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Title: The Dragon Fly
       Part 1. How Horace Daimler Got His Name
Author: Fred. M. White
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Language: English
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Title: The Dragon Fly
       Part 1. How Horace Daimler Got His Name
Author: Fred. M. White


Published in The Daily News, Perth, W.A., Thursday 26 May, 1910.



The Empire clock in the small smoking-room of the Vagabond Club was
striking the hour of one when Ebory and his companion entered. Ebory had
come on the off-chance, and at the urgent request of Phillipson, the
dramatist, who had brought him there.

"There's your man," the latter whispered. "He's standing there by the
fireplace. Without exception the most remarkable man in London to-day.
For clear, logical analysis Horace Daimler has no equal. If he can't get
to the bottom of the mystery surrounding the death of Hannibal Gynt,
then you might just as well give it up. You wouldn't think that to look
at him, would you?"

Ebory almost smiled. More than once his literary friends had told him of
Horace Daimler's marvellous powers. Naturally he had expected to meet
someone built on more conventional lines. He missed the stern air and
flashing eyes which are usually associated with the modern

And here was a little slender man, with mild, regular features, innocent
blue eyes, and a mop of yellowish hair, faintly traced with grey.

"This isn't a joke on your part?" he asked. "But would he undertake my

"Not if he weren't so terribly hard up," Phillipson replied. "It is
Daimler's great misfortune that he isn't capable of sustained effort. He
can do charming work as a writer or musical composer or painter, but his
brain is so extraordinarily volatile that he is bound to begin one thing
before another is finished. He has a passion for birds and flowers; he
loves good wine. A wonderful little man! But I know that he is in urgent
meed of a hundred pounds or so. If you could offer him that, he'll take
up your case--yes, and he'll solve it too. Now, are you agreeable?"

Phillipson called Daimler across the room.

"Do you want to earn a hundred pounds?" he asked. "To put the thing in a
nutshell, my friend here, Mr. Edward Ebory, is in great trouble. He
wants your assistance, and he is prepared to pay for it. Mr. Ebory, I
might say, is a nephew of Professor Hannibal Gynt, who was found dead in
his workroom yesterday in most mysterious circumstances. Perhaps you
read something of it."

"Oh, yes, I read the account of the inquest in this morning's papers,"
Daimler said. "The doctors seem to be under the impression that the
professor died of heart failure. I see they made light of a little wound
which the poor gentleman had just under his left collarbone. They seem
to think that that was just an accident of circumstances. Do you know, I
should like to see something more of this case."

"That's right," Phillipson said crisply. "Come to 17 Lockspur-road with

The three men sought a cab without further words. They came presently to
Lockspur-road, an open thoroughfare in West Kensington, consisting of
houses of a respectable class, with a small open space in front and a
comparatively large garden behind. Backing Lockspur-road is
Panton-avenue, consisting of residences of the same type, so that the
large gardens behind each house adjoin one another, and are separated
only by an ornamental oak fence.

The cab drew up in front of 17 Lockspur-road, and Ebory proceeded to
open the door with his latchkey.

"There are no servants here," he explained. "They went directly after
the inquest this morning. The body of my unfortunate relative lies in
his bedroom awaiting the funeral. I don't think you will find anything
in the house, Mr. Daimler, to help you. We had better go to the workroom
in the garden where the Professor spent most of his time, and where his
body was found yesterday morning quite dead. The workroom in question at
one time was the studio of a famous R.A., who died some years ago.
Nothing in that studio has been touched, and you will find it just as it
was when the discovery was made. The police think the whole thing was
quite natural. I hold a different opinion."

"Quite right," Daimler said blandly. "The Professor was murdered. I saw
that directly I saw the account of the inquest."

The trio proceeded through the house to the studio in the garden. It was
a a large, handsome building, fitted in panelled oak, and containing no
light except that which came through the lantern roof. This, for the
most part, consisted of small panes of glass with little ventilators
manipulated by cords. At one end of the studio was a small conservatory
with glass doors, heated with hot-water pipes from outside. The
conservatory was lighted up by a circular window in the wall, but the
glass appeared to be quite an inch in thickness, and was firmly cemented
into the masonry.

"There," Ebory exclaimed, "you can see how it is for yourself! When the
Professor's housekeeper came down yesterday morning she found that he
had not been to bed all night. Professor Gynt often spent the night in
here. When the housekeeper came to call him for breakfast she could get
no reply. The door was locked. On the inside is a patent Yale lock, and
the key was subsequently found in my relative's pocket. He was quite
dead. He was wearing a suit of flannels, opened at the neck, and there
was nothing to indicate death but that trifling wound under his
collar-bone, to which the doctors attached no importance. Now, you see
exactly where we are."

Daimler's face was boyish and eager enough now. He ruffled his fair hair
over his smooth forehead. He darted from one side of the studio to the
other like a gorgeous dragon-fly; he hummed an operatic tune gaily to
himself. He burst into little inconsequent fragments of song, all about
birds, and bees, and sunshine.

"Now this is very interesting," he chirruped. "Here, in this corner, we
have a collection of coins. I have nothing to guide me, as to their
intrinsic sense. If I were forced to give an opinion I should say that
they are valuable. You will note that the top of the case is broken, and
half the coins are missing from their velvet bed."

"Is that so?" Ebory exclaimed. "You are right Mr. Daimler. Those coins
are exceedingly valuable. They were all gold coins of the later Roman
dynasty, with a few Saxon impressions as well. Some thief has been at

"Beyond all question, yes," Daimler said. "But is it not a strange thing
that the thief should have left a good half of the coins behind him?
Like all ancient coins they are very thin, and the rascal might have put
the whole caseful in his waistcoat pocket. But let us go a bit further.
Again, what have we here--what is this lying open on the table? Now,
please don't touch it, Mr. Ebory--for goodness sake don't touch it!
This, as you see, is the second volume of that exceedingly rare and
fascinating work, 'Yarrell's British Birds,' of the 1820 edition. I
presume from this that your relative was interested in ornithology."

"Oh, I don't think so!" Ebory said. "As all the world knows, his great
line was entomology. I hope this fact doesn't disappoint you."

"On the contrary, my dear sir," Daimler cried, "I am delighted, to hear
it. The fact clears the ground immensely. For the present it matters
nothing why Professor Gynt was reading this volume of Yarrell. I shall
be able to tell you the reason; in fact, I believe I know it now. But
this is premature. Now, just look at this open page. Can't you see
something on the margin?"

Ebory bent eagerly over the book.

"Certainly I can!" he exclaimed, "I can see the outline of a dirty hand.
At least, if it isn't an outline of a hand, it is the outline of three

"You're not far wrong," Daimler murmured. "It looks like the print of a
dirty, muddy hand. The Professor seems to have been a man of very tidy
habits; I see his writing-case is in order. Clean blotting-paper had
been placed in the pad recently. And now, what is this? Oh, evidently a
letter which the Professor was writing at the moment when the tragedy
took place! But, before I go any further, I suppose I may take it that
this is the Professor's handwriting."

Ebory glanced over it casually enough. It bore the embossed address, and
contained the first lines of a letter which broke off abruptly. Thus:--

"17 Lockspur-road,

"2nd April, 190?.

"Sir,--I have found you out. My beloved Anax Formoses! They perish
because of your infernal raven----"

The last word had broken off as if the disturbed man had been violently
shaken. Daimler read the words three or four times.

"We have the whole thing in a nutshell now," he said. "But to bring it
home to the culprit is quite another matter. I am afraid that my beloved
birds and butterflies will have to do without me for some days to come."


"Are you going to remain here all night?" Phillipson asked.

"Ah!" Daimler said sketchily, "that is quite probable!"

Phillipson professed himself to be disappointed. He could not possibly
stay any longer, but at any rate he would be able to get the details
subsequently from Ebory. When the latter came back to the studio after
letting his friend out, he found Daimler gazing intently at half a dozen
little red specks which he held in the hollow of his hand. They were not
unlike split peas or, rather, grains of buckwheat.

"What have you got there?" Ebory asked.

"I picked them up off the table," Daimler said. "Now as you know, I am
exceedingly fond of birds and insects. I could watch a dragon-fly
hovering over a pool for hours. A really fine specimen of the genus
Libellula seems to me to embody the philosophy of life. But to see these
creatures in perfection you should go to the tropics. Once I was in
Honduras. And there it was that I made the acquaintance of the
magnificent Anax Formoses. Ah, my dear fellow, there is a fly for you!
Perhaps you wonder why I am telling you all this; but these little
specks which I hold in my hand represent the heads of so many Anax
Formoses. Seeing that Professor Gynt was so enthusiastic an
entomologist, the reason for the fly here is obvious. But why are all
these heads scattered about? What have become of the bodies? Your
distinguished relative was not the man to destroy them."

"You'll excuse me," Ebory said, "but isn't this all outside the scope of
our inquiry?"

"On the contrary," Daimler said. "If you will look at that unfinished
letter on the table you will see that the Professor mentions his beloved
Formoses. I should not be surprised to find that the Professor bred his
dragon-flies on the premises, probably from pupae. Now I see there is an
electric light in the conservatory. Let's go and examine things for

The glass doors of the conservatory were thrown back, the light was
switched on, and Daimler darted from side to side not unlike an erratic
dragon-fly himself. Indeed, that was the name by which he afterwards
came to be known when the story of the studio mystery was finished. He
drew a quick breath now as he bent over a little tank of water in a
corner of the conservatory. He slipped from the third finger of his
right hand a specimen of an antique diamond and pearl marquise ring,
which he carelessly threw upon the table by the side of the volume of
Yarrell. More than once that same evening Ebory had found himself
admiring the ring, which seemed to him rather an expensive piece of
jewellery for a man in Daimler's financial position. It was quite
typical of him that he should have thrown it on one side as if it had
been so much glass. Then he turned back his coat-sleeve and plunged his
arm up to the elbow in the tank of water. He turned to Ebory with a wry

"Why, the water as absolutely cold!" he cried. "Where is the furnace?
You must get outside and light it at once." With a shrug of his
shoulders Ebory led the way through the garden to the place where the
furnace was situated. There were streaks of dawn showing in the sky now.
It was possible to work without the aid of artificial light. At the
expiration of an hour the little conservatory was almost insufferably
warm, and the beads of moisture gathered on the window. In his quick,
excitable way Daimler indicated three tiny objects clinging to the water
weed in the little pool, which looked like fragments of broken stick.

"Well?" Ebory said. "Well?"

"Ah, well, those are the 'Formoses' in the process of transformation,"
Daimler explained. "I hope I am in time to save them from destruction.
You see, as these are purely tropical insects, they will not reach
maturity in water of less than 70 degrees. When we come here to-morrow
we shall probably find those beautiful creatures flitting about the
conservatory. And now we can do no more for the present, except to see
that the fire in the furnace is properly banked up. I should like to
have another five minutes in the garden."

It was nearly light by this time, so that Daimler could see across the
garden into the garden beyond, and beyond that again to the back of the
corresponding house in Panton-avenue. He turned to Ebory suddenly.

"Who lives there?" he asked.

"Professor Scrope. I daresay you've heard his name--he is one of the
leading authorities on ornithology. Now, if you want to know anything
about birds, he's your man."

"I am glad to hear that," Daimler said. "We can go back to bed now, and
I will see you to-morrow afternoon. Now, do you think you can find me a
piece of sealing-wax? There ought to be no difficulty in putting your
hand upon it in the studio. And I see you are wearing a signet-ring."

Ebory hunted but the desired material, and with the aid of a wax match
Daimler proceeded to form three large seals on the outside of the studio

"Now I will ask you to stamp those with your signet-ring," he said. "I
want to make sure when we come here to-morrow--no, not to-morrow, but
the day after that--the door has not been tampered with, and that nobody
has been inside."

The thing was done at once, and without further words Ebory and his
companion made their way into Lockspur-road. Presently Ebory pulled up

"You've forgotten something," he said. "You have left that beautiful old
marquise ring of yours behind. I am quite certain you would not like to
lose that."

"Oh, not for worlds!" Daimler cried. "Still, it will be quite safe where
it is. And to make assurance doubly sure we will go down to Scotland
Yard and report its loss."

"But that is absurd!" Ebory protested. "If it had been stolen or

"It hasn't, but it will be," Daimler said coolly. "Oh, yes, it will be,
for a certainty. By the way, you didn't forget to empty the coin cabinet
into your pocket, did you? And now for Scotland Yard!"


As a matter of fact, Ebory saw nothing of Daimler for the next two days.

"It is all going well," the latter said when they met again. "We will go
off and have a little dinner. We will want that, because later on we
have some stern work to do. You're not afraid of danger?"

"Where does the danger lie?" Ebory asked.

"In the Professor's studio. With any luck, before morning we shall know
exactly how Professor Gynt met his death."

An hour later Daimler scrutinised the wax seals on the studio door with
the minutest care. He was evidently pleased to find them unbroken. Once
inside the studio he crossed to the table and examined it with a smiling
face that was full of triumph.

"Behold!" he said. "My beautiful marquise ring has vanished. And yet the
seals on the door of the studio are unbroken, and it is utterly
impossible for anybody to enter the place in any other way."

"You seem almost glad," Ebory said.

"Well, in a way I am," Daimler admitted. "If the ring had not been
missing I should have had to begin my investigations all over again. By
this time it has been pledged to some pawnbroker, and I shall be able to
get it back at my leisure. And then I shall have the description of the
man who offered it in pledge--not that I care very much about that,
because, unless I am greatly mistaken, I know the description of the man
already. Ah, now what did I tell you? Just look here!"

Daimler pointed an enthusiastic finger to the little conservatory which
was dimly outlined by the studio lights. Moving behind the glass were
two or three shimmering objects, all purple and gold and pallid blue.
The shrill screams of their rippling wings could be heard distinctly.

"Oh, the beauties!" Daimler cried. "I am glad I was in time to save
them. It seems to me----"

He broke off abruptly, and dropped on his knees by the window. He seemed
to examine the woodwork carefully. It was indented all over as if some
mischievous child had been at work there with a chisel or some other
sharp instrument. A tiny object lay on the floor, a thing not unlike a
quill pen, which Daimler hastily snatched up and concealed in his

"We're getting on, mon ami," he cried. "Do you think if you put the
chair on the top of the table that you could reach the skylight?"

Under Daimler's instructions he fastened down three of the sidelights,
leaving the one next the garden propped back with a short piece of wood,
to which a string was attached. Once this was done the chair was removed
again, and Daimler proceeded to take from the bag which he had brought
with him what appeared to be two complete sets of motor-clothing, and
bade Ebory assume one.

"The whole kit will be absolutely necessary," he said, "including gloves
and masks, to say nothing of the leather gaiters. Now, you hold the end
of that string tightly in your hands. As soon as ever you get the word
from me draw the string tight so as to keep the light fastened down, and
hang on to it at any cost whatever happens. I shall have to put the
light out. But I shall stand near the switch, and you will see what you
will see."

Two long lingering hours passed away until the clock outside began to
strike the hour of eleven. The last lingering jangle was dying away when
an electric thrill seemed to run down Ebory's arm, as if a flash of
lightning had struck the string which he had twisted round his finger.
Suddenly the black, cavernous silence was broken by a succession of
quick sounds much as if some strong hand had drawn up a heavy Venetian
blind angrily. Still no sign came from Daimler; then out of the darkness
Ebory heard a harsh call which seemed to be close to his ear.

"Confound the dratted thing!" a voice said angrily. "Where the

The voice cracked off as suddenly as it had broken out; then came a
noise as if someone were hammering home a nail into wood. It was at that
moment that Daimler gave the signal! At the sound of that strange,
uncanny voice Ebory had drawn his hands back involuntarily to protect
himself and the string had slipped from his fingers. He reached out,
fumbling for it in the dark. Then, with a sudden and unexpected force,
something struck him a blow like that of a hammer on one of the goggles
of his mask; once more there came that strange noise like the swift
updrawing of a blind, and then almost a painful silence. A second later
and the whole studio was flooded with light, which for some moments
fairly dazzled the eyes of the occupants there. Daimler made a sign to
Ebory to remove his mask. He had torn off his own, showing a wet, white
face and eyes strangely dilated.

"Pity you spoilt it," he said, reproachfully.

"I'm very sorry!" Ebory stammered. "Just look at my mask. The fellow
must have hit me in the face with a hammer. Fortunately the glass was
thick, or I might have got a nasty blow."

"It's of no use staying here any longer," Daimler said. "It isn't too
late to go down to Scotland Yard and ask about my ring. I daresay the
police will be able to tell me something by this time."

Daimler's prophecy was perfectly correct. According to a
detective-sergeant at Scotland Yard, an attempt had been made to pawn
the marquise ring at a pawnbroker's shop in Wardour-street, where it had
been detained. Unfortunately no arrest had been made, though the
pawnbroker's assistant was confident that he should recognise the man
again, and had given a description of him.

"Oh, that's all right!" Daimler said. "He was a tall man, with a long
grey beard; and a perfectly bald head. He wore gold-rimmed spectacles,
and he was about seventy years of age. If I am correct, he had a slight
cast in his left eye."

Ebory stared at the speaker in amazement.


Ebory went back to the studio in Lockspur-road straight away from Kensal
Green, where he had been attending the funeral of his relative. Daimler
was awaiting him. They passed into the studio and closed the door behind
them. Beyond the glass doors of the conservatory Ebory could see the two
or three specimens of the Anax Formoses poised in mid-air and flitting
gracefully from one plant to another.

"Did you ever see anything more beautiful?" Daimler exclaimed. "Now,
those dragonflies came from Honduras. Probably the Professor bought the
pupae or had them sent to him. But I see you are not concerned with the
flies just now--what you want is to get to the solution of the mystery.
I assure you it is all part of the same thing. If it had not been for
the Anax I should have had a puzzle that would have tested my powers to
the uttermost. As it is, the affair is quite simple. Now just look at
this letter which your uncle began, and which was, no doubt, intended to
be sent to someone with whom the Professor was very angry. Study it

"I can't make anything much out of it," Ebory said, after a close

"Well, there was no questioning the fact that the author was intensely
annoyed as to something which was happening to his dragonflies as they
hatched out. Now, what was it that destroyed these insects? Why did we
find the heads and some of the wing-cases lying about? All the rest of
the bodies had disappeared. Therefore it is obvious that something or
other came here and preyed upon the flies. Your uncle knew perfectly
well where this thing came from and whom it belonged to. Hence this
angry letter which terminated so tragically. Now I want you to
particularly look at the last word in the letter. Would you mind telling
me to whom you think the letter was being written?"

"Ah, there I can't help you!" Ebory said.

"Oh, surely you can! Why, it is only a matter of a few yards between
this garden and the house occupied by the other Professor, Mr. Scrope.
Now I should think that Scrope was exceedingly likely to be the neighbor
for whom that letter was intended. In fact, I'm sure he was. He keeps
birds, and birds eat insects. And now, would you mind telling me on what
terms your uncle and Mr. Scrope were?"

"Bad," Ebory said. "They were both excitable men, and, always ready to
quarrel. Scrope is a man who lives with his creditors on his doorstep. I
don't think he fully realises the value of money, and I don't think he
is particularly scrupulous as to how he gets it."

"So far, so good," Daimler said. "We are going to call upon Mr. Scrope,
but before we go I want you to have a look at the woodwork round the
door leading in to the conservatory. Do you notice anything peculiar
about it?"

"Nothing out of the common," Ebory said, "unless you except those
peculiar marks in the framework, which looks as if a child had been busy
with a gimlet."


Professor Scrope's servant led the way to a large apartment at the back
of the house which, in ordinary circumstances, would have been the
drawing-room. The walls were lined with cages containing all kinds of
rare birds. To the left was another room entirely filled with books,
which formed, as Ebory told his companion, the finest ornithological
library in Europe. The visitors were still examining the beautiful
little prisoners behind the bars when Scrope came in. As to the
Professor himself, he was tall and thin, with a large high forehead and
shining bald head, and the lower part of his face was hidden under a
long grey beard.

"What can I do for you?" he asked.

"You can answer a few questions, if you will," Daimler said, a little
nervously. "We came to you, sir, because we thought it highly probable
that you might be able to throw some light on the strange death of
Professor Gynt."

"Why should you think that?" Scrope demanded. "Of course, if you are
connected with the detective-police----"

"Ah, you do me an injustice!" Daimler cried. "I am anxious to know what
creature of yours it was that used to find its way into Professor Gynt's
studio and destroy his rare specimens of the Anax Formoses."

Scrope turned a flashing eye on the speaker.

"Ah, sir," he said, "I see you are at man of science! That makes some
difference, of course. Still, why should I permit myself to be
cross-examined in this way?"

"One moment!" Daimler cried. "You will pardon me, I am sure. But you
see, Mr. Ebory here is a friend of mine. Now, in the course of my
investigations I had occasion to remove a valuable ring, which I left on
the table in your neighbor's studio. When I went to get the ring back,
although the studio door was carefully sealed, and the seals had not
been broken, the ring was gone. Subsequently I understand that my ring
was offered to a pawnbroker in Wardour-street by a stranger, who did not
remain long enough for the transaction to be completed. I suppose the
stranger's suspicions were aroused, for he bolted out of the shop,
leaving the ring behind him. Unfortunately for him the pawnbroker's
assistant appears to have been an observant young man. I merely wanted
to tell you that the man who tried to pawn my ring appeared to be over
70 years of age, he had a long grey beard, and a high bald head, which
showed for a moment when he took his hat off. Also he wore gold rimmed
spectacles, and, to complete the picture, he had a peculiar cast in his
left eye."

Professor Scrope dropped suddenly into a chair.

"You will understand, why I tell you all this," Daimler went on. "I
regret having to disturb you. But you might forgive me before I go, and
allow me to see a certain bird of yours. I am a great lover of birds, as
I told you before, and I am exceedingly anxious to see your Honduras

"The raven!" Scrope stammered.

"Surely, yes. I mean the bird that this feather came from. I picked it
up in Professor Gynt's studio. You see, it is a white-tipped feather,
and from its size I came to the conclusion that it belonged to a large
bird. With my knowledge of bird-life I guessed that it was a Honduras
raven. You see, I have been in that part of the world myself, and I have
watched the great clouds of Anax Formoses hovering over the pools; I
have seen the Honduras raven in its native lair. Now directly I found
that feather and lost my ring I knew that the bird was the thief. I knew
also that the bird was a raven. It was impossible for anything else to
find its way to the studio. And then I had another proof. Will you
kindly cast your eye over this letter? It is obviously unfinished, but
equally obviously it is intended for you. You will see at a glance that
Professor Gynt had suffered considerable loss of his dragon-flies at the
beak of your bird. He meant to tell you that if you did not keep your
infernal raven at home he would destroy it. That is quite clear, even
from those few words. Besides, the raven has been in the studio lately,
and I can show you the marks of his beak where he was making a furious
attack upon the conservatory window with a view of getting at the few
remaining flies. But I can give you further proof than that. Three or
four nights ago Mr. Ebory and myself waited in the darkness in the
studio for the raven to come. I felt sure he would come, for the average
raven is as mischievous in the darkness as he is at any other time of
the day. Besides, the extraordinary cunning of the bird would tell him
that it was his best opportunity. Well, he did come, but we failed to
trap him because he pretty well frightened the life out of my friend,
Mr. Ebory, who released the string of the trap at a critical moment. I
am quite sure Mr. Ebory thought there was a human being in the studio,
and I can quite understand his being frightened when the bird broke out
with an oath or two, and subsequently attacked my friend, who would have
been badly situated had it not been for a motor-mask which he was
wearing. Now this raven had a beak dipped in poison; he was a fierce

Scrope jumped suddenly to his feet.

"This is unendurable!" he cried hoarsely. "You would not dare to
insinuate--you do not mean to say--what possible motive----"

Daimler stood there as white as his antagonist. He was shaking from head
to foot; his voice was tremulous.

"I made no mention of the word 'motive,'" he said. "But we will suppose,
if you like, that you are a man in desperate need of money. We will
suppose that you owe Professor Gynt more than you can ever pay. When you
quarrelled with him, and saw no prospect of getting further supplies, we
will assume that your sagacious bird was sent to make a raid upon the
Professor's unique collection of coins. At any rate, the glass of the
coin case was broken, and most of the precious discs are missing. This
seems rather far-fetched on the face of it, but then I will undertake to
make a raven do pretty well anything. It did not take long for me to
discover where the coins went to, especially after my ring was missing.
Then I discovered that you personally had attempted to pawn my ring, and
I knew. And I know now where it was that you disposed of the old Roman
and Saxon gold coins. But surely it was unnecessary to go so far. Surely
there was no reason to smear the beak of your raven with that insidious

"I didn't!" Scrope cried. "I swear----"

"You lie!" Daimler cried. "You lie, and I can see it in your face. We
know now how Professor Gynt died. After hearing what I say a child could
imagine what took place on the fatal night. And you knew that you would
be safe--but for the accident of circumstances, you would be. And

Daimler broke off suddenly, for the door of the room was pushed open,
and a magnificent specimen of a black and white raven hopped gravely
into the room. He stood there with an air of preternatural gravity
contemplating the visitors with his head cocked on one side. Ebory could
feel the hair on his scalp rising as he watched the great bird. Then a
sudden cry broke from Daimler, who made one quick step in Scrope's
direction. But he was too late; there was a snap and a report, and
Scrope pitched heavily to the floor with a bullet through his heart. It
had all been done so quickly that Ebory hardly realised what had
happened. Daimler was the first to recover himself.

"Let's go out of this," he whispered. "I shan't get this out of my mind
for weeks. I suppose we shall have to go down to the Yard and report the

As Ebory left the room he turned and saw the prostrate body lying there,
with the raven standing by and croking hoarsely, like the thing of
ill-omen that it was.

"No, I don't think I can take much credit for myself," Daimler said
thoughtfully. "You see, I happen to be an expert on these matters. My
intimate knowledge guided me from the start. It was nothing like so
delicate and dangerous a problem as the matter of what I call 'The Three
Red Rats.' If you will come down to my cottage at Ratchet one of these
days and stay the night with me, I shall be pleased to tell you the


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