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Title: The D'Arblay Mystery
Author: R. Austin Freeman, 1926
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Language:  English
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Title: The D'Arblay Mystery
Author: R. Austin Freeman, 1926




There are certain days in our lives which, as we recall them, seem to
detach themselves from the general sequence as forming the starting-point
of a new epoch. Doubtless, if we examined them critically, we should find
them to be but links in a connected chain. But in a retrospective glance
their continuity with the past is unperceived, and we see them in
relation to the events which followed them rather than to those which
went before.

Such a day is that on which I look back through a vista of some twenty
years; for on that day I was, suddenly and without warning, plunged into
the very heart of a drama so strange and incredible that in the recital
of its events I am conscious of a certain diffidence and hesitation.

The picture that rises before me as I write is very clear and vivid. I
see myself, a youngster of twenty-five, the owner of a brand-new medical
diploma, wending my way gaily down Wood Lane, Highgate, at about eight
o'clock on a sunny morning in early autumn. I was taking a day's holiday,
the last I was likely to enjoy for some time, for on the morrow I was to
enter on the duties of my first professional appointment. I had nothing
in view to-day but sheer, delightful idleness. It is true that a
sketch-book in one pocket and a box of collecting-tubes in another
suggested a bare hint of purpose in the expedition; but primarily it was
a holiday, a pleasure jaunt, to which art and science were no more than
possible sources of contributory satisfaction.

At the lower end of the Lane was the entrance to Churchyard Bottom Wood,
then open and unguarded save by a few hurdles (it has since been enclosed
and renamed 'Queen's Wood'). I entered and took my way along the broad,
rough path, pleasantly conscious of the deep silence and seeming
remoteness of this surviving remnant of the primeval forest of Britain,
and letting my thoughts stray to the great plague-pit in the haunted
bottom that gave the wood its name. The foliage of the oaks was still
unchanged, despite the waning of the year. The low-slanting sunlight
spangled it with gold and made rosy patterns on the path, where lay a few
prematurely-fallen leaves; but in the hollows among the undergrowth
traces of the night-mists lingered, shrouding tree-bole, bush and fern in
a mystery of gauzy blue.

A turn of the path brought me suddenly within a few paces of a girl who
was stooping at the entrance to a side track and seemed to be peering
into the undergrowth as if looking for something. As I appeared, she
stood up and looked round at me with a startled, apprehensive manner that
caused me to look away and pass as if I had not seen her. But the single
glance had shown me that she was a strikingly handsome girl--indeed, I
should have used the word 'beautiful'--that she seemed to be about my own
age, and that she was evidently a lady.

The apparition, pleasant as it was, set me speculating as I strode
forward. It was early for a girl like this to be afoot in the woods, and
alone, too. Not so very safe, either, as she had seemed to realize,
judging by the start that my approach seemed to have given her. And what
could it be that she was looking for? Had she lost something at some
previous time and come to search for it before anyone was about? It might
be so. Certainly she was not a poacher, for there was nothing to poach,
and she hardly had the manner or appearance of a naturalist.

A little farther on I struck into a side-path which led, as I knew, in
the direction of a small pond. That pond I had had in my mind when I put
the box of collecting-tubes in my pocket, and I now made my way to it as
directly as the winding track would let me; but still, it was not the
pond or its inmates that occupied my thoughts, but the mysterious maiden
whom I had left peering into the undergrowth. Perhaps if she had been
less attractive I might have given her less consideration. But I was
twenty-five; and if a man at twenty-five has not a keen and appreciative
eye for a pretty girl, there must be something radically wrong with his
mental make-up.

In the midst of my reflections I came out into a largish opening in the
wood, at the centre of which, in a slight hollow, was the pond--a small
oval piece of water, fed by the trickle of a tiny stream, the
continuation of which carried away the overflow towards the invisible
valley. Approaching the margin, I brought out my box of tubes, and
uncorking one, stooped and took a trial dip. When I held the glass tube
against the light and examined its contents through my pocket-lens, I
found that I was in luck. The 'catch' included a green hydra, clinging to
a rootlet of duckweed, several active water-fleas, a scarlet water-mite
and a beautiful sessile rotifer. Evidently this pond was a rich

Delighted with my success, I corked the tube, put it away and brought out
another, with which I took a fresh dip. This was less successful; but the
naturalist's ardour and the collector's cupidity being thoroughly
aroused, I persevered, gradually enriching my collection and working my
way slowly round the margin of the pond, forgetful of everything--even of
the mysterious maiden--but the objects of my search: indeed, so engrossed
was I with my pursuit of the minute denizens of this watery world that I
failed to observe a much larger object which must have been in view most
of the time. Actually, I did not see it until I was right over it. Then,
as I was stooping to clear away the duckweed for a fresh dip, I found
myself confronted by a human face; just below the surface and
half-concealed by the pondweed.

It was a truly appalling experience. Utterly unprepared for this awful
apparition, I was so overcome by astonishment and horror that I remained
stooping, with motion arrested, as if petrified, staring at the thing in
silence and hardly breathing. The face was that of a man of about fifty
or a little more; a handsome, refined, rather intellectual face with a
moustache and Vandyke beard and surmounted by a thickish growth of
iron-grey hair. Of the rest of the body little was to be seen, for the
duckweed and water-crowfoot had drifted over it, and I had no inclination
to disturb them. Recovering somewhat from the shock of this sudden and
fearful encounter, I stood up and rapidly considered what I had better
do. It was clearly not for me to make any examination or meddle with the
corpse in any way; indeed, when I considered the early hour and the
remoteness of this solitary place, it seemed prudent to avoid the
possibility of being seen there by any chance stranger. Thus reflecting,
with my eyes still riveted on the pallid, impassive face, so strangely
sleeping below the glassy surface and conveying to me somehow a dim sense
of familiarity, I pocketed my tubes and, turning back, stole away along
the woodland track, treading lightly, almost stealthily, as one escaping
from the scene of a crime.

Very different was my mood, as I retraced my steps, from that in which I
had come. Gone was all my gaiety and holiday spirit. The dread meeting
had brought me into an atmosphere of tragedy, perchance even of something
more than tragedy. With death I was familiar enough--death as it comes to
men, prefaced by sickness or even by injury. But the dead man who lay in
that still and silent pool in the heart of the wood had come there by
none of the ordinary chances of normal life. It seemed barely possible
that he could have fallen in by mere misadventure, for the pond was too
shallow and its bottom shelved too gently for accidental drowning to be
conceivable. Nor was the strange, sequestered spot without significance.
It was just such a spot as might well be chosen by one who sought to end
his life--or another's.

I had nearly reached the main path when an abrupt turn of the narrow
track brought me once more face to face with the girl whose existence I
had till now forgotten. She was still peering into the dense undergrowth
as if searching for something; and again, on my sudden appearance, she
turned a startled face towards me. But this time I did not look away.
Something in her face struck me with a nameless fear. It was not only
that she was pale and haggard, that her expression betokened anxiety and
even terror. As I looked at her I understood in a flash the dim sense of
familiarity of which I had been conscious in the pallid face beneath the
water. It was her face that it had recalled.

With my heart in my mouth, I halted, and, taking off my cap, addressed

"Pray pardon me; you seem to be searching for something. Can I help you
in any way or give you any information?"

She looked at me a little shyly and, as I thought, with slight distrust,
but she answered civilly enough though rather stiffly: "Thank you, but I
am afraid you can't help me. I am not in need of any assistance."

This, under ordinary circumstances, would have brought the interview to
an abrupt end. But the circumstances were not ordinary, and, as she made
as if to pass me, I ventured to persist.

"Please," I urged, "don't think me impertinent, but would you mind
telling me what you are looking for? I have a reason for asking, and it
isn't curiosity."

She reflected for a few moments before replying and I feared that she was
about to administer another snub. Then, without looking at me, she

"I am looking for my father." (and at these words my heart sank). "He did
not come home last night. He left Hornsey to come home and he would
ordinarily have come by the path through the wood. He always came that
way from Hornsey. So I am looking through the wood in case he missed his
way, or was taken ill, or--"

Here the poor girl suddenly broke off, and, letting her dignity go, burst
into tears. I huskily murmured a few indistinct words of condolence, but,
in truth, I was little less affected than she was. It was a terrible
position, but there was no escape from it. The corpse that I had just
seen was almost certainly her father's corpse. At any rate, the question
whether it was or was not had to be settled now, and settled by me--and
her. That was quite clear; but yet I could not screw my courage up to the
point of telling her. While I was hesitating, however, she forced the
position by a direct question.

"You said just now that you had a reason for asking what I was searching
for. Would it be--?" She paused and looked at me inquiringly as she wiped
her eyes.

I made a last, frantic search for some means of breaking the horrid news
to her. Of course there was none. Eventually I stammered:

"The reason I asked was--er--the fact is that I have just seen the body
of a man lying--"

"Where?" she demanded. "Show me the place!"

Without replying, I turned and began quickly to retrace my steps along
the narrow track. A few minutes brought me to the opening in which the
pond was situated, and I was just beginning to skirt the margin, closely
followed by my companion, when I heard her utter a low, gasping cry. The
next moment she had passed me and was running along the bank towards a
spot where I could now see the toe of a boot just showing through the
duckweed. I stopped short and watched her with my heart in my throat.
Straight to the fatal spot she ran, and for a moment stood on the brink,
stooping over the weedy surface. Then, with a terrible, wailing cry she
stepped into the water.

Instantly, I ran forward and waded into the pond to her side. Already she
had her arms round the dead man's neck and was raising the face above the
surface. I saw that she meant to bring the body ashore, and, useless as
it was, it seemed a natural thing to do. Silently I passed my arms under
the corpse and lifted it; and as she supported the head, we bore it
through the shallows and up the bank, where I laid it down gently in the
high grass.

Not a word had been spoken, nor was there any question that need be
asked. The pitiful tale told itself only too plainly. As I stood looking
with swimming eyes at the tragic group, a whole history seemed to unfold
itself--a history of love and companionship, of a happy, peaceful past
made sunny by mutual affection, shattered in an instant by the hideous
present, with its portent of a sad and lonely future. She had sat down on
the grass and taken the dead head on her lap, tenderly wiping the face
with her handkerchief, smoothing the grizzled hair and crooning or
moaning words of endearment into the insensible ears. She had forgotten
my presence; indeed, she was oblivious of everything but the still form
that bore the outward semblance other father.

Some minutes passed thus. I stood a little apart, cap in hand, more moved
than I had ever been in my life, and, naturally enough, unwilling to
break in upon a grief so overwhelming and, as it seemed to me, so sacred.
But presently it began to be borne in on me that something had to be
done. The body would have to be removed from this place, and the proper
authorities ought to be notified. Still, it was some time before I could
gather courage to intrude on her sorrow, to profane her grief with the
sordid realities of everyday life. At last I braced myself up for the
effort and addressed her.

"Your father," I said gently--I could not refer to him as 'the
body'--"will have to be taken away from here; and the proper persons will
have to be informed of what has happened. Shall I go alone, or will you
come with me? I don't like to leave you here."

She looked up at me and, to my relief, answered me with quiet composure:
"I can't leave him here all alone. I must stay with him until he is taken
away. Do you mind telling whoever ought to be told,"--like me, she
instinctively avoided the word 'police'--"and making what arrangements are

There was nothing more to be said, and loath as I was to leave her alone
with the dead, my heart assented to her decision. In her place, I should
have had the same feeling. Accordingly, with a promise to return as
quickly as I could, I stole away along the woodland track. When I turned
to take a last glance at her before plunging into the wood, she was once
more leaning over the head that lay in her lap, looking with fond grief
into the impassive face and stroking the dank hair.

My intention had been to go straight to the police-station, when I had
ascertained its whereabouts, and make my report to the officer in charge.
But a fortunate chance rendered this proceeding unnecessary, for, at the
moment when I emerged from the top of Wood Lane, I saw a police officer,
mounted on a bicycle--a road patrol, as I assumed him to be--approaching
along the Archway Road. I hailed him to stop, and as he dismounted and
stepped on to the footway, I gave him a brief account of the finding of
the body and my meeting with the daughter of the dead man. He listened
with calm, businesslike interest, and, when I had finished, said: "We had
better get the body removed as quickly as possible. I will run along to
the station and get the wheeled stretcher. There is no need for you to
come. If you will go back and wait for us at the entrance to the wood,
that will save time. We shall be there within a quarter of an hour."

I agreed gladly to this arrangement, and when I had seen him mount his
machine and shoot away along the road, I turned back down the Lane and
re-entered the wood. Before taking up my post, I walked quickly down the
path and along the track to the opening by the pond. My new friend was
sitting just as I had left her, but she looked up as I emerged from the
track and advanced towards her. I told her briefly what had happened, and
was about to retire when she asked: "Will they take him to our house?"

"I am afraid not," I replied. "There will have to be an inquiry by the
coroner, and until that is finished, his body will have to remain in the

"I was afraid it might be so," she said with quiet resignation; and as
she spoke she looked down with infinite sadness at the waxen face in her
lap. A good deal relieved by her reasonable acceptance of the painful
necessities, I turned back and made my way to the rendezvous at the
entrance to the wood.

As I paced to and fro on the shady path, keeping a lookout up the Lane,
my mind was busy with the tragedy to which I had become a party. It was a
grievous affair. The passionate grief which I had witnessed spoke of no
common affection. On one life at least this disaster had inflicted
irreparable loss, and there were probably others on whom the blow had yet
to fall. But it was not only a grievous affair; it was highly mysterious.
The dead man had apparently been returning home at night in a customary
manner and by a familiar way. That he could have strayed by chance from
the open, well-worn path into the recesses of the wood was inconceivable,
while the hour and the circumstances made it almost as incredible that he
should have been wandering in the wood by choice. And again, the water in
which he had been lying was quite shallow, so shallow as to rule out
accidental drowning as an impossibility.

What could the explanation be? There seemed to be but three
possibilities, and two of them could hardly be entertained. The idea of
intoxication I rejected at once. The girl was evidently a lady, and her
father was presumably a gentleman who would not be likely to be wandering
abroad drunk; nor could a man who was sober enough to have reached the
pond have been so helpless as to be drowned in its shallow waters. To
suppose that he might have fallen into the water in a fit was to leave
unexplained the circumstance of his being in that remote place at such an
hour. The only possibility that remained was that of suicide, and I could
not but admit that some of the appearances seemed to support that view.
The solitary place--more solitary still at night--was precisely such as
an intending suicide might be expected to seek; the shallow water
presented no inconsistency; and when I recalled how I had found his
daughter searching the wood with evident foreboding of evil, I could not
escape the feeling that the dreadful possibility had not been entirely

My meditations had reached this point when, as I turned once more towards
the entrance and looked up the Lane, I saw two constables approaching,
trundling a wheeled stretcher, while a third man, apparently an
inspector, walked by its side. As the little procession reached the
entrance and I turned back to show the way, the latter joined me and
began at once to interrogate me. I gave him my name, address and
occupation, and followed this with a rapid sketch of the facts as known
to me, which he jotted down in a large note-book, and he then said:

"As you are a doctor, you can probably tell me how long the man had been
dead when you first saw him."

"By the appearance and the rigidity," I replied, "I should say about nine
or ten hours; which agrees pretty well with the account his daughter gave
of his movements."

The inspector nodded. "The man and the young lady," said he, "are
strangers to you, I understand. I suppose you haven't picked up anything
that would throw any light on the affair?"

"No," I answered; "I know nothing but what I have told you."

"Well," he remarked, "it's a queer business. It is a queer place for a
man to be in at night, and he must have gone there of his own accord. But
there, it is no use guessing. It will all be thrashed out at the

As he reached this discreet conclusion, we came out into the opening and
I heard him murmur very feelingly, "Dear, dear! Poor thing!" The girl
seemed hardly to have changed her position since I had last seen her, but
she now tenderly laid the dead head on the grass and rose as we
approached; and I saw with great concern that her skirts were soaked
almost from the waist downwards.

The officer took off his cap and as he drew near looked down gravely but
with an inquisitive eye at the dead man. Then he turned to the girl and
said in a singularly gentle and deferential manner:

"This is a very terrible thing, miss. A dreadful thing. I assure you that
I am more sorry for you than I can tell; and I hope you will forgive me
for having to intrude on your sorrow by asking questions. I won't trouble
you more than I can help."

"Thank you," she replied quietly. "Of course I realize your position.
What do you want me to tell you?"

"I understand," replied the inspector, "that this poor gentleman was your
father. Would you mind telling me who he was and where he lived and
giving me your own name and address?"

"My father's name," she answered, "was Julius D'Arblay. His private
address was Ivy Cottage, North Grove, Highgate. His studio and workshop,
where he carried on the profession of a modeller, is in Abbey Road,
Hornsey. My name is Marion D'Arblay and I lived with my father. He was a
widower and I was his only child."

As she concluded, with a slight break in her voice, the inspector shook
his head and again murmured, "Dear, dear!" as he rapidly entered her
answers in his note-book. Then, in a deeply apologetic tone, he asked:

"Would you mind telling what you know as to how this happened?"

"I know very little," she replied. "As he did not come home last night, I
went to the studio quite early this morning to see if he was there. He
sometimes stayed there all night when he was working very late. The woman
who lives in the adjoining house and looks after the studio, told me that
he had been working late last night, but that he left to come home soon
after ten. He always used to come through the wood, because it was the
shortest way and the most pleasant. So when I learned that he had started
to come home, I came to the wood to see if I could find any traces of
him. Then I met this gentleman and he told me that he had seen a dead man
in the wood and--" Here she suddenly broke down and, sobbing
passionately, flung out her hand towards the corpse.

The inspector shut his note--book, and murmuring some indistinct words of
sympathy, nodded to the constables, who had drawn up the stretcher a few
paces away and lifted off the cover. On this silent instruction, they
approached the body and, with the inspector's assistance and mine, lifted
it on to the stretcher without removing the latter from its carriage. As
they picked up the cover, the inspector turned to Miss D'Arblay and said
gently but finally: "You had better not come with us. We must take him to
the mortuary, but you will see him again after the inquest, when he will
be brought to your house if you wish it."

She made no objection; but as the constables approached with the cover,
she stooped over the stretcher and kissed the dead man on the forehead.

Then she turned away, the cover was placed in position, the inspector and
the constables saluted reverently, and the stretcher was wheeled away
along the narrow track.

For some time after it had gone, we stood in silence at the margin of the
pond with our eyes fixed on the place where it had disappeared. I
considered in no little embarrassment what was to be done next. It was
most desirable that Miss D'Arblay should be got home as soon as possible,
and I did not at all like the idea of her going alone, for her
appearance, with her drenched skirts and her dazed and rather wild
expression, was such as to attract unpleasant attention. But I was a
total stranger to her and I felt a little shy of pressing my company on
her. However, it seemed a plain duty, and, as I saw her shiver slightly,
I said: "You had better go home now and change your clothes. They are
very wet. And you have some distance to go."

She looked down at her soaked dress and then she looked at me.

"You are rather wet, too," she said. "I am afraid I have given you a
great deal of trouble."

"It is little enough that I have been able to do," I replied. "But you
must really go home now; and if you will let me walk with you and see you
safely to your house, I shall be much more easy in my mind."

"Thank you," she replied. "It is kind of you to offer to see me home, and
I am glad not to have to go alone."

With this, we walked together to the edge of the opening and proceeded in
single file along the track to the main path, and so out into Wood Lane,
at the top of which we crossed the Archway Road into Southwood Lane. We
walked mostly in silence, for I was unwilling to disturb her meditations
with attempts at conversation, which could only have seemed banal or
impertinent. For her part, she appeared to be absorbed in reflections the
nature of which I could easily guess, and her grief was too fresh for any
thought of distraction. But I found myself speculating with profound
discomfort on what might be awaiting her at home. It is true that her own
desolate state as an orphan without brothers or sisters had its
compensation in that there was no wife to whom the dreadful tidings had
to be imparted, nor any fellow-orphans to have their bereavement broken
to them. But there must be someone who cared; or if there were not, what
a terrible loneliness would reign in that house!

"I hope," I said as we approached our destination, "that there is someone
at home to share your grief and comfort you a little."

"There is," she replied. "I was thinking of her and how grievous it will
be to have to tell her--an old servant and a dear friend. She was my
mother's nurse when the one was a child and the other but a young girl.
She came to our house when my mother married and has managed our home
ever since. This will be a terrible shock to her, for she loved my father
dearly--everyone loved him who knew him. And she has been like a mother
to me since my own mother died. I don't know how I shall break it to

Her voice trembled as she concluded and I was deeply troubled to think of
the painful homecoming that loomed before her; but still it was a comfort
to know that her sorrow would be softened by sympathy and loving
companionship, not heightened by the empty desolation that I had feared.

A few minutes more brought us to the little square--which, by the way,
was triangular--and to a pleasant little old-fashioned house, on the gate
of which was painted the name, 'Ivy Cottage'. In the bay window on the
ground-floor I observed a formidable-looking elderly woman, who was
watching our approach with evident curiosity; which, as we drew nearer
and the state of our clothing became visible, gave place to anxiety and
alarm. Then she disappeared suddenly, to reappear a few moments later at
the open door, where she stood viewing us both with consternation and me
in particular with profound disfavour.

At the gate Miss D'Arblay halted and held out her hand. "Good-bye," she
said. "I must thank you some other time for all your kindness," and with
this she turned abruptly and, opening the gate, walked up the little
paved path to the door where the old woman was waiting.


The sound of the closing door seemed, as it were, to punctuate my
experiences and to mark the end of a particular phase. So long as Miss
D'Arblay was present, my attention was entirely taken up by her grief and
distress, but now that I was alone I found myself considering at large
the events of this memorable morning. What was the meaning of this
tragedy? How came this man to be lying dead in that pool? No common
misadventure seemed to fit the case. A man may easily fall into deep
water and be drowned; may step over a quay-side in the dark or trip on a
mooring-rope or ring-bolt. But here there was nothing to suggest any
possible accident. The water was hardly two feet deep where the body was
lying and much less close to the edge. If he had walked in in the dark,
he would simply have walked out again. Besides, how came he there at all?
The only explanation that was intelligible was that he went there with
the deliberate purpose of making away with himself.

I pondered this explanation and found myself unwilling to accept it,
notwithstanding that his daughter's presence in the wood, her obvious
apprehension and her terrified searching among the underwood, seemed to
hint at a definite expectation on her part. But yet that possibility was
discounted by what his daughter had told me of him. Little as she had
said, it was clear that he was a man universally beloved. Such men, in
making the world a pleasant place for others, make it pleasant for
themselves. They are usually happy men; and happy men do not commit
suicide. Yet, if the idea of suicide were rejected, what was left?
Nothing but an insoluble mystery.

I turned the problem over again and again as I sat on the top of the tram
(where I could keep my wet trousers out of sight), not as a matter of
mere curiosity but as one in which I was personally concerned.
Friendships spring up into sudden maturity under great emotional stress.
I had known Marion D'Arblay but an hour or two, but they were hours which
neither of us would ever forget; and in that brief space she had become
to me a friend who was entitled, as of right, to sympathy and service.
So, as I revolved in my mind the mystery of this man's death, I found
myself thinking of him not as a chance stranger but as the father of a
friend; and thus it seemed to devolve upon me to elucidate the mystery,
if possible.

It is true that I had no special qualifications for investigating an
obscure case of this kind, but yet I was better equipped than most young
medical men. For my hospital, St. Margaret's, though its medical school
was but a small one, had one great distinction; the chair of Medical
Jurisprudence was occupied by one of the greatest living authorities on
the subject. Dr. John Thorndyke. To him and his fascinating lectures my
mind naturally turned as I ruminated on the problem; and presently, when
I found myself unable to evolve any reasonable suggestion, the idea
occurred to me to go and lay the facts before the great man himself.

Once started, the idea took full possession of me, and I decided to waste
no time but to seek him at once. This was not his day for lecturing at
the hospital, but I could find his address in our school calendar; and as
my means, though modest, allowed of my retaining him in a regular way, I
need have no scruples as to occupying his time. I looked at my watch. It
was even now but a little past noon. I had time to change and get an
early lunch and still make my visit while the day was young.

A couple of hours later found me walking slowly down the pleasant,
tree-shaded footway of King's Bench Walk in the Inner Temple, looking up
at the numbers above the entries. Dr. Thorndyke's number was 5A, which I
presently discovered inscribed on the keystone of a fine, dignified brick
portico of the seventeenth century, on the jamb whereof was painted his
name as the occupant of the '1st pair.' I accordingly ascended the first
pair and was relieved to find that my teacher was apparently at home; for
a massive outer door, above which his name was painted, stood wide open,
revealing an inner door, furnished with a small, brilliantly-burnished
brass knocker, on which I ventured to execute a modest rat-tat. Almost
immediately the door was opened by a small, clerical-looking gentleman
who wore a black linen apron--and ought, from his appearance, to have had
black gaiters to match--and who regarded me with a look of polite

"I wanted to see Dr. Thorndyke," said I, adding discreetly, "on a matter
of professional business."

The little gentleman beamed on me benevolently. "The doctor," said he,
"has gone to lunch at his club, but he will be coming in quite shortly.
Would you like to wait for him?"

"Thank you," I replied, "I should, if you think I shall not be disturbing

The little gentleman smiled--that is to say, the multitudinous wrinkles
that covered his face arranged themselves into a sort of diagram of
geniality. It was the crinkliest smile that I have ever seen, but a
singularly pleasant one.

"The doctor," said he, "is never disturbed by professional business. No
man is ever disturbed by having to do what he enjoys doing."

As he spoke, his eyes turned unconsciously to the table, on which stood a
microscope, a tray of slides and mounting material and a small heap of
what looked like dressmaker's cuttings.

"Well," I said, "don't let me disturb you, if you are busy."

He thanked me very graciously, and, having installed me in an easy-chair,
sat down at the table and resumed his occupation, which apparently
consisted in isolating fibres from the various samples of cloth and
mounting them as microscopic specimens. I watched him as he worked,
admiring his neat, precise, unhurried methods and speculating on the
purpose of his proceedings: whether he was preparing what one might call
museum specimens, to be kept for reference, or whether these preparations
were related to some particular case. I was considering whether it would
be admissible for me to ask a question on the subject when he paused in
his work, assuming a listening attitude, with one hand--holding a
mounting-needle--raised and motionless.

"Here comes the doctor," said he.

I listened intently and became aware of footsteps, very faint and far
away, and only barely perceptible. But my clerical friend--who must have
bad the auditory powers of a watch-dog--had no doubts as to their
identity, for he began quietly to pack all his material on the tray.
Meanwhile the footsteps drew nearer, they turned in at the entry and
ascended the 'first pair,' by which time my crinkly-faced acquaintance
had the door open. The next moment Dr. Thorndyke entered and was duly
informed that 'a gentleman was waiting to see' him.

"You under-estimate my powers of observation, Polton," he informed his
subordinate, with a smile. "I can see the gentleman distinctly with my
naked eye. How do you do, Gray?" and he shook my hand cordially.

"I hope I haven't come at the wrong time, sir," said I. "If I have, you
must adjourn me. But I want to consult you about a rather queer case."

"Good," said Thorndyke. "There is no wrong time for a queer case. Let me
hang up my hat and fill my pipe and then you can proceed to make my flesh

He disposed of his hat, and when Mr. Polton had departed with his tray of
material, he filled his pipe, laid a note-block on the table and invited
me to begin; whereupon I gave him a detailed account of what had befallen
me in the course of the morning, to which he listened with close
attention, jotting down an occasional note, but not interrupting my
narrative. When I had finished, he read through his notes and then said:

"It is, of course, evident to you that all the appearances point to
suicide. Have you any reasons, other than those you have mentioned, for
rejecting that view?"

"I am afraid not," I replied gloomily. "But you have always taught us to
beware of too ready acceptance of the theory of suicide in doubtful

He nodded approvingly. "Yes," he said, '"that is a cardinal principle in
medico-legal practice. All other possibilities should be explored before
suicide is accepted. But our difficulty in this case is that we have
hardly any of the relevant facts. The evidence at the inquest may make
everything clear. On the other hand, it may leave things obscure. But
what is your concern with the case? You are merely a witness to the
finding of the body. The parties are all strangers to you, are they not?"

"They were," I replied. "But I feel that someone ought to keep an eye on
things for Miss D'Arblay's sake, and circumstances seem to have put the
duty on me. So, as I can afford to pay any costs that are likely to be
incurred, I proposed to ask you to undertake the case--on a strict
business footing, you know, sir."

"When you speak of my undertaking the case," said he, "what is it that is
in your mind? What do you want me to do in the matter?"

"I want you to take an measures that you may think necessary," I replied,
"to ascertain definitely, if possible, how this man came by his death."

He reflected a while before answering. At length he said: "The
examination of the body will be conducted by the person whom the coroner
appoints, probably the police surgeon. I will write to the coroner for
permission to be present at the post-mortem examination. He will
certainly make no difficulties. I will also write to the police surgeon,
who is sure to be quite helpful. If the post-mortem throws no light on
the case--in fact, in any event--I will instruct a first-class shorthand
writer to attend at the inquest and make a verbatim report of the
evidence, and you, of course, will be present as a witness. That, I
think, is about all that we can do at present. When we have heard all the
evidence, including that furnished by the body itself, we shall be able
to judge whether the case calls for further investigation. How will that

"It is all that I could wish," I answered, "and I am most grateful to
you, sir, for giving your time to the case. I hope you don't think I have
been unduly meddlesome."

"Not in the least," he replied warmly. "I think you have shown a very
proper spirit in the way you have interpreted your neighbourly duties to
this poor, bereaved girl, who, apparently, has no one else to watch over
her interests. And I take it as a compliment from an old pupil that you
should seek my help."

I thanked him again, very sincerely, and had risen to take my leave, when
he held up his hand.

"Sit down, Gray, if you are not in a hurry," said he. "I hear the
pleasant clink of crockery. Let us follow the example of the eminent Mr.
Pepys--though it isn't always a safe thing to do--and taste of the 'China
drinke called Tee' while you tell me what you have been doing since you
went forth from the fold."

It struck me that the sense of hearing was uncommonly well developed in
this establishment, for I had heard nothing; but a few moments later the
door opened very quietly and Mr. Polton entered with a tray on which was
a very trim, and even dainty, tea-service, which he set out, noiselessly
and with a curious neatness of hand, on a small table placed conveniently
between our chairs.

"Thank you, Polton," said Thorndyke. "I see you diagnosed my visitor as a
professional brother."

Polton crinkled benevolently and admitted that he 'thought the gentleman
looked like one of us', and with this he melted away, closing the door
behind him without a sound.

"Well," said Thorndyke, as he handed me my tea-cup, "what have you been
doing with yourself since you left the hospital?"

"Principally looking for a job," I replied; "and now I've found one--a
temporary job, though I don't know how temporary. To-morrow I take over
the practice of a man named Cornish in Mecklenburgh Square. Cornish is a
good deal run down and wants to take a quiet holiday on the East Coast.
He doesn't know how long he will be away. It depends on his health; but I
have told him that I am prepared to stay as long as he wants me to. I
hope I shan't make a mess of the job, but I know nothing of general

"You will soon pick it up," said Thorndyke; "but you had better get your
principal to show you the ropes before he goes, particularly the
dispensing and book-keeping. The essentials of practice you know, but the
little practical details have to be learnt, and you are doing well to
make your first plunge into professional life in a practice that is a
going concern. The experience will be valuable when you make a start on
your own account."

On this plane of advice and comment our talk proceeded until I thought
that I had stayed long enough, when I once more rose to depart. Then, as
we were shaking hands, Thorndyke reverted to the object of my visit.

"I shall not appear in this case unless the coroner wishes me to," said
he. "I shall consult with the official medical witness and he will
probably give our joint conclusions in his evidence--unless we should
fail to agree, which is very unlikely. But you will be present, and you
had better attend closely to the evidence of all the witnesses and let me
have your account of the inquest as well as the shorthand writer's
report. Good-bye, Gray. You won't be far away if you should want my help
or advice."

I left the precincts of the temple in a much more satisfied frame of
mind. The mystery which seemed to me to surround the death of Julius
D'Arblay would be investigated by a supremely competent observer, and I
need not further concern myself with it. Perhaps there was no mystery at
all. Possibly the evidence at the inquest would supply a simple
explanation. At any rate, it was out of my hands and into those of one
immeasurably more capable, and I could now give my undivided attention to
the new chapter of my life that was to open on the morrow.


It was in the evening of the very day on which I took up my duties at
number 61 Mecklenburgh Square that the little blue paper was delivered
summoning me to attend at the inquest on the following day. Fortunately,
Dr. Cornish's practice was not of a highly strenuous type, and the time
of year tended to a small visiting-list, so that I had no difficulty in
making the necessary arrangements. In fact, I made them so well that I
was the first to arrive at the little building in which the inquiry was
to be held and was admitted by the caretaker to the empty room. A few
minutes later, however, the inspector made his appearance, and while I
was exchanging a few words with him, the jury began to straggle in,
followed by the reporters, a few spectators and witnesses, and finally
the coroner, who immediately took his place at the head of the table and
prepared to open the proceedings.

At this moment I observed Miss D'Arblay standing hesitatingly in the
doorway and looking into the room as if reluctant to enter. I at once
rose and went to her, and as I approached, she greeted me with a friendly
smile and held out her hand; and then I perceived, lurking just outside,
a tall, black-apparelled woman, whose face I recognized as that which I
had seen at the window.

"This," said Miss D'Arblay, presenting me, "is my friend Miss Boler, of
whom I spoke to you. This, Arabella, dear, is the gentleman who was so
kind to me on that dreadful day."

I bowed deferentially and Miss Boler recognized my existence by a
majestic inclination, remarking that she remembered me. As the coroner
now began his preliminary address to the jury, I hastened to find three
chairs near the table, and having inducted the ladies into two of them,
took the third myself, next to Miss D'Arblay. The coroner and the jury
now rose and went out to the adjacent mortuary to view the body, and
during their absence I stole an occasional critical glance at my fair

Marion D'Arblay was, as I have said, a strikingly handsome girl. The fact
seemed now to dawn on me afresh, as a new discovery; for the harrowing
circumstances of our former meeting had so preoccupied me that I had
given little attention to her personality. But now, as I looked her over
anxiously to see how the grievous days had dealt with her, it was with a
sort of surprised admiration that I noted the beautiful, thoughtful face,
the fine features and the wealth of dark, gracefully disposed hair. I was
relieved, too, to see the change that a couple of days had wrought. The
wild, dazed look was gone. Though she was pale and heavy-eyed and looked
tired and infinitely sad, her manner was calm, quiet and perfectly

"I am afraid," said I, "that this is going to be rather a painful ordeal
for you."

"Yes," she agreed, "it is all very dreadful. But it is a dreadful thing
in any case to be bereft in a moment of the one whom one loves best in
all the world. The circumstances of the loss cannot make very much
difference. It is the loss itself that matters. The worst moment was when
the blow fell--when we found him. This inquiry and the funeral are just
the drab accompaniments that bring home the reality of what has

"Has the inspector called on you?" I asked.

"Yes," she replied. "He had to, to get the particulars, and he was so
kind and delicate that I am not in the least afraid of the examination by
the coroner. Everyone has been kind to me, but none so kind as you were
on that terrible morning."

I could not see that I had done anything to call for so much gratitude,
and I was about to enter a modest disclaimer when the coroner and the
jury returned and the inspector approached somewhat hurriedly.

"It will be necessary," said he, "for Miss D'Arblay to see the body--just
to identify deceased, a glance will be enough. And, as you are a witness,
Doctor, you had better go with her to the mortuary. I will show you the

Miss D'Arblay rose without any comment or apparent reluctance and we
followed the inspector to the adjoining mortuary, where, having admitted
us, he stood outside awaiting us. The body lay on the slate-topped table,
covered with a sheet excepting the face, which was exposed and was
undisfigured by any traces of the examination. I watched my friend a
little nervously as we entered the grim chamber, fearful that this
additional trial might be too much for her self-control. But she kept
command of herself, though she wept quietly as she stood beside the table
looking down on the still, waxen-faced figure. After standing thus for a
few moments, she turned away with a smothered sob, wiped her eyes and
walked out of the mortuary.

When we re-entered the court-room, we found our chairs moved up to the
table and the coroner waiting to call the witnesses. As I had expected,
my name was the first on the list, and on being called, I took my place
by the table near to the coroner and was duly sworn.

"Will you give us your name, occupation and address?" the coroner asked.

"My name is Stephen Gray," I replied. "I am a medical practitioner and my
temporary address is 61 Mecklenburgh Square, London."

"When you say your 'temporary address' you mean--?"

"I am taking charge of a medical practice at that address. I shall be
there six weeks or more."

"Then that will be your address for our purposes. Have you viewed the
body that is now lying in the mortuary, and, if so, do you recognize it?"

"Yes. It is the body which I saw lying in a pond in Churchyard Bottom
Wood on the morning of the 16th instant--last Tuesday."

"Can you tell us how long deceased had been dead when you first saw the

"I should say he had been dead nine or ten hours."

"Will you relate the circumstances under which you discovered the body?"

I gave a circumstantial account of the manner in which I made the tragic
discovery, to which not only the jury but also the spectators listened
with eager interest. When I had finished my narrative, the coroner asked:
"Did you observe anything which led you, as a medical man, to form any
opinion as to the cause of death?"

"No," I replied. "I saw no injuries or marks of violence or anything
which was not consistent with death by drowning."

This concluded my evidence, and when I had resumed my seat, the name of
Marion D'Arblay was called by the coroner, who directed that a chair
should be placed for the witness. When she had taken her seat, he
conveyed to her, briefly but feelingly, his own and the jury's sympathy.

"It has been a terrible experience for you," he said, "and we are most
sorry to have to trouble you in your great affliction, but you will
understand that it is unavoidable."

"I quite understand that," she replied, "and I wish to thank you and the
jury for your kind sympathy."

She was then sworn, and having given her name and address, proceeded to
answer the questions addressed to her, which elicited a narrative of the
events substantially identical with that which she had given to the
inspector and which I have already recorded.

"You have told us," said the coroner, "that when Dr. Gray spoke to you,
you were searching among the bushes. Will you tell us what was in your
mind--what you were searching for and what induced you to make that

"I was very uneasy about my father," she replied. "He had not been home
that night and he had not told me that he intended to stay at the
studio--as he sometimes did when he was working very late. So, in the
morning I went to the studio in Abbey Road to see if he was there; but
the caretaker told me that he had started for home about ten o'clock.
Then I began to fear that something had happened to him, and as he always
came home by the path through the wood, I went there to see if--if
anything had happened to him."

"Had you in your mind any definite idea as to what might have happened to

"I thought he might have been taken ill or have fallen down dead. He once
told me that he would probably die quite suddenly. I believe that he
suffered from some affection of the heart, but he did not like speaking
about his health."

"Are you sure that there was nothing more than this in your mind?"

"There was nothing more. I thought that his heart might have failed and
that he might have wandered, in a half-conscious state, away from the
main path and fallen dead in one of the thickets."

The coroner pondered this reply for some time. I could not see why, for
it was plain and straightforward enough. At length he said, very gravely
and with what seemed to me unnecessary emphasis: "I want you to be quite
frank and open with us. Miss D'Arblay. Can you swear that there was no
other possibility in your mind than that of sudden illness?"

She looked at him in surprise, apparently not understanding the drift of
the question. As to me, I assumed that he was endeavouring delicately to
ascertain whether deceased was addicted to drink. "I have told you
exactly what was in my mind," she replied.

"Have you ever had any reason to suppose, or to entertain the
possibility, that your father might take his own life?"

"Never," she answered emphatically. "He was a happy, even-tempered man,
always interested in his work and always in good spirits. I am sure he
would never have taken his own life."

The coroner nodded with a rather curious air of satisfaction, as if he
were concurring with the witness's statement. Then he asked in the same
grave, emphatic manner:

"So far as you know, had your father any enemies?"

"No," she replied confidently. "He was a kindly, amiable man who disliked
nobody, and everyone who knew him loved him."

As she uttered this panegyric (and what prouder testimony could a
daughter have given?), her eyes filled, and the coroner looked at her
with deep sympathy but yet with a somewhat puzzled expression.

"You are sure," he said gently, "that there was no one whom he might have
injured--even inadvertently--or who bore him any grudge or ill-will?"

"I am sure," she answered, "that he never injured or gave offence to
anyone, and I do not believe that there was any person in the whole world
who bore him anything but goodwill."

The coroner noted this reply, and as he entered it in the depositions,
his face bore the same curious puzzled or doubtful expression. When he
had written the answer down, he asked: "By the way, what was the
deceased's occupation?"

"He was a sculptor by profession, but in late years he worked principally
as a modeller for various trades--pottery manufacturers, picture-frame
makers, carvers and the makers of high-class wax figures for shop

"Had he any assistants or subordinates?"

"No. He worked alone. Occasionally I helped him with his moulds when he
was very busy or had a very large work on hand; but usually he did
everything himself. Of course, he occasionally employed models."

"Do you know who those models were?"

"They were professional models. The men, I think, were all Italians and
some of the women were, too. I believe my father kept a list of them in
his address book."

"Was he working from a model on the night of his death?'

"No. He was making the moulds for a porcelain statuette."

"Did you ever hear that he had any kind of trouble with his models?"

"Never. He seemed always on the best of terms with them and he used to
speak of them most appreciatively."

"What sort of persons are professional models? Should you say they are a
decent, well-conducted class?"

"Yes. They are usually most respectable, hard-working people; and, of
course, they are sober and decent in their habits or they would be of no
use for their professional duties."

The coroner meditated on these replies with a speculative eye on the
witness. After a short pause, he began along another line.

"Did deceased ever carry about with him property of any considerable

"Never, to my knowledge."

"No jewellery, plate or valuable material?"

"No. His work was practically all in plaster or wax. He did no
goldsmith's work and he used no precious material."

"Did he ever have any considerable sums of money about him?"

"No. He received all his payments by cheque and he made his payments in
the same way. His habit was to carry very little money on his
person--usually not more than one or two pounds."

Once more the coroner reflected profoundly. It seemed to me that he was
trying to elicit some fact--I could not imagine what--and was failing
utterly. At length, after another puzzled look at the witness, he turned
to the jury and inquired if any of them wished to put any questions; and
when they had severally shaken their heads, he thanked Miss D'Arblay for
the clear and straightforward way in which she had given her evidence and
released her.

While the examination had been proceeding, I had allowed my eyes to
wander round the room with some curiosity, for this was the first time
that I had ever been present at an inquest. From the jury, the witnesses
in waiting and the reporters--among whom I tried to identify Dr.
Thorndyke's stenographer--my attention was presently transferred to the
spectators. There were only a few of them, but I found myself wondering
why there should be any. What kind of person attends as a spectator at an
ordinary inquest such as this appeared to be? The newspaper reports of
the finding of the body were quite unsensational and promised no
startling developments. Finally, I decided that they were probably local
residents who had some knowledge of the deceased and were just indulging
their neighbourly curiosity.

Among them my attention was particularly attracted by a middle-aged woman
who sat near me--at least I judged her to be middle-aged, though the
rather dense black veil that she wore obscured her face to a great
extent. Apparently she was a widow, and advertised the fact by the
orthodox, old-fashioned 'weeds'. But I could see that she had white hair
and wore spectacles. She held a folded newspaper on her knee, apparently
dividing her attention between the printed matter and the proceedings of
the court. She gave me the impression of having come in to spend an idle
hour, combining a somewhat perfunctory reading of the paper with a still
more perfunctory attention to the rather gruesome entertainment that the
inquest afforded.

The next witness called was the doctor who had made the official
examination of the body; on whom the--presumed--widow bestowed a
listless, incurious glance and then returned to her newspaper. He was a
youngish man, though his hair was turning grey, with a quiet but firm and
confident manner and a very clear, pleasant voice. The preliminaries
having been disposed of, the coroner led off with the question:

"You have made an examination of the body of the deceased?"

"Yes. It is that of a well-proportioned, fairly muscular man of about
sixty, quite healthy with the exception of the heart one of the valves of
which--the mitral valve--was incompetent and allowed some leakage of
blood to take place."

"Was the heart affection sufficient to account for the death of

"No. It was quite a serviceable heart. There was good compensation--that
is to say, there was extra growth of muscle to make up for the leaky
valve. So far as his heart was concerned, deceased might have lived for
another twenty years."

"Were you able to ascertain what actually was the cause of death?"

"Yes. The cause of death was aconitine poisoning."

At this reply a murmur of astonishment arose from the jury, and I heard
Miss D'Arblay suddenly draw in her breath. The spectators sat up on their
benches, and even the veiled lady was so far interested as to look up
from her paper.

"How had the poison been administered?" the coroner asked.

"It had been injected under the skin by means of a hypodermic syringe."

"Can you give an opinion as to whether the poison was administered to
deceased by himself or by some other person?"

"It could not have been injected by deceased himself," the witness
replied. "The needle-puncture was in the back, just below the left
shoulder-blade. It is, in my opinion, physically impossible for anyone to
inject with a hypodermic syringe into his own body in that spot. And, of
course, a person who was administering an injection to himself would
select the most convenient spot--such as the front of the thigh. But
apart from the question of convenience, the place in which the
needle-puncture was found was actually out of reach." Here the witness
produced a hypodermic syringe, the action of which he demonstrated with
the aid of a glass of water; and having shown the impossibility of
applying it to the spot that he had described, passed the syringe round
for the jury's inspection.

"Have you formed any opinion as to the purpose for which this drug was
administered in this manner?"

"I have no doubt that it was administered for the purpose of causing the
death of deceased."

"Might it not have been administered for medicinal purposes?"

"That is quite inconceivable. Leaving out of consideration the
circumstances--the time and place where the administration occurred--the
dose excludes the possibility of medicinal purposes. It was a lethal
dose. From the tissues round the needle--puncture we recovered the
twelfth of a grain of aconitine. That alone was more than enough to cause
death. But a quantity of the poison had been absorbed, as was shown by
the fact that we recovered a recognizable trace from the liver."

"What is the medicinal dose of aconitine?"

"The maximum medicinal dose is about the four-hundredth of a grain, and
even that is not very safe. As a matter of fact, aconitine is very seldom
used in medical practice. It is a dangerous drug and of no particular

"How much aconitine do you suppose was injected?"

"Not less than the tenth of a grain--that is, about forty times the
maximum medicinal dose. Probably more."

"There can, I suppose, be no doubt as to the accuracy of the facts that
you have stated as to the nature and quantity of the poison?"

"There can be no doubt whatever. The analysis was made in my presence by
Professor Woodford of St. Margaret's Hospital after I had removed the
tissues from the body in his presence. He has not been called because, in
accordance with the procedure under Coroners Law, I am responsible for
the analysis and the conclusions drawn from it."

"Taking the medical facts as known to you, are you able to form an
opinion as to what took place when the poison was administered?"

"That," the witness replied, "is a matter of inference or conjecture. I
infer that the person who administered the poison thrust the needle
violently into the back of the deceased, intending to inject the poison
into the chest. Actually, the needle struck a rib and bent up sharply, so
that the contents of the syringe were delivered just under the skin. Then
I take it that the assailant ran away--probably towards the pond--and
deceased pursued him. Very soon the poison would take effect, and then
deceased would have fallen. He may have fallen into the pond, or more
probably was thrown in. He was alive when he fell into the pond, as is
proved by the presence of water in the lungs; but he must then have been
insensible and in a dying condition, for there was no water in the
stomach, which proves that the swallowing reflex had already ceased."

"Your considered opinion, then, based on the medical facts ascertained by
you, is, I understand, that deceased died from the effects of a poison
injected into his body by some other person with homicidal intent?"

"Yes; that is my considered opinion, and I affirm that the facts do not
admit of any other interpretation."

The coroner looked towards the jury. "Do any of you gentlemen wish to ask
the witness any questions?" he inquired; and when the foreman had replied
that the jury were entirely satisfied with the doctor's explanations, he
thanked the witness, who thereupon retired. The medical witness was
succeeded by the inspector, who made a short statement respecting the
effects found on the person of deceased. They comprised a small sum of
money--under two pounds--a watch, keys and other articles, none of them
of any appreciable value, but such as they were, furnishing evidence that
at least petty robbery had not been the object of the attack.

When the last witness had been heard, the coroner glanced at his notes
and then proceeded to address the jury.

"There is little, gentlemen," he began, "that I need say to you. The
facts are before you and they seem to admit of only one interpretation. I
remind you that, by the terms of your oath, your finding must be
'according to the evidence.' Now, the medical evidence is quite dear and
definite. It is to the effect that deceased met his death by poison
administered violently by some other person; that is, by homicide.
Homicide is the killing of a human being, and it may or may not be
criminal. But if the homicidal act is done with the intent to kill, if
that intention has been deliberately formed--that is to say, if the
homicidal act has been premeditated--then that homicide is wilful murder.

"Now, the person who killed the deceased came to the place where the act
was done provided with a solution of a very powerful and uncommon
vegetable poison. He was also provided with a very special appliance--to
wit, a hypodermic syringe--for injecting it into the body. The fact that
he was furnished with the poison and the appliance creates a strong
presumption that he came to this place with the deliberate intention of
killing the deceased. That is to say, this fact constitutes strong
evidence of premeditation.

"As to the motive for this act, we are completely in the dark; nor have
we any evidence pointing to the identity of the person who committed that
act. But a coroner's inquest is not necessarily concerned with motives,
nor is it our business to fix the act on any particular person. We have
to find how and by what means the deceased met his death; and for that
purpose we have clear and sufficient evidence. I need say no more, but
will leave you to agree upon your finding."

There was a brief interval of silence when the coroner had finished
speaking. The jury whispered together for a few seconds; then the foreman
announced that they had agreed upon their verdict.

"And what is your decision, gentlemen?" the coroner asked.

"We find," was the reply, "that deceased met his death by wilful murder,
committed by some person unknown."

The coroner bowed. "I am in entire agreement with you, gentlemen," said
he. "No other verdict was possible; and I am sure you will join with me
in the hope that the wretch who committed this dastardly crime may be
identified and in due course brought to justice."

This brought the proceedings to an end. As the court rose, the spectators
filed out of the building and the coroner approached Miss D'Arblay to
express once more his deep sympathy with her in her tragic bereavement. I
stood apart with Miss Boler, whose rugged face was wet with tears, but
set in a grim and wrathful scowl.

"Things have taken a terrible turn," I ventured to observe.

She shook her head and uttered a sort of low growl. "It won't bear
thinking of," she said gruffly. "There is no possible retribution that
would meet the case. One has thought that some of the old punishments
were cruel and barbarous; but if I could lay my hands on the villain that
did this--" She broke off, leaving the conclusion to my imagination, and
in an extraordinarily different voice, said: "Come, Miss Marion; let us
get out of this awful place."

As we walked away slowly and in silence, I looked at Miss D'Arblay, not
without anxiety. She was very pale, and the dazed expression that her
face had borne on the fatal day of the discovery had, to some extent,
reappeared. But now the signs of bewilderment and grief were mingled with
something new. The rigid face, the compressed lips and lowered brows
spoke of a deep and abiding wrath.

Suddenly she turned to me and said, abruptly, almost harshly: "I was
wrong in what I said to you before the inquiry. You remember that I said
the circumstances of the loss could make no difference; but they make a
whole world of difference. I had supposed that my dear father had died as
he had thought he would die; that it was the course of Nature, which we
cannot rebel against. Now I know, from what the doctor said, that he
might have lived on happily for the full span of human life but for the
malice of this unknown wretch. His life was not lost; it was stolen--from
him and from me."

"Yes," I said somewhat lamely. "It is a horrible affair."

"It is beyond bearing!" she exclaimed. "If his death had been natural, I
would have tried to resign myself to it. I would have tried to put my
grief away. But to think that his happy, useful life has been snatched
from him, that he has been torn from us who loved him, by the deliberate
act of this murderer--it is unendurable. It will be with me every hour of
my life until I die. And every hour I shall call on God for justice
against this wretch."

I looked at her with a sort of admiring surprise. A quiet, gentle girl as
I believed her to be at ordinary times, now, with her flushed cheeks, her
flashing eyes and ominous brows, she reminded me of one of the heroines
of the French Revolution. Her grief seemed to be merged in a longing for

While she had been speaking. Miss Boler had kept up a running
accompaniment in a deep, humming bass. I could not catch the words--if
there were any--but was aware only of a low, continuous bourdon. She now
said with grim decision: "God will not let him escape. He shall pay the
debt to the uttermost farthing." Then, with sudden fierceness, she added:
"If I should ever meet with him, I could kill him with my own hand."

After this, both women relapsed into silence, which I was loath to
interrupt. The circumstances were too tragic for conversation. When we
reached their gate. Miss D'Arblay held out her hand and once again
thanked me for my help and sympathy.

"I have done nothing," said I, "that any stranger would not have done,
and I deserve no thanks. But I should like to think that you will look on
me as a friend, and if you should need any help will let me have the
privilege of being of use to you."

"I look on you as a friend already," she replied; "and I hope you will
come and see us sometimes--when we have settled down to our new
conditions of life."

As Miss Boler seemed to confirm this invitation, I thanked them both and
took my leave, glad to think that I had now a recognized status as a
friend and might pursue a project which had formed in my mind even before
we had left the court-house.

The evidence of the murder, which had fallen like a thunderbolt on us
all, had a special significance for me; for I knew that Dr. Thorndyke was
behind this discovery, though to what extent I could not judge. The
medical witness was an obviously capable man, and it might be that he
would have made the discovery without assistance. But a needle-puncture
in the back is a very inconspicuous thing. Ninety-nine doctors in a
hundred would almost certainly have overlooked it, especially in the case
of a body apparently 'found drowned' and seeming to call for no special
examination beyond the search for gross injuries. The revelation was very
characteristic of Thorndyke's methods and principles. It illustrated in a
most striking manner the truth which he was never tired of insisting on:
that it is never safe to accept obvious appearances, and that every case,
no matter how apparently simple and commonplace, should be approached
with suspicion and scepticism and subjected to the most rigorous
scrutiny. That was precisely what had been done in this case; and thereby
an obvious suicide had been resolved into a cunningly-planned and
skilfully-executed murder. It was quite possible that, but for my visit
to Thorndyke, those cunning plans would have succeeded and the murderer
have secured the cover of a verdict of 'death by misadventure' or
'suicide while temporarily insane.' At any rate, the results had
justified me in invoking Dr. Thorndyke's aid; and the question now arose
whether it would be possible to retain him for the further investigation
of the case.

This was the project that had occurred to me as I listened to the
evidence and realized how completely the unknown murderer had covered up
his tracks. But there were difficulties. Thorndyke might consider such an
investigation outside his province. Again, the costs involved might be on
a scale entirely beyond my means. The only thing to be done was to call
on Thorndyke and hear what he had to say on the subject, and this I
determined to do on the first opportunity. And having formed this
resolution, I made my way back by the shortest route to Mecklenburgh
Square, where the evening consultations were now nearly due.


There are certain districts in London the appearance of which conveys to
the observer the impression that the houses, and indeed the entire
streets, have been picked up second-hand. There is in their aspect a
grey, colourless, mouldy quality, reminiscent, not of the antique shop,
but rather of the marine-store dealers; a quality which even communicates
itself to the inhabitants, so that one gathers the impression that the
whole neighbourhood was taken as a going concern.

It was on such a district that I found myself looking down from the top
of an omnibus a few days after the inquest (Dr. Cornish's brougham being
at the moment under repairs and his horse 'out to grass' during the slack
season), being bound for a street in the neighbourhood of Hoxton--Market
Street by name--which abutted, as I had noticed when making out my route,
on the Regent's Canal. The said route I had written out, and now, in the
intervals of my surveys of the unlovely prospect, I divided my attention
between it and the note which had summoned me to these remote regions.

Concerning the latter I was somewhat curious, for the envelope was
addressed, not to Dr. Cornish but to 'Dr. Stephen Gray'. This was really
quite an odd circumstance. Either the writer knew me personally or was
aware that I was acting as locum tenens for Cornish. But the name--James
Morris--was unknown to me, and a careful inspection of the index of the
ledger had failed to bring to light anyone answering to the description.
So Mr. Morris was presumably a stranger to my principal also. The note,
which had been left by hand in the morning, requested me to call 'as
early in the forenoon as possible,' which seemed to hint at some degree
of urgency. Naturally, as a young practitioner, I speculated with
interest, not entirely unmingled with anxiety, on the possible nature of
the case, and also on the patient's reason for selecting a medical
attendant whose residence was so inconveniently far away.

In accordance with my written route, I got off the omnibus at the corner
of Shepherdess Walk, and pursuing that pastoral thoroughfare for some
distance, presently plunged into a labyrinth of streets adjoining it and
succeeded most effectually in losing myself. However, inquiries addressed
to an intelligent fish-vendor elicited a most lucid direction and I soon
found myself in a little, drab street which justified its name by giving
accommodation to a row of stationary barrows loaded with what looked like
the 'throw-outs' from a colossal spring-clean. Passing along this
kerb-side market and reflecting (like Diogenes, in similar circumstances)
how many things there were in the world that I did not want, I walked
slowly up the street looking for number 23--my patient's number--and the
canal which I had seen on the map. I located them both at the same
instant, for number 23 turned out to be the last house on the opposite
side, and a few yards beyond it the street was barred by a low wall, over
which, as I looked, the mast of a sailing-barge came into view and slowly
crept past. I stepped up to the wall and looked over. Immediately beneath
me was the towing-path, alongside which the barge was now bringing up and
beginning to lower her mast, apparently to pass under a bridge that
spanned the canal a couple of hundred yards farther along.

From these nautical manoeuvres I transferred my attention to my patient's
house--or at least, so much of it as I could see, for number 23 appeared
to consist of a shop with nothing over it. There was, however, in a wall
which extended to the canal wall, a side door with a bell and knocker, so
I inferred that the house was behind the shop and that the latter had
been built on a formerly existing front garden. The shop itself was
somewhat reminiscent of the stalls down the street, for though the fascia
was newly painted (with the inscription J. Morris, Dealer in Antiques),
the stock-in-trade exhibited in the window was in the last stage of
senile decay. It included, I remember, a cracked Toby jug, a mariner's
sextant of an obsolete type a Dutch clock without hands, a snuff-box, one
or two planter statuettes, an invalid punchbowl, a shiny, dark and
inscrutable oil-painting and a plaster mask, presumably the death-mask of
some celebrity whose face was unknown to me.

My examination of this collection was brought to a sudden end by the
apparition of a face above the half-blind of the glazed shop-door, the
face of a middle-aged woman who seemed to be inspecting me with
malevolent interest. Assuming--rather too late--a brisk, professional
manner, I opened the shop-door, thereby setting a bell jangling within,
and confronted the owner of the face.

"I am Dr. Gray," I began to explain.

"Side-door," she interrupted brusquely. "Ring the bell and knock."

I backed out hastily and proceeded to follow the directions, giving a tug
at the bell and delivering a flourish on the knocker. The hollow
reverberations of the latter almost suggested an empty house, but my
vigorous pull at the bell-handle produced no audible result, from which I
inferred--wrongly, as afterwards appeared--that it was out of repair.

After waiting quite a considerable time, I was about to repeat the
performance when I heard sounds within; and then the door was opened, to
my surprise, by the identical sour-faced woman whom I had seen in the
shop. As her appearance and manner did not invite conversation, and as
she uttered no word, I followed her in silence through a long passage, or
covered way, which ran parallel to the side of the shop and presumably
crossed the site of the garden. It ended at a door which opened into the
hall proper; a largish square space into which the doors of the
ground-floor rooms opened. It contained the main staircase and was closed
in at the farther end by a heavy curtain which extended from wall to

We proceeded in this funereal manner up the stairs to the first floor on
the landing of which my conductress halted and for the first time broke
the silence.

"You will probably find Mr. Bendelow asleep or dozing," she said in a
rather gruff voice. "If he is, there is no need for you to disturb him."

"Mr. Bendelow!" I exclaimed. "I understood that his name was Morris."

"Well, it isn't," she retorted. "It is Bendelow. My name is Morris and so
is my husband's. It was he who wrote to you."

"By the way," said I, "how did he know my name? I am acting for Dr.
Cornish, you know."

"I didn't know," said she, "and I don't suppose he did. Probably the
servant told him. But it doesn't matter. Here you are, and you will do as
well as another. I was telling you about Mr. Bendelow. He is in a pretty
bad way. The specialist whom Mr. Morris took him to--Dr. Artemus
Cropper--said he had cancer of the bilorus, whatever that is--"

"Pylorus," I corrected.

"Well, pylorus, then, if you prefer it," she corrected impatiently. "At
any rate, whatever it is, he's got cancer of it; and as I said before, he
is in a pretty bad way. Dr. Cropper told us what to do, and we are doing
it. He wrote out full directions as to diet--I will show them to you
presently--and he said that Mr. Bendelow was to have a dose of morphia if
he complained of pain--which he does, of course; and that, as there was
no chance of his getting better, it didn't matter how much morphia he
had. The great thing was to keep him out of pain. So we give it to him
twice a day--at least, my husband does--and that keeps him fairly
comfortable. In fact he sleeps most of the time and is probably dozing
now; so you are not likely to get much out of him, especially as he is
rather hard of hearing even when he is awake. And now you had better come
in and have a look at him."

She advanced to the door of a room and opened it softly, and I followed
in a somewhat uncomfortable frame of mind. It seemed to me that I had no
function but that of a mere figure-head. Dr. Cropper, whom I knew by name
as a physician of some reputation, had made the diagnosis and prescribed
the treatment, neither of which I, as a mere beginner, would think of
contesting. It was an unsatisfactory, even an ignominious position, from
which my professional pride revolted, but apparently it had to be

Mr. Bendelow was a most remarkable-looking man. Probably he had always
been, but now the frightful emaciation (which strongly confirmed
Cropper's diagnosis) had so accentuated his original peculiarities that
he had the appearance of some dreadful, mirthless caricature. Under the
influence of the remorseless disease, every shrinkable structure had
shrunk to the vanishing-point, leaving the unshrinkable skeleton jutting
out with a most horrible and grotesque effect. His great hooked nose,
which must always have been strikingly prominent, stuck out now, thin and
sharp, like the beak of some bird of prey. His heavy beetling brows,
which must always have given to his face a frowning sullenness, now
overhung sockets which had shrunk away into mere caverns. His
naturally-high cheek-bones were now not only prominent but exhibited the
details of their structure as one sees them in a dry skull. Altogether,
his aspect was at once pitiable and forbidding. Of his age I could form
no estimate. He might have been a hundred. The wonder was that he was
still alive; that there was yet left in that shrivelled body enough
material to enable its mechanism to continue its functions.

He was not asleep, but was in that somnolent, lethargic state that is
characteristic of the effects of morphia. He took no notice of me when I
approached the bed, nor even when I spoke his name somewhat loudly.

"I told you you wouldn't get much out of him," said Mrs. Morris, looking
at me with a sort of grim satisfaction. "He doesn't have a great deal to
say to any of us nowadays."

"Well," said I, "there is no need to rouse him, but I had better just
examine him, if only as a matter of form. I can't take the case entirely
on hearsay."

"I suppose not," she agreed. "You know best. Do what you think necessary,
but don't disturb him more than you can help."

It was not a prolonged examination. The first touch of my fingers on the
shrunken abdomen made me aware of the unmistakable hard mass and rendered
further exploration needless. There could be no doubt as to the nature of
the case or of what the future held in store. It was only a question of
time, and a short time at that.

The patient submitted to the examination quite passively, but he seemed
to be fully aware of what was going on, for he looked at me in a sort of
drunken, dreamy fashion but without any sign of interest in my
proceedings. When I had finished, I looked him over again, trying to
reconstitute him as he might have been before this deadly disease
fastened on him. I observed that he seemed to have a fair crop of hair of
a darkish iron-grey. I say seemed because the greater part of his head
was covered by a skull-cap of black silk; but a fringe of hair straying
from under it on to the forehead suggested that he was not bald. His
teeth, too, which were rather conspicuous, were natural teeth and in good
preservation. In order to confirm this fact, I stooped and raised his lip
the better to examine them. But at this point Mrs. Morris intervened.

"There, that will do," she said impatiently. "You are not a dentist, and
his teeth will last as long as he will want them. If you have finished,
you had better come with me and I will show you Dr. Cropper's
prescriptions. Then you can tell me if you have any further directions to

She led the way out of the room, and when I had made a farewell gesture
to the patient (of which he took no notice) I followed her down the
stairs to the ground-floor, where she ushered me into a small, rather
elegantly furnished room. Here she opened the top of a bureau and from
one of the little drawers took an open envelope, which she handed to me.
It contained one or two prescriptions for occasional medicines and a
sheet of directions relative to the diet and general management of the
patient, including the administration of morphia. The latter read, under
the general heading, 'Simon Bendelow, Esq.':

'As the case progresses, it will probably be necessary to administer
morphine regularly, but the amount given should, if possible, be
restricted to 14 gr. Morph. Sulph. not more than twice a day, but, of
course, the hopeless prognosis and probable early termination of the case
make some latitude admissible.'

Although I was in complete agreement with the writer, I was a little
puzzled by these documents. They were signed 'Artemus Cropper, MD,' but
they were not addressed to any person by name. They appeared to have been
given to Mr. Morris, in whose possession they now were; but the use of
the word 'morphine' instead of the more familiar 'morphia' and the
general technical phraseology seemed inappropriate to directions
addressed to lay persons. As I returned them I remarked:

"These directions read as if they had been intended for the information
of a medical man."

"They were," she replied. "They were meant for the doctor who was
attending Mr. Bendelow at the time. When we moved to this place, I got
them from him to show to the new doctor. You are the new doctor."

"Then you haven't been here very long?"

"No," she replied. "We have only just moved in. And that reminds me that
our stock of morphia is running out. Could you bring a fresh tube of the
tabloids next time you call? My husband left an empty tube for me to give
you to remind you what size the tabloids are. He gives Mr. Bendelow the

"Thank you," said I, "but I don't want the empty tube. I read the
prescription and shan't forget the dose. I will bring a new tube
to-morrow--that is, if you want me to call every day. It seems hardly

"No, it doesn't," she agreed. "I should think twice a week would be quite
enough. Monday and Thursday would suit me best; if you could manage to
come about this time I should be sure to be in. My time is rather taken
up, as I haven't a servant at present."

It was a bad arrangement. Fixed appointments are things to avoid in
medical practice. Nevertheless I agreed to it--subject to unforeseen
obstacles--and was forthwith conducted back along the covered way and
launched into the outer world with a farewell which it would be inadequate
to describe as unemotional.

As I turned away from the door I cast a passing glance at the
shop-window; and once again I perceived a face above the half-blind. It
was a man's face this time; presumably the face of Mr. Morris. And like
his wife, he seemed to be 'taking stock of me.' I returned the attention
and carried away with me the instantaneous mental photograph of a man in
that unprepossessing transitional state between being clean-shaved and
wearing a beard which is characterized by a sort of grubby prickliness
that disfigures the features without obscuring them. His stubble was
barely a week old, but as his complexion and hair were dark the effect
was very untidy and disreputable. And yet, as I have said, it did not
obscure the features. I was even able, in that momentary glance, to note
a detail which would probably have escaped a non-medical eye: the scar of
a hare-lip which had been very neatly and skilfully mended and which a
moustache would probably have concealed altogether.

I did not, however, give much thought to Mr. Morris. It was his
dour-faced wife with her gruff, overbearing manner who principally
occupied my reflections. She seemed to have divined in some way that I
was but a beginner--perhaps my youthful appearance gave her the hint--and
to have treated me with almost open contempt. In truth, my position was
not a very dignified one. The diagnosis of the case had been made for me,
the treatment had been prescribed for me and was being carried out by
other hands than mine. My function was to support a kind of legal fiction
that I was conducting the case, but principally to supply the morphia
(which a chemist might have refused to do) and, when the time came, to
sign the death-certificate. It was an ignominious role for a young and
ambitious practitioner and my pride was disposed to boggle at it. But yet
there was nothing to which I could object. The diagnosis was undoubtedly
correct and the treatment and management of the case exactly such as I
should have prescribed. Finally, I decided that my dissatisfaction was
principally due to the unattractive personality of Mrs. Morris; and with
this conclusion I dismissed the case from my mind and let my thoughts
wander into more agreeable channels.


To a man whose mind is working actively, walking is a more acceptable
mode of progression than riding in a vehicle. There is a sort of
reciprocity between the muscles and the brain--possibly due to the close
association of the motor and psychical centres--whereby the activity of
the one appears to act as a stimulus to the other. A sharp walk sets the
mind working; and, conversely, a state of lively reflection begets an
impulse to bodily movement.

Hence, when I had emerged from Market Street and set my face homewards, I
let the omnibuses rumble past unheeded. I knew my way now. I had but to
retrace the route by which I had come and, preserving my isolation amidst
the changing crowd, let my thoughts keep pace with my feet. And I had, in
fact, a good deal to think about--a general subject for reflection which
arranged itself around two personalities, Miss D'Arblay and Dr.

To the former I had written suggesting a call on her, 'subject to the
exigencies of the service,' on Sunday afternoon, and had received a short
but cordial note definitely inviting me to tea. So that matter was
settled and really required no further consideration, though it did
actually occupy my thoughts for an appreciable part of my walk. But that
was mere self-indulgence, the preliminary savouring of an anticipated
pleasure. My cogitations respecting Dr. Thorndyke were, on the other
hand, somewhat troubled. I was eager to invoke his aid in solving the
hideous mystery which his acuteness had (I felt convinced) brought into
view. But it would probably be a costly business and my pecuniary
resources were not great. To apply to him for services of which I could
not meet the cost was not to be thought of. The too-common meanness of
sponging on a professional man was totally abhorrent to me.

But what was the alternative? The murder of Julius D'Arblay was one of
those crimes which offer the police no opportunity; at least, so it
seemed to me. Out of the darkness this fiend had stolen to commit this
unspeakable atrocity, and into the darkness he had straightway vanished,
leaving no trace of his identity nor any hint of his diabolical motive.
It might well be that he had vanished for ever; that the mystery of the
crime was beyond solution. But if any solution was possible, the one man
who seemed capable of discovering it was John Thorndyke.

This conclusion, to which my reflections led again and again, committed
me to the dilemma that either this villain must be allowed to go his way
unmolested, if the police could find no clue to his identity--a position
that I utterly refused to accept--or that the one supremely skilful
investigator should be induced, if possible, to take up the inquiry. In
the end I decided to call on Thorndyke and frankly lay the facts before
him, but to postpone the interview until I had seen Miss D'Arblay and
ascertained what view the police took of the case and whether any new
facts had transpired.

The train of reflection which brought me to this conclusion had brought
me also, by way of Pentonville, to the more familiar neighbourhood of
Clerkenwell; and I had just turned into a somewhat squalid by-street
which seemed to bear in the right direction, when my attention was
arrested by a brass plate affixed to the door of one of those hybrid
establishments, intermediate between a shop and a private house, known by
the generic name of open surgery. The name upon the plate--Dr. Solomon
Usher--awakened certain reminiscences. In my freshman days there had been
a student of that name at our hospital; a middle-aged man (elderly, we
considered him, seeing that he was near upon forty) who, after years of
servitude as an unqualified assistant, had scraped together the means of
completing his curriculum. I remembered him very well: a facetious,
seedy, slightly bibulous but entirely good-natured man, invincibly
amiable (as he had need to be), and always in the best of spirits. I
recalled the quaint figure that furnished such rich material for our
school-boy wit: the solemn spectacles, the ridiculous side-whiskers, the
chimney-pot hat, the formal frock-coat (too often decorated with a label
secretly pinned to the coat-tail and bearing some such inscription as
'This style 10s. 6d.' or other scintillations of freshman humour), and,
looking over the establishment, decided that it seemed to present a
complete congruity with that well-remembered personality. But the
identification was not left to mere surmise, for even as my eye roamed
along a range of stoppered bottles that peeped over the wire blind, the
door opened and there he was, spectacles, side-whiskers, top-hat and
frock-coat, all complete, plus an oedematous-looking umbrella.

He did not recognise me at first--naturally, for I had changed a good
deal more than he had in the five or six years that had slipped away--but
inquired gravely if I wished to see him. I replied that it had been the
dearest wish of my heart, now at length gratified. Then, as I grinned in
his face, my identity suddenly dawned on him.

"Why, it's Gray!" he exclaimed, seizing my hand. "God bless me, what a
surprise! I didn't know you. Getting quite a man. Well, I am delighted to
see you. Come in and have a drink."

He held the door open invitingly, but I shook my head.

"No, thanks," I replied. "Not at this time in the day."

"Nonsense," he urged. "Do you good. I've just had one myself. Can't say
more than that, excepting that I am ready to have another. Won't you
really? Pity. Should never waste an opportunity. Which way are you

It seemed that we were going the same way for some distance and we
accordingly set off together.

"So you've flopped out of the nest," he remarked, looking me over--"at
least, so I judge by the adult clothes that you are wearing. Are you in
practice in these parts?"

"No," I replied; "I am doing a locum. Only just qualified, you know."

"Good," said he. "A locum's the way to begin. Try your prentice hand on
somebody else's patients and pick up the art of general practice, which
they don't teach you at the hospital."

"You mean book-keeping and dispensing and the general routine of the
day's work?" I suggested.

"No, I don't," he replied. "I mean practice; the art of pleasing your
patients and keeping your end up. You've got a lot to learn, my boy.
Experientia does it. Scientific stuff is all very well at the hospital,
but in practice it is experience, gumption, tact, knowledge of human
nature, that counts."

"I suppose a little knowledge of diagnosis and treatment is useful?" I

"For your own satisfaction, yes," he admitted; "but for practical
purposes, a little knowledge of men and women is a good deal better. It
isn't your scientific learning that brings you kudos, nor is it
out-of-the-way cases. It is just common sense brought to bear on common
ailments. Take the case of an aurist. You think that he lives by dealing
with obscure and difficult middle and internal ear cases. Nothing of the
kind. He lives on wax. Wax is the foundation of his practice.
Patient comes to him as deaf as a post. He does all the proper
jugglery--tuning-fork, otoscope, speculum and so on, for the moral
effect. Then he hikes out a good old plug of cerumen and the patient
hears perfectly. Of course, he is delighted. Thinks a miracle has been
performed. Goes away convinced that the aurist is a genius; and so he is
if he has managed the case properly. I made my reputation here on a

"Well, a fish-bone isn't always so very easy to extract,' said I.

"It isn't," he agreed. "Especially if it isn't there."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"I'll tell you about it," he replied. "A chappie here got a fish-bone
stuck in his throat. Of course it didn't stay there. They never do. But
the prick in his soft palate did, and he was convinced that the bone was
still there. So he sent for a doctor. Doctor came, looked in his throat.
Couldn't see any fish-bone and, like a fool, said so. Tried to persuade
the patient that there was no bone there. But the chappie said it was his
throat and he knew better. He could feel it there. So he sent for another
doctor and the same thing happened. No go. He had four different doctors
and they hadn't the sense of an infant among them. Then he sent for me.

"Now, as soon as I heard how the land lay, I nipped into the surgery and
got a fish-bone that I keep there in a pillbox for emergencies, stuck it
into the jaws of a pair of throat-forceps, and off I went. 'Show me
whereabouts it is,' says I, handing him a probe to point with. He showed
me the spot and nearly swallowed the probe. 'All right,' said I. 'I can
see it. Just shut your eyes and open your mouth wide and I will have it
out in a jiffy.' I popped the forceps into his mouth, gave a gentle prod
with the point on the soft palate, patient hollered out, 'Hoo!' I whisked
out the forceps and held them up before his eyes with the fish-bone
grasped in their jaws.

"'Ha!' says he. 'Thank Gawd! What a relief! I can swallow quite well now.'
And so he could. It was a case of suggestion and counter-suggestion.
Imaginary fish-bone cured by imaginary extraction. And it made my local
reputation. Well, good-bye, old chap. I've got a visit to make here. Come
in one evening and smoke a pipe with me. You know where to find me. And
take my advice to heart. Never go to extract a fish-bone without one in
your pocket; and it isn't a bad thing to keep a dried earwig by you. I
do. People will persist in thinking they've got one in their ears. So
long. Look me up soon," and with a farewell flourish of the umbrella, he
turned to a shabby street-door and began to work the top bell-pull as if
it were the handle of an air-pump.

I went on my way, not a little amused by my friend's genial cynicism, nor
entirely uninstructed. For 'there is a soul of truth in things
erroneous,' as the philosopher reminds us; and if the precepts of Solomon
Usher did not sound the highest note of professional ethics, they were
based on a very solid foundation of worldly wisdom.

When, having finished my short round of visits, I arrived at my temporary
home, I was informed by the housemaid in a mysterious whisper that a
police officer was waiting to see me. "Name of Follett," she added. "He's
waiting in the consulting-room."

Proceeding thither, I found my friend, the Highgate inspector, standing
with one eye closed before a card of test-types that hung on the wall. We
greeted one another cordially and then, as I looked at him inquiringly,
he produced from his pocket without remark an official envelope, from
which he extracted a coin, a silver pencil-case and a button. These
objects he laid on the writing-table and silently directed my attention
to them. A little puzzled by his manner, I picked up the coin and
examined it attentively. It was a Charles the Second guinea, dated 1663,
very clean and bright and in remarkably perfect preservation. But I could
not see that it was any concern of mine.

"It is a beautiful coin," I remarked; "but what about it?"

"It doesn't belong to you, then?" he asked.

"No. I wish it did."

"Have you ever seen it before?"

"Never, to my knowledge."

"What about the pencil-case?"

I picked it up and turned it over in my fingers. "No," I said, "it is not
mine and I have no recollection of ever having seen it before."

"And the button?"

"It is apparently a waistcoat button," I said after having inspected it,
"which seems to belong to a tweed waistcoat; and judging by the
appearance of the thread and the wisp of cloth that it still holds, it
must have been pulled off with some violence. But it isn't off my
waistcoat, if that is what you want to know."

"I didn't much think it was," he replied, "but I thought it best to make
sure. And it didn't come from poor Mr. D'Arblay's waistcoat, because I
have examined that and there is no button missing. I showed these things
to Miss D'Arblay and she is sure that none of them belonged to her
father. He never used a pencil-case--artists don't, as a rule--and as to
the guinea, she knew nothing about it. If it was her father's, he must
have come by it immediately before his death; otherwise she felt sure he
would have shown it to her, seeing that they were both interested in
anything in the nature of sculpture."

"Where did you get these things?' I asked.

"From the pond in the wood," he replied. "I will tell you how I came to
find them--that is, if I am not taking up too much of your time."

"Not at all," I assured him; and even as I spoke, I thought of Solomon
Usher. He wouldn't have said that. He would have anxiously consulted his
engagement-book to see how many minutes he could spare. However,
Inspector Follett was not a patient, and I wanted to hear his story. So
having established him in the easy-chair, I sat down to listen.

"The morning after the inquest," he began, "an officer of the CID came up
to get particulars of the case and see what was to be done. Well, as soon
as I had told him all I knew and shown him our copy of the depositions,
it was pretty clear to me that he didn't think there was anything to be
done but wait for some fresh evidence. Mind you, Doctor, this is in
strict confidence."

"I understand that. But if the Criminal Investigation Department doesn't
investigate crime, what the deuce is the good of it?"

"That is hardly a fair way of putting it," he protested. "The people at
Scotland Yard have got their hands pretty full and they can't spend their
time in speculating about cases in which there is no evidence. They can't
create evidence; and you can see for yourself that there isn't the ghost
of a clue to the identity of the man who committed this murder. But they
are keeping the case in mind, and meanwhile we have got to report any new
facts that may turn up. Those were our instructions, and when I heard
them I decided to do a bit of investigating on my own, with the
superintendent's permission, of course.

"Well, I began by searching the wood thoroughly, but I got nothing out of
that excepting Mr. D'Arblay's hat, which I found in the undergrowth not
far from the main path.

"Then I thought of dragging the pond; but I decided that, as it was only
a small pond and shallow, it would be best to empty it and expose the
bottom completely. So I dammed up the little stream that feeds it and
deepened the outflow, and very soon I had it quite empty excepting a few
small puddles. And I think it was well worth the trouble. These things
don't tell us much, but they may be useful one day for identification.
And they do tell us something. They suggest that this man was a collector
of coins; and they make it fairly clear that there was a struggle in the
pond before Mr. D'Arblay fell down."

"That is, assuming that the things belonged to the murderer," I
interposed. "There is no evidence that they did."

"No, there isn't," he admitted; "but if you consider the three things
together, they suggest a very strong probability. Here is a waistcoat
button violently pulled off, and here are two things such as would be
carried in a waistcoat pocket and might fall out if the waistcoat were
dragged at violently when the wearer was stooping over a fallen man and
struggling to avoid being pulled down with him. And then there is this
coin. Its face-value is a guinea, but it must be worth a good deal more
than that. Do you suppose anybody would leave a thing of that kind in a
shallow pond from which it could be easily recovered with a common
landing-net? Why, it would have paid to have had the pond dragged or even
emptied. But, as I say, that wouldn't have been necessary."

"I am inclined to think you are right. Inspector," said I, rather
impressed by the way in which he had reasoned the matter out; "but even
so, it doesn't seem to me that we are much more forward. The things don't
point to any particular person."

"Not at present," he rejoined. "But a fact is a fact and you can never
tell in advance what you may get out of it. If we should get a hint of
any other kind pointing to some particular person, these things might
furnish invaluable evidence connecting that person with the crime. They
may even give a clue now to the people at the CID, though that isn't very

"Then you are going to hand them over to the Scotland Yard people?"

"Certainly. The CID are the lions, you know. I'm only a jackal."

I was rather sorry to hear this, for the idea had floated into my mind
that I should have liked Thorndyke to see these waifs, which, could they
have spoken, would have had much to tell. To me they conveyed nothing
that threw any light on the ghastly events of that night of horror. But
to my teacher, with his vast experience and his wonderful power of
analysing evidence, they might convey some quite important significance.

I reflected rapidly on the matter. It would not be wise to say anything
to the inspector about Thorndyke, and it was quite certain that a loan of
the articles would not be entertained. Probably a description of them
would be enough for the purpose; but still I had a feeling that an
inspection of them would be better. Suddenly I had a bright idea and
proceeded cautiously to broach it.

"I should rather like to have a record of these things," said I,
"particularly of the coin. Would you object to my taking an impression of
it in sealing-wax?"

Inspector Follett looked doubtful. "It would be a bit irregular," he
said. "It is a bit irregular for me to have shown it to you, but you are
interested in the case, and you are a responsible person. What did you
want the impression for?"

"Well," I said, "we don't know much about that coin. I thought I might be
able to pick up some further information. Of course, I understand hat
what you have told me is strictly confidential. I shouldn't go showing
the thing about, or talking. But I should like to have the impression to
refer to, if necessary."

"Very well," said he. "On that understanding, I have no objection. But
see that you don't leave any wax on the coin, or the CID people will be
asking questions."

With this permission, I set about the business gleefully, determined to
get as good an impression as possible. From the surgery I fetched an
ointment slab, a spirit-lamp, a stick of sealing-wax, a tea-spoon, some
powder-papers, a bowl of water and a jar of vaseline. Laying a paper on
the slab, I put the coin on it and traced its outline with a pencil. Then
I broke off a piece of sealing-wax, melted it in the tea-spoon and poured
it out carefully into the marked circle so that it formed a round, convex
button of the right size. While the wax was cooling to the proper
consistency, I smeared the coin with vaseline and wiped the excess off
with my handkerchief. Then I carefully laid it on the stiffening wax and
made steady pressure. After a few moments, I cautiously lifted the paper
and dropped it into the water, leaving it to cool completely. When,
finally, I turned it over under water, the coin dropped away by its own

"It is a beautiful impression," the inspector remarked, as he examined it
with the aid of my pocket-lens, while I prepared to operate on the
reverse of the coin. "As good as the original. You seem rather a dab at
this sort of thing, Doctor. I wonder if you would mind doing another pair
for me?"

Of course, I complied gladly; and when the inspector departed a few
minutes later he took with him a couple of excellent wax impressions to
console him for the necessity of parting with the original.

As soon as he was gone, I proceeded to execute a plan that had already
formed in my mind. First, I packed the two wax impressions very carefully
in lint and bestowed them in a tin tobacco--box, which I made up into a
neat parcel and addressed it to Dr. Thorndyke. Then I wrote him a short
letter giving him the substance of my talk with Inspector Follett and
asking for an appointment early in the following week to discuss the
situation with him. I did not suppose that the wax impressions would
convey, even to him, anything that would throw fresh light on this
extraordinarily obscure crime. But one never knew. And the mere finding
of the coin might suggest to him some significance that I had overlooked.
In any case, the new incident gave me an excuse for reopening the matter
with him.

I did not trust the precious missive to the maid, but as soon as the
letter was written I took it and the parcel in my own hands to the post,
dropping the letter into the box but giving the parcel the added security
of registration. This business being thus dispatched, my mind was free to
occupy itself with pleasurable anticipations of the projected visit to
Highgate on the morrow and to deal with whatever exigencies might arise
in the course of the Saturday-evening consultations.


Most of us have, I imagine, been conscious at times of certain misgivings
as to whether the Progress of which we hear so much has done for us all
that it is assumed to have done, whether the undoubted gain of advancing
knowledge has not a somewhat heavy counterpoise of loss. We moderns are
accustomed to look upon a world filled with objects that would have made
our forefathers gasp with admiring astonishment, and we are accordingly a
little puffed up by our superiority. But the museums and galleries and
ancient buildings sometimes tell a different tale. By them we are made
aware that the same 'rude forefathers' were endowed with certain powers
and aptitudes that seem to be denied to the present generation.

Some such reflections as these passed through my mind as I sauntered
about the ancient village of Highgate, having arrived in the
neighbourhood nearly an hour too early. Very delightful the old village
was to look upon, and so it had been even when the mellow red brick was
new and the plaster on the timber houses was but freshly laid; when the
great elms were saplings and the stage-wagon with its procession of
horses rumbled along the road which now resounds to the thunder of the
electric tram. It was not Time that had made beautiful its charming old
houses and pleasant streets and closes, but fine workmanship guided by
unerring taste.

At four o'clock precisely, by the chime of the church dock, I pushed open
the gate of Ivy Cottage, and as I walked up the flagged path, read the
date, 1709, on a stone tablet let into the brickwork. I had no occasion
to knock, for my approach had been observed, and as I mounted the
threshold the door opened and Miss D'Arblay stood in the opening.

"Miss Boler saw you coming up the Grove," she explained, as we shook
hands. "It is surprising how much of the outer world you can see from a
bay window. It is as good as a watch-tower." She disposed of my hat and
stick and then preceded me into the room to which the window appertained,
where, beside a bright fire. Miss Boler was at the moment occupied with a
brilliantly-burnished copper kettle and a silver teapot. She greeted me
with an affable smile and as much of a bow as was possible under the
circumstances, and then proceeded to make the tea with an expression of
deep concentration.

"I do like punctual people," she remarked, placing the teapot on a carved
wooden stand. "You know where you are with them. At the very moment when
you turned the corner, sir, Miss Marion finished buttering the last
muffin and the kettle boiled over. So you won't have to wait a moment."

Miss D'Arblay laughed softly. "You speak as if Dr. Gray had staggered
into the house in a famished condition, roaring for food," said she.

"Well," retorted Miss Boler, "you said 'tea at four o'clock,' and at four
o'clock the tea was ready and Dr. Gray was here. If he hadn't been, he
would have had to eat leathery muffins, that's all."

"Horrible!" exclaimed Miss D'Arblay. "One doesn't like to think of it;
and there is no need to as it hasn't happened. Remember that this is a
gate-legged table, Dr. Gray, when you sit down. They are delightfully
picturesque, but exceedingly bad for the knees of the unwary."

I thanked her for the warning and took my seat with due caution. Then
Miss Boler poured out the tea and uncovered the muffins with the grave
and attentive air of one performing some ceremonial rite.

As the homely, simple meal proceeded, to an accompaniment of desultory
conversation on everyday topics, I found myself looking at the two women
with a certain ill-defined surprise. Both were garbed in unobtrusive
black, and both, in moments of repose, looked somewhat tired and worn.
But in their manner and the subjects of their conversation they were
astonishingly ordinary and normal. No stranger, looking at them and
listening to their talk, would have dreamed of the tragedy that
overshadowed their lives. But so it constantly happens. We go into a
house of mourning and are almost scandalized by its cheerfulness,
forgetting that whereas to us the bereavement is the one salient fact, to
the bereaved there is the necessity of taking up afresh the threads of
their lives. Food must be prepared even while the corpse lies under the
roof, and the common daily round of duty stands still for no human

But, as I have said, in the pauses of the conversation when their faces
were in repose, both women looked strained and tired. Especially was this
so in the case of Miss D'Arblay. She was not only pale, but she had a
nervous, shaken manner which I did not like. And as I looked anxiously at
the delicate, pallid face, I noticed, not for the first time, several
linear scratches on the cheek and a small cut on the temple.

"What have you been doing to yourself?" I asked. "You look as if you have
had a fall."

"She has," said Miss Boler in an indignant tone. "It is a marvel that she
is here to tell the tale. The wretches!"

I looked at Miss D'Arblay in consternation. "What wretches?" I asked.

"Ah! indeed!" growled Miss Boler. "I wish I knew. Tell him about it. Miss

"It was really rather a terrifying experience," said Miss D'Arblay, "and
most mysterious. You know Southwood Lane and the long, steep hill at the
bottom of it?" I nodded, and she continued: "I have been going down to
the studio every day on my bicycle, just to tidy up, and of course I went
by Southwood Lane. It is really the only way. But I always put on the
brake at the top of the hill and go down quite slowly because of the
cross--roads at the bottom. Well, three days ago I started as usual and
ran down the Lane pretty fast until I got on the hill. Then I put on the
brake; and I could feel at once that it wasn't working."

"Has your bicycle only one brake?" I asked.

"It had. I am having a second one fixed now. Well, when I found that the
brake wasn't acting, I was terrified. I was already going too fast to
jump off, and the speed increased every moment. I simply flew down the
hill, faster and faster, with the wind whistling about my ears and the
trees and houses whirling past like express trains. Of course, I could do
nothing but steer straight down the hill; but at the bottom there was the
Archway Road with the trams and buses and wagons. I knew that if a tram
crossed the bottom of the Lane as I reached the road, it was practically
certain death. I was horribly frightened.

"However, mercifully the Archway Road was clear when I flew across it,
and I steered to run on down Muswell Hill Road, which is nearly in a line
with the Lane. But suddenly I saw a steam roller and a heavy cart, side
by side and taking up the whole of the road. There was no room to pass.
The only possible thing was to swerve round, if I could, into Wood Lane.
And I just managed it. But Wood Lane is pretty steep, and I flew down it
faster than ever. That nearly broke down my nerve; for at the bottom of
the Lane is the wood--the horrible wood that I can never even think of
without a shudder. And there I seemed to be rushing towards it to my

She paused and drew a deep breath, and her hand shook so that the cup
which it held rattled on the saucer.

"Well," she continued, "down the Lane I flew with my heart in my mouth
and the entrance to the wood rushing to meet me. I could see that the
opening in the hurdles was just wide enough for me to pass through, and I
steered for it. I whizzed through into the wood and the bicycle went
bounding down the steep, rough path at a fearful pace until it came to a
sharp turn; and then I don't quite know what happened. There was a crash
of snapping branches and a violent shock, but I must have been partly
stunned, for the next thing that I remember is opening my eyes and
looking stupidly at a lady who was stooping over me. She had seen me fly
down the Lane and had followed me into the wood to see what happened to
me. She lived in the Lane and she very kindly took me to her house and
cared for me until I was quite recovered; and then she saw me home and
wheeled the bicycle."

"It is a wonder you were not killed outright!" I exclaimed.

"Yes," she agreed, "it was a narrow escape. But the odd thing is that,
with the exception of these scratches and a few slight bruises, I was not
hurt at all; only very much shaken. And the bicycle was not damaged a

"By the way," said I, "what had happened to the brake?"

"Ah!" exclaimed Miss Boler. "There you are. The villains!"

Miss D'Arblay laughed softly. "Ferocious Arabella!" said she. "But it is
really a most mysterious affair: Naturally, I thought that the wire of
the brake had snapped. But it hadn't. It had been cut."

"Are you quite sure of that?" I asked.

"Oh, there is no doubt at all," she replied. "The man at the repair shop
showed it to me. It wasn't merely cut in one place. A length of it had
been cut right out. And I can tell within a few minutes when it was done;
for I had been riding the machine in the morning and I know the brake was
all right then. But I left it for a few minutes outside the gate while I
went into the house to change my shoes, and when I came out, I started on
my adventurous journey. In those few minutes someone must have come along
and just snipped the wire through in two places and taken away the

"Scoundrel!" muttered Miss Boler; and I agreed with her most cordially.

"It was an infamous thing to do," I exclaimed, "and the act of an abject
fool. I suppose you have no idea or suspicion as to who the idiot might

"Not the slightest," Miss D'Arblay replied. "I can't even guess at the
kind of person who would do such a thing. Boys are sometimes very
mischievous, but this is hardly like a boy's mischief."

"No," I agreed; "it is more like the mischief of a mentally defective
adult; the sort of half-baked larrikin who sets fire to a rick if he gets
the chance."

Miss Boler sniffed. "Looks to me more like deliberate malice," said she.

"Mischievous acts usually do," I rejoined; "but yet they are mostly the
outcome of stupidity that is indifferent to consequences."

"And it is of no use arguing about it," said Miss D'Arblay, "because we
don't know who did it or why he did it, and we have no means of finding
out. But I shall have two brakes in future and I shall test them both
every time I take the machine out."

"I hope you will," said Miss Boler; and this closed the topic so far as
conversation went, though I suspect that, in the interval of silence that
followed, we all continued to pursue it in our thoughts. And to all of
us, doubtless, the mention of Churchyard Bottom Wood had awakened
memories of that fatal morning when the pool gave up its dead. No
reference to the tragedy had yet been made, but it was inevitable that
the thoughts which were at the back of all our minds should sooner or
later come to the surface. They were in fact brought there by me, though
unintentionally; for, as I sat at the table, my eyes had strayed more
than once to a bust--or rather a head, for there were no shoulders--which
occupied the centre of the mantelpiece. It was apparently of lead and was
a portrait, and a very good one, of Miss D'Arblay's father. At the first
glance I had recognized the face which I had first seen through the water
of the pool. Miss D'Arblay, who was sitting facing it, caught my glance
and said: "You are looking at that head of my dear father. I suppose you
recognized it?"

"Yes, instantly. I should take it to be an excellent likeness."

"It is," she replied; "and that is something of an achievement in a
self-portrait in the round."

"Then he modelled it himself?"

"Yes, with the aid of one or two photographs and a couple of mirrors. I
helped him by taking the dimensions with callipers and drawing out a
scale. Then he made a wax cast and a fireproof mould and we cast it
together in type-metal, as we had no means of melting bronze. Poor Daddy!
How proud he was when we broke away the mould and found the casting quite

She sighed as she gazed fondly on the beloved features, and her eyes
filled. Then, after a brief silence, she turned to me and asked:

"Did Inspector Follett call on you? He said he was going to."

"Yes; he called yesterday to show me the things that he had found in the
pond. Of course they were not mine, and he seemed to have no doubt--and I
think he is right--that they belonged to the--to the--"

"Murderer," said Miss Boler.

"Yes. He seemed to think that they might furnish some kind of clue, but I
am afraid he had nothing very clear in his mind. I suppose that coin
suggested nothing to you?"

Miss D'Arblay shook her head. "Nothing," she replied. "As it is an
ancient coin, the man may be a collector or a dealer--"

"Or a forger," interposed Miss Boler.

"Or a forger. But no such person is known to us. And even that is mere

"Your father was not interested in coins, then?"

"As a sculptor, yes, and more especially in medals and plaquettes. But
not as a collector. He had no desire to possess; only to create. And so
far as I know, he was not acquainted with any collectors. So this
discovery of the inspector's, so far from solving the mystery, only adds
a fresh problem."

She reflected for a few moments with knitted brows; then, turning to me
quickly, she asked: "Did the inspector take you into his confidence at
all? He was very reticent with me, though most kind and sympathetic. But
do you think that he, or the others, are taking any active measures?"

"My impression," I answered reluctantly, "is that the police are not in a
position to do anything. The truth is that this villain seems to have got
away without leaving a trace."

"That is what I feared," she sighed. Then with sudden passion, though in
a quiet, suppressed voice, she exclaimed: "But he must not escape! It
would be too hideous an injustice. Nothing can bring back my dear father
from the grave; but if there is a God of Justice, this murderous wretch
must be called to account and made to pay the penalty of his crime."

"He must," Miss Boler assented in deep, ominous tones, "and he shall;
though God knows how it is to be done."

"For the present," said I, "there is nothing to be done but to wait and
see if the police are able to obtain any fresh information; and meanwhile
to turn over every circumstance that you can think of; to recall the way
your father spent his time, the people he knew and the possibility in
each case that some cause of enmity may have arisen."

"That is what I have done," said Miss D'Arblay. "Every night I lie awake,
thinking, thinking; but nothing comes of it. The thing is
incomprehensible. This man must have been a deadly enemy of my father's.
He must have hated him with the most intense hatred; or he must have had
some strong reason, other than mere hatred, for making away with him. But
I cannot imagine any person hating my father and I certainly have no
knowledge of any such person; nor can I conceive of any reason that any
human creature could have had for wishing for my father's death. I cannot
begin to understand the meaning of what has happened."

"But yet," said I, "there must be a meaning. This man--unless he was a
lunatic, which he apparently was not--must have had a motive for
committing the murder. That motive must have had some background, some
connexion with circumstances of which somebody has knowledge. Sooner or
later those circumstances will almost certainly come to light and then
the motive for the murder will come into view. But, once the motive is
known, it should not be difficult to discover who could be influenced by
such a motive. Let us, for the present, be patient and see how events
shape; but let us also keep a constant watch for any glimmer of light,
for any fact that may bear on either the motive or the person."

The two women looked at me earnestly and with an expression of respectful
confidence of which I knew myself to be wholly undeserving.

"It gives me new courage," said Miss D'Arblay, "to hear you speak in that
reasonable, confident tone. I was in despair, but I feel that you are
right. There must be some explanation of this awful thing; and if there
is, it must be possible to discover it. But we ought not to put the
burden of our troubles on you, though you have been so kind."

"You have done me the honour," said I, "to allow me to consider myself
your friend. Surely friends should help to bear one another's burdens."

"Yes," she replied, "in reason; and you have given most generous help
already. But we must not put too much on you. When my father was alive,
he was my great interest and chief concern. Now that he is gone, the
great purpose of my life is to find the wretch who murdered him and to
see that justice is done. That is all that seems to matter to me. But it
is my own affair. I ought not to involve my friends in it."

"I can't admit that." said I. "The foundation of friendship is sympathy
and service. If I am your friend, then what matters to you matters to me;
and I may say that in the very moment when I first knew that your father
had been murdered, I made the resolve to devote myself to the discovery
and punishment of his murderer by any means that lay in my power. So you
must count me as your ally as well as your friend."

As I made this declaration--to an accompaniment of approving growls from
Miss Boler--Marion D'Arblay gave me one quick glance and then looked
down, and once more her eyes filled. For a few moments she made no reply,
and when, at length, she spoke, her voice trembled.

"You leave me nothing to say," she murmured, "but to thank you from my
heart. But you little know what it means to us, who felt so helpless, to
know that we have a friend so much wiser and stronger than ourselves."

I was a little abashed, knowing my own weakness and helplessness, to find
her putting so much reliance on me. However, there was Thorndyke in the
background, and now I was resolved that, if the thing was in any way to
be compassed, his help must be secured without delay.

A longish pause followed; and as it seemed to me that there was nothing
more to say on this subject until I had seen Thorndyke, I ventured to
open a fresh topic.

"What will happen to your father's practice?" I asked. "Will you be able
to get anyone to carry it on for you?"

"I am glad you asked that," said Miss D'Arblay, "because, now that you
are our counsellor, we can take your opinion. I have already talked the
matter over with Arabella--with Miss Boler."

"There's no need to stand on ceremony," the latter lady interposed.
"Arabella is good enough for me."

"Arabella is good enough for anyone," said Miss D'Arblay. "Well, the
position is this. The part of my father's practice that was concerned
with original work--pottery figures and reliefs and models for
goldsmith's work--will have to go. No one but a sculptor of his own class
could carry that on. But the wax figures for the shop-windows are
different. When he first started, he used to model the heads and limbs in
clay and make plaster casts from which to make the gelatine moulds for
the waxwork. But as time went on, these casts accumulated and he very
seldom had need to model fresh beads or limbs. The old casts could be
used over and over again. Now there is a large collection of plaster
models in the studio-heads, arms, legs and faces, especially faces--and as
I have a fair knowledge of the waxwork, from watching my father and
sometimes helping him, it seemed that I might be able to carry on that
part of the practice."

"You think you could make the wax figures yourself?" I asked.

"Of course she could," exclaimed Miss Boler. "She's her father's
daughter. Julius D'Arblay was a man who could do anything he turned his
hand to and do it well. And Miss Marion is just like him. She is quite a
good modeller--so her father said; and she wouldn't have to make the
figures. Only the wax parts."

"Then they are not wax all over?" said I.

"No," answered Miss D'Arblay. "They are just dummies; wooden frameworks
covered with stuffed canvas, with wax heads, busts and arms and shaped
legs. That was just what poor Daddy used to hate about them. He would
have liked to model complete figures."

"And as to the business side. Could you dispose of them?"

"Yes, if I could do them satisfactorily. The agent who dealt with my
father's work has already written to me asking if I could carry on. I
know he will help me so far as he can. He was quite fond of my father."

"And you have nothing else in view?"

"Nothing by which I could earn a real living. For the last year or two I
have worked at writing and illuminating--addresses, testimonials and
church services when I could get them--and filled in the time writing
special window-tickets. But that isn't very remunerative, whereas the wax
figures would yield quite a good living. And then," she added, after a
pause, "I have the feeling that Daddy would have liked me to carry on his
work, and I should like it myself. He taught me quite a lot and I think
he meant me to join him when he got old."

As she had evidently made up her mind, and as her decision seemed quite a
wise one, I concurred with as much enthusiasm as I could muster.

"I am glad you agree," said she, "and I know Arabella does. So that is
settled, subject to my being able to carry out the plan. And now, if we
have finished, I should like to show you some of my father's works. The
house is full of them and so, even, is the garden. Perhaps we had better
go there first before the light fails."

As the treasures of this singularly interesting home were presented, one
after another, for my inspection, I began to realize the truth of Miss
Boler's statement. Julius D'Arblay had been a remarkably versatile man.
He had worked in all sorts of mediums and in all equally well. From the
carved stone sundial and the leaden garden figures to the clock-case
decorated with gilded gesso and enriched with delicate bronze plaquettes,
all his works were eloquent of masterly skill and a fresh, graceful
fancy. It seems to me little short of a tragedy that an artist of his
ability should have spent the greater part of his time in fabricating
those absurd, posturing effigies that simper and smirk so grotesquely in
the enormous windows of Vanity Fair.

I had intended, in compliance with the polite conventions, to make this,
my first visit, a rather short one; but a tentative movement to depart
only elicited protests and I was easily persuaded to stay until the
exigencies of Dr. Cornish's practice seemed to call me. When at last I
shut the gate of Ivy Cottage behind me and glanced back at the two
figures standing in the lighted doorway, I had the feeling of turning
away from a house with which, and its inmates, I had been familiar for

On my arrival at Mecklenburgh Square I found a note which had been left
by hand earlier in the evening. It was from Dr. Thorndyke, asking me, if
possible, to lunch with him at his chambers on the morrow. I looked over
my visiting-list, and finding that Monday would be a light day--most of
my days here were light days--I wrote a short letter accepting the
invitation and posted it forthwith.


"I am glad you were able to come," said Thorndyke, as we took our places
at the table. "Your letter was a shade ambiguous. You spoke of discussing
the D'Arblay case, but I think you had something more than discussion in
your mind."

"You are quite right," I replied. "I had it in my mind to ask if it would
be possible for me to retain you--I believe that is the correct
expression--to investigate the case, as the police seem to think there is
nothing to go on; and if the costs would be likely to be within my

"As to the costs," said he, "we can dismiss them. I see no reason to
suppose that there would be any costs."

"But your time, sir--" I began.

He laughed derisively. "Do you propose to pay me for indulging in my pet
hobby? No, my dear fellow, it is I who should pay you for bringing a most
interesting and intriguing case to my notice. So your questions are
answered. I shall be delighted to look into this case, and there will be
no costs unless we have to pay for some special services. If we do, I
will let you know."

I was about to utter a protest, but he continued:

"And now, having disposed of the preliminaries, let us consider the case
itself, Your very shrewd and capable inspector believes that the Scotland
Yard people will take no active measures unless some new facts turn up. I
have no doubt he is right, and I think they are right, too. They can't
spend a lot of time--which means public money--on a case in which hardly
any data are available and which holds out no promise of any result. But
we mustn't forget that we are in the same boat. Our chances of success
are infinitesimal. This investigation is a forlorn hope. That, I may say,
is what commends it to me; but I want you to understand clearly that
failure is what we have to expect."

"I understand that," I answered gloomily, but nevertheless rather
disappointed at this pessimistic view. "There seems to be nothing
whatever to go upon."

"Oh, it isn't so bad as that," he rejoined. "Let us just run over the
data that we have. Our object is to fix the identity of the man who
killed Julius D'Arblay. Let us see what we know about him. We will begin
with the evidence at the inquest. From that we learned: One. That he is a
man of some education, ingenious, subtle, resourceful. This murder was
planned with extraordinary ingenuity and foresight. The body was found in
the pond with no tell-tale mark on it but an almost invisible pin-prick
in the back. The chances were a thousand to one, or more, against that
tiny puncture ever being observed; and if it had not been observed, the
verdict would have been 'found drowned' or 'found dead' and the fact of
the murder would never have been discovered.

"Two. We also learned that he has some knowledge of poisons. The common,
vulgar poisoner is reduced to flypapers, weed-killer or
rat-poison--arsenic or strychnine. But this man selects the most suitable
of all poisons for his purpose and administers it in the most effective
manner--with a hypodermic syringe.

"Three. We learned further that he must have had some extraordinarily
strong reason for making away with D'Arblay. He made most elaborate
plans, he took endless trouble--for instance, it must have been no easy
matter to get possession of that quantity of aconitine (unless he were a
doctor, which God forbid!). That strong reason--the motive, in fact--is
the key of the problem. It is the murderer's one vulnerable point, for it
can hardly be beyond discovery; and its discovery must be our principal

I nodded, not without some self-congratulation as I recalled how I had
made this very point in my talk with Miss D'Arblay.

"Those," Thorndyke continued, "are the data that the inquest furnished.
Now we come to those added by Inspector Follett."

"I don't see that they help us at all," said I. "The ancient coin was a
curious find, but it doesn't appear to tell us anything new excepting
that this man may have been a collector or a dealer. On the other hand,
he may not. It doesn't seem to me that the coin has any significance."

"Doesn't it really?" said Thorndyke, as he refilled my glass. "You are
surely overlooking the very curious coincidence that it presents?"

"What coincidence is that?" I asked, in some surprise.

"The coincidence," he replied, "that both the murderer and the victim
should be, to a certain extent, connected with a particular form of
activity. Here is a man who commits a murder and who at the time of
committing it appears to have been in possession of a coin, which is not
a current coin but a collector's piece; and behold! the murdered man is a
sculptor--a man who, presumably, was capable of making a coin, or at
least the working model."

"There is no evidence," I objected, "that D'Arblay was capable of cutting
a die. He was not a die-sinker."

"There was no need for him to be," Thorndyke rejoined. "Formerly, the
medallist who designed the coin cut the die himself. But that is not the
modern practice. Nowadays, the designer makes the model, first in wax and
then in plaster, on a comparatively large scale. The model of a shilling
may be three inches or more in diameter. The actual die-sinking is done
by a copying machine which produces a die of the required size by
mechanical reduction. I think there can be no doubt that D'Arblay could
have modelled the design for a coin on the usual scale, say three or four
inches in diameter."

"Yes," I agreed, "he certainly could, for I have seen some of his small
relief work, some little plaquettes, not more than two inches long and
most delicately and beautifully modelled. But still I don't see the
connexion, otherwise than as a rather odd coincidence."

"There may be nothing more," said he. "There may be nothing in it at all.
But odd coincidences should always be noted with very special attention."

"Yes, I realize that. But I can't imagine what significance there could
be in the coincidence."

"Well," said Thorndyke, "let us take an imaginary case, just as an
illustration. Suppose this man to have been a fraudulent dealer in
antiquities, and suppose him to have obtained enlarged photographs of a
medal or coin of extreme rarity and of great value, which was in some
museum or private collection. Suppose him to have taken the photographs
to D'Arblay and commissioned him to model from them a pair of exact
replicas in hardened plaster. From those plaster models he could, with a
copying machine, produce a pair of dies with which he could strike
replicas in the proper metal and of the exact size; and these could be
sold for large sums to judiciously-chosen collectors."

"I don't believe D'Arblay would have accepted such a commission," I
exclaimed indignantly.

"We may assume that he would not, if the fraudulent intent had been known
to him. But it would not have been, and there is no reason why he should
have refused a commission merely to make a copy. Still, I am not
suggesting that anything of the kind really happened. I am simply giving
you an illustration of one of the innumerable ways in which a perfectly
honest sculptor might be made use of by a fraudulent dealer. In that
case, his honesty would be a source of danger to him, for if a really
great fraud were perpetrated by means of his work, it would clearly be to
the interest of the perpetrator to get rid of him. An honest and
unconscious collaborator in a crime is apt to be a dangerous witness if
questions arise."

I was a good deal impressed by this demonstration. Here, it seemed to me,
was something very like a tangible clue. But at this point Thorndyke
again applied a cold douche.

"Still," he said, "we are only dealing with generalities, and rather
speculative ones. Our assumptions are subject to all sorts of
qualifications. It is possible, for instance, though very improbable,
that D'Arblay may have been murdered in error by a perfect stranger; that
he may have walked into an ambush prepared for someone else. Again, the
coin may not have belonged to the murderer at all, though that is also
most improbable. But there are numerous possibilities of error; and we
can eliminate them only by following up each suggested clue and seeking
verification or disproof. Every new fact that we learn is a multiple
gain. For as money makes money, so knowledge begets knowledge."

"That is very true," I answered dejectedly--for it sounded rather like a
platitude; "but I don't see any means of following up any of these

"We are going to follow up one of them after lunch, if you have time,"
said he. As he spoke, he took from the table-drawer a paper packet and a
jeweller's leather case. "This," he said, handing me the packet,
"contains your sealing-wax moulds. You had better take care of them and
keep the box with the marked side up to prevent the wax from warping.
Here are a pair of casts in hardened plaster-'fictile ivory' as it is
called--which my assistant, Polton, has made."

He opened the case and passed it to me, when I saw that it was lined with
purple velvet and contained what looked like two old ivory replicas of
the mysterious coin.

"Mr. Polton is quite an artist," I said, regarding them admiringly. "But
what are you going to do with these?"

"I had intended to take them round to the British Museum and show them to
the Keeper of the Coins and Medals, or one of his colleagues. But I think
I will just ask a few questions and hear what he says before I produce
the casts. Have you time to come round with me?"

"I shall make time. But what do you want to know about the coin?"

"It is just a matter of verification," he replied. "My books on the
British coinage describe the Charles the Second guinea as having a tiny
elephant under the bust on the obverse, to show that the gold from which
it was minted came from the Guinea Coast."

"Yes," said I. "Well, there is a little elephant under the bust in this

"True," he replied. "But this elephant has a castle on his back and would
ordinarily be described as an elephant and castle, to distinguish him
from the plain elephant which appeared on some coins. What I want to
ascertain is whether there were two different types of guinea. The books
make no mention of a second variety."

"Surely they would have referred to it if there had been," said I.

"So I thought," he replied; "but it is better to make sure than to

"I suppose it is," I agreed without much conviction, "though I don't see
that, even if there were two varieties, that fact would have any bearing
on what we want to know."

"Neither do I," he admitted. "But then you can never tell what a fact
will prove until you are in possession of the fact. And now, as we seem
to have finished, perhaps we had better make our way to the Museum."

The Department of Coins and Medals is associated in my mind with an
impassive-looking Chinese person in bronze who presides over the upper
landing of the main staircase. In fact, we halted for a moment before him
to exchange a final word.

"It will probably be best," said Thorndyke, "to say nothing about this
coin, or, indeed, about anything else. We don't want to enter into any

"No," I agreed. "It is best to keep one's own counsel," and with this we
entered the hall, where Thorndyke led the way to a small door and pressed
the electric bell-push. An attendant admitted us, and when we had signed
our names in the visitors' book, he ushered us into the keeper's room. As
we entered, a keen-faced, middle-aged man who was seated at a table
inspected us over his spectacles, and apparently recognizing Thorndyke,
rose and held out his hand.

"Quite a long time since I have seen you," he remarked after the
preliminary greetings. "I wonder what your quest is this time."

"It is a very simple one," said Thorndyke. "I am going to ask you if you
can let me look at a Charles the Second guinea dated 1663."

"Certainly I can," was the reply, accompanied by an inquisitive glance at
my friend. "It is not a rarity, you know."

He crossed the room to a large cabinet, and having run his eye over the
multitudinous labels, drew out a small, very shallow drawer. With this in
his hand, he returned, and picking a coin out of its circular pit, held
it out to Thorndyke, who took it from him, holding it delicately by the
edges. He looked at it attentively for a few moments, and then silently
presented the obverse for my inspection. Naturally my eye at once sought
the little elephant under the bust, and there it was, but there was no
castle on its back.

"Is this the only type of guinea issued at that date?" Thorndyke asked.

"The only type--with or without the elephant, according to the source of
the gold."

"There was no variation or alternative form?"


"I notice that this coin has a plain elephant under the bust; but I seem
to have heard of a guinea, bearing this date, which had an elephant and
castle under the bust. You are sure there was no such guinea?"

Our official friend shook his head as he took the coin from Thorndyke and
replaced it in its cell. "As sure," he replied, "as one can be of a
universal negative." He picked up the drawer and was just moving away
towards the cabinet when there came a sudden change in his manner.

"Wait!" he exclaimed, stopping and putting down the drawer. "You are
quite right. Only it was not an issue; it was a trial piece, and only a
single coin was struck. I will tell you about it. There is a rather
curious story hanging to that piece.

"This guinea, as you probably know, was struck from dies cut by John
Roettier and was one of the first coined by the mill-and-screw process in
place of the old hammer-and-pile method. Now, when Roettier had finished
the dies, a trial piece was struck; and in striking that piece, the
obverse die cracked right across, but apparently only at the last turn of
the screw, for the trial piece was quite perfect. Of course Roettier had
to cut a new die; and for some reason he made a slight alteration. The
first die had an elephant and castle under the bust. In the second one he
changed this to a plain elephant. So your impression was, so far,
correct; but the coin, if it still exists, is absolutely unique."

"Is it not known, then, what became of that trial piece?"

"Oh, yes--up to a point. That is the queerest part of the story. For a
time it remained in the possession of the Slingsby family--Slingsby was
the Master of the Mint when it was struck. Then it passed through the
hands of various collectors and finally was bought by an American
collector named Van Zellen. Now, Van Zellen was a millionaire and his
collection was a typical millionaire's collection. It consisted entirely
of things of enormous value which no ordinary man could afford or of
unique things of which nobody could possibly have a duplicate. It seems
that he was a rather solitary man and that he spent most of his evenings
alone in his museum, gloating over his possessions.

"One morning Van Zellen was found dead in the little study attached to
the museum. That was about eighteen months ago. There was an empty
champagne bottle on the table and a half-emptied glass, which smelt of
bitter almonds, and in his pocket was an empty phial labelled Hydrocyanic
Acid. At first it was assumed that he had committed suicide; but when,
later, the collection was examined, it was found that a considerable part
of it was missing. A clean sweep had been made of the gems, jewels and
other portable objects of value, and, among other things, this unique
trial guinea had vanished. Surely you remember the case?"

"Yes," replied Thorndyke. "I do, now you mention it; but I never heard
what was stolen. Do you happen to know what the later developments were?"

"There were none. The identity of the murderer was never discovered, and
not a single item of the stolen property has ever been traced. To this
day the crime remains an impenetrable mystery--unless you know something
about it?"; and again our friend cast an inquisitive glance at Thorndyke.

"My practice," the latter, plied, "does not extend to the United States.
Their own very efficient investigators seem to be able to do all that is
necessary. But I am very much obliged to you for having given us so much
of your time, to say nothing of this extremely interesting information. I
shall make a note of it; for American crime occasionally has its
repercussions on this side."

I secretly admired the adroit way in which Thorndyke had evaded the
rather pointed question without making any actual misstatement. But the
motive for the evasion was not very obvious to me. I was about to put a
question on the subject, but he anticipated it, for, as soon as we were
outside, he remarked with a chuckle: "It is just as well that we didn't
begin by exhibiting the casts. We could hardly have sworn our friend to
secrecy, seeing that the original is undoubtedly stolen property."

"But aren't you going to draw the attention of the police to the fact?"

"I think not," he replied. "They have got the original, and no doubt they
have a list of the stolen property. We must assume that they will make
use of their knowledge; but if they don't, it may be all the better for
us. The police are very discreet; but they do sometimes give the Press
more information than I should. And what is told to the Press is told to
the criminal."

"And why not?" I asked. "What is the harm of his knowing?"

"My dear Gray!" exclaimed Thorndyke. "You surprise me. Just consider the
position. This man aimed at being entirely unsuspected. That failed. But
still his identity is unknown, and he is probably confident that it will
never be ascertained. Then he is, so far, off his guard. There is no need
for him to disappear or go into hiding. But let him know that he is being
tracked and he will almost certainly take fresh precautions against
discovery. Probably he will slip away beyond our reach. Our aim must be
to encourage him in a feeling of perfect security; and that aim commits
us to the strictest secrecy. No one must know what cards we hold or that
we hold any; or even that we are taking a hand."

"What about Miss D'Arblay?" I asked anxiously. "May I not tell her that
you are working on her behalf?"

He looked at me somewhat dubiously. "It would obviously be better not
to," he said, "but that might seem a little unfriendly and

"It would be an immense relief to her to know that you are trying to help
her, and I think you could trust her to keep your secrets."

"Very well," he conceded. "But warn her very thoroughly. Remember that
our antagonist is hidden from us. Let us remain hidden from him, so far
as our activities are concerned."

"I will make her promise absolute secrecy," I agreed; and then, with a
slight sense of anti-climax, I added: "But we don't seem to have so very
much to conceal. This curious story of the stolen coin is interesting,
but it doesn't appear to get us any more forward."

"Doesn't it?" he asked. "Now, I was just congratulating myself on the
progress that we had made; on the way in which we are narrowing down the
field of inquiry. Let us trace our progress. When you found the body,
there was no evidence as to the cause of death, no suspicion of any agent
whatever. Then came the inquest demonstrating the cause of death and
bringing into view a person of unknown identity but having certain
distinguishing characteristics. Then Follett's discovery added some
further characteristics and suggested certain possible motives for the
crime. But still there was no hint as to the person's identity or
position in life. Now we have good evidence that he is a professional
criminal of a dangerous type, that he is connected with another crime and
with a quantity of easily-identified stolen property. We also know that
he was in America about eighteen months ago, and we can easily get exact
information as to dates and locality. This man is no longer a mere
formless shadow. He is in a definite category of possible persons."

"But," I objected, "the fact that he had the coin in his possession does
not prove that he is the man who stole it."

"Not by itself," Thorndyke agreed. "But taken in conjunction with the
crime, it is almost conclusive. You appear to be overlooking the striking
similarity of the two crimes. Each was a violent murder committed by
means of poison; and in each case the poison selected was the most
suitable one for the purpose. The one, aconitine, was calculated to
escape detection; the other, hydrocyanic acid--the most rapidly-acting of
all poisons--was calculated to produce almost instant death in a man who
was probably struggling and might have raised an alarm. I think we arc
fairly justified in assuming that the murderer of Van Zellen was the
murderer of D'Arblay. If that is so, we have two groups of circumstances
to investigate, two tracks by which to follow him; and sooner or later, I
feel confident, we shall be able to give him a name. Then, if we have
kept our own counsel, and he is unconscious of the pursuit, we shall be
able to lay our hands on him. But here we are at the Foundling Hospital.
It is time for each of us to get back to the routine of duty."


It was near the close of my incumbency of Dr. Cornish's practice--indeed,
Cornish had returned on the previous evening--that my unsatisfactory
attendance on Mr. Simon Bendelow came to an end. It had been a wearisome
affair. In medical practice, perhaps even more than in most human
activities, continuous effort calls for the sustenance of achievement. A
patient who cannot be cured or even substantially relieved is of all
patients the most depressing. Week after week I had made my fruitless
visits, had watched the silent, torpid sufferer grow yet more shrivelled
and wasted, speculating even a little impatiently on the possible
duration of his long-drawn-out passage to the grave. But at last the end

"Good morning, Mrs. Morris," I said as that grim female opened the door
and surveyed me impassively, "and how is our patient to-day?"

"He isn't our patient any longer," she replied. "He's dead."

"Ha!" I exclaimed. "Well, it had to be, sooner or later. Poor Mr.
Bendelow! When did he die?"

"Yesterday afternoon, about five," she answered.

"H'm! If you had sent me a note, I could have brought the certificate.
However, I can post it to you. Shall I go up and have a look at him?"

"You can if you like," she replied. "But the ordinary certificate won't
be enough in his case. He is going to be cremated."

"Oh, indeed," said I, once more unpleasantly conscious of my
inexperience. "What sort of certificate is required for cremation?"

"Oh, all sorts of formalities have to be gone through," she answered.
"Just come into the drawing-room and I will tell you what has to be

She preceded me along the passage and I followed meekly, anathematizing
myself for my ignorance, and my instructors for having sent me forth
crammed with academic knowledge but with the practical business of my
profession all to learn.

"Why are you having him cremated?" I asked, as we entered the room and
shut the door.

"Because it is one of the provisions of his will," she answered. "I may
as well let you see it."

She opened a bureau and took from it a foolscap envelope from which she
drew out a folded document. This she first unfolded and then re-folded so
that its concluding clauses were visible, and laid it on the flap of the
bureau. Placing her finger on it, she said: "That is the cremation
clause. You had better read it."

I ran my eye over the clause, which read: "I desire that my body shall be
cremated and I appoint Sarah Elizabeth Morris the wife of the aforesaid
James Morris to be the residuary legatee and sole executrix of this my
will." Then followed the attestation clause, underneath which was the
shaky but characteristic signature of Simon Bendelow, and opposite this
the signatures of the witnesses, Anne Dewsnep and Martha Bonnington, both
described as spinsters and both of a joint address which was hidden by
the folding of the document.

"So much for that," said Mrs. Morris, returning the will to its envelope;
"and now as to the certificate. There is a special form for cremation
which has to be signed by two doctors, and one of them must be a hospital
doctor or a consultant. So I wrote off at once to Dr. Cropper, as he knew
the patient, and I have had a telegram from him this morning saying that
he will be here this evening at eight o'clock to examine the body and
sign the certificate. Can you manage to meet him at that time?"

"Yes," I replied, "fortunately I can, as Dr. Cornish is back."

"Very well," said she; "then in that case you needn't go up now. You will
be able to make the examination together. Eight o'clock, sharp,

With this she re-conducted me along the passage and--I had almost said
ejected me; but she sped the parting guest with a business-like
directness that was perhaps accounted for by the presence opposite the
door of one of those grim parcels-delivery vans in which undertakers
distribute their wares, and from which a rough--looking coffin was at the
moment being hoisted out by two men.

The extraordinary promptitude of this proceeding so impressed me that I
remarked: "They haven't been long making the coffin."

"They didn't have to make it," she replied. "I ordered it a month ago.
It's no use leaving things to the last moment."

I turned away with somewhat mixed feelings. There was certainly a
horrible efficiency about this woman. Executrix indeed! Her promptness in
carrying out the provisions of the will was positively appalling. She
must have written to Cropper before the breath was fairly out of poor
Bendelow's body, but her forethought in the matter of the coffin fairly
made my flesh creep.

Dr. Cornish made no difficulty about taking over the evening
consultations, in fact he had intended to do so in any case. Accordingly,
after a rather early dinner, I made my way in leisurely fashion back to
Hoxton, where, after all, I arrived fully ten minutes too soon. I
realized my prematureness when I halted at the corner of Market Street to
look at my watch; and as ten additional minutes of Mrs. Morris's society
offered no allurement, I was about to turn back and fill up the time with
short walk when my attention was arrested by a mast which had just
appeared above the wall at the end of the street. With its black--painted
truck and halyard blocks and its long tricolour pennant, it looked like
the mast of a Dutch schuyt or galliot, but I could hardly believe it
possible that such a craft could make its appearance in the heart of
London. All agog with curiosity, I hurried up the street and looked over
the wall at the canal below; and there, sure enough, she was--a big Dutch
sloop, broad-bosomed, massive and mediaeval, just such a craft as one may
see in the pictures of old Vandervelde, painted when Charles the Second
was king.

I leaned on the low wall and watched her with delighted interest as she
crawled forward slowly to her berth, bringing with her, as it seemed, a
breath of the distant sea and the echo of the surf murmuring on sandy
beaches. I noted appreciatively her old-world air, her antique build, her
gay and spotless paint and the muslin curtains in the little windows of
her deck-house, and was, in fact, so absorbed in watching her that the
late Simon Bendelow had passed completely out of my mind. Suddenly,
however, the chiming of a clock recalled me to my present business. With
a hasty glance at my watch, I tore myself away reluctantly, darted across
the street and gave a vigorous pull at the bell.

Dr. Cropper had not yet arrived, but the deceased had not been entirely
neglected, for when I had spent some five minutes staring inquisitively
about the drawing-room into which Mrs. Morris had shown me, that lady
returned, accompanied by two other ladies whom she introduced to me
somewhat informally by the names of Miss Dewsnep and Miss Bonnington
respectively. I recognized the names as those of the two witnesses to the
will and inspected them with furtive curiosity, though, indeed, they were
quite unremarkable excepting as typical specimens of the genus elderly

"Poor Mr. Bendelow!" murmured Miss Dewsnep, shaking her head and causing
an artificial cherry on her bonnet to waggle idiotically. "How beautiful
he looks in his coffin!"

She looked at me as if for confirmation, so that I was fain to admit that
his beauty in this new setting had not yet been revealed to me.

"So peaceful," she added, with another shake of her head, and Miss
Bonnington chimed in with the comment, "Peaceful and restful." Then they
both looked at me and I mumbled indistinctly that I had no doubt he did;
the fact being that the inmates of coffins are not in general much
addicted to boisterous activity.

"Ah!" Miss Dewsnep resumed, "how little did I think when I first saw him,
sitting up in bed so cheerful in that nice, sunny room in the house at--"

"Why not?" interrupted Mrs. Morris. "Did you think he was going to live
for ever?"

"No, Mrs. Morris, ma'am," was the dignified reply, "I did not. No such
idea ever entered my head. I know too well that we mortals are all born
to be gathered in at last as the--er--as the--"

"Sparks fly upwards," murmured Miss Bonnington. "As the corn is gathered
in at harvest-time," Miss Dewsnep continued with slight emphasis. "But
not to be cast into a burning fiery furnace. When I first saw him in the
other house at--"

"I don't see what objection you need have to cremation," interrupted Mrs.
Morris. "It was his own choice, and a good one, too. Look at those great
cemeteries. What sense is there in letting the dead occupy the space that
is wanted for the living?"

"Well," said Miss Dewsnep, "I may be old-fashioned, but it does seem to
me that a nice quiet funeral with plenty of flowers and a proper, decent
grave in a churchyard is the natural end to a human life. That is what I
look forward to, myself."

"Then you are not likely to be disappointed," said Mrs. Morris; "though I
don't quite see what satisfaction you expect to get out of your own

Miss Dewsnep made no reply, and an interval of dismal silence followed.
Mrs. Morris was evidently impatient of Dr. Cropper's unpunctuality. I
could see that she was listening intently for the sound of the bell, as
she had been even while the conversation was in progress; indeed I had
been dimly conscious all the while of a sense of tension and anxiety on
her part. She had seemed to me to watch her two friends with a sort of
uneasiness and to give a quite uncalled-for attention to their rather
trivial utterances.

At length her suspense was relieved by a loud ringing of the bell. She
started up and opened the door, but she had barely crossed the threshold
when she suddenly turned back and addressed me.

"That will be Dr. Cropper. Perhaps you had better come out with me and
meet him."

It struck me as an odd suggestion, but I rose without comment and
followed her along the passage to the street door, which we reached just
as another loud peal of the bell sounded in the house behind us. She
flung the door wide open and a small, spectacled man charged in and
seized my hand, which he shook with violent cordiality.

"How do you do, Mr. Morris?" he exclaimed. "So sorry to keep you waiting,
but I was unfortunately detained at a consultation."

Here Mrs. Morris sourly intervened to explain who I was; upon which he
shook my hand again and expressed his joy at making my acquaintance. He
also made polite inquiries as to our hostess's health, which she
acknowledged gruffly over her shoulder as she preceded us along the
passage; which was now pitch-dark and where Cropper dropped his hat and
trod on it, finally bumping his head against the unseen wall in a frantic
effort to recover it.

When we emerged into the dimly-lighted hall, I observed the two ladies
peering inquisitively out of the drawing-room door. But Mrs. Morris took
no notice of them, leading the way directly up the stairs to the room
with which I was already familiar. It was poorly illuminated by a single
gasbracket over the fireplace, but the light was enough to show us a
coffin resting on three chairs and beyond it the shadowy figure of a man
whom I recognized as Mr. Morris.

We crossed the room to the coffin, which was plainly finished with zinc
fastenings, in accordance with the regulations of the crematorium
authorities, and had let into the top what I first took to be a pane of
glass, but which turned out to be a plate of clear celluloid. When we had
made our salutations to Mr. Morris, Cropper and I looked in through the
celluloid window. The yellow, shrunken face of the dead man, surmounted
by the skull-cap which he had always worn, looked so little changed that
he might still have been in the drowsy, torpid state in which I had been
accustomed to see him. He had always looked so like a dead man that the
final transition was hardly noticeable.

"I suppose," said Morris, "you would like to have the coffin-lid taken

"God bless my soul, yes!" exclaimed Cropper. "What are we here for? We
shall want him out of the coffin, too."

"Are you proposing to make a post-mortem?" I asked, observing that Dr.
Cropper had brought a good-sized handbag. "It seems hardly necessary, as
we both know what he died of."

Cropper shook his head. "That won't do," said he. "You mustn't treat a
cremation certificate as a mere formality. We have got to certify that we
have verified the cause of death. Looking at a body through a window is
not verifying the cause of death. We should cut a pretty figure in a
court of law if any question arose and we bad to admit that we had
certified without any examination at all. But we needn't do much, you
know. Just get the body out on the bed and a single small incision will
settle the nature of the growth. Then everything will be regular and in
order. I hope you don't mind, Mrs. Morris," he added suavely, turning to
that lady.

"You must do what you think necessary," she replied indifferently. "It is
no affair of mine;" and with this she went out of the room and shut the

While we had been speaking, Mr. Morris, who apparently had kept a
screw-driver in readiness for the possible contingency, had been neatly
extracting the screws and now lifted off the coffin-lid. Then the three
of us raised the shrivelled body--it was as light as a child's--and laid
it on the bed. I left Cropper to do what he thought necessary, and while
he was unpacking his instruments I took the opportunity to have a good
look at Mr. Morris, for it is a singular fact that in all the weeks of my
attendance at this house I had never come into contact with him since
that first morning when I had caught a momentary glimpse of him as he
looked out over the blind through the glazed shop-door. In the interval
his appearance had changed considerably for the better. He was no longer
a merely unshaved man; his beard had grown to respectable length, and, so
far as I could judge in the uncertain light, the hare-lip scar was
completely concealed by his moustache.

"Let me see," said Cropper, as he polished a scalpel on the palm of his
hand, "when did you say Mr. Bendelow died?"

"Yesterday afternoon at about five o'clock," replied Mr. Morris.

"Did he really?" said Cropper, lifting one of the limp arms and letting
it drop on the bed. "Yesterday afternoon! Now, Gray, doesn't that show
how careful one should be in giving opinions as to the time that has
elapsed since death? If I had been shown this body and asked how long the
man had been dead, I should have said three or four days. There isn't the
least trace of rigor mortis left; and the other appearances--but there it
is. You are never safe in giving dogmatic opinions."

"No," I agreed. "I should have said he had been dead more than
twenty-four hours. But I suppose there is a good deal of variation."

"There is," he replied. "You can't apply 'averages to particular cases."

I did not consider it necessary to take any active part in the
proceedings. It was his diagnosis and it was for him to verify it. At his
request Mr. Morris fetched a candle and held it as he was directed; and
while these preparations were in progress I looked out of the window,
which commanded a partial view of the canal. The moon had now risen and
its light fell on the white-painted hull of the Dutch sloop, which had
come to rest and made fast alongside a small wharf. It was quite a
pleasant picture, strangely at variance with the squalid neighbourhood
around. As I looked down on the little vessel, with the ruddy light
glowing from the deck-house windows and casting shimmering reflections in
the quiet water, the sight seemed to carry me far away from the sordid
streets around into the fellowship of the breezy ocean and the far-away
shores whence the little craft had sailed, and I determined, as soon as
our business was finished, to seek some access to the canal and indulge
myself with a quiet stroll in the moonlight along the deserted

"Well, Gray," said Cropper, standing up with the scalpel and forceps in
his hands, "there it is, if you want to see it. Typical carcinoma. Now we
can sign the certificates with a clear conscience. I'll just put in a
stitch or two and then we can put him back in his coffin. I suppose you
have got the forms?"

"They are downstairs," said Mr. Morris. "When we have got him back, I
will show you the way down."

This, however, was unnecessary, as there was only one staircase and I was
not a stranger. Accordingly, when we had replaced the body, we took our
leave of Mr. Morris and departed, and glancing back as I passed out of
the door, I saw him driving in the screws with the ready skill of a

The filling up of the forms was a portentous business which was carried
out in the drawing-room under the superintendence of Mrs. Morris and was
watched with respectful interest by the two spinsters. When it was
finished and I had handed the registration certificate to Mrs. Morris,
Cropper gathered up the forms B and C and slipped them into a long
envelope on which the Medical Referee's address was printed.

"I will post this off to-night," said he; "and you will send in Form A,
Mrs. Morris, when you have filled it in."

"I have sent it off already," she replied.

"Good," said Dr. Cropper. "Then that is all; and now I must run away. Can
I put you down anywhere. Gray?"

"Thank you, no," I replied. "I thought of taking a walk along the
tow-path, if you can tell me how to get down to it, Mrs. Morris."

"I can't," she replied. "But when Dr. Cropper has gone, I will run up and
ask my husband. I daresay he knows."

We escorted Cropper along the passage to the door, which he reached
without mishap, and having seen him into his brougham, turned back to the
hall, where Mrs. Morris ascended the stairs and I went into the
drawing-room; where the two spinsters appeared to be preparing for
departure. In a couple of minutes Mrs. Morris returned, and seeing both
the ladies standing, said: "You are not going yet. Miss Dewsnep. You must
have some refreshment before you go. Besides, I thought you wanted to see
Mr. Bendelow again."

"So we should," said Miss Dewsnep. "Just a little peep, to see how he
looks after--"

"I will take you up in a minute," interrupted Mrs. Morris. "When Dr. Gray
has gone." Then addressing me, she said: "My husband says that you can
get down to the tow-path through that alley nearly opposite. There is a
flight of steps at the end which come right out on the path."

I thanked her for the direction, and, having bidden farewell to the
spinsters, was once more escorted along the passage and finally launched
into the outer world.


Although I had been in harness but a few weeks, it was with a pleasant
sense of freedom that I turned from the door and crossed the road towards
the alley. My time was practically my own, for, though I was remaining
with Dr. Cornish until the end of the week, he was now in charge and my
responsibilities were at an end.

The alley was entered by an arched opening so narrow that I had never
suspected it of being a public thoroughfare, and I now threaded it with
my shoulders almost touching the walls. Whither it finally led I have no
idea, for when I reached another arched opening in the left--hand wall
and saw that this gave on a flight of stone steps, I descended the latter
and found myself on the tow-path. At the foot of the steps I stood awhile
and looked about me. The moon was nearly full and shone brightly on the
opposite side of the canal, but the tow-path was in deep shadow, being
flanked by a high wall, behind which were the houses of the adjoining
streets. Looking back--that is, to my left--I could just make out the
bridge and the adjoining buildings, all their unlovely details blotted
out by the thin night-haze, which reduced them to mere flat shapes of
grey. A little nearer, one or two spots of ruddy light with wavering
reflections beneath them marked the cabin windows of the sloop, and her
mast, rising above the grey obscurity, was clearly visible against the

Naturally, I turned in that direction, sauntering luxuriously and filling
my pipe as I went. Doubtless, by day the place was sordid enough in
aspect--though it is hard to vulgarize a navigable waterway--but now, in
the moonlit haze, the scene was almost romantic. And it was astonishingly
quiet and peaceful. From above, beyond the high wall, the noises of the
streets came subdued and distant like sounds from another world; but here
there was neither sound nor movement. The tow-path was utterly deserted,
and the only sign of human life was the glimmer of light from the sloop.

It was delightfully restful. I found myself treading the gravel lightly,
not to disturb the grateful silence; and as I strolled along, enjoying my
pipe, I let my thoughts ramble idly from one topic to another. Somewhere
above me, in that rather mysterious house, Simon Bendelow was lying in
his narrow bed, the wasted, yellow face looking out into the darkness
through that queer little celluloid window, or perhaps Miss Dewsnep and
her friend were even now taking their farewell peep at him. I looked up,
but, of course, the house was not visible from the tow-path, nor was I
now able to guess at its position.

A little farther and the hull of the sloop came clearly into view, and
nearly opposite to it, on the tow-path, I could see some kind of shed or
hut against the wall, with a derrick in front of it overhanging a little
quay. When I had nearly reached the shed, I passed a door in the wall,
which apparently communicated with some house in one of the streets
above. Then I came to the shed, a small wooden building which probably
served as a lighterman's office, and I noticed that the derrick swung
from one of the corner-posts. But at this moment my attention was
attracted by sounds of mild revelry from across the canal. Someone in the
sloop's deck-house had burst into song.

I stepped out on to the little quay and stood at the edge, looking across
at the homely curtained windows and wondering what the interior of the
deck-house looked like at this moment. Suddenly my ear caught an audible
creak from behind me. I was in the act of turning to see whence it came
when something struck me a heavy, glancing blow on the arm, crashed to
the ground and sent me flying over the edge of the quay.

Fortunately the water here as not more than four feet deep, and as I had
plunged in feet first and am a good swimmer, I never lost control of
myself. In a moment I was standing up with my head and shoulders out of
water, not particularly alarmed, though a good deal annoyed and much
puzzled as to what had happened. My first care was to recover my hat,
which was floating forlornly close by, and the next was to consider how I
should get ashore. My left arm was numb from the blow and was evidently
useless for climbing. Moreover, the face of the quay was of smooth
concrete, as was also the wall below the tow-path. But I remembered
having passed a pair of boat-steps some fifty yards back and decided to
make for them. I had thought of hailing the sloop, but as the droning
song still came from the deck-house, it was clear that the Dutchmen had
heard nothing, and I did not think it worth while to disturb them.
Accordingly I set forth for the steps, walking with little difficulty
over the soft, muddy bottom, keeping close to the side and steadying
myself with my right hand, with which I could just reach the edge of the

It seemed a long journey, for one cannot progress very fast over soft mud
with the water up to one's armpits; but at last I reached the steps and
managed to scramble up on to the tow-path. There I stood for a moment or
two irresolute. My first impulse was to hurry back as fast as I could and
seek the Morris's hospitality, for I was already chilled to the bone and
felt as physically wretched as the proverbial cat in similar
circumstances. But I was devoured by curiosity as to what had happened,
and, moreover, I believed that I had dropped my stick on the quay. The
latter consideration decided me, for it was a favourite stick, and I set
out for the quay at a very different pace from that at which I had
approached it the first time.

The mystery was solved long, before I arrived at the quay; at least it
was solved in part. For the derrick, which had overhung the quay, now lay
on the ground. Obviously it had fallen--and missed my head only by a
matter of inches. But how had it come to fall? Again, obviously, the
guy-rope had given way. As it could not have broken, seeing that the
derrick was unloaded and the rope must have been strong enough to bear
the last load, I was a good deal puzzled as to how the accident could
have befallen. Nor was I much less puzzled when I had made my inspection.
The rope was, of course, unbroken and its 'fall'--the part below the
pulley-blocks--passed into the shed through a window-like hole. This I
could see as I approached, and also that a door in the end of the shed
nearest to me was ajar. Opening it, I plunged into the dark interior, and
partly by touch and partly by the faint glimmer that came in at the
window, I was able to make out the state of affairs. Just below the hole
through which the rope entered was a large cleat, on which the fall must
have been belayed. But the cleat was vacant, the rope hung down from the
hole and its end lay in an untidy raffle on the floor. It looked as if it
had been cast off the cleat; but as there had apparently been no one in
the shed, the only possible supposition was that the rope had been badly
secured, that it had gradually worked loose and had at last slipped off
the cleat. But it was difficult to understand how it had slipped right

I found my stick lying at the edge of the quay and close by it my pipe.
Having recovered these treasures, I set off to retrace my steps along the
tow-path, sped on my way by a jovial chorus from the sloop. A very few
minutes brought me to the steps, which I ascended two at a time, and
then, having traversed the alley, I came out sheepishly into Market
Street. To my relief, I saw a light in Mr. Morris's shop and could even
make out a moving figure in the background. I hurried across, and,
opening the glazed door, entered the shop, at the back of which Mr.
Morris was seated at a bench filing some small object which was fixed in
a vice. He looked round at me with no great cordiality, but suddenly
observing my condition, he dropped his file on the bench and exclaimed:

"Good Lord, Doctor! What on earth have you been doing?"

"Nothing on earth," I replied with a feeble grin, "but something in the
water. I've been into the canal."

"But what for?" he demanded.

"Oh, I didn't go in intentionally," I replied; and then I gave him a
sketch of the incident, as short as I could make it, for my teeth were
chattering and explanations were chilly work. However, he rose nobly to
the occasion. "You'll catch your death of cold!" he exclaimed, starting
up. "Come in here and slip off your things at once while I go for some

He led me into a little den behind the shop, and, having lighted a gas
fire, went out by a back door. I lost no time in peeling off my dripping
clothes, and by the time that he returned I was in the state in which I
ought to have been when I took my plunge.

"Here you are," said he. "Put on this dressing-gown and wrap yourself in
the blankets. We'll draw this chair up to the fire and then you will be
all right for the present."

I followed his directions, pouring out my thanks as well as my chattering
teeth would let me.

"Oh, that's all right," said he. "If you will empty your pockets, the
missus can put some of the things through the wringer and then they'll
soon dry. There happens to be a good fire in the kitchen, some advance
cooking on account of the funeral. You can dry your hat and boots here.
If anyone comes to the shop, you might just press that electric

When he had gone, I drew the Windsor arm-chair close to the fire and made
myself as comfortable as I could, dividing my attention between my hat
and my boots, which called for careful roasting, and the contents of the
room. The latter appeared to be a sort of store for the reserve
stock-in-trade and certainly this was a most amazing collection. I could
not see a single article for which I would have given sixpence. The array
on the shelves suggested that the shop had been stocked with the
sweepings of all the stalls in Market Street, with those of Shoreditch
High Street thrown in. As I ran my eye along the ranks of dial-less
clocks, cracked fiddles, stopperless decanters and tattered theological
volumes, I found myself speculating profoundly on how Mr. Morris made a
livelihood. He professed to be a 'dealer in antiques' and there was
assuredly no question as to the antiquity of the goods in this room. But
there is little pecuniary value in the kind of antiquity that is
unearthed from a dust-bin.

It was really rather mysterious. Mr. Morris was a somewhat superior man
and he did not appear to be poor. Yet this shop did not seem capable of
yielding an income that would have been acceptable to a rag-picker. And
during the whole of the time in which I sat warming myself, there was not
a single visitor to the shop. However, it was no concern of mine; and I
had just reached this sage conclusion when Mr. Morris returned with my

"There," he said, "they are very creased and disreputable but they are
quite dry. They would have had to be cleaned and pressed in any case."

With this he went out into the shop and resumed his filing while I put on
the stiff and crumpled garments. When I was dressed, I followed him and
thanked him effusively for his kind offices, leaving also a grateful
message for his wife. He took my thanks rather stolidly, and having
wished me 'good night,' picked up his file and fell to work again.

I decided to walk home; principally, I think, to avoid exhibiting myself
in a public vehicle. But my self-consciousness soon wore off, and when,
in the neighbourhood of Clerkenwell, I perceived Dr. Usher on the
opposite side of the street, I crossed the road and touched his arm. He
looked round quickly, and recognizing me, shook hands cordially. "What
arc you doing on my beat at this time of night?" he asked. "You are not
still at Cornish's, are you?"

"Yes," I answered, "but not for long. I have just made my last visit and
signed the death certificate."

"Good man," said he. "Very methodical. Nothing like finishing a case up
neatly. They didn't invite you to the funeral, I suppose?"

"No," I replied, "and I shouldn't have gone if they had."

"Quite right," he agreed. "Funerals are rather outside medical practice.
But you have to go sometimes. Policy, you know. I had to go to one a
couple of days ago. Beastly nuisance it was. Chappie would insist on
putting me down at my own door in the mourning coach. Meant well, of
course, but it was very awkward. All the neighbours came to their
shop-doors and grinned as I got out. Felt an awful fool, couldn't grin
back, you see. Had to keep up the farce to the end."

"I don't see that it was exactly a farce," I objected.

"That is because you weren't there," he retorted. "It was the silliest
exhibition you ever saw. Just think of it! The parson who ran the show
actually got a lot of school-children to stand round the grave and sing a
blooming hymn: something about gathering at the river--I expect you know
the confounded doggerel."

"Well, why not?" I protested. "I daresay the friends of the deceased
liked it."

"No doubt," said he. "I expect they put the parson up to it. But it was
sickening to hear those kids bleating that stuff. How did they know where
he was?--an old rip with malignant disease of the pancreas, too!"

"Really, Usher," I exclaimed, laughing at his quaint cynicism, "you are
unreasonable. There are no pathological disqualifications for the better
land, I hope."

"I suppose not," he agreed with a grin. "Don't have to show a clean bill
of health before they let you in. But it was a trying business, you must
admit. I hate cant of that sort; and yet one had to pull a long face and
join in the beastly chorus."

The picture that his last words suggested was too much for my gravity. I
laughed long and joyously. However, Usher was not offended; indeed I
suspect that he appreciated the humour of the situation as much as I did.
But he had trained himself to an outward solemnity of manner that was
doubtless a valuable asset in his particular class of practice and he
walked at my side with unmoved gravity, taking an occasional quick,
critical look at me. When we came to the parting of our ways, he once
more shook my hand warmly and delivered a little farewell speech.

"You've never been to see me. Gray. Haven't had time, I suppose. But when
you are free you might look me up one evening to have a smoke and a glass
and talk over old times. There's always a bit of grub going, you know."

I promised to drop in before long, and he then added:

"I gave you one or two tips when I saw you last. Now I'm going to give
you another. Never neglect your appearance. It's a great mistake. Treat
yourself with respect and the world will respect you. No need to be a
dandy. But just keep an eye on your tailor and your laundress, especially
your laundress. Clean collars don't cost much, and they pay; and so does
a trousers-press. People expect a doctor to be well turned out. Now, you
mustn't think me impertinent. We are old pals and I want you to get on.
So long, old chap. Look me up as soon as you can," and without giving me
the opportunity to reply, he turned about and bustled off, swinging his
umbrella and offering, perhaps, a not very impressive illustration of his
own excellent precepts. But his words served as a reminder which caused
me to pursue the remainder of my journey by way of side-streets neither
too well lighted nor too much frequented.

As I let myself in with my key and closed the street-door, Cornish
stepped out of the dining-room.

"I thought you were lost. Gray," said he. "Where the deuce have you been
all this time?" Then, as I came into the light of the hall-lamp, he
exclaimed: "And what in the name of Fortune have you been up to?"

"I have had a wetting," I explained. "I'll tell you all about it

"Dr. Thorndyke is in the dining-room," said he; "came in a few minutes
ago to see you." He seized me by the arm and ran me into the room, where
I found Thorndyke methodically filling his pipe. He looked up as I
entered and regarded me with raised eyebrows.

"Why, my dear fellow, you've been in the water!" he exclaimed. "But yet
your clothes are not wet. What has been happening to you?"

"If you can wait a few minutes," I replied, "while I wash and change, I
will relate my adventures. But perhaps you haven't time."

"I want to hear all about it," he replied, "so run along and be as quick
as you can."

I bustled up to my room, and having washed and executed a lightning
change, came down to the dining-room, where I found Cornish in the act of
setting out decanters and glasses.

"I've told Dr. Thorndyke what took you to Hoxton," said he, "and he wants
a full account of everything that happened. He is always suspicious of
cremation cases, as you know from his lectures."

"Yes, I remember his warnings," said I. "But this was a perfectly
commonplace, straightforward affair."

"Did you go for your swim before or after the examination?" Thorndyke

"Oh, after," I replied.

"Then let us hear about the examination first," said he.

On this I plunged into a detailed account of all that had befallen since
my arrival at Market Street, to which Thorndyke listened, not only
patiently but with the closest attention and even cross-examined me to
elicit further details. Everything seemed to interest him, from the
construction of the coffin to the contents of Mr. Morris's shop. When I
had finished, Cornish remarked:

"Well, it is a queer affair. I don't understand that rope at all. Ropes
don't uncleat themselves. They may slip, but they don't come right off
the cleat. It looks more as if some mischievous fool had cast it off for
a joke."

"But there was no one there," said I. "The shed was empty when I examined
it and there was not a soul in sight on the tow-path."

"Could you see the shed when you were in the water?" Thorndyke asked.

"No. My head was below the level of the tow-path. But if anyone had run
out and made off, I must have seen him on the path when I came out. He
couldn't have got out of sight in the time. Besides, it is incredible
that even a fool should play such a trick as that."

"It is," he agreed. "But every explanation seems incredible. The only
plain fact is that it happened. It is a queer business altogether; and
not the least queer feature in the case is your friend Morris. Hoxton is
an unlikely place for a dealer in antiques, unless he should happen to
deal in other things as well--things, I mean, of ambiguous ownership."

"Just what I was thinking," said Cornish. "Sounds uncommonly like a
fence. However, that is no business of ours."

"No," agreed Thorndyke, rising and knocking out his pipe. "And now I must
be going. Do you care to walk with me to the bottom of Doughty Street,

I assented at once, suspecting that he had something to say to me that he
did not wish to say before Cornish. And so it turned out; for as soon as
we were outside he said:

"What I really called about was this: it seems that we have done the
police an injustice. They were more on the spot than we gave them credit
for. I have learned--and this is in the strictest confidence--that they
took that coin round to the British Museum for the expert's report. Then
a very curious fact came to light. That coin is not the original which
was stolen. It is an electrotype in gold, made in two halves very neatly
soldered together and carefully worked on the milled edge to hide the
join. That is extremely important in several respects. In the first place
it suggests an explanation of the otherwise incredible circumstance that
it was being carried loose in the waistcoat pocket. It had probably been
recently obtained from the electrotyper. That suggests the question, is
it possible that D'Arblay might have been that electrotyper? Did he ever
work the electrotype process? We must ascertain whether he did."

"There is no need," said I. "It is known to me as a fact that he did. The
little plaquettes that I took for castings are electrotypes, made by
himself. He worked the process quite a lot and was very skilful in
finishing. For instance, he did a small bust of his daughter in two parts
and brazed them together."

"Then, you see. Gray," said Thorndyke, "that advances us considerably. We
now have a plausible suggestion as to the motive and a new field of
investigation. Let us suppose that this man employed D'Arblay to make
electrotype copies of certain unique objects with the intention of
disposing of them to collectors. The originals, being stolen property,
would be almost impossible to dispose of with safety, but a copy would
not necessarily incriminate the owner. But when D'Arblay had made the
copies, he would be a dangerous person, for he would know who had the
originals. Here, to a man whom we know to be a callous murderer, would be
a sufficient reason for making away with D'Arblay."

"But do you think that D'Arblay would have undertaken such a decidedly
fishy job? It seems hardly like him."

"Why not?" demanded Thorndyke. "There was nothing suspicious about the
transaction. The man who wanted the copies was the owner of the
originals, and D'Arblay would not know or suspect that they were stolen."

"That is true," I admitted. "But you were speaking of a new field of

"Yes. If a number of copies of different objects have been made, there is
a fair chance that some of them have been disposed of. If they have and
can be traced, they will give us a start along a new line which may bring
us in sight of the man himself. Do you ever see Miss D'Arblay now?"

"Oh, yes," I replied. "I am quite one of the family at Highgate. I have
been there every Sunday lately."

"Have you!" he exclaimed with a smile. "You are a pretty locum tenens.
However, if you are quite at home there you can make a few discreet
inquiries. Find out, if you can, whether any electros had been made
recently and, if so, what they were and who was the client. Will you do

I agreed readily, only too glad to take an active part in the
investigation; and having by this time reached the end of Doughty Street,
I took leave of Thorndyke and made my way back to Cornish's house.


The mist, which had been gathering since the early afternoon, began to
thicken ominously as I approached Abbey Road, Hornsey, from Crouch End
station, causing me to quicken my pace so that I might make my
destination before the fog closed in; for this was my first visit to
Marion D'Arblay's studio and the neighbourhood was strange to me. And in
fact I was none too soon; for hardly had I set my hand on the quaint
bronze knocker above the plate inscribed Mr. J. D'Arblay,--when the
adjoining houses grew pale and shadowy and then vanished altogether.

My elaborate knock--in keeping with the distinguished knocker--was
followed by soft, quick footsteps, the sound whereof set my heart ticking
in double-quick time; the door opened and there stood Miss D'Arblay,
garbed in a most alluring blue smock or pinafore, with sleeves rolled up
to the elbow, with a smile of friendly welcome on her comely face and
looking so sweet and charming that I yearned then and there to take her
in my arms and kiss her. This, however, being inadmissible, I shook her
hand warmly and was forthwith conducted through the outer lobby into the
main studio, where I stood looking about me with amused surprise. She
looked at me inquiringly as I emitted an audible chuckle.

"It is a queer-looking place," said I; "something between a
miracle-shrine hung with votive offerings from sufferers who have been
cured of sore heads and arms and legs and a meat emporium in a cannibal

"It is nothing of the kind!" she exclaimed indignantly. "I don't mind the
votive offerings, but I reject the cannibal meat-market as a gross and
libellous fiction. But I suppose it does look rather queer to a

"To a what?" I demanded fiercely.

"Oh, I only meant a stranger to the place, of course, and you know I did.
So you needn't be cantankerous."

She glanced smilingly round the studio and for the first time,
apparently, the oddity of its appearance dawned on her, for she laughed
softly and then turned a mischievous eye on me as I gaped about me like a
bumpkin at a fair. The studio was a very large and lofty room or hall
with a partially-glazed roof and a single large window just below the
skylight. The walls were fitted partly with rows of large shelves and the
remainder with ranks of pegs. From the latter hung row after row of
casts of arms, hands, legs and faces--especially faces--while the shelves
supported a weird succession of heads, busts and a few half-length but
armless figures. The general effect was very strange and uncanny, and
what made it more so was the fact that all the heads presented perfectly
smooth, bare craniums.

"Are artists' models usually bald?" I inquired, as I noted this latter

"Now you are being foolish," she replied--"wilfully and deliberately
foolish. You know very well that all these heads have got to be fitted
with wigs, and you couldn't fit a wig to a head that already had a fine
covering of plaster curls. But I must admit that it rather detracts from
the beauty of a girl's head if you represent it without hair. The models
used to hate it when they were shown with heads like old gentlemen's, and
so did poor Dad--in fact he usually rendered the hair in the clay, just
sketchily, for the sake of the model's feelings and his own and took it
off afterwards with a wire tool. But there is the kettle boiling over. I
must make the tea."

While this ceremony was being performed, I strolled round the studio and
inspected the casts, more particularly the heads and faces. Of these
latter the majority were obviously modelled, but I noticed quite a number
with closed eyes, having very much the appearance of death-masks. When we
had taken our places at the little table near the great gas-ring, I
inquired what they were.

"They do look rather cadaverous, don't they?" she said as she poured out
the tea, "but they are not death-masks. They are casts from living faces,
mostly from the faces of models, but my father always used to take a cast
from anyone who would let him. They are quite useful to work from,
though, of course, the eyes have to be put in from another cast or from

"It must be rather an unpleasant operation:" I said "having the plaster
poured all over the face. How does the victim manage to breathe?"

"The usual plan is to put little quills or tubes into the nostrils. But
my father could keep the nostrils free without any tubes. He was a very
skilful moulder; and then he always used the best plaster, which sets
very quickly, so that it only took a few minutes."

"And how are you getting on; and what were you doing when I came in?"

"I am getting on quite well," she replied. "My work has been passed as
satisfactory and I have three new commissions. When you came in I was
just getting ready to make a mould for a head and shoulders. After tea I
shall go on with it and you shall help me. But tell me about yourself.
You have finished with Dr. Cornish, haven't you?"

"Yes, I am a gentleman at large for the time being; but that won't do. I
shall have to look out for another job."

"I hope it will be a London job," she said. "Arabella and I would feel
quite lonely if you went away, even for a week or two. We both look
forward so much to our little family gathering on Sunday afternoon."

"You don't look forward to it as much as I do," I said warmly. "It is
difficult for me to realize that there was ever a time when you were not
a part of my life. And yet we are quite new friends."

"Yes," she said; "only a few weeks old. But I have the same feeling. I
seem to have known you for years; and as for Arabella, she speaks of you
as if she had nursed you from infancy. You have a very insinuating way
with you."

"Oh, don't spoil it by calling me insinuating!" I protested.

"No, I won't," she replied. "It was the wrong word. I meant sympathetic.
You have the gift of entering into other people's troubles and feeling
them as if they were your own; which is a very precious gift--to the
other people."

"Your troubles are my own," said I, "since I have the privilege to be
your friend. But I have been a happier man since I shared them."

"It is very nice of you to say that," she murmured with a quick glance at
me and just a faint heightening of colour; and then for a while neither
of us spoke.

"Have you seen Dr. Thorndyke lately?" she asked, when she had refilled
our cups, and thereby, as it were, punctuated our silence.

"Yes," I answered. "I saw him only a night or two ago. And that reminds
me that I was commissioned to make some inquiries. Can you tell me if
your father ever did any electrotype work for outsiders?"

"I don't know," she answered. "He used latterly to electrotype most of
his own work instead of sending it to the bronze-founders, but it is
hardly likely that he would do electros for outsiders. There are firms
who do nothing else, and I know that, when he was busy, he used to send
his own work to them. But why do you ask?"

I related to her what Thorndyke had told me and pointed out the
importance of ascertaining the facts, which she saw at once.

"As soon as we have finished tea," she said, "we will go and look over
the cupboard where the electro moulds were kept--that is, the permanent
ones. The gelatine moulds for works in the round couldn't be kept. They
were melted down again. But the water-proofed-plaster moulds were stored
away in this cupboard, and the gutta-percha ones too until they were
wanted to soften down to make new moulds. And even if the moulds were
destroyed. Father usually kept a cast."

"Would you be able to tell by looking through the cupboard?" I asked.

"Yes. I should know a strange mould, of course, as I saw all the original
work that he did. Have we finished? Then let us go and settle the
question now."

She produced a bunch of keys from her pocket and crossed the studio to a
large, tall cupboard in a corner. Selecting a key, she inserted it and
was trying vainly to turn it when the door came open. She looked at it in
surprise and then turned to me with a somewhat puzzled expression.

"This is really very curious," she said. "When I came here this morning I
found the outer door unlocked. Naturally I thought I must have forgotten
to lock it, though that would have been an extraordinary oversight. And
now I find this door unlocked. But I distinctly remember locking it
before going away last night, when I had put back the box of modelling
wax. What do you make of that?"

"It looks as if someone had entered the studio last night with false keys
or by picking the lock. But why should they? Perhaps the cupboard will
tell. You will know if it has been disturbed."

She ran her eyes along the shelves and said at once: "It has been. The
things are all in disorder and one of the moulds is broken. We had better
take them all out and see if anything is missing--so far as I can judge,
that is, for the moulds were just as my father left them."

We dragged a small work-table to the cupboard and emptied the shelves one
by one. She examined each mould as we took it out, and I jotted down a
rough list at her dictation. When we had been through the whole
collection and rearranged the moulds on the shelves--they were mostly
plaques and medallions--she slowly read through the list and reflected
for a few moments. At length she said:

"I don't miss anything that I can remember. But the question is, were
there any moulds or casts that I did not know about? I am thinking of Dr.
Thorndyke's question. If there were any, they have gone, so that question
cannot be answered."

We looked at one another gravely and in both our minds was the same
unspoken question: 'Who was it that had entered the studio last night?'

We had just closed the cupboard and were moving away when my eye caught a
small object half-hidden in the darkness under the cupboard itself--the
bottom of which was raised by low feet about an inch and a half from the
floor. I knelt down and passed my hand into the shallow space and was
just able to hook it out. It proved to be a fragment of a small plaster
mould, saturated with wax and black-leaded on the inside. Miss D'Arblay
stooped over it eagerly and exclaimed: "I don't know that one. What a
pity it is such a small piece. But it is certainly part of a coin."

"It is part of the coin," said I. "There can be no doubt of that. I
examined the cast that Mr. Polton made and I recognize this as the same.
There is the lower part of the bust, the letters CA--the first two
letters of Carolus--and the tiny elephant and castle. That is conclusive.
This is the mould from which that electrotype was made. But I had better
hand it to Dr. Thorndyke to compare with the cast that he has."

I carefully bestowed the fragment in my tobacco pouch, as the safest
place for the time being, and meanwhile e Miss D'Arblay looked fixedly at
me with a very singular expression.

"You realize," she said in a hushed voice, "what this means. He was in
here last night."

I nodded. The same conclusion had instantly occurred to me, and a very
uncomfortable one it was. There was something very sinister and horrid in
the thought of that murderous villain quietly letting himself into this
studio and ransacking its hiding-places in the dead of the night. So
unpleasantly suggestive was it that, for a time, neither of us spoke a
word, but stood looking blankly at one another in silent dismay. And in
the midst of the tense silence there came a knock at the door.

We both started as if we had been struck. Then Miss D'Arblay, recovering
herself quickly, said, "I had better go," and hurried down the studio to
the lobby.

I listened nervously, for I was a little unstrung. I heard her go into
the lobby and open the outer door. I heard a low voice, apparently asking
a question; the outer door closed and then came a sudden scuffling sound
and a piercing shriek. With a shout of alarm, I raced down the studio,
knocking over a chair as I ran, and darted into the lobby just as the
outer door slammed.

For a moment I hesitated. Miss D'Arblay had shrunk into a corner and
stood in the semi-darkness with both her hands pressed tightly to her
breast. But she called out excitedly, "Follow him! I am not hurt!"; and
on this I wrenched open the door and stepped out.

But the first glance showed me that pursuit was hopeless. The fog had now
become so dense that I could hardly see my own feet. I dared not leave
the threshold for fear of not being able to find my way back. Then she
would be alone--and he was probably lurking close by even now.

I stood irresolutely, stock-still, listening intently. The silence was
profound. All the natural noises of a populous neighbourhood seemed to be
smothered by the dense blanket of dark yellow vapour. Not a sound came to
my ear, no stealthy foot--fall, no rustle of movement. Nothing but stark

Uneasily I crept back until the open doorway showed as a dim rectangle of
shadow; crept back and peered fearfully into the darkness of the lobby.
She was still standing in the corner--an upright smudge of deeper
darkness in the obscurity. But even as I looked the shadowy figure
collapsed and slid noiselessly to the floor.

In an instant the pursuit was forgotten and I darted into the lobby,
shutting the outer door behind me, and dropped on my knees at her side.
Where she had fallen a streak of light came in from the studio, and the
sight that it revealed turned me sick with terror. The whole front of her
smock, from the breast downwards, was saturated with blood, both her
hands were crimson and gory, and her face was dead-white to the lips.

For an instant I was paralysed with horror. I could see no movement of
breathing, and the white face with its parted lips and half-closed eyes
was as the face of the dead. But when I dared to search for the wound, I
was a little reassured, for, closely as I scrutinized it, the gory smock
showed no sign of a cut excepting on the blood-stained right sleeve. And
now I noticed a deep gash on the left hand, which was still bleeding
freely, and was probably the source of the blood which had soaked the
smock. There seemed to be no vital wound.

With a deep breath of relief, I hastily tore my handkerchief into strips
and applied the improvised bandage tightly enough to control the
bleeding. Then with the scissors from my pocket-case, which I now carried
from habit, I laid open the blood-stained sleeve. The wound on the arm,
just above the elbow was quite shallow; a glancing wound which tailed off
upwards into a scratch. A turn of the remaining strip of bandage secured
it for the time being, and this done, I once more explored the front of
the smock, pulling its folds tightly apart in search of the dreaded cut.
But there was none; and now, the bleeding being controlled, it was safe
to take measures of restoration. Tenderly--and not without effort--I
lifted her and carried her into the studio, where was a shabby but roomy
couch, on which poor D'Arblay had been accustomed to rest when he stayed
for the night. On this I laid her, and fetching some water and a towel,
dabbed her face and neck. Presently she opened her eyes and heaved a deep
sigh, looking at me with a troubled, bewildered expression and evidently
only half-conscious. Suddenly her eye caught the great blood-stain on her
smock and her expression grew wild and terrified. For a few moments she
gazed at me with eyes full of horror; then, as the memory other dreadful
experience rushed back on her, she uttered a little cry and burst into
tears, moaning and sobbing almost hysterically.

I rested her head on my shoulder, and tried to comfort her; and she, poor
girl, weak and shaken by the awful shock, clung to me, trembling, and
wept passionately with her face buried in my breast. As for me, I was
almost ready to weep, too, if only from sheer relief and revulsion from
my late terrors.

"Marion darling!" I murmured into her ear as I stroked her damp hair.
"Poor dear little woman! It was horrible. But you mustn't cry any more
now. Try to forget it, dearest."

She shook her head passionately. "I can never do that," she sobbed. "It
will haunt me as long as I live. Oh! and I am so frightened, even now.
What a coward I am!"

"Indeed you are not!" I exclaimed. "You are just weak from loss of blood.
Why did you let me leave you, Marion?"

"I didn't think I was hurt, and I wasn't particularly frightened then,
and I hoped that if you followed him, he might be caught. Did you see

"No. There is a thick fog outside. I didn't dare to leave the threshold.
Were you able to see what he was like?"

She shuddered and choked down a sob. "He is a dreadful-looking man," she
said; "I loathed him at the first glance--a beetle-browed, hook-nosed
wretch with a face like that of some horrible bird of prey. But I
couldn't see him very distinctly, for it is rather dark in the lobby and
he wore a wide-brimmed hat, pulled down over his brows."

"Would you know him again? And can you give a description of him that
would be of use to the police?"

"I am sure I should know him again," she said with a shudder. "It was a
face that one could never forget. A hideous face! The face of a demon! I
can see it now and it will haunt me, sleeping and waking, until I die."

Her words ended with a catch of the breath and she looked piteously into
my face with wide, terrified eyes. I took her trembling hand and once
more drew her head to my shoulder.

"You mustn't think that, dear," said I. "You are all unstrung now, but
these terrors will pass. Try to tell me quietly just what this man was
like. What was his height for instance?"

"He was not very tall. Not much taller than me. And he was rather
slightly built."

"Could you see whether he was dark or fair?"

"He was rather dark. I could see a shock of hair sticking out from under
his hat and he had a moustache with turned-up ends and a beard--a rather
short beard."

"And now as to his face. You say he had a hooked nose?"

"Yes, a great, high-bridged nose like the beak of some horrible bird. And
his eyes seemed to be deep-set under heavy brows with bushy eyebrows. The
face was rather thin with high cheek-bones--a fierce, scowling, repulsive

"And the voice? Should you know that again?"

"I don't know," she answered. "He spoke in quite a low tone, rather
indistinctly. And he said only a few words--something about having come
to make some inquiries about the cost of a wax model. Then he stepped
into the lobby and shut the outer door, and immediately, without another
word, he seized my right arm and struck at me. But I saw the knife in his
hand and, as I called out, I snatched at it with my left hand, so that it
missed my body and I felt it cut my right arm. Then I got hold of his
wrist. But he had heard you coming and wrenched himself free. The next
moment he had opened the door and rushed out, shutting it behind him."

She paused and then added in a shaking voice: "If you had not been
here--if I had been alone--"

"We won't think of that, Marion. You were not alone; and you will never
be again in this place. I shall see to that."

At this she gave a little sigh of satisfaction, and looked into my face
with the pallid ghost of a smile. "Then I shan't be frightened any more,"
she murmured; and closing her eyes she lay for a while, breathing quietly
as if asleep. She looked very delicate and frail with her waxen checks
and the dark shadows under her eyes, but still I noted a faint tinge of
colour stealing back into her lips. I gazed down at her with fond
anxiety, as a mother might look at a sleeping child that had just passed
the crisis of a dangerous illness. Of the bare chance that had snatched
her from imminent death I would not allow myself to think. The horror of
that moment is too fresh for the thought to be endurable. Instead I began
to occupy myself with the practical question as to how she was to be got
home. It was a long way to North Grove--some two miles, I reckoned--too
far for her to walk in her present weak state; and then there was the
fog. Unless it lifted it would be impossible for her to find her way; and
I could give her no help, as I was a stranger to this locality. Nor was
it by any means safe; for our enemy might still be lurking near, waiting
for the opportunity that the fog would offer.

I was still turning over these difficulties when she opened her eyes and
looked up at me a little shyly.

"I'm afraid I've been rather a baby," she said, "but I am much better
now. Hadn't I better get up?"

"No," I answered. "Lie quiet and rest. I am trying to think bow you are
to be got home. Didn't you say something about a caretaker?"

"Yes; a woman in the little house next door, which really belongs to the
studio. Daddy used to leave the key with her at night so that she could
clean up. But I just fetch her in when I want her help. Why do you ask?"

"Do you think she could get a cab us?"

"I am afraid not. There is no cab-stand anywhere near here. But I think I
could walk, unless the fog is too thick. Shall we go and see what it is

"I will go," said I, rising. But she clung to my arm.

"You are not to go alone," she said, in sudden alarm. "He may be there

I thought it best to humour her and accordingly helped her to rise. For a
few moments she seemed rather unsteady on her feet, but soon she was able
to walk, supported by my arm, to the studio door, which I opened, and
through which wreaths of vapour drifted in. But the fog was perceptibly
thinner; and even as I was looking across the road at the now faintly
visible houses, two spots of dull yellow light appeared up the road and
my ear caught the muffled sound of wheels. Gradually the lights grew
brighter and at length there stole out of the fog the shadowy form of a
cab with a man leading the horse at a slow walk. Here seemed a chance to
escape from our dilemma.

"Go in and shut the door while I speak to the cabman," said I. "He may be
able to take us. I shall give four knocks when I come back."

She was unwilling to let me go, but I gently pushed her in and shut the
door and then advanced to meet the cab. A few words set my anxieties at
rest, for it appeared that the cabman had to set down a fare a little way
along the street and was very willing to take a return fare, on suitable
terms. As any terms would have been suitable to me under the
circumstances, the cabman was able to make a good bargain and we parted
with mutual satisfaction and a cordial au revoir. Then I steered back
along the fence to the studio door, on which I struck four distinct
knocks and announced myself vocally by name. Immediately the door opened
and a hand drew me in by the sleeve.

"I am so glad you have come back," she whispered. "It was horrid to be
alone in the lobby even for a few minutes. What did the cabman say?"

I told her the joyful tidings and we at once made ready for our
departure. In a minute or two the welcome glare of the cab-lamps
reappeared, and when I had locked up the studio and pocketed the key I
helped her into the rather ramshackle vehicle.

I don't mind admitting that the cabman's charges were extortionate; but I
grudged him never a penny. It was probably the slowest journey that I had
ever made, but yet the funereal pace was all too swift. Half-ashamed as I
was to admit it to myself, this horrible adventure was bearing sweet
fruit to me in the unquestioned intimacy that had been born in the
troubled hour. Little enough was said; but I sat happily by her side,
holding her uninjured hand in mine (on the pretence of keeping it warm),
blissfully conscious that our sympathy and friendship had grown to
something sweeter and more precious.

"What are we to say to Arabella?" I asked. "I suppose she will have to be

"Of course she will," replied Marion; "you shall tell her. But," she
added in a lower tone, "you needn't tell her everything--I mean what a
baby I was and how you had to comfort and soothe me. She is as brave as a
lion and she thinks I am, too. So you needn't undeceive her too much."

"I needn't undeceive her at all," said I, "because you are;" and we were
still arguing this weighty question when the cab drew up at Ivy Cottage.
I sent the cabman off rejoicing, and then escorted Marion up the path to
the door, where Miss Boler was waiting, having apparently heard the cab

"Thank goodness!" she exclaimed. "I was wondering how on earth you would
manage to get home." Then she suddenly observed Marion's bandaged hand
and uttered an exclamation of alarm.

"Miss Marion has cut her hand rather badly," I explained. "We won't talk
about it just now. I will tell you everything presently when you have put
her to bed. Now I want some stuff to make dressings and bandages."

Miss Boler looked at me suspiciously, but made no comment. With
extraordinary promptitude she produced a supply of linen, warm water and
other necessaries, and then stood by to watch the operation and give

"It is a nasty wound," I said, as I removed the extemporized dressing,
"but not so bad as I feared. There will be no lasting injury."

I put on the permanent dressing and then exposed the wound on the arm, at
the sight of which Miss Boler's eyebrows went up. But she made no remark,
and when a dressing had been put on this, too, she took charge of the
patient to conduct her up to the bedroom.

"I shall come up and see that she is all right before I go," said I; "and
meanwhile, no questions, Arabella."

She cast a significant look at me over her shoulder and departed with her
arm about the patient's waist.

The rites and ceremonies above-stairs were briefer than I had
expected--perhaps the promised explanations had accelerated matters. At
any rate, in a very few minutes Miss Boler bustled into the room and
said: "You can go up now, but don't stop to gossip. I am bursting with

Thereupon, I ascended to my lady's chamber, which I entered as
diffidently and reverently as though such visits were not the commonplace
of my professional life. As I approached the bed, she heaved a little
sigh of content and murmured:

"What a fortunate girl I am! To be petted and cared for and pampered in
this way! Arabella is a perfect angel; and you. Dr. Gray--"

"Oh, Marion!" I protested. "Not Dr. Gray."

"Well, then, Stephen," she corrected with a faint blush.

"That is better. And what am I?"

"Never mind," she replied, very pink and smiling. "I expect you know. If
you don't, ask Arabella when you go down."

"I expect she will do most of the asking," said I. "And I have strict
orders not to stop to gossip, so let me see the bandages and then I must

I made my inspection, without undue hurry, and having seen that all was
well, I took her hand.

"You are to stay here until I have seen you to-morrow morning, and you are
to be a good girl and try not to think of unpleasant things."

"Yes; I will do everything that you tell me."

"Then I can go away happy. Good night, Marion."

"Good night, Stephen."

I pressed her hand and felt her fingers close on mine. Then I turned away
and, with only a moment's pause at the door for a last look at the sweet,
smiling face, descended the stairs to confront the formidable Arabella.

Of my cautious statement and her keen cross-examination I will say
nothing. I made the proceedings as short as was decent, for I wanted, if
possible, to take counsel with Thorndyke. On my explaining this, the
brevity of my account was condoned, and even my refusal of food.

"But remember, Arabella," I said as she escorted me to the gate, "she has
had a very severe shock. The less you say to her about the affair for the
present, the quicker will be her recovery."

With this warning I set forth through the rapidly-thinning fog to catch
the first conveyance that I could find to bear me southward.


The fog had thinned to a mere haze when the porter admitted me at the
Inner Temple Gate, so that, as I passed the Cloisters and looked through
into Pump Court, I could see the lighted windows of the residents'
chambers at tile far end. The sight of them encouraged me to hope that
the chambers in King's Bench Walk might throw out a similar hopeful
gleam. Nor was I disappointed; and the warm glow from the windows of
number 5A sent me tripping up the stairs profoundly relieved though a
trifle abashed at the untimely hour of my visit.

The door was opened by Thorndyke, himself, who instantly cut short my

"Nonsense, Gray!" he exclaimed, shaking my hand. "It is no interruption
at all. On the contrary: how beautiful upon the staircase are the feet of
him that bringeth--well, what sort of tidings?"

"Not good, I am afraid, sir."

"Well, let us have them. Come and sit by the fire." He drew up an
easy-chair, and having installed me in it and taken a critical look at
me, invited me to proceed. I accordingly proceeded bluntly to inform him
that an attempt had been made to murder Miss D'Arblay.

"Ha!" he exclaimed. "These are bad tidings indeed! I hope she is not
injured in any way."

I reassured him on this point and gave him the details as to the
patient's condition, and he then asked:

"When did the attempt occur and how did you hear of it?"

"It happened this evening and I was present."

"You were present!" he repeated, gazing at me in the utmost astonishment.
"And what became of the assailant?"

"He vanished into the fog," I replied.

"Ah, yes. The fog. I had forgotten that. But now let us drop this
question and answer method. Give me a narrative from the beginning with
the events in their proper sequence. And omit nothing, no matter how

I took him at his word--up to a certain point. I described my arrival at
the studio, the search in the cupboard, the sinister interruption, the
attack and the unavailing attempt at pursuit. As to what befell
thereafter I gave him a substantially complete account--with certain
reservations--up to my departure from Ivy Cottage.

"Then you never saw the man at all?"

"No; but Miss D'Arblay did;" and here I gave him such details of the
man's appearance as I had been able to gather from Marion.

"It is quite a vivid description," he said as he wrote down the details;
"and now shall we have a look at that piece of the mould?"

I disinterred it from my tobacco-pouch and handed it to him. He glanced
at it and then went to a cabinet, from a drawer in which he produced the
little case containing Polton's casts of the guinea and a box which he
placed on the table and opened. From it he took a lump of moulding-wax
and a bottle of powdered French chalk. Pinching off a piece of the wax,
he rolled it into a ball, dusted it lightly with the chalk powder and
pressed it with his thumb into the mould. It came away on his thumb
bearing a perfect impression of the inside of the mould.

"That settles it," said he, taking the obverse cast from the case and
laying it on the table beside the wax 'squeeze.' "The squeeze and the
cast are identical. There is now no possible doubt that the electrotype
guinea that was found in the pond was made by Julius D'Arblay. Probably
it had been delivered by him to the murderer on the very evening of his
death. So we are undoubtedly dealing with that same man. It is a most
alarming situation."

"It would be alarming if it were any other man," I remarked.

"No doubt," he agreed. "But there is something very special about this
man. He is a criminal of a type that is almost unknown here, but is not
uncommon in South European and Slav countries. You find him, too, in the
United States, principally among the foreign-born or alien population. He
is not a normal human being. He is an inveterate murderer, to whom a
human life does not count at all. And this type of man continually grows
more and more dangerous, for two reasons: first, the murder habit becomes
more confirmed with each crime; second, there is virtually no penalty for
the succeeding murders, for the first one entails the death-sentence and
fifty murders can involve no more. This man killed Van Zellen as a mere
incident of a robbery. Then he appears to have killed D'Arblay to secure
his own safety, and he is now attempting to kill Miss D'Arblay,
apparently for the same reason. And he will kill you and he will kill me
if our existence is inconvenient or dangerous to him. We must bear that
in mind and take the necessary measures."

"I can't imagine," said I, "what motive he can have for wanting to kill
Miss D'Arblay."

"Probably he believes that she knows something that would be dangerous to
him--something connected with those moulds, or perhaps something else. We
are rather in the dark. We don't know for certain what it was he came to
look for when he entered the studio, or whether or not he found what he
wanted. But to return to the danger. It is obvious that he knows the
Abbey Road district well, for he found his way to the studio in the fog.
He may be living close by. There is no reason why he should not be. His
identity is quite unknown."

"That is a horrid thought!" I exclaimed.

"It is," he agreed; "but it is the assumption that we have to act upon.
We must not leave a loophole unwatched. He mustn't get another chance."

"No," I concurred warmly; "he certainly must not--if we can help it. But
it is an awful position. We carry that poor girl's life in our hands, and
there is always the possibility that we may be caught off our guard, just
for a moment."

He nodded gravely. "You are quite right. Gray. An awful responsibility
rests on us. I am very unhappy about this poor young lady. Of course,
there is the other side--but at present we are concerned with Miss
D'Arblay's safety."

"What other side is there?" I demanded.

"I mean," he replied, "that if we can hold out, this man is going to
deliver himself into our hands."

"What makes you think that?" I asked eagerly.

"I recognize a familiar phenomenon," he replied. "My large experience and
extensive study of crimes against the person have shown me that in the
overwhelming majority of cases of obscure crime the discovery has been
brought about by the criminal's own efforts to make himself safe. He is
constantly trying to hide his tracks--and making fresh ones. Now, this
man is one of those criminals who won't let well alone. He kills Van
Zellen and disappears, leaving no trace. He seems to be quite safe. But
he is not satisfied. He can't keep quiet. He kills D'Arblay; he enters
the studio, he tries to kill Miss D'Arblay: all to make himself more
safe. And every time he moves, he tells us something fresh about himself.
If we can only wait and watch, we shall have him."

"What has he told us about himself this time?" I asked. "We won't go into
that now, Gray. We have other business on hand. But you know all that I
know as to the facts. If you will turn over those facts at your leisure,
you will find that they yield some very curious and striking inferences."

I was about to press the question when the door opened and Mr. Polton
appeared on the threshold. Observing me, he crinkled benevolently and
then, in answer to Thorndyke's inquiring glance, said: "I thought I had
better remind you, sir, that you have not had any supper."

"Dear me, Polton," Thorndyke exclaimed, "now you mention it, I believe
you are right. And I suspect that Dr. Gray is in the same case. So we
place ourselves in your hands. Supper and pistols are what we want."

"Pistols, sir!" exclaimed Polton, opening his eyes to an unusual extent
and looking at us suspiciously.

"Don't be alarmed, Polton," Thorndyke chuckled. "It isn't a duel. I just
want you to go over our stock of pistols and ammunition."

At this I thought I detected a belligerent gleam in Polton's eye, but
even as I looked, he was gone. Not for long, however. In a couple of
minutes he was back with a large hand-bag, which he placed on the table
and again retired. Thorndyke opened the bag and took out quite a
considerable assortment of weapons--single pistols, revolvers and
automatics--which he laid out on the table, each with its box of
appropriate cartridges.

"I hate fire-arms!" he exclaimed as he viewed the collection
distastefully. "They are dangerous things, and when it comes to business
they are scurvy weapons. Any poltroon can pull a trigger. But we must put
ourselves on equal terms with our opponent, who is certain to be
provided. Which will you have? I recommend this Baby Browning for
portability. Have you had any practice?"

"Only target practice. But I am a fair shot with a revolver. I have never
used an automatic."

"We will go over the mechanism after supper," said he. "Meanwhile, I hear
the approach of Polton and am conscious of a voracious interest in what
he is bringing. When did you feed last?"

"I had tea at the studio about half past four."

"My poor Gray!" he exclaimed, "you must be starving. I ought to have
asked you sooner. However, here comes relief." He opened a folding table
by the fire just as Polton entered with the tray, on which I was
gratified to observe a good-sized dish-cover and a claret-jug. Polton
rapidly laid the little table and then, whisking off the cover, retired
with a triumphant crinkle.

"You have a regular kitchen upstairs, I presume," said I as we took our
seats at the table, "as well as a laboratory? And a pretty good cook,
too, to judge by the results."

Thorndyke chuckled. "The kitchen and the laboratory are one," he replied,
"and Polton is the cook. An uncommonly good cook, as you suggest, but his
methods are weird. These cutlets were probably grilled in the cupel
furnace, but I have known him to do a steak with the brazing-jet. There
is nothing conventional about Polton. But whatever he does, he does to a
finish, which is fortunate, because I thought of calling in his aid in
our present difficulty."

I looked at him inquiringly and he continued: "If Miss D'Arblay is to go
on with her work, which she ought to, as it is her livelihood, she must
be guarded constantly. I had considered applying to Inspector Follett,
and we may have to later; but for the present it will be better for us to
keep our own counsel and play our own hand. We have two objects in view.
First--and paramount--is the necessity of securing Miss D'Arblay's
safety. But, second, we want to lay our hands on this man, not to
frighten him away, as we might do if we put the police on his track. When
once we have him, her safety is secured for ever; whereas if he were
merely scared away he would be an abiding menace. We have got to catch
him, and at present he is catchable. Secure in his unknown identity, he
is lurking within reach, ready to strike, but also ready to be pounced
upon when we are ready to pounce. Let us keep him confident of his safety
while we are gathering up the clues."

"Hm! yes," I assented, without much enthusiasm. "What is it that you
propose to do?"

"Somebody," he replied, "must keep watch over Miss D'Arblay from the
moment when she leaves her house until she returns to it. How much
time--if any--can you give up to this duty?"

"My whole time," I answered promptly. "I shall let everything else go."

"Then," said he, "I propose that you and Polton relieve one another on
duty. It will be better than for you to be there all the time."

I saw what he meant and agreed at once. The conventions must be respected
as far as possible.

"But," I suggested, "isn't Polton rather a light-weight--if it should
come to a scrap, I mean?"

"Don't undervalue small men, even physically," he replied. "They are
commonly better built than big men and more enduring and energetic.
Polton is remarkably strong and he has the pluck of a bulldog. But we
must see how he is placed as regards work."

The question was put to him and the position of affairs explained when he
came down to clear the table; whereupon it appeared (from his own
account) that he was absolutely without occupation of any kind and pining
for something to do. Thorndyke laughed incredulously but did not contest
this outrageous and barefaced untruth, merely remarking:

"I am afraid it will be rather an idle time for you."

"Oh, no, it won't, sir," Polton assured him emphatically. "I've always
wanted to learn something about sculptor's moulding and wax-casting, but
I've never had a chance. Now I shall have. And that opportunity isn't
going to be wasted."

Thorndyke regarded his assistant with a twinkling eye. "So it was mere
self-seeking that made you so enthusiastic," said he. "But you are quite
a good moulder already."

"Not a sculptor's moulder, sir," replied Polton; "and I know nothing
about waxwork. But I shall, before I have been there many days."

"I am sure you will," said Thorndyke. "Miss D'Arblay will have an
apprentice and journeyman in one. You will be able to give her quite a
lot of help; which will be valuable just now while her hand is disabled.
When do you think she will be able to go back to work, Gray?"

"I can't say. Not to-morrow certainly. Shall I send you a report when I
have seen her?"

"Do," he replied; "or better still, come in to-morrow evening and give me
the news. So, Polton, we shall want you for another day or so."

"Ah!" said Polton, "then I shall be able to finish that recording-clock
before I go;" upon which Thorndyke and I laughed aloud and Polton, his
mendacity thus unmasked, retired with the tray, crinkling but unabashed.

The short remainder of the evening--or rather, of the night--was spent in
the study of the mechanism and mode of use of automatic pistol. When I
finally bestowed the 'Baby,' fully loaded, in my hip-pocket and rose to
go, Thorndyke sped me on my way with a few words of warning and advice.

"Be constantly on your guard. Gray. You are going to make a bitter enemy
of a man who knows no scruples; indeed, you have done so already, and
something tells me that he is aware of it. Avoid all solitary or
unfrequented places. Keep to main thoroughfares and well-lighted streets
and maintain a vigilant look-out for any suspicious appearances. You have
said truly that we carry Miss D'Arblay's life in our hands. But to
preserve her life we must preserve our own; which we should probably
prefer to do in any case. Don't get jumpy--I don't much think you will;
but keep your attention alert and your weather eyelid lifting."

With these encouraging words and a hearty handshake, he let me out and
stood watching me as I descended the stairs.


About eleven o'clock in the forenoon of the third day after the terrible
events of that unforgettable night of the great fog, Marion and I drew up
on our bicycles opposite the studio door. She was now outwardly quite
recovered, excepting as to her left hand, but I noticed that, as I
inserted the key into the door, she cast a quick, nervous glance up and
down the road; and as we passed through the lobby, she looked down for
one moment at the great bloodstain on the floor and then hastily averted
her face.

"Now," I said, assuming a brisk, cheerful tone, "we must get to work. Mr.
Polton will be here in half an hour and we must be ready to put his nose
on the grindstone at once."

"Then your nose will have to go on first," she replied with a smile, "and
so will mine, with two raw apprentices to teach and an important job
waiting to be done. But, dear me! what a lot of trouble I am giving!"

"Nothing of the kind, Marion," I exclaimed; "you are a public benefactor.
Polton is delighted at the chance to come here and enlarge his
experience, and as for me--"

"Well? As for you?" She looked at me half-shyly, half-mischievously. "Go
on. You've stopped at the most interesting point."

"I think I had better not," said I. "We don't want the forewoman to get
too uppish."

She laughed softly, and when I had helped her out of her overcoat and
rolled up the sleeve of her one serviceable arm, I went out to the lobby
to stow away the bicycles and lock the outer door. When I returned, she
had got out from the cupboard a large box of flaked gelatine and a
massive spouted bucket which she was filling at the sink.

"Hadn't you better explain to me what we are going to do?" I asked.

"Oh, explanations are of no use," she replied. "You just do as I tell you
and then you will know all about it. This isn't a school; it's a
workshop. When we have got the gelatine in to soak, I will show you how to
make a plaster case."

"It seems to me," I retorted, "that my instructress has graduated in the
academy of Squeers. "W-i-n-d-e-r, winder; now go and clean one. Isn't
that the method?"

"Apprentices are not allowed to waste time in wrangling," she rejoined
severely. "Go and put on one of Daddy's blouses and I will set you to

This practical method of instruction justified itself abundantly. The
reasons for each process emerged at once as soon as the process was
completed. And it was withal a pleasant method, for there is no
comradeship so sympathetic as the comradeship of work, nor any which
begets so wholesome and friendly an intimacy. But though there were
playful and frivolous interludes--as when the forewoman's working hand
became encrusted with clay and had to be cleansed with a sponge by the
apprentice--we worked to such purpose that by the time Mr. Polton was
due, the plaster bust (of which a wax replica had to be made) was firmly
fixed on the work-table on a clay foundation and surrounded by a
carefully-levelled platform of clay, in which it was embedded to half its
thickness. I had just finished smoothing the surface when there came a
knock at the outer door; on which Marion started violently and clutched
my arm. But she recovered in a moment and exclaimed in a tone of

"How silly I am! Of course it is Mr. Polton."

It was. I found him on the threshold in rapt contemplation of the knocker
and looking rather like an archdeacon on tour. He greeted me with a
friendly crinkle, and I then conducted him into the studio and presented
him to Marion, who shook his hand warmly and thanked him so profusely for
coming to her aid that he was quite abashed. However, he did not waste
time in compliments, but, producing an apron from his hand-bag, took off
his coat, donned the apron, rolled up his sleeves and beamed inquiringly
at the bust.

"We are going to make a plaster case for the gelatine mould, Mr. Polton,"
Marion explained, and proceeded to a few preliminary directions, to which
the new apprentice listened with respectful attention. But she had hardly
finished when he fell to work with a quiet, unhurried facility that
filled me with envy. He seemed to know where to find everything. He
discovered the waste paper with which to cover the model to prevent the
clay from sticking to it, he pounced on the clay-bin at the first shot,
and when he had built up the shape for the case, found the plaster-bin,
mixing-bowl and spoon as if he had been born and bred in the workshop,
stopping only for a moment to test the condition of the gelatine in the

"Mr. Polton," Marion said after watching him for a while, "you are an
impostor--a dreadful impostor. You pretend to come here as an improver,
but you really know all about gelatine moulding; now, don't you?"

Polton admitted apologetically that he "had done a little in that way.
But," he added, in extenuation, "I have never done any work in wax. And
talking of wax, the doctor will be here presently."

"Dr. Thorndyke?" Marion asked.

"Yes, miss. He had some business in Holloway, so he thought he would come
on here to make your acquaintance and take a look at the premises."

"All the same," Mr. Polton' said I, "I don't quite see the connexion
between Dr. Thorndyke and wax."

He crinkled with a slightly embarrassed air and explained that he must
have been thinking of something that the doctor had said to him; but his
explanations were cut short by a knock at the door.

"That is his knock," said Polton; and he and I together proceeded to open
the door, when I inducted the distinguished visitor into the studio and
presented him to the presiding goddess. I noticed that each of them
inspected the other with some curiosity and that the first impressions
appeared to be mutually satisfactory, though Marion was at first a little
overawed by Thorndyke's impressive personality.

"You mustn't let me interrupt your work," the latter said, when the
preliminary politenesses had been exchanged. "I have just come to fill in
Dr. Gray's outline sketches with details of my own observing. I wanted to
see you--to convert a name into an actual person, to see the studio for
the same reason, and to get as precise a description as possible of the
man whom we are trying to identify. Will it distress you to recall his

She had turned a little pale at the mention of her late assailant, but
she answered stoutly enough: "Not at all; besides, it is necessary."

"Thank you," said he; "then I will read out the description that I had
from Dr. Gray and we will see if you can add anything to it."

He produced a note-book from which he read out the particulars that I had
given him, at the conclusion of which he looked at her inquiringly.

"I think that is all that I remember," she said. "There was very little
light and I really only glanced at him."

Thorndyke looked at her reflectively. "It is a fairly full description,"
said he. "Perhaps the nose is a little sketchy. You speak of a hooked
nose with a high bridge. Was it a curved nose of the Jewish type, or a
squarer Roman nose?"

"It was rather square in profile; a Wellington nose, but with a rather
broad base. Like a vulture's beak, and very large."

"Was it actually a hook-nose--I mean, had it a drooping tip?"

"Yes; the tip projected downwards and it was rather sharp--not bulbous."

"And the chin? Should you call it a pronounced or a retreating chin?"

"Oh, it was quite a projecting chin, rather of the Wellington type."

Thorndyke reflected once more, then, having jotted down the answers to
his questions, he closed the book and returned it to his pocket.

"It is a great thing to have a trained eye," he remarked. "In your one
glance you saw more than an ordinary person would have noted in a
leisurely inspection in a good light. You have no doubt that you would
know this man again if you should meet him?"

"Not the slightest," she replied with a shudder. "I can see him now, if I
shut my eyes."

"Well," he rejoined, with a smile, "I wouldn't recall that unpleasant
vision too often, if I were you. And now, may I, without disturbing you
further, just take a look round the premises?"

"But, of course. Dr. Thorndyke," she replied. "Do exactly what you

With this permission he drew away and stood for some moments letting a
very reflective eye travel round the interior; and meanwhile I watched
him curiously and wondered what he had really come for. His first
proceeding was to walk slowly round the studio and examine closely, one
by one, all the casts which hung on pegs. Next, in the same systematic
manner, he inspected all the shelves, mounting a chair to examine the
upper ones. It was after scrutinizing one of the latter that he turned
towards Marion and asked:

"Have you moved these casts lately. Miss D'Arblay?"

"No," she replied, "so far as I know, they have not been touched for

"Someone has moved them within the last day or two," said he. "Apparently
the nocturnal explorer went over the shelves as well as the cupboard."

"I wonder why?" said Marion. "There were no moulds on the shelves."

Thorndyke made no rejoinder, but as he stood on the chair he once more
ran his eye round the studio. Suddenly he stepped down from the chair,
picked it up, carried it over to the tall cupboard and once more mounted
it. His stature enabled him easily to look over the cornice on to the top
of the cupboard and it was evident that something there had attracted his

"Here is a derelict of some sort," he announced, "which certainly has not
been moved for some months." As he spoke, he reached over the cornice
into the enclosed space and lilted out an excessively grimy plaster mask,
from which he blew the thick coating of dust, and then stood for a while
looking at it thoughtfully.

"A striking face, this," he remarked, "but not attractive. It rather
suggests a Russian or Polish Jew. Do you recognize the person, Miss

He stepped down from the chair and handed the mask to Marion, who had
advanced to look at it and who now held it in her hand, regarding it with
a frown of perplexity.

"This is very curious," she said. "I thought I knew all the casts that
have been made here. But I have never seen this one before, and I don't
know the face. I wonder who he was. It doesn't look like an English face,
but I should hardly have taken it for the face of a Jew, with that rather
small and nearly straight nose."

"The East-European Jews are not a very pure breed," said Thorndyke. "You
will see many a face of that type in Whitechapel High Street and the
Jewish quarters hard by."

At this point, deserting the work-table, I came and looked over Marion's
shoulder at the mask which she was holding at arm's length. And then I
got a surprise of the most singular kind, for I recognized the face at a

"What is it, Gray?" asked Thorndyke, who had apparently observed my

"This is a most extraordinary coincidence!" I exclaimed. "Do you remember
my speaking to you about a certain Mr. Morris?"

"The dealer in antiques?" he queried.

"Yes. Well, this is his face."

He regarded me for some moments with a strangely intent expression. Then
he asked: "When you say that this is Morris's face, do you mean that it
resembles his face or that you identify it positively?"

"I identify it positively. I can swear to the identity. It isn't a face
that one would forget. And if any doubt were possible, there is this
hare-lip scar, which you can see quite plainly on the cast."

"Yes, I noticed that. And Morris has a hare-lip scar, has he?"

"Yes; and in the same position and of the same character. I think you can
take it as a fact that this cast was undoubtedly taken from Morris's

"Which," said Thorndyke, "is a really important fact and one that is
worth looking into."

"In what way is it important?" I asked.

"In this respect," he answered. "This man, Morris, is unknown to Miss
D'Arblay; but he was not unknown to her father. Here we have evidence
that Mr. D'Arblay had dealings with people of whom his daughter had no
knowledge. The circumstances of the murder made it clear that there must
be such people; but here we have proof of their existence and we can give
to one of them a local habitation and a name. And you will notice that
this particular person is a dealer in curios and possibly in more
questionable things. There is just a hint that he may have had some
rather queer acquaintances."

"He seemed to have had rather a fancy for plaster masks," I remarked. "I
remember that he had one in his shop window."

"Did your father make many life or death-masks as commissions, Miss
D'Arblay?" Thorndyke asked.

"Only one or two, so far as I know," she replied. "There is very little
demand for portrait masks nowadays. Photography has superseded them."

"That is what I should have supposed," said he. "This would be just a
chance commission. However, as it establishes the fact that this man
Morris was in some way connected with your father, I think I should like
to have a record of his appearance. May I take this mask away with me to
get a photograph of it made? I will take great care of it and let you
have it back safely."

"Certainly," replied Marion; "but why not keep it, if it is of any
interest to you? I have no use for it."

"That is very good of you," said he, "and if you will give me some rag and
paper to wrap it in, I will take myself off and leave you to finish your
work in peace."

Marion took the cast from him and, having procured some rag and paper,
began very carefully to wrap it up. While she was thus engaged, Thorndyke
stood letting his eye travel once more round the studio.

"I see," he remarked, "that you have quite a number of masks moulded from
life or death. Do I understand that they were not commissions?"

"Very few of them were," Marion replied. "Most of them were taken from
professional models, but some from acquaintances whom my father bribed
with the gift of a duplicate mask."

"But why did he make them? They could not have been used for producing
wax faces for the show figures, for you could hardly turn a shop-window
into a waxwork exhibition with lifelike portraits of real persons."

"No," Marion agreed; "that wouldn't do at all. These masks were
principally used for reference as to details of features when my father
was modelling a head in clay. But he did sometimes make moulds for the
wax from these masks, only he obliterated the likeness, so that the wax
face was not a portrait."

"By working on the wax, I suppose?"'

"Yes; or more usually by altering the mask before making the mould. It is
quite easy to alter a face. Let me show you."

She lifted one of the masks from its peg and laid it on the table.

"You see," she said, "that this is the face of a young girl-one of my
father's models. It is a round, smooth, smiling face with a very short,
weak chin and a projecting upper lip. We can change all that in a

She took up a lump of clay, and pinching off a pellet, laid it on the
right cheek-bone and spread it out. Having treated the other side in the
same manner, she rolled an elongated pellet with which she built up the
lower lip. Then, with a larger pellet, she enlarged the chin downwards
and forwards, and having added a small touch to each of the eyebrows, she
dipped a sponge in thick clay-water, or 'slip', and dabbed the mask all
over to bring it to a uniform colour.

"There," she said, "it is very rough, but you see what I mean."

The result was truly astonishing. The weak, chubby, girlish face had been
changed by these few touches into the strong, coarse face of a
middle--aged woman.

"It really is amazing!" I exclaimed. "It is a perfectly different face. I
wouldn't have believed that such a thing was possible."

"It is a most striking and interesting demonstration," said Thorndyke.
"But yet I don't know that we need be so surprised. If we consider that
of all the millions of persons in this island alone, each one has a face
which is different from any other and yet that all those faces are made
up of the same anatomical parts, we realize that the differences which
distinguish one face from another must be excessively subtle and minute."

"We do," agreed Marion, "especially when we are modelling a portrait bust
and the likeness won't come, although every part appears to be correct
and all the measurements seem to agree. A true likeness is an
extraordinarily subtle and exact piece of work."

"So I have always thought," said Thorndyke. "But I mustn't delay you any
longer. May I have my precious parcel?"

Marion hastily put the finishing touches to the not very presentable
bundle and handed it to him with a smile and a bow. He then took his
leave of her and I escorted him to the door, where he paused for a moment
as we shook hands.

"You are bearing my advice in mind, I hope. Gray," he said.

"As to keeping clear of unfrequented places? Yes, I have been very
careful in that respect, and I never go abroad without the pistol. It is
in my hip-pocket now. But I have seen no sign of anything to justify so
much caution. I doubt if our friend is even aware of my existence, and in
any case, I don't see that he has anything against me, excepting as Miss
D'Arblay's watch-dog."

"Don't be too sure, Gray," he rejoined earnestly. "There may be certain
little matters that you have overlooked. At any rate, don't relax your
caution. Give all unfrequented places a wide berth and keep a bright

With this final warning, he turned away and strode off down the road,
while I re-entered the studio just in time to see Polton mix the first
bowl of plaster, as Marion, having washed the clay from the transformed
mask, dried it and rehung it on its peg.


The statement that I had made to Thorndyke was perfectly true in
substance; but it was hardly as significant in fact as the words implied.
I had, it is true, in my journeyings abroad, restricted myself to
well-beaten thoroughfares. But then I had had no occasion to do
otherwise. Until Polton's arrival on the scene my time had been wholly
taken up in keeping a watch on Marion; and so it would have continued if
I had followed my own inclination. But at the end of the first day's work
she intervened resolutely.

"I am perfectly ashamed," she said, "to occupy the time of two men, both
of whom have their own affairs to attend to, though I can't tell you how
grateful I am to you for sacrificing yourselves."

"We are acting under the doctor's orders, miss," said Polton, thereby, in
his opinion, closing the subject.

"You mean Dr. Thorndyke's?" said Marion, not realizing--or not choosing
to realize--that, to Polton, there was no other doctor in the world who

"Yes, miss. The doctor's orders must be carried out."

"Of course they must," she agreed warmly, "since he has been so very good
as to take all this trouble about my safety. But there is no need for
both of you to be here together. Couldn't you arrange to take turns on
duty--alternate days or a half-day each? I hate the thought that I am
wasting the whole of both your times."

I did not look on the suggestion with favour, for I was reluctant to
yield up to any man--even to Polton--the privilege of watching over the
safety of one who was so infinitely dear to me. Nor was Polton much less
unwilling to agree, for he loathed to leave a piece of work uncompleted.
However, Marion refused to accept our denials (as is the way of women),
and the end of it was that Polton and I had to arrange our duties in
half-day shifts, changing over at the end of each week, the first spell
allotting the mornings to me and the latter half of the day--with the
duty of seeing Marion home--to him.

Thus, during each of the following six working days, I found myself with
the entire afternoon and evening free. The former I usually spent at the
hospital, but in the evenings, feeling too unsettled for study, I
occupied myself very pleasantly with long walks through the inexhaustible
streets, extending my knowledge of the town and making systematic
explorations of such distant regions as Mile End, Kingsland, Dalston,
Wapping and the Borough.

One evening I bethought me of my promise to look in on Usher. I did not
find myself yearning for his society, but a promise is a promise.
Accordingly, when I had finished my solitary dinner, I set forth from my
lodgings in Camden Square and made a bee-line for Clerkenwell; so far,
that is to say, as was possible, while keeping to the wider streets. For
in this respect, I followed Thorndyke's instructions to the letter,
though, as to the other matter--that of keeping a bright look-out--I was
less attentive, my mind being much more occupied with thoughts of Marion
(who would, just now, be on her way home under Polton's escort) than with
any considerations of my own personal safety. Indeed, to tell the truth,
I was inclined to be more than a little sceptical as to the need for
these extraordinary precautions.

I found Usher in the act of bowing out the last of the 'evening
consultations' and was welcomed by him with enthusiasm.

"Delighted to see you, old chap!" he exclaimed, shaking my hand warmly.
"It is good of you to drop in on an old fossil like me. Didn't much think
you would. I suppose you don't often come this way?"

"No," I replied. "It is rather off my beat. I've finished with
Hoxton--for the present, at any rate."

"So have I," said Usher, "since poor old Crile went off to the better

"Crile?" I repeated. "Who was he?"

"Don't you remember me telling you about his funeral, when they had those
Sunday-school kids yowling hymns round the grave? That was Mr.
Crile--Christian name, Jonathan."

"I remember, but I didn't realize that he was a Hoxton aristocrat."

"Well, he was. Fifty-two Field Street was his earthly abode. I used to
remember it by the number of weeks in the year. And glad enough I was
when he hopped off his perch, for his confounded landlady, a Mrs. Pepper,
would insist on fixing the times for my visits, and deuced inconvenient
times, too. Between four and six on Tuesdays and Fridays. I hate patients
who turn your visits into appointments. Upsets your whole visiting-list."

"It seems to be the fashion in Hoxton," I remarked. "I had to make my
visits at appointed times, too. It would have been frightfully
inconvenient if I had been busy. Is it often done?"

"They will always do it if you let 'em. Of course it is a convenience to
a woman who doesn't keep a servant, to know what time the doctor is going
to call; but it doesn't do to give way to 'em."

I assented to this excellent principle, noting, however, that he seemed
to have "given way to 'em" all the same.

As we had been talking, we had gradually drifted from the surgery up a
flight of stairs to a shabby, cosy little room on the first floor, where
a cheerful fire was burning and a copper kettle on a trivet purred
contentedly and breathed forth little clouds of steam. Usher inducted me
into a large easy-chair, the depressed seat of which suggested its
customary use by an elephant of sedentary habits, and produced from a
cupboard a spirit-decanter, a high-shouldered Dutch gin-bottle, a
sugar-basin and a couple of tumblers and sugar-crushers.

"Whisky or Hollands?" he demanded, and as curiosity led me to select the
latter, he commented: "That's right, Gray. Good stuff, Hollands. Touches
up the cubical epithelium--what! I am rather partial to a drop of

It was no empty profession. The initial dose made me open my eyes; and
that was only a beginning. In a twinkling, as it seemed, his tumbler was
empty and the collaboration of the bottle and the copper kettle was
repeated. And so it went on for nearly an hour, until I began to grow
quite uneasy, though without any visible cause, so far as Usher was
concerned. He did not turn a hair (he hadn't very many to turn for that
matter, but I speak figuratively). The only effect that I could observe
was an increasing fluency of speech with a tendency to discursiveness;
and I must admit that his conversation was highly entertaining. But his
evident intention to 'make a night of it' set me planning to make my
escape without appearing to slight his hospitality. How I should have
managed it, unaided by the direct interposition of Providence, I cannot
guess; for his conversation had now taken the form of an interminable
sentence punctuated by indistinguishable commas; but in the midst of this
steadily-flowing stream of eloquence the outer silence was rent by the
sudden jangling of a bell.

Usher stopped short, stared at me solemnly, deliberately emptied his
tumbler and stood up.

"Night bell, ol' chappie," he explained. "Got to go out. But don't you
disturb yourself. Be back in a few minutes. Soon polish 'em off."

"I'll walk round with you as far as your patient's house," said I, "and
then I shall have to get home. It is past ten and I have a longish walk
to Camden Square."

He was disposed to argue the point, but another violent jangling cut his
protests short and lent him hurrying down the stairs with me close at his
heels. A couple of minutes later we were out in the street, following in
the wake of a hurrying figure; and, looking at Usher as he walked
sedately at my side, with his top-hat, his whiskers and his inevitable
umbrella, I had the feeling that all those jorums of Hollands had been
consumed in vain. In appearance, in manner, in speech and in gait he was
just his normal self, with never a hint of any change from the status quo
ante bellum.

Our course led us into the purlieus of St. John Street Road, where we
presently turned into a narrow, winding and curiously desolate little
street, along which we proceeded for a few hundred yards, when our
'fore-runner' halted at a door into which he inserted a latch-key. When
we arrived at the open door, inside which a shadowy figure was lurking,
Usher stopped and held out his hand.

"Good night, old chap," he said. "Sorry you can't come back with me. If
you keep straight on and turn to the left at the cross-roads, you will
come out presently into the King's Cross Road. Then you'll know your way.
So long."

He turned into the dark passage, the door was closed and I went on my

The little meandering street was singularly silent and deserted; and its
windings cut off the light from the scanty street-lamps, so that
stretches of it were in almost total darkness. As I strode forward the
echoes of my foot-falls resounded with hollow reverberations which smote
my ear--and ought have smitten my conscience--causing me to wonder, with
grim amusement, what Thorndyke would have said if he could have seen me
thus setting his instructions at defiance. Indeed, I was so far sensible
of the impropriety of my being in such a place at such an hour that I was
about to turn to take a look back along the street; but at the very
moment that I halted within a few feet of a street-lamp, something struck
the brim of my hat with a sharp, weighty blow like the stroke of a
hammer, and I heard a dull thud from the lamp-post.

In an instant I spun round, mighty fierce, whipping out my pistol,
cocking it and pointing it down the street as I raced back towards the
spot from whence the missile had appeared to come. There was not a soul
in sight nor any sound of movement, and the shallow doorways seemed to
offer no possible hiding-place. But some thirty yards back I came
suddenly on a narrow opening like an empty doorway but actually the
entrance to a covered alley not more than three feet wide and as dark as
a pocket. This was evidently the ambush (which I had passed, like a fool,
without observing it), and I halted beside it, with my pistol still
pointed, listening intently and considering what I had better do. My
first impulse had been to charge into the alley, but a moment's
reflection showed the futility of such a proceeding. Probably my
assailant had made off by some well-known outlet; but in any case it
would be sheer insanity for me to plunge into that pitch-dark passage.
For if he were still lurking there, he would be invisible to me, whereas
I should be a clear silhouette against the dim light of the street.
Moreover, I had seen no one and I could not shoot at any chance stranger
whom I might find there. Reluctantly, I recognized that there was nothing
for it but to retreat cautiously and be more careful in future.

My retirement would have looked an odd proceeding to an observer, if
there had been one, for I had to retreat crab-wise in order that I might
keep the entrance of the alley covered with my pistol and yet see where I
was going. When I reached the lamp-post, I scanned the area of lighted
ground beneath it, and, almost at the first glance, perceived an object
like a largish marble lying in the road. It proved, when I picked it up,
to be a leaden ball, like an old-fashioned musket-ball, with one
flattened side, which had prevented it from rolling away from the spot
where it had fallen. I dropped it into my pocket and resumed my masterly
retreat until, at length, the cross-roads came into view. Then I
quickened my pace, and as I reached the corner, put away my pistol after
slipping in the safety-catch.

Once more out in the lighted and frequented main streets, my thoughts
were free to turn over this extraordinary experience. But I did not allow
them to divert me from a very careful look-out. All my scepticism was
gone now. I realized that Thorndyke had not been making mere vague
guesses, but that he had clearly foreseen that something of this kind
would probably happen. That was, to me, the most perplexing feature of
this incomprehensible affair.

I turned it over in my mind again and again and could make nothing of it.
I could see no adequate reason why this man should want to make away with
me. True, I was Marion's protector, but that--even if he were aware of
it--did not seem an adequate reason. Indeed, I could not see why he was
seeking to make away with her--nor, even, was it clear to me that there
had been a reasonable motive for murdering her father. But as to myself,
I seemed to be out of the picture altogether. The man had nothing to fear
from me or to gain by my death.

That was how it appeared to me; and yet I saw plainly that I must be
mistaken. There must be something behind all this--something that was
unknown to me but was known to Thorndyke. What could it be? I found
myself unable to make any sort of guess. In the end, I decided to call on
Thorndyke the following evening, report the incident and see if I could
get any enlightenment from him.

The first part of this programme I carried out successfully enough, but
the second presented more difficulties.

Thorndyke was not a very communicative man, and a perfectly impossible
one to pump. What be chose to tell, he told freely; and beyond that, no
amount of ingenuity could extract the faintest shadow of a hint.

"I am afraid I am disturbing you, sir," I said in some alarm, as I noted
a portentous heap of documents on the table.

"No," he replied. "I have nearly finished, and I shall treat you as a
friend and keep you waiting while I do the little that is left." He
turned to his papers and took up his pen, but paused to cast one of his
quick, penetrating glances at me.

"Has anything fresh happened?" he asked.

"Our unknown friend has had a pot at me," I answered. "That is all."

He laid down his pen and, leaning back in his chair, demanded
particulars. I gave him an account of what had happened on the preceding
night, and taking the leaden ball from my pocket, laid it on the table.
He picked it up, examined it curiously and then placed it on the

"Just over half an ounce," he said. "It is a mercy it missed your head.
With that weight and the velocity indicated by the flattening, it would
have dropped you insensible with a fractured skull."

"And then he would have come along and put the finishing touches, I
suppose. But I wonder how he shot the thing. Could he have used an

Thorndyke shook his head. "An air-gun that would discharge a ball of that
weight would make quite a loud report, and you say you heard nothing. You
are quite sure of that, by the way?"

"Perfectly. The place was as silent as the grave."

"Then he must have used a catapult; and an uncommonly efficient weapon it
is in skilful hands, and as portable as a pistol. You mustn't give him
another chance, Gray."

"I am not going to if I can help it. But what the deuce does the fellow
want to pot at me for? It is a most mysterious thing. Do you understand
what it is all about, sir?"

"I do not," he replied. "My knowledge of the facts of this case is nearly
all second-hand knowledge, derived from you. You know all that I know and
probably more."

"That is all very well, sir," said I; "but you foresaw that this was
likely to happen. I didn't. Therefore you must know more about the case
than I do."

He chuckled softly. "You are confusing knowledge and inference," said he.
"We had the same facts, but our inferences were not the same. It is just
a matter of experience. You haven't squeezed out of the facts as much as
they are capable of yielding. Come, now, Gray; while I am finishing my
work, you shall look over my notes of this case, and then you should take
a sort of bird's-eye view of the whole case and see if anything new
occurs to you. And you must add to those notes that this man has been at
the enormous trouble of stalking you continuously, that he shadowed you
to Usher's, that he waited patiently for you to come out, that he
followed you most skillfully and took instant advantage of the first
opportunity that you gave him. You might also note that he did not elect
to overtake you and make a direct attack on you as he did on Miss
D'Arblay. Note those facts and consider what their significance may be.
And now just go through this little dossier. It won't take you many

He took out of a drawer a small portfolio, on the cover of which was
written 'J. D'Arblay, decd.' and, passing it to me, returned to his
documents. I opened it and found it to contain a number of separate
abstracts, each duly headed with its descriptive title, and an envelope
marked "Photographs." Glancing over the abstracts, I saw that they dealt
respectively with J. D'Arblay, the Inquest, the Van Zellen Case, Miss
D'Arblay, Dr. Gray and Mr. Morris; the last containing, somewhat to my
surprise, all the details that I had given Thorndyke respecting that
rather mysterious person together with an account of my dealings with him
and cross-references to the abstract bearing my name. It was all very
complete and methodical, but none of the abstracts contained any
information that was new to me. If this represented all the facts at were
known to Thorndyke, then he was no better informed than I was. But he had
evidently got a great deal more out of the information than I had.

Returning the abstracts with some disappointment to the portfolio, I
turned to the photographs, and then I got a very thorough surprise. There
were only three, and the first two were of no great interest, one
representing the two casts of the guinea and the other the plaster mask
of Morris. But the third fairly took away my breath. It was a very bad
photograph, apparently an enlargement from a rather poor snap-shot
portrait; but, bad as it was, it gave a very vivid presentment of one of
the most evil-looking faces that I have ever looked on: a lean, bearded
face with high cheekbones, with heavy, frowning brows that overhung
deep-shadowed, hollow eye-sockets and an almost grotesquely large nose,
thin, curved and sharp, that jutted out like a great predatory beak.

I stared at the photograph in speechless amazement. At the first glance I
had been struck by the perfect way in which this crude portrait realized
Marion's description of the man who had tried to murder her. But that was
not all. There was another resemblance which I now perceived with even
more astonishment; indeed it was so incredible that the perception of it
reduced me to something like stupefaction. I sat for fully a minute with
the portrait in my hand and my thoughts surging confusedly in a vain
effort to grasp the meaning of this extraordinary likeness; then,
happening to glance up at Thorndyke, I found him quietly regarding me
with undisguised interest.

"Well?" he said, as he caught my eye.

"Who is he?" I demanded, holding up the photograph.

"That is what I want to know," he replied. "The photograph came to me
without any description. The identity of the subject is unknown. Who do
you think he is?"

"To begin with," I answered, "he exactly corresponds in appearance with
Miss D'Arblay's description of her would-be murderer. Don't you think

"I do," he replied. "The correspondence seems complete in every detail,
so far as I can judge. That was why I secured the photograph. But the
actual resemblance will have to be settled by her. I suggest that you
take the portrait and let her see it; but you had better not show it to
her pointedly for identification. It would be better to put it in some
place where she will see it without previous suggestion or preparation.
But you said just now 'to begin with'. Was there anything else that
struck you about this photograph?"

"Yes," I answered, "there was--a most amazing thing. You remember my
telling you about the patient I attended in Morris's house?"

"The man who died of gastric cancer and was eventually cremated?"

"Yes. His name was Bendelow. Well, this photograph might have been a
portrait of Bendelow, taken with a beard and moustache before the disease
got hold of him. Excepting for the emaciation and the beard--Bendelow was
clean-shaved--I should think it would be quite an excellent likeness of

Thorndyke made no immediate reply or comment, but sat quite still,
looking at me with a very singular expression. I could see that he was
thinking rapidly and intensely, but I suspected that his thoughts were in
a good deal less confusion than mine had been.

"It is," he remarked at length, "as you say, a most amazing affair. The
face is no ordinary face. It would be difficult to mistake it, and one
would have to go far to find another with which it could be confused.
Still, one must not forget the possibility of a chance resemblance.
Nature doesn't take out letters-patent even for a human face. But I will
ask you, Gray, to write down and send to me all that you know about the
late Mr. Bendelow, including all the details of your attendance on him,
dead and alive."

"I will," said I, "though it is difficult to imagine what connexion he
could have had with the D'Arblay case."

"It seems incredible that he could have had any," Thorndyke agreed. "But
at present we are collecting facts, and we must note everything
impartially. It is a fatal mistake to select your facts in accordance
with the apparent probabilities. By the way, if Bendelow was like this
photograph, he must have corresponded pretty exactly with Miss D'Arblay's
very complete and lucid description. I wonder why you did not realize
that at the time."

"That is what I have been wondering. But I suppose it was the beard and
the absence of any kind of association between Bendelow and the

"Probably," he agreed. "A beard and moustache alter very greatly even a
striking face like this. Incidentally, it illustrates the superiority of
a picture over a verbal description for purposes of identification. No
mere description will enable you to visualize correctly a face which you
have never seen. I shall be curious to hear what Miss D'Arblay has to say
about this photograph."

"I will let you know without delay," said I; and then, as he seemed to
have completed his work and put the documents aside, I made a final
effort to extract some definite information from him.

"It is evident," I said, "that the body of facts in your notes has
conveyed a good deal more to you than it has to me."

"Probably," he agreed. "If it had not, I should seem to have profited
little by years of professional practice."

"Then," I said persuasively, "may I ask, if you have formed a really
satisfactory theory as to who this man is and why he murdered D'Arblay?"

Thorndyke reflected for a few moments and then replied:

"My position. Gray, is this: I have arrived at a very definite theory as
to the motive of the murder, and a most extraordinary motive it is. But
there are one or two points that I do not understand. There are some
links missing from the chain of evidence. So with the identity of the
man. We know pretty certainly that he is the murderer of Van Zellen and
we know what he is like to look at; but we can't give him a name and a
definite personality. There are links missing there, too. But I have
great hopes of finding those missing links. If I find them, I shall have
a complete case against this man and I shall forthwith set the law in
motion. I can't tell you more than that at present; but I repeat that you
are in possession of all the facts and that if you think over all that
has happened and ask yourself what it can mean, though you will not
arrive at a complete solution any more than I have, you will at least
begin to see the light."

This was all that I could get out of him, and as it was growing late I
presently rose to take my departure. He walked with me as far as the
Middle Temple Gate and stood outside the wicket watching me as I strode
away westward.


When I arrived at the studio on the following afternoon I found the door
open and Polton waiting just inside with his hat and overcoat on and his
bag in his hand.

"I am glad you are punctual, sir," he said, with his benevolent smile. "I
wanted to get back to the chambers in good time to-day. It won't matter
to-morrow, which is fortunate, as you may be late."

"Why may I be late to-morrow?" I asked.

"I have a message for you from the doctor," he replied. "It is about what
you were discussing last night. He told me to tell you that he is
expecting a visit from an officer of the Criminal Investigation
Department and he would like you to be present, if it would be
convenient. About half past ten, sir."

"I will certainly be there," said I.

"Thank you, sir," said he. "And the doctor told me to warn you, in case
you should arrive after the officer, not to make any comment on anything
that may be said, or to seem to know anything about the subject of the

"This is very mysterious, Polton," I remarked.

"Why, not particularly, sir," he replied. "You see, the officer is coming
to give certain information, but he will try to get some for himself if
he can. But he won't get anything out of the doctor, and the only way for
you to prevent his pumping you is to say nothing and appear to know

I laughed at his ingenuous wiliness. "Why," I exclaimed, "you are as bad
as the doctor, Polton. A regular Machiavelli."

"I never heard of him," said Polton, "but most Scotchmen are pretty
close. Oh, and there is another little matter that I wanted to speak to
you about--on my own account this time. I gathered from the doctor, in
confidence, that someone has been following you about. Now, sir, don't
you think it would be very useful to be able to see behind you without
turning your head?"

"By jove!" I exclaimed. "It would indeed! Capital! I never thought of it.
I will have a supplementary eye fixed in the back of my head without

Polton crinkled deprecatingly. "No need for that, sir," said he. "I have
invented quite a lot of different appliances for enabling you to see
behind you--reflecting spectacles and walking-sticks with prisms in the
handle and so on. But for use at night I think this will answer your
purpose best."

He produced from his pocket an object somewhat like a watchmaker's
eye-glass, and having fixed it in his eye to show me how it worked,
handed it to me with the request that I would try it. I did so and was
considerably surprised at the efficiency of the appliance; for it gave me
a perfectly dear view of the street almost directly behind me.

"I am very much obliged to you, Polton," I said enthusiastically. "This
is a most valuable gift, especially under the present circumstances."

He was profoundly gratified "I think you will find it useful, sir," he
said. "The doctor uses these things sometimes, and so do I if the
occasion arises. You see, sir, if you are being shadowed, it is a fatal
thing to turn round and look behind you. You never get a chance of seeing
what the stalker is like, and you put him on his guard."

I saw this clearly enough and once more thanked him for his timely gift.
Then, having shaken his hand and sped him on his way, I entered the lobby
and shut the outer door, at the same time transferring Thorndyke's
photograph from my letter-case to my jacket-pocket. When I passed through
into the studio, I found Marion putting the finishing touches to a
plaster case. She greeted me with a smile as I entered and then plunged
her hand once more into the bowl of rapidly-thickening plaster, whereupon
I took the opportunity to lay the photograph on a side-bench as I walked
towards the table on which she was working.

"Good afternoon, Marion," said I.

"Good afternoon, Stephen," she responded, adding, "I can't shake hands
until I have washed," and held out her emplastered hands in evidence.

"That will be too late," said I, and as she looked up at me inquiringly,
I stooped and kissed her.

"You are very resourceful," she remarked with a smile and a warm blush,
as she scooped up another handful of plaster; and then, as if to cover
her slight confusion, she asked: "What was all that solemn pow-wow about
with Mr. Polton? And why did he wait for you at the door in that
suspicious manner? Had he some secret message for you?"

"I don't know whether it was intended to be secret," I answered, "but it
isn't going to be so far as you are concerned;" and I repeated to her the
substance of Thorndyke's message, to which she listened with an eagerness
that rather surprised me, until her further inquiries explained it.

"This sounds rather encouraging," she said; "as if Dr. Thorndyke had been
making some progress in his investigations. I wonder if he has. Do you
think he really knows much more than we do?"

"I am sure he does," I replied, "but how much more, I cannot guess. He is
extraordinarily close. But I have a feeling that the end is not so very
far off. He seems to be quite hopeful of laying his hand on this

"Oh! I hope you are right, Stephen," she exclaimed. "I have been getting
so anxious. There has seemed to be no end to this deadlock. And yet it
can't go on indefinitely."

"What do you mean, Marion?" I asked.

"I mean," she answered, "that you can't go on wasting your time here and
letting your career go. Of course, it is delightful to have you here. I
don't dare to think what the place will be like without you. But it makes
me wretched to think how much you are sacrificing for me."

"I am not really sacrificing anything," said I. "On the contrary, I am
spending my time most profitably in the pursuit of knowledge and most
happily in a sweet companionship which I wouldn't exchange for anything
in the world."

"It is very nice of you to say that," she said, "but still, I shall be
very relieved when the danger is over and you are free."

"Free!" I exclaimed. "I don't want to be free. When my apprenticeship has
run out I am coming on as journeyman. And now I had better get my blouse
on and start work."

I went to the further end of the studio, and taking the blouse down from
its peg; proceeded to exchange it for my coat. Suddenly I was startled by
a sharp cry, and turning round, beheld Marion stooping over the
photograph with an expression of the utmost horror.

"Where did this come from?" she demanded, turning a white,
terror-stricken face on me.

"I put it there, Marion," I answered somewhat sheepishly, hurrying to her
side. "But what is the matter? Do you know the man?"

"Do I know him?" she repeated. "Of course I do. It is he--the man who
came here that night."

"Are you quite sure?" I asked. "Are you certain that it is not just a
chance resemblance?"

She shook her head emphatically. "It is he, Stephen. I can swear to him.
It is no mere resemblance. It is a likeness, and a perfect one, though it
is such a bad photograph. But where did you get it? And why didn't you
show it to me when you came in?"

I told her how I came by it and explained Thorndyke's instructions.
"Then," she said, "Dr. Thorndyke knows who the man is."

"He says he doesn't, and he was very close and rather obscure as to how
the photograph came into his possession."

"It is very mysterious," said she, with another terrified glance at the
photograph. Then suddenly she snatched it up and, with averted face, held
it out to me. "Put it away, Stephen," she entreated. "I can't bear the
sight of that horrible face. It brings back afresh all the terrors of
that awful night."

I hastily returned the photograph to my letter-case, and taking her arm,
led her back to the work-table. "Now," I said, "let us forget it and get
on with our work;" and I proceeded to turn the case over and fix it in
the new position with lumps of clay. For a little while she watched me in
silence, and I could see by her pallor that she was still suffering from
the shock of that unexpected encounter. But presently she picked up a
scraper and joined me in trimming up the edges of the case, cutting out
the 'key-ways' and making ready for the second half; and by degrees her
colour came back and the interest of the work banished her terrors.

We were, in fact, extremely industrious. We not only finished the
case--it was an arm from the shoulder which was to be made--cut the
pouring-holes and varnished the inside with knotting, but we filled one
half with the melted gelatine which was to form the actual mould in which
the wax would be cast. This brought the day's work to an end, for nothing
more could be done until the gelatine had set--a matter of at least
twelve hours.

"It is too late to begin anything fresh," said Marion. "You had better
come and have supper with me and Arabella."

I agreed readily enough to this proposal, and when we had tidied up in
readiness for the morning's work, we set forth at a brisk pace--for it
was a cold evening--towards Highgate, gossiping cheerfully as we went. By
the time we reached Ivy Cottage eight o'clock was striking and 'the
village' was beginning to settle down for the night. The premature quiet
reminded me that the adjacent town would presently be settling down, too,
and that I should do well to start for home before the streets had become
too deserted.

Nevertheless, so pleasantly did the time slip away in the cosy
sitting-room with my two companions that it was close upon half past ten
when I rose to take my departure. Marion escorted me to the door, and as
I stood in the hall buttoning up my overcoat she said:

"You needn't worry if you are detained to-morrow. We shall be making the
wax cast of the bust and I am certain Mr. Polton won't leave the studio
until it is finished, whether you are there or not. He is perfectly mad
on waxwork. He wormed all the secrets of the trade out of me the very
first time we were alone and he is extraordinarily quick at learning. But
I can't imagine what use the knowledge will be to him."

"Perhaps he thinks of starting an opposition establishment," I suggested,
"or he may have an eye to a partnership. But if he has, he will have a
competitor, and one with a prior claim. Good night, dear child. Save some
of the waxwork for me to-morrow."

She promised to restrain Polton's enthusiasm as far as possible and,
wishing me 'good night,' held out her hand, but submitted without demur
to being kissed; and I took my departure in high spirits, more engrossed
with the pleasant leave-taking than with the necessity of keeping a
bright look-out.

I was nearing the bottom of the High Street when the prevailing quiet
recalled me to the grim realities of my position, and I was on the point
of stopping to take a look round when I bethought me of Polton's
appliance and also of that cunning artificer's advice not to put a
possible Stalker on his guard. I accordingly felt in my pocket, and
having found the appliance carefully fixed it in my eye without altering
my pace. The first result was a collision with a lamp--post, which served
to remind me of the necessity of keeping both eyes open. The instrument
was, in fact, not very easy to use while walking and it took me a minute
or two to learn how to manage it. Presently, however, I found myself able
to divide my attention between the pathway in front and the view behind,
and then it was that I became aware of a man following me at a distance
of about a hundred yards. Of course, there was nothing remarkable or
suspicious in this, for it was a main thoroughfare and by no means
deserted at this comparatively early tour. Nevertheless, I kept the man
in view, noting that he wore a cloth cap and a monkey-jacket, that he
carried no stick or umbrella and that when I slightly slackened my pace
he did not seem to overtake me. As this suggested that he was
accommodating his pace to mine, I decided to put the matter to the test
by giving him an opportunity to pass me at the next side-turning.

At this moment the Roman Catholic church came into view and I recalled
that at its side a narrow lane--Dartmouth Park Hill--ran down steeply
between high fences towards Kentish Town. Instantly I decided to turn
into the lane--which bent sharply to the left behind the church--walk a
few yards down it and then return slowly. If my follower were a harmless
stranger, he would then have passed on down Highgate Hill, whereas if he
were stalking me I should meet him at the entrance to the lane and could
then see what he was like.

But I was not very well satisfied with this plan, for the obvious
manoeuvre would show him that he was suspected, and as I approached the
church, a better plan suggested itself.

On one side by the entrance to the lane were some low railings and a gate
with large brick piers. In a moment I had vaulted over the railings and
taken up a position behind one of the piers, where I stood motionless,
listening intently. Very soon I caught the sound of distinctly rapid
footsteps, which suddenly grew louder as my follower came opposite the
entrance to the lane, and louder still as, without a moment's hesitation,
he turned into it.

From my hiding-place in the deep shadow of the pier I could safely peep
out into the wide space at the entrance of the lane, and as this space
was well lighted by a lamp I was able to get an excellent view of my
follower. And very much puzzled I was therewith. Naturally I had expected
to recognize the man whose photograph I had in my pocket. But this was
quite a different type of man. It is true that he was shortish and rather
slightly built and that he had a beard: but there the resemblance ended.
His face, which I could see plainly by the lamp-light, so far from being
of an aquiline or vulturine cast, was rather of the blunt and bibulous
type. The short, though rather bulbous nose made up in colour what it
lacked in size, and its florid tint extended into the cheek on either
side in the form of what dermatologists call acne rosacea.

I say that his appearance puzzled me; but it was not his appearance
alone. For the latter showed that he was a stranger to me and suggested
that he was going down the lane on his lawful occasions; but his
movements did not support that suggestion. He had turned into the lane
and passed my hiding-place at a very quick walk. But just as he reached
the sharp turn he slackened his pace, stepping lightly, and then stopped
for a moment, listening intently and peering forward into the darkness of
the lane. At length he started again and disappeared round the corner,
and by the sound of his retreating footsteps I could tell that he was
once more putting on the pace.

I listened until these sounds had nearly died away and was just about to
emerge from my shelter when I became aware of footsteps approaching from
the opposite direction, and as I did not choose to be seen in the act of
climbing the railings, I decided to remain perdu until this person had
passed. These footsteps, too, had a distinctly hurried sound, a fact
which I noted with some surprise; but I was a good deal more surprised
when the new-comer turned sharply into the entrance, walked swiftly past
my ambush, and then, as he approached the corner, suddenly slowed down,
advancing cautiously on tip-toe, and finally halted to listen and stare
into the obscurity of the lane.

I peered out at this new arrival with an amazement that I cannot
describe. Like the first man, he was a complete stranger to me: a
tallish, athletic-looking man of about thirty-five, not ill-looking and
having something of a military air; fair-complexioned with a sandy
moustache but otherwise clean-shaved, and dressed in a suit of thick
tweed with no overcoat. I could see these details clearly by the light of
the lamp; and even as I was noting them, he disappeared round the corner
and I could hear him walking quickly but lightly down the lane.

As soon as he was gone I looked out from my hiding-place and listened
attentively. There was no one in sight nor could I hear anyone
approaching. I accordingly came forth and, quickly climbing over the
railings, stood for a few moments irresolute. The obviously reasonable
thing to do was to make off down Highgate Hill as fast as I could and
take the first conveyance that I could get homeward. But the appearance
of that second man had inflamed me with curiosity. What was he here for?
Was he shadowing me or was he in pursuit of the other man? Either
supposition was incredible, but one of them must be true. The end of it
was that curiosity got the better of discretion and I, too, started down
the lane, walking as fast as I could and treading as lightly as
circumstances permitted.

The second man was some considerable distance ahead, for his footsteps
came to me but faintly, and I did not seem to be gaining on him; and I
took it that his speed was a fair measure of that of the man in front.
Keeping thus within hearing of my quarry, I sped on, turning over the
amazing situation in my bewildered mind. The first man was a mystery to
me, though apparently not to Thorndyke. Who could he be, and why on earth
was he taking this prodigious amount of trouble to get rid of a harmless
person like myself? For there could be no mistake as to the magnitude of
the efforts that he was making. He must have waited outside the studio,
followed Marion and me to her home and there kept a patient vigil of over
two hours, waiting for me to come out. It was a stupendous labour. And
what was it all about? I could not form the most shadowy guess; while as
to the other man, the very thought of him reduced me to a state of
hopeless bewilderment.

As my reflections petered out to this rather nebulous conclusion, I
halted for a moment to listen for the footsteps ahead. They were still
audible, though they sounded somewhat farther away. But now I caught the
sound of other footsteps, approaching from behind. Someone else was
coming down the lane. Of course, there was nothing surprising in that
circumstance, for, after all, this was a public thoroughfare, little
frequented as it was, especially after dark. Nevertheless, something in
the character of those footsteps put me on the qui vive. For this man,
too, was walking quickly--very quickly--and with a certain stealthiness,
as if he had rubber-soled boots and, like the rest of us, were making as
little noise as possible.

I walked on at my previous rapid pace, keeping my ears cocked now both
fore and aft; and as I went, my mind surged with wild speculations. Could
it be that I had yet another follower? The thing was becoming grotesque.
My bewilderment began to mingle with a spice of grim amusement; but still
I listened, not without anxiety, to those foot-steps from behind, which
seemed to be growing rapidly more distinct. Whoever this newcomer might
be, he was no mean walker, for he was overtaking me apace; and this fact
gave a pretty broad hint as to his size and strength.

I looked back from time to time, but without stopping or slackening my
pace, trying to pierce the deep obscurity of the narrow, closed-in lane.
But it was a dark winter's night, and the high fences shut out even the
glimmer from the murky sky. It was not until the approaching footfalls
sounded quite near that I was able, at length, to make out a smear of
deeper darkness on the general obscurity. Then I drew out my pistol and,
withdrawing the safety-catch, put my hand, grasping it, into my overcoat
pocket. Having thus made ready for possible contingencies, I watched the
black shape emerge from the darkness until it developed into a tall,
portly man, bearing down on me with long, swinging strides, when I halted
and drew back against the fence to let him pass.

But he had no intention of passing. As he came up to me, he, too, halted,
and, looking into my face with undissembled curiosity, he addressed me in
a brusque though not uncivil tone.

"Now, sir, I must ask you to explain what is going on."

"What do you mean?" I demanded.

"I'll tell you," he replied. "I saw you, a little time ago, climb over
the railings and hide behind a gate-post. Then I saw a man come up in a
deuce of a hurry, and turn into the lane. I saw him stop and listen for
a moment and then bustle off down the hill. Close on this fellow's heels
comes another man, also in a devil of a hurry. He turns into the lane,
too, and suddenly he pulls up and creeps forward on tip-toe like a cat
on hot bricks. He stops and listens, too; and then off he goes down the
lane like a lamplighter. Then out you come from behind the gate-post,
over the railings you climb, and then you creep up to the corner and
listen, and then off you go down the lane like another lamplighter. Now,
sir, what's it all about?"

"I assume," said I, repressing a strong tendency to giggle, "that you
have some authority for making these inquiries?"

"I have, sir," he replied. "I am a police officer on plain-clothes duty.
I happened to be at the corner of Hornsey Lane when I saw you coming down
the High Street walking in a queer sort of way as if you couldn't see
where you were going. So I drew back into the shadow and had a look at
you. Then I saw you nip into the lane and climb over the railings, so I
waited to see what was going to happen next. And then those other two
came along. Well, now, I ask you again, sir, what's going on? What is it
all about?"

"The fact is," I said a little sheepishly, "I thought the first man was
following me, so I hid just to see what he was up to."

"What about the second man?"

"I don't know anything about him."

"What do you know about the first man?"

"Nothing, except that he certainly was following me."

"Why should he be following you?"

"I can't imagine. He is a stranger to me and so is the other man."

"Hm!" said the officer, regarding me with a distrustful eye. "Damn funny
affair. I think you had better walk up to the station with me and give us
a few particulars about yourself."

"I will with pleasure," said I. "But I am not altogether a stranger
there. Inspector Follett knows me quite well. My name is Gray--Dr. Gray."

The officer did not reply for a few moments. He seemed to be listening to
something. And now my ear caught the sound of footsteps approaching
hurriedly from down the lane. As they drew near, my friend peered into
the darkness and muttered in an undertone:

"Will that be one of 'em coming back?" He listened again for a moment or
two and then, resuming his inquiries, said aloud: "You say Inspector
Follett knows you. Well, perhaps you had better come and see Inspector

As he finished speaking, he again listened intently, and his mouth opened
slightly. I suspect my own did, too. For the footsteps had ceased. There
was now a dead silence in the lane.

"That chap has stopped to listen," my new friend remarked in a low voice.
"We had better see what his game is. Come along, sir;" and with this he
strode off at a pace that taxed my powers to keep up with him.

But at the very moment that he started, the footsteps became audible
again, only now they were obviously retreating; and straining my ears I
caught the faint sound of other and more distant foot-falls, also
retreating, so far as I could judge, and in the same hurried fashion.

For a couple of minutes the officer swung along like a professional
pedestrian and I struggled on just behind him, perspiring freely and
wishing that I could shed my overcoat. Still, despite our efforts, there
was no sign of our gaining on the men ahead. My friend evidently realized
this, for he presently growled over his shoulder: "This won't do," and
forthwith broke into a run.

Instantly this acceleration communicated itself to the men in front. The
rhythm of both sets of foot-falls showed that our fore-runners were
literally justifying that description of them; and as both had
necessarily given up any attempt to move silently, the sounds of their
retreat were borne to us quite distinctly. And from those sounds, the
unsatisfactory conclusion emerged that they were drawing ahead pretty
rapidly. My friend the officer was, as I have said, an uncommonly fine
walker. But he was no runner. His figure was against him. He was fully
six feet in height and he had a presence. He could have walked me off my
legs; but when it came to running I found myself ambling behind him with
such ease that I was able to get out my pistol and, after replacing the
safety-catch, stow the weapon in my hip-pocket out of harm's way.

However, if my friend was no sprinter he was certainly a stayer, for he
lumbered on doggedly until the lane entered the new neighbourhood of
Dartmouth Park; and here it was that the next act opened. We had just
passed the end of the first of the streets when I saw a surprisingly
agile policeman dart out from a shady corner and follow on in our wake in
proper Lilliebridge style. I immediately put on a spurt and shot past my
companion, and a few moments later, sounds of objurgation arose from
behind. I stopped at once and turned back just in time to hear an
apologetic voice exclaim:

"I'm sure I beg your pardon, Mr. Plonk. I didn't reckernize you in the

"No, of course you wouldn't," replied the plain-clothes officer. "Did you
see two men run past here just now?"

"I did," answered the constable; "one after the other, and both running
as if the devil was after them. I was halfway up the street, but I popped
down to have a look at them, and when I got to the corner I heard you
coming. So I just kept out of sight and waited for you."

"Quite right too," said Mr. Plonk. "Well, I don't see or hear anything of
those chaps now."

"No," agreed the constable, "and you are not likely to. There's a regular
maze of new streets about here. You can take it that they've got clear

"Yes, I'm afraid they have," said Plonk. "Well, it can't be helped and
there's nothing much in it. Good night, constable."

He moved off briskly, not wishing, apparently, to discuss the affair, and
in a few minutes we came to the wide crossroads. Here he halted and
looked me over by the light of a street-lamp. Apparently the result was
satisfactory, for he said: "It's hardly worth while to take you all the
way back to the station at this time of night. Where do you live?"

I told him Camden Square and offered a card in corroboration.

"Then you are pretty close home," said he, inspecting my card. "Very
well, doctor. I'll speak to Inspector Follett about this affair, and if
you have any further trouble of this sort you had better let us know. And
you had better let us have a description of the men in any case."

I promised to send him the particulars on the following day, and we then
parted with mutual good wishes, he making his way towards Holloway Road
and I setting my face homeward by way of the Brecknock Road and keeping
an uncommonly sharp look-out as I went.


On the following morning, in order to make sure of arriving before the
detective officer, I presented myself at King's Bench Walk a good
half-hour before I was due. The door was opened by Thorndyke himself, and
as we shook hands, he said: "I am glad you have come early. Gray. No
doubt Polton explained the programme to you, but I should like to make
our position quite clear. The officer who is coming here presently is
Detective-Superintendent Miller of the Criminal Investigation Department.
He is quite an old friend and he is coming at my request to give me
certain information. But, of course, he is a detective officer, with his
own duties to his department, and an exceedingly shrewd, capable man.
Naturally, if he can pick up any crumbs of information from us, he will,
and I don't want him to learn more, at present, than I choose to tell

"Why do you want to keep him in the dark?" I asked.

"Because," he replied, "we are doing quite well, and I want to get the
case complete before I call in the police. If I were to tell him all I
know and all I think, he might get too busy and scare our man away before
we have enough evidence to justify an arrest. As soon as the
investigation is finished and we have such evidence as will secure a
conviction, I shall turn the case over to him; meanwhile, we keep our own
counsel. Your role this morning will be that of listener. Whatever
happens, make no comment. Act as if you knew nothing that is not of
public knowledge."

I promised to follow his directions to the letter, though I could not get
rid of the feeling that all this secrecy was somewhat futile. Then I
began to tell him of my experiences of the previous night, to which he
listened at first with grave interest, but with growing amusement as the
story developed. When I came to the final chase and the pursuing
policeman, he leaned back in his chair and laughed heartily.

"Why," he exclaimed, wiping his eyes, "it was a regular procession! It
only wanted a string of sausages and a harlequin to bring it up to
pantomime form."

"Yes," I admitted with a grin, "It was a ludicrous affair. But it was a
mighty mysterious affair too. You see, neither of the men was the man I
had expected. There must be more people in this business than we had
supposed. Have you any idea who these men can be?"

"It isn't much use making vague guesses," he replied. "The important
point to note is that this incident, farcical as it turned out, might
easily have taken a tragical turn; and the moral is that, for the
present, you can't be too careful in keeping out of harm's way."

It was obvious to me that he was evading my question; that those two
sinister strangers were not the mystery to him that they were to me, and
I was about to return to the charge with a more definitely pointed
question when an elaborate flourish on the little brass knocker of the
inner door announced a visitor.

The tall, military-looking man whom Thorndyke admitted was evidently the
superintendent, as I gathered from the mutual greetings. He looked rather
hard at me until Thorndyke introduced me, which he did with
characteristic reticence.

"This is Dr. Gray, Miller, you may remember his name. It was he who
discovered the body of Mr. D'Arblay."

"Yes, I remember," said the superintendent, shaking my hand unemotionally
and still looking at me with a slightly dubious air.

"He is a good deal interested in the case," Thorndyke continued, "not
only professionally, but as a friend of the family--since the

"I see," said the superintendent, taking a final inquisitive look at me
and obviously wondering why the deuce I was there. "Well, there is
nothing of a very secret nature in what I have to tell you, and I suppose
you can rely on Dr. Gray to keep his own counsel and ours."

"Certainly," replied Thorndyke. "He quite understands that our talk is
confidential, even if it is not secret."

The officer nodded, and having been inducted into an easy-chair, by the
side of which a decanter, a siphon and a box of cigars had been placed,
settled himself comfortably, lit a cigar, mixed himself a modest
refresher and drew from his pocket a bundle of papers secured with red

"You asked me. Doctor," he began, "to give you all particulars up to date
of the Van Zellen case. Well, I can do that without difficulty, as the
case--or at least what is left of it--is in my hands. The circumstances
of the actual crime I think you know already, so I will take up the story
from that point.

"Van Zellen, as you know, was found dead in his room, poisoned with
prussic acid, and a quantity of very valuable portable properly was
missing. It was not dear whether the murderer had let himself in with
false keys or whether Van Zellen had let him in; but the place hadn't
been broken into. The job had been done with remarkable skill, so that
not a trace of the murderer was left. Consequently, all that was left for
the police to do was to consider whether they knew of anyone whose
methods agreed with those of this murderer.

"Well, they did know of such a person, but they had nothing against him
but suspicion. He had never been convicted of any serious crime, though
he had been in chokee once or twice for receiving. But there had been a
number of cases of robbery with murder--or rather murder with robbery;
for this man seemed to have committed the murder as a preliminary
precaution--and they were all of this kind: a solitary crime, very
skilfully carried out by means of poison. There was never any trace of
the criminal; but gradually the suspicions of the police settled down on
a rather mysterious individual of the name of Bendelow--Simon Bendelow.
Consequently, when the Van Zellen crime came to light, they were inclined
to put it on this man Bendelow, and they began making fresh inquiries
about him. But presently it transpired that someone had seen a man, on
the morning of the crime, coming away from the neighbourhood of Van
Zellen's house just about the time when the murder must have been

"Was there anything to connect him with the crime?" Thorndyke asked.

"Well, there was the time--the small hours of the morning--and the man
was carrying a good-sized handbag which seemed to be pretty heavy and
which would have held the stuff that was missing. But the most important
point was the man's appearance. He was described as a smallish man,
clean-shaven, with a big hooked nose and very heavy eyebrows set close
down over his eyes.

"Now, this put Bendelow out of it as the principal suspect, because the
description didn't fit him at all," (here I caught Thorndyke's eye for an
instant and was warned afresh, and not unnecessarily, to make no
comment); "but," continued the superintendent, "it didn't put him out
altogether. For the man whom the description did fit--and it fitted him
to a T--was a fellow named Crile--Jonathan Crile--who was a pal of
Bendelow's and was known to have worked with him as a confederate in the
receiving business and had been in prison once or twice. So the police
started to make inquiries about Crile, and before long they were able to
run him to earth. But that didn't do them much good, for it turned out
that Crile wasn't in New York at all. He was in Philadelphia; and it was
clearly proved that he had been there on the day of the murder, on the day
before and the day after. So they seemed to have drawn a blank; but they
were still a bit suspicious of Mr. Crile, who seems to have been as downy
a bird as his friend Bendelow, and of the other chappie, too. But they
hadn't a crumb of evidence against either.

"So there the matter stands. A complete deadlock. There was nothing to be
done; for you can't arrest a man on mere suspicion with not a single fact
to support it. But the police kept their eye on both gents, so far as
they could, and presently they got a chance. Bendelow made a slip--or at
any rate they said he did. It was a little trumpery affair, something in
the receiving line, and of no importance at all. Probably a faked charge,
too. But they thought that if they could get him arrested they might be
able to squeeze something out of him--the police in America can do things
that we aren't allowed to. So they tried to pounce on him. But Mr.
Bendelow was a slippery customer and he got wind of their intentions just
in time. When they got into his rooms they found that he had left--in a
deuce of a hurry, too, and only a few minutes before they arrived. They
searched the place, but found nothing incriminating, and they tried to
get on Bendelow's track, but they didn't succeed. He had managed to get
dear away, and Crile seemed to have disappeared, too.

"Well, that seemed to be the end of the affair. Both of these crooks had
made off without leaving a trace, and the police--having no
evidence--didn't worry any more about them. And so things went on for
about a year, until the Van Zellen case had been given up and nearly
forgotten. Then something happened quite recently that gave the police a
fresh start.

"It appears that there was a fire in the house in which Bendelow's rooms
were and a good deal of damage was done, so that they had to do some
rebuilding; and in the course of the repairs the builder's men found,
hidden under the floor-boards, a small parcel containing part of the Van
Zellen swag. There was nothing of real value; just coins and medals and
seal-rings and truck of that kind. But the things were all identified by
means of Van Zellen's catalogue, and, of course, the finding of them in
what had been Bendelow's rooms put the murder pretty clearly on to him.

"On this, as you can guess, the police and the detective agencies got
busy. They searched high and low for the missing man, but for a long time
they could pick up no traces of him. At last they discovered that he and
Crile had taken a passage, nearly a year ago, on a tramp-steamer bound
for England. Thereupon they sent a very smart, experienced detective over
to work at the case in conjunction with our own detective department.

"But we didn't have much to do with it. The American--Wilson was his
name--had all the particulars, with the prison photographs and
finger-prints of both the men, and he made most of the inquiries himself.
However, there were two things that we did for him. We handed over to him
the Van Zellen guinea and the particulars of the D'Arblay murder; and we
were able to inform him that his friend Bendelow was dead."

"How did you find that out?" Thorndyke asked.

"Oh, quite by chance. One of our men happened to be at Somerset House
looking up some details of a will when in the list of wills he came
across the name of Simon Bendelow, which he had heard from Wilson
himself. He at once got out the will, copied out the address of the
executrix and the names and addresses of the witnesses and handed them
over to Wilson, who was mightily taken aback, as you may suppose.
However, he wasn't taking anything for granted. He set off instantly to
look up the executrix--a Mrs. Morris. But there he got another
disappointment; for the Morrises had gone away and no one knew where they
had gone."

"I take it," said Thorndyke, "that probate of the will had been granted."

"Yes; everything in that way had been finished up. Well, on this, Wilson
set off in search of the witnesses, and he had better luck this time.
They were two elderly spinsters who lived together in a house in Turnpike
Lane, Hornsey. They didn't know much about Bendelow, for they had only
made his acquaintance after he had taken to his bed. They were introduced
to him by his friend and landlady, Mrs. Morris, who used to take them up
to his room to talk to him and cheer him up a bit. However, they knew all
about his death, for they had seen him in his coffin and they followed
him to the Ilford Crematorium."

"Ha!" said Thorndyke. "So he was cremated."

"Yes," chuckled the superintendent with a sly look at Thorndyke. "I
thought that would make you prick up your ears, Doctor. Yes, there were
no half-measures for Mr. Bendelow. He had gone literally to ashes. But it
was all right, you know. There couldn't have been any hanky-panky. These
two ladies had not only seen him in his coffin; they actually had a last
look at him through a little celluloid window in the coffin-lid, just
before the coffin was passed through into the cremation furnace."

"And there was no doubt as to his identity?"

"None whatever. Wilson showed the old ladies his photograph and they
recognized him instantly; picked his photograph out of a dozen others."

"Where was Bendelow living when they made his acquaintance?"

"Not far from their house: in Abbey Road, Hornsey. But the Morrises moved
afterwards to Market Street, Hoxton, and that is where he died and where
the will was signed."

"I suppose Wilson ascertained the cause of death?"

"Oh, yes. The old ladies told him that. But he went to Somerset House and
got a copy of the death-certificate. I haven't got that, as he took it
back with him; but the cause of death was cancer of the pylorus--that's
some part of the gizzard, I believe, but you'll know all about it. At any
rate, there was no doubt on the subject, as the two doctors made a
post-mortem before they signed the death-certificate. It was all
perfectly plain and straightforward.

"Well, so much for Mr. Bendelow. When Wilson had done with him, he turned
his attention to Crile. And then he really did get a proper shake-up.
When he was at Somerset House, looking up Bendelow's death-certificate,
it occurred to him just to run his eye down the list and make sure that
Crile was still in the land of the living. And there, to his
astonishment, he found Crile's name. He was dead, too! And not only was
he dead: he, also, had died of cancer--it was the pancreas this time,
another part of the gizzard--and he had died at Hoxton, too, and he had
died just four days before Bendelow. The thing was ridiculous. It looked
like a conspiracy. But here again everything was plain and above-board.
Wilson got a copy of the certificate and called on the doctor who had
signed it, a man named Usher. Of course, Dr. Usher remembered all about
the case as it had occurred quite recently. There was not a shadow of
doubt that Crile was dead. Usher had helped to put him in his coffin and
had attended at his funeral; and he, too, had no difficulty in picking
out Crile's photograph, and he had no doubt at all as to what Crile died
of. So there it was. Queer as it was, there was no denying the plain
facts. Those two crooks had slipped through the fingers of the law, so
far as it was possible to see.

"But I must admit that I was not quite satisfied; the circumstances were
so remarkably odd. I told Wilson so, and I advised him to look further
into the matter. I reminded him of the D'Arblay murder and the finding of
that guinea, but he said that the murder was our affair; that the men he
had come to look for were dead and that was all that concerned him. So
back he went to New York, taking with him the death-certificates and the
two photographs with the certificates of recognition on the backs of
them. But he left the notes of the case with me, on the chance that they
might be useful to me, and the two sets of finger-prints, which certainly
don't seem likely to be of much use under the circumstances."

"You never know," said Thorndyke, with an enigmatical smile.

The superintendent gave him a quick, inquisitive look and agreed. "No,
you don't; especially when you are dealing with Dr. John Thorndyke." He
pulled out his watch and, staring at it anxiously, exclaimed: "What a
confounded nuisance! I've got an appointment at the Law Courts in five
minutes. It is quite a small matter. Won't take me more than half an
hour. May I come back when I have finished? I should like to hear what
you think of this extraordinary story."

"Come back, by all means," said Thorndyke, "and I will turn over the
facts in my mind while you are gone. Probably some suggestion may present
itself in the interval."

He let the officer out, and when the hurried footsteps had died away on
the stairs, he dosed the door and turned to me with a smile.

"Well, Gray," he said, "what do you think of that? Isn't it a very pretty
puzzle for a medical jurist?"

"It is a hopeless tangle to me," I replied. "My brain is in a whirl. You
can't dispute the facts and yet you can't believe them. I don't know what
to make of the affair."

"You note the fact that, whoever may be dead, there is somebody
alive--very much alive; and that that somebody is the murderer of Julius

"Yes, I realize that. But obviously he can't be either Crile or Bendelow.
The question is, who is he?"

"You note the link between him and the Van Zellen murder--I mean the
electrotype guinea?"

"Yes; there is evidently some connexion, but I can't imagine what it can
be. By the way, you noticed that the American police had got muddled
about the personal appearance of these two men. The description of that
man who was seen coming away from Van Zellen's house, and who was said to
be quite unlike Bendelow, actually fitted him perfectly. They had
evidently made a mistake of some kind."

"Yes, I noticed that. But the description may have fitted Crile better.
We must get into touch with this man Usher. I wonder if he will be the
Usher who used to attend at St. Margaret's."

"He is; and I am in touch with him already. In fact, he was telling me
about this very patient, Jonathan Crile."

"Indeed! Can you remember the substance of what he told you?"

"I think so. It wasn't very thrilling;" and here I gave him, as well as I
could remember them, the details with which Usher had entertained me of
his attendance on the late Jonathan Crile, his dealings with the
landlady, Mrs. Pepper, and the incidents of the funeral, including
Usher's triumphant return in the mourning-coach. It seemed a dull and
trivial story, but Thorndyke listened to it with the keenest interest,
and when I had finished, he asked:

"He didn't happen to mention where Crile lived, I suppose?"

"Yes, curiously enough, he did. The address, I remember, was 52 Field
Street, Hoxton."

"Ha!" said Thorndyke. "You are a mine of information, Gray."

He rose, and taking down from the bookshelves Philip's Atlas of London,
opened it and pored over one of the maps. Then, replacing the atlas, he
go out his notes of the D'Arblay case and searched for a particular
entry. It was evidently quite a short one, for when he had found it he
gave it but a single glance and closed the portfolio. Then, returning to
the bookshelves, he took out the Post Office Directory and opened it at
the 'Streets' section. Here, also, his search was but a short one, though
it appeared to be concerned with two separate items; for having examined
one, he turned to a different part of the section to find the other.
Finally he closed the unwieldy volume, and having replaced it on the
shelf, turned and once more looked at me inquiringly.

"Reflecting on what Miller has told us," he said, "does anything suggest
itself to you? Any sort of hypothesis as to what the real facts may be?"

"Nothing whatever," I replied. "The confusion that was already in my mind
is only the worse confounded. But that is not your case, I take it?"

"Not entirely," he admitted. "The fact is that I had already formed a
hypothesis as to the motives and circumstances which lay behind the
murder of Julius D'Arblay and I find this new matter not inconsistent
with it. But that hypothesis may, nevertheless, turn out to be quite
wrong when we put it to the test of further investigation."

"You have some further investigation in view, then?"

"Yes. I am going to make a proposal to Superintendent Miller--and here he
comes, before his time; by which I judge that he, also, is keen on the
solution of this puzzle."

Thorndyke's opinion seemed to be justified, for the superintendent
entered all agog and opened the subject at once.

"Well, Doctor, I suppose you have been thinking over Wilson's story? How
does it strike you? Have you come to any conclusion?"

"Yes," replied Thorndyke. "I have come to the conclusion that I can't
accept that story at its face-value as representing the actual facts."

Miller laughed with an air of mingled amusement and vexation. "That is
just my position," said he. "The story seems incredible, but yet you
can't raise any objection. The evidence in support of it is absolutely
conclusive at every point. There isn't a single weak spot in it--at least
I haven't found one. Perhaps you have?" And here he looked at Thorndyke
with eager inquiry in his eyes.

"I won't say that," Thorndyke replied. "But I put it to you, Miller, that
the alleged facts that are offered are too abnormal to be entertained. We
cannot accept that string of coincidences. It must be obvious to you that
there is a fallacy somewhere and that the actual facts are not what they

"Yes, I feel that myself," rejoined Miller. "But what are we to do? How
are we to find the flaw in the evidence, if there is one? Can you see
where to look for it? I believe you can."

"I think there is one point which ought to be verified," said Thorndyke.
"The identification of Crile doesn't strike me as perfectly convincing."

"How does his case differ from Bendelow's?" Miller demanded.

"In two respects," was the reply. "First, Bendelow was identified by two
persons who had known him well for some time and who gave a
circumstantial account of his illness, his death and the disposal of his
body; and second, Bendelow's remains have been cremated and are
therefore, presumably, beyond our reach for purposes of identification."

"Well," Miller objected, "Crile isn't so very accessible, being some few
feet under ground."

"Still, he is there; and he has been buried only a few weeks. It would be
possible to exhume the body and settle the question of his identity once
for all."

"Then you are not satisfied with Dr. Usher's identification?"

"No. Usher saw him only after a long, wasting illness, which must have
altered his appearance very greatly; whereas the photograph was taken
when Crile was in his normal health. It couldn't have been so very like
Usher's patient."

"That's true," said Miller; "and I remember that Usher wasn't so very
positive, according to Wilson. But he agreed that it seemed to be the
same man, and all the other facts seemed to point to the certainty that
it was really Crile. Still, you are not satisfied? It's a pity Wilson
took the photograph back with him."

"The photograph is of no consequence," said Thorndyke. "You have the
finger-prints--properly authenticated finger-prints, actually taken from
the man in the presence of witnesses. After this short time it will be
possible to get perfectly recognizable finger-prints from the body, and
those finger-prints will settle the identity of Usher's patient beyond
any possible doubt."

The superintendent scratched his chin thoughtfully. "It's a bit of a job
to get an exhumation order," said he. "Before I raise the question with
the Commissioner, I should like to have a rather more definite opinion
from you. Do you seriously doubt that the man in that coffin is Jonathan

"It is my opinion," replied Thorndyke--"of course, I may be wrong, but it
is my considered opinion that the Crile who is in that coffin is not the
Crile whose fingerprints are in your possession."

"Very well. Doctor," said Miller, rising and picking up his hat, "that is
good enough for me. I won't ask you for your reasons, because I know you
won't give them. But I have known you long enough to fed sure that you
wouldn't give a definite opinion like that unless you had got something
pretty solid to go on. And I don't think we shall have any difficulty
about the exhumation order after what you have said."

With this the superintendent took his leave, and very shortly afterwards
Thorndyke carried me off to lunch at his club before dismissing me to
take up my duties at the studio.


It appeared that Thorndyke was correct in his estimate of the
superintendent's state of mind, for that officer managed to dispose in a
very short time of the formalities necessary for the obtaining of an
exhumation licence from the Home Office. It was less than a week after
the interview that I have recorded when I received a note from Thorndyke
asking me to join him and Miller at King's Bench Walk on the following
morning at the unholy hour of half past six. He offered to put me up for
the night at his chambers, but I declined this hospitality, not wishing
to trouble him unnecessarily; and after a perfunctory breakfast by
gaslight, a ride on an early tram and a walk through the dim, lamplit
streets, I entered the Temple just as the subdued notes of an invisible
clock-bell announced a quarter past six. On my arrival at Thorndyke's
chambers, I observed a roomy hired carriage drawn up at the entry, and
ascending the stairs, found the Doctor and Miller ready to start, each
provided with a good-sized handbag.

"This is a queer sort of function," I remarked, as we took our way down
the stairs--"a sort of funeral the wrong way about."

"Yes," Thorndyke agreed; "it is what Lewis Carroll would have called an
unfuneral--and very appropriately too. I didn't give you any particulars
in my note, but you understand the object of this expedition?"

"I assume that we are going to resurrect the late Jonathan Crile," I
replied. "It isn't very dear to me what I have to do with the business,
as I never knew Mr. Crile, though I am delighted to have this rather
uncommon experience. But I should have thought that Usher would be the
proper person to accompany you."

"So the superintendent thought," said Thorndyke, "and quite rightly; so I
have arranged to pick up Usher and take him with us. He will be able to
identify the body as that of his late patient, and you and I will help
the superintendent to take the finger-prints."

"I am taking your word for it, Doctor," said Miller, "that the
finger-prints will be recognizable; and that they will be the wrong

"I don't guarantee that," Thorndyke replied; "but still, I shall be
surprised if you get the right ones."

Miller nodded with an air of satisfaction, and nothing more was said on
the subject until we drew up before Dr. Usher's surgery. That discreet
practitioner was already waiting at the open door and at once took his
place in the carriage, watched curiously by observers from adjacent

"This is a rum go," he remarked, diffusing a vinous aroma into the
atmosphere of the carriage. "I really did think I had paid my last visit
to Mr. Crile. But there's no such thing as certainty in this world." He
chuckled softly and continued: "A bit different this journey from the
last. No hat-bands this time and no Sunday-school children. Lord! when I
think of those kids piping round the open grave, and that our dear
departed brother was wanted by the police so badly that they are actually
going to dig him up, it makes me smile--it does indeed."

In effect, it made him cackle; and as Miller had not heard the account of
the funeral, it was repeated for his benefit in great detail. Then the
anecdotal ball was set rolling in a fresh direction by one or two
questions from Thorndyke, with the result that the entire history of
Usher's attendance on the deceased, including the misdeeds of Mrs.
Pepper, was retailed with such a wealth of circumstance that the
narration lasted until we stopped at the cemetery gate.

Our arrival was not unexpected, for, as we got out of the carriage, two
gentlemen approached the entrance and one of them unlocked a gate to
admit us. He appeared to be the official in charge of the cemetery, while
the other, to whom he introduced us, was no less a person than Dr.
Garroll, the Medical Officer of Health.

"The Home Office licence," the latter explained, "directs that the
removal shall be carried out under my supervision and to my
satisfaction--very necessary in a populous neighbourhood like this."

"Very necessary," Thorndyke agreed gravely.

"I have provided a supply of fresh ground-lime, according to the
directions," Dr. Garroll continued, "and as a further precaution, I have
brought with me a large formalin spray. That, I think, would satisfy all
sanitary requirements."

"It certainly should be sufficient," Thorndyke agreed, "to meet the
requirements of the present case. Has the excavation been commenced yet?"

"Oh, yes," replied the cemetery official. "It was started quite early and
has been carried down nearly to the full depth; but I thought that the
coffin had better not be uncovered until you arrived. I have had a canvas
screen put up round the grave so that the proceedings may be quite
private. We can send the labourers outside before we unscrew the
coffin-lid. You said, Superintendent, that you were anxious to avoid any
kind of publicity; and I have warned the men to say nothing to anyone
about the affair."

"Quite right," said Miller. "We don't want this to get into the papers,
in case--well, in any case."

"Exactly, sir," agreed the official, who was evidently bursting with
curiosity himself. "Exactly. Here is the screen. If you will step inside,
the excavation can be proceeded with."

We passed inside the screen, where we found four men reposefully
contemplating a coil of stout rope, a basket, attached to another rope,
and a couple of spades. The grave yawned in the middle of the enclosure,
flanked on one side by the mound of newly-dug earth and on the other by a
tub of lime and a Winchester quart bottle fitted with a spray nozzle and
large rubber bellows.

"You can get on with the digging now," said the official; whereupon one
of the men was let down into the grave, together with a spade and the
basket, and set to work briskly. Then Dr. Garroll directed one of the
other men to sprinkle in a little lime; which he did, with a pleased
smile and so little discretion that the man below was seen to stop
digging, and after looking up indignantly, take off his cap, shake it
violently and ostentatiously dust his shoulders with it.

When about a dozen basketfuls of earth had been hoisted up, a hollow,
woody sound accompanying the thrusts of the spade announced that the
coffin had been reached. Thereupon more lime was sprinkled in, and Dr.
Garroll, picking up the formalin bottle, sprayed vigorously into the
cavity until a plaintive voice from below--accompanied by an unnaturally
loud sneeze--was heard to declare that "he'd 'ave brought his umbrella if
he'd knowed he was goin' to be squirted at." A few minutes' more work
exposed the coffin and enabled us to read the confirmatory inscription on
the plate. Then the rope slings were let down and with some difficulty
worked into position by the excavator below; who, when he had completed
his task, climbed to the surface and grasped one end of a sling in
readiness to haul on it.

"It's a good deal easier letting 'em down than hoisting 'em up," Usher
remarked, as a final shower of lime descended and the men began to haul;
"but poor old Crile oughtn't to take much lifting. There was nothing of
him but skin and bone."

However this might be, it took the united efforts of the four men to draw
the coffin up to the surface and slew it round clear of the yawning
grave. But at last this was accomplished and it was lifted, for
convenience of inspection, on to one of the mounds of newly-dug earth.

"Now," said the presiding official, "you men had better go outside and
wait down at the end of the path until you are wanted again,"--an order
that was received with evident disfavour and complied with rather
sulkily. As soon as they were gone, our friend produced a couple of
screw-drivers, with which he and Miller proceeded in a very workmanlike
manner to extract the screws, while Dr. Garroll enveloped them in a cloud
of spray and Thorndyke, Usher and I stood apart to keep out of range. It
was not a long process; indeed, it came to an end sooner than I had
expected, for the first intimation that I received of its completion was
a loud exclamation (consisting of the single word "Snakes!") in the voice
of Superintendent Miller. I turned quickly and saw that officer standing
with the raised coffin-lid in his hand, staring into the interior with a
look of perfectly indescribable amazement. Instantly I rushed forward and
looked into the coffin; and then I was no less amazed. For in place of
the mortal remains of the late Jonathan Crile was a portly sack oozing
sawdust from a hole in its side, through which coyly peeped a length of
thick lead pipe.

For a sensible time we all stood in breathless silence gazing down at
that incredible sack. Suddenly Miller looked up eagerly at Thorndyke,
whose sphinx-like countenance showed the faintest shadow of a smile. "You
knew this coffin was empty. Doctor," said he.

Thorndyke shook his head. "If I had known," he replied, "I should have
told you."

"Well, you suspected that it was empty."

"Yes," Thorndyke admitted; "I don't deny that."

"I wonder why you did and why it never occurred to me."

"It did not occur to you, perhaps, because you were not in possession of
certain suggestive facts which are known to me. Still, if you consider
that the circumstances surrounding the alleged deaths of these two men
were so incredible as to make us both feel certain that there was some
fallacy or deception in regard to the apparent facts, you will see that
this was a very obvious possibility. Two men were alleged to have died,
and one of them was certainly cremated. It followed that either the other
man had died, as alleged, or that his funeral was a mock funeral. There
was no other alternative. You must admit that, Miller."

"I do, I do," the superintendent replied ruefully. "It is always like
this. Your explanations are so obvious when you have given them, and yet
no one thinks of them but yourself. All the same, this isn't so very
obvious, even now. There are some extraordinary discrepancies that have
yet to be explained. But we can discuss them on the way back. The
question now is, what is to be done with this coffin?"

"The first thing to be done," replied Thorndyke, "is to screw on the lid.
Then we can leave the cemetery authorities to deal with it. But those men
must be sworn to absolute secrecy. That is vitally important, for if this
exhumation should get reported in the press, we should probably lose the
whole advantage of this discovery."

"Yes, by Jove!" the superintendent agreed emphatically. "It would be a
disaster. At present the late Mr. Crile is at large, perfectly happy and
secure and entirely off his guard. We can just follow him up at our
leisure and take him unawares. But if he got wind of this, he would be
out of reach in a twinkling--that is, if he is alive, which I suppose--"
And here the superintendent suddenly paused, with knitted brows.

"Exactly," said Thorndyke. "The advantage of surprise is with us and we
must keep it at all costs. You realize the position," he added,
addressing the cemetery official and the Medical Officer.

"Perfectly," the latter replied--a little glumly, I thought, "and you may
rely on us both to do everything that we can to keep the affair secret."

With this we all emerged from the screen and walked back slowly towards
the gate, and as we went, I strove vainly to get my ideas into some kind
of order. But the more I considered the astonishing event which had just
happened, the more incomprehensible did it appear. And yet I saw plainly
that it could not really be incomprehensible since Thorndyke had actually
arrived at its probability in advance. The glaring discrepancies and
inconsistencies which chased one another through my mind could not be
real. They must be susceptible of reconciliation with the observed facts.
But by no effort was I able to reconcile them.

Nor, evidently, was I alone the subject of these difficulties and
bewilderments. The superintendent walked with corrugated brows and an air
of profound cogitation, and even Usher--when he could detach his thoughts
from the juvenile choir at the funeral--was obviously puzzled. In fact it
was he who opened the discussion as the carriage moved off.

"This job," he observed with conviction, "is what the sporting men would
call a fair knock-out. I can't make head nor tail of it. You talk of the
late Mr. Crile being at large and perfectly happy. But the late Mr. Crile
died of cancer of the pancreas. I attended him in his illness. There was
no doubt about the cancer, though I wouldn't swear to the pancreas. But
he died of cancer all right. I saw him dead; and what is more, I helped
to put him into that coffin. What do you say to that, Dr. Thorndyke?"

"What is there to say?" was the elusive reply, "You are a competent
observer and your facts are beyond dispute. But inasmuch as Mr. Crile was
not in that coffin when we opened it, the unavoidable inference is that
after you had put him in, somebody else must have taken him out."

"Yes, that is clear enough," rejoined Usher. "But what has become of him?
The man was dead, that I am ready to swear to. But where is he?"

"Yes," said Miller. "That is what is bothering me. There has evidently
been some hanky-panky. But I can't follow it. It isn't as though we were
dealing with a supposititious body. There was a real dead man. That isn't
disputed--at least, I take it that it isn't."

"It certainly is not disputed by me," said Thorndyke.

"Then what the deuce became of him? And why, in the name of blazes, was
he taken out of the coffin? That's what I want to know. Can you tell me.
Doctor? But there! What is the good of asking you? Of course you know all
about it! You always do. But it is the old story. You have got the ace of
trumps up your sleeve, but you won't bring it out until it is time to
take the trick. Now, isn't that the position, Doctor?"

Thorndyke's impassive face softened with a faint, inscrutable smile.

"We hold a promising hand. Miller," he replied quietly; "but if the ace
is there, it is you who will have the satisfaction of playing it. And I
hope to see you put it down quite soon."

Miller grunted. "Very well," said he. "I can see that I am not going to
get any more out of you than that; so I must wait for you to develop your
plans. Meanwhile I am going to ask Dr. Usher for a signed statement."

"Yes, that is very necessary," said Thorndyke. "You two had better go on
together and set down Gray and me in the Kingsland Road, where he and I
have some other business to transact."

I glanced at him quickly as he made this astonishing statement, for we
had no business there, or anywhere else that I knew of. But I said
nothing. My recent training had not been in vain.

A few minutes later, near to Dalston Junction, he stopped the carriage,
and having made our adieux, we got out. Then Thorndyke strode off down
the Kingsland Road, but presently struck off westward through a
bewildering maze of seedy suburban streets and shabby squares in which I
was as completely lost as if I had been dropped into the midst of the

"What is the nature of the business that we are going to transact?" I
ventured to ask as we turned yet another corner.

"In the first place," he replied, "I wanted to hear what conclusions you
had reached in view of this discovery at the cemetery."

"Well, that won't take long," I said, with a grin. "They can be summed up
in half a dozen words: I have come to the conclusion that I am a fool."

He laughed good-humouredly. "There is no harm in thinking that," he said,
"provided you are not right--which you are not. But did that empty coffin
suggest no new ideas to you?"

"On the contrary," I replied, "it scattered the few ideas that I had. I
am in the same condition as Superintendent Miller--an inextricable

"But," he objected, "you are not in the same position as the
superintendent. If he knew all that you and I know, he wouldn't be in a
muddle at all. What is your difficulty?"

"Primarily the discrepancies about this man Crile. There seems to be no
possible doubt that he died. But apparently he was never buried; and you
and Miller seem to believe that he is still alive. Further, I don't see
what business Crile is of ours at all."

"You will see that presently," said he, "and meanwhile you must not
confuse Miller's beliefs with mine. However," he added as we crossed a
bridge over a canal--presumably the Regent's Canal--"we will adjourn the
discussion for the moment. Do you know what street that is ahead of us?"

"No," I answered; "I have never been here before, so far as I know."

"That is Field Street," said he.

"The street that the late Mr. Crile lived in?"

"Yes," he answered; and as we passed on into the street from the foot of
the bridge, he added, pointing to a house on our left hand, "And that is
the residence of the late Mr. Crile--empty, and to let, as you observe."

As we walked past I looked curiously at the house, with its shabby front
and its blank, sightless windows, its desolate condition emphasized by
the bills which announced it; but I made no remark until we came to the
bottom of the street, when I recognized the cross-roads as the one along
which I used to pass on my way to the Morrises' house. I mentioned the
fact to Thorndyke, and he replied: "Yes. That is where we are going now.
We are going to take a look over the premises. That house also is empty,
and I have got a permit from the agent to view it and have been entrusted
with the keys."

In a few minutes we turned into the familiar little thoroughfare, and as
we took our way past its multitudinous stalls and barrows I speculated on
the object of this exploration. But it was futile to ask questions,
seeing that I had but to wait a matter of minutes or the answer to
declare itself. Soon we reached the house and halted for a moment to look
through the glazed door into the empty shop. Then Thorndyke inserted the
key into the side-door and pushed it open.

There is always something a little melancholy in the sight of an empty
house which one has known in its occupied state. Nothing, indeed, could
be more cheerless than the Morris household; yet it was with a certain
feeling of depression that I looked down the long passage (where Cropper
had bumped his head in the dark) and heard the clang of the closing door.
This was a dead house--a mere empty shell. The feeble life that I had
known in it was no more. So I reflected as I walked slowly down the
passage at Thorndyke's side, recalling the ungracious personalities of
Mrs. Morris and her husband and the pathetic figure of poor Mr. Bendelow.

When from the passage we came out into the hall, the sense of desolation
was intensified; for here not only the bare floor and vacant walls
proclaimed the untenanted state of the house. The big curtain that had
closed in the end of the hall and to a great extent furnished it was
gone, leaving the place very naked and chill. Incidentally, its
disappearance revealed a feature of whose existence I had been unaware.

"Why," I exclaimed, "they had a second street-door. I never saw that. It
was hidden by a curtain. But it can't open into Market Street."

"It doesn't," replied Thorndyke. "It opens on Field Street."

"On Field Street!" I repeated in surprise. "I wonder why they didn't let
me in that way. It is really the front of the house."

"I think," answered Thorndyke, "that if you open the door and look out,
you will understand why you were admitted at the back."

I unbolted the door and, opening it, stepped out on the wide threshold
and looked up and down the street. Thorndyke was right. The thoroughfare
was undoubtedly Field Street, down which we had passed only a few minutes
ago, and close by, on the right hand, was the canal bridge. Strongly
impressed with the oddity of the affair, I turned to re-enter, and as I
turned I glanced up at the number on the door. As my eye lighted on it, I
uttered a cry of astonishment. For the number was fifty-two!

"But this is amazing!" I exclaimed, re-entering the hall--where Thorndyke
stood watching me with quiet amusement--and shutting the door. "It seems
that Usher and I were actually visiting at the same house!"

"Evidently," said he.

"But it almost looks as if we were visiting the same patient!"

"There can be practically no doubt that you were," he agreed. "It was on
that assumption that I induced Miller to apply for the exhumation order;
and the empty coffin seems to confirm it completely."

I was thunderstruck; not only by the incredible thing that had happened,
but by Thorndyke's uncanny knowledge of all the circumstances.

"Then," I said, after a pause, "if Usher and I were attending the same
man, we were both attending Bendelow."

"That is certainly what the appearances suggest," he agreed.

"It was undoubtedly Bendelow who was cremated," said I.

"All the circumstances seem to point to that conclusion," he admitted,
'"unless you can think of any that point in the opposite direction."

"I cannot," I replied. "Everything points in the same direction. The dead
man was seen and identified as Bendelow by those two ladies. Miss Dewsnep
and Miss Bonnington; and they not only saw him here, but they actually
saw him in his coffin just before it was passed through into the
crematorium. And there is no doubt that they knew Bendelow by sight, for
you remember that they recognized the photograph of him that the American
detective showed them."

"Yes," he admitted, "that is so. But their identification is a point that
requires further investigation. And it is a vitally important point. I
have my own hypothesis as to what took place, but that hypothesis will
have to be tested; and that test will be what the logicians would call
the Experimentum Crucis. It will settle one way or the other whether my
theory of this case is correct. If my hypothesis as to their
identification is true, there will be nothing left to investigate. The
case will be complete and ready to turn over to Miller."

I listened to this statement in complete bewilderment. Thorndyke's
reference to the case conveyed nothing definite to me. It was all so
involved that I had almost lost count of the subjects of our

"When you speak of 'the case'," said I, "what case are you referring

"My dear Gray!" he protested. "Do you not realize that we are trying to
discover who murdered Julius D'Arblay?"

"I thought you were," I answered; "but I can't connect this new mystery
with his death in any way."

"Never mind," said he. "When the case is completed, we will have a
general elucidation. Meanwhile there is something else that I have to
show you before we go. It is through this side-door."

He led me out into a large neglected garden and along a wide path that
was all overgrown with weeds. As we went I tried to collect and arrange
my confused ideas, and suddenly a new discrepancy occurred to me. I
proceeded to propound it.

"By the way, you are not forgetting that the two alleged deaths were some
days apart? I saw Bendelow dead on a Monday. He had died on the preceding
afternoon. But Crile's funeral had already taken place a day or two

"I see no difficulty in that," Thorndyke replied. "Crile's funeral
occurred, as I have ascertained, on a Saturday. You saw Bendelow alive
for the last time on Thursday morning. Usher was sent for and saw Crile
dead on Thursday evening, he having evidently died--with or without
assistance--soon after you left. Of course, the date of death given to
you was false, and you mention in your notes of the case that both you
and Cropper were surprised at the condition of the body. The previous
funeral offers no difficulty, seeing that we know that the coffin was
empty. This is what I thought you might be interested to see."

He pointed to a flight of stone steps, at the bottom of which was a
wooden gate set in the wall that enclosed the garden. I looked at the
steps--a little vacantly, I am afraid--and inquired what there was about
them that I was expected to find of interest.

"Perhaps," he replied, "you will see better if we open the gate."

We descended the steps and he inserted a key into the gate, drawing my
attention to the fact that the lock had been oiled at no very distant
date and was in quite good condition. Then he threw the gate open and we
both stepped out on to the tow-path of the canal. I looked about me in
considerable surprise, for we were within a few yards of the hut with the
derrick and the little wharf from which I had been flung into the canal.

"I remember this gate," said I--"in fact, I think I mentioned it to you
in my account of my adventure here. But I little imagined that it
belonged to the Morrises' house. It would have been a short way in, if I
had known. But I expect it was locked at the time."

"I expect it was," Thorndyke agreed, and thereupon turned and re-entered.
We passed once more down the long passage, and came out into Market
Street, when Thorndyke locked the door and pocketed the key.

"That is an extraordinary arrangement," I remarked; "one house having two
frontages on separate streets."

"It is not a very uncommon one," Thorndyke replied. "You see how it comes
about. A house fronting on one street has a long back garden extending to
another street which is not yet fully built on. As the new street fills
up, a shop is built at the end of the garden. A small house may be built
in connexion with it and cut off from the garden or the shop may be
connected with the original house, as in this instance. But in either
case, the shop belongs to the new street and has its own number. What are
you going to do now?"

"I am going straight on to the studio," I replied.

"You had better come and have an early lunch with me first," said he.
"There is no occasion to hurry. Polton is there and you won't easily get
rid of him, for I understand that Miss D'Arblay is doing the finishing
work on a wax bust."

"I ought to see that, too," said I.

He looked at me with a mischievous smile. "I expect you will have plenty
of opportunities in the future," said he, "whereas Polton must make hay
while the sun shines. And, by the way, he may have something to tell you.
I have instructed him to make arrangements with those two ladies, Miss
Dewsnep and her friend, to go into the question of their identification
of Bendelow. I want you to be present at the interview, but I have left
him to fix the date. Possibly he has made the arrangement by now. You had
better ask him."

At this moment an eligible omnibus making its appearance, we both climbed
on board and were duly conveyed to King's Cross, where we alighted and
lunched at a modest restaurant, thereafter separating to go our
respective ways north and south.


In answer to my knock, the studio door was opened by Polton; and as I met
his eyes for a moment I was conscious of something unusual in his
appearance. I had scanty opportunity to examine him, for he seemed to be
in a hurry, bustling away after a few hasty words of apology and
returning whence he had come. Following close on his heels, I saw what
was the occasion of his hurry. He was engaged with a brush and a pot of
melted wax in painting a layer of the latter on the insides of the moulds
of a pair of arms, while Marion, seated on a high stool, was working at a
wax bust, which was placed on a revolving modelling-stand, obliterating
the seams and other irregularities with a steel tool which she heated
from time to time at a small spirit-lamp.

When I had made my salutations, I offered my help to Polton, which he
declined--without looking up from his work--saying that he wanted to
carry the job through by himself. I sympathized with this natural desire,
but it left me without occupation, for the work which Marion was doing
was essentially a one-person job, and in any case was far beyond the
capabilities of either of the apprentices. For a minute or two I stood
idly looking on at Polton's proceedings, but noticing that my presence
seemed to worry him, I presently moved away--again with a vague
impression that there was something unusual in his appearance--and
drawing up another high stool beside Marion's, settled myself to take a
lesson in the delicate and difficult technique of surface finishing.

We were all very silent. My two companions were engrossed by their
respective occupations and I must needs refrain from distracting them by
untimely conversation; so I sat, well content to watch the magical tool
stealing caressingly over the wax surface, causing the disfiguring seams
to vanish miraculously into an unbroken contour. But my own attention was
somewhat divided; for even as I watched the growing perfection of the
bust there would float into my mind now and again an idle speculation as
to the change in Polton's appearance. What could it be? It was something
that seemed to have altered, to some extent, his facial expression. It
couldn't be that he had shaved off his moustache or whiskers, for he had
none to shave. Could he have parted his hair in a new way? It seemed
hardly sufficient to account for the change; and looking round at him
cautiously, I could detect nothing unfamiliar about his hair.

At this point he picked up his wax-pot and carried it away to the farther
end of the studio, to exchange it for another which was heating in a
water-bath. I took the opportunity to lean towards Marion and ask in a

"Have you noticed anything unusual about Polton?"

She nodded emphatically and cast a furtive glance over her shoulder in
his direction.

"What is it?" I asked in the same low tone.

She took another precautionary glance and then, leaning towards me with
an expression of exaggerated mystery, whispered:

"He has cut his eyelashes off."

I gazed at her in amazement, and was about to put a further question, but
she held up a warning fore-finger and turned again to her work. However,
my curiosity was now at boiling-point. As soon as Polton returned to his
bench, I slipped off my stool and sauntered over to it on the pretence of
seeing how his wax cast was progressing.

Marion's report was perfectly correct. His eyelids were as bare of lashes
as those of a marble bust. And this was not all. Now that I came to look
at him critically, his eyebrows had a distinctly moth--eaten appearance.
He had been doing something to them, too.

It was an amazing affair. For one moment I was on the point of demanding
an explanation, but good sense and good manners conquered the inquisitive
impulse in time. Returning to my stool I cast an inquiring glance at
Marion, from whom, however, I got no enlightenment but such as I could
gather from a most alluring dimple that hovered about the corner of her
mouth and that speedily diverted my thoughts into other channels.

My two companions continued for some time to work silently, leaving me to
my meditations--which concerned themselves alternately with Polton's
eyelashes and the dimple aforesaid. Suddenly Marion turned to me and

"Has Mr. Polton told you that we are all to have a holiday to-morrow?"

"No," I answered; "but Dr. Thorndyke mentioned that Mr. Polton might have
something to tell us. Why are we all to have a holiday?"

"Why, you see, sir," said Polton, standing up and forgetting all about
his eyelashes, "the Doctor instructed me to make an appointment with
those two ladies. Miss Dewsnep and Miss Bonnington, to come to our
chambers on a matter of identification. I have made the appointment for
ten o'clock to-morrow morning; and as the Doctor wants you to be present
at the interview and wants me to be in attendance, and we can't leave
Miss D'Arblay here alone, we have arranged to shut up the studio for

"Yes," said Marion; "and Arabella and I are going to spend the morning
looking at the shops in Regent Street, and then we are coming to lunch
with you and Dr. Thorndyke. It will be quite a red-letter day."

"I don't quite see what these ladies are coming to the chambers for,"
said I.

"You will see, all in good time, sir," replied Polton; and as if to head
me off from any further questions, he added: "I forgot to ask how your
little party went off this morning."

"It went off with a bang," I answered. "We got the coffin up all right,
but Mr. Fox wasn't at home. The coffin was empty."

"I rather think that was what the Doctor expected," said Polton.

Marion looked at me with eager curiosity. "This sounds rather thrilling,"
she said. "May one ask who it was that you expected to find in that

"My impression is," I replied, "that the missing tenant was a person who
bore a strong resemblance to that photograph that I showed you."

"Oh, dear!" she exclaimed. "What a pity! I wish that coffin hadn't been
empty. But, of course, it could hardly have been occupied, under the
circumstances. I suppose I mustn't ask for fuller details?"

"I don't imagine that there is any secrecy about the affair, so far as
you are concerned," I answered; "but I would rather that you had the
details from Dr. Thorndyke, or at least with his express authority. He is
conducting the investigations, and what I know has been imparted to me in

This view was warmly endorsed by Polton (who had by now either forgotten
his eyelashes or abandoned concealment as hopeless). The subject was
accordingly dropped and the two workers resumed their occupations. When
Polton had painted a complete skin of wax over the interior of both pairs
of moulds, I helped him to put the latter together and fasten them with
cords. Then into each completed mould we poured enough melted wax to fill
it, and after a few seconds poured it out again, leaving a solid layer to
thicken the skin and unite the two halves of the wax cast. This finished
Polton's job, and shortly afterwards he took his departure. Nor did we
remain very much longer, for the final stages of the surface finishing
were too subtle to be carried out by artificial light and had to be
postponed until daylight was available.

As we walked homewards we discussed the situation so far as was possible
without infringing Thorndyke's confidences.

"I am very confused and puzzled about it all," she said. "It seems that
Dr. Thorndyke is trying to get on the track of the man who murdered my
father. But whenever I hear any details of his investigations, they
always seem to be concerned with somebody else or with something that has
no apparent connexion with the crime."

"That is exactly my condition," said I. "He seems to be busily working at
problems that are totally irrelevant. As far as I can make out, the
murderer has never once come into sight, excepting when he appeared at
the studio that terrible night. The people in whom Thorndyke has
interested himself are mere outsiders--suspicious characters, no doubt,
but not suspected of the murder. This man, Crile, for instance, whose
empty coffin was dug up, was certainly a shady character. But he was not
the murderer, though he seems to have been associated with the murderer
at one time. Then there is that Morris, whose mask was found at the
studio. He is another queer customer. But he is certainly not the
murderer, though he was also probably an associate. Thorndyke has taken
an immense interest in him. But I can't see why. He doesn't seem to me to
be in the picture, or at any rate, not in the foreground of it. Of the
actual murderer we seem to know nothing at all--at least that is my

"Do you think Dr. Thorndyke has really got anything to go on?" she asked.

"My dear Marion!" I exclaimed, "I am confident that he has the whole case
cut and dried and perfectly clear in his mind. What I was saying referred
only to myself. My ideas are all in confusion, but his are not. He can
see quite clearly who is in the picture and in what part of it. The
blindness is mine. But let us wait and see what to-morrow brings forth. I
have a sort of feeling--in fact he hinted--that this interview is the
final move. He may have something to tell you when you arrive."

"I do hope he may," she said earnestly, and with this we dismissed the
subject. A few minutes later we parted at the gate of Ivy Cottage and I
took my way (by the main thoroughfares) home to my lodgings.

On the following morning I made a point of presenting myself at
Thorndyke's chambers well in advance of the appointed time in order that
I might have a few words with him before the two ladies arrived. With the
same purpose, no doubt, Superintendent Miller took a similar course, the
result being that we converged simultaneously on the entry and ascended
the stairs together. The 'oak' was already open and the inner door was
opened by Thorndyke, who smilingly remarked that he seemed thereby to
have killed two early birds with one stone.

"So you have, Doctor," assented the superintendent; "two early birds who
have come betimes to catch the elusive worm--and I suspect they won't
catch him."

"Don't be pessimistic. Miller," said Thorndyke with a quiet chuckle. "He
isn't such a slippery worm as that. I suppose you want to know something
of the programme?"

"Naturally, I do; and so, I suppose, does Dr. Gray."

"Well," said Thorndyke, "I am not going to tell you much--"

"I knew it,' groaned Miller.

"Because it will be better for everyone to have an open mind--"

"Well," interposed Miller, "mine is open enough, wide open; and nothing

"And then," pursued Thorndyke, "there is the possibility that we shall
not get the result we hope for; and in that case, the less you expect the
less you will be disappointed."

"But," persisted Miller, "in general terms, what are we here for? I
understand that those two ladies, the witnesses to Bendelow's will, are
coming presently. What are they coming for? Do you expect to get any
information out of them?"

"I have some hopes," he replied, "of learning something from them. In
particular I want to test them in respect of their identification of

"Ha! Then you have got a photograph of him?"

Thorndyke shook his head. "No," he replied. "I have not been able to get
a photograph of him."

"Then you have an exact description of him?"

"No," was the reply. "I have no description of him at all."

The superintendent banged his hat on the table. "Then what the deuce have
you got, sir?" he demanded distractedly. "You must have something, you
know, if you are going to test these witnesses on the question of
identification. You haven't got a photograph, you haven't got a
description, and you can't have the man himself because he is at present
reposing in a little terra-cotta pot in the form of bone-ash. Now, what
have you got?"

Thorndyke regarded the exasperated superintendent with an inscrutable
smile and then glanced at Polton, who had just stolen into the room and
was now listening with an expression of such excessive crinkliness that I
wrote him down an accomplice on the spot.

"You had better ask Polton," said Thorndyke. "He is the stage manager on
this occasion."

The superintendent turned sharply to confront my fellow-apprentice, whose
eyes thereupon disappeared into a labyrinth of crow's feet.

"It's no use asking me, sir," said he. "I'm only an accessory before the
fact, so to speak. But you'll know all about it when the ladies
arrive--and I rather think I hear 'em coming now."

In corroboration, light footsteps and feminine voices became audible,
apparently ascending the stairs. We hastily seated ourselves while Polton
took his station by the door and Thorndyke said to me in a low voice:
"Remember, Gray, no comments of any kind. These witnesses must act
without any sort of suggestion from anybody."

I gave a quick assent, and at that moment Polton threw open the door with
a flourish and announced majestically:

"Miss Dewsnep, Miss Bonnington."

We all rose, and Thorndyke advanced to receive his visitors while Polton
placed chairs for them.

"It is exceedingly good of you to take all this trouble to help us," said
Thorndyke. "I hope it was not in any way inconvenient for you to come
here this morning."

"Oh, not at all," replied Miss Dewsnep; "only we are not quite clear as
to what it is that you want us to do."

"We will go into that question presently," said Thorndyke. "Meanwhile,
may I introduce to you these two gentlemen, who are interested in our
little business: Mr. Miller and Dr. Gray."

The two ladies bowed, and Miss Dewsnep remarked:

"We are already acquainted with Dr. Gray. We had the melancholy pleasure
of meeting him at Mrs. Morris's house on the sad occasion when he came to
examine the mortal remains of poor Mr. Bendelow, who is now with the

"And no doubt," added Miss Bonnington, "in extremely congenial society."

At this statement of Miss Dewsnep's the superintendent turned and looked
at me sharply with an expression of enlightenment; but he made no remark,
and the latter lady returned to her original inquiry. "You were going to
tell us what it is that you want us to do."

"Yes," replied Thorndyke. "It is quite a simple matter. We want you to
look at the face of a certain person who will be shown to you and to tell
us if you recognize and can give a name to that person."

"Not an insane person, I hope!" exclaimed Miss Dewsnep.

"No," Thorndyke assured her, "not an insane person."

"Nor a criminal person in custody, I trust," added Miss Bonnington.

"Certainly not," replied Thorndyke. "In short, let me assure you that the
inspection of this person need not cause you the slightest embarrassment.
It will be a perfectly simple affair, as you will see. But perhaps we had
better proceed at once. If you two gentlemen will follow Polton, I will
conduct the ladies upstairs myself."

On this we rose, and Miller and I followed Polton out on to the landing,
where he turned and began to ascend the stairs at a slow and solemn pace,
as if he were conducting a funeral. The superintendent walked at my side
and muttered as he went, being evidently in a state of bewilderment fully
equal to my own.

"Now, what the blazes," he growled, "can the doctor be up to now? I never
saw such a man for springing surprises on one. But who the deuce can he
have up there?"

At the top of the second flight we came on to a landing and, proceeding
along it, reached a door which Polton unlocked and opened.

"You understand, gentlemen," he said, halting in the doorway, "that no
remarks or comments are to be made until the witnesses have gone. Those
were my instructions."

With this he entered the room, closely followed by Miller, who, as he
crossed the threshold, set at naught Polton's instructions by exclaiming
in a startled voice:

"Snakes!" I followed quickly, all agog with curiosity; but whatever I had
expected to see--if I had expected anything--I was totally unprepared for
what I did see.

The room was a smallish room, completely bare and empty of furniture save
for four chairs--on two of which Polton firmly seated us; and in the
middle of the floor, raised on a pair of trestles, was a coffin covered
with a black linen cloth. At this gruesome object Miller and I gazed in
speechless astonishment, but, apart from Polton's injunction, there was
no opportunity for an exchange of sentiments; for we had hardly taken our
seats when we heard the sound of ascending footsteps mingled with
Thorndyke's bland and persuasive accents. A few moments later the party
reached the door, and as the two ladies came in sight of the coffin, both
started back with a cry of alarm.

"Oh, dear!" exclaimed Miss Dewsnep, "it's a dead person! Who is it, sir?
Is it anyone we know?"

"That is what we want you to tell us," Thorndyke replied.

"How mysterious!" exclaimed Miss Bonnington, in a hushed voice. "How
dreadful! Some poor creature who has been found dead, I suppose? I hope
it won't be very--er--you know what I mean, sir--when the coffin is

"There will be no need to open the coffin," Thorndyke reassured her.
"There is an inspection window in the coffin-lid through which you can
see the face. All you have to do is to look through the window and tell
us if the face that you see is the face of anyone who is known to you.
Are you ready, Polton?"

Polton replied that he was, having taken up his position at the head of
the coffin with an air of profound gravity, approaching to gloom. The two
ladies shuddered audibly, but their nervousness being now overcome by a
devouring curiosity, they advanced, one on either side of the coffin, and
taking up a position close to Polton, gazed eagerly at the covered
coffin. There was a solemn pause as Polton carefully gathered up the two
comers of the linen pall. Then, with a quick movement, he threw it back.
The two witnesses simultaneously stooped and peered in at the window.
Simultaneously their mouths opened and they sprang back with a shriek.

"Why, it's Mr. Bendelow!"

"You are quite sure it is Mr. Bendelow?" Thorndyke asked.

"Perfectly," replied Miss Dewsnep. "And yet," she continued with a
mystified look, "it can't be; for I saw him pass through the bronze doors
into the cremation furnace. I saw him with my own eyes," she added,
somewhat unnecessarily. "And what's more, I saw his ashes in the casket."

She gazed with wide-open eyes at Thorndyke and then at her friend, and
the two women tip-toed forward and once more stared in at the window with
starting eyes and dropped chins.

"It is Mr. Bendelow," said Miss Bonnington, in an awe-stricken voice.

"But it can't be," Miss Dewsnep protested in tremulous tones. "You saw
him put through those doors yourself, Susan, and you saw his ashes

"I can't help that, Sarah," the other lady retorted. "This is Mr.
Bendelow. You can't deny that it is."

"Our eyes must be deceived," said Miss Dewsnep, the said eyes being still
riveted on the face behind the window. "It can't be--and yet it is--but
yet it is impossible--"

She paused suddenly and raised a distinctly alarmed face to her friend.

"Susan," she said, in a low, rather shaky voice, "there is something here
with which we, as Christian women, are better not concerned. Something
against nature. The dead has been recalled from a burning fiery furnace
by some means which we may not inquire into. It were better, Susan, that
we should now depart from this place."

This was evidently Susan's opinion, too, for she assented with uncommon
alacrity and with a distinctly uncomfortable air; and the pair moved with
one accord towards the door. But Thorndyke gently detained them.

"Do we understand," he asked, "that, apart from the apparently impossible
circumstances, the body in that coffin is, in your opinion, the body of
the late Simon Bendelow?"

"You do," Miss Dewsnep replied in a resentfully nervous tone and
regarding Thorndyke with very evident alarm. "If it were possible that it
could be, I would swear that those unnatural remains were those of my
poor friend Mr. Bendelow. As it is not possible, it cannot be."

"Thank you," said Thorndyke, with the most extreme suavity of manner.
"You have done us a great service by coming here to-day, and a great
service to humanity--how great a service you will learn later. I am
afraid it has been a disagreeable experience to both of you, for which I
am sincerely sorry; but you must let me assure you that there is nothing
unlawful or supernatural in what you have seen. Later, I hope you will be
able to realize that. And now I trust you will allow Mr. Polton to
accompany you to the dining-room and offer you a little refreshment."

As neither of the ladies raised any objection to this programme, we all
took our leave of them and they departed down the stairs, escorted by
Polton. When they had gone, Miller stepped across to the coffin and cast
a curious glance in at the window.

"So that is Mr. Bendelow," said he. "I don't think much of him, and I
don't see how he is going to help us. But you have given those two old
girls a rare shake-up, and I don't wonder. Of course, this can't be a
dead body that you have got in this coffin, but it is a most life-like
representation of one, and it took in those poor old Judies properly.
What have you got to tell us about this affair, Doctor? I can see that
your scheme, whatever it was, has come off. They always do. But what
about it? What has this experiment proved?"

"It has turned a mere name into an actual person," was the reply.

"Yes, I know," rejoined Miller, "Very interesting, too. Now we know
exactly what he looked like. But what about it? And what is the next

"The next move on my part is to lay a sworn information against him as
the murderer of Julius D'Arblay; which I will do now, if you will
administer the oath and witness my signature." As he spoke, Thorndyke
produced a paper from his pocket and laid it on the coffin.

The superintendent looked at the paper with a surprised grin.

"A little late, isn't it," he said, "to be swearing an information? Of
course you can if you like, but when you've done it, what then?"

"Then," replied Thorndyke, "it will be for you to arrest him and bring
him to trial."

At this reply the superintendent's eyes opened until his face might have
been a symbolic mask of astonishment. Grasping his hair with both hands,
he rose slowly from his chair, staring at Thorndyke as if at some
alarming apparition.

"You'll be the death of me. Doctor!" he exclaimed. "You really will. I am
not fit for these shocks at my time of life. What is it you ask me to do?
I am to arrest this man! What man? Here is a waxwork gentleman in a
coffin--at least, I suppose that is what he is--that might have come
straight from Madame Tussaud's. Am I to arrest him? And there is a casket
full of ashes somewhere. Am I to arrest those? Or am I off my head or

Thorndyke smiled at him indulgently. "Now, Miller," said he, "don't
pretend to be foolish, because you are not. The man whom you are to
arrest is a live man, and what is more, he is easily accessible whenever
you choose to lay your hands on him."

"Do you know where to find him?'

"Yes," Thorndyke replied. "I, myself, will conduct you to his house,
which is in Abbey Road, Hornsey, nearly opposite Miss D'Arblay's studio."

I gave a gasp of amazement on hearing this, which directed the
superintendent's attention to me.

"Very well. Doctor," he said, "I will take your information, but you
needn't swear to it; just sign your name. I must be off now, but I will
look in to-night about nine, if that will do, to get the necessary
particulars and settle the arrangements with you. Probably to-morrow
afternoon will be a good time to make the arrest. What do you think?"

"I should think it would be an excellent time," Thorndyke replied, "but
we can settle definitely to-night."

With this, the superintendent, having taken the signed paper from
Thorndyke, shook both our hands and bustled away with the traces of his
late surprise still visible on his countenance.

The recognition of the tenant of the coffin as Simon Bendelow had come on
me with almost as great a shock as it had on the two witnesses, but for a
different reason. My late experiences enabled me to guess at once that
the mysterious tenant was a waxwork figure, presumably of Polton's
creation. But what I found utterly inexplicable was that such a waxwork
should have been produced in the likeness of a man whom neither Polton
nor Thorndyke had ever seen. The astonishing conversation between the
latter and Miller had, for the moment, driven this mystery out of my
mind; but as soon as the superintendent had gone, I stepped over to the
coffin and looked in at the window. And then I was more amazed than ever.
For the face that I saw was not the face that I had expected to see.
There, it is true, was the old familiar skull-cap, which Bendelow had
worn, pulled down over the temples above the jaw-bandage. But it was the
wrong face. (Incidentally I now understood what had become of Polton's
eyelashes. That conscientious realist had evidently taken no risks.)

"But," I protested, "this is not Bendelow. This is Morris."

Thorndyke nodded. "You have just heard two competent witnesses declare
with complete conviction and certainty that this is Simon Bendelow; and,
as you yourself pointed out, there can be no doubt as to their knowledge
of Bendelow, since they recognized the photograph of him that was shown
to them by the American detective."

"That is perfectly true," I admitted. "But it is a most incomprehensible
affair. This is not the man who was cremated."

"Evidently not, since he is still alive."

"But these two women saw Bendelow cremated--at least they saw him pass
through into the crematorium, which is near enough. And they had seen him
in the coffin a few minutes before I saw him in the coffin, and they saw
him again a few minutes after Cropper and Morris and I had put him back
in the coffin. And the man whom we put into the coffin was certainly not
this man."

"Obviously not, since he helped you to put the corpse in."

"And again," I urged, "if the body that we put into the coffin was not
the body that was cremated, what has become of it? It wasn't buried, for
the other coffin was empty. Those women must have made some mistake."

He shook his head. "The solution of the mystery is staring you in the
face," said he. "It is perfectly obvious, and I am not going to give you
any further hints now. When we have made the arrest, you shall have a
full exposition of the case. But tell me, now; did those two women ever
meet Morris?"

I considered for a few moments and then replied: "I have no evidence that
they ever met him. They certainly never did in my presence. But even if
they had, they would hardly have recognized him as the person they have
identified to-day. He had grown a beard and moustache, you will remember,
and his appearance was very much altered from what it was when I first
saw him."

Thorndyke nodded. "It would be," he agreed. Then, turning to another
subject, he said: "I am afraid it will be necessary for you to be present
at the arrest. I would much rather that you were not, for he is a
dangerous brute and will probably fight like a wild cat; but you are the
only one of us who really knows him by sight in his present state."

"I should like to be in at the death," I said eagerly.

"That is well enough," said he, "so long as it is his death. You must
bring your pistol and don't be afraid to use it."

"And how shall I know when I am wanted?" I asked.

"You had better go to the studio to-morrow morning," he replied. "I will
send a note by Polton giving you particulars of the time when we shall
call for you. And now we may as well help Polton to prepare for our other
visitors, and I think. Gray, that we will say as little as possible about
this morning's proceedings or those of to-morrow. Explanations will come
better after the event."

With this, we went down to the dining-room, where we found Polton
sedately laying the table, having just got rid of the two ladies. We made
a show of assisting him and I ventured to inquire:

"Who is doing the cooking to-day, Polton? Or is it to be a cold lunch?"

He looked at me almost reproachfully as he replied: "It is to be a hot
lunch, and I am doing the cooking, of course."

"But," I protested, "you have been up to your eyes in other affairs all
the morning."

He regarded me with a patronizing crinkle. "You can do a good deal," said
he, "with one or two casseroles, a hay-box and a four-storey cooker on a
gas stove. Things don't cook any better for your standing and staring at

Events went to prove the soundness of Polton's culinary principles; and
the brilliant success of their application in practice gave a direction
to the conversation which led it comfortably away from other and less
discussable topics.


Shortly before leaving Thorndyke's chambers with Marion and Miss Boler, I
managed to secure his permission to confide to them, in general terms,
what was to happen on the morrow; and very relieved I was thereat, for I
had little doubt that questions would be asked which it would seem
ungracious to evade. Events proved that I was not mistaken; indeed, we
were hardly clear of the precincts of the Temple when Marion opened the

"You said yesterday," she began, "that Dr. Thorndyke might have something
to tell us to-day, and I hoped that he might. I even tried to pluck up
courage to ask him, but then I was afraid that it might seem intrusive.
He isn't the sort of man that you can take liberties with. So I suppose
that whatever it was that happened this morning is a dead secret?"

"Not entirely," I replied. "I mustn't go into details at present, but I am
allowed to give you the most important item of information. There is
going to be an arrest tomorrow."

"Do you mean that Dr. Thorndyke has discovered the man?" Marion demanded

"He says that he has, and I take it that he knows. What is more, he
offered to conduct the police to the house. He has actually given them
the address."

"I would give all that I possess," exclaimed Miss Boler, "to be there and
see the villain taken."

"Well," I said, "you won't be far away, for the man lives in Abbey Road,
nearly opposite the studio."

Marion stopped and looked at me aghast. "What a horrible thing to think
of!" she gasped. "Oh, I am glad I didn't know! I could never have gone to
the studio if I had. But now we can understand how he managed to find his
way to the place that foggy night, and to escape so easily."

"Oh, but it is not that man," I interposed, with a sudden ease of
hopeless bewilderment. For I had forgotten this absolute discrepancy when
I was talking to Thorndyke about the identification.

"Not that man!" she repeated, gazing at me in wild astonishment. "But
that man was my father's murderer. I feel certain of it."

"So do I," was my rather lame rejoinder.

"Besides," she persisted, "if he was not the murderer, who was he, and
why should he want to kill me?"

"Exactly," I agreed. "It seems conclusive. But apparently it isn't. At
any rate, the man they are going to arrest is the man whose mask
Thorndyke found at the studio."

"Then they are going to arrest the wrong man," said she, looking at me
with a deeply troubled face. I was uncomfortable, too, for I saw what was
in her mind. The memory of the ruffian who had made that murderous attack
on her still lingered in her mind as a thing of horror. The thought that
he was still at large and might at any moment reappear made it impossible
for her ever to work alone in the studio, or even to walk abroad without
protection. She had looked, as I had, to the discovery of the murderer to
rid her of this abiding menace. But now it seemed that even after the
arrest of the murderer this terrible menace would remain.

"I can't understand it," she said dejectedly. "When you showed me that
photograph of the man who tried to kill me, I naturally hoped that Dr.
Thorndyke had discovered who he was. But now it appears that he is at
large and still untraced, yet I am convinced that he is the man who ought
to have been followed."

"Never mind, my dear," I said cheerfully. "Let us see the affair out. You
don't understand it and neither do I. But Thorndyke does. I have absolute
faith in him, and so, I can see, have the police."

She assented without much conviction, and then Miss Boler began to press
for further particulars. I mentioned the probable time of the arrest and
the part that I was required to play in identifying the accused.

"You don't mean that you are asked to be present when the actual arrest
is made, do you?" Marion asked anxiously.

"Yes," I answered. "You see, I am the only person who really knows the man
by sight."

"But," she urged, "you are not a policeman. Suppose this man should be
violent, like that other man; and he probably will be."

"Oh," I answered airily, "that will be provided for. Besides, I am not
asked to arrest him; only to point him out to the police."

"I wish," she said, "you would stay in the studio until they have secured
him. Then you could go and identify him. It would be much safer."

"No doubt," I agreed. "But it might lead to their arresting the wrong man
and letting the right one slip. No, Marion, we must make sure of him if
we can. Surely you are at least as anxious as any of us that he should be
caught and made to pay the penalty?"

"Yes," she answered, "if he is really the right man--which I can hardly
believe. But still, punishing him will not bring poor Daddy back, whereas
if anything were to happen to you, Stephen--Oh! I don't dare to think of

"You needn't think of it, Marion," I rejoined, cheerfully. "I shall be
all right. And you wouldn't have your--apprentice hang back when the
bobbies are taking the affair as a mere every-day job."

She made no reply beyond another anxious glance; and I was glad enough to
let the subject drop, bearing in mind Thorndyke's words with regard to
the pistol. As a diversion, I suggested a visit to the National Gallery,
which we were now approaching, and the suggestion being adopted, without
acclamation, we drifted in and rather listlessly perambulated the
galleries, gazing vacantly at the exhibits and exchanging tepid comments.
It was a spiritless proceeding, of which I remember very little but some
rather severe observations by Miss Boler concerning a certain 'hussy' (by
one Bronzino) in the great room. But we soon gave up this hollow pretence
and went forth to board a yellow bus which was bound for the Archway
Tavern; and so home to an early supper.

On the following morning I made my appearance betimes at Ivy Cottage, but
it was later than usual when Marion and I started to walk in leisurely
fashion to the studio.

"I don't know why we are going at all," said she. "I don't feel like
doing any work."

"Let us forget the arrest for the moment," said I. "There is plenty to
do. Those arms of Polton's have got to be taken out of the moulds and
worked. It will be much better to keep ourselves occupied."

"I suppose it will,' she agreed; and then, as we turned a corner and came
in sight of the studio, she exclaimed:

"Why, what on earth is this? There are some painters at work on the
studio! I wonder who sent them. I haven't given any orders. There must be
some extraordinary mistake."

There was not, however. As we came up, one of the two linen-coated
operators advanced, brush in hand, to meet us and briefly explained that
he and his mate had been instructed by Superintendent Miller to wash down
the paint-work and keep an eye on the premises opposite. They were, in
fact, 'plain-clothes' men on special duty.

"We have been here since seven o'clock," our friend informed us, as we
made a pretence of examining the window-sashes, "and we took over from a
man who had been watching the house all night. My nabs is there all
right. He came home early yesterday evening and he hasn't come out

"Then you know the man by sight?" Marion asked eagerly.

"Well, miss," was the reply, "we have a description of him, and the man
who went into the house seemed to agree with it; and, as far as we know,
there isn't any other man living there. But I understand that we are
relying on Dr. Gray to establish the identity. Could I have a look at the
inside woodwork?"

Marion unlocked the door and we entered, followed by the detective, whose
interest seemed to be concerned exclusively with the woodwork of windows;
and from windows in general finally became concentrated on a small window
in the lobby which commanded a view of the houses opposite. Having
examined the sashes of this, with his eye cocked on one of the houses
aforesaid, he proceeded to operate on it with his brush, which, being wet
and dirty and used with a singular lack of care, soon covered the glass
so completely with a mass of opaque smears that it was impossible to see
through it at all. Then he cautiously raised the sash about an inch, and
whipping out a prism binocular from under his apron, stood back a couple
of feet and took a leisurely survey through the narrow opening of one of
the opposite houses.

"Hallo!" said he. "There is a woman visible at the first-floor window.
Just have a look at her, sir. She can't see us through this narrow

He handed me the glass, indicating the house, and I put the instrument to
my eyes. It was a powerful glass, and seemed to bring the window and the
figure of the woman within a dozen feet of me. But at the moment she had
turned her head away, apparently to speak to someone inside the room, and
all that I could see was that she seemed to be an elderly woman who wore
what looked like an old-fashioned widow's cap. Suddenly she turned and
looked out over the half-curtain, giving me a perfectly clear view of her
face; and then I felt myself lapsing into the old sense of confusion and

I had, of course, expected to recognize Mrs. Morris. But this was evidently
not she, although not such a very different-looking woman, an elderly,
white-haired widow in a crape cap and spectacles--reading-spectacles
they must be, since she was looking over and not through them. She
seemed to be a stranger--and yet not quite a stranger; for as I looked
at her some chord of memory stirred. But the cup of my confusion was not
yet full. As I stared at her, trying vainly to sound a clearer note on
that chord of memory, a man slowly emerged from the darkness of the room
behind and stood beside her; and him I recognized instantly as the
bottle-nosed person whom I had watched from my ambush at the top of
Dartmouth Park Hill.

"Well, sir," said the detective, as the man and woman turned away from
the window and vanished, "what do you make of 'em? Do you recognize 'em?"

"I recognize the man," I replied, "and I believe I have seen the woman
before, but they aren't the people I expected to see."

"Oh, dear!" said he. "That's a bad look-out. Because I don't think there
is anybody else there."

"Then," I said, "we have made a false shot; and yet--well, I don't know.
I had better think this over and see if I can make anything of it."

I turned into the studio, where I found Marion--who had been listening
attentively to this dialogue--in markedly better spirits.

"It seems a regular muddle," she remarked cheerfully. "They have come to
arrest the wrong man and now it appears that he isn't there."

"Don't talk to me for a few minutes, Marion, dear," said I. "There is
something behind this and I want to think what it can be. I have seen
that woman somewhere, I feel certain. Now, where was it?"

I cudgelled my brains for some time without succeeding in recovering the
recollections connected with her. I re-visualized the face that I had
seen through the glass, with its deep-set, hollow eyes and strong,
sharply sloping eyebrows, and tried to connect it with some person whom I
had seen, but in vain. And then in a flash it came to me. She was the
widow whom I had noticed at the inquest. The identification, indeed, was
not very complete, for the veil that she had worn on that occasion had
considerably obscured her features. But I had no doubt that I was right,
for her present appearance agreed in all that I could see with that of
the woman at the inquest.

The next question was, who could she be? Her association with the
bottle-nosed man connected her in some way with what Thorndyke would have
called 'the case'; for that man, whoever he was, had certainly been
shadowing me. Then her presence at the inquest had now a sinister
suggestiveness. She would seem to have been there to watch developments
on behalf of others. Could she be a relative of Mrs. Morris? A certain
faint resemblance seemed to support this idea. As to the man, I gave him
up. Evidently there were several persons concerned in this crime, but I
knew too little about the circumstances to be able to make even a
profitable guess. Having reached this unsatisfactory conclusion, I
turned, a little irritably, to Marion, exclaiming:

"I can make nothing of it. Let us get on with some work to pass the

Accordingly we began, in a half-hearted way, upon Polton's two moulds.
But the presence of the two detectives was disturbing, especially when,
having finished the exterior, they brought their pails and ladders inside
and took up their station at the lobby window. We struggled on for a
time; but when, about noon. Miss Boler made her appearance with a basket
of provisions and a couple of bottles of wine, we abandoned the attempt
and occupied ourselves in tidying up and laying a table.

"Don't you think, Marion," I said, as we sat down to lunch (having
provided for the needs of the two 'painters,' who lunched in the lobby),
"that it would be best for you and Arabella to go home before any fuss

"Whatever Miss Marion thinks," Arabella interposed firmly, "I am not
going home. I came down expressly to see this villain captured, and here
I stay until he is safely in custody."

"And I," said Marion, "am going to stay with Arabella. You know why,
Stephen. I couldn't bear to go away and leave you here after what you
have told me. We shall be quite safe in here."

"Well," I temporised, seeing plainly that they had made up their minds,
"you must keep the door bolted until the business is over."

"As to that," said Miss Boler, "we shall be guided by circumstances," and
from this ambiguous position neither she nor Marion would budge.

Shortly after lunch I received a farther shock of surprise. In answer to
a loud single knock, I hurried out to open the door. A tradesman's van
had drawn up at the kerb and two men stood on the threshold, one of them
holding a good--sized parcel. I stared at the latter in astonishment, for
I recognized him instantly as the second shadower of the Dartmouth Park
Hill adventure; but before I could make any comment, both men
entered--with the curt explanation 'police business'--and the last--comer
shut the door, when I heard the van drive off.

"I am Detective-Sergeant Porter," the stranger explained. "You know what
I am here for, of course."

"Yes," I replied; and turning to the other man, I said:

"I think I have seen you before. Are you a police-officer, too?"

My acquaintance grinned. "Retired Detective-Sergeant," he explained,
"name of Barber. At present employed by Dr. Thorndyke. I think I have
seen you before, sir," and he grinned again, somewhat more broadly.

"I should like to know bow you were employed when I saw you last," said
I. But here Sergeant Porter interposed:

"Better leave explanations till later, sir. You've got a back gate, I

"Yes," said one of the 'painters'. "At the bottom of the garden. It opens
on an alley that leads into the next road--Chilton Road."

"Can we get into the garden through the studio?" the sergeant asked, and
on my answering in the affirmative, he requested permission to inspect
the rear premises. I conducted both men to the back door and let them out
into the garden, where they passed out at the back gate to reconnoitre
the alley. In a minute or two they returned; and they had hardly
re-entered the studio when another knock at the door announced more
visitors. They turned out to be Thorndyke and Superintendent Miller; of
whom the latter inquired of the senior painter:

"Is everything in going order, Jenks?"

"Yes, sir," was the reply. "The man is there all right. Dr. Gray saw him;
but I should mention, sir, that he doesn't think it's the right man."

"The devil he doesn't!" exclaimed Miller, looking at me uneasily and then
glancing Thorndyke.

"That man isn't Morris," said I. "He is that red-nosed man whom I told you
about. You remember."

"I remember," Thorndyke replied calmly. "Well, I suppose we shall have to
content ourselves with the red-nosed man;" upon which ex-Sergeant
Barber's countenance became wreathed in smiles and the superintendent
looked relieved.

"Are all the arrangements complete, Sergeant?" Miller inquired, turning
to Sergeant Porter.

"Yes, sir," the latter replied. "Inspector Follett has got some local
men, who know the neighbourhood well, posted in the rear watching the
back garden, and there are some uniformed men waiting round both the
corners to stop him, in case he slips past us. Everything is ready, sir."

"Then," said the superintendent, "we may as well open the ball at once. I
hope it will go off quietly. It ought to. We have got enough men on the

He nodded to Sergeant Porter, who at once picked up his parcel and went
out into the garden, accompanied by Barber. Miller, Thorndyke and I now
adjourned to the lobby window, where, with the two painter-detectives, we
established a look-out. Presently we saw the sergeant and Barber
advancing separately on the opposite side of the road, the latter leading
and carrying the parcel. Arrived at the house, he entered the front
garden and knocked a loud single knock. Immediately, the mysterious woman
appeared at the ground-floor window--it was a bay-window--and took a
long, inquisitive look at ex-Sergeant Barber. There ensued a longish
pause, during which Sergeant Porter walked slowly past the house. Then
the door opened a very short distance--being evidently chained--and the
woman appeared in the narrow opening. Barber offered the parcel, which
was much too large to go through the opening without unchaining the door,
and appeared to be giving explanations. But the woman evidently denied
all knowledge of it, and having refused to receive it, tried to shut the
door, into the opening of which Barber had inserted his foot; but he
withdrew it somewhat hastily as a coal-hammer descended, and before he
could recover himself the door shut with a bang and was immediately

The ball was opened, as Miller had expressed it, and the developments
followed with a bewildering rapidity that far out-paced any possible

The sergeant returning and joining Barber, the two men were about to
force the ground-floor window, when pistol-shots and police whistles from
the rear announced a new field of operations. At once Miller opened the
studio door and sallied forth, with the two detectives and Thorndyke; and
when I had called out to Marion to bolt the door, I followed, shutting it
after me. Meanwhile, from the rear of the opposite houses came a confused
noise of police-whistles, barking dogs and women's voices, with an
occasional report. Following three rapid pistol-shots there came a brief
interval, then, suddenly, the door of a house farther down the street
burst open and the fugitive rushed out, wild-eyed and terrified, his
white face contrasting most singularly with his vividly-red nose.
Instantly, the two detectives and Miller started in pursuit, followed by
the sergeant and Barber; but the man ran like a hare and was speedily
drawing ahead when suddenly a party of constables appeared from a
side-turning and blocked the road. The fugitive zigzagged and made as if
he would try to dodge between them, flinging away his empty pistol and
drawing out another. The detectives and Miller were close on him, when in
an instant he turned and, with extraordinary agility, avoided them. Then,
as the two sergeants bore down on him, he fired at them at close range,
stopping them both, though neither actually fell. Again he out-ran his
pursuers, racing down the road towards us, yelling like a maniac and
firing his pistol wildly at Thorndyke and me. And suddenly my left leg
doubled up and I fell heavily to the ground nearly opposite the studio

The fall confused me for a moment and as I lay, half-dazed, I was
horrified to see Marion dart out of the studio. In an instant she was
kneeling by my side with her arm around my neck. "Stephen! Oh, Stephen,
darling!" she sobbed and gazed into my face with eyes full of terror and
affection, oblivious of everything but my peril. I besought her to go
back, and struggled to get out my pistol, for the man, still gaining on
his pursuers, was now rapidly approaching. He had flung away his second
pistol and had drawn a large knife, and as bore down on us, mad with rage
and terror, he gibbered and grinned like a wild cat.

When he was but a couple of dozen paces away, I saw Thorndyke raise his
pistol and take a careful aim. But before he had time to fire, a most
singular diversion occurred. From the open door of the studio Miss Boler
emerged, swinging a massive stool with amazing ease. The man, whose eyes
were fixed on me and Marion, did not observe her until she was within a
few paces of him; when, gathering all her strength, she hurled the heavy
stool with almost incredible force. It struck him below the knees,
knocking his feet from under him, and he fell with a sort of dive or
half-somersault, falling with the hand that grasped the knife under him.

He made no attempt to rise, but lay with slightly twitching limbs but
otherwise motionless. Miss Boler stalked up to him and stood looking down
on him with grim interest until Thorndyke, still holding his pistol,
stooped and, grasping one arm, gently turned him over. Then we could see
the handle of the knife sticking out from his chest near the right

"Ha!" said Thorndyke. "Bad luck to the last. It must have gone through
the arch of the aorta. But perhaps it is just as well."

He rose and, stepping across to where I sat, supported by Marion and
still nursing my pistol, bent over me with an anxious face.

"What is it, Gray?" he asked. "Not a fracture, I hope?"

"I don't think so," I replied. "Damaged muscle and perhaps nerve. It is
all numb at present, but it doesn't seem to be bleeding much. I think I
could hobble if you would help me up."

He shook his head and beckoned to a couple of constables, with whose aid
he carried me into the studio and deposited me on the sofa. Immediately
afterwards the two wounded officers were brought in, and I was relieved
to hear that neither of them was dangerously hurt, though the sergeant
had a fractured arm and Barber a flesh-wound of the chest and a cracked
rib. The ladies having been politely ejected into the garden, Thorndyke
examined the various injuries and applied temporary dressings, producing
the materials from a very business-like-looking bag which he had
providently brought with him. While he was thus engaged, three constables
entered carrying the corpse, which, with a few words of apology, they
deposited on the floor by the side of the sofa.

I looked down on the ill-omened figure with lively curiosity; and
especially was I impressed and puzzled by the very singular appearance of
the face. Its general colour was of that waxen pallor characteristic of
the faces of the dead, particularly of those who have died from
haemorrhage. But the nose and the acne patches remained unchanged.
Indeed, their colour seemed intensified, for their vivid red 'stared'
from the surrounding white like the painted patches on a down's face..
The mystery was solved when, the surgical business being concluded,
Barber came and seated himself on the edge of the sofa.

"Masterly make-up, that," said he, nodding at the corpse. "Looks queer
enough now; but when he was alive you couldn't spot it, even in

"Make-up!" I exclaimed. "I didn't know you could make-up off the stage."

"You can't wear a celluloid nose off the stage, or a tie-on beard," he
replied. "But when it is done as well as this--a touch or two of
nose-paste or toupee-paste, tinted carefully with grease-paint and
finished up with powder--it's bard to spot. These experts in make-up are
a holy terror to the police."

"Did you know that he was made up? I asked, looking at Thorndyke.

"I inferred that he was," the latter replied, "and so did Sergeant
Barber. But now we had better see what his natural appearance is."

He stooped over the corpse and with a small ivory paper-knife scraped
from the end of the nose and the parts adjacent a layer of coloured
plastic material about the consistency of modelling--wax. Then with
vaseline and cotton-wool he cleaned away the red pigment until the pallid
skin showed unsullied.

"Why, it is Morris after all!" I exclaimed. "It is perfectly incredible;
and you seemed to remove such a very small quantity of paste, too! I
wouldn't have believed that it would make such a change."

"Not after that very instructive demonstration that Miss D'Arblay gave us
with the day and the plaster mask?" he asked with a smile.

I smiled sheepishly in return. "I told you I was a fool, sir," and then,
as a new idea burst upon me, I asked: "And that other man--the hook-nosed

"Morris--that is to say, Bendelow," he replied, "with a different, more
exaggerated make-up."

I was pondering with profound relief on this answer when one of the
painter-detectives entered in search of the superintendent.

"We got into the house from the back, sir," he reported. "The woman is
dead. We found her lying on the bed in the first-floor front; and we
found a tumbler half-full of water and this by the bedside."

He exhibited a small, wide-mouthed bottle labelled 'Potassium Cyanide',
which the superintendent took from him.

"I will come and look over the house presently," the latter said. "Don't
let anybody in; and let me know when the cabs are here."

"There are two here now, sir," the detective announced, "and they have
sent down three wheeled stretchers."

"One cab will carry our two casualties and I expect the Doctor will want
the other. The bodies can be put on two of the stretchers, but you had
better send the woman here for Dr. Gray to see."

The detective saluted and retired, and in a few minutes a stretcher
dismounted from its carriage was borne in by two constables and placed on
the floor beside Morris's corpse. But even now, prepared as I was, and
knowing who the new arrival must be, I looked doubtfully at the pitiful
effigy that lay before me so limp and passive, that but an hour since had
been a strong, courageous, resourceful woman. Not until the white wig,
the cap and the spectacles had been removed, the heavy eyebrows detached
with spirit and the dark pigment cleaned away from the eyelids, could I
say with certainty that this was the corpse of Mrs. Morris.

"Well, Doctor," said the superintendent, when the wounded and the dead
had been borne away and we were alone in the studio, "you have done your
part to a finish, as usual, but ours is a bit of a failure. I should have
liked to bring that fellow to trial."

"I sympathize with you. Miller," replied Thorndyke. "The gallows ought to
have had him. But yet I am not sure that what has happened is not all for
the best. The evidence in both cases--the D'Arblay and the Van Zellen
murders--is entirely circumstantial and extremely intricate. That is not
good evidence for a jury. A conviction would not have been a certainty
either here or in America; and an acquittal would have been a disaster
that I don't dare to think of. No, Miller, I think that, on the whole, I
am satisfied, and I think that you ought to be, too."

"I suppose I ought," Miller conceded, "but it would have been a triumph
to put him in the dock, after he had been written off as dead and
cremated. However, we must take things as we find them, and now I had
better go and look over that house."

With a friendly nod to me, he took himself off, and Thorndyke went off to
notify the ladies that the intruders had departed.

As he returned with them I heard Marion cross-examining him with regard
to my injuries and listened anxiously for his report.

"So far as I can see. Miss D'Arblay," he answered, "the damage is
confined to one or two muscles. If so, there will be no permanent
disablement and he should soon be quite well again. But he will want
proper surgical treatment without delay. I propose to take him straight
to our hospital, if he agrees."

"Miss Boler and I were hoping," said Marion, "that we might have the
privilege of nursing him at our house."

"That is very good of you," said Thorndyke, "and perhaps you might look
after him during his convalescence. But for the present he needs skilled
surgical treatment. If it should not be necessary for him to stay in the
hospital after the wound has been attended to, it would be best for him
to occupy one of the spare bedrooms at my chambers, where he can be seen
daily--the surgeon and I can keep an eye on him. Come," he added
coaxingly, "let us make a compromise. You or Miss Boler shall come to the
Temple every day for as long as you please and do what nursing is
necessary. There is a spare room of which you can take possession; and as
to your work here, Polton will give you any help that he can. How will
that do?"

Marion accepted the offer gratefully (with my concurrence), but begged to
be allowed to accompany me to the hospital.

"That was what I was going to suggest," said Thorndyke. "The cab will
hold the four of us, and the sooner we start the better."

Our preparations were very soon made. Then the door was opened, I was
assisted out through a lane of hungry-eyed spectators, held at bay by two
constables, and deposited in the cab; and when the studio had been locked
up, we drove off, leaving the neighbourhood to settle down to its normal


The days of my captivity at Number 5A Kings Bench Walk passed with a
tranquillity that made me realize the weight of the incubus that had been
lifted. Now, in the mornings, when Polton ministered to me--until
Arabella arrived and was ungrudgingly installed in office--I could let my
untroubled thoughts stray to Marion, working alone in the studio with
restored security, free for ever from the hideous menace which hung over
her. And later, when she herself, released by her faithful apprentice,
came to take her spell of nursing, what a joy it was to see her looking
so fresh and rosy, so youthful and buoyant!

Of Thorndyke--the giver of these gifts--I saw little in the first few
days, for he had heavy arrears of work to make up. However, he paid me
visits from time to time, especially in the mornings and at night, when I
was alone, and very delightful those visits were. For he had now dropped
the investigator and there had come into his manner something new,
something fatherly or elder-brotherly; and he managed to convey to me
that my presence in his chambers was a source of pleasure to him--a
refinement of hospitality that filled up the cup of my gratitude to him.

It was on the fifth day, when I was allowed to sit up in bed--for my
injury was no more than a perforating wound of the outer side of the
calf, which had missed every important structure--that I sat watching
Marion making somewhat premature preparations for tea, and observed with
interest that a third cup had been placed on the tray.

"Yes," Marion replied to my inquiry, "'the Doctor' is coming to tea with
us to-day. Mr. Polton gave me the message when he arrived." She gave a
few further touches to the tea-set and continued: "How sweet Dr.
Thorndyke has been to us, Stephen! He treats me as if I were his
daughter, and however busy he is, he always walks with me to the Temple
gate and puts me into a cab. I am infinitely grateful to him--almost as
grateful as I am to you."

"I don't see what you have got to be grateful to me for," I remarked.

"Don't you?" said she. "Is it nothing to me, do you suppose, that in the
moment of my terrible grief and desolation, I found a noble chivalrous
friend whom I trusted instantly, that I have been guarded through all the
dangers that threatened me, and that at last I have been rescued from
them and set free to go my ways in peace and security? Surely, Stephen,
dear, all this is abundant matter for gratitude. And I owe it all to

"To me!" I exclaimed in astonishment, recalling secretly what a
consummate donkey I had been. "But there, I suppose it is the way of a
woman to imagine that her particular gander is a swan."

She smiled a superior smile. "Women," said she, "are very intelligent
creatures. They are able to distinguish between swans and ganders,
whereas the swans themselves are apt to be muddle-headed and

"I agree to the muddle-headed factor," I rejoined, "and I won't be unduly
ostentatious as to the ganderism. But to return to Thorndyke, it is
extraordinarily good of him to allow himself to be burdened with me."

"With us," she corrected.

"It is the same thing, sweetheart. Do you know if he is going to give us
a long visit?"

"I hope so," she replied. "Mr. Polton said that he had got through his
arrears of work and had this afternoon free."

"Then," said I, "perhaps he will give us the elucidation that he promised
me some time ago. I am devoured by curiosity as to how he unravelled the
web of mystification that the villain, Bendelow, spun round himself."

"So am I," said she; "and I believe I can hear his footsteps on the

A few moments later Thorndyke entered the room and, having greeted us
with quiet geniality, seated himself in the easy-chair by the table and
regarded us with a benevolent smile.

"We were just saying, sir," said I, "how very kind it is of you to allow
your chambers to be invaded by a stray cripple and his--his belongings."

"I believe you were going to say 'baggage';" Marion murmured.

"Well," said Thorndyke, smiling at the interpolation, "I may tell you
both in confidence that you were talking nonsense. It is I who am the

"It is a part of your goodness to say so, sir," I said.

"But," he rejoined, "it is the simple truth. You enable me to combine the
undoubted economic advantages of bachelordom with the satisfaction of
having a family under my roof, and you even allow me to participate in a
way, as a sort of supercargo, in a certain voyage of discovery which is
to be undertaken by two young adventurers in the near future--in the very
near future, as I hope."

"As I hope, too," said I, glancing at Marion, who had become a little
more rosy than usual and who now adroitly diverted the current of the

"We were also wondering," said she, "if we might hope for some
enlightenment on things which have puzzled us so much lately."

"That," he replied, "was in my mind when I arranged to keep this
afternoon and evening free. I wanted to give Stephen--who is my
professional offspring, so to speak--a full exposition of this very
intricate and remarkable case. If you, my dear, will keep my cup charged
as occasion arises, I will begin forthwith. I will address myself to
Stephen, who has all the facts first-hand; and if, in my exposition, I
should seem somewhat callously to ignore the human aspects of this tragic
story--aspects which have meant so much in irreparable loss and
bereavement to you, poor child--remember that it is an exposition of
evidence, and necessarily passionless and impersonal."

"I quite realize that," said Marion, "and you may trust me to

He bowed gravely, and, after a brief pause, began: "I propose to treat
the subject historically, so to speak; to take you over the ground that I
traversed myself, recounting my observations and inferences in the order
in which they occurred. The inquiry falls naturally into certain
successive stages, corresponding to the emergence of new facts, of which
the first was concerned with the data elicited at the inquest. Let us
begin with them.

"First, as to the crime itself. It was a murder of a very distinctive
type. There was evidence, not only of premeditation in the bare legal
sense, but of careful preparation and planning. It was a considered act
and not a crime of impulse or passion. What could be the motive for such
a crime? There appeared to be only two alternative possibilities: either
it was a crime of revenge or a crime of expediency. The hypothesis of
revenge could not be explored, because there were no data excepting the
evidence of the victim's daughter, which was to the effect that deceased
had no enemies, actual or potential; and this evidence was supported by
the very deliberate character of the crime.

"We were therefore thrown back on the hypothesis of expediency, which
was, in fact, the more probable one, and which became still more probable
as the circumstances were further examined. But having assumed, as a
working hypothesis, that this crime had been committed in pursuit of a
definite purpose which was not revenge, the next question was. What could
that purpose have been? And that question could be answered only by a
careful consideration of all that was known of the parties to the
crime--the criminal and the victim and their possible relations to one

"As to the former, the circumstances indicated that he was a person of
some education, that he had an unusual acquaintance with poisons and such
social position and personal qualities as would enable him to get
possession of them; that he was subtle, ingenious and resourceful, but
not far-sighted, since he took risks that could have been avoided. His
mentality appeared to be that of the gambler, whose attention tends to be
riveted on the winning chances and who makes insufficient provision for
possible failure. He staked everything on the chance of the
needle-puncture being overlooked and the presence of the poison being

"But the outstanding and most significant quality was his profound
criminality. Premeditated murder is the most atrocious of crimes; and
murder for expediency is the most atrocious form of murder. This man,
then, was of a profoundly criminal type and was, most probably, a
practising criminal.

"Turning now to the victim, the evidence showed that he was a man of high
moral qualities; honest, industrious, thrifty, kindly and amiable and of
good reputation--the exact reverse of the other. Any illicit association
between these two men was therefore excluded; and yet there must have
been an association of some kind. Of what kind could it have been?

"Now, in the case of this man, as in that of the other, there was one
outstanding fact. He was a sculptor. And not only a sculptor but an
artist in the highest class of waxwork. And not only this. He was
probably the only artist of this kind practising in this country. For
waxwork is almost exclusively a French art. So far as I know, all the wax
figures and high-class lay figures that are made are produced in France.
This man, therefore, appeared to be the unique English practitioner of
this very curious art.

"The fact impressed me profoundly. To realize its significance we must
realize the unique character of the art. Waxwork is a fine art, but it
differs from all other fine arts in that its main purpose is one that is
expressly rejected by all those other arts. An ordinary work of
sculpture, no matter how realistic, is frankly an object of metal, stone
or pottery. Its realism is restricted to truth of form. No deception is
aimed at, but, on the contrary, is expressly avoided. But the aim of
waxwork is complete deception; and its perfection is measured by the
completeness of the deception achieved. How complete that may be can be
judged by incidents that have occurred at Madame Tussaud's. When that
exhibition was at the old Baker Street Bazaar, the snuff-taker--whose
arms, head and eyes were moved by clock-work--used to be seated on an
open bench; and it is recorded that, quite frequently, visitors would sit
down by him on the bench and try to open conversation with him. So, too,
the waxwork policeman near the door was occasionally accosted with
questions by arriving visitors.

"Bearing this fact in mind, it is obvious that this art is peculiarly
adapted to employment in certain kinds of fraud, such as personation,
false alibi and the like; and it is probable that the only reason why it
is not so employed is the great difficulty of obtaining first-class

"Naturally, then, when I observed this connexion of a criminal with a
waxwork artist, I asked myself whether the motive of the murder was not
to be sought in that artist's unique powers. Could it be that an attempt
had been made to employ the deceased on some work designed for a
fraudulent purpose? If such an attempt had been made, whether it had or
had not been successful, the deceased would be in possession of knowledge
which would be highly dangerous to the criminal; but especially if a work
had actually been executed and used as an instrument of fraud.

"But there were other possibilities in the case of a sculptor who was
also a medallist. He might have been employed to produce--quite
innocently--copies of valuable works which were intended for fraudulent
use: and the second stage of the investigation was concerned with these
possibilities. That stage was ushered in by Follett's discovery of the
guinea, the additional facts that we obtained at the Museum, and later,
when we learned that the guinea that had been found was an electrotype
copy, and that deceased was an expert electrotyper, all seemed to point
to the production of forgeries as the crime in which Julius D'Arblay had
been implicated. That was the view to which we seemed to be committed;
but it did not seem to me satisfactory, for several reasons. First, the
motive was insufficient--there was really nothing to conceal. When the
forgeries were offered for sale, it would be obvious that someone had
made them and that someone could be traced by the purchaser through the
vendor. The killing of the actual maker would give no security to the man
who sold the forgeries and who would have to appear in the transaction.
And then, although deceased was unique as a waxworker, he was not as a
copyist or electrotyper. For those purposes, much more suitable
accomplices might have been found. The execution of copies by deceased
appeared to be a fact; but my own feeling was that they had been a mere
by-product--that they had been used as a means of introduction to
deceased for some other purpose connected with waxwork.

"At the end of this stage we had made some progress. We had identified
this unknown man with another unknown man, who was undoubtedly a
professional criminal. We had found, in the forged guinea, a possible
motive for the murder. But, as I have said, that explanation did not
satisfy me, and I still kept a look-out for new evidence connected with
the waxworks.

"The next stage opened on that night when you arrived at Cornish's,
looking like a resuscitated 'found drowned'. Your account of your fall
into the canal and the immediately antecedent events made a deep
impression on me, though I did not, at the time, connect them with the
crime that we were investigating. But the whole affair was so abnormal
that it seemed to call for very careful consideration; and the more I
considered it, the more abnormal did it appear.

"The theory of an accident could not be entertained, nor could the
dropping of that derrick have been a practical joke. Your objection that
no one was in sight had no weight, since there was a gate in the wall by
which a person could have made his escape. Someone had attempted to
murder you; and that attempt had been made immediately after you had
signed a cremation certificate. That was a very impressive fact. As you
know, it is my habit to look very narrowly at cremation cases, for the
reason that cremation offers great facilities for certain kinds of crime.
Poisoners--and particularly arsenic and antimony poisoners--have
repeatedly been convicted on evidence furnished by an exhumed body. If
such poisoners can get the corpse of the victim cremated, they are
virtually safe; for whatever suspicions may thereafter arise, no
conviction is possible, since the means of proving the administration
have been destroyed.

"Accordingly, I considered very carefully your account of the
proceedings, and as I did so, strong suggestions of fraud arose in all
directions. There was, for instance, the inspection window in the coffin.
What was its object? Inspection windows are usually provided only in
cases where the condition of the body is such that it has to be enclosed
in a hermetically sealed coffin. But no such condition existed in this
case. There was no reason why the friends should not have viewed the body
in the usual manner in an open coffin. Again, there was the curious
alternation of you and the two witnesses. First they went up and viewed
deceased--through the window. Then, after a considerable interval, you
and Cropper went up and viewed deceased--through the window. Then you
took out the body, examined it and put it back. Again, after a
considerable interval, the witnesses went up a second time and viewed the
deceased--through the window.

"It was all rather queer and suspicious, especially when considered in
conjunction with the attempt on your life. Reflecting on the latter, the
question of the gate in the wall by the canal arose in my mind, and I
examined the map to see if I could locate it. It was not marked, but the
wharf was; and from this and your description it appeared certain that
the gate must be in the wall of the garden of Morris's house. Here was
another suspicious fact. For Morris--who could have let you out by this
side-gate--sent you by a long, roundabout route to the tow-path. He knew
which way you must be going--westward--and could have slipped out of the
gate and waited for you in the hut by the wharf. It was possible, and
there seemed to be no other explanation of what had happened to you.
Incidentally, I made another discovery. The map showed that Morris's
house had two frontages--one on Field Street and one on Market
Street--and that you appeared to have been admitted by the back entrance.
Which was another slightly abnormal circumstance.

"I was very much puzzled by the affair. There was a distinct suggestion
that some fraud--some deception--had been practised, that what the
spinsters saw through the coffin window was not the same thing as that
which you saw. And yet, what could the deception have been? There was no
question about the body. It was a real body. The disease was undoubtedly
genuine and was, at least, the effective cause of death. And the
cremation was necessarily genuine; for though you can bury an empty
coffin, you can't cremate one. The absence of calcined bone would expose
the fraud instantly.

"I considered the possibility of a second body; that of a murdered
person, for instance. But that would not do. For if a substitution had
been effected, there would still have been a redundant body to dispose of
and account for. Nothing would have been gained by the substitution.

"But there was another possibility to which no such objection applied.
Assuming a fraud to have been perpetrated, here was a case adapted in the
most perfect manner to the use of a waxwork. Of course, a full-length
figure would have been impossible because it would have left no calcined
bones. But the inspection window would have made it unnecessary. A wax
head would have done; or better still, a wax mask, which could have been
simply placed over the face of the real corpse. The more I thought about
it the more was I impressed by the singular suitability of the
arrangements to the use of a wax mask. The inspection window seemed to be
designed for the very purpose--to restrict the view to a mere face and to
prevent the mask from being touched and the fraud thus discovered--and
the alternate inspections by you and the spinsters were quite in keeping
with a deception of that kind.

"There was another very queer feature in the case. These people, living
at Hoxton, elected to employ a doctor who lived miles away at Bloomsbury.
Why did they not call in a neighbouring practitioner? Also, they arranged
the days and even the hours at which the visits were to be made. Why?
There was an evident suggestion of something that the doctor was not to
know--something or somebody that he was not desired to see, that some
preparations had to be made for his visits.

"Again, the note was addressed to Dr. Stephen Gray, not to Dr. Cornish.
They knew your name and address, although you had only just come there,
and they did not know Dr. Cornish, who was an old resident. How was this?
The only explanation seemed to be that they had read the report of the
inquest, or even been present at it. You there stated publicly that your
temporary address was at 61 Mecklenburgh Square; that you were, in fact,
a bird of passage; and you gave your full name and your age. Now, if any
fraud was being carried out, a bird of passage, who might be difficult to
find later, and a young one at that, was just the most suitable kind of

"To sum up the evidence at this stage: The circumstances, taken as a
whole, suggested in the strongest possible manner that there was
something fraudulent about this Cremation. That fraud must be some kind
of substitution or personation with the purpose of obtaining a
certificate that some person had been cremated, who in fact had not been
cremated. In that case it was nearly certain that the dead man was not
Simon Bendelow, for the certificates would be required to agree with
false appearances, not true. There was a suggestion--but only a
speculative one--that the deception might have been effected by means of
a wax mask.

"There were, however two objections. As to the wax mask, there was the
great difficulty of obtaining one. A perfect portrait mask could have
been obtained only either from an artist in Paris or from Julius
D'Arblay. The objection to the substitution theory was that there was a
real body--the body of a real person. If the cremation was in a name
which was not the name of that person, then the disappearance of that
person would remain unaccounted for.

"So you see that the whole theory of the fraud was purely conjectural.
There was not a single particle of direct evidence. You also see that at
two points there was a faint hint of a connexion between this case and
the murder of Mr. D'Arblay. These people seemed to have read of, or
attended at, the inquest, and if a wax mask existed, it was quite
probably made by him.

"The next stage opens with the discovery of the mask at the studio. But
there are certain antecedent matters that must first be glanced at. When
the attempt was made to murder Marion, I asked myself the questions: '1.
Why did this man want to kill Marion; 2. What did he come to the studio
on the preceding night to search for? 3. Did he find it, whatever it was?
4. Why had he delayed so long to make the search?'

"Let us begin with the second question. What had he come to look for? The
obvious suggestion was that he had come to get possession of some
incriminating object. But what was that object? Could it be the mould of
some forged coin or medal? I did not believe that it was. For since the
forgery or forgeries were extant, the moulds had no particular
significance; and what little significance they had, applied to Mr.
D'Arblay, who was, technically, the forger. My feeling was that the
object was in some way connected with waxwork, and in all probability
with a wax portrait mask, as the most likely thing to be used for a
fraudulent purpose. And I need hardly say that the cremation case lurked
in the back of my mind.

"This view was supported by consideration of the third question. Did he
find what he came to seek? If he came for moulds of coins or medals, he
must have found them, for none remained. But the fact that he came the
next night and attempted to murder Marion--believing her to be
alone--suggested that his search had failed. And consideration of the
fourth question led--less decisively--to the same conclusion as to the
nature of the object sought.

"Why had he waited all this time to make the search? Why had he not
entered the studio immediately after the murder, when the place was
mostly unoccupied? The most probable explanation appeared to me to be
that he had only recently become aware that there was any incriminating
object in existence. Proceeding on the hypothesis that he had
commissioned Mr. D'Arblay to make a wax portrait mask, I further assumed
that he knew little of the process, and--perhaps misunderstanding Mr.
D'Arblay--confused the technique of wax with that of plaster. In making a
plaster mask from life--as you probably know by this time--you have to
destroy the mould to get the mask out. So when the mask has been
delivered to the client, there is nothing left.

"But to make a wax mask, you must first make one of plaster to serve as a
matrix from which to make the gelatine mould for the wax. Then, when the
wax mask has been delivered to the client, the plaster matrix remains in
the possession of the artist.

"The suggestion, then, was that this man had supposed that the mould had
been destroyed in making the mask, and that only some time after the
murder had he, in some way, discovered his mistake. When he did discover
it, he would see what an appalling blunder he had made; for the plaster
matrix was the likeness of his own face.

"You see that all this was highly speculative. It was all hypothetical
and it might all have been totally fallacious. We still had not a single
solid fact; but all the hypothetical matter was consistent, and each
inference seemed to support the others."

"And what," I asked, "did you suppose was his motive for trying to make
away with Marion?"

"In the first place," he replied, "I inferred that he looked on her as a
dangerous person who might have some knowledge of his transactions with
her father. This was probably the explanation of his attempt when he cut
the brake-wire of her bicycle But the second, more desperate attack, was
made, I assume, when he had realized the existence of the plaster mask,
and supposed that she knew of it, too. If he had killed her, he would
probably have made another search with the studio fully lighted up.

"To return to our inquiry. You see that I had a mass of hypothesis but
not a single real fact. But I still had a firm belief that a wax mask had
been made and that--if it had not been destroyed--there must be a plaster
mask somewhere in the studio. That was what I came to look for that
morning; and as it happens that I am some six inches taller than Bendelow
was, I was able to see what had been invisible to him. When I discovered
that mask, and when Marion had disclaimed all knowledge of it, my hopes
began to rise. But when you identified the face as that of Morris, I felt
that our problem was solved. In an instant my card-house of speculative
hypothesis was changed into a solid edifice. What had been but bare
possibilities had now become so highly probable that they were almost

"Let us consider what the finding of this mask proved--subject, of
course, to verification. It proved that a wax mask of Morris had been
made--for here was the matrix, varnished, as you will remember, in
readiness for the gelatine mould; and that mask was obviously obtained
for the purpose of a fraudulent cremation. And that mask was made by
Julius D'Arblay.

"What was the purpose of the fraud? It was perfectly obvious. Morris was
clearly the real Simon Bendelow, and the purpose of the fraud was to
create undeniable evidence that he was dead. But why did he want to prove
that he was dead? Well, we knew that he was the murderer of Van Zellen,
for whom the American police were searching, and he might be in more
danger than we knew. At any rate, a death-certificate would make him
absolutely secure--on one condition: that the body was cremated. Mere
burial would not be enough; for an exhumation would discover the fraud.
But perfect security could be secured only by destruction of all evidence
of the fraud. Julius D'Arblay held such evidence. Therefore Julius
D'Arblay must be got rid of. Here, then, was an amply sufficient motive
for the murder. The only point which remained obscure was the identity of
your patient and the means by which his disappearance had been accounted

"My hypothesis, then, had been changed into highly probable theory. The
next stage was the necessary verification. I began with a rather curious
experiment. The man who tried to murder Marion could have been no other
than her father's murderer. Then he must have been Morris. But it seemed
that he was totally unlike Morris, and the mask evidently suggested to
her no resemblance. But yet it was probable that the man was Morris, for
the striking features--the hook nose and the heavy brows--would be easily
'made up', especially at night. The question was whether the face was
Morris's with these additions. I determined to put that question to the
test. And here Polton's new accomplishment came to our aid.

"First, with a pinch of clay, we built up on Morris's mask a nose of the
shape described and slightly thickened the brows. Then Polton made a
gelatine mould and from this produced a wax mask. He fitted it with glass
eyes and attached it to a rough plaster head, with ears which were casts
of my own painted. We then fixed on a moustache, beard and wig, and put
on a shirt, collar and jacket. It was an extraordinarily crude affair,
suggestive of the fifth of November. But it answered the purpose, which
was to produce a photograph; for we made the photograph so bad--so
confused and ill-focused--that the crudities disappeared, while the
essential likeness remained. As you know, that photograph was instantly
recognized, without any sort of suggestion. So the first test gave a
positive result. Marion's assailant was pretty certainly Morris."

"I should like to have seen Mr. Polton's prentice effort," said Marion,
who had been listening, enthralled by this description.

"You shall see it now," Thorndyke replied with a smile. "It is in the
next room, concealed in a cupboard."

He went out, and presently returned, carrying what looked like an
excessively crude hair-dresser's dummy, but a most extraordinarily
horrible and repulsive one. As he turned the face towards us, Marion gave
a little cry of horror and then tried to laugh--without very striking

"It is a dreadful-looking thing!" she exclaimed, "and so hideously like
that fiend." She gazed at it with the most extreme repugnance for a while
and then said, apologetically: "I hope you won't think me very silly,

"Of course I don't," Thorndyke interrupted. "It is going back to its
cupboard at once," and with this he bore it away, returning in a few
moments with a smaller object, wrapped in a cloth, which he laid on the
table. "Another 'exhibit', as they say in the courts," he explained,
"which we shall want presently. Meanwhile we resume the thread of our

"The photograph of this waxwork, then, furnished corroboration of the
theory that Morris was the man whom we were seeking. My next move was to
inquire at Scotland Yard if there were any fresh developments of the Van
Zellen case. The answer was that there were; and Superintendent Miller
arranged to come and tell me all about them. You were present at the
interview and will remember what passed. His information was highly
important, not only by confirming my inference that Bendelow was the
murderer, but especially by disposing of the difficulty connected with
the disappearance of your patient. For now there came into view a second
man--Crile--who had died at Hoxton of an abdominal cancer and had been
duly buried; and when you were able to give me this man's address, a
glance at the map and at the Post Office Directory showed that the two
men had died in the same house. This fact, with the farther facts that
they had died of virtually the same disease and within a day or two of
the same date, left no reasonable doubt that we were really dealing with
one man who had died and for whom two death certificates, in different
names, and two corresponding burial orders had been obtained. There was
only one body, and that was cremated in the name of Bendelow. It followed
that the coffin which was buried at Mr. Crile's funeral must have been an
empty coffin. I was so confident that this must be so that I induced
Miller to apply for an exhumation, with the results that you know.

"There now remained only a single point requiring verification: the
question as to what face it was that those two ladies saw when they
looked into the coffin of Simon Bendelow. Here again Polton's new
accomplishment came to our aid. From the plaster mask your apprentice
made a most realistic wax mask, which I offer for your critical

He unfolded the cloth and produced a mask of thin, yellowish wax and of a
most cadaverous aspect, which he handed to Marion.

"Yes," she said approvingly, "it is an excellent piece of work; and what
beautiful eyelashes. They look exactly like real ones."

"They are real ones," Thorndyke explained with a chuckle.

She looked up at him inquiringly, and then, breaking into a ripple of
laughter, exclaimed: "Of course! They are his own! Oh! how like Mr.
Polton! But he was quite right, you know. He couldn't have got the effect
any other way."

"So he declared," said Thorndyke. "Well, we hired a coffin and had an
inspection window put in the lid, and we got a black skull-cap. We put a
dummy head in the coffin with a wig on it; we laid the mask where the
face should have been and we adjusted the jaw-bandage and the skull-cap
so as to cover up the edges of the mask, and we got the two ladies here
and showed them the coffin. When they had identified the tenant as Mr.
Bendelow, the verification was complete, the hypothesis was now converted
into ascertained fact, and all that remained to be done was to lay hands
on the murderer."

"How did you find out where Morris was living?" I asked.

"Barber did that," he replied. "When I learned that you were being
stalked, I employed Barber to shadow you. He, of course, observed Morris
on your track and followed him home."

"That was what I supposed," said I; and for a while we were all silent.
Presently Marion said: "It is all very involved and confusing. Would you
mind telling us exactly what happened?"

"In a direct narrative, you mean?" said he. "Yes; I will try to
reconstruct the events in the order of their occurrence. It began with
the murder of Van Zellen by Bendelow. There was no evidence against him
at the time, but he had to fly from America for other reasons and he left
behind him incriminating traces which he knew must presently be
discovered and which would fix the murder on him. His friend Crile, who
fled with him, developed gastric cancer and only had a month or two to
live. Then Bendelow decided that when Crile should die, he would make
believe to die at that same time. To this end, he commissioned your
father to make a wax mask--a portrait mask of himself with his eyes
closed. His wife must then have persuaded the two spinsters to visit
him--he, of course, taking to his bed when they called and being
represented as a mortally sick man. Then they moved from Hornsey to
Hoxton, taking Crile with him. There he engaged two doctors--Usher and
Gray, both of whom lived at a distance--to attend Crile and to visit him
on alternate days. Crile seems to have been deaf, or at least, hard of
hearing, and was kept continuously under the influence of morphia. Usher,
who was employed by Mrs. Bendelow--whom he knew as Mrs. Pepper--came to
the front of the house in Field Street to visit Mr. Crile, while Stephen,
who was employed by the Bendelows--whom he knew by the name of
Morris--entered at the rear of the house in Market Street to visit the
same man under the name of Bendelow. About the time of the move, Bendelow
committed the murder in order to destroy all evidence of the making of
the wax mask.

"Eventually Crile died--or was finished off with an extra dose of
morphia--on a Thursday. Usher gave the certificate and the funeral took
place on the Saturday. But previously--probably on the Friday night--the
coffin-lid was unscrewed by Bendelow, the body taken out and replaced by
a sack of sawdust with some lead pipe in it.

"On the Monday the body was again produced; this time as that of Simon
Bendelow, who was represented as having died on the Sunday afternoon. It
was put in a cremation coffin with a celluloid window in the lid. The wax
mask was placed over the face; the jaw-bandage and the skull-cap adjusted
to hide the place where the wax face joined the real face; and the two
spinsters were brought up to see Mr. Bendelow in his coffin. They looked
in through the window and, of course, saw the wax mask of Bendelow. Then
they retired. The coffin-lid was taken off, the wax mask removed, the
coffin-lid screwed on again, and then the two doctors were brought up.
They removed the body from the coffin, examined it and put it back; and
Bendelow--or Morris--put on the coffin-lid.

"As soon as the doctors were gone, the coffin-lid was taken off again,
the wax mask was put back and adjusted and the coffin-lid replaced and
screwed down finally. Then the two ladies were brought up again to take a
last look at poor Mr. Bendelow; not actually the last look, for, at the
funeral, they peeped in at the window and saw the wax face just before
the coffin was passed through into the crematorium."

"It was a diabolically clever scheme," said I.

"It was," he agreed. "It was perfectly convincing and consistent. If you
and those two ladies had been put in the witness-box, your testimony and
theirs would have been in complete agreement. They had seen Simon
Bendelow (whom they knew quite well) in his coffin. A few minutes later,
you had seen Simon Bendelow in his coffin, had taken the body out,
examined it thoroughly and put it back, and had seen the coffin-lid
screwed down; and again a few minutes later they had looked in through
the coffin-window and had again seen Simon Bendelow. The evidence would
appear to be beyond the possibility of a doubt. Simon Bendelow was proved
conclusively to be dead and cremated and was doubly certified to have
died from natural causes. Nothing could be more complete.

"And yet," he continued, after a pause, "while we are impressed by the
astonishing subtlety and ingenuity displayed, we are almost more
impressed by the fundamental stupidity exhibited along with it--a
stupidity that seems to be characteristic of this type of criminal. For
all the security that was gained by one part of the scheme was destroyed
by the idiotic efforts to guard against dangers that had no existence.
The murder was not only a foul crime; it was a tactical blunder of the
most elementary kind. But for that murder, Bendelow would now be alive
and in unchallenged security. The cremation scheme was completely
successful. It deceived everybody. Even the two detectives, though they
felt vague suspicions, saw no loophole. They had to accept the
appearances at their face value.

"But it was the old story. The wrong-doer could not keep quiet. He must
be for ever making himself safer and yet more safe. At each move he laid
down fresh tracks. And so, in the end, he delivered himself into our

He paused and for a while seemed to be absorbed in reflection on what he
had been telling us. Presently he looked up, and, addressing Marion, said
in quiet, grave tones:

"We have ended our quest and we have secured retribution. Justice was
beyond our reach; for complete justice implies restitution; and to attain
that, the dead must have been recalled from beyond the grave. But, at
least sometimes, out of evil cometh good. Surely it will seem to you
when, in the happy years which I trust and confidently believe lie before
you, your thoughts turn back to the days of your mourning and grief, that
the beloved father, who, when living, made your happiness his chief
concern, even in dying bequeathed to you a blessing."


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