposition seemed the more probable. Nevertheless, I decided that it
was my duty to make a search, and after a second hurried look for the
weapon among the cushions of the divan, and upon the floor, I
cautiously crossed the hall and entered the dining-room.

"The single candle was still flickering in the draught, and showed
only the white cloth. The rest of the room was draped in shadows. I
picked up the candle, and, lifting it high above my head, moved around
the corner of the table. Either my nerves were on such a stretch that
no shock could strain them further, or my mind was inoculated to
horrors, for I did not cry out at what I saw nor retreat from it.
Immediately at my feet was the body of a beautiful woman, lying at
full length upon the floor, her arms flung out on either side of her,
and her white face and shoulders gleaming dully in the unsteady light
of the candle. Around her throat was a great chain of diamonds, and
the light played upon these and made them flash and blaze in tiny
flames.  But the woman who wore them was dead, and I was so certain as
to how she had died that without an instant's hesitation I dropped on
my knees beside her and placed my hands above her heart. My fingers
again touched the thin slit of a wound. I had no doubt in my mind but
that this was the Russian Princess, and when I lowered the candle to
her face I was assured that this was so. Her features showed the
finest lines of both the Slav and the Jewess; the eyes were black, the
hair blue-black and wonderfully heavy, and her skin, even in death,
was rich in color. She was a surpassingly beautiful woman.

"I rose and tried to light another candle with the one I held, but I
found that my hand was so unsteady that I could not keep the wicks
together. It was my intention to again search for this strange dagger
which had been used to kill both the English boy and the beautiful
Princess, but before I could light the second candle I heard footsteps
descending the stairs, and the Russian servant appeared in the

"My face was in darkness, or I am sure that at the sight of it he
would have taken alarm, for at that moment I was not sure but that
this man himself was the murderer. His own face was plainly visible to
me in the light from the hall, and I could see that it wore an
expression of dull bewilderment. I stepped quickly toward him and took
a firm hold upon his wrist.

"'She is not there,' he said. 'The Princess has gone. They have all

"'Who have gone?' I demanded. 'Who else has been here?'

"'The two Englishmen,' he said.

"'What two Englishmen?' I demanded. 'What are their names?'

"The man now saw by my manner that some question of great moment hung
upon his answer, and he began to protest that he did not know the
names of the visitors and that until that evening he had never seen

"I guessed that it was my tone which frightened him, so I took my hand
off his wrist and spoke less eagerly.

"'How long have they been here?' I asked, 'and when did they go?'

"He pointed behind him toward the drawing-room.

"'One sat there with the Princess,' he said; 'the other came after I
had placed the coffee in the drawing-room. The two Englishmen talked
together and the Princess returned here to the table. She sat there in
that chair, and I brought her cognac and cigarettes. Then I sat
outside upon the bench. It was a feast day, and I had been drinking.
Pardon, Excellency, but I fell asleep. When I woke, your Excellency
was standing by me, but the Princess and the two Englishmen had gone.
That is all I know.'

"I believed that the man was telling me the truth. His fright had
passed, and he was now apparently puzzled, but not alarmed.

"'You must remember the names of the Englishmen,' I urged. 'Try to
think. When you announced them to the Princess what name did you give?'

"At this question he exclaimed with pleasure, and, beckoning to me,
ran hurriedly down the hall and into the drawing-room. In the corner
furthest from the screen was the piano, and on it was a silver tray.
He picked this up and, smiling with pride at his own intelligence,
pointed at two cards that lay upon it. I took them up and read the
names engraved upon them."

The American paused abruptly, and glanced at the faces about him. "I
read the names," he repeated. He spoke with great reluctance.

"Continue!" cried the Baronet, sharply.

"I read the names," said the American with evident distaste, "and the
family name of each was the same. They were the names of two brothers.
One is well known to you. It is that of the African explorer of whom
this gentleman was just speaking. I mean the Earl of Chetney. The
other was the name of his brother, Lord Arthur Chetney."

The men at the table fell back as though a trapdoor had fallen open at
their feet.

"Lord Chetney!" they exclaimed in chorus. They glanced at each other
and back to the American with every expression of concern and

"It is impossible!" cried the Baronet. "Why, my dear sir, young
Chetney only arrived from Africa yesterday. It was so stated in the
evening papers."

The jaw of the American set in a resolute square, and he pressed his
lips together.

"You are perfectly right, sir," he said, "Lord Chetney did arrive in
London yesterday morning, and yesterday night I found his dead body."

The youngest member present was the first to recover. He seemed much
less concerned over the identity of the murdered man than at the
interruption of the narrative.

"Oh, please let him go on!" he cried. "What happened then? You say you
found two visiting cards. How do you know which card was that of the
murdered man?"

The American, before he answered, waited until the chorus of
exclamations had ceased. Then he continued as though he had not been

"The instant I read the names upon the cards," he said, "I ran to the
screen and, kneeling beside the dead man, began a search through his
pockets. My hand at once fell upon a card-case, and I found on all the
cards it contained the title of the Earl of Chetney. His watch and
cigarette-case also bore his name. These evidences, and the fact of
his bronzed skin, and that his cheekbones were worn with fever,
convinced me that the dead man was the African explorer, and the boy
who had fled past me in the night was Arthur, his younger brother.

"I was so intent upon my search that I had forgotten the servant, and
I was still on my knees when I heard a cry behind me. I turned, and
saw the man gazing down at the body in abject horror.

"Before I could rise, he gave another cry of terror, and, flinging
himself into the hall, raced toward the door to the street. I leaped
after him, shouting to him to halt, but before I could reach the hall
he had torn open the door, and I saw him spring out into the yellow
fog. I cleared the steps in a jump and ran down the garden walk but
just as the gate clicked in front of me. I had it open on the instant,
and, following the sound of the man's footsteps, I raced after him
across the open street. He, also, could hear me, and he instantly
stopped running, and there was absolute silence. He was so near that I
almost fancied I could hear him panting, and I held my own breath to
listen. But I could distinguish nothing but the dripping of the mist
about us, and from far off the music of the Hungarian band, which I
had heard when I first lost myself.

"All I could see was the square of light from the door I had left open
behind me, and a lamp in the hall beyond it flickering in the draught.
But even as I watched it, the flame of the lamp was blown violently to
and fro, and the door, caught in the same current of air, closed
slowly.  I knew if it shut I could not again enter the house, and I
rushed madly toward it. I believe I even shouted out, as though it
were something human which I could compel to obey me, and then I
caught my foot against the curb and smashed into the sidewalk. When I
rose to my feet I was dizzy and half stunned, and though I thought
then that I was moving toward the door, I know now that I probably
turned directly from it; for, as I groped about in the night, calling
frantically for the police, my fingers touched nothing but the
dripping fog, and the iron railings for which I sought seemed to have
melted away. For many minutes I beat the mist with my arms like one at
blind man's buff, turning sharply in circles, cursing aloud at my
stupidity and crying continually for help. At last a voice answered me
from the fog, and I found myself held in the circle of a policeman's

"That is the end of my adventure. What I have to tell you now is what
I learned from the police.

"At the station-house to which the man guided me I related what you
have just heard. I told them that the house they must at once find was
one set back from the street within a radius of two hundred yards from
the Knightsbridge Barracks, that within fifty yards of it some one was
giving a dance to the music of a Hungarian band, and that the railings
before it were as high as a man's waist and filed to a point. With
that to work upon, twenty men were at once ordered out into the fog to
search for the house, and Inspector Lyle himself was despatched to the
home of Lord Edam, Chetney's father, with a warrant for Lord Arthur's
arrest. I was thanked and dismissed on my own recognizance.

"This morning, Inspector Lyle called on me, and from him I learned the
police theory of the scene I have just described.

"Apparently I had wandered very far in the fog, for up to noon to-day
the house had not been found, nor had they been able to arrest Lord
Arthur. He did not return to his father's house last night, and there
is no trace of him; but from what the police knew of the past lives of
the people I found in that lost house, they have evolved a theory, and
their theory is that the murders were committed by Lord Arthur.

"The infatuation of his elder brother, Lord Chetney, for a Russian
Princess, so Inspector Lyle tells me, is well known to every one.
About two years ago the Princess Zichy, as she calls herself, and he
were constantly together, and Chetney informed his friends that they
were about to be married. The woman was notorious in two continents,
and when Lord Edam heard of his son's infatuation he appealed to the
police for her record.

"It is through his having applied to them that they know so much
concerning her and her relations with the Chetneys. From the police
Lord Edam learned that Madame Zichy had once been a spy in the employ
of the Russian Third Section, but that lately she had been repudiated
by her own government and was living by her wits, by blackmail, and by
her beauty. Lord Edam laid this record before his son, but Chetney
either knew it already or the woman persuaded him not to believe in
it, and the father and son parted in great anger. Two days later the
marquis altered his will, leaving all of his money to the younger
brother, Arthur.

"The title and some of the landed property he could not keep from
Chetney, but he swore if his son saw the woman again that the will
should stand as it was, and he would be left without a penny.

"This was about eighteen months ago, when apparently Chetney tired of
the Princess, and suddenly went off to shoot and explore in Central
Africa. No word came from him, except that twice he was reported as
having died of fever in the jungle, and finally two traders reached
the coast who said they had seen his body. This was accepted by all as
conclusive, and young Arthur was recognized as the heir to the Edam
millions. On the strength of this supposition he at once began to
borrow enormous sums from the money-lenders. This is of great
importance, as the police believe it was these debts which drove him
to the murder of his brother. Yesterday, as you know, Lord Chetney
suddenly returned from the grave, and it was the fact that for two
years he had been considered as dead which lent such importance to his
return and which gave rise to those columns of detail concerning him
which appeared in all the afternoon papers. But, obviously, during his
absence he had not tired of the Princess Zichy, for we know that a few
hours after he reached London he sought her out. His brother, who had
also learned of his reappearance through the papers, probably
suspected which would be the house he would first visit, and followed
him there, arriving, so the Russian servant tells us, while the two
were at coffee in the drawing-room. The Princess, then, we also learn
from the servant, withdrew to the dining-room, leaving the brothers
together. What happened one can only guess.

"Lord Arthur knew now that when it was discovered he was no longer the
heir, the money-lenders would come down upon him. The police believe
that he at once sought out his brother to beg for money to cover the
post-obits, but that, considering the sum he needed was several
hundreds of thousands of pounds, Chetney refused to give it him. No
one knew that Arthur had gone to seek out his brother. They were
alone. It is possible, then, that in a passion of disappointment, and
crazed with the disgrace which he saw before him, young Arthur made
himself the heir beyond further question. The death of his brother
would have availed nothing if the woman remained alive. It is then
possible that he crossed the hall, and with the same weapon which made
him Lord Edam's heir destroyed the solitary witness to the murder. The
only other person who could have seen it was sleeping in a drunken
stupor, to which fact undoubtedly he owed his life. And yet,"
concluded the Naval Attache, leaning forward and marking each word
with his finger, "Lord Arthur blundered fatally. In his haste he left
the door of the house open, so giving access to the first passer-by,
and he forgot that when he entered it he had handed his card to the
servant. That piece of paper may yet send him to the gallows. In the
mean time he has disappeared completely, and somewhere, in one of the
millions of streets of this great capital, in a locked and empty
house, lies the body of his brother, and of the woman his brother
loved, undiscovered, unburied, and with their murder unavenged."

In the discussion which followed the conclusion of the story of the
Naval Attache the gentleman with the pearl took no part. Instead, he
arose, and, beckoning a servant to a far corner of the room, whispered
earnestly to him until a sudden movement on the part of Sir Andrew
caused him to return hurriedly to the table.

"There are several points in Mr. Sears's story I want explained," he
cried. "Be seated, Sir Andrew," he begged. "Let us have the opinion of
an expert. I do not care what the police think, I want to know what
you think."

But Sir Henry rose reluctantly from his chair.

"I should like nothing better than to discuss this," he said. "But it
is most important that I proceed to the House. I should have been
there some time ago." He turned toward the servant and directed him to
call a hansom.

The gentleman with the pearl stud looked appealingly at the Naval
Attache. "There are surely many details that you have not told us," he
urged. "Some you have forgotten."

The Baronet interrupted quickly.

"I trust not," he said, "for I could not possibly stop to hear them."

"The story is finished," declared the Naval Attache; "until Lord
Arthur is arrested or the bodies are found there is nothing more to
tell of either Chetney or the Princess Zichy."

"Of Lord Chetney perhaps not," interrupted the sporting-looking
gentleman with the black tie, "but there'll always be something to
tell of the Princess Zichy. I know enough stories about her to fill a
book.  She was a most remarkable woman." The speaker dropped the end
of his cigar into his coffee cup and, taking his case from his pocket,
selected a fresh one. As he did so he laughed and held up the case
that the others might see it. It was an ordinary cigar-case of
well-worn pig-skin, with a silver clasp.

"The only time I ever met her," he said, "she tried to rob me of

The Baronet regarded him closely.

"She tried to rob you?" he repeated.

"Tried to rob me of this," continued the gentleman in the black tie,
"and of the Czarina's diamonds." His tone was one of mingled
admiration and injury.

"The Czarina's diamonds!" exclaimed the Baronet. He glanced quickly
and suspiciously at the speaker, and then at the others about the
table. But their faces gave evidence of no other emotion than that of
ordinary interest.

"Yes, the Czarina's diamonds," repeated the man with the black tie.
"It was a necklace of diamonds. I was told to take them to the Russian
Ambassador in Paris who was to deliver them at Moscow. I am a Queen's
Messenger," he added.

"Oh, I see," exclaimed Sir Andrew in a tone of relief. "And you say
that this same Princess Zichy, one of the victims of this double
murder, endeavored to rob you of--of--that cigar-case."

"And the Czarina's diamonds," answered the Queen's Messenger
imperturbably. "It's not much of a story, but it gives you an idea of
the woman's character. The robbery took place between Paris and

The Baronet interrupted him with an abrupt movement. "No, no," he
cried, shaking his head in protest. "Do not tempt me. I really cannot
listen. I must be at the House in ten minutes."

"I am sorry," said the Queen's Messenger. He turned to those seated
about him. "I wonder if the other gentlemen--" he inquired
tentatively.  There was a chorus of polite murmurs, and the Queen's
Messenger, bowing his head in acknowledgment, took a preparatory sip
from his glass. At the same moment the servant to whom the man with
the black pearl had spoken, slipped a piece of paper into his hand. He
glanced at it, frowned, and threw it under the table.

The servant bowed to the Baronet.

"Your hansom is waiting, Sir Andrew," he said.

"The necklace was worth twenty thousand pounds," began the Queen's
Messenger. "It was a present from the Queen of England to celebrate--"
The Baronet gave an exclamation of angry annoyance.

"Upon my word, this is most provoking," he interrupted. "I really
ought not to stay. But I certainly mean to hear this." He turned
irritably to the servant. "Tell the hansom to wait," he commanded,
and, with an air of a boy who is playing truant, slipped guiltily into
his chair.

The gentleman with the black pearl smiled blandly, and rapped upon the

"Order, gentlemen," he said. "Order for the story of the Queen's
Messenger and the Czarina's diamonds."


"The necklace was a present from the Queen of England to the Czarina
of Russia," began the Queen's Messenger. "It was to celebrate the
occasion of the Czar's coronation. Our Foreign Office knew that the
Russian Ambassador in Paris was to proceed to Moscow for that
ceremony, and I was directed to go to Paris and turn over the necklace
to him. But when I reached Paris I found he had not expected me for a
week later and was taking a few days' vacation at Nice. His people
asked me to leave the necklace with them at the Embassy, but I had
been charged to get a receipt for it from the Ambassador himself, so I
started at once for Nice. The fact that Monte Carlo is not two thousand
miles from Nice may have had something to do with making me carry out
my instructions so carefully. "Now, how the Princess Zichy came to
find out about the necklace I don't know, but I can guess. As you have
just heard, she was at one time a spy in the service of the Russian
government. And after they dismissed her she kept up her acquaintance
with many of the Russian agents in London. It is probable that through
one of them she learned that the necklace was to be sent to Moscow,
and which one of the Queen's Messengers had been detailed to take it
there. Still, I doubt if even that knowledge would have helped her if
she had not also known something which I supposed no one else in the
world knew but myself and one other man. And, curiously enough, the
other man was a Queen's Messenger too, and a friend of mine. You must
know that up to the time of this robbery I had always concealed my
despatches in a manner peculiarly my own. I got the idea from that
play called 'A Scrap of Paper.' In it a man wants to hide a certain
compromising document. He knows that all his rooms will be secretly
searched for it, so he puts it in a torn envelope and sticks it up
where any one can see it on his mantel shelf. The result is that the
woman who is ransacking the house to find it looks in all the unlikely
places, but passes over the scrap of paper that is just under her
nose. Sometimes the papers and packages they give us to carry about
Europe are of very great value, and sometimes they are special makes
of cigarettes, and orders to court dressmakers. Sometimes we know what
we are carrying and sometimes we do not. If it is a large sum of money
or a treaty, they generally tell us.  But, as a rule, we have no
knowledge of what the package contains; so, to be on the safe side, we
naturally take just as great care of it as though we knew it held the
terms of an ultimatum or the crown jewels. As a rule, my confreres
carry the official packages in a despatch-box, which is just as
obvious as a lady's jewel bag in the hands of her maid. Every one
knows they are carrying something of value. They put a premium on
dishonesty. Well, after I saw the 'Scrap of Paper' play, I determined
to put the government valuables in the most unlikely place that any
one would look for them. So I used to hide the documents they gave me
inside my riding-boots, and small articles, such as money or jewels, I
carried in an old cigar-case. After I took to using my case for that
purpose I bought a new one, exactly like it, for my cigars. But to
avoid mistakes, I had my initials placed on both sides of the new one,
and the moment I touched the case, even in the dark, I could tell
which it was by the raised initials.

"No one knew of this except the Queen's Messenger of whom I spoke. We
once left Paris together on the Orient Express. I was going to
Constantinople and he was to stop off at Vienna. On the journey I told
him of my peculiar way of hiding things and showed him my cigar-case.
If I recollect rightly, on that trip it held the grand cross of St.
Michael and St. George, which the Queen was sending to our
Ambassador. The Messenger was very much entertained at my scheme, and
some months later when he met the Princess he told her about it as an
amusing story. Of course, he had no idea she was a Russian spy. He
didn't know anything at all about her, except that she was a very
attractive woman.

"It was indiscreet, but he could not possibly have guessed that she
could ever make any use of what he told her.

"Later, after the robbery, I remembered that I had informed this young
chap of my secret hiding-place, and when I saw him again I questioned
him about it. He was greatly distressed, and said he had never seen
the importance of the secret. He remembered he had told several people
of it, and among others the Princess Zichy. In that way I found out
that it was she who had robbed me, and I know that from the moment I
left London she was following me and that she knew then that the
diamonds were concealed in my cigar-case.

"My train for Nice left Paris at ten in the morning. When I travel at
night I generally tell the _chef de gare_ that I am a Queen's
Messenger, and he gives me a compartment to myself, but in the daytime
I take whatever offers. On this morning I had found an empty
compartment, and I had tipped the guard to keep every one else out,
not from any fear of losing the diamonds, but because I wanted to
smoke. He had locked the door, and as the last bell had rung I
supposed I was to travel alone, so I began to arrange my traps and
make myself comfortable. The diamonds in the cigar-case were in the
inside pocket of my waistcoat, and as they made a bulky package, I
took them out, intending to put them in my hand bag. It is a small
satchel like a bookmaker's, or those hand bags that couriers carry. I
wear it slung from a strap across my shoulder, and, no matter whether
I am sitting or walking, it never leaves me.

"I took the cigar-case which held the necklace from my inside pocket
and the case which held the cigars out of the satchel, and while I was
searching through it for a box of matches I laid the two cases beside
me on the seat.

"At that moment the train started, but at the same instant there was a
rattle at the lock of the compartment, and a couple of porters lifted
and shoved a woman through the door, and hurled her rugs and umbrellas
in after her.

"Instinctively I reached for the diamonds. I shoved them quickly into
the satchel and, pushing them far down to the bottom of the bag,
snapped the spring lock. Then I put the cigars in the pocket of my
coat, but with the thought that now that I had a woman as a travelling
companion I would probably not be allowed to enjoy them.

"One of her pieces of luggage had fallen at my feet, and a roll of
rugs had landed at my side. I thought if I hid the fact that the lady
was not welcome, and at once endeavored to be civil, she might permit
me to smoke. So I picked her hand bag off the floor and asked her
where I might place it.

"As I spoke I looked at her for the first time, and saw that she was a
most remarkably handsome woman.

"She smiled charmingly and begged me not to disturb myself. Then she
arranged her own things about her, and, opening her dressing-bag, took
out a gold cigarette-case.

"'Do you object to smoke?' she asked.

"I laughed and assured her I had been in great terror lest she might
object to it herself.

"'If you like cigarettes,' she said, 'will you try some of these? They
are rolled especially for my husband in Russia, and they are supposed
to be very good.'

"I thanked her, and took one from her case, and I found it so much
better than my own that I continued to smoke her cigarettes throughout
the rest of the journey. I must say that we got on very well. I judged
from the coronet on her cigarette-case, and from her manner, which was
quite as well-bred as that of any woman I ever met, that she was some
one of importance, and though she seemed almost too good looking to be
respectable, I determined that she was some _grande dame_ who was so
assured of her position that she could afford to be unconventional. At
first she read her novel, and then she made some comment on the
scenery, and finally we began to discuss the current politics of the
Continent. She talked of all the cities in Europe, and seemed to know
every one worth knowing. But she volunteered nothing about herself
except that she frequently made use of the expression, 'When my
husband was stationed at Vienna,' or 'When my husband was promoted to
Rome.' Once she said to me, 'I have often seen you at Monte Carlo. I
saw you when you won the pigeon championship.' I told her that I was
not a pigeon shot, and she gave a little start of surprise. 'Oh, I beg
your pardon,' she said; 'I thought you were Morton Hamilton, the
English champion.' As a matter of fact, I do look like Hamilton, but I
know now that her object was to make me think that she had no idea as
to who I really was. She needn't have acted at all, for I certainly
had no suspicions of her, and was only too pleased to have so charming
a companion.

"The one thing that should have made me suspicious was the fact that
at every station she made some trivial excuse to get me out of the
compartment. She pretended that her maid was travelling back of us in
one of the second-class carriages, and kept saying she could not
imagine why the woman did not come to look after her, and if the maid
did not turn up at the next stop, would I be so very kind as to get
out and bring her whatever it was she pretended she wanted.

"I had taken my dressing-case from the rack to get out a novel, and
had left it on the seat opposite to mine, and at the end of the
compartment farthest from her. And once when I came back from buying
her a cup of chocolate, or from some other fool errand, I found her
standing at my end of the compartment with both hands on the
dressing-bag. She looked at me without so much as winking an eye, and
shoved the case carefully into a corner. 'Your bag slipped off on the
floor,' she said.  'If you've got any bottles in it, you had better
look and see that they're not broken.'

"And I give you my word, I was such an ass that I did open the case
and looked all through it. She must have thought I _was_ a Juggins. I
get hot all over whenever I remember it. But in spite of my dulness,
and her cleverness, she couldn't gain anything by sending me away,
because what she wanted was in the hand bag and every time she sent me
away the hand bag went with me.

"After the incident of the dressing-case her manner changed. Either in
my absence she had had time to look through it, or, when I was
examining it for broken bottles, she had seen everything it held.

"From that moment she must have been certain that the cigar-case, in
which she knew I carried the diamonds, was in the bag that was
fastened to my body, and from that time on she probably was plotting
how to get it from me. Her anxiety became most apparent. She dropped
the great lady manner, and her charming condescension went with it.
She ceased talking, and, when I spoke, answered me irritably, or at
random. No doubt her mind was entirely occupied with her plan. The end
of our journey was drawing rapidly nearer, and her time for action was
being cut down with the speed of the express train. Even I,
unsuspicious as I was, noticed that something was very wrong with her.
I really believe that before we reached Marseilles if I had not,
through my own stupidity, given her the chance she wanted, she might
have stuck a knife in me and rolled me out on the rails. But as it
was, I only thought that the long journey had tired her. I suggested
that it was a very trying trip, and asked her if she would allow me to
offer her some of my cognac.

"She thanked me and said, 'No,' and then suddenly her eyes lighted,
and she exclaimed, 'Yes, thank you, if you will be so kind.'

"My flask was in the hand bag, and I placed it on my lap and with my
thumb slipped back the catch. As I keep my tickets and railroad guide
in the bag, I am so constantly opening it that I never bother to lock
it, and the fact that it is strapped to me has always been sufficient
protection. But I can appreciate now what a satisfaction, and what a
torment too, it must have been to that woman when she saw that the bag
opened without a key.

"While we were crossing the mountains I had felt rather chilly and had
been wearing a light racing coat. But after the lamps were lighted the
compartment became very hot and stuffy, and I found the coat
uncomfortable.  So I stood up, and, after first slipping the strap of
the bag over my head, I placed the bag in the seat next me and pulled
off the racing coat. I don't blame myself for being careless; the bag
was still within reach of my hand, and nothing would have happened if
at that exact moment the train had not stopped at Arles. It was the
combination of my removing the bag and our entering the station at the
same instant which gave the Princess Zichy the chance she wanted to
rob me.

"I needn't say that she was clever enough to take it. The train ran
into the station at full speed and came to a sudden stop. I had just
thrown my coat into the rack, and had reached out my hand for the bag.
In another instant I would have had the strap around my shoulder. But
at that moment the Princess threw open the door of the compartment and
beckoned wildly at the people on the platform. 'Natalie!' she called,
'Natalie!  here I am. Come here! This way!' She turned upon me in the
greatest excitement. 'My maid!' she cried. 'She is looking for me. She
passed the window without seeing me. Go, please, and bring her back.'
She continued pointing out of the door and beckoning me with her other
hand. There certainly was something about that woman's tone which made
one jump.  When she was giving orders you had no chance to think of
anything else.  So I rushed out on my errand of mercy, and then rushed
back again to ask what the maid looked like.

"'In black,' she answered, rising and blocking the door of the
compartment. 'All in black, with a bonnet!'

"The train waited three minutes at Arles, and in that time I suppose I
must have rushed up to over twenty women and asked, 'Are you Natalie?'
The only reason I wasn't punched with an umbrella or handed over to
the police was that they probably thought I was crazy.

"When I jumped back into the compartment the Princess was seated where
I had left her, but her eyes were burning with happiness. She placed
her hand on my arm almost affectionately, and said in a hysterical
way, 'You are very kind to me. I am so sorry to have troubled you.'

"I protested that every woman on the platform was dressed in black.

"'Indeed I am so sorry,' she said, laughing; and she continued to
laugh until she began to breathe so quickly that I thought she was
going to faint.

"I can see now that the last part of that journey must have been a
terrible half hour for her. She had the cigar-case safe enough, but
she knew that she herself was not safe. She understood if I were to
open my bag, even at the last minute, and miss the case, I would know
positively that she had taken it. I had placed the diamonds in the bag
at the very moment she entered the compartment, and no one but our two
selves had occupied it since. She knew that when we reached Marseilles
she would either be twenty thousand pounds richer than when she left
Paris, or that she would go to jail. That was the situation as she
must have read it, and I don't envy her her state of mind during that
last half hour. It must have been hell.

"I saw that something was wrong, and in my innocence I even wondered
if possibly my cognac had not been a little too strong. For she
suddenly developed into a most brilliant conversationalist, and
applauded and laughed at everything I said, and fired off questions at
me like a machine gun, so that I had no time to think of anything but
of what she was saying. Whenever I stirred she stopped her chattering
and leaned toward me, and watched me like a cat over a mouse-hole. I
wondered how I could have considered her an agreeable travelling
companion. I thought I would have preferred to be locked in with a
lunatic. I don't like to think how she would have acted if I had made
a move to examine the bag, but as I had it safely strapped around me
again, I did not open it, and I reached Marseilles alive. As we drew
into the station she shook hands with me and grinned at me like a
Cheshire cat.

"'I cannot tell you,' she said, 'how much I have to thank you for.'
What do you think of that for impudence!

"I offered to put her in a carriage, but she said she must find
Natalie, and that she hoped we would meet again at the hotel. So I
drove off by myself, wondering who she was, and whether Natalie was
not her keeper.

"I had to wait several hours for the train to Nice, and as I wanted to
stroll around the city I thought I had better put the diamonds in the
safe of the hotel. As soon as I reached my room I locked the door,
placed the hand bag on the table and opened it. I felt among the
things at the top of it, but failed to touch the cigar-case. I shoved
my hand in deeper, and stirred the things about, but still I did not
reach it. A cold wave swept down my spine, and a sort of emptiness
came to the pit of my stomach. Then I turned red-hot, and the sweat
sprung out all over me. I wet my lips with my tongue, and said to
myself, 'Don't be an ass.  Pull yourself together, pull yourself
together. Take the things out, one at a time. It's there, of course
it's there. Don't be an ass.'

"So I put a brake on my nerves and began very carefully to pick out
the things one by one, but after another second I could not stand it,
and I rushed across the room and threw out everything on the bed. But
the diamonds were not among them. I pulled the things about and tore
them open and shuffled and rearranged and sorted them, but it was no
use. The cigar-case was gone. I threw everything in the dressing-case
out on the floor, although I knew it was useless to look for it there.
I knew that I had put it in the bag. I sat down and tried to think. I
remembered I had put it in the satchel at Paris just as that woman had
entered the compartment, and I had been alone with her ever since, so
it was she who had robbed me. But how? It had never left my shoulder.
And then I remembered that it had--that I had taken it off when I had
changed my coat and for the few moments that I was searching for
Natalie. I remembered that the woman had sent me on that goose chase,
and that at every other station she had tried to get rid of me on some
fool errand.

"I gave a roar like a mad bull, and I jumped down the stairs six steps
at a time.

"I demanded at the office if a distinguished lady of title, possibly a
Russian, had just entered the hotel.

"As I expected, she had not. I sprang into a cab and inquired at two
other hotels, and then I saw the folly of trying to catch her without
outside help, and I ordered the fellow to gallop to the office of the
Chief of Police. I told my story, and the ass in charge asked me to
calm myself, and wanted to take notes. I told him this was no time for
taking notes, but for doing something. He got wrathy at that, and I
demanded to be taken at once to his Chief. The Chief, he said, was
very busy, and could not see me. So I showed him my silver greyhound.
In eleven years I had never used it but once before. I stated in
pretty vigorous language that I was a Queen's Messenger, and that if
the Chief of Police did not see me instantly he would lose his
official head. At that the fellow jumped off his high horse and ran
with me to his Chief,--a smart young chap, a colonel in the army, and
a very intelligent man.

"I explained that I had been robbed in a French railway carriage of a
diamond necklace belonging to the Queen of England, which her Majesty
was sending as a present to the Czarina of Russia. I pointed out to
him that if he succeeded in capturing the thief he would be made for
life, and would receive the gratitude of three great powers.

"He wasn't the sort that thinks second thoughts are best. He saw
Russian and French decorations sprouting all over his chest, and he
hit a bell, and pressed buttons, and yelled out orders like the
captain of a penny steamer in a fog. He sent her description to all
the city gates, and ordered all cabmen and railway porters to search
all trains leaving Marseilles. He ordered all passengers on outgoing
vessels to be examined, and telegraphed the proprietors of every hotel
and pension to send him a complete list of their guests within the
hour. While I was standing there he must have given at least a hundred
orders, and sent out enough commissaires, sergeants de ville,
gendarmes, bicycle police, and plain-clothes Johnnies to have captured
the entire German army. When they had gone he assured me that the
woman was as good as arrested already. Indeed, officially, she was
arrested; for she had no more chance of escape from Marseilles than
from the Chateau D'If.

"He told me to return to my hotel and possess my soul in peace. Within
an hour he assured me he would acquaint me with her arrest.

"I thanked him, and complimented him on his energy, and left him. But
I didn't share in his confidence. I felt that she was a very clever
woman, and a match for any and all of us. It was all very well for him
to be jubilant. He had not lost the diamonds, and had everything to
gain if he found them; while I, even if he did recover the necklace,
would only be where I was before I lost them, and if he did not
recover it I was a ruined man. It was an awful facer for me. I had
always prided myself on my record. In eleven years I had never mislaid
an envelope, nor missed taking the first train. And now I had failed
in the most important mission that had ever been intrusted to me. And
it wasn't a thing that could be hushed up, either. It was too
conspicuous, too spectacular. It was sure to invite the widest
notoriety. I saw myself ridiculed all over the Continent, and perhaps
dismissed, even suspected of having taken the thing myself.

"I was walking in front of a lighted cafe, and I felt so sick and
miserable that I stopped for a pick-me-up. Then I considered that if I
took one drink I would probably, in my present state of mind, not want
to stop under twenty, and I decided I had better leave it alone. But
my nerves were jumping like a frightened rabbit, and I felt I must
have something to quiet them, or I would go crazy. I reached for my
cigarette-case, but a cigarette seemed hardly adequate, so I put it
back again and took out this cigar-case, in which I keep only the
strongest and blackest cigars. I opened it and stuck in my fingers,
but instead of a cigar they touched on a thin leather envelope. My
heart stood perfectly still. I did not dare to look, but I dug my
finger nails into the leather and I felt layers of thin paper, then a
layer of cotton, and then they scratched on the facets of the
Czarina's diamonds!

"I stumbled as though I had been hit in the face, and fell back into
one of the chairs on the sidewalk. I tore off the wrappings and spread
out the diamonds on the cafe table; I could not believe they were
real. I twisted the necklace between my fingers and crushed it between
my palms and tossed it up in the air. I believe I almost kissed it.
The women in the cafe stood tip on the chairs to see better, and
laughed and screamed, and the people crowded so close around me that
the waiters had to form a bodyguard. The proprietor thought there was
a fight, and called for the police. I was so happy I didn't care. I
laughed, too, and gave the proprietor a five-pound note, and told him
to stand every one a drink.  Then I tumbled into a fiacre and galloped
off to my friend the Chief of Police. I felt very sorry for him. He
had been so happy at the chance I gave him, and he was sure to be
disappointed when he learned I had sent him off on a false alarm.

"But now that I had found the necklace, I did not want him to find the
woman. Indeed, I was most anxious that she should get clear away, for
if she were caught the truth would come out, and I was likely to get a
sharp reprimand, and sure to be laughed at.

"I could see now how it had happened. In my haste to hide the diamonds
when the woman was hustled into the carriage, I had shoved the cigars
into the satchel, and the diamonds into the pocket of my coat. Now
that I had the diamonds safe again, it seemed a very natural mistake.
But I doubted if the Foreign Office would think so. I was afraid it
might not appreciate the beautiful simplicity of my secret
hiding-place. So, when I reached the police station, and found that
the woman was still at large, I was more than relieved.

"As I expected, the Chief was extremely chagrined when he learned of
my mistake, and that there was nothing for him to do. But I was
feeling so happy myself that I hated to have any one else miserable,
so I suggested that this attempt to steal the Czarina's necklace might
be only the first of a series of such attempts by an unscrupulous
gang, and that I might still be in danger.

"I winked at the Chief and the Chief smiled at me, and we went to Nice
together in a saloon car with a guard of twelve carabineers and twelve
plain-clothes men, and the Chief and I drank champagne all the way. We
marched together up to the hotel where the Russian Ambassador was
stopping, closely surrounded by our escort of carabineers, and
delivered the necklace with the most profound ceremony. The old
Ambassador was immensely impressed, and when we hinted that already I
had been made the object of an attack by robbers, he assured us that
his Imperial Majesty would not prove ungrateful.

"I wrote a swinging personal letter about the invaluable services of
the Chief to the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, and they gave him
enough Russian and French medals to satisfy even a French soldier. So,
though he never caught the woman, he received his just reward."

The Queen's Messenger paused and surveyed the faces of those about him
in some embarrassment.

"But the worst of it is," he added, "that the story must have got
about; for, while the Princess obtained nothing from me but a
cigar-case and five excellent cigars, a few weeks after the coronation
the Czar sent me a gold cigar-case with his monogram in diamonds. And
I don't know yet whether that was a coincidence, or whether the Czar
wanted me to know that he knew that I had been carrying the Czarina's
diamonds in my pig-skin cigar-case. What do you fellows think?"


Sir Andrew rose with disapproval written in every lineament.

"I thought your story would bear upon the murder," he said. "Had I
imagined it would have nothing whatsoever to do with it I would not
have remained." He pushed back his chair and bowed stiffly. "I wish
you good night," he said.

There was a chorus of remonstrance, and under cover of this and the
Baronet's answering protests a servant for the second time slipped a
piece of paper into the hand of the gentleman with the pearl stud. He
read the lines written upon it and tore it into tiny fragments.

The youngest member, who had remained an interested but silent
listener to the tale of the Queen's Messenger, raised his hand

"Sir Andrew," he cried, "in justice to Lord Arthur Chetney I must ask
you to be seated. He has been accused in our hearing of a most serious
crime, and I insist that you remain until you have heard me clear his

"You!" cried the Baronet.

"Yes," answered the young man briskly. "I would have spoken sooner,"
he explained, "but that I thought this gentleman"--he inclined his
head toward the Queen's Messenger--"was about to contribute some facts
of which I was ignorant. He, however, has told us nothing, and so I
will take up the tale at the point where Lieutenant Sears laid it down
and give you those details of which Lieutenant Sears is ignorant. It
seems strange to you that I should be able to add the sequel to this
story. But the coincidence is easily explained. I am the junior member
of the law firm of Chudleigh & Chudleigh. We have been solicitors for
the Chetneys for the last two hundred years. Nothing, no matter how
unimportant, which concerns Lord Edam and his two sons is unknown to
us, and naturally we are acquainted with every detail of the terrible
catastrophe of last night."

The Baronet, bewildered but eager, sank back into his chair.

"Will you be long, sir!" he demanded.

"I shall endeavor to be brief," said the young Solicitor; "and," he
added, in a tone which gave his words almost the weight of a threat,
"I promise to be interesting."

"There is no need to promise that," said Sir Andrew, "I find it much
too interesting as it is." He glanced ruefully at the clock and turned
his eyes quickly from it.

"Tell the driver of that hansom," he called to the servant, "that I
take him by the hour."

"For the last three days," began young Mr. Chudleigh, "as you have
probably read in the daily papers, the Marquis of Edam has been at the
point of death, and his physicians have never left his house. Every
hour he seemed to grow weaker; but although his bodily strength is
apparently leaving him forever, his mind has remained clear and
active. Late yesterday evening word was received at our office that he
wished my father to come at once to Chetney House and to bring with
him certain papers. What these papers were is not essential; I mention
them only to explain how it was that last night I happened to be at
Lord Edam's bed-side. I accompanied my father to Chetney House, but at
the time we reached there Lord Edam was sleeping, and his physicians
refused to have him awakened. My father urged that he should be
allowed to receive Lord Edam's instructions concerning the documents,
but the physicians would not disturb him, and we all gathered in the
library to wait until he should awake of his own accord. It was about
one o'clock in the morning, while we were still there, that Inspector
Lyle and the officers from Scotland Yard came to arrest Lord Arthur on
the charge of murdering his brother. You can imagine our dismay and
distress. Like every one else, I had learned from the afternoon papers
that Lord Chetney was not dead, but that he had returned to England,
and on arriving at Chetney House I had been told that Lord Arthur had
gone to the Bath Hotel to look for his brother and to inform him that
if he wished to see their father alive he must come to him at once.
Although it was now past one o'clock, Arthur had not returned. None of
us knew where Madame Zichy lived, so we could not go to recover Lord
Chetney's body. We spent a most miserable night, hastening to the
window whenever a cab came into the square, in the hope that it was
Arthur returning, and endeavoring to explain away the facts that
pointed to him as the murderer. I am a friend of Arthur's, I was with
him at Harrow and at Oxford, and I refused to believe for an instant
that he was capable of such a crime; but as a lawyer I could not help
but see that the circumstantial evidence was strongly against him.

"Toward early morning Lord Edam awoke, and in so much better a state
of health that he refused to make the changes in the papers which he
had intended, declaring that he was no nearer death than ourselves.
Under other circumstances, this happy change in him would have
relieved us greatly, but none of us could think of anything save the
death of his elder son and of the charge which hung over Arthur.

"As long as Inspector Lyle remained in the house my father decided
that I, as one of the legal advisers of the family, should also remain
there.  But there was little for either of us to do. Arthur did not
return, and nothing occurred until late this morning, when Lyle
received word that the Russian servant had been arrested. He at once
drove to Scotland Yard to question him. He came back to us in an hour,
and informed me that the servant had refused to tell anything of what
had happened the night before, or of himself, or of the Princess
Zichy. He would not even give them the address of her house.

"'He is in abject terror,' Lyle said. 'I assured him that he was not
suspected of the crime, but he would tell me nothing.'

"There were no other developments until two o'clock this afternoon,
when word was brought to us that Arthur had been found, and that he
was lying in the accident ward of St. George's Hospital. Lyle and I
drove there together, and found him propped up in bed with his head
bound in a bandage. He had been brought to the hospital the night
before by the driver of a hansom that had run over him in the fog. The
cab-horse had kicked him on the head, and he had been carried in
unconscious. There was nothing on him to tell who he was, and it was
not until he came to his senses this afternoon that the hospital
authorities had been able to send word to his people. Lyle at once
informed him that he was under arrest, and with what he was charged,
and though the inspector warned him to say nothing which might be used
against him, I, as his solicitor, instructed him to speak freely and
to tell us all he knew of the occurrences of last night. It was
evident to any one that the fact of his brother's death was of much
greater concern to him, than that he was accused of his murder.

"'That,' Arthur said contemptuously, 'that is damned nonsense. It is
monstrous and cruel. We parted better friends than we have been in
years. I will tell you all that happened--not to clear myself, but to
help you to find out the truth.' His story is as follows: Yesterday
afternoon, owing to his constant attendance on his father, he did not
look at the evening papers, and it was not until after dinner, when
the butler brought him one and told him of its contents, that he
learned that his brother was alive and at the Bath Hotel. He drove
there at once, but was told that about eight o'clock his brother had
gone out, but without giving any clew to his destination. As Chetney
had not at once come to see his father, Arthur decided that he was
still angry with him, and his mind, turning naturally to the cause of
their quarrel, determined him to look for Chetney at the home of the
Princess Zichy.

"Her house had been pointed out to him, and though he had never
visited it, he had passed it many times and knew its exact location.
He accordingly drove in that direction, as far as the fog would permit
the hansom to go, and walked the rest of the way, reaching the house
about nine o'clock. He rang, and was admitted by the Russian servant.
The man took his card into the drawing-room, and at once his brother
ran out and welcomed him. He was followed by the Princess Zichy, who
also received Arthur most cordially.

"'You brothers will have much to talk about,' she said. 'I am going to
the dining-room. When you have finished, let me know.'

"As soon as she had left them, Arthur told his brother that their
father was not expected to outlive the night, and that he must come to
him at once.

"'This is not the moment to remember your quarrel,' Arthur said to
him; 'you have come back from the dead only in time to make your peace
with him before he dies.'

"Arthur says that at this Chetney was greatly moved.

"'You entirely misunderstand me, Arthur,' he returned. 'I did not know
the governor was ill, or I would have gone to him the instant I
arrived. My only reason for not doing so was because I thought he was
still angry with me. I shall return with you immediately, as soon as I
have said good-by to the Princess. It is a final good-by. After
tonight, I shall never see her again.'

"'Do you mean that?' Arthur cried.

"'Yes,' Chetney answered. 'When I returned to London I had no
intention of seeking her again, and I am here only through a mistake.'
He then told Arthur that he had separated from the Princess even
before he went to Central Africa, and that, moreover, while at Cairo
on his way south, he had learned certain facts concerning her life
there during the previous season, which made it impossible for him to
ever wish to see her again. Their separation was final and complete.

"'She deceived me cruelly,' he said; 'I cannot tell you how cruelly.
During the two years when I was trying to obtain my father's consent to
our marriage she was in love with a Russian diplomat. During all that
time he was secretly visiting her here in London, and her trip to Cairo
was only an excuse to meet him there.'

"'Yet you are here with her tonight,' Arthur protested, 'only a few
hours after your return.'

"'That is easily explained,' Chetney answered. 'As I finished dinner
tonight at the hotel, I received a note from her from this address. In
it she said she had but just learned of my arrival, and begged me to
come to her at once. She wrote that she was in great and present
trouble, dying of an incurable illness, and without friends or money.
She begged me, for the sake of old times, to come to her assistance.
During the last two years in the jungle all my former feeling for
Zichy has utterly passed away, but no one could have dismissed the
appeal she made in that letter. So I came here, and found her, as you
have seen her, quite as beautiful as she ever was, in very good
health, and, from the look of the house, in no need of money.

"'I asked her what she meant by writing me that she was dying in a
garret, and she laughed, and said she had done so because she was
afraid, unless I thought she needed help, I would not try to see her.
That was where we were when you arrived. And now,' Chetney added, 'I
will say good-by to her, and you had better return home. No, you can
trust me, I shall follow you at once. She has no influence over me
now, but I believe, in spite of the way she has used me, that she is,
after her queer fashion, still fond of me, and when she learns that
this good-by is final there may be a scene, and it is not fair to her
that you should be here. So, go home at once, and tell the governor
that I am following you in ten minutes.' "'That,' said Arthur, 'is the
way we parted. I never left him on more friendly terms. I was happy to
see him alive again, I was happy to think he had returned in time to
make up his quarrel with my father, and I was happy that at last he
was shut of that woman. I was never better pleased with him in my
life.' He turned to Inspector Lyle, who was sitting at the foot of the
bed taking notes of all he told us.

"'Why in the name of common sense,' he cried, 'should I have chosen
that moment of all others to send my brother back to the grave!' For a
moment the Inspector did not answer him. I do not know if any of you
gentlemen are acquainted with Inspector Lyle, but if you are not, I
can assure you that he is a very remarkable man. Our firm often
applies to him for aid, and he has never failed us; my father has the
greatest possible respect for him. Where he has the advantage over the
ordinary police official is in the fact that he possesses imagination.
He imagines himself to be the criminal, imagines how he would act
under the same circumstances, and he imagines to such purpose that he
generally finds the man he wants. I have often told Lyle that if he
had not been a detective he would have made a great success as a poet,
or a playwright.

"When Arthur turned on him, Lyle hesitated for a moment, and then told
him exactly what was the case against him.

"'Ever since your brother was reported as having died in Africa,' he
said, 'your Lordship has been collecting money on post-obits. Lord
Chetney's arrival last night turned them into waste paper. You were
suddenly in debt for thousands of pounds--for much more than you could
ever possibly pay. No one knew that you and your brother had met at
Madame Zichy's. But you knew that your father was not expected to
outlive the night, and that if your brother were dead also, you would
be saved from complete ruin, and that you would become the Marquis of

"'Oh, that is how you have worked it out, is it?' Arthur cried. 'And
for me to become Lord Edam was it necessary that the woman should die,

"'They will say,' Lyle answered, 'that she was a witness to the murder
--that she would have told.'

"'Then why did I not kill the servant as well!' Arthur said.

"'He was asleep, and saw nothing.'

"'And you believe _that?_' Arthur demanded.

"'It is not a question of what I believe,' Lyle said gravely. 'It is a
question for your peers.'

"'The man is insolent!' Arthur cried. 'The thing is monstrous!

"Before we could stop him he sprang out of his cot and began pulling
on his clothes. When the nurses tried to hold him down, he fought with

"'Do you think you can keep me here,' he shouted, 'when they are
plotting to hang me? I am going with you to that house!' he cried at
Lyle. 'When you find those bodies I shall be beside you. It is my
right.  He is my brother. He has been murdered, and I can tell you who
murdered him. That woman murdered him. She first ruined his life, and
now she has killed him. For the last five years she has been plotting
to make herself his wife, and last night, when he told her he had
discovered the truth about the Russian, and that she would never see
him again, she flew into a passion and stabbed him, and then, in
terror of the gallows, killed herself. She murdered him, I tell you,
and I promise you that we will find the knife she used near
her--perhaps still in her hand. What will you say to that?'

"Lyle turned his head away and stared down at the floor. 'I might
say,' he answered, 'that you placed it there.'

"Arthur gave a cry of anger and sprang at him, and then pitched
forward into his arms. The blood was running from the cut under the
bandage, and he had fainted. Lyle carried him back to the bed again,
and we left him with the police and the doctors, and drove at once to
the address he had given us. We found the house not three minutes'
walk from St. George's Hospital. It stands in Trevor Terrace, that
little row of houses set back from Knightsbridge, with one end in Hill

"As we left the hospital Lyle had said to me, 'You must not blame me
for treating him as I did. All is fair in this work, and if by
angering that boy I could have made him commit himself I was right in
trying to do so; though, I assure you, no one would be better pleased
than myself if I could prove his theory to be correct. But we cannot
tell. Everything depends upon what we see for ourselves within the
next few minutes.'

"When we reached the house, Lyle broke open the fastenings of one of
the windows on the ground floor, and, hidden by the trees in the
garden, we scrambled in. We found ourselves in the reception-room,
which was the first room on the right of the hall. The gas was still
burning behind the colored glass and red silk shades, and when the
daylight streamed in after us it gave the hall a hideously dissipated
look, like the foyer of a theatre at a matinee, or the entrance to an
all-day gambling hell. The house was oppressively silent, and because
we knew why it was so silent we spoke in whispers. When Lyle turned
the handle of the drawing-room door, I felt as though some one had put
his hand upon my throat. But I followed close at his shoulder, and
saw, in the subdued light of many-tinted lamps, the body of Chetney at
the foot of the divan, just as Lieutenant Sears had described it. In
the drawing-room we found the body of the Princess Zichy, her arms
thrown out, and the blood from her heart frozen in a tiny line across
her bare shoulder. But neither of us, although we searched the floor
on our hands and knees, could find the weapon which had killed her.

"'For Arthur's sake,' I said, 'I would have given a thousand pounds if
we had found the knife in her hand, as he said we would.'

"'That we have not found it there,' Lyle answered, 'is to my mind the
strongest proof that he is telling the truth, that he left the house
before the murder took place. He is not a fool, and had he stabbed his
brother and this woman, he would have seen that by placing the knife
near her he could help to make it appear as if she had killed Chetney
and then committed suicide. Besides, Lord Arthur insisted that the
evidence in his behalf would be our finding the knife here. He would
not have urged that if he knew we would _not_ find it, if he knew he
himself had carried it away. This is no suicide. A suicide does not
rise and hide the weapon with which he kills himself, and then lie
down again. No, this has been a double murder, and we must look
outside of the house for the murderer.'

"While he was speaking Lyle and I had been searching every corner,
studying the details of each room. I was so afraid that, without
telling me, he would make some deductions prejudicial to Arthur, that
I never left his side. I was determined to see everything that he saw,
and, if possible, to prevent his interpreting it in the wrong way. He
finally finished his examination, and we sat down together in the
drawing-room, and he took out his notebook and read aloud all that Mr.
Sears had told him of the murder and what we had just learned from
Arthur. We compared the two accounts word for word, and weighed
statement with statement, but I could not determine from anything Lyle
said which of the two versions he had decided to believe.

"'We are trying to build a house of blocks,' he exclaimed, 'with half
of the blocks missing. We have been considering two theories,' he went
on: 'one that Lord Arthur is responsible for both murders, and the
other that the dead woman in there is responsible for one of them, and
has committed suicide; but, until the Russian servant is ready to
talk, I shall refuse to believe in the guilt of either.'

"'What can you prove by him!' I asked. 'He was drunk and asleep. He
saw nothing.'

"Lyle hesitated, and then, as though he had made up his mind to be
quite frank with me, spoke freely.

"'I do not know that he was either drunk or asleep,' he answered.
'Lieutenant Sears describes him as a stupid boor. I am not satisfied
that he is not a clever actor. What was his position in this house!
What was his real duty here? Suppose it was not to guard this woman,
but to watch her. Let us imagine that it was not the woman he served,
but a master, and see where that leads us. For this house has a
master, a mysterious, absentee landlord, who lives in St. Petersburg,
the unknown Russian who came between Chetney and Zichy, and because of
whom Chetney left her. He is the man who bought this house for Madame
Zichy, who sent these rugs and curtains from St. Petersburg to furnish
it for her after his own tastes, and, I believe, it was he also who
placed the Russian servant here, ostensibly to serve the Princess, but
in reality to spy upon her.  At Scotland Yard we do not know who this
gentleman is; the Russian police confess to equal ignorance concerning
him. When Lord Chetney went to Africa, Madame Zichy lived in St.
Petersburg; but there her receptions and dinners were so crowded with
members of the nobility and of the army and diplomats, that among so
many visitors the police could not learn which was the one for whom
she most greatly cared.'

"Lyle pointed at the modern French paintings and the heavy silk rugs
which hung upon the walls.

"'The unknown is a man of taste and of some fortune,' he said, 'not
the sort of man to send a stupid peasant to guard the woman he loves.
So I am not content to believe, with Mr. Sears, that the servant is a
boor. I believe him instead to be a very clever ruffian. I believe him
to be the protector of his master's honor, or, let us say, of his
master's property, whether that property be silver plate or the woman
his master loves. Last night, after Lord Arthur had gone away, the
servant was left alone in this house with Lord Chetney and Madame
Zichy. From where he sat in the hall he could hear Lord Chetney
bidding her farewell; for, if my idea of him is correct, he
understands English quite as well as you or I. Let us imagine that he
heard her entreating Chetney not to leave her, reminding him of his
former wish to marry her, and let us suppose that he hears Chetney
denounce her, and tell her that at Cairo he has learned of this
Russian admirer--the servant's master. He hears the woman declare that
she has had no admirer but himself, that this unknown Russian was, and
is, nothing to her, that there is no man she loves but him, and that
she cannot live, knowing that he is alive, without his love. Suppose
Chetney believed her, suppose his former infatuation for her returned,
and that in a moment of weakness he forgave her and took her in his
arms. That is the moment the Russian master has feared. It is to guard
against it that he has placed his watchdog over the Princess, and how
do we know but that, when the moment came, the watchdog served his
master, as he saw his duty, and killed them both? What do you think?'
Lyle demanded. 'Would not that explain both murders?'

"I was only too willing to hear any theory which pointed to any one
else as the criminal than Arthur, but Lyle's explanation was too
utterly fantastic. I told him that he certainly showed imagination,
but that he could not hang a man for what he imagined he had done.

"'No,' Lyle answered, 'but I can frighten him by telling him what I
think he has done, and now when I again question the Russian servant I
will make it quite clear to him that I believe he is the murderer. I
think that will open his mouth. A man will at least talk to defend
himself. Come,' he said, 'we must return at once to Scotland Yard and
see him. There is nothing more to do here.'

"He arose, and I followed him into the hall, and in another minute we
would have been on our way to Scotland Yard. But just as he opened the
street door a postman halted at the gate of the garden, and began
fumbling with the latch.

"Lyle stopped, with an exclamation of chagrin.

"'How stupid of me!' he exclaimed. He turned quickly and pointed to a
narrow slit cut in the brass plate of the front door. 'The house has a
private letter-box,' he said, 'and I had not thought to look in it! If
we had gone out as we came in, by the window, I would never have seen
it. The moment I entered the house I should have thought of securing
the letters which came this morning. I have been grossly careless.' He
stepped back into the hall and pulled at the lid of the letter-box,
which hung on the inside of the door, but it was tightly locked. At
the same moment the postman came up the steps holding a letter.
Without a word Lyle took it from his hand and began to examine it. It
was addressed to the Princess Zichy, and on the back of the envelope
was the name of a West End dressmaker.

"'That is of no use to me,' Lyle said. He took out his card and showed
it to the postman. 'I am Inspector Lyle from Scotland Yard,' he said.
'The people in this house are under arrest. Everything it contains is
now in my keeping. Did you deliver any other letters here this

"The man looked frightened, but answered promptly that he was now upon
his third round. He had made one postal delivery at seven that morning
and another at eleven.

"'How many letters did you leave here!' Lyle asked.

"'About six altogether,' the man answered.

"'Did you put them through the door into the letter-box!'

"The postman said, 'Yes, I always slip them into the box, and ring and
go away. The servants collect them from the inside.'

"'Have you noticed if any of the letters you leave here bear a Russian
postage stamp!' Lyle asked.

"The man answered, 'Oh, yes, sir, a great many.'

"'From the same person, would you say!'

"'The writing seems to be the same,' the man answered. 'They come
regularly about once a week--one of those I delivered this morning had
a Russian postmark.'

"'That will do,' said Lyle eagerly. 'Thank you, thank you very much.'

"He ran back into the hall, and, pulling out his penknife, began to
pick at the lock of the letter-box.

"'I have been supremely careless,' he said in great excitement. 'Twice
before when people I wanted had flown from a house I have been able to
follow them by putting a guard over their mail-box. These letters,
which arrive regularly every week from Russia in the same handwriting,
they can come but from one person. At least, we shall now know the
name of the master of this house. Undoubtedly it is one of his letters
that the man placed here this morning. We may make a most important

"As he was talking he was picking at the lock with his knife, but he
was so impatient to reach the letters that he pressed too heavily on
the blade and it broke in his hand. I took a step backward and drove
my heel into the lock, and burst it open. The lid flew back, and we
pressed forward, and each ran his hand down into the letter-box. For a
moment we were both too startled to move. The box was empty.

"I do not know how long we stood staring stupidly at each other, but
it was Lyle who was the first to recover. He seized me by the arm and
pointed excitedly into the empty box.

"'Do you appreciate what that means?' he cried. 'It means that some
one has been here ahead of us. Some one has entered this house not
three hours before we came, since eleven o'clock this morning.'

"'It was the Russian servant!' I exclaimed.

"'The Russian servant has been under arrest at Scotland Yard,' Lyle
cried. 'He could not have taken the letters. Lord Arthur has been in
his cot at the hospital. That is his alibi. There is some one else,
some one we do not suspect, and that some one is the murderer. He came
back here either to obtain those letters because he knew they would
convict him, or to remove something he had left here at the time of
the murder, something incriminating,--the weapon, perhaps, or some
personal article; a cigarette-case, a handkerchief with his name upon
it, or a pair of gloves. Whatever it was it must have been damning
evidence against him to have made him take so desperate a chance.'

"'How do we know,' I whispered, 'that he is not hidden here now?'

"'No, I'll swear he is not,' Lyle answered. 'I may have bungled in
some things, but I have searched this house thoroughly. Nevertheless,'
he added, 'we must go over it again, from the cellar to the roof. We
have the real clew now, and we must forget the others and work only
it.' As he spoke he began again to search the drawing-room, turning
over even the books on the tables and the music on the piano.
"'Whoever the man is,' he said over his shoulder, 'we know that he has
a key to the front door and a key to the letter-box. That shows us he
is either an inmate of the house or that he comes here when he wishes.
The Russian says that he was the only servant in the house. Certainly
we have found no evidence to show that any other servant slept here.
There could be but one other person who would possess a key to the
house and the letter-box--and he lives in St. Petersburg. At the time
of the murder he was two thousand miles away.' Lyle interrupted
himself suddenly with a sharp cry and turned upon me with his eyes
flashing. 'But was he?' he cried. 'Was he? How do we know that last
night he was not in London, in this very house when Zichy and Chetney

"He stood staring at me without seeing me, muttering, and arguing with

"'Don't speak to me,' he cried, as I ventured to interrupt him. 'I can
see it now. It is all plain. It was not the servant, but his master,
the Russian himself, and it was he who came back for the letters! He
came back for them because he knew they would convict him. We must
find them.  We must have those letters. If we find the one with the
Russian postmark, we shall have found the murderer.' He spoke like a
madman, and as he spoke he ran around the room with one hand held out
in front of him as you have seen a mind-reader at a theatre seeking
for something hidden in the stalls. He pulled the old letters from the
writing-desk, and ran them over as swiftly as a gambler deals out
cards; he dropped on his knees before the fireplace and dragged out
the dead coals with his bare fingers, and then with a low, worried
cry, like a hound on a scent, he ran back to the waste-paper basket
and, lifting the papers from it, shook them out upon the floor.
Instantly he gave a shout of triumph, and, separating a number of torn
pieces from the others, held them up before me.

"'Look!' he cried. 'Do you see? Here are five letters, torn across in
two places. The Russian did not stop to read them, for, as you see, he
has left them still sealed. I have been wrong. He did not return for
the letters. He could not have known their value. He must have
returned for some other reason, and, as he was leaving, saw the
letter-box, and taking out the letters, held them together--so--and
tore them twice across, and then, as the fire had gone out, tossed
them into this basket. Look!' he cried, 'here in the upper corner of
this piece is a Russian stamp. This is his own letter--unopened!'

"We examined the Russian stamp and found it had been cancelled in St.
Petersburg four days ago. The back of the envelope bore the postmark
of the branch station in upper Sloane Street, and was dated this
morning.  The envelope was of official blue paper and we had no
difficulty in finding the two other parts of it. We drew the torn
pieces of the letter from them and joined them together side by side.
There were but two lines of writing, and this was the message: 'I
leave Petersburg on the night train, and I shall see you at Trevor
Terrace after dinner Monday evening.'

"'That was last night!' Lyle cried. 'He arrived twelve hours ahead of
his letter--but it came in time--it came in time to hang him!'"

The Baronet struck the table with his hand.

"The name!" he demanded. "How was it signed? What was the man's name!"

The young Solicitor rose to his feet and, leaning forward, stretched
out his arm. "There was no name," he cried. "The letter was signed
with only two initials. But engraved at the top of the sheet was the
man's address. That address was 'THE AMERICAN EMBASSY, ST. PETERSBURG,
BUREAU or THE NAVAL ATTACHE,' and the initials," he shouted, his voice
rising into an exultant and bitter cry, "were those of the gentleman
who sits opposite who told us that he was the first to find the
murdered bodies, the Naval Attache to Russia, Lieutenant Sears!"

A strained and awful hush followed the Solicitor's words, which seemed
to vibrate like a twanging bowstring that had just hurled its bolt.
Sir Andrew, pale and staring, drew away with an exclamation of
repulsion.  His eyes were fastened upon the Naval Attache with
fascinated horror.  But the American emitted a sigh of great content,
and sank comfortably into the arms of his chair. He clapped his hands
softly together.

"Capital!" he murmured. "I give you my word I never guessed what you
were driving at. You fooled _me,_ I'll be hanged if you didn't--you
certainly fooled me."

The man with the pearl stud leaned forward with a nervous gesture.
"Hush! be careful!" he whispered. But at that instant, for the third
time, a servant, hastening through the room, handed him a piece of
paper which he scanned eagerly. The message on the paper read, "The
light over the Commons is out. The House has risen."

The man with the black pearl gave a mighty shout, and tossed the paper
from him upon the table.

"Hurrah!" he cried. "The House is up! We've won!" He caught up his
glass, and slapped the Naval Attache violently upon the shoulder. He
nodded joyously at him, at the Solicitor, and at the Queen's
Messenger.  "Gentlemen, to you!" he cried; "my thanks and my
congratulations!" He drank deep from the glass, and breathed forth a
long sigh of satisfaction and relief.

"But I say," protested the Queen's Messenger, shaking his finger
violently at the Solicitor, "that story won't do. You didn't play
fair--and--and you talked so fast I couldn't make out what it was all
about. I'll bet you that evidence wouldn't hold in a court of law--you
couldn't hang a cat on such evidence. Your story is condemned
tommy-rot. Now my story might have happened, my story bore the

In the joy of creation the story-tellers had forgotten their audience,
until a sudden exclamation from Sir Andrew caused them to turn
guiltily toward him. His face was knit with lines of anger, doubt, and

"What does this mean!" he cried. "Is this a jest, or are you mad? If
you know this man is a murderer, why is he at large? Is this a game
you have been playing? Explain yourselves at once. What does it mean?"

The American, with first a glance at the others, rose and bowed

"I am not a murderer, Sir Andrew, believe me," he said; "you need not
be alarmed. As a matter of fact, at this moment I am much more afraid
of you than you could possibly be of me. I beg you please to be
indulgent.  I assure you, we meant no disrespect. We have been
matching stories, that is all, pretending that we are people we are
not, endeavoring to entertain you with better detective tales than,
for instance, the last one you read, 'The Great Rand Robbery.'"

The Baronet brushed his hand nervously across his forehead.

"Do you mean to tell me," he exclaimed, "that none of this has
happened?  That Lord Chetney is not dead, that his Solicitor did not
find a letter of yours written from your post in Petersburg, and that
just now, when he charged you with murder, he was in jest?"

"I am really very sorry," said the American, "but you see, sir, he
could not have found a letter written by me in St. Petersburg because
I have never been in Petersburg. Until this week, I have never been
outside of my own country. I am not a naval officer. I am a writer of
short stories. And tonight, when this gentleman told me that you were
fond of detective stories, I thought it would be amusing to tell you
one of my own--one I had just mapped out this afternoon."

"But Lord Chetney _is_ a real person," interrupted the Baronet, "and
he did go to Africa two years ago, and he was supposed to have died
there, and his brother, Lord Arthur, has been the heir. And yesterday
Chetney did return. I read it in the papers." "So did I," assented the
American soothingly; "and it struck me as being a very good plot for a
story. I mean his unexpected return from the dead, and the probable
disappointment of the younger brother. So I decided that the younger
brother had better murder the older one. The Princess Zichy I invented
out of a clear sky.  The fog I did not have to invent. Since last
night I know all that there is to know about a London fog. I was lost
in one for three hours."

The Baronet turned grimly upon the Queen's Messenger.

"But this gentleman," he protested, "he is not a writer of short
stories; he is a member of the Foreign Office. I have often seen him
in Whitehall, and, according to him, the Princess Zichy is not an
invention. He says she is very well known, that she tried to rob him."

The servant of the Foreign Office looked unhappily at the Cabinet
Minister, and puffed nervously on his cigar.

"It's true, Sir Andrew, that I am a Queen's Messenger," he said
appealingly, "and a Russian woman once did try to rob a Queen's
Messenger in a railway carriage--only it did not happen to me, but to
a pal of mine. The only Russian Princess I ever knew called herself
Zabrisky. You may have seen her. She used to do a dive from the roof
of the Aquarium."

Sir Andrew, with a snort of indignation, fronted the young Solicitor.

"And I suppose yours was a cock-and-bull story, too," he said. "Of
course, it must have been, since Lord Chetney is not dead. But don't
tell me," he protested, "that you are not Chudleigh's son either."

"I'm sorry," said the youngest member, smiling in some embarrassment,
"but my name is not Chudleigh. I assure you, though, that I know the
family very well, and that I am on very good terms with them."

"You should be!" exclaimed the Baronet; "and, judging from the
liberties you take with the Chetneys, you had better be on very good
terms with them, too."

The young man leaned back and glanced toward the servants at the far
end of the room.

"It has been so long since I have been in the Club," he said, "that I
doubt if even the waiters remember me. Perhaps Joseph may," he added.
"Joseph!" he called, and at the word a servant stepped briskly

The young man pointed to the stuffed head of a great lion which was
suspended above the fireplace.

"Joseph," he said, "I want you to tell these gentlemen who shot that
lion. Who presented it to the Grill?"

Joseph, unused to acting as master of ceremonies to members of the
Club, shifted nervously from one foot to the other.

"Why, you--you did," he stammered.

"Of course I did!" exclaimed the young man. "I mean, what is the name
of the man who shot it! Tell the gentlemen who I am. They wouldn't
believe me."

"Who you are, my lord?" said Joseph. "You are Lord Edam's son, the
Earl of Chetney."

"You must admit," said Lord Chetney, when the noise had died away,
"that I couldn't remain dead while my little brother was accused of
murder. I had to do something. Family pride demanded it. Now, Arthur,
as the younger brother, can't afford to be squeamish, but personally I
should hate to have a brother of mine hanged for murder."

"You certainly showed no scruples against hanging me," said the
American, "but in the face of your evidence I admit my guilt, and I
sentence myself to pay the full penalty of the law as we are made to
pay it in my own country. The order of this court is," he announced,
"that Joseph shall bring me a wine card, and that I sign it for five
bottles of the Club's best champagne." "Oh, no!" protested the man
with the pearl stud, "it is not for _you_ to sign it. In my opinion it
is Sir Andrew who should pay the costs. It is time you knew," he said,
turning to that gentleman, "that unconsciously you have been the
victim of what I may call a patriotic conspiracy. These stories have
had a more serious purpose than merely to amuse. They have been told
with the worthy object of detaining you from the House of Commons. I
must explain to you, that all through this evening I have had a
servant waiting in Trafalgar Square with instructions to bring me word
as soon as the light over the House of Commons had ceased to burn. The
light is now out, and the object for which we plotted is attained."

The Baronet glanced keenly at the man with the black pearl, and then
quickly at his watch. The smile disappeared from his lips, and his
face was set in stern and forbidding lines.

"And may I know," he asked icily, "what was the object of your plot!"

"A most worthy one," the other retorted. "Our object was to keep you
from advocating the expenditure of many millions of the people's money
upon more battleships. In a word, we have been working together to
prevent you from passing the Navy Increase Bill."

Sir Andrew's face bloomed with brilliant color. His body shook with
suppressed emotion.

"My dear sir!" he cried, "you should spend more time at the House and
less at your Club. The Navy Bill was brought up on its third reading
at eight o'clock this evening. I spoke for three hours in its favor.
My only reason for wishing to return again to the House to-night was
to sup on the terrace with my old friend, Admiral Simons; for my work
at the House was completed five hours ago, when the Navy Increase Bill
was passed by an overwhelming majority."

The Baronet rose and bowed. "I have to thank you, sir," he said, "for
a most interesting evening."

The American shoved the wine card which Joseph had given him toward
the gentleman with the black pearl.

"You sign it," he said.


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