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Title: Mr Justice Maxell (1922)
Author: Edgar Wallace
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Title: Mr Justice Maxell (1922)
Author: Edgar Wallace



CHAPTER I


It was two hours after the muezzin had called to evening prayer, and
night had canopied Tangier with a million stars. In the little Sok, the
bread-sellers sat cross-legged behind their wares, their candles
burning steadily, for there was not so much as the whisper of a wind
blowing. The monotonous strumming of a guitar from a Moorish cafe, the
agonised barlak! of a belated donkey-driver bringing his charge down the
steep streets which lead to the big bazaar, the shuffle of bare feet on
Tangier's cobbles, and the distant hush-hush of the rollers breaking
upon the amber shore--these were the only sounds which the night held.

John Maxell sat outside the Continental Cafe, in the condition of bodily
content which a good dinner induces. Mental content should have
accompanied such a condition, but even the memory of a perfect dinner
could not wholly obliterate a certain uneasiness of mind. He had been
uneasy when he came to Tangier, and his journey through France and Spain
had been accompanied by certain apprehensions and doubts which
Cartwright had by no means dispelled.

Rather, by his jovial evasions, his cheery optimism, and at times his
irritable outbreaks of temper, he had given the eminent King's Counsel
further cause for disquiet.

Cartwright sat at the other side of the table, and was unusually quiet.
This was a circumstance which was by no means displeasing to Maxell, for
the night was not conducive to talk. There are in North Africa many
nights like this, when one wishes to sit in dead silence and let thought
take its own course, unchecked and untrammelled. In Morocco such nights
are common and, anyway, Maxell had always found it difficult to discuss
business matters after dinner.

Cartwright had no temperament and his quiet was due to other causes. It
was he who broke the silence, knocking out his pipe on the iron-topped
table with a bang which jarred his more sensitive companion to the very
spine.

"I'd stake my life and my soul on there being a reef," he said with a
suddenness which was almost as jarring. "Why, you've seen the outcrop
for yourself, and isn't it exactly the same formation as you see on the
Rand?"

Maxell nodded.

Though a common-law man, he had been associated in mining cases and had
made a very careful study of the whole problem of gold extraction.

"It looks right enough to me," he said, "but as against that we have the
fact that some clever engineers have spent a great deal of time and
money trying to locate the reef. That there is gold in Morocco everybody
knows, and I should say, Cartwright, that you are right. But where is
the reef? It would cost a fortune to bore, even though we had the other
borings to guide us."

The other made an impatient noise.

"Of course, if the reef were all mapped out it would be a simple matter,
but then we shouldn't get on to it, as we are to-day, at the cost of a
few thousands. Hang it all, Maxell, we've got to take a certain amount
of risk! I know it's a gamble quite as well as you. There's no sense in
arguing that point with me. But other things are gambles too. Law was a
gamble to you for many years, and a bigger gamble after you took silk."

This was a sore point with Maxell, as the other knew. A prosperous
junior, he had been called within the Bar, and taken upon himself the
function and style of King's Counsellor in the hope that his prosperity
would still further be expanded. And, like so many other men, he had
discovered that the successful junior is not necessarily the successful
K.C.

Fortunately for him, he had not long before he contested and won a seat in
Parliament, and his service to the Government of the day had to some
extent ensured his future. But, financially, he had suffered
considerably.

"No," he said, "silk isn't any great catch to a man, I agree; and it was
certainly a gamble, and a losing gamble."

"Which reminds me," said Cartwright, "there was talk, before I left
London, that you would be given Cabinet rank."

Maxell laughed.

"It is extremely unlikely," he said. "Anyway, if they make me
Solicitor-General, that doesn't carry Cabinet rank."

"It carries a lot of money," said Cartwright after a pause for a moment,
"and it's money that counts just now, Maxell."

Again the lawyer nodded.

He might have added that, but for the need for money, he would long
since have dropped his association with Alfred Cartwright, though
Cartwright's name stood very high in certain circles of the City of
London. They had been at school together, though in that period there
had been no very great friendship between them. And Cartwright was
marked out for success from the beginning. He inherited a considerable
business when his father died, and he enlarged and improved upon it. He
had taken up a hundred and one outside interests, and had made most of
them pay. A few of them did not pay, and it was whispered that the
losses upon his failures took a considerable slice of the balance that
accrued from his successes.

They had met again when Maxell was a junior and Cartwright the defendant
in a case which, had he lost, would have made him some thirty thousand
pounds the poorer. When Maxell thought back upon that event, he had to
confess that it was not a pleasant case, being one in which Cartwright
had been charged with something which was tantamount to
misrepresentation; and, although he had won, and won brilliantly, he had
never felt any great pride in his achievement.

"No," he said (the pauses were frequent and long), "I should hardly
imagine that the Prime Minister loves me to that extent. In Parliament
you have to be an uncomfortable quantity to be really successful. You
must be strong enough to have a national following, and sufficiently
independent to keep the Whips guessing. I am known as a safe man, and I
hold a safe seat, which I couldn't lose if I tried. That doesn't make
for promotion. Of course, I could have had an Under-Secretaryship for
the asking, and that means a couple of thousand a year, but it also
means that you last out the life of the administration in a subordinate
capacity, and that, by the time you have made good, your party is in the
cold shade of opposition, and there are no jobs going."

He shook his head, and returned immediately to the question of the
missing reef, as though he wished to take the subject from his own
personal affairs.

"You say that it would cost us a lot of money if the reef was proved,"
he said. "Isn't it costing us a lot now?"

Cartwright hesitated.

"Yes, it is. As a matter of fact," he confessed, "the actual reef is
costing nothing, or next to nothing, because El Mograb is helping me. In
our own business--that is to say, in the Syndicate--our expenses are
more or less small; but I am doing a little independent buying, and that
has meant the spending of money. I am taking up all the ground to the
south of the Angera--a pretty expensive business."

Maxell shifted uneasily in his chair.

"That is rather worrying me, you know, Cartwright," he said; "your
scheme is ever so much too ambitious. I was figuring it out this
afternoon as I was sitting in my room, and I came to the conclusion
that, if the scheme as you outlined it to me yesterday went through, it
would mean your finding two millions."

"Three," corrected the other cheerfully, "but think what it means,
Maxell! Supposing it went through. Supposing we struck a reef, and the
reef continued, as I believe it will, through the country I am taking
up! Why, it may mean a hundred millions to me!"

The other sighed.

"I have reached the point where I think a hundred thousand is an
enormous sum," he said. "However, you know your own business best,
Cartwright. But I want to be satisfied in the matter in which we are
associated together, that my liability does not exceed my power to pay.
And there is another matter."

Cartwright guessed the "other matter."

"Well?" he asked.

"I was looking over your titles this afternoon," said Maxell, "and I see
no reference to the old Spanish working. I remember that you told me a
Spaniard had taken up a considerable stretch of country and had
exhausted his capital trying to prove the reef--Senor Brigot, wasn't
that his name?"

The other nodded curtly.

"A drunkard--and a bad lot," he said. "He's broke."

Maxell smiled.

"His moral character doesn't count so far as the details go; what does
matter is that if your theory is correct, the reef must run through his
property. What are you going to do about that?"

"Buy him out," said the other.

He rose abruptly.

"I'm walking up to the Sok," he said. "Come along?"

They tramped up the long, steep hill-street together, and they did not
speak till they had passed through the ancient gate into the unrelieved
gloom which lies outside the city.

"I don't understand you, Maxell--you take an old man's view of things,"
said Cartwright irritably. "You're comparatively young, you're a
good-looker. Why the devil don't you marry, and marry money?"

Maxell laughed.

"Have you ever tried to marry money?" he asked dryly.

"No," said the other after a pause, "but I should think it is pretty
simple."

"Try it," said the laconic Maxell. "It is simple in books, but in real
life it is next to impossible. I go about a great deal in society of all
kinds, and I can tell you that I have never yet met an eligible spinster
with money--that is to say, large money. I agree with you," he went on
after a while, "a man like myself should marry. And he should marry
well. I could give a woman a good position, but she's got to be the
right kind of woman. There are some times when I'm just frantic about my
position. I am getting older--I am forty-seven next birthday--and every
day that slips past is a day lost. I ought to be married, but I can't
afford a wife. It is a blackguardly thing to talk about money in
connection with marriage and yet somehow I can think of nothing
else--whenever the thought arises in my mind I see an imaginary beauty
sitting on a bag of gold!" He chuckled to himself. "Let's go back," he
said, "the big Sok always gives me the creeps."

Something lumbered past him in the darkness, some big, overpowering
beast with an unpleasant smell, and a guttural voice cried in Arabic:
"Beware!"

"Camels!" said Cartwright briefly. "They're bringing in the stuff for
the morning market. The night's young yet, Maxell. Let us go up to the
theatre."

"The theatre?" said Maxell. "I didn't even know the theatre was open."

"It is called theatre by courtesy," explained Cartwright; "the
inhabitants refer to it as the circus. It's a big wooden place on the
sea edge--"

"I know it, I know it," said Maxell. "What is being played? The only
people I have ever seen there have been Spanish artistes--and pretty bad
artistes, too."

"Well, there's a treat for you. It is an English company, or rather, a
variety company with a number of English turns," said Cartwright. "We
might do worse--at least, I might," he added ominously.

When they reached the theatre they found it sparsely filled. Cartwright
took one of the open boxes, and his companion settled himself into a
corner to smoke. The turns were of the kind which are usually to be met
with on the Levant; a tawdrily attired lady sang a humorous song in
Spanish, the humour being frankly indecent. There were a juggler and a
man with performing dogs, and then "Miss O'Grady" was announced.

"English," said Cartwright, turning to the programme.

"She may even be Irish," said Maxell dryly.

The wheezy little orchestra played a few bars and the girl came on. She
was pretty--there was no doubt about that--and of a prettiness which
satisfied both men. She was also British or American, for the song she
sang was in French with which both men were familiar.

"It is horrible to see an English girl in a place like this and in such
company," said Maxell.

Cartwright nodded.

"I wonder where she's staying," he asked, half to himself, and a
contemptuous little smile curled Maxell's lips.

"Are you going to rescue her from infamous surroundings?" he asked, and
Cartwright snapped round on him.

"I wish to heaven you wouldn't be sarcastic, Maxell. That's twice this
evening--"

"Sorry," said the other, snicking off the ash of his cigar. "I am in a
cynical mood to-night."

He raised his hands to applaud the girl as she bowed herself from the
stage, and glanced round the house. Three boxes away was a small party
of men, whom he judged were the sons of prosperous members of the
Spanish colony. Their fingers flashed with diamonds, their cigarettes
burnt from jewelled holders. Cartwright followed the direction of the
other's eyes.

"She's made a hit, that Miss O'Grady," he said. "These fellows will be
tumbling over one another to present her with verbal bouquets. I wonder
where she lives!" he said again.

Presently the young men rose in a body and left the box, and Cartwright
grinned.

"Do you mind hanging on here whilst I go outside?"

"Not a bit," said the other. "Where are you off to? To find out where
she lives?"

"There you go again," grumbled Cartwright. "I think Tangier makes you
liverish."

When he had got on to the promenade, the men had disappeared, but a
question directed to the head attendant revealed, as he had expected,
the objective of the little party at the stage door.

The stage door was reached from the outside of the theatre and involved
a journey over rubble and brick heaps. Presently he came to an open
doorway, where sat a solitary half-caste smoking a pipe and reading an
old Heraldo.

"Oh, hombre," said Cartwright in Spanish, "have you seen my three
friends come in here?"

"Yes, Senor," nodded the man; "they have just entered."

He indicated the direction, which lay through a dark and smelly passage.

Cartwright walked along this stuffy hallway, and, turning the corner,
came upon an interesting group gathered about a closed door, against
which one, and the least sober, of the party was hammering. Near by
stood a small, stout man in soiled evening dress, grinning his approval,
and it was clear that the visitors were at once known and welcome.

"Open the door, my dream of joy," hiccupped the young man, hammering at
the panel. "We have come to bring you homage and adoration--tell her to
open the door, Jose," he addressed the manager of Tangier's theatre, and
the small man minced forward and spoke in English.

"It is all right, my dear. Some friends of mine wish to see you."

A voice inside, which Cartwright recognised, answered: "I will not see
them. Tell them to go away."

"You hear?" said the manager, shrugging his shoulders. "She will not see
you. Now go back to your seats and let me persuade her."

"Senor!" He raised his eyebrows to the unexpected apparition of
Cartwright. "What are you doing here?"

"I have come to see my friend," said Cartwright, "Miss O'Grady."

"It is forbidden to enter the theatre through the saloon of artistes,"
said the small man pompously. "If Miss O'Grady is your friend, you must
wait for her until the performance is over."

Cartwright took no notice. He was a tall man of athletic build, and
shouldering his way past the others with no difficulty, he tapped on the
panel.

"Miss O'Grady," he said, "here is an English visitor wants to see you!"

"English?" said the voice. "Come in for the love of Mike!"

The door was opened, and a girl with a silk kimono pulled over her stage
dress, offered him a smiling welcome. The young Spaniard who had been
hammering on the panel of the door would have followed, but Cartwright's
arm barred him.

"Do you want this fellow?" he asked.

"Do I want him--" said Miss O'Grady bitterly, "do I want the scarlet
fever or measles? You bet I don't want him. He's been pestering me ever
since I've been here."

"Do you hear what the lady says?" said Cartwright, speaking in Spanish.
"She does not desire your acquaintance."

"My father owns this theatre," said the young man loudly.

"Then he's got a rotten property," replied the calm Cartwright.

The Spaniard turned in a rage to his soiled satellite.

"You will put this man out at once, Jose, or there will be trouble for
you,"

The little man shrugged his helplessness.

"Sir," he said in English, "you see my unhappy position. The senor is
the son of my proprietor and it will be bad for me if you stay. I ask
you as a friend and caballero to go at once and spare me misfortune."

Cartwright looked at the girl.

"Must you go on again in this infernal place?" he asked.

She nodded, laughter and admiration in her eyes.

"What happens if you chuck this infernal job?"

"I'm fired," said the girl. "I've a ten weeks' contract with these
people."

"What do you get?"

"Two hundred and fifty pesetas a week," she said contemptuously. "It's a
wonderful salary, isn't it?"

He nodded.

"How many more weeks have you to go before your contract is finished?"

"Another four," she said; "we're playing in Cadiz next week, in Seville
the week after, then Malaga, then Granada."

"Do you like it?"

"Like it!" the scorn in her voice was her answer.

"The dresses belong to the troupe, I guess," he said. "Get into your
street clothes and I'll wait for you."

"What are you going to do?" she asked, eyeing him narrowly.

"I'll make good your lost contract," he said.

"Why?"

He shrugged his shoulders. "I don't like to see an English girl--"

"Irish," she corrected.

"I mean Irish," he laughed. "I don't like to see an Irish girl doing
this kind of thing with a lot of horrible half-breeds. You've talent
enough for London or Paris. What about Paris? I know any number of
people there."

"Could you get me a good engagement?" she asked eagerly.

He nodded.

"What's your name, anyway?" she demanded.

"Never mind about my name. Smith, Brown, Jones, Robinson--anything you
like."

It was the agitated little manager who interfered.

"Sir," he said, "you must not persuade this lady to leave the theatre. I
have her under heavy penalties. I can bring her before the judge--"

"Now just forget that!" said Cartwright, "there is no judge in Tangier.
She is a British subject, and the most you can do is to take her before
the British Consul."

"When she returns to Spain--" said the little man growing apoplectic.

"She will not return to Spain. She will go to Gibraltar if she goes
anywhere," said Cartwright, "and from Gibraltar she will be on the sea
until she reaches a British port."

"I will go to the Spanish Consul," screamed the little manager, clawing
the air. "I will not be robbed. You shall not interfere with my
business, you--"

Much of this, thought Cartwright, was intended for the glowering young
Spaniard who stood in the background. He went outside, closed the door
and stood with his back toward it. On a whispered instruction from his
employer's son, whose hands were now flickering fire as he gesticulated
in his excitement, Jose the manager disappeared, and returned a few
minutes later with two stalwart stage hands.

"Will you leave this theatre at once and quietly?" demanded the foaming
manager.

"I will not leave the theatre until I am ready," said Cartwright, "and
if I leave otherwise, I shall certainly not leave quietly."

The manager stood back with a melodramatic gesture.

"Eject the caballero," he said finally.

The two men hesitated. Then one came forward.

"The senor must leave," he said.

"In good time, my friend," replied Cartwright.

A hand gripped his arm, but instantly he had shaken free, and had driven
with all his strength at the man's jaw. The stage hand dropped like a
log. He pushed at the door behind him.

"Put your kimono over your things," he said quickly. "You can send the
stage kit back tomorrow. There is going to be a rough house."

"All right," said a voice behind him, and the girl slipped out, still in
her kimono and carrying a bundle of clothes under her arm.

"You know the way out? I'll follow you. Now, Jose," he said flippantly.
"I'm going--quietly."



CHAPTER II


He left behind him a pandemonium of sound and a scintillation of
flickering diamonds. He found the girl waiting for him in the darkness.

"Br-r-r! It's cold!" she shivered.

"Where are you staying?" he asked.

"At the little hotel opposite the British Consulate." she said. "It
isn't much of a place, but it was the only room I could get--at the
price."

"You'd better not go there," he said. "I'll send for your boxes in the
morning. Give me those clothes."

He took them from her and put them under his arm, and she fell in by his
side.

"I am glad to be out of it," she said breathlessly, taking his arm;
"it's a dog's life. I was going to quit to-morrow. Those boys have been
following me round ever since I came to Tangier. I don't think I'd
better go back to my hotel, anyway," she said after a moment; "they're a
pretty tough crowd, these Spaniards, and though I don't understand their
beastly language, I know just what kind of happy holiday they're
planning for me."

They were in the town, passing up the street of the mosque, when she
asked him:

"Where are you taking me?"

"To the Continental," he said.

"Like this?" she said in dismay, and he laughed.

"I have an office in this street," he said; "you can go in and dress.
I'll wait for you outside."

He showed her into the tiny room which served as the headquarters of the
Angera Gold Mining Syndicate, and sat on the irregular stone steps,
waiting until she was dressed. Presently she came out, a presentable and
an attractive figure.

"I have just thought," he said, "that you had better go to the
Central--I am staying at the Continental and it wouldn't look nice."

"I've been thinking something of the sort myself," she said. "What about
my broken engagement? Were you joking when you said you would pay? I
hate talking about money, but I am broke--Jose owes me a week's salary."

"I'll make good the money to-morrow," he said. "I can give you a tenner
now."

"What is the idea?" she asked him again. "I've read a lot of books, and
I know the knight errant business backwards. You don't strike me as
being a something-for-nothing man."

"I'm not," he said coolly. "It occurred to me when I saw you on the
stage, that you might be useful. I want a person in Paris I can
trust--somebody who could look after my interests."

"I'm not a business woman." she said quickly. "I hate business."

"Business is done by men," he said significantly. "And there are a few
men I want you to keep track of. Do you understand that?"

She nodded.

"I see," she said at last. "It is better than I thought."

He did not trouble to ask her what she had thought, or what she imagined
he had planned, but saw her into the hotel, arranged for a room, and
walked slowly back to the Continental. He was in the vestibule of that
hotel before he remembered that he had left an eminent King's Counsel
and Member of Parliament smoking his cigar in a loge of the Tangier
circus.

"I missed you," said Maxell the next morning. "When you remembered and
came to pick me up, I was on my way back--we must have passed somewhere
in the little Sok. What happened last night?"

"Nothing much," said Cartwright airily. "I went round and saw the girl.
She was very amusing."

"How amusing?" asked the other curiously.

"Oh, just amusing." Vaguely: "I found her annoyed by the attention which
was being paid to her by a veritable Spanish hidalgo."

"And you sailed in and rescued her, eh?" said Maxell. "And what happened
to her after she was rescued?"

"I saw her home to her hotel, and there the matter ended. By the way,
she leaves by the Gibd Musa for Gibraltar this morning."

"Hm!" Maxell looked absently at the letter he had in his hand, folded it
and put it away.

"Is the mail in?" asked Cartwright, interested, and Maxell nodded.

"I suppose you've had your daily letter from your kiddie?"

Maxell smiled.

"Yes," he said, "it is not a baby letter, but it is very amusing."

"How old is she?" asked Cartwright.

"She must be nine or ten," said the other.

"I wonder if it is just coincidence, or whether it is fate," mused
Cartwright.

"What is a coincidence?" asked the other.

"The fact that you've got a kid to look after, and I'm in a sort of way
responsible for a bright lad. Mine is less interesting than yours, I
think. Anyway, he's a boy and a sort of cousin. He has two fool parents
who were born to slavery--the sort of people who are content to work for
somebody all their lives and regard revolt against their condition as an
act of impiety. I've only seen the kid once, and he struck me as the
sort who might break loose from that kind of life and take a chance.
Otherwise, I wouldn't have interested myself in him."

"How far does your interest extend?" asked Maxell curiously. "You're not
the sort of person, I should imagine, who would take up the unfortunate
poor as a hobby."

"Not the something-for-nothing man, in fact," laughed Cartwright. "I've
been told that twice in twenty-four hours."

"Who was the other person--the actress?"

Cartwright roared with laughter and slapped the other on the knee.

"You're a good guesser," he said. "No, I am not a something-for-nothing
person. I'm one of those optimists who plant fir cones so that I shall
have some good firewood for my old age. I don't know what sort of a man
Timothy will make, but, as I say, he shapes good, and anyway, you and I
are in the same boat."

"Except this," said Maxell, "that from what you say, you aren't
particularly interested in your protege, and you don't really care
whether he shapes good or shapes bad."

"That's true," admitted Cartwright. "He's an experiment."

"My little girl is something more than that," said Maxell quietly;
"she's the only living thing I have any real affection for--she is my
dead brother's child."

"Your niece, eh? Well, that gives you an interest which I have not. I
never had a niece and I should just hate to be called uncle, anyway."

Their conversation was interrupted at this point by the arrival of a
small man dressed in his best clothes. On his brow was a frown which was
intended to be terrible, but was slightly amusing. Jose Ferreira had
dressed and prepared himself for an interview which, as he had described
to his friends, could not fail to be at once "terrifying and vital."
For, as he had said;

"This man has sliced my life!"

He began his speech to Cartwright as he had rehearsed it.

"Estoy indignado--"

But Cartwright cut him short with an expression of mock fear.
"Horroroso! You are indignant, are you? Well, come, little man, and tell
me why you are indignant."

"Senor," said the man solemnly, "you have put upon me a humiliation and
a shame which all my life I shall regret."

The conversation was in Spanish, but Maxell was an excellent Spanish
scholar.

"What's the trouble?" he asked, before Jose, still labouring under the
sense of his wrongs, could get going again.

"Listen to him and discover," mocked Cartwright. "I have taken from his
incomparable company its joy and its gem."

"In other words, the amiable Miss O'Grady," said Maxell.

"Yes, yes, senor," broke in Jose. "For me it is ruin! The money I have
spent to make my company perfect! It is financed by one who is the
greatest man in Tangier and it is his son who tells me that, unless I
bring back this lady--for me there is the street and the gutter," he
wept.

Maxell looked slyly at his companion.

"There's another chance for you to plant a fir cone," he said. "Can't
you find some use for this gentleman?"

But Cartwright was not smiling.

"Senor Ferreira," he said crisply, "you are, as all Spain knows, a thief
and a rogue. If you associate with bigger thieves and bigger scoundrels,
that is your business. I can only tell you that you may think yourself
lucky I did not bring this case before the Spanish Consul. I assure you,
you would never have put your foot in Tangier again after the stories I
have heard about you."

The little Spaniard was open-mouthed and impressed. He was also a little
frightened. Cartwright's accusation had been at a venture, but he argued
that it was scarcely likely that, in an establishment of the description
which Mr. Ferreira controlled, there could have been no incidents which
reflected upon the manager.

"Everything which is said about me is a lie!" said the little man
vigorously. "I have lived a life of the highest virtue! To-day I
complain to the British Consul, and we shall see!"

"Complain," said Cartwright.

"This chance I will give you." Senor Ferreira wagged a fat, stumpy
finger. "Restore to me Miss O'Grady, and the matter shall go no
farther."

"Miss O'Grady has left Tangier," said the other calmly, "so it is clear
to you that I cannot restore her."

"She has not left," vociferated the Spaniard. "We had a man to watch the
boat leaving for the Gihel Musi and she did not leave the pier."

"She left the beach," explained Cartwright patiently, "she was rowed out
by a boatman from the Cecil. At this moment she is half way to
Gibraltar."

Mr. Ferreira groaned.

"It is ruin for me," he said. "Perhaps for you also," he added
ominously. "I can do no less than depart for Paris to lay this matter
before my excellent patron, Senor Don--"

Cartwright jerked his head to the door.

"Get out," he said, and turned his attention to the newspaper which he
had picked up from the table.

Maxell waited until the little man had gone, still seething with his
"indignado," then turned to Cartwright.

"This is rather a serious matter, Cartwright; what has happened to the
girl?"

"Didn't you hear? I have sent her to Gibraltar," said Cartwright. "I
wouldn't leave a dog in that company. And from Gibraltar she goes home
by the first P. & O.," he said briefly.

"Hm!" said Maxell for the second time.

"What the devil are you 'hming' about?" snarled his companion. "The girl
is gone. I shall not see her again. It was an act of charity. Do you
disapprove?"

"I'm sorry," said Maxell. "I didn't know you felt so bad about it. No, I
think you've done the girl a very good turn. But in these days one
doesn't expect--"

"Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, Maxell," said Cartwright
sententiously, "for he shall not be disappointed. I don't suppose that
the proprietor, whoever he is, cares a snap of his fingers about the
matter--it is his infernal son who will fire the adorable Jose."

That afternoon the two men had an interview on the outskirts of the town
with a very plainly dressed Moor, who came to them so cautiously that
the observers might have been pardoned if they thought he was a
criminal. In the eyes of the divine rulers of Morocco he was something
more than a criminal, because he was an emissary of El Mograb, the
Pretender. There was a price upon the messenger's head, and his caution
was, therefore, commendable. He brought a letter from El Mograb to
Cartwright, and it was a message of cheer.

Maxell and his friend had gone out early in the afternoon and had waited
two hours under a scorching sun for the courier to arrive. For a man of
law, the fact that he was coquetting with the Sultan's enemy did not
distress Maxell, who knew the history of the country too well to worry
very much about Sultan or Pretender. The Sultan's reign, marked with the
turbulence of people and the self-indulgence of monarch, was already
doomed. His uncle, El Mograb, a born leader of men and captain of seven
thousand well-armed soldiers, was but waiting the psychological moment
to strike; and Abdul, with his motor-cars and brass bedstead, his
geegaws and his frippery, would disappear into the limbo which is
especially reserved for extravagant and unstable rulers.

The news from El Mograb was good. It reconfirmed the concession which
one of his shereefs had made on his behalf, and sent a message in
flowery Arabic--a message of thanks to the man who had supplied him with
the very necessary rifles.

"That was news to me," said Cartwright as they rode back to the town. "I
didn't know you were gun-running, Maxell, or that you were so solid with
El Mograb."

"I like El Mograb," said Maxell. "He's one of the many Moors who have
impressed me. You mustn't forget that I have been visiting Morocco since
I was a boy and most of the chiefs are known to me personally. I knew El
Mograb's brother, who was killed at Tetuan, and when he was a favourite
in court circles he entertained me at Fez."

"What is his word worth?" asked Cartwright carelessly.

"It is worth all the contracts that ever went to Somerset House for
stamping," said the other with emphasis. "I think you can go ahead with
your scheme."

Cartwright nodded.

"I'll go back to London and raise the money," he said. "We shall want a
couple of millions eventually, but half a million will do to go on with.
You had better be with me in the big scheme, Maxell. There is nothing to
lose for you. You'll be in on the ground floor. What is the good of your
pottering about with your little Company--I mean the Parent Company?"

"I have faith in that," said Maxell. "I know just the amount of my
indebtedness."

"You're a fool," said the other shortly. "The big scheme may mean
millions to you, and I shall want your help and guidance."

Maxell hesitated. The lure was dazzling, the prize was immense. But it
meant risks which he was not prepared to take. He knew something of
Cartwright's financial methods; he had seen them in their working, and
had done not a little on one occasion to save Cartwright from the
consequences of his own cleverness. Yet, as he argued, Cartwright would
have no difficulty in raising the money from the general public, and his
presence on the board would certainly be a guarantee against his
companion departing from the narrow path.

Although it was not generally known that he was associated in any of
Cartwright's enterprises, there had been a whisper of an inquiry in
influential quarters, and it had been hinted to him that, on the whole,
it would be better if he kept himself aloof from the gentleman who,
admirable business man as he was, had a passion for enterprises which
occasionally verged upon the illegal. But those influential quarters had
not whispered anything in the shape of a definite promise that his
welfare was entirely in their keeping and that his future would not be
overlooked.

He was an ambitious man, but his ambitions ran in realisable directions.
The services he had rendered to the Government were such as deserved a
recognition, and the only question was what form that recognition would
take? His knowledge of languages qualified him for an important
appointment under the Foreign Office; but the Foreign Office was a close
preserve and difficult to break into. There were too many permanent
officials who regarded the service as a family affair, and were jealous
of patronage outside their own charmed circle.

He went in to lunch that day to find Cartwright reading a telegram which
he folded up and put into his pocket upon the other's appearance.

"My little friend has arrived in Gibraltar," said Cartwright.

Maxell looked at him curiously.

"What happens now?" he demanded.

"Oh, I'm sending her home."

Cartwright's voice was brisk and he spoke in the manner of a man
referring to a topic too unimportant to be discussed.

"And after?" pursued Maxell, and the other shrugged his shoulders.

"I have given her a letter of introduction to a friend of mine," he said
carelessly. "I have one or two theatrical interests in town."

Maxwell said nothing, and could have dismissed the matter as lightly as
his companion, for the girl's future scarcely interested him.

She had been but a figure on the stage; her personality, her very
appearance, left no definite impression. But if he was not interested in
the girl, he was interested in Cartwright's private mind. Here was a man
of whom he could not know too much. And somehow he felt that he had
hardly cracked the surface of Cartwright's character, though he had
known him for years, and though they were working together to a common
end.

The way of a man with a maid is wonderful, but it is also instructive to
the cold-blooded onlooker who discovers in that way a kind of creature
he has never met before; a new man, so entirely different from the
familiar being he had met in club or drawing-room as to be almost
unrecognisable. And he wanted to know just this side of Cartwright,
because it was the side on which he had scarcely any information.

"I suppose you won't see her again?" he said, playing with his knife and
looking abstractedly out of the window.

"I shouldn't think so," said Cartwright, and then, with a sudden
irritation: "What the devil are you driving at, Maxell? I may see the
girl--I go to music-halls, and it is hardly likely I should miss her.
Naturally I am interested in the lady I have rescued from this kind of
thing"--he waved his hand vaguely toward Tangier Bay--"and she may be
useful. You don't mean to say you're struck on her?"

He tried to carry war into the enemy's camp and failed, for Maxell's
blue eyes met his steadily.

"I hardly know what she looks like," he said, "and I am not likely to
fall in love with a lady who left absolutely no impression upon me."

He left next day on the boat for Cadiz, en route to Paris and London,
and he and Cartwright had as a fellow-passenger a shabby little man
whose belongings were packed in an American-cloth suit-case inscribed in
flourishing capitals, evidently by the owner, "Jose Ferreira."

Mr. Ferreira spent most of his time on the ship's deck, biting his nails
and enlarging his grievance against the unconscious Cartwright.



CHAPTER III


Maxell did not stay many hours in Paris. The Sud Express landed him in
the French capital at seven in the morning. He left Paris by the midday
train for London. The Long Vacation was drawing to an end, and there
were briefs of certain importance requiring examination. There was also
a consultation with the Attorney-General on an interpretation of a
clause in the new Shipping Act, and he was also due to address his
constituents before the reassembling of Parliament.

He might ruminate in vain to find one attractive feature of his
programme. Parliament wearied him, and the ordinary practices of the law
no longer gave him pleasure. There was an interest in the work he was
doing for the Government, and if he had the faintest hint of pleasure in
his immediate prospects, the cause was to be found in the vexed problems
centring about this new, and loosely drawn, shipping law. It was a
measure which had been passed in a hurry, and when the acid test of
litigation had been applied, some of its weak points had been
discovered.

The weakest of these points was one affecting the load-line. In an
action heard before a High Court Judge, the doubtful clause had been
interpreted so as to render the Act a dead letter; and there were
particular and especial Governmental reasons why the appeal which the
Government had made from the verdict of the lower Court should upset
that decision.

There is no need to give the particulars of the great dispute, which
arose over the three words "or otherwise loaded," and it is only
necessary to say that, before he had reached London, Mr. Maxell had
discovered a way for the Government out of their difficulty.

It was this opinion which he delivered to a relieved Attorney-General,
and, with the new argument, the Government were able to present so
strong a case to the Court of Appeal, that a month after his return the
verdict of the lower Court was reversed.

"And," said the Attorney-General, "the devils can take it to the House
of Lords now and still lose--thanks to your brain wave, Maxell!"

They were smoking in the Crown Room at the Law Courts after the decision
had been delivered.

"Where have you been for your holiday, by the way?" asked the Attorney
suddenly.

"Morocco," replied the other.

"Morocco?" The Attorney nodded thoughtfully. "Did you hear anything of
friend Cartwright?" he asked.

"We were staying at the same hotel," replied Maxell.

"A weird person," said the thoughtful Attorney. "A very curious
man--what a Chancellor that fellow would make!"

"He never struck me that way," smiled Maxell.

"Do you know him well--I mean, are you a particular friend of his?"
demanded the Attorney.

"No," said Maxell indifferently. "I know him--so many men in the law
know him."

"You're not by any chance associating with him in business now, are
you?"

"No," said Maxell promptly.

It was a lie and he knew it was a lie. It was told deliberately from the
desire to stand well in the eyes of his friends. He knew Cartwright's
reputation well enough, and just how he was regarded by the party whom
he had served for three years. Cartwright had been a Member for a London
borough, but had resigned. "Pressure of business" was the excuse he
gave, but there were people who said that it was owing to the pressure
of the Party Whips, who smelt a somewhat unsavoury case coming into
Court with Cartwright figuring prominently.

There is no way of proving and disproving the statement, because the
case in which Cartwright most decidedly was interested was withdrawn
from the list at the last moment. The uncharitable say that it cost
Cartwright a small fortune to bring about this withdrawal, and certainly
one of the ladies interested (she was a small-part actress at the
Hippoceus) gave up her stage work and had been living in affluence ever
since. Cartwright pooh-poohed the suggestion that the case held anything
sensational--but he did not enter political life again.

"I am glad you're not associated with him," said the Attorney simply.
"He's an awfully nice fellow and I suppose he is as straight and as
sound as the best man in the City. But he's a shifty fellow--just a
little bit"--he hesitated--"a little wrong. You understand, Maxell--or
shall we say shop-soiled?"

"He is certainly a brilliant man," said Maxell, not desirous of
defending his friend too vigorously.

"Yes, I suppose he is," admitted the Attorney. "All men like that are
brilliant. What a pity his genius does not run in a smooth channel, but
must follow the course of a burning cracker, here, there and everywhere,
exploding at every turn!"

He slipped down from the table, on the edge of which he had been sitting
and pulled off his robe.

"I'm glad to know you're not associated with Cartwright, anyway," he
said.

Maxell did not attempt to probe beneath the surface of his
twice-repeated remark.

He went back to Cavendish Square to his flat and to a tiny, solemn-eyed
little girl who had been brought up from Hindhead that day on her
monthly visit to "Uncle Max."

Cartwright had not accompanied his friend to England, and with good
reasons. A great deal of his work was carried out in Paris, where he had
an important financial backing. He occupied a flat overlooking the
imposing, but none too convenient, Avenue of the Grand Army. His home
was at the unfashionable end of this interminable thoroughfare, which
meant that his rooms were larger and his rent cheaper, and that he was
freer from observation than he would have been had he lived according to
his means or station in a luxurious flat nearer the Etoile. 

He had a board meeting to attend, an informal board meeting, it is true,
but none the less important.

Cartwright was the chairman and managing director of the London and
Paris Gold Syndicate, a flourishing concern which held big blocks of
shares in various land and gold-mining companies, and controlled three
mines of its own on the West Rand. Though a Company drawing a modest
revenue from its Johannesburg property, its operations were not confined
to gold development pure and simple. It was, in fact, an outside
broker's on a grand scale. It gambled heavily and gambled wisely. The
shareholders seldom received less than twelve and a half per cent.
dividend, and there were years when in addition it paid a bonus equal to
its own share capital.

It numbered its clients at one hundred and fifty thousand, the majority
being small people who preferred speculation to investment--country
parsons, doctors and the small gamblers who lived fearfully on the
fringe of high finance. The shares were at a premium and Cartwright's
interest brought him a considerable sum annually. What probably
attracted the little speculator was the knowledge of the Company's
reserve, which stood in the balance-sheet at a respectable figure. It
was the question of these reserves that occupied the attention of the
four quiet men who met informally in the room of a Paris hotel.

There were three to one against Cartwright, because none of his
companions could see eye to eye with him.

"It is too dangerous, M. Cartwright," said Gribber, whose nationality
was suspect; "our risks are already high and we cannot afford, in my
judgment, to extend them. The money would be subscribed over and over
again if you went to the English public."

Cartwright frowned.

"Why shouldn't we make the profit?" he asked; "we could borrow from our
reserve."

"That we can't touch!" interrupted the cautious Gribber, shaking his
head violently. "My faith, no, we cannot touch that! For it is certain
that the lean years will come when our clients will require their
dividends."

Cartwright did not pursue the subject. There were other ways of
financing his Moorish scheme. The Benson Syndicate, for example.

He spoke eloquently of his new venture, which was to have its
headquarters in Paris, and would be under the eye of his sceptical
co-directors. He mentioned names glibly and easily--names that carried
weight in the financial world. The three men agreed that the Benson
Syndicate had the appearance of a safe investment.

More important was the business which brought Alfred Cartwright to the
St. Lazaire Station to meet a passenger a week later.

She sprang from the train and looked round with doubting face, which
lighted the moment she saw the saturnine Cartwright.

"My! I am relieved," she said. "I was scared to think you wouldn't be
here to meet me, and I'd only got a few pounds left."

"You got my wire?" he asked, and she smiled, showing two rows of pearly
teeth.

"I'm still mystified," she said. "What is it you want me to do in
Paris?"

"Let us eat first and talk afterwards," he said. "You must be hungry."

"I'm starving!" she laughed.

He had a car waiting for her, and whisked her off to a little street
leading from the Boulevard des Italiens, where one of the best
restaurants in Paris is situated.

The girl looked about her with an approving air. The gaiety and luxury
of the place appealed to her.

"My word!" she said enviously; "do you come to lunch here every day?"

"Do you know this place?" he asked.

"I've seen it," she admitted, "but a three-franc dinner at Duval's has
been my limit so far."

She told him how she had come to the Continent as a dancer, and had
"starred" in a tiny little cabaret in Montmartre as one of the "dashing
Sisters Jones," before she had been seen by the impresario who was
recruiting material for his tour through the Levant.

Cartwright judged her to be nineteen, knew her to be extremely pretty,
and guessed that, under certain conditions, she would be presentable
even to the best of the circles in which he moved. He wondered, with a
grim smile, what Maxell, that austere and fastidious man, would say if
he knew that the girl was with him in Paris. Would Maxell accept her? He
thought not, Maxell was a thought straitlaced and in some ways was a
bore. But Maxell was necessary. He was a brilliant lawyer, and moreover
stood well with the Government, and there might come a time when Maxell
would be immensely useful. He could well afford to give the lawyer a
slice of the pickings he intended making, because Maxell's wants were
few and his ambitions on the modest side.

Cartwright thought in millions. Maxell was a five-figure man. If all
went well with Cartwright's scheme, undoubtedly he could well afford the
five figures.

"What happened to your friend?" asked the girl, as though divining his
thoughts: "The man you told me I was to keep away from. Why didn't you
want him to see me?"

Cartwright shrugged his shoulders.

"Does it really matter?" he asked; "he's in England, anyway."

"Who is he?" She was curious.

"Oh, a friend of mine."

"And who are you?" she asked, facing him squarely. "If I'm going to see
anything of you in Paris, that Smith, Brown or Robinson business isn't
quite good enough. You've been decent to me, but I want to know who I'm
working for, and what is the kind of work you want me to do."

Cartwright pinched his neck--a nervous little trick of his when he was
thinking.

"I have business interests here," he said.

"You don't want me for an office?" she asked suspiciously. "My education
is perfectly rotten."

He shook his head.

"No, I don't want you for an office," he replied with a smile. "And yet
in a sense I want you to do office work. I have a little syndicate here,
which is known as the Benson Syndicate. Benson is my name--"

"Or the name you go by," she said quickly, and he laughed.

"How sharp you are! Well, I don't suppose O'Grady is your name, if it
comes to that."

She made no reply and he went on:

"I want somebody in Paris I can rely upon; somebody who will receive
money, transmit it to the Benson Syndicate, and re-invest that money in
such concerns as I shall indicate."

"Don't use long words," she said. "How do you know I'm not going to rob
you? Nobody's ever trusted me with money before."

He might have told her that she would not be trusted with a great deal
at a time and that she would be carefully watched. He preferred,
however, an explanation more flattering to his new assistant. And not
only was it flattering, but it contained a big grain of truth,
expressing, to an extent, Alfred Cartwright's creed.

"Women are more honest than men," he said. "I should think twice before
I put a man--even my best friend--in the position I'm putting you. It
will be a simple matter, and I shall pay you well. You can live at one
of the best hotels--in fact, it is absolutely necessary that you should.
You may"--he hesitated--"you may be Madam Benson, a rich Englishwoman."

She looked at him from under perplexed brows.

"What is the good of asking me to do that?" she said in a tone of
disappointment. "I thought you were going to give me a job I could do.
I'm a fool at business."

"You can remain a fool," he said coolly. "There's nothing to do except
carry out a certain routine, which I shall explain to you so that you
can't possibly make a mistake. Here is a job which gives you plenty of
time, pays you well, gives you good clothes and an auto. Now, are you
going to be a sensible girl and take it?"

She thought for a moment, then nodded.

"If it means lunching here every day, I'll take it," she said decidedly.

Thus was formed the remarkable Benson Syndicate, about which so much has
been written, and so many theories evolved. For, if the truth be told,
the Benson Syndicate had no existence until Cartwright called it into
being in Ciro's Restaurant. It was born of the opposition he had
received, and its creation was hastened by certain disquieting telegrams
which arrived almost every hour from London.

Cartwright was, as has been said, a man of many interests. The
door-plate of his office in Victoria Street, London, was covered with
the names of the companies which had their headquarters in the ornate
suite which he occupied. There were two other suites of offices in the
City of London for which Mr. Cartwright paid the rent, although he did
not pay it in his own name. There were syndicates and companies
innumerable, Development Syndicates, Exploitation Companies, Financial
and Mining Companies, all duly registered and all keeping one solicitor
busy; for the Companies Acts are tricky, and Cartwright was too clever a
man to contravene minor regulations.

And to all these companies there were shareholders; some of them
contented, some--the majority--wholly dissatisfied with their lot, and
quite a large number who were wont to show their share certificates to
their friends as curiosities, and tell them the sad story of how they
were inveigled into investment.

Only a clever company lawyer can describe in detail the tortuous
character of Cartwright's system of finance. It involved loans from one
company to another, very often on the security of shares in a third
company; it involved a system of overdrafts, drawn in favour of some
weakly member of his family, secured by the assets of one which could
show a bold face to the world, and was even quoted in the Stock Exchange
list; and divers other complicated transactions, which only the expert
mathematician could follow.

Cartwright was a rich man, accounted a millionaire by his friends; but
he was that type of millionaire who was never at a loss for a thousand,
but who was generally hard up for ten thousand. He came to London much
against his will, in response to an urgent telegram, and, having cleared
the difficulties which his subordinates had found insuperable, he had a
few hours to attend to his private affairs before he took the train back
to Paris.

His secretary produced a heap of small bills requiring settlement, and
going through these, he paused before one printed slip, and frowned.

"That boy's school fees weren't paid last term," he said.

"No, sir," said the secretary. "If you remember, I mentioned the matter
to you when you were in London last. I was taking upon myself the
responsibility of paying the fees, if you hadn't returned. The boy is
coming up to-day, by the way, sir, to be measured for some clothes."

"Coming here?" asked Mr. Cartwright, interested.

"Yes, sir."

Cartwright picked up the bill.

"T. A. C. Anderson," he read. "What does T. A. C. stand for--'Take A
Chance'?"

"I understand he was named after you--Timothy Alfred Cartwright," said
the secretary.

"Yes; of course," Cartwright grinned. "Still, Take A Chance isn't a bad
name for a kid. When is he arriving?"

"He ought to be here now," said the man, looking at his watch. "I'll go
out and see."

He disappeared into the outer office, and presently returned.

"The boy is here, sir," he said. "Would you like to see him?"

"Bring him in," said Cartwright. "I'd like to meet this nephew, or
cousin, or whatever he is."

He wondered vaguely what had induced him to take upon himself the
responsibility of the small child, and with remorseless judgment
analysed the reason as being personal vanity.

The door opened and a child strode in. "Strode" is the only word to
describe the quick, decisive movement of the bright-eyed lad who looked
with unflinching eye at Cartwright. Cartwright did not look at his
clothes, but at the grey, clear eyes, the firm mouth, extraordinarily
firm for a boy of fourteen, and the capable and not over-clean hands.

"Sit down, son," said Cartwright. "So you're my nephew."

"Cousin, I think," said the boy, critically examining the contents of
Cartwright's table. "You're Cousin Alfred, aren't you?"

"Oh, I'm a cousin, am I? Yes, I suppose I am," said Cartwright, amused.

"I say," said the boy, "is that the school bill? The Head has been
rather baity about that."

"'Baity'?" said the puzzled Cartwright. "That's a new one on me."

"Shirty," said the boy calmly. "Annoyed, I suppose, is the correct
word."

Cartwright chuckled.

"What do you want to be?" he asked.

"A financier," said T. A. C. Anderson promptly.

He seated himself, leant his elbow on the desk and his head on his hand,
his eyes never leaving Cartwright.

"I think that's a great scheme--finance," he said. "I'm a whale at
mathematics."

"What particular branch of finance?" asked Cartwright with a smile.

"Other people's finance," said the boy promptly; "the same business as
yours."

Cartwright threw back his head and laughed.

"And do you think you'd be able to keep twenty companies in the air at
the same time?" he said.

"In the air?" the boy frowned. "Oh, you mean going all at once? Rather!
Anyway, I'd take a chance."

The phrase struck Cartwright. 

"Take a chance? That's curious. I called you Take A Chance Anderson just
before you came in."

"Oh, they all call me that," said the boy indifferently. "You see,
they're bound to stick a label on to a fellow with an initial like mine.
Some of them call me 'Tin and Copper Anderson,' but most of them--the
other name."

"You're a rum kid," said his cousin. "You can come to lunch with me."



CHAPTER IV


Mr. Alfred Cartwright had the enviable faculty of placing outside of his
mind all subjects and persons which were unpleasant to think upon.
Possessing this power, he could as lightly dismiss the memory of
responsibilities, pleasant or unpleasant. He had scarcely left London
before he had waived Master T. A. C. Anderson into oblivion. To do him
justice, he had certainly speculated vaguely upon assuring his cousin's
future; but his mind was so completely occupied with his own that there
was really not room for both--and Take A Chance Anderson had to go.

He reached Paris by the evening train, and drove straight to the
apartment he had taken for his new protegee. He found her installed in a
very comfortable flat on the unfashionable side of the Seine, and was
welcomed with relief.

Miss Sadie O'Grady had not entirely overcome her suspicions of the bona
fides of her new-found acquaintance. Yet, since he had not made love to
her, but, on the contrary, had made it very clear that the part he
expected her to play in his schemes involved no loss of self-respect,
she was becoming reconciled to a relationship which, to say the least,
was a strange one. She had established herself in a third-floor office
on one of the boulevards, an uncomfortable and unaccustomed figure in an
environment which was wholly foreign to her experience, though there was
no need for her embarrassment, since she constituted the whole of the
staff, and the callers were confined to the postman and the concierge
who acted as office-cleaner.

She was to learn, however, that a daily attendance at her "bureau" did
not constitute the whole of her duties, or fulfil all Cartwright's
requirements.

It was not until after dinner that night that Cartwright revealed
himself.

"Sadie, my young friend," he said, between puffs of his cigar, "I am
going to tell you just what I want you to do."

"I thought I knew," she said, on her guard, and he laughed softly.

"You'll never quite know what I want you to do," he said frankly, "until
I tell you. Now, I'm putting it to you very straight. I want nothing
from you except service. And the service I require is of a kind which
you need not hesitate to give me. You're an actress, and I can speak to
you more plainly than I could to some unsophisticated girl."

She wondered what was coming, but had not long to wait.

"I will tell you something," he said, "which is really more important
than my name, about which you showed so much curiosity. There is a man
in this city whom I want to get at."

"How do you mean?" she asked suspiciously.

"He is a man who has it in his power to ruin me--a drunken sot of a
fellow, without brain or imagination."

He went on to explain briefly that he himself was a company promoter,
and that he had an interest in a mine, as yet unproved, in Morocco.

"That is why you were there?" she nodded.

"That is exactly why," replied Cartwright. "Unfortunately, right in the
midst of the ground which I have either bought or secured mineral rights
over, is a block of land which is the property of this man. He is a
Spaniard--do you speak Spanish?"

"A little," she admitted, "but it is precious little!"

"It doesn't matter," Cartwright shook his head. "He speaks English very
well. Now, this land is absolutely valueless to the man, but every
attempt I have made to buy it has been unsuccessful, and it is vitally
necessary at this moment, when I am floating a company to develop the
property, that his claims should be included in my properties."

"What is his name?" asked the girl.

"Brigot," replied Cartwright.

"Brigot?" repeated Sadie O'Grady thoughtfully. "I seem to have heard
that name before."

"It is pretty common in France, but not so common in Spain," said Mr.
Cartwright.

"And what am I to do?" asked the girl again.

"I will get you an introduction to him," said Cartwright; "he's a man
with a fine eye for beauty, and in the hands of a clever girl could be
wound round her little finger."

The girl nodded.

"I see what you mean," she said, "but nothing doing!"

"Wait!" said Cartwright. "I have told you that it is necessary for me to
acquire this property. I am taking you into my confidence, and I know
that you will respect that confidence. I am willing to pay any
reasonable sum, and I neither want you to steal it nor make any personal
sacrifice to serve my ends. I am willing to pay, and pay heavily."

"What do you call heavily?" asked the girl coolly.

"For the property twenty thousand--for you ten thousand pounds,"
suggested Cartwright, and the girl nodded.

"That's got me," she said. "Tell me what your plan is."

"My plan is this," said Cartwright. "You will appear to Senor Brigot--I
will arrange that--as a wealthy young American lady who has been
spending the winter in Morocco. His property follows a half wooded hill,
one of the prettiest formations of its kind in the Angera country. You
must rave about that hill, never cease speaking of its beauty and its
attractiveness; and you must tell him that you would give anything in
the world if you could build a house amidst that beautiful scenery--do
you understand me?"

The girl nodded again.

"Brigot is a man somewhat susceptible to feminine charms," Cartwright
went on, "and, unless I am greatly mistaken, he will in one of his
obliging moods, offer you the land at a nominal figure, particularly as
he has been bitterly disappointed in his attempt to find gold."

"I don't like it," said the girl after consideration. "You promised me
that if I came to Paris you would get me a job in one of the theatres.
That is what I am after, and the only thing I am fit for. The other
business doesn't seem decent--"

"Ten thousand pounds!" murmured Cartwright.

"It is a lot," agreed the girl, "but how am I coming out of this
business? I come out hopelessly compromised."

Cartwright shrugged his shoulders with a deprecating smile.

"My dear girl--" he began.

"Wait a moment," she said quietly; "let's have a clear understanding.
You don't expect me to walk up to Senor Brigot the first time I meet
him, or even the second, and say: 'You've a very nice property. What
will you sell it for?' That is not the kind of transaction you expect me
to conduct, is it?"

"Not exactly," admitted Cartwright.

"It means just a little more than you say," said the girl; "It means
dinners and suppers and hand-holdings and stringing him along. And after
it is all over, where am I? I've got as much respect for my character as
you have for yours, Mr. Mysterious. I want to come out well in this
business as you do, and I don't want to leave my name behind, or be
known in Paris--which is the world--as a decoy duck. I'd do an awful lot
to please you, because I like you and because you've been decent to me.
But 'an awful lot' does not mean making me so cheap that I am left in
the slightly-soiled basket. Do you understand what I mean?"

"Perfectly," said Cartwright, amazed at the girl's cool reasoning. He
had not given her credit for any of these fine sentiments she now
enunciated, and he was piqued, and at the same time a little pleased.

"When you said you'd give me ten thousand pounds," said the girl, "that
sounded good. But it is not good enough. I've an idea in the back of my
mind that the matter is a much bigger one for you than you've told me."

"How big do you imagine?" bantered Cartwright.

"I think it is big enough to ruin you," said the girl calmly, "and that
you'd be willing to pay any price to get this property. Otherwise, you'd
go to the man or send your lawyer in the ordinary way. Now, I don't want
your ten thousand pounds, but I'm going to make a proposition to you.
I've said I like you and that's no more than the truth. You told me you
were a bachelor and I've told you that I'm man-free and heart-free. I
don't say I love you, and I don't flatter myself that you love me. But
if you want this thing to go through, and if you want me to go down in
the mud to get it, you've got to pay the price--"

"And the price is--?" asked Cartwright curiously.

"You've got to marry me," said the girl.

"Well, I'm--" Cartwright could only gasp his admiration; and then he
began to laugh, at first quietly, and then, as the humour of the
situation gained upon him, so loudly that the other patrons of the Cafe
Scribe turned to look at him.

"It is a rum idea," he said, "but--"

"But?" she repeated, keeping her eyes on his.

He nodded to her.

"It's a bargain!" he said.

She looked at him as she put out her hand and took his, and slowly shook
her head.

"My!" she said. "You want that fellow's land pretty badly, I know!" and
Cartwright began to laugh again.

Senor Brigot lived in some style for a man who was on the verge of ruin.
He had a small house at Maisons Lafitte and a flat on the Boulevard
Webber. He was a heavy, tired-looking man, with a dark moustache,
obviously dyed, and a short beard, bearing evidence of the same
attention. M. Brigot, like Mr. Cartwright, had many interests; but his
chief interests were his own tastes and predilections. It was Senor
Brigot's boast that, although he had lived for twenty years in Paris, he
had never seen Paris between the hours of six in the morning and one in
the afternoon. His breakfast hour was two o'clock. By six o'clock in the
evening he was becoming interested in life; and at the hour when most
people retire to rest, he was in the prime of his day.

It happened on a certain evening that M. Brigot, who usually met dinner
in an amicable frame of mind, sat down at his favourite table at the
Abbaye with a big frown, and answered the polite maitre d'hotel's cheery
"Good evening" with a snarl.

Amongst his many enterprises and few possessions, and this Mr.
Cartwright did not know, was the proprietorship and management of a
small, ramshackle wooden theatre in the town of Tangier. He was likewise
interested in several cabarets throughout Spain. But what pained him
most at the moment was not distressing reports from any of these, but a
six-page letter received that afternoon from his son, in which the hope
of the house of Brigot had explained his reasons for discharging
immediately a very necessary servant. Therefore Senor Brigot swore under
his breath and cursed his first-born.

Coincident with the arrival of the letter had come one Jose Ferreira,
who had been detained for a week at Madrid. Senor Brigot's mind was
occupied with Jose Ferreira when that worthy, smirking apologetically,
as though conscious of the shabbiness of his dress-clothes, sidled into
a seat on the opposite side of the table. Senor Brigot glared at him a
moment, and Jose Ferreira shifted uneasily in his chair.

"If you had telegraphed to me, I would have settled the matter," said
Brigot, as though carrying on a conversation which he had broken off a
few minutes before. "Instead, like the fool you are, you come all the
way to Paris, wasting your time in Madrid, and the first I hear of the
matter is from my son."

"It was deplorable," murmured Jose, "but Don Brigot--"

"Don Brigot!" sneered the father of that worthy. "Don Brigot is a
monkey! Why did you take notice of him? Have you nothing else to do in
Tangier but to look after that flea-ridden theatre? Have you no other
duties?"

"The young senor was emphatic," murmured the apologetic Jose. "He
demanded that I should leave and what could I do?"

Brigot grunted something uncomplimentary. Whether it was intended for
his son or for Ferreira, it was difficult to say. Ferreira was content
to take it to himself.

Half-way through the dinner Brigot became more human.

"There will always be quarrels about women, my good Jose, and it is your
business to be diplomatic," he said. "My son is a fool; but then, all
young men are fools. Why should you neglect my interests because Emanuel
is a bigger fool than ever? Only this week I intended travelling to
Tangier with the representative of a very rich syndicate who wishes to
buy my land."

"The same senor as before?" asked the interested Jose, who was not only
the manager of Tangier's theatre, but was also the representative of the
rusty little gold-mining company which Brigot had floated.

The other nodded.

"The same cursed Englishman," he said

Quite unconscious of the fact that his master was cursing the very man
whom Jose had most recently cursed, the little man smiled
sympathetically.

"I also have a hatred of the English," he said. "With what insolence do
they treat one!"

For some time M. Brigot sat in silence, but presently he wiped his mouth
on his napkin, tossed down a tumbler of red wine, and crooked his finger
at his companion, inviting closer attention.

"In a day, or perhaps two, I shall send you back to Tangier," he said.

"The theatre?" began Jose.

"The theatre--bah!" exclaimed the other scornfully. "A donkey-driver
could look after the theatre! It is the mine!"

"The mine?" repeated the other in some astonishment,

So long had it been since a spade had been put to the ground, so long
had those hopes of Brigot's been apparently dead, that the very word
"mine" had ceased to be employed when referring to the property.

"My Englishman will buy it," said Brigot confidently. "I happen to know
that he has taken up property in the neighbourhood, and he has already
made me an offer. But such an offer! He shall pay my price, Jose," he
said, nodding as he picked his teeth, "and it will be a big price,
because it is desirable that I should have money."

Jose did not ask the price, but his employer saved him the trouble.

"Five million pesetas," he said confidently; "for such a price the
property will be sold, always providing, my friend, that we do not
discover gold before the sale."

Jose smiled weakly, a circumstance which seemed to annoy his companion.

"You are a fool," said Brigot irritably; "you have no brains! You think
that is a preposterous sum? Wait!"

When his subordinate's dinner was finished, Jose was dismissed
peremptorily. Brigot had a round of calls to make, a succession of
people to be visited; and whilst he might interview the little man at
dinner without losing caste, he had no desire to take him round to his
usual haunts.

It was at the Abbaye at that golden hour when the price of wine soars
and all that is smartest in Paris is assembled in the big saloon, that
M. Brigot, who had reached a stage of geniality, met an entrancing
vision. Brigot saw the girl and her cavalier at one of the tables, and
recognised in the latter a well-known man about town. The latter caught
his eye and walked across to him.

"Who is your charming companion?" whispered Brigot, whose failing was,
as Cartwright accurately surmised, a weakness for pretty faces.

"She is an American lady who has just come from Morocco," said the other
glibly.

Cartwright had chosen Sadie O'Grady's companion very well. In a few
minutes Brigot had crossed to the other table and taken a seat, was
introduced, and was in that pleasant glow of mind which comes to the man
of his class who is conscious of having made an impression.

This "American widow," with her queer, broken French, her beautiful
eyes, and the charming distinction which goes best with good clothes,
was more lovely than any woman he had ever met--so he swore to himself,
as he had sworn before. The friendship progressed from day to day, and
so great was the impression which the girl had made, that Brigot was
seen abroad at most unusual hours.

The patient Jose Ferreira was despatched on a mission to Madrid, partly
because Brigot was tired of seeing him hanging about, and partly because
there was some genuine business to be done in the capital.

Sadie reported progress to her employer.

"Oh, yes, he's crazy enough about me," she said complacently, "and I'm
going a little crazy myself. How long is this to go on?"

"Another week?" suggested Cartwright, smiling approvingly at the gloom
on the pretty face. "Have you mentioned the fact that you've taken a
fancy to his land?"

She nodded.

"He wanted to give it to me there and then," she said, "but you know
what these Spaniards are. If I had accepted, there would have been
nothing for me but the front door."

"Quite right," agreed Cartwright. "He is the kind of fish you must play.
Did he say anything about other offers he had received for the
property?"

The girl nodded.

"He spoke about you," she said; "he called you Benson--is that your real
name?"

"It is good enough," said Cartwright.

"It is queer," mused the girl, looking at him thoughtfully, "that I
never meet any of your friends in Paris, and that nobody knows you--by
name. I went down to your flat on the Avenue of the Grand Army," she
confessed frankly, "and asked the concierge. You're Benson there too."

Cartwright chuckled.

"In my business," he said, "it is necessary that one should be discreet.
The name which goes in London is not good enough for Paris. And vice
versa," he added.

"You're a strange man. I suppose if you marry me in the name of Benson it
will be legal?" she asked dubiously.

"Of course it will be legal. I'm surprised at a girl of your
intelligence asking such a question," said Cartwright. "What is the
programme for to-night?"

She pulled a little face.

"The Marigny and supper at Corbet's--supper in a private dining-room."

He nodded.

"So it has come to that, has it? Well, you ought to make good to-night,
Sadie. Remember, I am willing to pay up to fifty thousand pounds. It is
going to be a tough job raising that money, and it will break my heart
to pay it. But it will not only break my heart, but it will break me
everlastingly and confoundedly to pay the man's own price--and his
property must be bought."

"I'll do my best," said the girl, "but you have no doubt in your mind
that it is going to be hard."

He nodded.

At one o'clock the next morning he sat reading in his room, when a knock
came to his door and the girl came in. She was half hysterical, but the
light of triumph was in her eyes.

"Got it," she said.

"Got it!" he repeated in wonder. "You don't mean he sold?"

She nodded.

"For ten thousand pounds--three hundred thousand francs. What do you
think of your little Sadie?"

"Are you serious?" he asked.

She nodded, smiling.

"What did he--?" he began.

She hesitated and closed her eyes.

"Don't talk about it," she said quickly. "I have to see him to-morrow at
his lawyers, and the property will be transferred to me."

"And after?"

She smiled grimly.

"The after-part will not be as pleasant as M. Brigot imagines," she
said. "I tell you, that fellow's crazy--stark, staring mad. But I felt
an awful beast, and I think he'll kill me when he discovers I've sold
him."

"Don't let that worry you," said Cartwright easily.



CHAPTER V


He saw the girl down to her waiting auto, and went back to his rooms to
think. It was curious that at that hour, when the big trouble on his
mind seemed likely to roll away, that his thoughts flew instantly to
Maxell. What would the prim Maxell say, if he knew? He was satisfied
that Maxell would not only disapprove, but would instantly and without
notice sever all connection with the adventurous company promoter.
Maxell would be outraged, appalled. Cartwright smiled at the thought.

He was under no illusion as to his own conduct. He knew he was acting
despicably; but this view he dismissed from his mind as being too
unpleasant for contemplation. Maxell was a prig--a necessary prig, but
none the less priggish. He was necessary, at any rate, to Cartwright.
Anyway, Maxell stood to win if the scheme went through.

Cartwright had reached nearly the end of his financial tether, and his
whole future was bound up in the success or failure of the new
promotion. He had exhausted every bit of his credit in order to take up
the Angera property which he knew was rich in gold, and offered
possibilities which no project of his had offered before.

He had milked his other companies dry, he had played with reserves; all
except his Anglo-Parisian Finance Company, where the directors were too
strong to allow him his own way; and although Maxell was not aware of
the fact, his partner had spent fabulous sums, not only in acquiring
the land itself but in purchasing the other gold-mining property in the
region. It was a gamble, and a dangerous gamble. He was risking the
substance of his fortune for the shadow of unlimited wealth.

Yet, was it a risk? he asked himself; with the properties that he could
include in his new North Morocco Gold-Mining Association--that was to be
the title of the new company--there could be no doubt as to the result
of the public issue. The British public dearly love a gamble, and a
gold-mining gamble, with all its mysteries and uncertainties, more
dearly than any.

He went to bed late, but was taking his chocolate and roll before a
little cafe on the boulevard before nine. At half-past nine he was
joined by the girl.

Cartwright had been undecided as to whether he should take his petit
dejeuner outside or inside the cafe, and had decided, since the morning
was bright and warm to breakfast under the striped awning in full view
of the street. Such great events hang upon slight issues.

Scarcely had the girl seated herself opposite to him, when a pedestrian,
passing on the other side of the boulevard, halted and stared. Mr.
Ferreira had sharp eyes and a wit not altogether dulled by his
monotonous occupation.

Cartwright produced a bulky package from his pocket and laid it on the
table before the girl.

"Put that in your bag and be careful with it," he said; "there are three
hundred thousand francs in notes. When the property is transferred to
you, you must bring the transfer along to me."

"What about your promise?" she asked suspiciously.

"That I will keep," he said. "Don't forget that you have the best
guarantee in the possession of the transfer. Legally, it is your
property until it is made over to me."

She sat looking at the package absently, and presently she said: "You've
got to get me out of Paris at once. Otherwise I am due to leave by the
Sud Express--with Brigot."

He nodded.

"There is a train for Havre at two-fifteen," he said.

He saw her into her car--another indiscretion since it brought him out
of the shadow which the awning afforded, and gave the observer on the
other side of the road an unmistakable view.

Brigot was waiting for her--a heavy-eyed, weary-looking man, whose hand
shook whenever it rose to stroke his short, pointed beard.

His lawyer watched him curiously as he stepped forward to meet the girl
with hands outstretched. It was not the first time that he had seen his
client overwhelmed by a pretty face.

"Everything is ready, Nanette," said the eager M. Brigot. ("Nanette"
was the new-found name which Sadie O'Grady employed for this adventure.)
"See here, I have all the documents ready!"

"And I have the money." smiled the girl as she put the package down on
the table.

"The money!" Senor Brigot waved such sordid matters out of existence
with a magnificent flourish. "What is money?"

"Count it," said the girl.

"I will do no such thing," said the other extravagantly. "As a
caballero, it hurts me to discuss money in connection--"

But his lawyer had no sentiment, and had slipped the string from the
package and was now busily counting the thousand-franc notes. When he
had finished, he put them on the desk.

"Can I see you one moment, M. Brigot?" he asked. Brigot, holding the
girl's hand and devouring her with his eyes, turned impatiently.

"No, no," he said. "The document, my friend, the document! Give me a
pen!"

"There is one point in the deed I must discuss," said the lawyer firmly.
"If mademoiselle will excuse us for a moment--" He opened the door of
his inner office invitingly and with a shrug M. Brigot followed him in.

"I have told you, monsieur," said the lawyer, "that I do not think your
action is wise. You are surrendering a property for a sum less than a
quarter of what you paid for it to a perfectly unknown woman--"

"M. l'Avocat," said the other gravely, "you are speaking of a lady who
to me is more precious than life!"

The lawyer concealed a smile.

"I have often spoken to you about ladies who have been more precious to
you than life," he said dryly, "but in their cases, no transfer of
valuable property was involved. What do you know of this lady?"

"I know nothing except that she is adorable," said the reckless
Spaniard. "But for the fact that, alas, my wife most obstinately refuses
to die or divorce me, I should be honoured to make madame my wife. As it
is, what a pleasure to give her the land on which to build a beautiful
villa overlooking my gorgeous Tangier--I am moving to Tangier very soon
to look after my other property--and to know that her blessed
presence--"

The lawyer spread out despairing hands.

"Then there is nothing to be done," he said. "I only tell you that you
are transferring a valuable property to a lady who is comparatively
unknown to you, and it seems to me a very indiscreet and reckless thing
to do."

They returned again to the outer apartment, where the girl had been
standing nervously twisting the moke bag in her hand.

"Here is the document, madame," said the lawyer to her relief. "Senor
Brigot will sign here "--he indicated a line--"and you will sign there.
I will cause these signatures to be witnessed, and a copy of the
document will be forwarded for registration."

The girl sat down at the table, and her hand shook as she took up the
pen. It was at that moment that Jose Ferreira dashed into the room.

He stood open-mouthed at the sight of the girl at the table. He tried to
speak, but the sound died in his throat. Then he strode forward, under
the glaring eye of his employer.

"This woman--this woman!" he gasped.

"Ferreira," cried Brigot in a terrible voice, "you are speaking of a
lady who is my friend!"

"She--she"--the man pointed to her with shaking finger--"she is the
woman! She escaped!...The woman I told you of, who ran away with an
Englishman from Tangier!"

Brigot stared from one to the other. "You're mad." he said.

"She is the woman," squeaked Ferreira, "and the man also is in Paris. I
saw them together this morning at the Cafe Furnos! The man who was in
Tangier, of whom I told the senor, and this woman, Sadie O'Grady!"

Brigot looked at the girl. She had been caught off her guard, and never
once had the keen eyes of the lawyer left her. Given some warning, she
might have dissembled and carried the matter through with a high hand.
But the suddenness of the accusation, the amazingly unexpected vision of
Jose, had thrown her off her guard, and Brigot did not need to look
twice at her to know that the charges of his subordinate were justified.
She was not a born conspirator, nor was she used to intrigues of this
character.

Brigot gripped her by the arm and pulled her from the chair. He was half
mad with rage and humiliation.

"What is the name of this man?" he hissed. "The name of the man who took
you from Tangier and brought you here?"

She was white as death and terribly afraid. "Benson," she stammered.
"Benson!"

The lawyer and Brigot uttered the words together, and the Spaniard,
releasing his hold stepped back.

"So it was Benson!" he said softly. "Our wonderful Englishman who wanted
to swindle me out of my property, eh? And I suppose he sent you, my
beautiful American widow, to purchase land for your villa! Now, you can
go back to Mr. Benson and tell him that, if my property is good enough
for him to buy, it is good enough for me to keep. You--you!"

He made a dart at her with upraised hand, but the lawyer was before him
and gently pushed him back.

He jerked his head to the girl and, shaking like a leaf, she stepped to
the door and went stumbling down the stairs, which she had mounted with
such confidence a few minutes before.

Cartwright received the news with extraordinary equanimity.

"It has saved us the bother of going out of Paris," he said
thoughtfully. "And it was my own fault. I never connected that infernal
fellow Ferreira with Brigot's enterprises. And anyway, we should not
have met in public. He said he saw us at the cafe, did he?"

The girl nodded.

"I did my best," she faltered.

"Of course you did your best," said Cartwright, patting her hand. "It is
tough luck, but it can't be helped."

There was a long silence, then:

"What about me?" asked the girl. "Where do I come in? I suppose you have
no further use for my services?"

Cartwright smiled.

"Of course I have," he said genially. Then, after a longer pause, "Do
you know that you're the only person in this world that I have ever
taken so completely into my confidence and shown what, for a better
expression, I will call the seamy side of my business? I'd like to tell
you a lot more, because it would be a relief to me to get it off my
chest. But I'm telling you this, that if I marry you to-day, you'll have
to play your part to save me from everlasting ruin."

"Ruin?" she said, startled, and he laughed.

"Not the kind of ruin that means you'll go short of food," he said, "but
the sort of ruin that may mean--well, ruin from my point of view. Now
you must understand this thing clearly, Sadie. I'm out for a big stake,
and if I don't pull it off, it's as likely as not that I'll go out.
You're a clever, useful sort of kid, and I have an idea that you may be
even more useful. But there's to be no sentiment in this marriage, mind!
You have just to sit here and hold tight and do as you're told, and you
haven't got to pry into my business any further than I want you to. And
if I go away and don't come back, you must reckon me as dead. I've a lot
of business in America and elsewhere, which often takes me away for
months at a time, and you're not to get uneasy. But if you don't hear
from me--why, you can go down to the Lafayette and buy yourself the
grandest little suit of mourning that you can afford!"

"Shall I be able to afford it?" she asked.

He nodded.

"I shall put some Rentes to your credit at the Lyonnais. That will give
you a steady income in case anything happens."

The girl was troubled.

"I don't quite like this idea," she said. "What will happen?"

Mr. Cartwright flicked away the ash from the end of his cigar and said
cheerfully:

"That depends entirely upon the view which is taken of a certain
prospectus issued in London this morning."



CHAPTER VI


The new Angera Syndicate was registered as a private company, and its
prospectus was not made public. Officially, the shares were not offered
to general subscription, and actually they had been subscribed--or the
first issue of five hundred thousand had--by a little group of shrewd
speculators in the City of London, who, before now, had made vast sums
from Cartwright's promotions. The five hundred thousand shares brought
in about half that number of pounds, and nobody doubted that the
properties consolidated for the purposes of notation included the block
of claims described in the prospectus as "lately the property of Senor
Brigot."

Gold had been found on the Angera reef, and gold in sufficient quantity
to make the new company a very promising speculation. That Brigot's
property could be made to pay, had it been properly managed, was common
knowledge in the City of London. A dozen offers had been made for this
concession, but none had been quite acceptable to Senor Brigot, whose
estimate of the value of the mine varied with the passing hour.

Probably, had it been possible to secure an interview with M. Brigot at
one o'clock in the afternoon, when he arose with a splitting head and a
dry throat, his possessions might have been acquired at the price of a
quart of sweet champagne.

But, as the day progressed and his views of life became more charitable,
his estimate expanded until, by seven o'clock in the evening, which hour
he as a rule reserved for any business discussion, his figure was
awe-inspiring. Nobody in the City doubted for one moment that Cartwright
had purchased the property. Though his system of finance might not
commend itself to the barons and even the baronets of Capel Court, there
was no question of his honesty.

Was it by some extraordinary fluke that Maxell, who had hitherto shared
in the profits of promotion, had kept aloof from this last and greatest
of Cartwright's flutters? No application for shares was ever found. He
heard (he said at a subsequent inquiry) in a roundabout way of the
flotation, and saw a copy of the prospectus, and was a little worried.
He knew that when he left Cartwright in Paris, not only was the Brigot
mine outside of his friend's control, but there was precious little
prospect of bringing the Spaniard to a reasonable frame of mind.

Cartwright must have done his work quickly, he thought, and have paid
heavily; and this latter reflection worried him even more because he had
a fairly accurate idea as to the condition of Cartwright's private
finances. His private thoughts on this occasion are set forth in the
report on the Attorney-General's Committee of Investigation.

He was eating a solitary dinner in Cavendish Square when the telephone
bell rang and the voice of Sir Gregory Fane, the Attorney-General,
saluted him.

"I should like to see you, Maxell," he said. "Will you come round to
Clarges Street after dinner?"

"Certainly," replied Maxell promptly, and hung up the receiver,
wondering what new difficulties had arisen, which called for a
consultation; for he was not on visiting terms with Mr. Attorney.

In the tiny drawing-room of the house occupied by the Cabinet Minister,
Maxell was surprised to find another visitor waiting--no less a person
than Fanshaw, the Prime Minister's private secretary.

The Attorney-General came straight to the point.

"Maxell," he said, "we want your seat in the House of Commons."

"The deuce you do!" said Maxell, raising his eyebrows.

The Attorney nodded.

"We also want to give you some reward for the excellent services you
have rendered to the Government," he said. "But mostly "--his eyes
twinkled--"it is necessary to find a seat for Sir Milton Boyd--the
Minister of Education has been defeated at a by-election, as you know."

The other nodded. The communication was a surprise to him and he
wondered exactly what position was to be offered him which would involve
his resignation from the House. For one brief, panicky moment he had
connected Cartwright and his delinquencies with this request for an
interview, but the Attorney's speech had dispelled that momentary fear.

"Quilland, as you know, has been raised to the Court of Appeal," said
the Attorney, speaking of a well-known Chancery Judge, "and we are
departing from our usual practice by bringing over a man from the King's
Bench to take his place. Now, Maxell, how does a judgeship appeal to
you?"

The K.C. could only stare.

Of the many things he did not expect, it was elevation to the Bench,
although he was a sound, good lawyer, and the Bench is the ambition of
every silk.

"I would like that," he said huskily.

"Good!" said the brisk Attorney. "Then we will regard it as settled. The
appointment will not be announced for two or three days, so you've a
chance of clearing up your more urgent work and preparing a letter for
your constituents. You might say a kind word for the new candidate who
isn't particularly popular in your part of the world."

One of Maxell's first acts was to write a letter to Cartwright. All
Cartwright's correspondence went to his London office, and was forwarded
under separate cover to Paris. It was a long letter, recapitulating
their friendly relationship, and ending:

"This promotion, of course, means that we can no longer be associated in
business, and I have instructed my broker to sell all the shares I
possess in your and other companies forthwith. As you know, I have very
definite views about the high prestige of the Bench; and whilst, in any
circumstances, I feel that I can go to that dignified position with
clean hands, my mind will be freer if I cut all the cords which hold me
to commerce of every shape and description."

Three days later the letter came to Cartwright, and he read it through
with a thoughtful expression on his face. He read it twice before he
slowly folded it and put it into his inside pocket.

Maxell was to be made a Judge!

He had never considered that contingency, and did not know whether to be
pleased or sorry. He was losing the service of a man who had been a
directing force in his life, greater than Maxell himself ever imagined.
It was not so much the advice which he asked and received from the
King's Counsel, but rather Cartwright had secured help by the simple
process of making a study of the other's moods and expressions.

He knew the half-frown which greeted some schemes, put forward
tentatively over the dinner table, and it was that little sign of
displeasure which could squash the scheme rather than any considered
advice which Maxell might have given. He was losing a good advocate, a
very sound legal adviser. He shrugged his shoulders. Well, it did not
matter very much. Fate had put a period to an old phase of life, and
many things had come to an end coincidentally. He was taking his afternoon
tea when the letter had arrived, and the new Mrs. Cartwright marked with
interest the depression which followed the arrival of the mail.

The new period was beginning excitingly, he thought. He had found a new
method of doing business, bolder and more desperate than any he had
attempted before; and with this development he had lost a man upon whom
he placed a great deal of reliance. Incidentally, he had just been
married, but this fact did not bulk very largely in his reckoning.
Maxell might serve him yet. The memory of an old business
partnership--for in such an aspect did Cartwright interpret their
previous relationship--the memory, too, of favours done, of financial
dangers shared, might serve him well if things went wrong, Maxell had a
pull with the Government--a greater pull, since he was now a Judge of
the Supreme Court.

Maxell a Judge! It seemed queer. Cartwright had all the properly
constituted Englishman's reverence for the Bench. In spite of much
experience in litigation, and an acquaintance with lawyers of all kinds
and stations, he reserved his awe for the god-like creature who sat in
wig and gown, and dispensed justice even-handedly.

"Have you had a worrying letter?" asked the girl.

He shook his head.

"No, no," he said, a little impatiently; "it is nothing."

She had hoped for a glimpse of the envelope, but was disappointed.
Curiously enough, she ascribed the fact that her husband passed under a
strange name and would not divulge his own, to a cause which was far
from the truth, and was a great injustice to a man who, if he had not
given her his proper name, had given her a title to whatever name he
had. That thought she revealed for the first time.

"Do you know what I think?" she said unexpectedly.

"I didn't know you thought very much," he smiled. "In what particular
department of speculation does your mind wonder?"

"Don't be sarcastic," she answered. She was a little afraid of sarcasm,
as are all children and immature grown-ups. "It was about your name I
was thinking."

He frowned.

"Why the dickens don't you leave my name alone?" he snapped. "I have
told you that it is all for your good that I'm called Benson and known
as Benson in this town. When we go to London you will discover my name."

She nodded.

"I know why you keep it dark."

He looked at her sharply.

"Why do I keep it dark?" he asked, fixing his eyes on her.

"Because you're married already."

He looked at her for a moment, and then burst into such a peal of
laughter that the girl knew her shot was wide of the mark.

"You're a weird person," he said, getting up. "I'm going out to see an
old friend of ours."

"Of ours?" she asked suspiciously.

"Brigot is the gentleman's name."

"He won't see you," she said decidedly.

"Oh, won't he?" said the grim man. "I rather think he will."

M. Brigot would not willingly have received one whose name was anathema,
but Cartwright got over the difficulty of his reception by the simple
process of sending up a card inscribed with the name of Brigot's lawyer.

"You!" spluttered M. Brigot, rising to his feet as the other entered the
room and closed the door behind him. "This is an outrage! It is
monstrous! You will leave this house immediately, or I will send for the
police!"

"Now, just keep quiet for a moment, Brigot," said Cartwright, seating
himself coolly. "I have come to see you as one business man to another."

"I refuse to discuss any business with you," stormed his unwilling host.
"You are a scoundrel, a conspirator--bah! why do I talk to you?"

"Because you're broke!" said Cartwright in calm, level tones, and he
used the Spanish word for "broke," which is so much more expressive than
any word in English.

The conversation was carried on in this language, for Cartwright had an
intimate knowledge of its idioms and even of its patois.

"Your creditors in Paris are gathering round like hawks about a dead
cow. Your attempt to sell your Moorish property has been a failure."

"You know a great deal," sneered Brigot. "Possibly you also know that I
am going to work the mine myself."

The Englishman chuckled.

"I've heard that said of you for years," said he, "but the truth is,
you're wholly incapable of working anything. You are one of nature's
little spenders--now, Brigot, don't let us quarrel. There is a time to
end feuds like ours, and this is that time. I am a business man, and so
are you. You're as anxious to sell your property at a good price as I am
to buy it. I've come to make you an offer."

M. Brigot laughed sarcastically.

"Ten thousand pounds?" he demanded with gentle irony. "To build a house
for a beautiful American widow, eh?"

Cartwright accepted the gibe with a smile.

"I'm not going to show you my hand," he said.

"It will be infamously dirty," said M. Brigot, who was in his bright six
o'clock mood.

"I know there is gold in the Angera," the other went on, without
troubling to notice the interruption, "and I know that, properly worked,
your mine may pay big profits."

"I will sell out," said M. Brigot after consideration, "but at a price.
I have told you before I will sell out--at a price."

"But what a price!" said Cartwright, raising his eyebrows and with a
gesture of extravagant despair. "It is all the money in the world!"

"Nevertheless, it is the price," said M. Bigot comfortably.

"I'll tell you what I am willing to do." Cartwright stroked his chin as
though the solution had just occurred to him. "I will float your
property in London, tacking on a number of other properties which I have
bought in the neighbourhood. I am willing to pay you two hundred
thousand pounds--that is to say, six million francs."

M Brigot was interested. He was so interested that, for the moment, he
could forget his animosity and private grievances. It was true that, as
Cartwright had said, his creditors were becoming noisy.

"In cash, of course?" he said suddenly.

Cartwright shook his head.

"You can have a portion in cash and the rest in shares."

"Bah!" Brigot snapped his fingers. "I also can issue shares, my friend.
What are shares? Pieces of paper which are not worth their ink. No, no,
you deceive me. I thought you had come to me with a genuine offer. There
is no business to be done between you and me, Mr. Cartwright. Good
evening."

Cartwright did not move.

"A portion in cash--say, fifteen thousand pounds," he suggested; "that
is a lot of money."

"To you--yes, but not to me," said the magnificent Brigot. "Give me
two-thirds in cash and I will take the rest in shares. That is my last
word."

Cartwright rose.

"This offer is open until--when?"

"Until to-morrow at this hour," replied Brigot.

As Cartwright was going, a man tapped at the door. It was Brigot's
"secretary," who was also his valet. He handed a telegram to the
Spaniard, and Brigot opened and read. He was a long time digesting its
contents, and Cartwright waited for a favourable opportunity to say
good-bye. All the time his mind was working, and he thought he saw
daylight. Two-thirds of the money could be raised, and he could breathe
again.

Presently Brigot folded up the telegram and put it in his pocket, and
there was on his face a beatific smile.

"Good night, Senor Brigot." said Cartwright. "I will see you to-morrow
with the money."

"It will have to be big money, my friend," said Brigot, and there was a
note of exultation in his voice. "To buy my little property will cost
you half a million English pounds."

Cartwright gasped.

"What do you mean?" he demanded quickly.

"Do you know Solomon Brothers, the financiers of London?"

"I know them very well," replied Cartwright steadily. He had good reason
to know Solomon Brothers, who had taken a large block of shares in his
new syndicate.

"I have just had a telegram from Solomon Brothers." said Senor Brigot,
speaking slowly, "and they ask me to give them the date when my property
was transferred to your syndicate. They tell me it is included in your
properties which you have floated. You know best, Mr. Cartwright,
whether my little mine is worth half a million English pounds to
you--especially if I put a date agreeable to you."

"Blackmail, eh?" said Cartwright between his teeth, and without a word
left the room.



CHAPTER VII


He went straight back to his flat on the Avenue of the Grand Army, and
the girl could see by his face that something had happened.

"You might pack my bag, will you?" he said almost brusquely. "I have a
letter or two to write. I'm going to London. Important business has
arisen, and I may be gone some time."

Wisely she asked no questions, but carried out his instructions. When
she came back from the room with a little gripsack packed, he was
blotting the envelope of the last letter.

"Post these after I have gone," he said.

"Shall I come down to the station and see you off?"

He shook his head.

"The less you and I are seen together, the better, I think," he said
with a faint smile.

He opened a drawer of his desk and took out a cash-box. From this he
extracted a thick wad of notes, and, counting them rapidly, he tossed a
respectable bundle into her lap.

"You may want this," he said. "You know you have a regular income, but
you must keep in touch with the Lyonnais. For the moment I should advise
you to go to "--he looked at the ceiling for inspiration--"to Nice or
Monte Carlo. Keep away from the tables," he added humorously.

"But--but," said the bewildered girl, "for how long will you be gone?
Can't I come with you?"

"That is impossible," he said sharply. "You must go to the South of
France, leave by tonight's train. Give your address to nobody, and take
another name if necessary."

"Are things very wrong?"

"Pretty bad," he said. "But don't worry. I may be gone for a year, even
more. There are plenty of things you can do, but don't go back into the
profession yet awhile."

"I thought of taking up cinema work," she said.

He nodded.

"You might do worse than go to America--if I am a long time gone."

He stuffed the remainder of the notes into his pocket, picked up his
bag, and with no other farewell than a curt nod, left her.

She was only to see him once again in her lifetime.

He crossed the Channel by the night boat and came to London in the early
hours of the morning. He drove straight away to his hotel, had a bath
and shaved. His plan was fairly well formed. Everything depended upon
the charity which Messrs. Solomon Brothers might display towards his
strange lapse.

At breakfast he read in The Times that "Mr. Justice Maxell took his seat
upon the Bench" on the previous day, and that paragraph, for some reason
seemed to cheer him.

At ten o'clock he was in the City. At half-past ten he was interviewing
the senior partner of Solomon Brothers, a man with an expressionless
face, who listened courteously to the somewhat lame excuses which
Cartwright offered.

"It was a mistake of a blundering clerk," said Cartwright airily. "As
soon as I discovered the error, I came back to London to withdraw all
the money which had been subscribed."

"It is a pity you didn't come back yesterday, Mr. Cartwright," said
Solomon.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean," said the other, "that we have already placed this matter in
the hands of our solicitors. I suggest that you had better interview
them."

Cartwright made a further pilgrimage to the solicitors of Solomon
Brothers, and found them most unwilling to see him. That was an ominous
sign, and he went back to his office in Victoria Street conscious that a
crisis was at hand. At any rate, the girl was out of the way; but, what
was more important, she, one of the principal witnesses in so far as
Brigot and his property were concerned, was not available for those who
might bring a charge against him. She was his wife, and her lips were
sealed, and this consequence of his marriage was one which he had not
wholly overlooked when he had contracted his strange alliance.

What a fool he had been! The property might have been transferred and in
his hands, if he had not antagonised a wretched little Spanish
theatrical manager. But, he reflected, if he had not antagonised that
manager, he would not have possessed the instrument for extracting the
transfer from the amorous Brigot.

At the top of a heap of letters awaiting him was one written in a firm
boyish hand, and Cartwright made a little grimace, as though for the
first time recognising his responsibility.

"Take A Chance Anderson; my lad, you will have to take a chance," he
said, and pushed the letter aside unopened.

He lunched at his club, sent a brief letter to Maxell, and returned to
his office at two in the afternoon. His clerk told him that a man was
waiting for him in the inner office. Cartwright hesitated with his hand
on the door; then, setting his teeth, he stepped in.

The stranger rose.

"Are you Mr. Alfred Cartwright?" he asked.

"That is my name," replied Cartwright.

"I am Inspector Guilbury, of the City Police," said the stranger, "and I
shall take you into custody on charges under the Companies Act, and a
further charge of conspiracy to defraud."

Cartwright laughed.

"Go ahead," he said.

All the week preceding the trial, Cartwright's heart was filled with
warm gratitude to his erstwhile friend. He did not doubt, when his
solicitor told him that Mr. Justice Maxell would try his case, that
Maxell had gone a long way out of his way to get himself appointed the
Old Bailey judge. How like Maxell it was--that queer, solemn stick--and
how loyal!

Cartwright had a feeling for Maxell which he had never had, before. At
first he had feared the embarrassment which might be Maxell's at having
to try a case in which an old friend was implicated, and had even hoped
that the new judge would have nothing to do with the trial. He did not
despair of Maxell pulling strings on his behalf, and he realised that
much could be done by judicious lobbying.

The charge against him was a grave one. He had not realised how serious
it was until he had seen that respectful array of counsel in the Lord
Mayor's Court, and had heard his misdemeanours reduced to cold legal
phraseology. But he did not wholly despair. Brigot had been coming to
London to give evidence, and on his journey there had occurred an
incident which suggested to the accused man that Providence was fighting
on his side. The Spaniard had had a stroke in the train to Calais, and
the doctors reported that he might not recover. Not that Brigot's
evidence was indispensable. There was, apparently, a letter and two
telegrams in existence, in the course of which Brigot denied that he had
ever parted with his property; and the onus lay upon Cartwright to prove
that he had acted in a bona fide manner--that was impossible of proof,
and nobody knew this better than Cartwright.

And ever his mind reverted to the singular act of generosity on the part
of his old friend. He did not doubt for one moment that Maxell had
"worked" the case so that it fell to him to try it.

It was a bright morning in May when he came up the steps of the Old
Bailey and took his place in the dock. Almost immediately after, the
Judge and the Sheriff entered from the door behind the plain oaken
bench. How well the judicial robes became Maxell, thought Cartwright. He
bowed slightly and received as slight a bow in reply. Maxell was looking
pale. His face was drawn, and there was resolution in his speech and in
his eyes.

"Before this case proceeds," he said, "I wish to direct attention to a
statement in one of the newspapers this morning, that I was associated
with the accused in business, and that I am in some way involved,
directly or indirectly, in the company promotion--either as a
shareholder or an indirect promoter--which is the subject of the present
charge. I wish to utter an emphatic denial to that statement."

He spoke clearly and slowly and looked the prisoner straight in the eye,
and Cartwright nodded.

"I can only endorse your lordship's statement," he said emphatically.
"Your lordship has never had any dealings with me or any business
transactions whatsoever."

It was a minor sensation which provided a headline for the evening
newspapers. The case proceeded. It was not particularly involved and the
witnesses were few but vital. There were those business men who had
subscribed or promised to subscribe to the syndicate. There was Mr.
Solomon, who could give an account of his dealings with the prisoner.
But, most damning of all, was a sworn statement made by Brigot before an
English solicitor, a Commissioner of Oaths. And it was such a statement
which only documentary proof, produced by the accused man, could refute.

Cartwright listened to the evidence untroubled of mind. He knew that his
counsel's speech, delivered with such force, was little less than an
admission of guilt and a plea for mercy. The last word would be with the
judge. A verdict of "guilty" there must necessarily be. But he thought
that, when later his counsel pleaded for a minimum sentence, he saw a
responsive look in the Judge's eyes.

The stigma of imprisonment did not greatly distress Cartwright. He had
lived on the narrow border-line of illegalities too long; he had weighed
chances and penalties too nicely to bother about such ephemeral things
as "honour." His system of finance was reviewed, and certain minor
charges arising out of the manipulation of funds were gone into. It was
late in the evening when the Judge began his summing up.

It was a fair, if a conventional address he delivered to the jury.
Obviously, thought Cartwright, he could do nothing less than call
attention to the serious nature of the charge, the interests involved,
the betrayal of shareholders, and the like. On the whole, the summing up
did not diminish the comforting sense that the worst that lay before him
was a few months' imprisonment and then a start in another land under
another name. He never doubted his ability to make money. The summing up
was ended, and the jury retired. They were gone twenty minutes, and when
they came back it was a foregone conclusion what their verdict would be.

"Do you find the prisoner at the bar guilty or not guilty?"

"Guilty," was the reply.

"And is that the verdict of you all?"

"It is."

Mr. Justice Maxell was examining his notes, and presently he closed the
little book which he was consulting.

"The charge against Alfred Cartwright," he said, "is one of the most
serious which could be brought against a business man. The jury have
returned a verdict of guilty, and I must say that I concur with that
verdict. I am here in my place "--his voice shook a little--"to
administer and maintain the laws of England. I must do all that in me is
possible to preserve the purity of commercial life and the condition of
English commercial honesty."

Cartwright waited for that "but"--it did not come.

"In view of the seriousness of the frauds and irregularities which the
accused has committed, with a cynical disregard for the happiness or
fortune of those people whose interests should have been his own, I
cannot do less than pass a sentence which will serve as an example to
all wrongdoers."

Cartwright gasped and gripped the edge of the dock.

"You, Alfred Cartwright," said Maxell, and again looked him straight in
the eye, "will be kept in penal servitude for twenty years."

Cartwright swallowed something. Then he leaned across the edge of the
dock.

"You swine!" he said huskily, and then the warders dragged him away.

Two days later there was a new sensation. The newspapers announced that
Mr. Justice Maxell had been compelled, on account of ill-health, to
resign from the Bench, and that His Majesty had been pleased to confer a
baronetcy of the United Kingdom upon the ex-Judge.



CHAPTER VIII


Some nine years after the events detailed in the last chapter, a fairly
clever young actress who had drifted into the cinematograph business,
faced one of the many disappointments which had made up her life. In
many ways the disappointment was more bitter than any she had previously
experienced, because she had banked so heavily upon success.

If there was any satisfaction to be had out of the new tragedy it was to
be found in the fact that the fault was not entirely hers. An impartial
critic might, indeed, absolve her from all responsibility.

In this particular instance she regarded herself in the light of a
martyr to indifferent literature--not without reason.

When the Westminster Art Film Company was tottering on its last legs,
Mr. Willie Ellsberger, chairman and chief victim, decided on one big
throw for fortune. The play decided upon does not matter, because it was
written by Willie himself, with the assistance of his advertising man,
but it contained all the stunts that had ever got by in all the photo
plays that had ever been produced, and in and out of every breathless
situation flashed Sadie O'Grady, the most amazing, the most charming,
the most romantic, the highest salaried artiste that filmland had ever
known.

Sadie O'Grady had come to London from Honolulu, after she had inherited
her father's considerable fortune. She came, a curious visitor, to the
studios, merely as a spectator, and had laughingly refused Mr.
Ellsberger's first offer, that gentleman having been attracted by her
perfect face and the grace of her movements; but at last, after
extraordinary persuasion, she had agreed to star in that stupendous
production, "The Soul of Babylon," for a fee of $25,000, which was to be
distributed amongst certain Honolulu charities in which she was
interested.

"No," she told a newspaper man, "this is to be my first and my last
film. I enjoy the work very much, but naturally it takes up a great deal
of my time."

"Are you returning to Honolulu?" asked our representative.

"No," replied Miss O'Grady, "I am going on to Paris. My agent has bought
me the Duc de Montpelier's house in the Avenue d'Etoile."

A week after the picture was finished, Miss Sadie O'Grady waited on the
chairman by appointment.

"Well, Sadie," said that gentleman, leaning back in his chair, and
smiling unhappily, "it's a flivver!"

"You don't say!" said Sadie aghast.

"We ran it off for the big renter from the North, and he says it is as
about as bad as it can be, and that all the good in it is so obviously
stolen, that he dare not risk the injunction which would follow the
first exhibition. Did Simmons pay you your last week's salary?"

"No, Mr. Ellsberger," said the girl.

Ellsberger shrugged.

"That sets me back another twenty pounds," he said, and reached for his
cheque book. "It is tough on you, Sadie, but it's tougher on us. I'm not
so sure that it is so tough on you, though. I spent a fortune
advertising you. There isn't anybody in this country who hasn't heard of
Sadie O'Grady, and," he added grimly, "you've more publicity than I hope
I shall get when I this business goes into the hands of the Official
Receiver."

"So there's no more work?" asked the girl after a pause.

Mr. Ellsberger's hands said: "What can I do?"

"You ought not to have any difficulty in getting a shop," he said, "with
your figure."

"Especially when the figure's twenty pounds a week," she said
unsmilingly. "I was a fool ever to leave Paris. I was doing well there
and I wish I'd never heard of the cinema business."

Still young and pretty and slim, with a straight nose and a straighter
mouth, she had no appeal for Mr. Ellsberger, who in matters of business
had an unsympathetic nature.

"Why don't you go back to Paris?" he said, speaking very deliberately
and looking out of the window. "Perhaps that affair has blown over by
now."

"What affair?" she asked sharply. "What do you mean?"

"I've friends in Paris," said the chairman, "good, bright boys who go
around a lot, and they know most of what's going on in town."

She looked at him, biting her lips thoughtfully.

"Reggie van Rhyn--that's the trouble you heard about?"

Mr. Ellsberger nodded.

"I didn't know what happened, and I'll never believe in a thousand years
that I stabbed him," she said vigorously. "I've always been too much of
a lady for that sort of thing--I was educated at a convent."

Mr. Ellsberger yawned.

"Take that to Curtis, will you," he said. "If he can get any free
publicity for you, why, I'll be glad. Now take my advice--stay on. I've
put Sadie O'Grady way up amongst the well-known products of Movieland,
and you'll be a fool if you quit just when the public is getting
interested in you. I'm in bad, but that doesn't affect you, Sadie, and
there ain't a producer in England who wouldn't jump at you and give you
twice the salary I'm paying."

She stood up, undecided. Ellsberger was growing weary of the interview.
He made a great show of pulling out notepaper and rang the bell for his
stenographer.

"The publicity's fine," she admitted, "and I've felt good about the
work. Why the letters that I've had from people asking for my autograph
and pictures of my Honolulu estate"--she smiled a little frostily--"
people in society, too. Why, a titled man who wrote to me from
Bournemouth, Sir John Maxell--"

"Sir John Maxell!"

Mr. Ellsberger was interested, indeed, he was fascinated. He waved away
his stenographer.

"Sit down, Sadie," he said. "You're sure it was Maxell? Sir John
Maxell?"

She nodded.

"That's him," she said. "There's class there."

"And there's money, too," said the practical Ellsberger. "Why don't you
get in touch with him, Sadie? A fellow like that would think nothing of
putting ten thousand into a picture if he was interested in a girl! If
you happen to be the girl, Sadie, there'll be a thousand pound contract
for you right away."

Her straight lips were a trifle hard.

"What you want is an angel, and the Judge is the best kind of angel you
could wish for."

"Has he got money?" she asked.

"Money!" said the hands of Ellsberger. "What a ridiculous question to
ask!

"Money!" he scoffed. "Money to burn. Do you mean to say you've never
heard of Sir John Maxell, never heard of the man who sent his best
friend to gaol for twenty years? Why, it was the biggest sensation of
the year!"

Sadie was not very interested in history, but momentarily, by virtue of
the very warm and well punctuated letter which reposed in her bag, she
was interested in Sir John.

"Is he married?" asked the girl naturally.

"He is not married," said Ellsberger emphatically.

"Any children?"

"There are no children, but he has a niece--he's got some legal
responsibility as regards her; I remember seeing it in the newspapers,
he's her guardian or something."

Mr. Ellsberger looked at the girl with a speculative eye.

"Have you this letter?"

She nodded and produced the epistle.

It was polite but warm. It had some reference to her "gracious talent,"
to her "unexampled beauty" which had "brought pleasure to one who was
no longer influenced by the commonplace," and it finished up by
expressing the hope that they two would meet in the early future, and
that before leaving for Paris she would honour him by being his guest
for a few days.

Ellsberger handed the letter back.

"Write him," he said, "and, Sadie, consider yourself engaged for another
week--write to him in my time. He's fallen for all that Press stuff, and
maybe, if he got that passionate admiration for your genius he'll--say,
you don't want to stay in the picture business and finish by marrying
that kind of trouble, do you?"

He pointed through the wide windows to a youth who was coming across
from the studio to the office, swinging a cane vigorously.

"Observe the lavender socks and the wrist watch," he chuckled. "But
don't make any mistake about Timothy Anderson. He's the toughest amateur
at his weight in this or any other state and a good boy, but he's the
kind of fellow that women like you marry--get acquainted with the
Judge."

With only a preliminary knock, which he did not wait to hear answered,
the young man had swung through the door, hat in hand.

"How do, Miss O'Grady?" he said. "I saw your picture--fine! Good acting,
but a perfectly rotten play. I suppose you wrote it, Ellsberger?"

"I wrote it," admitted that gentleman gloomily.

"It bears the impression of your genius, old bird." Timothy Anderson
shook his head reproachfully.

"It only wanted you as the leading man, and it would have been dead
before we put the titles in," said Ellsberger with a grin.

"I'm out of the movies for good," said Timothy Anderson, sitting himself
on a table. "It is a demoralising occupation--which reminds me."

He slipped from the table, thrust his hand into his pocket, and
producing a roll of notes: "I owe you twenty-five pounds, Ellsberger,"
he said. "Thank you very much. You saved me from ruin and starvation."

He counted the money across, and Mr. Ellsberger was undoubtedly
surprised and made no attempt to conceal the fact. So surprised was he
that he could be jocose.

"Fixed a big contract with Mary Pickford?" he asked.

"N-no," said Timothy, "but I struck a roulette game--and took a chance."

"Took a chance again, eh?" said Ellsberger. "One of these days you'll
take a chance and never get better of it."

"Pooh!" said the other in derision. "Do you think that's any new
experience for me? Not on your life. I went into this game with just
twelve pounds and my hotel bill three weeks in arrears. I was down to my
last half-crown, but I played it and came out with three hundred
pounds."

"Whose game was it?" asked Mr. Ellsberger curiously.

"Tony Smail," and Mr. Ellsberger whistled.

"Why that's one of the toughest places in town," he said. "It is a
wonder you came away with the money--and your life."

"I took a chance," said the other carelessly, and swung his legs once
more over the edge of the desk. "There was some slight trouble when I
came out of Smail's," he shrugged his shoulders, "just a little
horseplay."

The girl had followed the conversation keenly. Any talk which circled
about finance had the effect of concentrating her attention.

"Do you always take a chance?" she asked.

"Always," said the other promptly.

This woman did not appeal to him. Timothy possessed a seventh sense
which he called his "Sorter," and Miss Sadie O'Grady was already sorted
into the heap of folks who, had life been a veritable voyage, would have
been labelled "Not Wanted."

He held out his hand to Ellsberger.

"I'm going by the next boat to New York," he said, "then I'll go to
California. Maybe I'll take in Kempton on my way, for a fellow I met at
the hotel has a horse running which can catch pigeons. Good-bye, Miss
O'Grady. I wish you every kind of luck."

She watched him disappear, sensing his antagonism and responding
thereto. If he could judge women by intuition, she judged him by reason,
and she knew that here was a man whose mental attitude was one of
dormant hostility.

It would be unfair to her to say that it was because she recognised the
clean mind and the healthy outlook and the high principles of this
young man that she disliked him. She was not wholly bad, because she
had been the victim of circumstances and had lately lived a two-thousand
pound life on a one-hundred pound capacity. She looked after him, biting
her lips as though she were solving a great problem.

Presently she turned to Ellsberger.

"I'll write to Sir John," she said.

By a curious coincidence Timothy Anderson had the idea of approaching
Sir John Maxell also, though nearly a year passed before he carried his
idea into execution.



CHAPTER IX


The initials "T. A. C." before young Mr. Andersen's name stood for
Timothy Alfred Cartwright, his pious but practical parent having, by
this combination, made a bid for the protection of the saints and the
patronage of Cousin Al Cartwright, reputedly a millionaire and a
bachelor. It was hoped in this manner that his position on earth and in
heaven would be equally secure.

What Timothy's chances are in the hereafter the reader must decide; but
we do know that Cousin Al Cartwright proved both a weak reed and a
whited sepulchre. Timothy's parents had departed this life two years
after Alfred Cartwright had disappeared from public view, leaving behind
him two years' work for a committee of Investigating Accounts.

When his surviving parent died, the boy was at school, and if he was not
a prodigy of learning he was at least brilliant in parts.

Though it was with no great regret that he left school, he was old
enough and shrewd enough to realise that a bowing acquaintance with the
differential calculus, and the ability to conjugate the verb "avoir" did
not constitute an equipment, sufficiently comprehensive (if you will
forgive these long words), to meet and defeat such enemies to human
progress as he was likely to meet in this cruel and unsympathetic world.

He had a small income bequeathed by his mother in a will which was
almost apologetic because she left so little, and he settled himself
down as a boarder in the house of a schoolmaster, and took up those
branches of study which interested him, and set himself to forget other
branches of education which interested him not at all.


Because of his ineradicable passion for challenging fate it was only
natural that "T. A. C." should bear a new significance, and since some
genius had christened him "Take A Chance" Anderson the name stuck. And
he took chances. From every throw with fate he learnt something. He had
acquired some knowledge of boxing at school, and had learnt enough of
the art to enable him to head the school. Such was his faith in himself
and his persuasive eloquence that he induced Sam Murphy,
ex-middle-weight and proprietor of the Stag's Head, Dorking, to nominate
and support him for a ten rounds contest with that redoubtable
feather-weight, Bill Schenk.

"Take A Chance" Anderson took his chance. He also took the count in the
first round, and, returning to consciousness, vowed a vow--not that he
would never again enter the ring, but that he would learn something more
of the game before he did. Of course, it was very disgraceful that a man
of his antecedents should become a professional boxer--for professional
he became in the very act of failure--but that worried him not at all.

It is a matter of history that Bill Schenk was knocked out by Kid
Muldoon, and that twelve months after his initiation into the prize ring
"T. Anderson" fought twenty rounds with the Kid and got the decision on
points. Thereafter, the ring knew "Take A Chance" Anderson no more.

He took a chance on race-courses, backing horses that opened at tens and
closed at twenties. He backed horses that had never won before on the
assumption that they must win some time. He had sufficient money left
after this adventure to buy a book of form. He devoted his undoubted
talent to the study of other games of chance. He played cards for
matches with a broker's clerk, who harboured secret ambitions of going
to Monte Carlo with a system; he purchased on the hire system
wonderfully cheap properties on the Isle of Thanet--and he worked.

For all his fooling and experimenting, for all his gambling and his
chancing, Timothy never let a job of work get past him, if he could do
it, and when he wasn't working for sordid lucre he was working for the
good of his soul. He went to the races with a volume of Moliere's plays
under his arm, and between events he read, hereby acquiring the respect
of the racing fraternity as an earnest student of form.

So he came by violent, yet to him easy, stages to Movieland--that Mecca
which attracts all that is enterprising and romantic and restless. He
took a chance in a juvenile lead, but his method and his style of
actions were original. Producers are for ever on the look-out for
novelty, but they put up the bar against novel styles of acting and
expression. Ellsberger had tried him out because he had known his
father, but more because he had won money over him when he had beaten
Kid Muldoon; but even Ellsberger was compelled to suggest that Timothy
put in two long years "atmosphering" before he essayed an individual
role on the screen.

Timothy was not certain whether his train left at ten minutes to seven
or at ten minutes past seven, so he arrived in time for the ten minutes
to seven, which was characteristic of him, because he never took a
chance against the inflexible systems.

He reached New York without misadventure, but on his way westward he
stayed over at Nevada. He intended spending a night, but met a man with
a scheme for running a mail-order business on entirely new lines,
invested his money, and by some miracle managed to make it last a year.
At the end of that time the police were after his partner, and Timothy
was travelling eastward by easy stages.

He came back to New York with fifty-five dollars which he had won from a
Westerner on the last stage of the journey. The track ran for about
twenty miles along one side of the road, the wager between them was a
very simple one; it was whether they would pass more men than women on
the road. The Westerner chose men and Timothy chose women. For every man
they saw Timothy paid a dollar, for every woman he received a dollar. In
the agreed hour they passed fifty-five more women than they passed men
and Timothy was that many dollars richer. There were never so many women
abroad as there were that bright afternoon, and the Westerner couldn't
understand it until he realised that it was Sunday--a fact which Timothy
had grasped before he had made his wager.

Two months later he was back in London. How he got back he never
explained. He stayed in London only long enough to fit himself up with a
new kit before he presented himself at a solid mansion in Branksome
Park, Bournemouth. Years and years before, Sir John Maxell had written
to him, asking him to call upon him for any help he might require, and
promising to assist him in whatever difficulties he might find himself.
Timothy associated the offer with the death of his father--maybe they
were friends.

He was shown into the sunny drawing-room bright with flowers, and he
looked round approvingly. He had lived in other people's houses all his
life--schools, boarding-houses, hotels and the like--and an atmosphere
of home came to him like the forgotten fragrance of a garden he had
known.

The servant came back.

"Sir John will see you in ten minutes, sir, but you must not keep him
long, because he has to go out to meet Lady Maxell."

"Lady Maxell?" asked Timothy in surprise, "I didn't know he was
married."

The servant smiled and said: "The Judge married a year ago, sir. It was
in all the newspapers."

"I don't read all the newspapers," said Timothy. "I haven't sufficient
time. Who was the lady?"

The man looked round, as if fearing to be overheard.

"Sir John married the cinema lady, Miss Sadie O'Grady," he said, and the
hostility in his tone was unmistakable.

Timothy gasped.

"You don't say!" he said. "Well, that beats the band! Why, I knew that
da--, that lady in London!"

The servant inclined his head sideways.

"Indeed, sir," he said, and it was evident that he did not regard
Timothy as being any fitter for human association by reason of his
confession.

A distant bell buzzed.

"Sir John is ready, sir," he said. "I hope you will not mention the fact
that I spoke of madam?"

Timothy winked, and was readmitted to the confidence of the democracy.

Sir John Maxell was standing up behind his writing-table, a fine, big
man with his grey hair neatly brushed back from his forehead and his
blue eyes magnified behind rimless glasses.

"T. A. C. Anderson," he said, coming round the table with slow steps.
"Surely this is not the little Timothy I heard so much about years and
years ago!"

"That is I, sir," said Timothy.

"Well, well," said Maxell, "I should never have known you. Sit down, my
boy. You smoke, of course--everybody smokes nowadays, but it seems
strange that a boy I knew in short breeches should have acquired the
habit. I've heard about you." he said, as Timothy lit his cigar.

"Nothing to my discredit, I hope, sir?"

Maxell shook his head.

"I have heard about you," he repeated diplomatically, "let it go at
that. Now I suppose you've come here because, five years ago, on the
twenty-third of December to be correct, I wrote to you, offering to give
you any help that lay in my power."

"I won't swear to the date," said Tim.

"But I will," smiled the other. "I never forget a date, I never forget a
letter, I never forget the exact wording of that letter. My memory is an
amazing gift. Now just tell me what I can do for you."

Timothy hesitated.

"Sir John," he said, "I have had a pretty bad time in America. I've been
running in a team with a crook and I've had to pay out every cent I had
in the world."

Sir John nodded slowly.

"Then it is money you want," he said, without enthusiasm.

"Not exactly money, sir, but I'm going to try to start in London and I
thought, maybe, you might give me a letter of introduction to somebody."

"Ah, well," said Maxell, brightening up, "I think I can do that for you.
What did you think of doing in London?"

"I thought of getting some sort of secretarial job," he said. "Not that
I know much about it!"

Sir John pinched his lower lip.

"I know a man who may help you," he said. "We were in the House of
Commons together and he would give you a place in one of his offices,
but unfortunately for you he has made a great deal of money and spends
most of his time at Newmarket."

"Newmarket sounds good to me," said Timothy. "Why, I'd take a chance
there. Perhaps he'd try me out in that office?"

The Judge permitted himself to smile.

"In Newmarket," he said, "our friend does very little more, I fear, than
waste his time and money on the race-course. He has half a dozen
horses--I had a letter from him this morning."

He walked back to his table, searched in the litter, and presently
amongst the papers pulled out a letter.

"As a matter of fact, I had some business with him and I wrote to him
for information. The only thing he tells me is "--this with a gesture of
despair--"that Skyball and Polly Chaw--those are the names of
racehorses, I presume--will win the two big handicaps next week and that
he has a flyer named Swift Kate that can beat anything--I am quoting his
own words--on legs over six furlongs."

He looked up over his glasses at Timothy, and on that young man's face
was a seraphic smile.

"Newmarket sounds real nice to me," glowed Timothy.

Remembering the injunctions of the servant, he was taking his adieu,
when his host asked, in a lower voice than that in which the
conversation had been carried on: "I suppose you have not heard from
your cousin?"

Timothy looked at him in astonishment. Had Sir John asked after the
Grand Llama of Tibet he would have been as well prepared to answer.

"Why, no, sir--no--er--is he alive?"

Sir John Maxell looked at him sharply.

"Alive? Of course. I thought you might have heard from him."

Timothy shook his head.

"No, sir," he said, "he disappeared. I only met him once when I was a
kid. Was he a friend--er--an acquaintance of yours?"

Sir John was drumming his fingers on the desk and his mind was far away.

"Yes and no," he said shortly. "I knew him, and at one time I was
friendly with him."

Suddenly he glanced at his watch, and a look of consternation came to
his face.

"Great heavens!" he cried. "I promised to meet my wife a quarter of an
hour ago. Good-bye! Good-bye!"

He hand-shook Timothy from the room and the young man had to find his
way downstairs without guidance, because the manservant was at that
moment heavily engaged.

>From the floor below came a shrill, unpleasant sound, and Timothy
descended to find himself in the midst of a domestic crisis. There were
two ladies in the hall--one a mere silent, contained spectator, the
other the principal actress. He recognised her at once, but she did not
see him, because her attention was directed to the red-faced servant.

"When I ring you on the 'phone, I expect to be answered," she was
saying. "You've nothing to do except to sit round and keep your ears
open, you big, lazy devil!"

"But, my lady, I--"

"Don't answer me," she stormed. "If you think I've got nothing better to
do than to sit at a 'phone waiting till you wake up, why, you're
mistaken--that's all. And if Sir John doesn't fire you--"

"Don't worry about Sir John firing me," said the man with a sudden
change of manner. "I've just had about as much of you as I can stand.
You keep your bossing for the movies, Lady Maxell. You're not going to
try any of that stuff with me!"

She was incapable of further speech, nor was there any necessity for it
since the man turned on his heels and disappeared into that mysterious
region which lies at the back of every entrance hall. Then for the first
time she saw Timothy.

"How do you do, Lady Maxell?"

She glared round at the interrupter, and for a moment he thought she
intended venting her anger on him. She was still frowning when he took
her limp hand.

"You're the Andersen boy, aren't you?" she asked a little ungraciously.

The old sense of antagonism was revived and intensified in him at the
touch of her hand. She was unchanged, looking, if anything, more pretty
than when he had seen her last, but the hardness at her mouth was
accentuated, and she had taken on an indefinable air of superiority
which differed very little from sheer insolence.

A gold-rimmed lorgnette came up to survey him, and he was nettled--only
women had the power to annoy him.

"You haven't changed a bit," he bantered. "I'm sorry your eyesight is
not so good as it was. Studio life is pretty tough on the eyes, isn't
it?"

She closed her lorgnette with a snap, and turned to the girl.

"You'd better see what Sir John is doing," she said. "Ask him what he
thinks I am, that I should wait in the hall like a tramp."

It was then that the girl came out of the shadow and Timothy saw her.

"This is the ward or niece," he said to himself, and sighed, for never
had he seen a human creature who so satisfied his eye. There is a beauty
which is neither statuesque nor cold, nor to be confounded with
prettiness. It is a beauty which depends upon no regularity of feature
or of colour, but which has its reason in its contradictions.

The smiling Madonna whom Leonardo drew had such contradictory quality as
this girl possessed. For she was ninety per cent. child, and carried in
her face all the bubbling joy of youth. Yet she impressed Timothy as
being strange and unnatural. Her meekness, her ready obedience to carry
out the woman's instruction, the very dignity of her departure--these
things did not fit in with the character he read in her face. Had she
turned curtly to this insolent woman and told her to carry her message
herself, or had she flown up the stairs calling for Sir John as she
went, these things would have been natural.

Lady Maxell turned upon him.

"And see here, Mr. What's-your-name, if you're a friend of Sir John,
you'll forget that I was ever in a studio. There are enough stories
about me in Bournemouth without your adding to the collection."

"Mother's little thoroughbred!" said Timothy admiringly; "spoken like a
true little lady."

In some respects he was wholly undisciplined, and had never learnt the
necessity of refraining from answering back. And the woman irritated
him, and irritation was a novel sensation.

Her face was dark with rage, but it was upon Sir John, descending in
haste to meet his offended wife, that she turned the full batteries of
her anger.

"You didn't know the time, of course. Your watch has stopped. It is hard
enough for me to keep my end up without you helping to make me look
foolish!"

"My dear," protested Maxell in a flurry, "I assure you--"

"You can spend your time with this sort of trash," she indicated
Timothy, and Timothy bowed, "but you keep me waiting like a tailor's
model at Sotheby's, of all people in the world, when you know well
enough--"

"My dear," pleaded the lawyer wearily, "my watch has certainly
stopped--"

"Ah! You make me tired. What are you doing with this fellow? Do you
think I want reminding of movie days? Everybody knows this fellow--a
cheap gambler, who's been fired out of every studio in England. You
allow your servants to insult me--and now I suppose you've brought this
prize-fighter to keep me in my place," and she pointed scornfully at the
amused Timothy.

Half-way downstairs the girl stood watching the scene in silence, and it
was only when he became conscious of her presence that Timothy began to
feel a little uncomfortable.

"Well, good-bye, Sir John," he said. "I'm sorry I intruded."

"Wait," said the woman. "John, this man has insulted me! I don't know
what he's come for, but I suppose he wants something. He's one of those
shifty fellows that hang around studios begging for money to bet with.
If you raise a hand to help him, why, I'm finished with you."

"I assure you," said Sir John in his most pompous manner, "that this
young man has asked for nothing more than a letter of introduction. I
have a duty--"

"Stop!" said the woman. "You've a duty to me, too. Hold fast to your
money. Likely as not, you'll do neither with 'Take A Chance' Anderson
floating around."

It was not her words, neither the contempt in her voice nor the insult
which stung him. The man who went twenty rounds with Kid Muldoon had
learned to control his temper, but there was a new factor present--a
factor who wore a plain grey dress, and had two big, black eyes which
were now solemnly surveying him.

"Lady Maxell," he said, "it is pretty difficult to give the lie to any
woman, but I tell you that what you say now is utterly false. I had no
intention when I came to Bournemouth of asking for anything that would
cost Sir John a penny. As to my past, I suppose it has been a little
eccentric, but it is clean, Lady Maxell."

He meant no more than he said. He had no knowledge of Sadie O'Grady's
antecedents, or he might not have emphasized the purity of his own. But
the woman went back as though she had been whipped, and Timothy had a
momentary vision of a charging fury, before she flung herself upon him,
tearing at his face, shrieking aloud in her rage...

"Phew!" said Timothy.

He took off his hat and fanned himself. It was the first time he had
ever run away from trouble, but now he had almost flown. Those favoured
people who were in sight of Sir John Maxell's handsome villa, saw the
door swung open and a young man taking the front path in four strides
and the gate in another before he sped like the wind along the street.

"Phew!" said Timothy again.

He went the longest way back to his hotel, to find that a telephone
message had been received from Sir John. It was short and to the point.
"Please don't come again." Timothy read the slip and chuckled.

"Is it likely?" he asked the page who brought the message.

Then he remembered the girl in grey, with the dark eyes, and he fingered
his smooth chin thoughtfully.

"I wonder if it is worth while taking a chance," he said to himself, and
decided that, for the moment, it was not.



CHAPTER X


Lady Maxell yawned and put down the magazine she was reading. She looked
at her watch. It was ten o'clock. At such an hour Paris would be
beginning to wake up. The best people would still be in the midst of
their dinner, and Marie de Montdidier (born Hopkins) would be putting
the final dabs of powder on her nose in her dressing-room at the Folies
Bergeres before making her first and her final appearance.

The boulevards would be bright with light, and there would be lines of
twinkling autos in the Bois for the late diners at the Aromonville. She
looked across at the girl sitting under a big lamp in a window recess, a
book on her knees, but her mind and eyes elsewhere.

"Mary," she said, and the girl, with a start, woke from her reverie.

"Do you want me, Lady Maxell?"

"What is the matter with Sir John? You know him better than I do."

The girl shook her head.

"I hardly know, Lady Maxell--"

"For heaven's sake don't call me 'Lady Maxell,'" said the other
irritably. "I've told you to call me Sadie if you want to." There was a
silence. "Evidently you don't want," snapped the woman. "You're what I
call a fine, sociable family. You seem to get your manners from your new
friend."

The girl went red.

"My new friend?" she asked, and Lady Maxell turned her back to her with
some resolution and resumed for a moment the reading of her magazine.

"I don't mind if you find any pleasure in talking to that kind of
insect," she said, putting the periodical down again. "Why, the world's
full of these do-nothing boys. I suppose he knows there's money coming
to you."

The girl smiled.

"Very little, Lady Maxell," she said.

"A little's a lot to a man like that," said the other. "You mustn't
think I am prejudiced because I was--er--annoyed the other day. That is
temperament."

Again the girl smiled, but it was a different kind of smile, and Lady
Maxell observed it.

"You can marry him as far as I am concerned," she said. "These sneaking
meetings are not exactly complimentary to Sir John, that's all."

The girl closed her book, walked across to the shelf and put it away
before she spoke.

"I suppose you're speaking of Mr. Anderson," she said. "Yes, I have met
him, but there has been nothing furtive in the meetings. He stopped me
in the park and apologised for having been responsible for the
scene--for your temperament, you know."

Lady Maxell looked up sharply, but the girl met her eyes without
wavering.

"I hope you aren't trying to be sarcastic," complained the older woman.
"One never knows how deep you are. But I can tell you this, that sarcasm
is wasted on me."

"I'm sure of that," said the girl.

Lady Maxell looked again, but apparently the girl was innocent of
offensive design.

"I say I met Mr. Anderson. He was very polite and very nice. Then I met
him again--in fact, I have met him several times," she said
thoughtfully. "So far from his being a do-nothing. Lady Maxell, I think
you are doing him an injustice. He is working at the Parade Drug Store."

"He will make a fine match for you," said the woman: "Sir John will just
love having a shop-walker in the family!"

That ended the conversation for both of them, and they sat reading for a
quarter of an hour before Lady Maxell threw her magazine on the floor
and got up.

"Sir John had a telegram yesterday that worried him," she said. "Do you
know what it was about?"

"Honestly I do not know, Lady Maxell," said the girl. "Why don't you ask
him yourself?"

"Because he would tell me a lie," said the woman coolly, and the girl
winced.

"He brought all his money and securities from the Dawlish and County
Bank to-day and put them in his safe, and he had the chief constable
with him for half an hour this morning." This was news to the girl, and
she was interested in spite of herself.

"Now, Mary," said Lady Maxell, "I'm going to be frank with
you--frankness pays sometimes. They called my marriage a romance of the
screen. Every newspaper said as much and I suppose that is true. But the
most romantic part of the marriage was my estate in Honolulu, my big
house in Paris and my bank balance. Ellsberger's publicity man put all
that stuff about, and I've an idea that Sir John was highly disappointed
when he found he'd married me for myself alone. That's how it strikes
me."

Here was a marriage which had shocked Society and had upset the smooth
current of the girl's life, placed in an entirely new light.

"Aren't you very rich?" she asked slowly, and Sadie laughed.

"Rich! There was a tram fare between me and the workhouse the day I
married Sir John," she said. "I don't blame him for being disappointed.
Lots of these cinema stars are worth millions--I wasn't one of them. I
married because I thought I was going to have a good time--lots of money
and plenty of travel--and I chose with my eyes shut."

The girl was silent. For once Sadie Maxell's complaint had
justification. Sir John Maxell was not a spending man. He lived well,
but never outside the circle of necessity.

The girl was about to speak, when there came a dramatic interruption.

There was a "whang!", a splintering of glass and something thudded
against the wall. Lady Maxell stood up as white as death.

"What was that?" she gasped.

The girl was pale, but she did not lose her nerve.

"Somebody fired a shot. Look!"

She pulled aside the curtain. "The bullet went through the window."

"Keep away from the window, you fool!" screamed the woman. "Turn out the
light! Ring the bell!"

Mary moved across the room and turned the switch. They waited in
silence, but no other shot was fired. Perhaps it was an accident.
Somebody had been firing at a target...

"Go and tell my husband!" said Sadie. "Quickly!"

The girl passed through the lighted hall upstairs and knocked at Sir
John's door. There was no answer. She tried the door, but found it
locked. This was not unusual. He had a separate entrance to his study,
communicating by a balcony and a flight of stairs with the garden. A
wild fear seized her. Possibly Sir John had been in the garden when the
shot was fired; it may have been intended for him. She knocked again
louder, and this time she heard his step and the door was opened.

"Did you knock before?" he asked. "I was writing--"

Then he saw her face.

"What has happened?" he demanded.

The girl told him, and he made his way downstairs slowly, as was his
wont. He entered the drawing-room switched on the lights, and without a
glance at his wife walked to the window and examined the shattered pane.

"I imagined I heard a noise, but thought somebody had dropped something.
When did this happen? Just before you came up?"

The girl nodded.

Maxell looked from one to the other. His wife was almost speechless with
terror, and Mary Maxell alone was calm.

"It has come already," he said musingly. "I did not think this would
happen so soon."

He walked down to the hall where the telephone hung and rang through to
the police station, and the girl heard all he said.

"Yes, it is Sir John Maxell speaking. A shot has just been fired through
my window. No, not at me--I was in my study. Apparently a rifle shot.
Yes, I was right--"

Presently he came back.

"The police will be here in a few moments to make a search of the
grounds," he said, "but I doubt whether they will catch the miscreant."

"Is it possible that it was an accident?" asked the girl.

"Accident?" He smiled. "I think not," he said dryly. "That kind of
accident is liable to happen again. You had better come up to my study,
both of you, till the police arrive," he said, and led the way up the
stairs.

He did not attempt to support his wife, though her nerve was obviously
shaken. Possibly he did not observe this fact until they were in the
room, for after a glance at her face he pushed a chair forward.

"Sit down," he said.

The study was the one room to which his wife was seldom admitted.
Dominated as he was by her in other matters, he was firm on this point.
It was perhaps something of a novelty for her--a novelty which will
still the whimper of the crying child has something of the same effect
upon a nervous woman.

The door of the safe was open and the big table was piled high with
sealed packages. The only money she saw was a thick pad of bank-notes
fastened about with a paper bandage, on which something was written. On
this she fixed her eyes. She had never seen so much money in her life,
and he must have noticed the attention this display of wealth had
created, for he took up the money and slipped it into a large envelope.

"This is your money, Mary," he beamed over his glasses at the girl.

She was feeling the reaction of her experience now and was trembling in
every limb. Yet she thought she recognised in this diversion an attempt
on his part to soothe her, and she smiled and tried hard to respond.

They had been daily companions since she was a mite of four, and between
him and his dead brother's child there was a whole lot of understanding
and sympathy which other people never knew.

"My money, uncle?" she asked.

He nodded. "I realised your investments last week," he said. "I happened
to know that the Corporation in which the money stood had incurred very
heavy losses through some error in insurance. It isn't a great deal, but
I couldn't afford to let you take any further risks.

"There was, of course, a possibility of this shot having been fired by
accident," he went on, reverting to the matter which would naturally be
at the back of his mind. Then he fell into thought, pacing the room in
silence.

"I thought you were out," he said, stopping suddenly in front of the
girl. "You told me you were going to a concert."

Before she could explain why she changed her mind they heard the sound
of voices in the hall.

"Stay here," said Sir John. "It is the police. I will go down and tell
them all there is to know."

When her husband had gone, Lady Maxell rose from her chair. The table,
with its sealed packages, drew her like a magnet. She fingered them one
by one, and came at last to the envelope containing Mary's patrimony.
This she lifted in her hands, weighing it. Then, with a deep sigh, she
replaced the package on the table.

"There's money there," she said, and Mary smiled.

"Not a great deal, I'm afraid. Father was comparatively poor when he
died."

"There's money," said Lady Maxell thoughtfully; "more than I have ever
seen since I have been in this house, believe me."

She returned, as though fascinated, and lifted the envelope again and
peered inside.

"Poor, was he?" she said. "I think you people don't know what poverty
is. Do you know what all this means?"

She held the envelope up and there was a look in her face which the girl
had never seen before.

"It means comfort, it means freedom from worry, it means that you don't
have to pretend and make love to men whom you loathe."

The girl had risen and was staring at her.

"Lady Maxell!" she said in a shocked voice. "Why--why--I never think of
money like that!"

"Why should you?" said the woman roughly, as she flung the package on
the table. "I've been after money in quantities like that all my life.
It has always been dangling in front of me and eluding me--eluding is
the word, isn't it?" she asked carelessly.

"What are all those pictures?" she changed the subject abruptly,
pointing to the framed photographs which covered the walls. "They're
photographs of India, aren't they?"

"Morocco," said the girl. "Sir John was born in Morocco and lived there
until he went to school. He speaks Arabic like a native. Did you know
that?"

"Morocco," said Lady Maxell. "That's strange. Morocco!"

"Do you know it?" asked the girl.

"I've been there--once," replied the other shortly. "Did Sir John go
often?"

"Before he married, yes," said Mary. "He had large interests there at
one time, I think."

Sir John came back at that moment, and Mary noticed that his first
glance was at the table.

"Well, they've found nothing," he said, "neither footprints nor the
empty shell. They're making a search of the grounds to-morrow.
Lebbitter wanted to post a man to protect the house in view of the other
matter."

"What other matter?" asked his wife quickly.

"It is nothing," he said, "nothing really which concerns you. Of course,
I would not allow the police to do that. It would make the house more
conspicuous than it is at present."

He looked at the two.

"Now," he said bluntly. "I think you had better go off to bed. I have
still a lot of work to do."

His wife obeyed without a word, and the girl was following her, when he
called her back.

"Mary," he said, laying his hand upon her shoulder, "I'm afraid I'm not
the best man that ever lived, but I've tried to make you happy, my dear,
in my own way. You've been as a daughter to me."

She looked up at him with shining eyes. She could not trust herself to
speak.

"Things haven't gone as well as they might during the past year," he
said. "I made a colossal blunder, but I made it with my eyes open. It
hasn't been pleasant for either of us, but there's no sense in
regretting what you cannot mend. Mary, they tell me that you've been
seeing a lot of this young man Anderson?"

She was annoyed to find herself going red when there was really no
reason for it. She need not ask who "they" were, she could guess.

"I've been making enquiries about that boy," said Sir John slowly, "and
I can tell you this, he is straight. Perhaps he has led an
unconventional life, but all that he told Sadie was true. He's clean,
and, Mary, that counts for something in this world."

He seemed at a loss how to proceed.

"Anything might happen," he went on. "Although I'm not an old man, I
have enemies..."

"You don't mean--"

"I have many enemies," he said. "Some of them are hateful, and I want to
tell you this, that if trouble ever comes and that boy is within
call--go to him. I know men, good, bad and indifferent; he's neither bad
nor indifferent. And now, good night!"

He kissed her on the forehead.

"You needn't tell your aunt what I've been talking about," he said at
parting and led her to the door, closing it and locking it behind her.

He sat down in his chair for a very long time before he made a move,
then he began picking up the packages and carrying them to the safe. He
stopped half-way through and resumed his seat in the chair, waiting for
the hour to pass, by which time he judged the household would be asleep.

At midnight he took a pair of rubber boots from a locker, pulled them
on, and went out through the door leading to the balcony, down the
covered stairway to the garden. Unerringly he walked across the lawn to
a corner of his grounds which his gardeners had never attempted to
cultivate. He stopped once and groped about in the bushes for a spade
which he had carefully planted there a few nights before. His hand
touched the rotting wood of an older spade and he smiled. For six years
the tool had remained where he had put it the last time he had visited
this No-Man's Land.

Presently he came to a little hillock and began digging. The soil was
soft, and he had not gone far before the spade struck wood. He cleared a
space two feet square and drew from the earth a small crescent of wood.
It was, in fact, a part of the wooden cover of a well which had long
since gone dry but which had been covered up by its previous owner and
again covered by Maxell.

Lying at full-length on the ground, he reached down through the
aperture, and his fingers found a big rusty nail on which was suspended
a length of piano wire. At the end of the wire was attached a small
leather bag and this he drew up and unfastened, and putting the bag on
one side, let the free end of the wire fall into the well.

He replaced the wood, covered it again with earth, all the time
exercising care, for, small as the aperture was, it was big enough for
even a man of his size to slip through.

A cloaked figure standing in the shadow of the bushes watching him, and
which had followed him as noiselessly across the lawn, saw him lift the
bag and take it back to the house and disappear through the covered
stairway. So still a night it was, that the watcher could hear the click
of the lower door as Sir John locked it, and the soft pad of his feet as
they mounted the stairs.



CHAPTER XI


Mr. Goldberg, the manager and proprietor of the Parade Drug Store, was a
man who possessed neither a sense of imagination nor the spirit of
romance. He sent peremptorily for Timothy, and Timothy came with a
feeling that all was not well.

"Mr. Anderson," said Goldberg in his best magisterial manner, "I took
you into my shop because I was short of a man and because I understood
that you had had some business experience."

"I have business experience," said Timothy carefully, "of a kind."

"I gave you particular instructions," said Mr. Goldberg solemnly, "on
one very vital point. We carry a full line of all the best proprietorial
medicines, and our customers can always get them upon application. Each
of those medicines we duplicate, as you know, providing the same
constituents and charging some sixpence to a shilling less--in fact, we
are out to save the public from being robbed."

"I understand you," said Timothy, "but I don't see much difference
between robbing the public and robbing the patent medicine proprietors,
and all that just-as-good stuff never did impress me, anyway. It stands
to reason," he said, leaning over the desk and speaking with the
earnestness of a crusader, "that the advertised article must be more
even in quality and it must be good all round. You can't advertise a bad
article and get away with it, except on the first sale, and that doesn't
pay the advertiser. The goods sell the goods, and the advertisement is
only to make you take the first lick."

"I do not want a lecture on advertising or on commercial morality," said
Mr. Goldberg with ominous calm. "I merely want to tell you that you were
over-heard by my chief assistant telling a customer not to 'take a
chance' on one of my own pills."

"That's right," said Timothy, nodding his head vigorously. "Guilty, my
lord. What about it?"

"I have had a further complaint," said Mr. Goldberg, consulting with
elaborate ceremony a little note-book. "I understand that you have
initiated the awful practice of offering to toss customers for their
change. People have written me strong letters of complaint about it."

"Because they lost," said the indignant Timothy; "what's wrong with
that, anyway, Mr. Goldberg? I don't pocket the money, and I win twice
out of every three times. If a fellow likes to take a chance as to
whether he gets sixpence or we get a shilling, why worry?"

The outraged Mr. Goldberg brindled. "That sort of thing may be all right
at a country fair or even in a country shop," he said, "but it is not
good enough for the Parade Drug Store, Bournemouth, and I'll dispense
with your services as from this morning."

"You're losing a good man," said Timothy solemnly, but Mr. Goldberg did
not seem to take that loss to heart.

All "Take A Chance" Andersen's jobs ended violently. He never conceived
of them ending in any other way, and invariably regarded the sum of
money which was received in lieu of notice, or as compensation for
breach of contract, as being something in the nature of a nest-egg which
a kindly Providence had foreordained, and he was neither cast down nor
elated by the crisis in his affairs, when, by a fortunate accident, he
met Mary Maxell--the fortune was apparent, but the accident belonged to
the category which determined the hour at which trains leave stations.

Hitherto, on the girl's part, these meetings had been fraught with a
certain amount of apprehension, if not terror. They had begun when
Timothy had stopped her on the morning after his quarrel with Lady
Maxell, and had made bland enquiries as to that lady's condition. Then
she had been in a panic and frantically anxious to end the interview,
and it required all her self-restraint to prevent her flying at top
speed from this wicked young man who had been so abominably rude.

At their second meeting he had greeted her as an old friend, and she had
left him with the illusion of a life-time acquaintance. Hereafter
matters went smoothly, and they went so because Timothy Andersen was
unlike any of the other boys she had ever met.

He paid her no compliments, he did not grow sentimental, he neither
tried to hold her hand nor kiss her, nor was he ever oppressed by that
overwhelming melancholy which is the heritage and pride of youth.

Not once did he hint at an early decline or the possibility of his going
away to die in far lands. Instead he kept her in screams of laughter at
his interpretation of movie plays in the making. He did not ask for a
keepsake; the only request he made of her in this direction was one
which first took her breath away. Thereafter she never met him unless
she had in the bag which slung from her wrist one small box of matches;
for "Take A Chance" Anderson had never possessed or carried the means
of ignition for his cigarette for one whole hour together.

Timothy told her most of what the proprietor of the Parade Drug Store
had told him. The girl thought it was a joke, because that was exactly
the way Timothy presented the matter.

"But you won't be going away soon?" she asked.

"Not till I go abroad," replied Timothy calmly.

"Are you going abroad too?" she asked in surprise. He nodded.

"I'm going to Paris and Monte Carlo--especially to Monte Carlo," he
said, "and afterwards I may run across to Algeria or to Egypt."

She looked at him with a new respect. She was less impressed by the
great possessions which his plans betrayed than by his confident
independence, and dimly she wondered why he was working at a drug store
for low wages and wondered, too, whether he was--

"What are you blushing about?" asked Timothy curiously.

"I wasn't blushing," she protested; "I was just wondering whether I
could ever afford a trip like that."

"Of course you can," said the young man scornfully. "If I can afford it,
you can, can't you? If I go abroad and stay at the best hotels, and go
joy rides in the Alps and plan all this when I haven't got fifteen
shillings over my rent--"

"You haven't fifteen shillings over your rent!" she repeated, aghast.
"But how can you go abroad without money?"

Timothy was genuinely astounded that she could ask so absurd a question.

"Why, I'd take a chance on that," he said. "A little thing like money
doesn't really count."

"I think you're very silly," she said. "Oh, there was something I wanted
to tell you, Mr. Anderson."

"You may call me Timothy," he said.

"I don't want to call you Timothy," she replied.

He shook his head with a pained expression.

"It'll be ever so much more sociable if you call me Timothy and I call
you Mary."

"We can be very sociable without that familiarity," she said severely.
"I was just going to tell you something."

They sat on the grass together, on the shadow fringe of a big oak and
the spring sunshine wove its restless arabesques on her lap.

"Do you know," she said after a pause, "that last night I had two queer
experiences and I was scared; oh, scared to death!"

"Eating things at night," said Timothy oracularly, "especially before
you go to bed--"

"I wasn't dreaming," she said indignantly, "nor was it a nightmare. I
won't tell you if you're so horrid."

"I'm only speaking as an ex-chemist and druggist," said Timothy gravely;
"but please forgive me. Tell me what it is, Mary."

"Miss Maxell," she said.

"Miss Mary Maxell," he compromised.

"First I'll tell you the least worst," she began. "It happened about one
o'clock in the morning. I had gone to bed awfully tired, but somehow I
couldn't sleep, so I got up and walked about the room, I didn't like
putting on the light because that meant drawing down the blinds which I
had let up when I went to bed, and the blinds make such a noise that I
thought the whole of the house would hear. So I put on my dressing-gown
and sat by the window. It was rather chilly, but my wrap was warm, and
sitting there I dozed. I don't know how long, but it was nearly an hour,
I think. When I woke up I saw a man right in the centre of the lawn."

Timothy was interested.

"What sort of a man?"

"That is the peculiar thing about it," she said. "He wasn't a white
man."

"A coon?" he asked.

She shook her head.

"No, I think it must have been a Moor. He wore a long white dress that
reached down to his ankles, and over that he had a big, heavy black
cloak."

Timothy nodded.

"Well?"

"He went round the corner of the house towards uncle's private stairway
and he was gone quite a long time. My first thought was to awaken uncle
and tell him, but then I remembered that Sir John had spent a long time
in Morocco and possibly he knew that the man was about the house. You
see, we have had Moorish visitors before, when ships have come to
Poole. Once we had a very important man, a Kaid, and Sir John made queer
tea for him in glasses with mint and stuff. So I just didn't know what
to do. Whilst I was wondering whether I ought not at least to wake Lady
Maxell, he reappeared, walked across the lawn and went down the path
which leads to the back entrance--you're laughing at me," she said
suddenly.

"What you mistake for a laugh," said Timothy solemnly, "is merely one
large smile of pleasure at being in your confidence."

She was in two minds as to whether she would be angry or pleased, but
his tone changed to a more serious one.

"I don't like the idea of the gaudy East wandering loose under your
bedroom window in the middle of the night," he said. "Did you tell Lady
Maxell this morning?"

The girl shook her head.

"No, she was up very early and has been out all day. I have not seen
her--in fact, she was not at breakfast. Now I'll tell you the really
serious thing that happened, and I do hope, Mr. Anderson, that you won't
be flippant."

"Trust me," said Timothy.

The girl had no reason to complain of his attitude when she had
described the shooting incident. He was aghast.

"That is terrible!" he said vigorously. "Why, it might have hit you!"

"Of course it might have hit me," she said indignantly. "That's the
whole point of my story, so far as you are concerned--I mean so far as I
am concerned," she added hastily.

"So far as I am concerned too," said Timothy quietly. "I just hate the
idea of anything even frightening you."

She rose hurriedly.

"I am going to shop now," she said.

"What's the hurry?" grumbled Timothy.

"Mr. Anderson," she said, ignoring his question, "I don't want you to
think that uncle is feeling badly about you because of what has happened
in the house. He spoke to me of you last night, and he spoke very
nicely. I am worried to death about Sir John. He has made enemies in his
life, and I am sure that this shooting affair is the sequel to some old
feud."

Timothy nodded.

"I should say that is so," he said.

He looked down at the grass very thoughtfully and then:

"Well, I'll go home," he said. "I had better sleep this afternoon if I
am to be up all night."

"Up all night?" she said in surprise. "What is happening? Is there a
ball or something?"

"There will be something livelier than a ball," he said grimly. "If I
find anybody in your garden to-night. And Miss Maxell, if you look out
of your window and you see a solitary figure on sentry--don't shoot,
because it will be me."

"But you mustn't," she gasped. "Please don't do it, Mr. Anderson. Uncle
would be--"

He stopped her with a gesture.

"Possibly nobody will come tonight," he said, "and as likely as not I
shall be pinched by the police as a suspicious character. But there's a
chance that somebody will come, and that's the chance I'm going to
take."



CHAPTER XII


True to his word, he returned to his lodgings and spent the afternoon in
slumber. He had the gift which all great men possess, of being able to
sleep at will. He was staying at a boarding-house, and occupied a room
which had originally been a side veranda, but had been walled in and
converted into an extra bedroom. It was a remarkably convenient room for
him, as he had discovered on previous occasions. He had but to open the
window and drop on to the grass to make his exit without anybody in the
house being the wiser. More to the point, he could return at any hour by
the same route without disturbing the household.

He had his supper, and whilst it was still very light he went out to
reconnoitre Sir John's demesne. He was able to make the circuit of the
house, which occupied a corner site and was isolated by two lanes, and
he saw nobody until, returning to the front of the house, a car drove up
and a woman alighted.

He had no difficulty in recognising Lady Maxell, but the taxi interested
him more than the lady. It was smothered with mud and had evidently come
a long journey. As evidently she had hired it in some distant town and
she had not as yet finished with it, because she gave the man some
directions and money, and from the profound respect which the chauffeur
showed, it was clear that that money was merely a tip.

Timothy stood where he could clearly be seen, but her back was toward
him all the time and she did not so much as glance in his direction when
she passed through the gate and up the garden path.

It was curious, thought Timothy, that she did not take the car up the
drive to the house. More curious was it that she should, at this late
hour of the evening, have further use for it.

He returned to his room, full of theories, the majority of which were
wholly wild and improbable. He lay on his bed, indulging in those dreams
which made up the happiest part of his life. Of late he had taken a new
and a more radiant pattern to the web of his fancy and--

"Oh fiddlesticks!" he said in disgust, rolling over and sitting up with
a yawn.

He heard the feet of the boarders on the gravel path outside, and once
he heard a girl say evidently to a visitor: "Do you see that funny room!
That is Mr. Andersen's."

There was still an hour or so to be passed, and he joined the party in
the parlour so restless and distrait as to attract attention and a
little mild raillery from his fellow guests. He went back to his room,
turned on the light and pulled a trunk from under the bed.

Somehow his mind had been running all day upon that erring cousin whose
name he bore and whose disappearance from public life was such a
mystery. Possibly it was Sir John's words which had brought Alfred
Cartwright to his mind. His mother had left him a number of family
documents, which, with the indolence of youth, he had never examined
very closely. He had the impression that they consisted in the main of
receipts, old diplomas of his father's (who was an engineer) and sundry
other family documents which were not calculated to excite the curiosity
of the adventurous youth.

He took out the two big envelopes in which these papers were kept and
turned them on to the bed, examining them one by one. Why his cousin
should be in his mind, why he should have taken this action at that
particular moment, the psychologist and the psychical expert alone can
explain. They may produce in explanation such esoteric phenomena as
auras, influences, and telepathies, and perhaps they are right.

He had not searched long before he came upon a small package of
newspaper cuttings, bound about by a rubber band. He read them at first
without interest, and then without comprehension. There was one cutting,
however, which had been clipped from its context, which seemed to tell
the whole story of the rest. It ran:

"When Cartwright stood up for sentence he did not seem to be greatly
troubled by his serious position. As the words 'twenty years' passed Mr.
Justice Maxell's lips, he fell back as if he had been shot. Then,
springing to the edge of the dock, he hurled an epithet at his lordship.
Some of his business associates suggest that the learned judge was a
partner of Cartwright's--an astonishing and most improper suggestion to
make. In view of the statement that the prisoner made before the trial,
when suggestions had been made in a newspaper that the judge had been
connected with him in business years before, and remembering that
Cartwright's statement was to the effect that he had had no business
transactions with the judge, it seems as though the outburst was made in
a fit of spleen at the severity of the sentence. Sir John Maxell, after
the case, took the unusual step of informing a Press representative that
he intended placing his affairs in the hands of a committee for
investigation, and had invited the Attorney-General to appoint that
committee. 'I insist upon this being done,' he said, 'because after the
prisoner's accusation I should not feel comfortable until an impartial
committee had examined my affairs.' It is understood that after the
investigation the learned judge intends retiring from the Bench."

Timothy gasped. So that was the explanation. That was why Maxell had
written to him, that was why he made no reference at all to his father,
but to this disreputable cousin of his. Slowly he returned the package
to its envelope, dropped it into his trunk and pushed the trunk under
the bed.

And that was the secret of Cousin Cartwright's disappearance. He might
have guessed it; he might even have known had he troubled to look at
these papers.

He sat on the bed, his hands clasping his knees. It was not a pleasant
reflection that he had a relative, and a relative moreover after whom he
was named, serving what might be a life sentence in a convict
establishment. But what made him think of the matter to-night?

"Mr. Anderson! Timothy!"

Timothy looked round with a start. The man whose face was framed in the
open window might have been forty, fifty or sixty. It was a face heavily
seamed and sparsely bearded--a hollow-eyed, hungry face, but whose eyes
burnt like fire. Timothy jumped up.

"Hullo!" he said. "Who are you 'Timothying'?"

"You don't know me, eh?" the man laughed unpleasantly. "Can I come in?"

"Yes, you can come in," said Timothy.

He wondered what old acquaintance this was who had come to the tramp
level, and rapidly turned over in his mind all the possible candidates
for trampdom he had met.

"You don't know me, eh?" said the man again. "Well, I've tracked you
here, and I've been sitting in those bushes for two hours. I heard one
of the boarders say that it was your window and I waited till it was
dark before I came out."

"All this is highly interesting," said Timothy, surveying the shrunken
figure without enthusiasm, "but who are you?"

"I had a provisional pardon," said the man, "and they put me in a
sanatorium--I've something the matter with one of my lungs. It was
always a trouble to me. I was supposed to stay in the sanatorium--that
was one of the terms on which I was pardoned--but I escaped."

Timothy stared at him with open mouth.

"Alfred Cartwright!" he breathed.

The man nodded.

"That's me," he said.

Timothy looked down at the edge of the black box.

"So that is why I was thinking about you," he said. "Well, this beats
all! Sit down, won't you?"

He pulled up a chair for his visitor and again gazed on him with
curiosity but without affection. Something in Timothy's attitude annoyed
Cartwright.

"You're not glad to see me?" he said.

"Not very," admitted Timothy. "The truth is, you've only just come into
existence so far as I am concerned. I thought you were dead."

"You didn't know?"

Timothy shook his head. "Not until a few minutes ago. I was reading the
cuttings about your trial--"

"So that was what you were reading?" said the man. "I'd like to see 'em
one of these days. Do you know what I've come for?"

It was only at that moment that Sir John flashed through Timothy's mind.

"I guess what you've come after," he said slowly. "You're here to see
Sir John Maxell."

"I'm here to see Mister Justice Maxell," said the man between his teeth.
"You're a good guesser."

He took the stump of a cigar from his waistcoat pocket and lit it.

"John Maxell and I have a score to settle, and it is going to be settled
very soon."

"Tide and weather permitting," said Timothy flippantly, recovering his
self-possession. "All that vendetta stuff doesn't go, Mr. Cartwright."
Then he asked in a flash: "Did you shoot at him last night?"

The man's surprise was a convincing reply.

"Shoot at him? I only got to this place this afternoon. It's more likely
he's waiting to shoot at me, for the sanatorium people will have
telegraphed to him the moment I was missing."

Timothy walked to the window and pulled down the blinds.

"Now tell me, Mr. Cartwright. before we go any farther, do you still
persist in the story you told the court, that the judge was a party to
your swindle?"

"A party to it!" said the other man furiously. "Of course he was! I was
using the money of my companies to buy concessions from the Moorish
Government, as much on his behalf as on mine. He wasn't in the Brigot
swindle--but he held shares in the company I was financing. We located a
gold mine in the Agera country, and Maxell and I went across to Europe
every year regularly to look after our property.

"We had to keep it quiet because we secured the concession from the
Pretender, knowing that he'd put the Sultan out of business the moment
he got busy. If it had been known, the Sultan would have repudiated the
concession, and our Government would have upheld the repudiation. Maxell
speaks the language like a native, and I learnt enough to get on with El
Mograb, who is the biggest thing amongst the rebel tribes. El Mograb
wanted us to stay there, Maxell and I; he'd have made us shereefs or
pashas, and I'd have done it, because I knew there was going to be an
investigation sooner or later into the affairs of my companies. But
Maxell wouldn't have it. He always pretended that, so far as he knew, my
financing was straight. You know the rest," he said. "When I came before
Maxell, I thought I was safe."

"But Sir John allowed his affairs to be inspected," said Timothy. "If he
had been engaged with you in this Morocco business, there must have been
papers to prove it."

Cartwright laughed harshly.

"Of course he'd allow his affairs to be investigated," he sneered. "Do
you think that old fox couldn't cache all the documents that put him
wrong? Papers? Why, he must have enough papers to hang him, if you could
only find 'em!"

"What are you going to do?" asked Timothy.

There was one thing he was determined that this man should not do, and
that was to disturb the peace of mind, not of Sir John Maxell or his
wife, but of a certain goddess whose bedroom overlooked the lawn.

"What am I going to do?" replied Cartwright. "Why, I'm going up to get
my share. And he'll be lucky if that's all he loses. One of the mines
was sold to a syndicate last year--I had news of it in gaol. He didn't
get much for it because he was in a hurry to sell--I suppose his other
investments must have been going wrong twelve months ago--but I want my
share of that!"

Timothy nodded.

"Then you had best see Sir John in the morning. I will arrange an
interview."

"In the morning!" said the other contemptuously. "Suppose you make the
arrangement, what would happen? When I went up there I should find a
couple of cops waiting to pinch me. I know John! I'm going to see him
to-night."

"I think not," said Timothy, and the man stared at him.

"You think not?" he said. "What has it to do with you?"

"Quite a lot," said Timothy. "I merely state that you will not see him
to-night."

Cartwright stroked his bristly chin undecidedly and then:

"Oh, well." he said in a milder tone, "maybe you can fix things up for
me in the morning."

"Where are you sleeping to-night?" asked Timothy. "Have you any money?"

He had money, a little; and he had arranged to sleep at the house of a
man he had known in better times. Timothy accompanied him through the
window and into the street, and walked with him to the end of the road.

"If my gamble had come off, you'd have benefited, Anderson," said the
man unexpectedly, breaking in upon another topic which they were
discussing.

They parted, and Timothy watched him out of sight, then turned on and
walked in the opposite direction, to take up his self-imposed vigil.



CHAPTER XIII


There was something in the air that was electrical, and Mary Maxell felt
it as she sat at supper with Sir John and his wife. Maxell was unusually
silent and his wife amazingly so. She was nervous and almost jumped when
a remark was addressed to her. The old truculence which distinguished
her every word and action, her readiness to take offence, to see a
slight in the most innocent remark, and her combativeness generally, had
disappeared; she was almost meek when she replied to her husband's
questions.

"I just went round shopping and then decided to call on a girl I had
known a long time ago. She lives in the country, and I felt so nervous
and depressed this morning that I thought a ride in a taxi would do me
good."

"Why didn't you take our car?" asked the other.

"I didn't decide until the last moment to go out to her, and then I went
by train one way."

Sir John nodded.

"I'm glad you went into the fresh air," he said, "it will do you good.
The country is not so beautiful as Honolulu, but it is not without its
attractions."

It was unusual for the Judge to be sarcastic, but it was less usual for
Lady Maxell to accept sarcasm without a retort. To Mary's surprise she
made no reply, though a faint smile curved those straight lips of hers
for a second.

"Do you think it was a burglar last night?" she asked suddenly.

"Good heavens, no!" said Maxell. "Burglars do not shoot up the house
they burgle."

"Do you think it is safe to have all this money in the house?" she
asked.

"Perfectly safe," he said. "I do not think that it need alarm you."

No further reference was made to the matter, and presently Sir John went
up to his study. Mrs. Maxell did not go to the parlour, but drew a chair
to the fire in the dining-room and read, and the girl followed her
example. Presently the elder woman left the room and was gone a quarter
of an hour before she returned.

"Mary," she said, so sweetly that the girl was startled, "such an
annoying thing has happened--I have lost the key of my wardrobe. You
borrowed one of Sir John's duplicates the other day--where did you put
the ring?"

John Maxell was a methodical and systematic man. He had a duplicate set
of all the keys in the house, and these as a rule were kept in a small
wall-safe in his own bedroom. He had never invited his wife to use that
receptacle, but she had a shrewd idea that the combination which was
denied to her had been given to the girl.

Mary hesitated.

"Don't you think if you asked Uncle--"

"My dear," smiled the lady, "if I went to him now, he'd never forgive
me. If you know where the keys are, be an angel and get them for me."

The girl rose, and Lady Maxell followed her upstairs. Her own room was
next to her husband's and communicated, but the door was invariably
locked on Maxell's side. Presently the girl came in to her.

"Here they are," she said. "Please let me put them back quickly. I feel
very guilty at having taken them at all without his permission."

"And for goodness sake don't tell him," said Lady Maxell, examining the
keys.

At last she found the one she wanted, but was a long time in the
process. She opened her bureau and the girl took the big key-ring from
her hand with such evident relief that Lady Maxell laughed.

It had been much easier than she thought and unless she made a blunder,
the key she had selected from the bunch while she was fumbling at the
bureau, would make just the difference--just the difference.

It was not customary for Sir John to come down from his study to enjoy
the ladies' company after dinner, but on this evening he made an
exception to his rule. He found his wife and ward reading, one each side
of the fireplace. Lady Maxell looked up when her husband came in.

"Here is a curious story, John," she said. "I think it must be an
American story, about a woman who robbed her husband and the police
refused to arrest her."

"There's nothing curious about that," said the lawyer, "in law a wife
cannot rob her husband or a husband his wife."

"So that if you came to my Honolulu estate and stole my pearls," she
said banteringly, "I could not have you arrested."

"Except for walking in my sleep!" he said smilingly, and they both
laughed together.

He had never seen her so amiable, and for the first time that day--it
had been a very trying and momentous day--he had his misgivings. She,
with the memory of her good day's work, the excellent terms she had
arranged with the skipper of the Lord Lawrence, due to leave Southampton
for Cadiz at daylight the next morning, had no misgivings at all,
especially when she thought of a key she had placed under her pillow.
She had the choice of two boats, the Lord Lawrence, and the Saffi, but
the Saffi's voyage would have been a long one, and its port of
destination might hold discomfort which she had no wish to experience.

The household retired at eleven o'clock, and it was past midnight before
Sadie Maxell heard her husband's door close, and half an hour later
before the click of the switch told her that his light had been
extinguished.

He was a ready sleeper, but she gave him yet another half-hour before
she opened the door of her bedroom and stepped out into the black
corridor. She moved noiselessly towards the study, her only fear being
that the baronet had locked the door before he came out. But this fear
was not well-founded, and the door yielded readily to her touch. She was
dressed, and carried only a small attache case filled with the bare
necessities for the voyage.

She pushed the catch of her electric lamp, located the safe and opened
it with no difficulty. She found herself surprisingly short of breath,
and her heart beat at such a furious rate that she thought it must be
audible to everybody in the house. The envelope with the money lay at
the bottom of the others, and she transferred its contents to her
attache case in a few seconds.

Then her heart stood still...

It was only the faintest creak she heard, but it came from a corner of
the room where the door leading to the cupboard stairway was placed. She
saw a faint grey line of light appear--the stairway had a glass roof and
admitted enough light to show her that the door was slowly opening. She
had to bite her lips to stop herself from screaming. To make her escape
or to rouse Sir John was impossible, and she opened the attache case
again, and with trembling fingers felt for the little revolver which she
had taken from her drawer. She felt safer now, yet she had not the
courage to switch on the light.

She saw the figure of a man silhouetted in the opening, then the door
closed, and her terror bred of itself a certain courage.

She flashed the light full on his face. The dead silence was broken when
she whispered:

"Oh, God! Benson!"

"Who's that?" he whispered, and snatched the torch from her hand.

He looked at her long and curiously, and then: "I expected to find that
Maxwell had taken most of my possessions," he said, "but I never thought
he would take my wife!"

"Let us see what all this is about!" boomed the big voice of John
Maxell--almost in the man's ear, he was so close--and suddenly the room
was flooded with light.



CHAPTER XIV


The self-appointed watcher found time pass very slowly. Twelve and one
o'clock struck from a distant church, but there was no sign of midnight
assassins, and the house, looking very solemn and quiet in the light of
a waning moon, irritated and annoyed him. From the roadway where he
paced silently to and fro--he had taken the precaution of wearing a pair
of rubber-soled shoes--he could glimpse Mary's window, and once he
thought he saw her looking out.

He made a point of walking entirely round the house twice in every hour,
and it was on one of these excursions that he heard a sound which
brought him to a standstill. It was a sound like two pieces of flat
board being smacked together sharply.

"Tap ... tap!"

He stopped and listened, but heard nothing further. Then he retraced his
footsteps to the front of the house and waited, but there was no sound
or sign. Another half-hour passed, and then a patrolling policeman came
along on the other side of the roadway. At the sight of the young man he
crossed the road, and Jim recognised an acquaintance of his drug-store
days. Nothing was to be gained by being evasive or mysterious, and
Timothy told the policeman frankly his object.

"I heard about the shooting last night," said the man, "and the
inspector offered to put one of our men on duty here, but Sir John
wouldn't hear of it."

He took a professional look at the house, and pointed to its dark upper
windows.

"That house is asleep--you needn't worry about that," he said; "besides,
it'll be daylight in two hours, and a burglar wants that time to get
home."

Timothy paused irresolutely. It seemed absurd to wait any longer, and
besides, to be consistent he must be prepared to adopt this watchman
role every night.

There was no particular reason why Sir John Maxell's enemy should choose
this night or any other. He had half expected to see Cartwright and was
agreeably disappointed that he did not loom into view.

"I think you're right," he said to the policeman. "I'll walk along down
the road with you."

They must have walked a quarter of a mile, and were standing chatting at
the corner of the street, when a sound, borne clearly on the night air,
made both men look back in the direction whence they had come. They saw
two glaring spots of light somewhere in the vicinity of the Judge's
house.

"There's a car," said the officer, "what is it doing there at this time
of the morning? There is nobody sick in the house, is there?"

Timothy shook his head. Already he had begun to walk back, and the
policeman, sensing something wrong, kept him company. They had covered
half the distance which separated them from the car, when it began to
move toward them, gathering speed. It flashed past and Timothy saw
nothing save the driver, for the hood was raised and its canvas blinds
hid whatever passenger it carried.

"It came in from the other end of the avenue," said the policeman
unnecessarily. "Maybe Sir John is going a long journey and is starting
early."

"Miss Maxell would have told me," said Timothy, troubled. "I nearly took
a chance and made a jump for that car."

It was one of the few chances Timothy did not take, and one that he
bitterly regretted afterwards.

"If you had," said the practical policeman, "I should have been looking
for the ambulance for you now."

Timothy was no longer satisfied to play the role of the silent watcher.
When he came to the house he went boldly through the gate and up the
drive, and his warrant for the intrusion was the officer who followed
him. It was then that he saw the open window of the girl's room, and his
heart leapt into his mouth.

He quickened his step, but just as he came under the window, she
appeared, and Timothy sighed his relief.

"Is that you?" she said in a low worried voice; "is that Mr. Anderson?
Thank heaven you've come! Wait, I will come down and open the door for
you."

He walked to the entrance, and presently the door was opened and the
girl, dressed in a wrapper, appeared. She tried to keep her voice
steady, but the strain of the past half-hour had been too much for her,
and she was on the verge of tears when Timothy put his arm about her
shaking shoulders and forced her down into a chair.

"Sit down," he said, "and tell us what has happened."

She looked at the officer and tried to speak.

"There's a servant," said the policeman; "perhaps he knows something."

A man dressed in shirt and trousers was coming down the stairs.

"I can't make him hear," he said, "or Lady Maxell, either."

"What has happened?" asked Timothy.

"I don't know, sir. The young lady woke me and asked me to rouse Sir
John."

"Wait, wait," said the girl. "I am sorry I am so silly. I am probably
making a lot of trouble over nothing. It happened nearly an hour ago, I
was asleep and I heard a sound; thought I was dreaming of what happened
last night. It sounded like two shots, but, whatever it was, it woke
me."

Timothy nodded.

"I know. I thought I heard them too," he said.

"Then you were out there all the time?" she asked and put out her hand
to him.

For that look she gave him Timothy would have stayed out the three
hundred and sixty-five nights in the year.

"I lay for a very long time, thinking that the sound would wake my
uncle, but I heard nothing."

"Is your room near Sir John's?" asked the policeman.

"No, mine is on this side of the building; Sir John and Lady Maxell
sleep on the other side. I don't know what it was, but something alarmed
me and filled me with terror--something that made my flesh go rough and
cold--oh, it was horrible!" she shuddered.

"I couldn't endure it any longer, so I got out of bed and went out into
the corridor to wake uncle. Just then I heard a sound outside my window,
but I was just too terrified to look out. Then I heard a motor-car and
footsteps on the path outside. I went to Sir John's door and knocked,
but got no answer. Then I tried Lady Maxell's door, but there was no
answer there either. So I went to Johnson's room and woke him;" she
looked at Timothy, "I--I--thought that you might be there, so I came
back to the open window and looked."

"Show me Sir John's room," said the policeman to the servant, and the
three men passed up the stairs, followed by the girl.

The door which the man indicated was locked, and even when the policeman
hammered on the panel there was no response.

"I think the key of my door will unlock almost any of the room doors,"
said the girl suddenly. "Sir John told me once that all the room locks
were made on the same plan."

She went away and came back with a key. The policeman fitted it in the
lock and opened the door feeling for and finding the electric switch as
he entered. The room was empty, and apparently the bed had not been
occupied.

"Where does that door lead?" he asked.

"That leads to Lady Maxell's room," said the girl; "there is a key on
this side." This door he found was open and again they found an empty
room and a bed which had not been slept in. They looked at one another.

"Wouldn't Sir John be in his study till late?" asked Timothy.

The girl nodded.

"It is at the end of the corridor," she said in a broken voice, for she
felt that the study held some dreadful secret.

This door was locked too, locked from the inside. By now the policeman
was standing on no ceremony, and with a quick thrust of his shoulder he
broke the lock, and the door flew open.

"Let us have a little light," he said, unconsciously copying words which
had been spoken in that room an hour before.

The room was empty, but here at any rate was evidence. The safe stood
open, the fireplace was filled with glowing ashes, and the air of the
room was pungent with the scent of burnt paper.

"What is this?" asked Timothy, pointing to the ground.

The floor of the study was covered with a thick, biscuit-coloured
carpet, and "this" was a round, dark stain which was still wet. The
policeman went on his knees and examined it.

"It is blood," he said briefly; "there's another patch near the door.
Where does this door lead? Catch that girl, she's fainting!"

Timothy was just in time to slip his arm round Mary's waist before she
collapsed. By this time the household was aroused, and a woman servant
was on the spot to take charge of Mary. When Timothy had rejoined the
policeman, that officer had discovered where the door led.

"You go down the stairway into the garden," he said. "It looks as if two
shots were fired here. Look, there's the mark of both of them on the
wall."

"Do you suggest that two people have been killed?"

The policeman nodded.

"One was shot in the middle of the room, and one was probably shot on
the way to the door. What do you make of this?" and he held up a bag,
discoloured and weather-worn, with a handle to which was fastened a long
length of rusty wire.

"It is empty," said the officer, examining the contents of the little
grip which, up till an hour before, had held John Maxell's most
jealously guarded secrets.

"I'll use this 'phone," said the officer. "You'd better stay by, Mr.
Anderson. We shall want your evidence--it will be important. It isn't
often we have a man watching outside a house where a murder is
committed--probably two."

The sun had risen before the preliminary interrogation and the search of
the house and grounds had been concluded. Blewitt the detective, who had
taken charge of the case, came into the dining-room, where a worried
servant was serving coffee for the investigators, and dropped down on to
a chair.

"There's one clue and there's one clue alone," he said, and drew from
his pocket a soft hat. "Do you recognise this, Anderson?"

Timothy nodded.

"Yes," he said, "that was worn last night by the man I spoke to you
about."

"Cartwright?" said the detective.

"I could swear to it," said Timothy. "Where did you find it?"

"Outside," said the detective; "and that is all we have to go on. There
is no sign of any body. My first theory stands."

"You believe that the murderer carried Sir John and Lady Maxell into the
car and drove away with them?" said Timothy; "but that pre-supposes that
the chauffeur was in the plot."

"He may have been and he may have been terrorised," said the detective.
"Even a taxi-driver will be obliging if you stick a gun in his stomach."

"But wouldn't Miss Maxell have heard--" began Timothy.

"Miss Maxell heard," said the detective, "but was afraid to look out.
She also heard two shots. My theory is that Sir John and Lady Maxell
were killed, that the murderer first locked both the bedrooms, went
through Sir John's papers, presumably to discover something
incriminating himself, and to destroy such documents."

"But why not leave the bodies?" said Timothy.

"Because without the bodies no indictment of murder could hold against
him."

Timothy Anderson turned as the girl came in. She was looking very tired,
but she was calmer than she had been earlier in the morning.

"Is there any news?" she asked, and Timothy shook his head.

"We have searched every inch of the ground," he said.

"Do you think--" She hesitated to ask the question.

"I am afraid," replied Timothy gently, "that there is very little hope."

"But have you searched everywhere?" insisted the girl.

"Everywhere," replied Timothy.

Soon after, Timothy took the girl away to a hotel for breakfast and to
arrange for a room, and the house was left in charge of the police.
Later came the famous detective Gilborne, who made an independent
search, but he, like his predecessors, failed to discover any further
evidence, because he also knew nothing of the disused well, which lay
hidden under a rubbish heap.



CHAPTER XV


Who killed Sir John Maxell and his wife?

Where had their bodies been hidden? These were the two questions which
were to agitate England for the traditional space of nine days. For one
day, at any rate, they formed the sole topic of speculation amongst the
intelligent section of fifty million people.

The first question was easier to answer than the second. It was obvious
to the newsmen that the murderer was Cartwright, whose threats of
vengeance were recalled and whose appearance at Bournemouth had been
described at second-hand by the detective in charge of the case.
First-hand information was for the moment denied the pressmen, for
Timothy, fully dressed, lay on his bed in a sound sleep. Happily for
him, neither then nor later did any of the enterprising newspaper men
associate the "A. C." in his name with the wanted criminal. He was at
least spared that embarrassment.

But the story of his vigil as "a friend of Sir John's" was in print long
before he woke up to find a small and impatient army of reporters
waiting to interview him. He answered the reporters' interrogations as
briefly as possible, bathed and changed and made his way to the hotel
where the girl was. She was leaving as he arrived, and the warmth of her
greeting almost banished the depression which lay upon him. She put her
arm through his so naturally that he did not realise his wonderful
fortune.

"I've got something to tell you," she said, "unless you know already.
All my money has gone."

He stopped with a gasp.

"You don't mean that?" he said seriously.

"It is true," she replied. "I believe it was very little and my loss is
so insignificant compared with the other awful affair that I am not
worrying about it."

"But Sir John had money?"

She shook her head.

"I have just seen his lawyers," she said, "they have been to the bank
and there is not a hundred pounds to his credit, and that amount will be
absorbed by the cheques he has drawn. He drew a very, very large sum,
including my money, from the bank two days ago. You know," she went on,
"I think that Sir John contemplated leaving for America? He had already
given me a hint, asking how long it would take me to pack my belongings,
and I fancy that had something to do with the telegram he received--"

"Announcing Cartwright's escape," nodded Timothy.

"He was so kind and gentle," said the girl, her eyes filling with tears,
"that to me he was more like a father. Oh, it is awful, awful!"

"But you?" asked the agitated Timothy. "What are you going to do? Good
heavens! It is dreadful!"

"I shall, have to work," said the girl practically and with a little
smile. "I do not think that will kill me. Hundreds of thousands of girls
have to work for their living, Timothy, and I shall have to work for
mine."

Timothy drew a long breath.

"Not if I can help it you won't," he said. "I am sure I shall make a lot
of money. I can feel it in my bones. If a man takes a job--"

"You mustn't talk like that," she said, pressing his arm, "and anyway,
how could I let you help me or keep me? That sort of thing isn't
done--not by nice girls."

She laughed, but became sober again.

"Do you know that Sir John was very much interested in you?"

"In me?" said Timothy.

She nodded.

"I told you so the other day. I think he liked you, because he was
saying how uncomfortable you must be at Vermont House, living in that
queer little room of yours."

Timothy was startled.

"How did he know I was living at Vermont House?" he said.

She smiled.

"Vermont House happens to be Sir John's property," she said. "In fact, I
think it is the only realisable piece of property he has, now that the
money has gone."

"What shall you do immediately?" asked Timothy.

She shook her head.

"I don't know," she replied. "I think the first step is to get out of
this hotel, which is much too expensive for me. I have a few pounds in
the bank, but that won't last very long."

At his earnest entreaty she agreed to see a solicitor and appoint him to
save whatever was possible from the wreckage of Sir John's estate. Two
hours passed like as many minutes, until Timothy remembered that he had
an appointment with a London reporter--one Brennan. Brennan he had known
in his cinema days, and Timothy literally fell upon his neck.

"I've nothing to tell the boys that hasn't already been told," he said,
putting down the newspaper which Brennan handed to him. "I am as anxious
for news as you are. Have there been any developments?"

"None," said the reporter, "except that Sir John had no money at the
bank and no money could be found in the house."

Timothy nodded.

"That I know," he said, "all his securities were drawn out two days ago.
That was the stuff that Cartwright was after."

"Does Miss Maxell know--" Brennan began.

"She does know and she took it like a brick."

"It was about twenty thousand pounds," Brennan went on. "The only other
clue the police have is that the safe was opened by Maxell's duplicate
key. The old man had two sets made, one of which he used to keep in his
combination safe in his bedroom and the other he carried around with
him. Miss Maxell told a story that the night before the murder Lady
Maxell asked her to secure possession of the keys in order to open a
bureau."

Timothy nodded.

"I see. Is it suggested that Lady Maxell detached the key of the safe
and that it was she who opened it?"

"That is one theory," said the other, "the police have miles of 'em!
They've got everything except the bodies and the murderer. Now come out
with that story, Anderson! You must know a great deal more than you've
told, and I'm simply without a new fact that these evening papers
haven't got, to hang my story on. Why did Cartwright come to your room,
anyway? Do you know him?"

"He was an acquaintance of my father's," said Timothy diplomatically,
"and perhaps he thought I knew Maxell better than I did."

"What sounds pretty thin," said the reporter. "Why should he come to
you?"

"Suppose I am the only person he knew or knew about," said Timothy
patiently. "Suppose he'd been all round Bournemouth trying to find a
familiar name."

"There's something in that," admitted the reporter.

"Anyway," said Timothy, "I was a kid when he went to gaol. You don't
imagine I knew him at all, do you?"

He had gone out to meet the girl, forgetting to take his watch, and now
he was looking round for it.

"Here is a theory," said Brennan suddenly. "Suppose Lady Maxell isn't
dead at all."

"What do you mean?" asked the other.

"Suppose Cartwright killed Maxell and Lady Maxell witnessed the murder.
Suppose this fellow had to decide whether he would kill the witness or
whether he would go away with her? You said the motor-car which came to
the house in the middle of the night was the same as that in which Lady
Maxell came home. Isn't it likely that she should have told the
murderer, for some reason or other, that the car was coming, because
evidently she had arranged for it to come, and that they went away
together? Isn't it likely, too, that she was in the plot, and that, so
far from being a victim, she was one of the criminals? We know her
antecedents. There was some trouble over her stabbing a young American,
Reggie van Rhyn. In fact, most of the evidence seems to incriminate her.
There is the key, for example. Who else but she could have taken the
duplicate key? Doesn't it look as though she planned the whole thing,
and that her accomplice came in at the last moment to help her get away
and possibly to settle Sir John?"

"Take the incident of the two locked bedrooms. Obviously somebody who
lived in the house and who knew the family routine must have done that.
Both Sir John and Lady Maxell were in the habit of fastening their doors
at night, and the servants did not go into the bedrooms unless they were
rung for. It seems to me fairly clear that Lady Maxell locked the doors
so that the suspicions of the servants should not be aroused in the
morning."

"If I had your powers of deduction," said the admiring Timothy, "I
should never miss a winner. Where the blazes is my watch?"

"Try under the pillow," said Brennan.

"I never put it there," replied Timothy, but nevertheless turned the
pillow over and stood gaping.

For beneath the pillow was a long, stout envelope with a tell-tale blood
stain in one corner.

"For heaven's sake!" breathed Timothy, and took up the package.

It bore no address and was sealed.

"What on earth is this?" he asked.

"I can tell you what those stains are." said the practical Brennan. "Is
there any name on it?"

Timothy shook his head.

"Open it," suggested the reporter, and the other obeyed.

The contents were even more astonishing, for they consisted of a thick
pad of money. They were new Bank of England notes and were bound about
by a tight band of paper. On the band was written in Sir John's
handwriting:

"Proceeds of the sale of stocks held in trust for Miss Mary Maxell.
21,300."

The detective in charge of the case was a man of many theories. But his
new theory was an uncomfortable one for Timothy Anderson.

"This puts a new light upon the case," said the detective, "and I'm
being perfectly frank with you, Mr. Anderson, that the new light isn't
very favourable to you. Here you are, outside the building when the
crime is committed. You are seen by a policeman a few minutes after the
shots are fired, and a portion of the money stolen from the house is
discovered under your pillow."

"Discovered by me," said Timothy, "in the presence of a witness. And are
you suggesting that, whilst I was with your policeman, I was also
driving the car, or that I was wearing Cartwright's cap which was found
in the grounds? Anyway, you've the finger-print of your man and you're
at liberty to compare it with mine."

"It isn't a finger-print anyway," said the detective, "it is the print
of a knuckle, and we do not keep a record of knuckles. No. I admit that
the motor-car conflicts a little with my theory. Have you any suggestion
to offer?"

Timothy shook his head.

"The only suggestion I can make," he said, "is that Cartwright, in a
hurry to get away and knowing the position of my room, hid the money
there for fear he should get caught with the goods. At any rate, if I
were the criminal I would not hide a blood-stained envelope under my
pillow. I should at least have the intelligence to burn the envelope and
put the money where the servants of this house could not find it. Why,
don't you see," he said vigorously, "that any of the servants at this
boarding-house would have found the envelope if I hadn't?"

The detective scratched his head.

"There's something in that," he said. "It is a very queer case."

"And it is being investigated by very queer people," said Timothy
irritably.

A little further investigation, however, relieved Timothy of all
suspicion. He had not returned to the house until ten o'clock that
morning. The maid, who had taken him a cup of tea at eight, noticing
that he had been out all night, thought it was an excellent opportunity
to straighten the room to "get it off her mind," as she said. She did
not remake the bed, but had tidied it. Whilst sweeping she had seen the
envelope lying on the floor near the open window and had picked it up
and, for want of a better place, thinking "it was private" had slipped
it under Timothy's pillow.

As Timothy had not been out of sight of the police since the tragedy
until his return to his lodgings, there could be no suggestion that he
had any part in hiding the envelope. Whatever irritation he felt was
dispelled by his large and generous satisfaction when the poverty which
threatened Mary was averted. But why should Cartwright hide the money
there? Why should he stop in his headlong flight to come to the window,
as evidently he did, and throw the package into the room? There were a
hundred places where he might have left it.

"That cousin stuff doesn't work," thought Timothy, "and if you think
he's going to rely upon his relationship with me and can use me to look
after his money, he's made one large mistake."

He saw the girl again at the official inquiry, and met her again on the
day after. She was going to Bath where she had some distant relations,
and they had met to say good-bye.

It was a gloomy occasion--less gloomy for Timothy than for the girl,
because he was already planning a move to the town in which she was
taking up her quarters. This cheerful view was banished, however, when
she explained that her stay in Bath was merely a temporary expedient.

"Mrs. Renfrew has wired asking me to come--and it seems as good a place
as any for a few months. I don't think I shall stay here any longer,"
she said. "I want a change of air and a change of scene. Timothy, I feel
that I shall never get over Sir John's death."

"Never is a very long time, my dear," said Timothy gently, and she could
only wonder at the tender kindness in his voice.

She had little time to wonder, however, for she had a proposition to
make to him and she hardly knew how to reduce it to words.

"Are you--are you--working?" she asked.

Timothy's broad smile answered her plainly that he was not.

"The fact is," he said airily, "I haven't quite decided what I am going
to do. If you were going down to Bath for good, I was going down to Bath
also. Maybe I could start a druggist's or buy a store, or run errands
for somebody. I am the most accommodating worker."

"Well--" she began and stopped.

"Well?" he repeated.

"I had an idea that maybe you would like to go on and conduct an
independent search--independent of the police, I mean--and find
something about the man who killed Sir John, and perhaps bring him to
justice. You know, I think you are clever enough," she went on
hurriedly, "and it would be work after your own heart."

He was looking at her steadily.

"Quite right, Mary," he said quietly, "but that involves spending a
whole lot of money. What misguided person do you suggest would send me
out on that kind of job?"

"Well, I thought--" She hesitated, and then a little coherently, "You
see, I have the money--mainly through you--my own money, I mean. I feel
I have a duty to my poor uncle and I could trust you to do your very
best. I could afford it, Timothy "--she laid her hand on his arm and
looked up at him almost beseechingly--"indeed I can afford it. I have
more money than ever I shall spend."

He patted her hand softly.

"Mary," he said, "it is just the kind of job I should like, and with
anybody's money but yours, why, I'd be out of the country in two shakes,
looking for Mr. Cartwright in the most expensive cities of the world.
But, my dear, I cannot accept your commission, because I know just what
lies behind it. You think I'm a restless rather shiftless sort of fellow,
and you want to give me a good time--with your money."

He stopped and shook his head--

"No, my dear," he said, "thank you, but, no!"

She was disappointed and for a moment a little hurt.

"Would two hundred pounds--" she suggested timidly.

"Not your two hundred," he said. "That lawyer of yours should take
better care of your money, Mary. He shouldn't allow you to make these
tempting offers to young men," he was smiling now. "Will you go abroad?"

"Perhaps--some day," she said vaguely. "Sir John wanted me to go--and I
feel that I should be pleasing him. Some day, yes, Timothy."

He nodded.

"Maybe I'll go over at the same time as you," he said. "I thought of
taking a chance in Paris for a while--you can make big money in Paris."

"In--a while?" she smiled.

"In a minute," said Timothy grimly, "if the horse and the jockey are of
the same way of thinking. I know a fellow who races pretty extensively
in France. He has a horse called Flirt--"

She held out her hand for the second time.

"Timothy, you're incorrigible," she said.

She did not see him again for twelve months, not indeed until, after a
winter spent in Madeira, she put her foot over the gangway of the S.S.
Tigilanes and met the quizzical smile of the youth who was waiting to
receive her.

For Timothy had been in Funchal a month, seeing but unseen, since Mary
was generally in bed before the Casino woke up and play reached any
exciting level.



CHAPTER XVI


Timothy sat now on an upturned trunk, his elbows on the rails of the
S.S. Tigilanes and his speculative eye roving the riverfront of
Liverpool.

It was the last hour of the voyage, and Timothy, who had left Funchal
with four hundred pounds in his pocket-book, had exactly three genuine
shillings and a five-milreis piece of dubious quality.

A man strolled along the deck and fell in at his side.

"Cleaned you out last night, didn't they?" he asked sympathetically.

"Eh? Oh, yes, I believe they did. That red-haired man had all the luck
and most of the cards."

He smiled and Timothy had a swift, happy smile that brought tired little
ridges under his eyes. He was not only good-looking and young, but he
was interesting.

The man at his side took the cigar from his teeth and looked at it
before he spoke.

"Of course, you know they were crooks--they work this coast line
regularly."

"Eh?"

Timothy looked round, shocked and pained.

"You don't say? Crooks! What, that little red-haired fellow who has been
trying to pick a quarrel with me all the voyage, and the tall,
nice-looking Englishman?"

His companion nodded.

"Don't you remember the Captain warned us not to play cards--"

"They always do that to be on the safe side," said Timothy, but he was
obviously uneasy. "Of course, if I knew they were crooks--"

"Knew! Good lord! Anybody will tell you. Ask the purser. Anyway, you've
been stung and you can do nothing. The best thing to do is to grin and
bear your losses. It is experience."

Timothy felt the three honest shillings in his pocket and whistled
dismally.

"Of course, if I were sure--"

He turned abruptly away and raced down the main companion-way to the
purser's little office under the stairs.

"Mr. Macleod, I want to see you."

"Yes, sir,"--all pursers are a little suspicious--"anything wrong with
your bill?"

"No--not unless his name's Bill. Shall I come in?"

The purser opened the half-door and admitted him to the sanctuary.

"There are two fellows aboard this packet--a red-haired fellow named
Chelwyn and a disguised duke named Brown--what do you know about 'em?"

The purser made a face. It was intended to convey his lack of real
interest in either.

"I'll put it plainly." said the patient Timothy. "Are they crooks?"

"They play cards," said the purser diplomatically.

He desired at this eleventh hour to avoid scandal, explanations, and
such other phenomena which he associated in his mind with the
confrontation of the wise men and their dupes. That sort of thing
brought the Line into disrepute, and indirectly reflected upon the
ships' officers. Besides, the ship was making port, and, like all
pursers, he was up to his eyes in work and frantically anxious to clear
it off in a minimum time so that he could take a train to his little
villa at Lytham, where his family was established.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Anderson, if you've been stung," he said, "but the
captain gives fair warning the first night out of Cape Town and
Madeira--that's where you came aboard, isn't it?--and there were notices
posted up, both in the saloon and in the smoking-room. Have you lost
much?"

He looked up with some sympathy at the tall, athletic figure with the
tired, smiling eyes.

"I cleared up 500 at the Funchal Casino," said Timothy, "and I reckon I
have spent 100 legitimately."

"The rest is gone, eh?" said the purser. "Well, Mr. Anderson, I am
afraid I can do nothing. The best thing to do is to mark it down against
'Experience'."

"I'll forgive you for being philosophical about my losses," said
Timothy. "Will you be kind enough to tell me the number of Mr. Chelwyn's
cabin?"

"Two seventy-four," said the purser. "I say, Mr. Anderson, if I were you
I'd let the matter drop."

"I know you would, dear old thing," said Timothy, shaking him warmly by
the hand, "and if I were you I should let it drop too. But, as I am
me--274, I think you said?"

"I hope you're not going to make any trouble, Mr. Anderson," said the
alarmed purser. "We've done our best to make you comfortable on the
voyage."

"And I did my best to pay for my ticket, so we're quits," and with a
wave of his hand Timothy strode out of the cabin, dodged down past the
steward carrying up the luggage to the next deck, and walked swiftly
along the carpeted corridor till he found a little number-plate bearing
the figures "274." He knocked at the cabin-door, and a gruff voice said,
"Come in!"

Chelwyn, the red-haired man, was in his shirt sleeves, fastening his
collar. Brown was sitting on the edge of his bunk, smoking a cigarette,
and Chelwyn, who had seen Timothy reflected in the mirror as he came in,
was first to recognise him.

"Hullo, Mr. Anderson, do you want anything?" he asked politely. "Sorry
you've had such bad luck--what the devil are you doing?"

Timothy had shut the door and slipped the bolt.

"Yes, I want something," he said. "I want four hundred pounds."

"You want--"

"Listen. I thought you were playing straight, you fellows, or I wouldn't
have played with you. I'm willing to take a chance, for that's my motto
in life, dear lads, but there isn't a chance to take when you're playing
with crooks."

"Look here," said the red-haired man, walking over to him and
emphasising his words with his forefinger against Timothy's chest, "that
kind of stuff doesn't amuse me. If you lose your money, lose it like a
sportsman and a gentleman, and don't squeal."

Timothy grinned.

"Boys," he said, "I want four hundred pounds from you, so step lively."

The suave Mr. Brown, who had been watching the scene with bored eyes,
stroking his drooping moustache the while, made a gentle entrance into
the conversation.

"I'm rather surprised, in fact, I am shocked, Mr. Anderson, that you
should take this line," he said. "You've lost your money fairly and
squarely--"

"That's where you're lying," said Timothy pleasantly. "Now, I'm telling
you this. We're very near the shore. Somewhere at the back of those
warehouses there's certain to be a police organisation and a well-paid
magistrate. You are going to have a grand opportunity of appearing in
the respectable part of the court as a prosecutor, for I'm going to beat
you up--first you," he pointed to the red-haired Chelwyn, "and then
you."

"You're going to beat me up, are you?" said the red-haired man and made
a quick dive.

It was not pretty to watch, unless you took an interest in fighting.
They closed for a second and something jolted twice under Chelwyn's jaw.
He fell back against the cabin partition. He leapt again, but Timothy's
fist met him half-way, and he never really felt what hit him.

"I've won this fight," said Timothy, "and I award myself a purse of four
hundred pounds. Do you take any interest in these proceedings, Brown?"

The other man had not moved from his bunk, but now he rose and lifted
his dazed companion to his feet. "We'd better pay this fellow."

"I'll see him--" mumbled the other, but Brown was apparently the brains
of the organisation and had merely mentioned his intention of paying out
of sheer politeness to his companion.

He took a thick pocket-book from his hip pocket and counted out the
notes, and Timothy picked them up.

"I'll fix you for this," said Chelwyn, mopping his bleeding lip. "You've
taken this from me--not him."

"Don't frighten me," said Timothy as he unbolted the door and stepped
out.

"Some day I'll get you," said the livid man, and the finger he pointed
at Timothy was shaking with anger.

"I'll take a chance on that," said Timothy. He ascended the
companion-way feeling remarkably cheerful, and met the purser coming
down. That officer regarded him even more suspiciously than ever. But as
there were no signs of the fray upon him, the purser went to his cabin
relieved, and Timothy passed out to relieve his feelings by the side of
the rail. So he sat whilst the big liner was brought alongside the
wharf, and then he heard his name spoken and jumped up, hat in hand.

"I just wanted to tell you, Timothy, in case I did not see you on the
train," she remarked, "that Mrs. Renfrew has decided not to go back to
Bath but to go on to Paris almost immediately."

"Good for Mrs. Renfrew," said Timothy. "Bath or Paris will find me
hanging around. I nearly came down to you just now to borrow my fare to
Bath."

"Timothy," she said in a shocked voice, "did you lose all the money you
won in Funchal?"

Timothy rubbed his nose.

"I didn't exactly lose it," he said. "I lent it and it has just been
repaid."

"Mrs. Renfrew doesn't think it proper your travelling on the same boat.
She thinks you ought not to have come to Madeira after me--us."

There was mischief in Mary's eyes, in spite of the solemnity of her
tone.

"I shouldn't worry about what Mrs. Renfrew thinks," said Timothy. "Why,
you're almost as badly off for cousins as I am."

"As you are?" she said in surprise. "Have you any cousins?"

"Hundreds of 'em," said Timothy glibly.

"Who are they?" she asked, interested.

She had reached a stage in their friendship when his relatives were
immensely interesting.

"I don't know their names," lied Timothy. "I don't give 'em names but
numbers--one, two, three, four, etc.--just at that moment I was thinking
of number seventy-nine--good morning, Mrs. Renfrew."

Mrs. Renfrew was severe and thin, with a yellow face and hooked nose.
She was a member of one of the best, if not the best, families in Bath,
and it was an unfailing source of pride that she did not know the people
that other people knew.

Mary watched the encounter with dancing eyes.

"Shall I have the pleasure of your company to London?" asked Mrs.
Renfrew.

She invariably made a point of leaving Mary out, and indeed sustained
the pleasant fiction that Mary had no existence on board the ship.

"The pleasure will be mine," said Timothy. "I am not travelling with you
to London."

He said this so innocently that Mrs. Renfrew was in the middle of her
next observation before she had any idea that the remark had an
offensive interpretation.

"You seem to have had a very unfortunate experience--what do you mean?"

Happily a very hot-looking steward made his appearance at that moment
and called Mrs. Renfrew away. She gathered up her charge and with a
withering glance at Timothy departed.

"Take A Chance" Anderson, feeling particularly happy, was one of the
first to land and strolled along the quay-side waiting within view of
the gangway for Mary to disembark. Immediately above him towered the
high decks of the Tigilanes--a fact of which he was reminded when, with
a crash, a heavy wooden bucket dropped so close to his head that it
grazed his shoulder It was a large bucket, and, dropped from that
height, might have caused him considerable physical distress.

He looked up. The two card-players with whom he had had some argument
were lolling over the rail, their faces turned in quite another
direction and talking earnestly.

"Hi!" said Timothy.

They were deaf, it appeared, for they still continued their discussion.
A deck-hand was passing with a crate load of oranges; one fell out and
Timothy picked it up. The attention of Messrs. Chelwyn and Brown was
still directed elsewhere, and with a little swing of his arm Timothy
sent the orange upon its swift and unerring course. It caught the
red-haired man square in the side of the face and burst, and he jumped
round with an oath.

"You've dropped your bucket," said Timothy sweetly. "Shall I throw it at
you or will you come down and get it?"

The man said something violent, but his companion pulled him away, and
Timothy went to look for a seat with peace in his heart.



CHAPTER XVII


The train was crowded, but he secured a corner seat in one of the
cell-like compartments. It was empty when he entered, but immediately
after, to his surprise, Brown and Chelwyn followed him in and deposited
their goods upon three seats that they might in the manner of all
experienced travellers, occupy breathing space for three at the cost of
two tickets.

They took no notice of Timothy until the train drew out and he wondered
what their game was. It was hardly likely that they would start any
rough work with him after their experience of the morning and less
likely because these boat trains were well policed.

Clear of the Riverside Station the smooth Englishman leant forward.

"I hope, Mr. Anderson," he said, "that you will forget and forgive."

"Surely," said Timothy, "I have nothing to forgive."

"My friend," said Mr. Brown with a smile, "is very--precipitate--which
means hasty," he explained.

"Thank you," said Timothy, "I thought it meant crooked."

A spasm contorted the features of Mr. Chelwyn, but he said nothing. As
for Brown, he laughed. He laughed heartily but spuriously.

"That's not a bad joke," he said, "but to tell you the truth, we mistook
you for--one of us, and my friend and I thought it would be a good joke
to get the better of you."

"And was it?" asked Timothy.

"It was and it wasn't," said Mr. Brown, not easily nonplussed. "Of
course, we intended restoring the money to you before you left the
ship."

"Naturally," said Timothy. "I never thought you would do anything else."

"Only you know you rather spoilt our little esprit."

"If the conversation is to develop into a foreign language," said
Timothy, "I would only remark: Honi soit qui mal y pense," and the
polite Mr. Brown laughed again.

"You do not mind if my friend and I have a little quiet game by
ourselves, if," he said humorously, "we swindle one another."

"Not at all," said Timothy. "I have no objection to watching, but if,"
he said cheerfully, "you should suddenly draw my attention whilst your
friend's head is turned, to the ease with which I could win a hundred
pounds by picking the lady, or discovering the little pea under the
little shell, or show me a way of getting rich from any of the other
devices which the children of the public schools find so alluring at the
county fair, I shall be under the painful necessity of slapping you
violently on the wrist."

Thereafter the conversation languished until the train had run through
Crewe and was approaching Rugby. It was here that Mr. Brown stopped in
the midst of a long, learned discussion on English politics to offer his
cigarette-case to Timothy. Timothy chose a cigarette and put it in his
pocket.

"That is one of the best Egyptian brands made," said Mr. Brown casually.

"Best for you or best for me?" asked Timothy.

"Bah!" It was the red-haired Chelwyn who addressed him for the first
time. "What have you to be afraid of? You're as scared as a cat! Do you
think we want to poison you?"

Mr. Brown produced a flask and poured a modicum of whisky into the cup
and handed it to his companion, then he drank himself. Then, without
invitation he poured a little more into the cup and offered it to
Timothy.

"Let bygones be bygones," he said.

"I have no desire to be a bygone," said Timothy. "I would much rather be
a herenow."

Nevertheless, he took the cup and smelt it.

"Butyl chloride," he said, "has a distinctive odour. I suppose you don't
call it by its technical name, and to you it is just vulgarly 'a
knock-out drop.' Really," he said, handing back the cup, "you boys are
so elementary. Where did you learn it all--from the movies?"

The red-haired man half rose from his seat with a growl.

"Sit down," said Timothy sharply, and with a jerk of his hand he flung
open the carriage door.

The men shrank back at the sight of the rapidly running line, and at the
certainty of death which awaited any who left the train on that side of
the carriage.

"Start something," said Timothy, "and I'll undertake to put either one
or both of you on to the line. We're going at about sixty miles an hour,
and a fellow that went out there wouldn't be taking a chance. Now, is
there going to be a rough house?"

"Close the door, close the door," said Mr. Brown nervously. "What a
stupid idea, Mr. Anderson!"

Timothy swung the door to and the man moved up towards him.

"Now, I'm just going to put it to you plainly," said Brown. "We've made
the voyage out to the Cape and the voyage back and the only mug we met
was you. What we won from you just about paid our expenses, and I'm
putting it to you, as a sportsman and a gentleman, that you should let
us have half of that stuff back."

"The sportsman in me admires your nerve," said Timothy, "but I suppose
it is the gentleman part that returns an indignant 'No!' to your
interesting observation."

Brown turned to his companion.

"Well, that's that, Len," he said, "you'll just have to let the money
go. It is a pity," he said wistfully and his companion grunted.

That ended the conversation so far as the journey was concerned, and
Timothy heard no more until he was in the gloomy courtyard at Euston
Station and stepping into his taxi.

To his surprise it was the red-haired man who approached him, and
something in his manner prevented Timothy from taking the action which
he otherwise would have thought necessary.

"Look here, young fellow," he said, "you watch Brown--he's wild."

"You're not exactly tame," smiled Timothy.

"Don't take any notice of me," said the man a little bitterly. "I am
engaged in the rough work. I should have got two hundred out of your
money--that's what made me so wild. Brown paid all my expenses and gives
me ten pound a week and a commission. It sounds funny to you, doesn't
it, but it is the truth," and somehow Timothy knew that the man was not
lying.

"He's finished with me--says I am a hoodoo," said the little man. "Do
you know what I've got out of five weeks' work? Look!"

He held out his hand and disclosed two ten-pound notes.

"Brown's dangerous," he warned Timothy. "Don't you make any mistake
about that. I was only wild because I was losing money, but he's wild
because you've got fresh with him and caught him out every time. Good
night!"

"Here, wait," said Timothy.

He felt in his pocket.

"If you're lying, it is a plausible lie and one that pleases me," he
said. "This will salve my conscience."

He slipped two notes into the man's hands.

Chelwyn was speechless for a moment. Then he asked:

"And where are you staying in London, Mr. Anderson?"

"At the Brussell Hotel."

"At the Brussell Hotel," repeated the other, "I'll remember that. I
shall hear if anything is going on and I'll 'phone you. You're a
gentleman, Mr. Anderson."

"So Mr. Brown said," remarked Timothy and drove off, feeling unusually
cheerful.

If Timothy could be cheerful under the depressing conditions which
prevailed on the night of his arrival in London, he was a veritable
pattern of cheer. A drizzling rain was falling as the taxi squeaked its
way through a labyrinth of mean streets. He had glimpses of
wretched-looking people, grotesque of shape and unreal, through the
rain-blurred window of the cab.

Then suddenly the character of the streets changed, and he was in a
broad street twinkling with light. There was a glimpse of trees, wide
open spaces, dotted with light. The street grew busier and the traffic
thicker, then suddenly the cab turned again into semi-darkness and
pulled up before the hotel.

A porter opened the door.

"What do I think of Madeira?" asked Timothy of the astonished man. "I
haven't had time to think. Will I be staying long in London? No. What
are my opinions of the political crisis which has arisen in my absence?
I would rather not say."

It takes a great deal to upset the equilibrium of a well-conducted hall
man. "Have you booked your room?" he asked. Timothy meekly admitted that
he had.

He woke to a London much more beautiful, to a vista of old-world
buildings such as Cruikshank loved to draw, to a green square and
glimpses of greener trees. Mary was staying at the Carlton, but he had
arranged to meet her for lunch. He had not arranged to meet her dragon,
but he knew she would be there. He had breakfasted, and was on the point
of leaving the hotel, when Chelwyn came.

To say that Timothy regretted his generosity of the night before would
be to do him an injustice. Nevertheless, he had some misgivings as to
whether he had not been a little too generous. The appearance of Mr.
Chelwyn, early in the morning, looking so spruce and confident, was in
itself a suspicious happening, though events proved that the suspicion
was unfounded.

"Can I see you alone for a moment, Mr. Anderson?" asked the red-haired
man.

Timothy hesitated.

"Come along to the drawing-room," he said.

It was the one public room which would be empty at that time of the
morning. Mr. Chelwyn deposited his hat and stick and brand-new yellow
gloves before he spoke.

"Now, Mr. Anderson, I've come to tell you a few facts which will
surprise you."

"You haven't had a gold brick sent to you by your Uncle George in
Alaska, have you?" asked Timothy dubiously. "Because I'm not buying that
kind of fact."

The man smiled and shook his head.

"It is hardly likely I should try that stuff on you, sir," he said. "No,
this is a much more serious matter. Before I go any farther I'll tell
you that I am not asking for money. I am grateful for what you did to me
last night, Mr. Anderson. A crook has a wife and children the same as
anybody else. I have been in this funny business for ten years, but now
I'm out of it for good." He looked round and dropped his voice. "Mr.
Anderson, I told you last night that we've been five or six weeks away
from England. Didn't that sound strange to you?"

"Not to me," said Timothy.

"That is because you don't know the game," said the man. "As a rule,
when we're working these liners, we go out to Cape Town and come back by
the next ship that sails. What do you think we stayed at Funchal
for--there's no money in short voyages--it's all on the long run from
Madeira to Cape Town."

"I haven't the slightest idea," said Timothy wearily. "I don't even
remember seeing you in Funchal--"

"We laid low," interrupted the man.

"That may be, but if you've come to tell me the interesting story of
your life, Ginger, I beg that you will cut it short--the history, I
mean, not necessarily your life."

"Well, I'll tell it to you as quickly as possible," said the man. "I
don't always work with Brown. In fact, I've only worked with him about
three times before. I'm not as good a man with the broads--"

"The broads?" said the puzzled Timothy.

"With the cards," corrected the man. "I say that I'm not as good a man
with the broads as some of the others. I've got a bit of a reputation
for scrapping. I've never left a pal in the lurch and I've always been
ready for any 'rough house' that came along. About two months ago Brown
sent for me--he's got a flat off Piccadilly and lives like a lord. He
told me he was going to Madeira on a special job, that he'd been
employed by a lady in Paris--a Madame Serpilot (you'd better write that
down in your pocket-book)--to shepherd a young lady who was coming over.
Mind you, there was no harm intended to the young lady, but the general
idea was that she might be accompanied by a man, and he was the fellow
who had to be looked after."

"What was the lady's name?" asked Timothy quickly.

"Miss Maxell," said the man without hesitation, "and you were the fellow
we were asked to put out of business. Brown's idea was to break you;
then, when you got to London, one of his pals would have met you and
offered to lend you money. They'd have framed up a charge against you of
obtaining money by false pretences, and you would have been pinched."

Timothy's eyebrows rose.

"Was this Mrs. Serpilot's plan?" he asked, but the man shook his head.

"No, sir, she gave just the details to Brown. She never said what was to
be done to you, according to him, but you were to be stopped going
around with the young lady."

"Who is Madame Serpilot?"

"There you've got me," said Chelwyn. "I believe she's an old widow, but
Brown never told me much about her. He got instructions from her while
he was in Paris, but I never discovered how. I went to Madeira with him
because he knew I was tough--but I wasn't tough enough," he added with a
dry smile.

Timothy held out his hand.

"Ginger," he said solemnly, "please forgive the orange!"

"Oh, I didn't mind that," said the man, "that's all in the day's work.
It made me a bit wild, and my eye's feeling sore, but don't let that
worry you. What you've got to do now is to look out for Brown, because
he'll have you as sure as death."

"I'll look out for Madame Serpilot, too," said Timothy. "I think I'll go
to Paris."

"She's not in Paris now, I can tell you that," said the man. "The wire
Brown got at Liverpool was from Monte Carlo."

"Monte Carlo," said Timothy, "is even more attractive than Paris."



CHAPTER XVIII


Chelwyn left Timothy with something to think about. Who was this Madame
Serpilot, this old lady who had such an interest in Mary travelling
alone? And why, oh why had she left Paris for Monte Carlo at the fag end
of the season? For he and Mary had privately decided between them that
London and Paris should only be stopping places on the route to the
Riviera. Why should Madame Serpilot have changed her plans at the same
time? There was something more than a coincidence in this. At lunch-time
he had Mary to herself, her chaperon having a headache.

"Mary," he said, "can you tell me why we changed our plans on the boat
and decided to go straight on to Monte Carlo instead of staying in
Paris?"

"Yes," she said readily. "Don't you remember my telling you about those
beautiful books of views that I saw on the ship?"

"Where did you see them?" asked Timothy.

"I found them in my cabin one day. I think the steward must have left
them," she said. "They were most wonderful productions, full of coloured
prints and photographs--didn't I tell you about them?"

"I remember," said Timothy slowly. "Found them in your cabin, eh? Well,
nobody left any beautiful or attractive pictures of Monte Carlo in my
berth, but I think that won't stop me going on to Monte Carlo."

It was an opportunity she had been seeking for a week and she seized it.

"I want to ask you something, Timothy," she said. "Mrs. Renfrew told me
the other day that they call you 'Take A Chance' Anderson. Why is that,
Timothy?"

"Because I take a chance, I suppose," he smiled. "I've been taking
chances all my life."

"You're not a gambler, Timothy, are you?" she asked gravely. "I know you
bet and play cards, but men do that for amusement, and somehow it is all
right. But when men start out to make a living, and actually make a
living, by games of chance, they somehow belong to another life and
another people."

He was silent.

"You're just too good to go on that way, Timothy," she went on. "There
are lots of chances that a man can take in this world, in matching his
brains, his strength and skill against other men, and when he wins his
stake is safe. He doesn't lose it the next day or the next month, and
he's picking winners all the time, Timothy."

His first inclination was to be nettled. She was wounding the tender
skin of his vanity, and he was startled to discover how tender a skin
that was. All that she said was true and less than true. She could not
guess how far his mind and inclination were from commonplace labour and
very little work came into the calculations of his future. He looked
upon a job as a thing not to be held and developed into something
better, but as a stopgap between two successful chances. He was almost
shocked when this truth came home to him. The girl, was nervous, and
painfully anxious not to hurt him, and yet well aware that she was
rubbing a sore place.

"Timothy, for your sake, as well as for mine, for you're a friend of
mine, I want to be proud of you, to see you past this present phase of
life. Mrs. Renfrew speaks of you as a gambler, and says your name, even
at your age, is well known as one who would rather bet than buy. That
isn't true, Timothy, is it?"

She put her hand on his and looked into his face. He did not meet her
eyes.

"I think that is true, Mary," he said steadily. "How it comes to be
true, I don't quite know. I suppose I have drifted a little over the
line and I'm grateful to you for pulling me up. Oh, no, I don't regret
the past--it has all been useful--and I have made good on chances, but I
see there are other chances that a man can take than putting his money
on the pace of a horse or backing against zero. Maybe, when I get back
to London I'll settle down into a respectable citizen and keep hens or
something."

He was speaking seriously, though at first she thought he was being
sarcastic.

"And you won't gamble again?" she asked.

He hesitated to reply.

"That isn't fair," she said quickly. "I mean it isn't fair of me to ask
you. It is almost cruel," she smiled, "to let you go to Monte Carlo and
ask you not to put money on the tables. But promise me, Timothy, that
when I tell you to stop playing, you will stop."

"Here's my hand on it," said Timothy, brightening up already at the
prospect of being allowed to gamble at all. "Hereafter--" He raised his
hand solemnly. "By the way," he asked, "do you know a lady named Madame
Serpilot?"

She shook her head. "No, I do not," she said. "I have never heard the
name."

"You have no relations or friends in France?"

"None," she replied immediately.

"What made you go to France at all?" he asked

"When I heard from you, Mary, you talked about taking a holiday in
Madeira before setting up house in Bath, and the first thing I knew of
your intention to go abroad again was the letter you sent me just before
I started for Madeira."

"I wanted to go a year ago, after Sir John's death," she said; "then
Mrs. Renfrew couldn't take the trip--one of her younger children had
measles."

"Has that woman children?" asked Timothy in an awed voice.

"Don't be absurd. Of course she has children. It was she who decided on
making the trip. She writes little articles in the Bath County Herald--a
local paper--on the care of children and all that sort of thing. She's
not really a journalist, she is literary."

"I know," said Timothy, "sometimes they write poetry, sometimes recipes
for ice cream--'take three cups of flour, a pint of cream in which an
egg has been boiled and a pinch of vanilla'--"

The girl smiled. Evidently Timothy had hit upon the particular brand of
journalism to which Mrs. Renfrew was addicted.

"Well," said the girl, "there was to have been a sort of Mothers'
Welfare Meeting in Paris next week--an International affair--and when we
were in Madeira she received an invitation to attend with a free return
ticket--wasn't that splendid?"

"Splendid," said Timothy absently. "Naturally you thought it was an
excellent opportunity to go also."

The girl nodded.

"And now you have arrived here you find that the Mothers' Welfare
Meeting has been postponed for ten years?"

She looked at him, startled.

"How did you know that the meeting had been postponed?" she asked.

"Oh, I guessed it," he said airily, "such things have happened before."

"The truth is," said the girl, "nobody knows anything about this
meeting, and the letter which Mrs. Renfrew sent to the Mothers' Welfare
Society in Paris was waiting for us when we arrived at the Carlton. It
had been returned--'Addressee Unknown.' Mrs. Renfrew had put the Carlton
address inside."

Here was ample excuse for speculation of an innocuous kind. Mrs. Renfrew
had been approached because it was known by this mysterious somebody
that she would take the girl with her, and this sinister somebody had
hired two thugs to shepherd her from Madeira and to put Timothy out of
action, should he decide to accompany the party to France. The situation
was distinctly interesting.

Three days later the party crossed the Channel. Timothy had high hopes
of adventure, which were fated to be more than fulfilled. They stayed
three days in Paris and he had the time of his life. He went to the
races at Maisons Lafitte, and came back glowing with a sense of his
virtue, for he had not made a bet. He drifted in to the baccarat rooms
at Enghien, watched tens of thousands of francs change hands, and
returned to Paris that night with a halo fitted by Mary's own hands.

"I think you're really wonderful, Timothy," she said. "You know you are
allowed one final flutter."

"I'm saving that up for Monte Carlo," said Timothy.

Since his arrival in Paris he had lost the right to his name, for he was
taking no chances. If he went abroad at night he kept to the brilliantly
illuminated boulevards or the crowded cafes. He kept clear of the
crowds--especially crowds which formed quickly and for no apparent
reason.

He was taking no chances because he felt it was not fair upon the
particular genius who presided over his destinies that he should
squander his luck in a miraculous escape from death or disablement. Only
once, when dining at the Scribe, did he think he saw the familiar face
of Mr. Brown. With an apology he left the two ladies and made his way
with difficulty through the crowded restaurant, only to find that his
man had disappeared.

"These cafes have as many doors as a trick scene," he grumbled when he
came back.

"Did you see a friend of yours?" asked the girl.

"Not so much a friend as one who has a financial interest in me,"
replied Timothy.

Mrs. Renfrew had thawed a little under the beneficent influences of
Paris. She was busy sending off picture-postcards and had written to
Bath her first impression of the French capital to the extent of three
columns. She had also written a poem which began: "Oh, city of light
that shines so bright," and went on rhyming "vain" with "Seine," "gay"
with "play" "joy" with "alloy," through twenty-three stanzas.

"I rather pride myself," said Mrs. Renfrew, "upon that description of
Paris--'the city of light.' Don't you think it is very original, Mr.
Anderson?"

"It was," said Timothy diplomatically. "Parisians have been calling it
the 'Ville Lumiere' for about two hundred years."

"That's almost the same, isn't it?" said Mrs. Renfrew. "How clever the
French are!"

Mrs. Renfrew did not speak French and took a more generous view of the
young man when she discovered that he did. It fell to Timothy's lot to
order tickets, arrange cabs, pay bills and act as unofficial courier to
the party. He was anxious to be gone from Paris. impatient for the big
game to begin. For some reason, he did not anticipate that any harm
would come to the girl. This struck him as strange later, but at the
moment all his thoughts were centred upon the match between himself and
this old French lady who had set herself out to separate him from Mary
Maxell.

No unpleasant incident--the crowded condition of the dining-car
excepted--marred the journey to Monte Carlo. There was the inevitable
night spent in a stuffy sleeping-berth in a car that rocked and swayed
to such an extent that Timothy expected it to jump the line, as
thousands of other passengers have expected it to do; and they came with
the morning to the Valley of the Rhone, a wide, blue, white-flecked
stream flowing between gaunt hills, past solitary chateaux and strange
walled towns, which looked as if they had been kept under glass cases
for centuries, that the modern world should be reminded of the dangers
under which our forefathers lived. So to Marseilles, and a long, hot and
slow journey to Nice.

To the girl it was a pilgrimage of joy. She would not have missed a
single moment of that ride. The blue sea, the white villas with their
green jalousies, the banked roses over wall and pergola and the
warm-scented breeze, and above all the semi-tropical sun, placed her in
a new world, a wonder world more beautiful than imagination had painted.

There is something about Monte Carlo, which is very satisfying. It is so
orderly, so clean, so white and bright, that you have the impression
that it is carefully dusted every morning and that the villas on the
hills are taken down weekly by tender hands, polished and replaced.

There is nothing garish about Monte Carlo, for all its stucco and
plaster. Some of the buildings, and particularly the Casino, were
compared by the irreverent Timothy to the White City, but it was a
refined White City and the Casino itself, with its glass-roofed porch,
its great, solemn hanging lamps and its decorous uniformed attendants,
had something of the air of a National Bank.

Timothy took a room at the Hotel de Paris, where the girl was staying,
and lost no time in seeking information.

"Madame Serpilot?" said the concierge. "There is a madame who bears that
name, I think, but she is not staying here, monsieur."

"Of whom should I inquire, I pray you?" asked Timothy in the vernacular.

"Of the Municipal Council, monsieur," said the concierge, "or, if the
madame is a wealthy madame, of the manager of the Credit Lyonnais, who
will perhaps inform monsieur."

"Thanks many times," said Timothy.

He went first to the Credit Lyonnais, and found the manager extremely
polite but uncommunicative. It was not the practice of the bank, he aid,
to disclose the addresses of their clients. He would not say that Madame
Serpilot was his client, but if she were, he could certainly not give
her address to any unauthorised person. From this Timothy gathered that
Madame Serpilot was a client. He went on to the Maine and met with
better fortune. The Maine had no respect for persons. It was there to
supply information and what the Maine of Monte Carlo does not know about
Monaco, the cleverest detective force in the world would be wasting its
time trying to discover.

Madame Serpilot lived at the Villa Condamme. The Villa Condamme was not,
as the name suggested, in the poorer part of Monte Carlo but in that
most exclusive territory, the tiny peninsular of Cap Martin.

"Has madame been a resident long?"

"For one hundred and twenty-nine days," replied the official promptly.
"Madame hired the villa furnished from the agent, of the Grand Duchess
Eleana who, alas! was destroyed in that terrible revolution."

He gave Timothy some details of the family from which the Grand Duchess
had sprung, the amount of her income in pre-war days, and was passing to
her eccentricities when Timothy took his departure. He was not
interested in the Grand Duchess Eleana, alive or dead.



CHAPTER XIX


He went to the house agent on the main street and from them procured the
exact position of Madame Serpilot's residence.

"An old madame?" said the agent. "No, monsieur, I cannot say that she is
old. And I cannot say that she is young."

He thought a moment, as though endeavouring to find some reason for this
reticence on the subject of her age, and then added:

"I have not seen her. Madame is a widow," he went on. "Alas, there are
so many in France as the result of the terrible war."

"Then she is young," said Timothy. "They didn't send old men to the
front."

"She may be young," replied the agent, "or she may be old. One does not
know."

He called the assistant who had shown the lady the house and had taken
the documents for her to sign. The assistant was aged sixteen, and at
the age of sixteen most people above twenty are listed amongst the aged.
He was certain that she was a widow and very feeble, because she walked
with a stick. She always wore a heavy black veil, even when she was in
the garden.

"Is it not natural," said the house agent romantically, "that the madame
who has lost all that makes life worth living should no longer desire
the world to look upon her face?"

"It may be natural in Monte Carlo," said Timothy, "but it is not natural
in London."

He located the house on a large plan which the obliging agent produced,
and went back to the hotel, firmly resolved to take the first
opportunity of calling on Madame Serpilot and discovering what object
she had in view when she arranged to endanger his young life.

Mary was waiting for him, a little impatiently for one who had such a
horror of gambling.

"We have to get tickets at the Bureau," she said, "and the concierge
says we must have special membership cards for the Cercle Privee."

The tickets were easy to procure, and they passed into the great saloon
where, around five tables, stood silent ovals of humanity. The scene was
a weird one to Timothy and fascinating too. Besides this, all the other
gambling games in the world, all the roulette tables and baccarat
outfits, were crude and amateurish. The eight croupiers who sat at each
table in their black frock coats and their black ties, solemn visaged,
unemotional, might have been deacons in committee. The click of rakes
against chips, the whirr of the twirling ball, the monotonous sing-song
announcement of the chief croupier--it was a ritual and a business at
one and the same time.

It was amazing to reflect that, year in and year out, from ten o'clock
in the morning until ten o'clock at night (until midnight in the Cercle
Privee) these black-coated men sat at their tables, twirling their
rakes, watching without error every note or counter that fell on the
table, separating notes from chips with a deftness that was amazing,
doing this in such an atmosphere of respectability that the most rabid
anti-gambler watching the scene must come in time to believe that
roulette was a legitimate business exercise.

Through the years this fringe of people about the table would remain,
though units would go out, and as units went out new units would replace
them, and everlastingly would sit shabby old men and women with their
cryptic notebooks, making their tableaux with red and black pencils,
religiously recording the result of every coup, staking now and again
their five-franc pieces, and watching them raked to the croupier with
stony despair or drawing with trembling hands the few poor francs which
fortune had sent them.

Timothy was very silent when they passed the portals of the Cercle
Privee, into that wonderful interior which, viewed from the entrance
room, had the appearance of some rich cathedral.

"What do you think of them?" asked Mary. He did not answer at once.
"What did you think of the people?" she demanded again. "Did you see
that quaint old woman--taking a chance? I'm sorry," she said quickly, "I
really didn't mean to be--"

"I know you didn't," said Timothy, and sighed. The roulette table did
not attract him. He strolled off to watch the players at trente et
quarante. Here the procedure was more complicated. One of the officials
dealt two lines of cards, ending each when the pips added to something
over thirty. The top line stood for black, the lower line for red, and
that which was nearest to thirty won. After mastering this, the process
was simple; you could either back the red or the black, or you could bet
that the first card that was dealt was identical with the colour that
won, or was the reverse.

The game interested him. It had certain features which in a way were
fascinating. He noticed that the croupier never spoke of the black. The
black might have had no existence at the trente et quarante table;
either "red won" or "red lost." He staked a louis and won twice. He
staked another and lost it. Then he won three coups of louis and looked
around uncertainly, almost guiltily, for Mary.

She was watching the roulette players, and Timothy took a wad of bills
from his pocket and counted out six milles. That was another thing he
was to discover: there were three classes of players--those who punted
one- or five-louis pieces, those who bet handsomely in milles (a thousand
franc note is a "mille" and has no other name), and those who went the
maximum of twelve thousand francs on each coup. Money had no value. He
threw six thousand down to the croupier and received in exchange six
oblong plaques like thin cakes of blue soap. He put a thousand francs on
the black and lost it. He looked round apprehensively for Mary, but she
was still intent upon the roulette players. He ventured another
thousand, and lost that too. A young Englishman sitting at the table
looked up with a smile.

"You're betting against the tableau," he said. "The table is running red
to-night. Look!" He showed a little notebook ruled into divisions, and
long lines of dots, one under the other. "You see," he said, "all these
are reds. The table has only swung across to black twice for any run,
and then it was only a run of four. If you bet against the table you'll
go broke."

At any other place than at the tables at Monte Carlo advice of this
character, and intimate references to financial possibilities, would be
resented. But the Rooms, like the grave, level all the players, who are
a great family banded together in an unrecognised brotherhood for the
destruction of a common enemy.

"I'll take a chance against the table," said Timothy, "and I shall go
broke, anyway."

The Englishman laughed.

The four thousand francs he had left went the same way as their friends
and Timothy changed another six thousand and threw two on the black.
Then, acting on the impulse of the moment, he threw down the remaining
four.

"Timothy!"

He turned at the shocked voice and Mary was standing behind him.

"Do you gamble like that?" she asked.

He tried to smile, but produced a grimace.

"Why, it is nothing," he said, "it is only francs, and francs aren't
real money, anyway."

She turned and walked away and he followed. The Englishman, twisting
round in his chair, said something. Timothy thought he was asking
whether he should look after his money and answered "Certainly."

The girl walked to one of the padded benches by the wall and sat down.
There was such real trouble in her face that Timothy's heart sank.

"I'm sorry, Mary," he said, "but this is my last fling and you told me I
could have it. After to-night I cut out everything that doesn't qualify
for the earned income column of the tax-inspector."

"You frighten me," she said. "It isn't the amount of money you were
venturing, but there was something in your face which made me feel--why!
I just felt sick," she said.

"Mary!" he said in surprise.

"I know I'm being unreasonable," she interrupted, "but Timothy. I--I
just don't want to think of you like this."

She looked into his dejected face and the softest light that ever shone
in a woman's eyes was in hers.

"Poor Timothy!" she said, half in jest, "you're paying the penalty for
having a girl friend."

"I'm paying the penalty for being a loafer," he said huskily. "I think
there must be some bad blood in me. Mary, I know what I'm losing," he
said, and took one of her hands. "I'm losing the right to love you,
dearest."

It was a queer place for such a confession, and in her wildest dreams
the girl never imagined that the first word of love spoken to her by any
man would come in a gambling saloon at Monte Carlo. Above her where she
sat was the great canvas of the Florentine Graces; half-nude reliefs on
the ceiling dangled glittering chains of light and all over sounded the
monotonous voice of the croupier:

"Rouge perd--et couleur."

The young Englishman at the table turned round with an inquiring lift of
his eyebrows, and Timothy nodded.

"He wants to know if I'm finished, I suppose," he said, "and honestly
Mary, I am. I'm going back to London when this trip's over, and I'm
going to start at the bottom and work up."

"Poor Timothy!" she said again.

"I'm not going to lie to you, or pretend any longer. I just love you,
Mary, and if you'll wait for me, I'll make good. I have been a gambler,"
he said, "a poor, low gambler, and all the time I've thought I've been
clever! I've been going round puffed up with my own self-importance, and
my head's been so much in the air that I haven't seen just where my feet
were leading me," he laughed. "This sounds like the sort of thing you
get at the Salvation Army penitent farm," he said, "but I'm straight and
sincere."

"I know you are, Timothy, but you needn't start at the bottom. I have my
money--"

"Stop where you are, Mary," he said quietly. "Not a penny would I take
from you, darling."

"What did they ring that bell for?" she asked.

It was the second time the tinkle of sound had come from the croupier at
the trente et quarante table.

"Heaven knows!" said Timothy. "Maybe it is to call the other
worshippers."

Again the young Englishman looked round and said, something.

"What did he say?" asked Timothy.

"He said seventeen," said the girl. "Was that the number you backed?"

Timothy smiled.

"There are no numbers on that table except No. 1--and No. 1 is the fat
man with the rake--he gets it coming and going. Mary, I'm going to ask
you one question: If I make good will you marry me?"

She was silent and again the voice of the croupier came:

"Rouge perd--couleur gagne."

"What does 'rouge perd' mean?" she asked. "He has said that ever so many
times."

"It means 'black wins,'" said Timothy.

"Does black always win?" she asked.

"Not always," said Timothy gently. "Maybe he's only saying that to lure
me back to the table. Mary, what do you say?"

"I say yes," she said, and to the scandal of the one attendant who was
watching them he bent forward and kissed her.

A terrible act this, for the gold-laced and liveried footman, who came
with slow, majestic steps to where they sat.

"Monsieur," he said, "this is not done."

Timothy looked up at him.

"Chassez-vous," he said firmly.

It was startling French, but it was the nearest he could get at the
moment to "chase yourself."

Again the bell tinkled, and the young Englishman rose, thrust a small
packet of money into his pocket and came forward toward them, bearing
what looked to be a large book without covers. His face was a little
haggard and the perspiration stood on his forehead.

"This is getting on my nerves, old man. You had better play yourself,"
he said, and he handed the book to Timothy, and Timothy looked vaguely
from his hands to the hot Englishman.

"What's this?" he croaked.

"A run of twenty-eight on the black," said the Englishman. "It is
phenomenal! You wanted me to go on, didn't you? I asked you whether I
should play your thousand francs. The bank bust four times--didn't you
hear them ring for more money?"

Timothy nodded. He had no words.

"Well, your six went to twelve and I left the maximum run," the
Englishman said. "I asked you if that was right and you nodded."

"Yes, I nodded," said Timothy mechanically.

"You've won twenty-seven and a-half maximums."

Timothy looked at the money in his hand, looked up at the ceiling and
gulped something down.

"Thank you," he gasped. "I am obliged to you."

It was inadequate, but it was all that he could say.

"Not at all," said the Englishman. "I won a lot of money myself."

"I'm not a great hand at arithmetic," said Timothy, "will you tell me
how many pounds twenty-seven and a half maximums make?"

It was a remarkable situation. Somebody should have laughed, but they
were all too serious, the girl as serious as Timothy, and the young
Englishman scrawling calculations on a loose page of his notebook.

"Thirty-five francs to a pound," he said, "makes 340 a coup.
Twenty-seven and a-half is about--"

"Thank you!" said Timothy, and he gripped the other's hand and wrung it.
"Thank you, fairy godmother--I don't know your other name."

They stood together watching his lanky figure, as he, wholly unconscious
of the providential part he had played, moved down to the roulette
table, eyeing the game with the air of superiority which every player of
trente et quarante has for a game with a paltry maximum of six thousand
francs.

"Timothy," whispered the girl, "isn't it wonderful?"

He put the money into his pocket and it bulged untidily.

"What are you going to do with it?" she asked.

"Give it to the poor," said Timothy, taking her arm.

"To the poor?"

She was wondering whether his fortune had driven him mad.

"The poor," he said firmly, "money won by gambling--"

"Nonsense," she broke in, "to what poor are you giving it?"

"To poor Timothy," said he. "Let us dash madly to the bar and drink
orangeade."



CHAPTER XX


The band was playing one of de Courville's new revue tunes, and the Cafe
de Paris was crowded out. There had been a big influx of visitors from
Nice, and Monte Carlo presented an appearance comparable with the height
of the season. Mrs. Renfrew had motored up to La Turbie, and a bank of
cloud having descended upon the mountain made the road dangerous. (Those
who have journeyed from the Corniche to Monte Carlo by night will
appreciate just how dangerous is that road.) She had, therefore, elected
to spend the night at the hotel on the top of the hill.

This information she had telephoned to the girl on the night following
Timothy's great win, and had added that she could see "the twinkling
lights of Monte Carlo" and that "the misty spaces of ocean filled her
with strange unrest," which observation had been repeated to the
unsympathetic Timothy.

"It must be awful to have a mind like that," he said, and then, "Mary,
I've been a long time waiting to exchange confidences about cousins."

"I have no confidences to give to you about Mrs. Renfrew," said Mary
with a smile, "but you have been on the point of telling me about your
cousin so often that I feel a little curious."

The story he had to tell was not a nice one. It meant opening old wounds
and reviving sad memories, but it had to be done. She was not so shocked
as he had expected.

"You have not told me anything new," she said quietly. "You see, all
along I have known that the 'A. C.' in your name stood for 'Alfred
Cartwright,' and once uncle told me that he had known a relative of
yours, and I guessed."

Suddenly she demanded: "Do you think Cartwright is in Europe?"

Timothy nodded.

"I am certain. That is, if Morocco is in Europe," he said. "I have had
it in the back of my mind ever since the crime was committed that that
is the place he would make for. You see, in the few minutes I had with
him he told me, perhaps not the whole of the story, but at any rate his
version. He knows Morocco and has been there before. He spoke about a
Moorish chief named El Mograb, who wanted him to stay with the tribe,
and he told me he was sorry he had not followed the Moor's advice."

"Did you tell the police that?" she asked.

He shook his head.

"I did not tell the police very much about that visit. Cartwright
revived his accusations against Sir John. It meant digging up these
charges, and that is what I did not wish to do, for--for--"

"For my sake?" she said quietly.

"That's about the size of it," replied Timothy.

A little stream of diners were leaving the restaurant, moving slowly
down the narrow aisle between the tables, and Timothy stopped talking as
they passed and eyed them with a bored interest usual to the
circumstances.

It was after the interruption had ended, and the last of the little
stream had departed, that he saw the card on the table. It was near his
place and it had not been there before. He picked it up and on the
uppermost side was written: "Do not let your friend see this."

"Well, I'm--" he began, and turned the card over. It was not written but
printed in capital letters; "IF YOU DO NOT HEAR FROM ME BY THE
TWENTY-NINTH, I BEG OF YOU THAT YOU WILL GO TO TANGIER AND ENQUIRE AT
THE CONTINENTAL HOTEL FOR A MAN CALLED RAHBAT--A MOOR, WHO WILL LEAD YOU
TO ME. I BEG YOU FOR THE SAKE OF OUR RELATIONSHIP TO COME. DID YOU GET
THE MONEY?"

Timothy laid the card down and stared at the girl.

"What is it?" she asked and reached out her hand.

"I--it is nothing," he said hurriedly.

"Nonsense, Timothy. What is it? Let me see it, please."

Without a word he handed the card to the girl, who read it through in
silence.

"Who is that from?" she asked. "Cartwright?"

He nodded.

"Obviously," he said, "the reference to the money and the appeal to our
relationship--but how did it get there?"

He called the head waiter.

"Who were those people who went out just now?" he asked.

"They are very well known," explained the head waiter. "There was a
monsieur, a London theatrical manager, and a madame who was his wife.
There was another monsieur, an American writer, and an English monsieur
who was in the employment as secretary to a madame who lives at Cap
Martin."

"Madame Serpilot?" asked Timothy quickly.

"Yes, that is the name. She is a widow, helas! but immensely rich!"

Timothy put the card into his pocket. He had said nothing to the girl
about Madame Serpilot since they had left London, and for the first time
he had some misgivings as to her safety. Yet in truth that sixth sense
of his, which had hitherto worked so to his advantage, offered him no
warning that the girl's happiness was threatened. He was sure that
whatever danger the situation held was danger to him personally. He had
not seen the English monsieur who was secretary to Madame Serpilot, but
then his back had been toward the far end of the room from whence the
man came and he had presented no other view than the back of his head.

"It is a message from Cartwright," he said, "and I am going to get to
the bottom of this story if I stay in Monte Carlo for the rest of my
life."

He saw Mary back to her hotel, went to his room and changed, and just as
the Casino was disgorging its tired clients, he walked through the
palm-shaded avenue that led to the main road and began his tramp to Cap
Martin. To discover a house in this area by daylight, with the aid of a
plan, might have been a simple matter--by night it presented almost
insuperable difficulties.

Cap Martin is a promontory of hill and pine and wild flower. Its roads
run at the will of its wealthy residents, and there are lanes and paths
and broad roads which are not really broad roads at all, but the private
entrances to the wonderful villas in which the district abounds, and the
grey light was in the eastern sky when Timothy finally located the Villa
Condamine. It stood by the edge at the sea, surrounded on the land side
by a high wall, though if its owner sought seclusion the woods which
surrounded the villa were sufficient.

Timothy worked round a little bay until he commanded a view of the place
from the sea. A zig-zag path led down from the house to the seashore,
terminating in a little concrete quay. Presently he heard the sound of
footsteps and a Monogasque workman, in blue overalls, came slouching
along the shore path, pipe in mouth.

He bade the young man a cheery good-morning and stopped, in the friendly
way of the Monogasques, to talk. He was a gardener on his way to the
villa. He could be on his way to nowhere else, for the rough path on
which Timothy stood led straight to a door in the high wall. It was a
good job, but he wished he lived nearer. But then, none of madame's
servants slept in the house, and--

"Ah! voila! It is the Moor!" and he pointed out to sea.

A tiny steam yacht was coming slowly to land--Timothy had seen its
lights for an hour--and was steaming now to its anchorage, leaving the
line of its wake on the smooth surface of the water.

"The Moor!" said Timothy quickly, and then carelessly, "Does any Moor
live here?"

"No, monsieur," said the man, "but this is a great Moor who sometimes
comes here from Morocco. A long journey, monsieur. It is five days'
voyage from the Moorish coast--"

"Does he come to the Villa Condamine?" asked Timothy.

"But yes," said the man. "He is a friend of the madame, and twice has he
been there in three months."

There was a little splash of water under the bow of the yacht, when the
anchor was dropped, and presently a boat drew away and in the
stem-sheets was a figure muffled in a white jellab.

Timothy looked after the retreating figure of the gardener, who was
leisurely pursuing his way, and, turning, followed him. It was unlikely
that the mysterious madame would allow a humble workman to have the key
of the garden gate, yet to his surprise this was the case. The man
opened the gate and waited, looking round as if he expected somebody.
Timothy guessed that there were two or more workmen and that this
particular man had the key and admitted the lot. In this surmise he
proved to be right. Presently yet another blue-bloused gardener
appeared, and the two stood together waiting for a third. He made no
appearance, and the two men passed through the door and pulled it close
behind them.

Timothy quickened his pace. As he had thought, the door was left ajar
for the third man. He pushed it open gently, but saw nothing but the end
of a twisting path, which disappeared between high hedges of lilac.

If ever there was a time to take a chance it was now; and he was through
the gate, gingerly treading the path, before he realised what he had
done. He heard voices and moved with caution. Then, after about five
minutes, he heard the garden gate behind him bang. The third workman had
arrived and the exit was closed. He made his way through the pines which
served to screen the house from observation. There was nobody in sight,
and the voices had died away. He could walk more boldly now and came at
last to the edge of the wood in full view of the villa. Between him and
the house was about fifty yards of clear space. He took a chance and
crossed it, his objective being a ground-floor window which was open.

The entrance was not so easily effected as he had expected. The sill of
the window was just above the level of his head, and offered no grip to
his hands. He made a tour of reconnaissance, but failed to find any
other entrance. Behind the sill, he thought, must be a window-frame, and
stepping back two paces he made a leap and gripped the frame. Quickly he
pulled himself up and dropped into the room.

He was conscious of a sweet, fragrant perfume the moment his head became
level with the window, and now he saw the explanation. The bare floor
was covered three inches thick with rose petals. Evidently the owner
made her own perfumery, and this hobby explained the open window. There
was no furniture in the room, winch was apparently given up to the
purpose of drying the petals. The door was unfastened, and he passed
into a stone corridor. The structure of the house puzzled him. He did
not expect to find himself in the basement; then he remembered that the
villa was built on sloping ground, and that the main entrance must be on
a higher floor.

A flight of stone steps led to the upper level, and he went up
cautiously, a step at a time, and found his exit barred by a door which
was fastened on the other side with padlock and staple. It was a
primitive method of locking up a cellar, and Timothy, remembering that
he had passed a recess filled with garden tools, went back to find the
means to remove this obstruction. A long chisel prised the staples from
the door with ridiculous ease.

He heard voices speaking in low, guarded tones and moved along the
carpeted hall on tiptoe. He listened at the door of the room from which
the voices proceeded, and was in two minds as to what his next step
should be. The door was one of two let in the same wall. He stopped and
brought his, ear to the keyhole of the second and there was no sound.
Turning the handle, he looked in.

As he expected, it was separated from the other room by a pair of
folding doors which were closed. The voices were more distinct but still
indistinguishable. He was now in a small drawing-room, well but not
luxuriously furnished. Tall French windows led to a loggia, and, what
was more important, on either side of these hung long velvet curtains,
which might serve, in case of necessity, as a place of concealment.

He heard the door of the next room open, and the voices proceeded along
the passage. Then the handle of his own door turned. He had just time to
slip behind the curtains before somebody entered. It was a woman, and at
the sound of her voice he nearly jumped. She was speaking to somebody in
the passage.

"He has gone to his room," she said. "Have your breakfast. He will want
you to go into Monte Carlo this morning."

"By daylight?" said the person to whom she spoke, and again Timothy
recognised the voice.

"He would not know you with those spectacles. Besides, you had a
moustache when you saw him before."

The man in the passage mumbled something, and Timothy heard the door of
the room close. There was a desk, he had noticed, against the blank wall
of the room, and it was to this she made her way. He heard the
scratching of her pen on paper, then he walked from his place of
concealment. Her back was to him and she did not hear him until his
shadow fell across the table. Then, with a little cry, she leapt up.

"Good morning, Lady Maxell," said Timothy.



CHAPTER XXI


Sadie Maxell was as white as the paper on which she had been writing.

"How did you get in here?"

Timothy did not answer. He stepped round so that he was between the
woman and the door.

"Where is Cartwright?"

"Cartwright?" she repeated. "What do you want to know of him?"

"Lower your voice, if you please," said Timothy sharply. "What is
Cartwright to you?"

She licked her dry lips before she spoke. Then:

"I married Cartwright or Benson in Paris--years ago," she said.

Timothy took a step back.

"You married Cartwright," he said incredulously. "That explains why you
came away?"

She was looking at him steadily.

"If it wanted any explanation--yes," she said. "What are you going to
do?"

"I'm going after the man you have upstairs, the fake Moor, who came into
this house half an hour ago, and I'm going to hand him to justice."

Before he knew what had happened, she gripped him by his coat with both
hands.

"You are not going to do anything of the kind, Mr. Take A Chance
Anderson," she said between her teeth, and her voice trembled with
passion. "I hated him once, but that was before I knew him. I would
sooner see you dead as the other man died than that you should bring him
more trouble."

"Let me go," said Timothy, trying to press loose the hands.

"You'll leave this house and forget that you were ever here. Oh, you
fool, you fool!"

He had wrenched himself clear of her and flung her backward.

"I have a few words to say to your friend," he said, "and I think you'd
better stay here whilst I'm saying them. I hate having family quarrels
in public, anyway."

He had not heard the door open behind him and it was the "swish" of the
loaded cane which warned him. It did not strike him fair on the head, as
was intended, but caught him a glancing blow and he fell on his knees,
turning his face to his attacker. He knew it was Brown even before the
blow fell.

"Shall I settle him?" said a voice as the stick went up again.

"No, no!" cried the woman, "for God's sake, no!"

It was at that moment that Timothy low-tackled his assailant. Brown
tried to strike, but he was too late and went crashing to the floor, his
head against the wall. He made one effort to rise, and then with a groan
collapsed.

Timothy rose, shaking himself and rubbing his bruised shoulder. Without
a word, and with only a look at the woman, he made for the door and
banged it in her face. His head was swimming as he made his way up the
stairs, swaying at every step. From the broad landing at the top led
three doors, only one of which was closed. He turned the handle and went
in.

A man was standing by the window, which overlooked the calm expanse of
ocean, glittering in the light of the rising sun. From shoulder to heel
he was clad in a long white mantle and a dark blue turban encircled his
head.

"Now, Cartwright," said Timothy, "you and I will settle accounts."

The man had not moved at the sound of the voice, but when Timothy had
finished he turned.

"My God!" cried Timothy. "Sir John Maxell."



CHAPTER THE LAST


"Timothy," said Mary, "I was just thinking about that beautiful house
you took me to see at Cap Martin."

"Were you, dear?" said Timothy without any show of interest.

They were on the cross-Channel boat and Boulogne was astern.

"Yes," said the girl. "Do you know, I had a feeling that you had taken
me there to show me to somebody, some friend of yours perhaps. All the
time I was walking about the garden I had a sense of being watched. It
is not an uncomfortable sensation, but just that overlooked feeling one
has sometimes. I love Monte Carlo. Do you think we shall go back there
after--after--"

"It is likely," said Timothy.

The girl rose and went forward along the deck to get a view of a passing
destroyer. Timothy took a letter from his pocket and read it for about
the twentieth time. It was undated and began:

"MY DEAR ANDERSON--I cannot tell you how grateful I am to you for your
kindness and for the big, generous sympathy you have shown me.
Especially am I glad that you brought Mary so that I could see her
again, for I just hungered for a sight of the child. Won't you please
forgive Sadie? She acted without my knowledge but in my interests, as
she thought, in trying to keep you away from Monte Carlo after she had
planned to bring the girl so that I could see her.

"Yes, I killed Cartwright, but I shot him in self-defence. His body lies
at the bottom of a disused well in the garden of my house. It is
perfectly true that I had been associated in business with him and that
I was in his Moorish syndicate and heavily involved. I was so very
deeply involved at one time, and so near ruin that, deceived by some
statement which had been made to Sadie's fortune, I made her
acquaintance and married her. During the past year I have never ceased
to thank God that I did so, for she had been the most loyal companion
and friend that a man could desire.

"It was I who fired the shot through my own window. I contemplated
flight from Cartwright, and was manufacturing evidence against him in
advance--God forgive me. Sadie guessed, and when she watched me drawing
from the well the bag containing proof that Cartwright's charge was not
wholly false, she knew the end was near.

"I am perfectly happy, and spend most of my time developing my property
in Morocco, under the protection of El Mograb, an old Moorish friend of
mine, and the supreme protection of the Sultan, who, as the Pretender,
received considerable help from me. I am six months of the year with
Sadie, for Sadie either lives on the Riviera or at Cadiz and is easily
reachable in my hired yacht.

"I think it best for all concerned, and especially for our dear Mary,
that I remain as dead. Some day the whole story may be told, but no
useful purpose would be served by publishing it to-day. The card with
the message was intended for her, but I am glad that it fell into your
hands. As you guessed, it was I who flung Mary's money into your room--I
dared not post it to her for fear I was betrayed by my writing, and I
knew that you were safe. God bless you both and bring you happiness and
prosperity, to which I hope this property of mine will one day
contribute."

Timothy folded the letter and was putting it in his pocket, then changed
his mind and took it out. He read it again, then tore it into pieces and
flung it over the side of the ship.

Then he too went forward to the wife he had married in Paris--much
against the wishes of a scandalised Mrs. Renfrew--who nevertheless
termed it "a pretty romance" in the article she wrote for the Bath
County Herald.


THE END


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