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Title:  The "Morrison Raid" Indemnity
Author: Fred M White
* A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 1200501h.html
Language: English
Date first posted: January 2012
Date most recently updated: January 2012

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THE MASTER CRIMINAL

IV. - THE "MORRISON RAID" INDEMNITY

by

Fred M White

ILLUSTRATED BY PAUL HARDY

First published in The Ludgate, London, Sep 1897


Felix Gryde - Master Criminal


CHAPTER I

THE Daily Telephone of June 19th last contained the following announcement:

"The claim made by the Randstrand Republic against the Cape Federation Company has at length been settled upon terms. The official arbitrators have assessed the damages at one million of pounds, which is ordered to be paid within the next four weeks. Whether this is the final chapter in the romance of the Morrison Raid remains to be seen. If the latest advices from South Africa are to be trusted, this is merely the prologue."

Thousands of interested Englishmen read the paragraph over the matutinal coffee, but none perused it with more interest than Mr. James Greenbaulm, the eminent Cape merchant, in his Fenchurch Street office.

Greenbaulm had not been in England long. He was understood to be one of the most recent of the Cape millionaires, and he had come to this country with the intention of opening a personal branch in London. For the rest, he was in avowed sympathy with the Randstrand Government, and as frankly against England. Open hostility of this kind is only possible in this country — indeed, we rather seem to encourage it.

A large, pursy, clean-shaven man, with sub-Semitic cast of face and piercing grey eyes was Greenbaulm. He was the incarnation of sleek respectability. His very garments suggested Capital. The type can be recognised at a glance; it is met only in the City, though the genus does occasionally stray as far as Manchester and Liverpool.

An electric gleam flashed behind Greenbaulm's spectacles. He laid the Telephone aside with an air of decision; then he quitted his office and made his way to a set of chambers in one of the narrow streets off Cheapside. Hereabouts are situated the offices of Lemesurier and Co., merchants.


AN ELECTRIC GLEAM FLASHED BEHIND HIS SPECTACLES

Greenbaulm demanded to see the head of the firm, and was at once admitted into the latter's private room. A thin man, with sanguine, eager face and thin nervous lips, rose to greet him. Enthusiast was writ large all over him. There was no bigger crank and no more brilliant specimen of a Little Englander in the House of Commons than Stephen Lemesurier. Some men have creeds, others have nothing but passions. Lemesurier belonged to the latter category.

The Morrison Raid had stirred all the emotion in his nature. He would have given a good round sum to see England driven bag and baggage out of the Randstrand. And if open hostilities broke out, he had publicly announced his intention of giving £100,000 to the oppressed Republic. Neither was Lemesurier alone in this determination. There were others besides himself, as Greenbaulm was perfectly aware.

"You have seen the Telephone?" said the latter. "What are you going to do?"

"Act," Lemesurier cried. "As a Randstrander yourself, you must know as much as I do. There is trouble brewing out yonder; our Government means to force the Republic into fighting—there will be more disgraceful landgrabbing. But this award is a slice of luck I hardly expected."

"We haven't got it yet," Greenbaulm said drily.

"No, but it is certain to come. The question is, will it come in time? I think not. Therefore a few of us have decided to advance the million to the accredited agent of the Randstrand Republic, taking a lien on the award as security. Nine of us are prepared to put down our money at any time; indeed, it is already posted in the United Cape Bank here. We want one more man to find a tenth."

Greenbaulm produced a cheque-book from his pocket and dashed off a draft. This he coolly handed to Lemesurier.

"That matter is settled then," he said. "I take it Dr. Leyden can draw the money at any time he requires. Of course you know that every penny of this is going to be laid out in Brussels."

"For munitions of war. Certainly I do. I quite understood that was the object of the advance. It would never do for the stuff to come from Germany, though Germany is backing up the Republic. But isn't it quite time that Dr. Leyden should reach here from Berlin?"

"Leyden is not in Berlin at all," Greenbaulm explained. "The papers are all wrong. He is in London—or, at least, he will be to-morrow—for a few days, and he will call upon you at a time to be arranged for the cheque."

"I should like to have his address," Lemesurier suggested.

"He has no address. It is better not. He will call upon you the first thing. And you will recommend him—we are strangers—to come and see me at Hammersmith. You can give him directions where to find me. And the sooner this business is settled the better, you understand."

Whereupon Greenbaulm went off about his business. A peculiar smile flickered about the corners of his mouth as he went along.

"If I were an absolute monarch," he muttered, "I would hang a man like that. This is the only country in the world where a man can boast of being a traitor with impunity. But you are going to have an expensive lesson, Mr. Lemesurier."

The inference of all this was perfectly plain. A few fanatics were going to advance the sinews of war to a prospective enemy. And Dr. Leyden, the accredited agent of the opposing State, was coming to fetch the money. In specie, the same could be transferred to the Continent and there exchanged for lethal weapons.

But Greenbaulm did not return immediately to his office; in fact, he was not seen there for the rest of the day. Instead of this he called a cab and astonished the driver by an order to proceed to Poplar. The transaction was agreed to upon terms highly satisfactory to the jehu.*

[ * Jehu - cab-driver. After King Jehu in the Old Testament, known for driving his chariot furiously. ]

Most people knew, by name at least, the famous Poplar establishment of Elswick and Company. There everything ingenious and mechanical that goes upon wheels is manufactured. Greenbaulm was evidently expected, for one of the partners met him.

"Well, and how are things progressing?" asked the latter.

"Both your commissions are executed," was the reply. "Your suggestion as to the motor-car has proved a brilliant success. There is practically no vibration; we have attained a speed of eighteen miles an hour with comparative ease, and the machine would carry a ton or two into the bargain."

Greenbaulm professed himself to be perfectly satisfied. On a trial the new motor proved to be a perfect success.

"Then you will send that to Hammersmith to-day," he said. "And now can we have a run on the launch? I am more interested in her."

The tiny, graceful steam launch was also Greenbaulm's invention. Steam was the motive power, and oil formed the fuel. The beauty of the arrangement was that one person could work the whole affair.

"But there is one thing I would impress upon you," said the engineer, once the trial trip was over. "A high-pressure engine like this wants constant care. The steam runs up and down in the gauge like quicksilver. Let it but touch this point and you might as well have half a ton of dynamite explode on board."

Greenbaulm smiled, and promised to be careful.

"I shall see to it myself," he said.

"This kind of thing is my pet hobby. In most cases I shall probably go out alone. By the way, you had better let me have this little toy at Hammersmith this week. I shall probably require it on Saturday, and the covered dock is all ready."

Greenbaulm drove from Poplar direct to Hammersmith, and it may be mentioned as worthy of record that one cabman, at least, in London retired to rest that night absolutely content with his fare. Records are always pleasing.

As Greenbaulm fully expected—indeed, he had made his arrangements with an elaborate minuteness and care which might have astonished Lemesurier had he known of them—Dr. Leyden came down to Hammersmith the next evening. The latter arrived in time for dinner. He came without fuss and ceremony—a wiry, leathery-looking man with a keen restless eye. Energy was the dominant note of this character. Greenbaulm was setting down to dinner as he arrived.

In the coolest way possible Leyden shook hands.

"Possibly you have been expecting me?" he suggested.

"I looked forward to you as a certainty," Greenbaulm replied. "I knew you would go to Lemesurier, and that he would give you my message. Far better come here than seek the publicity of an hotel."

Leyden pulled his chair up to the table in a most business-like way. He was the class of man who could have dined comfortably on a powder magazine. He surveyed the perfectly appointed dining table with calm satisfaction. Every well-balanced man prefers a good dinner to a bad one.

"Try this sole," Greenbaulm suggested, "it is one of my cook's inspirations. Your interview with Lemesurier was perfectly satisfactory?"

"Quite. I have the cheque for the million in my pocket. I had no idea we had so many good friends in England."

"Lemesurier is a fanatic and a fool," Greenbaulm said calmly. "As for the rest of them, there is precious little philanthropy about the business. They are merely fostering us for speculative purposes. It will cost £100,000 each, and cheap at the price."

Leyden's eyes flashed.

"You believe we shall be defeated?' he demanded. "You are of opinion that the Randstrand will become an English possession?"

"I am a patriot like yourself," said Greenbaulm. "What are your plans?"

"My plans are fairly simple. To-morrow afternoon I proceed with my secretary, Ernst, whom I have left in London, to get this money. Without declaring the same, we shall ship it from Queenborough for Rotterdam. Once in Belgium we shall change it for munitions of war. I may go to Berlin."

"There is no occasion to do that," Greenbaulm interrupted. "At the present moment, strictly incognito, the Emperor is in Brussels."

Leyden expressed his astonishment. That the Emperor in question had a strong sympathy with the Randstrand movement, he knew perfectly well. And Greenbaulm proceeded to give chapter and verse for his statement in such a manner as to put all further doubt out of the question.

"There is some startling development on foot," Greenbaulm concluded, "though I cannot be any more definite. I can tell you this—the Emperor may send for you at any moment, when you will have to go at once. By this time his Majesty knows perfectly well you are here."

Anything further Greenbaulm declined to say. Indeed, it was not his cue to be any more definite in the matter. He intended to convey to Leyden that he knew all the weighty secret, and he succeeded admirably.

"His Majesty is, to put it mildly, erratic," said the latter. "He means well, but I am terribly afraid of that impulsiveness of his. All I hope is that he won't send for me till I can get the money under way."

Greenbaulm rose from the table.

"Meanwhile we will discuss this business no further," he said. "If you have had sufficient wine, perhaps you will smoke a cigar. I have some excellent ones here which I can fully recommend."

"I confess a good cigar has its points," Leyden smiled.

Greenbaulm proceeded to open a cupboard in the wall, from which he took a large cedar box. Something clanked and rattled in the cupboard as he moved. There was a glimpse of blue and gold lace.

Leyden looked curiously at his host.

"You have been a soldier," he said tentatively.

"I have been many things in my time," he said, "and nothing long. But there is one thing I have never been."

"And what is that?" Leyden asked. Greenbaulm's eyes twinkled behind his cigar.

"Found out," he said drily. "And I don't think I ever shall be."

CHAPTER II

LEYDEN was killing time after breakfast the following morning. There were one or two things to interest him, conspicuous amongst them being the new motor-car, with which, as a great traveller, he was specially delighted; but it may seem a little strange that Greenbaulm said nothing relating to the steam launch now lying snug in the covered dock at the end of the garden. Greenbaulm left his guest in the road busily engaged with the motor.

"Stay as long as you like," he said hospitably. "I must be off to the City. Call in this afternoon and let me know how you get on. I have to dress."

With which Greenbaulm returned to the house. A minute later he hailed Leyden from the gate right down the road.

"A visitor to see you," he said; "come at once."

Leyden made his way as swiftly as possible to the drawing-room. An instant before Greenbaulm was in the dining-room. He made a dart for the cupboard where he had found the cigars on the previous evening; his arms and legs seemed to work like flashes of light, and in less time than it takes to tell, Greenbaulm was transposed into a military-looking with eye-glass and heavy moustache complete. He literally dived for the cupboard, some door gave way and closed again with a spring, and Greenbaulm was in the drawing-room beyond before Leyden had time to enter the apartment. Fregoli could have done no better.


A MILITARY LOOKING ATTACHÉ

"You are Dr. Leyden," said the attaché imperiously. "I am Count André."

"The Emperor's private secretary?" said Leyden in his turn.

"The same. I have travelled from Brussels—from Brussels, you understand —post-haste to see you. I have a letter to you from my master. You will be pleased to read it and act on the instructions contained therein without delay."

The letter was passed across the table. Leyden recognised the Imperial hand. Inside the envelope was an address, and an imperious line or two commanding Leyden to repair to the address given without an instant's delay.

"Well," said the attaché" impatiently, "well?."

"I obey," Leyden replied. "I have to see my secretary first, and then anything else goes to the wall. If you will be so good--"

But Count André had already departed. As a matter of fact, seeing the coast was clear he flashed up the stairs.

A minute or two later Greenbaulm, correctly attired, came leisurely into the hall.

"Your friend has gone already?" he asked carelessly.

"My friend would be none the worse for a few lessons in manners," Leyden muttered. "The Emperor desires to see me at once."

"Ah! Then you are summoned to Brussels, after all?"

Leyden explained fully. He also begged Greenbaulm to show him a way out of the difficulty.

"I shall certain to be away for a few days," he said; "and meanwhile you see the necessity for getting that money out of the bank and stowing it safely somewhere." Greenbaulm knitted his brows in thought. Then his face cleared.

"I can see a way out of the difficulty," he said. "See your secretary, in whom you say you have the most implicit confidence; let him come to my office in bank hours, and I will go with him to get the specie we have arranged for. I have a safe here big enough for the Bank of England."

"But we should want a procession of cabs to bring all that bulk here."

"Under ordinary circumstances we might. But as it so happens, my motor-car will come in splendidly. It would be folly, in any case, to leave the money where it is. Would you like to see the safe?"

Leyden expressed his desire to do so. At the end of a passage Greenbaulm opened a door leading into a veritable strong-room. Dark as it was, the place appeared to be perfectly ventilated. Greenbaulm switched on the electric light.

"There," he said, with some little pride, "what do you think of that?"

"Capital!" Leyden cried, catching some of his host's enthusiasm ; "and could not be better. You have got me out of a great difficulty. I'll get up to town as quickly as possible and see Ernst. You will have everything ready at your office by two o'clock—and many thanks for all your kindness."

Greenbaulm saw his visitor safely away, and then returned to the safe. He pulled out one or two of the drawers as if to satisfy himself that all was secure; then, with an inscrutable smile on his face, he ordered out his motor-car, and proceeded alone to steer himself to London.

A little after two and Ernst arrived. Greenbaulm surveyed the latter's magnificent thews and sinews in a dreamy, admiring way.

"I am pleased to see you," he said.

"If you are ready we will proceed to the bank. I trust you will be my guest for the present: you are big enough to see that I don't run off with the million."

The business was transacted at length, and the heavy cases transferred to the motor-car. Weighty as they were, the compact little machine made nothing of them. Then the motor was turned in the direction of Hammersmith

"I am going to take a holiday this afternoon," Greenbaulm explained. "You will want somebody to help you to get those cases into the safe. Once there, I shall make you a present of the key till they are removed."

The work took some considerable time, and at length was accomplished, the cases all being piled up in one corner of the safe. Ernst was loud in his praises over the strength and compactness of the strong-room.

"And even now you have not seen all its resources," Greenbaulm explained.

"Look here." He pulled down a flap and disclosed a cupboard. It was stored with plates and glasses, a corkscrew, a can-opener, and any quantity of preserved provisions. Besides these, there were wines and spirits in liberal quantities.

"What does all this mean?" asked the amazed Ernst.

"It is a fad of mine," Greenbaulm replied. "I was once accidentally locked in a safe for a day, and I have a horror of it since. You see this door closes with a spring there—don't be afraid, I have the key in my pocket. That bread was put in here this morning in case of accidents. Try that flap below the door."

Ernst crossed the floor to gratify his curiosity; as he did so Greenbaulm stood upon the pile of bullion boxes and touched a nob on the roof. There was a clang and a rattle, half the floor fell away sideways, shooting out the treasure and Greenbaulm into space, and closing again, absolutely displaying no joint before Ernst could turn round.

He rubbed his eyes in astonishment. He was absolutely alone. It seemed like an evil dream. Then it flashed across Ernst that he was trapped. The cupboard behind the door had disclosed nothing but a letter addressed to the captive.

"You will be left here for two or three days," it ran. "It is not the slightest use to make any noise, because nobody can possibly hear you. There are plenty of provisions here, and in due course the key of this safe will be forwarded to Dr. Leyden with an explanatory letter. There is also an extensive collection of literature behind the bottles in the cupboard."

Ernst dashed the letter furiously to the ground.

"Tricked and swindled!" he groaned. "What will the Doctor say?"


* * * * *

MEANWHILE, the pseudo Greenbaulm, alias Felix Gryde, was anything but idle. All his plans were complete, down to the minutest detail. Neither was there anybody to interfere with him in the house, for every servant in the place had been got rid of under one pretext or another. As to the premises, they would not be required by Gryde after to-day.

The ingenious safe had been made to his own plans, and the whole thing arranged as soon as the aggrandisement of the Randstrand million was decided upon. Gryde found himself outside the safe upon an incline plane, down which the boxes of specie were shot into a wheel-barrow ready for the purpose. One by one they were transferred to the steam launch.

With the precious burden aboard, and Gryde alone besides, the arrow-like craft shot down the river. At the end of an hour she fetched up alongside a yacht evidently awaiting her advent. But the individual who looked up from the liliput engine-room did not appear to be Gryde at all, but a greasy mechanic. It was Gryde all the same.


IT WAS GRYDE ALL THE SAME

"Hullo, there," he said gruffly, but with a nasal twang, "guess I've brought that machinery for your governor. You're to drop down to the Point and wait for the boss. He calculates to be aboard you at five."

The bullion, or machinery, as Gryde called it, was slung over the side of the Osprey and dumped unceremoniously into the hold. Then Gryde put about, and swung up the river again. By this time he had destroyed his last disguise. For the nonce he was Greenbaulm again. Several boating parties who lived in the vicinity recognised the capitalist.

Gryde's eyes were flashing like stars. He passed down the stairs and into the stuffy engine-room. The steam was particularly high in the gauge. Heedless of this fact, and heedless of the engineer's instructions, he stirred the fire. The man's nerve must have been of iron.

"I must not delay longer," he muttered. Once on deck again, he lashed the rudder, steering in a straight line down stream. Nothing could happen for at least five minues. Then, taking care that he was not observed, Greenbaulm dived into the water. He did not come to the surface till the bank was reached, and the bank just there formed a portion of his own grounds.

"Let her go if she likes now," he said, "so far as I--"

Crash! A noise like the clang of ten thousand hammers, the shrill scream of escaping steam. Then, as if torn apart by some marvellous unseen force, the steam launch burst, threw up its bows and disappeared.


THE STEAM LAUNCH BURST

"A dramatic exit," Gryde said with a sardonic smile.

He lingered long enough to see a score of boats proceed to the scene of the accident, and for a crowd of spectators to gather on the opposite bank. After that he proceeded to the now deserted house, and a little while later a typical Yankee of the better and smarter type hailed a cabman close by.

"Look here," he said, "you've got to take me to the Point. My yacht's waiting for me there, and I don't want to miss this tide."

Arrived at the Point, "Colonel Barber" was rowed out to the Osprey, and almost before the latest Thames catastrophe was sent flashing Fleet Street way, the yacht was dropping out wiih the tide. Gryde went below without even taking the trouble to ask after his precious cargo.


* * * * *

IT WAS a clear starlight night, soft and balmy, and lying outside St. Malo, Gryde was seated comfortably in his cabin reading the sequel to the story of the Morrison Raid Indemnity. A fortnight had passed since that little incident, and meanwhile, at one port and another, "Colonel Gunter" had parted with most of his cases of "machinery." It was in the Star that the story briefly appeared:

"The outlines of a startling story reach us as we go to press. It concerns the Morrison Indemnity, but we cannot say much more at present. What we hear is startling enough in all conscience. A stolen million, the secretary to a Randstrand celebrity imprisoned in a safe provisioned for the purpose, and the whole fraud planned by a millionaire whose name is not unlike Greenbaulm.

"To crown the thing the money has disappeared, and so has the pseudo millionaire, beyond all question killed by an explosion on his own steam launch. Some highly sensational details are expected, for Secretary Ernst has not been too discreet since his release, and we shall spare no pains to get to the root of matters."

Gryde smiled as he lay back in his deck chair. He could afford to puff his choice cigar with perfect equanimity.

"I don't suppose they will spare any pains," he muttered, "but they can't succeed. Neither will the true facts ever be made public," a prophecy which up to now has been fulfilled to the letter.

That sensational number of the Star has yet to appear.


Felix Gryde - Master Criminal


THE END

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