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Synopsis of Previous Chapters. j CHAPTERS 1. ife Li.—(ierard Granville Bough, familiarly known as "-Granny," com- I EJains to his friend, Phil Ralston, that he has een swindled by a man named Garshore. Gough hai] been on the mint of se1.lring a valuable confession in connection with some oii wells m Roumania. Garshore, taking an unfair advantage some information Gough had given him, steps in and j secures the concession o-ver tho latter's j bead. Minister Soutzo's -by nami! Lydta Popeseu* had been bribed by Garshore to hdp him in tho. matter. naJston induces Gough to accompany him back to London. Granny teiLs his friend that he is secretly e ngaged to Miss Myra Staple-ton. but that 11.. is do* too.poor to marry her. Ralston and Gough are at the Hotel Cecil when they see Garshore and Lydia Popescw driving away together in On parting Gough tells .Ralston that he may be leaving town, but will wire his address. Next morning Ralston sees a startling headline ui the papers. He rushes to the Cecil to' find that Granny 's bed has not been slept in. CHAPTERS 111 I V.—Ralston asks the hotel porter the address which Garshore gave to thl cabman on the previous night, and is told 127a, Redcliffe Gardens, West Brompton also thnt Gough had made- similar inquiries. The tnornint; newspapers all contain an account of a mysterious tragedy of the ■night at Redcliffe Gardens. Á handsome woman of foreign appearance had been 'murdered, evidently after a desperate struggle. Ralston learns that Garshore, as veil as Gough, has left town that morning. He At once concludes that thp dead woman is ydia Popeseu. Going to see bis journalistic ■friend, George Cunliffe, be finds him engaged on the case, and accompanies him to Red- cliffe Gardens. Ralston learns that no ma.rk has heen found on the body tp indicate the cause of death, nor can the police, assign motive for the crime. He is to id that the maid who had rented the house on the previous day Is missing, and the police are trying to trace her. An old Italial poignard which Ralston recognises as his own is found in the room. He attributes its presence, to Gough. Lifting up the sheci; from the dead woman's face he is amazed to tind tnat it is not that of Lydia Po- peseu. CHAPTER V. The Truth Suppressed. By this amazing discovery I was absolutely itaggered. All the grim theories I had formed fell instantly to the ground. Thef:a,ee of the dead woman was certainly not that of Lydia Popeseu—the woman I had Seen in the hansom in the courtyard of the Cecil. The white face I had gazed upon was wmewhat younger than that of Garshore's companion, the features CV( more regular And more beautiful. And yet the black dress trimmed with silver seeme-d. as far as I could oBect. to be very,similar- to that worn by hc woman, sight of whom had filled Granny 'with a, mysterious and bitter hatred. Thoughts such as these flooded my mind. Can iffe noted my confusion, no doubt, but probably attributed it to the shock,consequent upon sight of the lifeless woma.n. The mystery there was, I saw, greater than I had antici- pated.. Why ba.d the knife been taken from my l'oom-,by Granny Gpugb undoubtedly-and why left there as evidence against myself. Morton had..already examined it for blood- stains, but finding none, had placed it aside together wnth several letters and other things, including a silver-topped given glass bottle of smelling salts that had been knocked over upon the floor in the struggle, they had dis- covered io- their search. The letters quickly proved to be the pro- perty of the proprietress of the house, and to have nobeariog whatever upon the identity of the fair foreigner- The knife, however, was regarded by the police with both curiosity and (suspicion. It was their intention, Moreton remarked, to Mk the owner of the house if it was her property. In that I scented danger— danger to myself I If that weapon were traced back to me, I should be suspected, and the suspicion would be strengthened by the fact that I had in- duced my friend Cunliffe. to allow me to ac- company him there. A fact well known to cri- minologists is that the murderer will in many cases return to the scene of his crime, drawn there by some strange, unexplained fascination —tho -.fascination which has caused so many issascitis »t». Paris to go the Morgue and gaze upon^e Uo4i^s of their victim?. My presiewethere would, I felt convinced, be the most weighty evidence against me. And yet what had I to fear ? I was innocent. This thought calmed me. I knew well that my association with Granny might be the cause of considerable- unpleasantness if any crime were brought home to him. He was an adven- turer. and to mc he made JittJo concealment of the fact. He was an adventurer, and yet an honest one withal—as honest, indeed, as half the men who constitute what we to-day know as the City." Where had he* gone ? What could have really happened ? Aye, that (was the great question which wa.s exercising my mind. The men there with me, experts in the in- restigation of crime, were all in utter ignorance. K alone held the clue to this secret—or rather, 'would have held it had the dead woman 'realiy been the fair Roumanian. What Granny told me regarding the desire of the Minister in Bucharest wishing to get rid her troin Roumanian soil recmred to mc. Had there been some clever and subtle con- spiracy of which His Excellency the Minister Stoutzo had been the instigator? I had met the H6um::Lnian statesman in qution on two or three occasions, in Bucharest, and I had heard rumours concerning him, and his gambling operations, at the Jockey Club, which were not altogether creditable to a Minis tor'o f State. He and his colleagues had been reponsible for the recent agrarian rising in the north, in which so many of the unfortunate peasantry were shot down. It was said in Bucharest that he spent every after noon, in the club from three to seven, and openly challenged every- body to play games of chance. He was a sportsman, it was true, but some of his actions as minister had been severely criticised by honest folk. He had risen quickly from the position of a third rate advocate in Ploesti, a provincial town, to become in a few brief years the owner of a fine estate at Hirsova, and a member of the Roumanian Cabinet. How ? Mainly by receiving bribes from foreign applicants for concessions. A man bearing such a characteer it was but natural to gUspect of cunning and double- dealing. Gough had declared that the pre- sence of Lydia Popeseu, the handsome woman I had seen in the cab, had become distasteful to His Excellency. She knew too much, in all probability. In every country, save perhaps England and United States, woman has more or less a finger in the direction of the flow of underground politics. In almost every move of the game, if youprobe deep enough, you will find the woman. The world is startled now and then by some strange and unexpected announcement—a sudden hostility, an extraordinary understand- ing, on strained relations between two nations. It is acepted as a natural outcome of di- plomacy. Yet how often it is that a clever woman has liwn the means of disturbing the world's peace Was pot, indeed, the Franco- German conflict due to a woman's ambition ? I watched the detectives making their search, prying, as they did, into-everything, but dis- covering practically nothing. Outside the house were several men in tweed suits-re- porters eager for every scrap of informa- tion that might he forthcoming, but forbidden entry into the house. They lounged up and down, standing together now and then to chas, smoke cigarettes, and excite their own imaginations concerning the mysterious affair. They were awaiting the exit of any- body to pouhce Upon him and seek an in- terview," for that evening's papers. Cunliffe, the chosen one, looked forth upon his confreres and smiled. The dining-room and drawing-room having been thoroughly investigated, Moreton led the way upstairs to the front bedroom, a large pleasapt apartment well furnished. The bed was undisturbed, and had not been slept in. neither, indeed, had any of the beds in the wholp house. The. wardrohe in the front bedroom—which was evidently that occupied by the woman now lying Hfelcss-stood open, revealing several gowns hanging in it, while in the centre of thy room was a lady's dress trunk quite new, cpen, but empty. The detectives at Moreton's suggestion took down dress after dress, examining them to see if there was any maker's name in the bands of the bodices. They were, without exception, well-made garments, rich and of the latest model, but not one of them bore any- thing to give a clue as to its maker. There were three hats, but all the linings were plain. In one, however, Was sewn a large trefoil of leaf-green linen, a fancy displayed by some French and Itt-llian milliners to please the more superstitious of their customers who believe that such designs in their hats bring them good fortune. Upon the caressing-table were several articles of jewellery. They included about half-a-dozen rings, a little gold watch with long gold chain, a small diamond brooch shaped as a countess's coronet, and a hat-pin, the head of which was formed of a big silver filigree ear-ring of an- tique Turkish design. Unfortunately they were not in jeweller's cases, but heaped in the silver trav uPQn the table. Most of the drawers in the chest were empty; but in one was a quantity of other clothing, evidently belonging to the dead woman, all of which we carefully investigated. A laundry-mark was at last found, and Mor- ton duly noted it in his pocket-book. It was the first suggestion of a clue, but only a shad- owy one wítb.aJ,for the woman was a foreigner, and at present it was impossible to decide in Vbicb city of Europe to make inquiry. j The main question, as far as I see," re- marked one of the officers, a si u-evd-faced man with hair just silvered, is whether the lady did not die a natural clf"atb." How ?" asked Cunliffe. '• There are several theories, of course," Mor- jton interposed. She might have been fright- ened by the sudden appearance of an enemy while alone here.The fright might have caused heart failure." It was a new 1.1wory. and struck me as an uncommonly good one. Was it possible that Granny Gough had come there unexpectedly with my knife in his hand, and she had ex- pired at the sight of him '? Had she actually been the woman whom had cause to hat, I could have accepted tbS^heory at once. But as she was certainly not the fair Lydia, I hesi- tated We spent a weird and exciting hour in that house. The work of frying into every hole and corner was fascimlting. This methodical inves- tigation of a mystery was something new to me. I bad read many works of fiction dealing with it, and showing the methods of the Crim- inal Invest igation Department. But here was the rea l work being carried out before my eyes. Cunliffe was quick and observant. He sa-w in it all a good story "-as n murder my- stery is called in journalistic parlance. He little dreamed of the secret knowledge which I held, or of the amazing discovery which I had made. Of course," he suggested, "the poor woman might have been poisoned. It seems very cur- ious that whoever came here left the front door ajar on leaving. The visitor must have feared to awaken somebody sleeping up- stairs." Exactly. But how did the person enter, if she did not herself let him in Well-h(t might have had a latch-key," I ventured to say. I think not, Mr Ralston," replied Morton. My own idea is that the person who came here was a friend of her's. Hp-for it is certain to have been a man—had made an appoint- ment with her, and she waited to admit him." Had she, I wondered, a, secret tryst with the man Garshore—or with Granny Gough ? The latter knew Roumania well, and was popular in that gay reckless circle in Bucharest. Was it not more likely that Granny was a much more intimate friend than Garshore ? Yet, after all, the fact that negatived every theory was hat the dead woman was not Lydia Popescu at all Suddenly we heard a motor-car outside the house. It was the Director of Criminal In- vestigation,who had returned to make another visit. He ascended the stairs, a tall, middle-aged man in a little overcoat, quick in speech and decision of manner. Wet!, Morton," he asked as he entered the bedroom. What is the latest Y" A laundry -mark -foreign no doubt. That's all." No cause of death apparent yet ?" None. There is an old poignard downstairs in the room. But there's no mark upon it It, of course, might have been left by the as- sassin." Better let the landlady of this house see it. I'll send a man up to Scotland with it to- night. If it isn't her's there's suspicion-and we might trace its owner-eh ?" Exactly what I've been thinking, sir," re- sponded the detective addressed. I suppose we'd better send the body to the mortuary,and have the inquest to-morrow." Yes. But be careful of the press. Not a word must leak out yet.. It- may be a natural death after.all. And if it is it would make us all look fools," he laughed. You hear what the order is. Mr Cunliffe ?" Morton said, turning to my friend. Not a word for the present—not until after the doc- tors tell us the truth." And Cunliffe gave his promise. The true facts wer to be hushed up, as so-many of necessity are. The indiscreet and premature publication of discoveries made by Scotland Yard has in many an instance resulted in the assassin going scot-fucc. CHAPTER VI. Granny Makes a Curious Request. I was back in my chambers about five o'clock that same afternoon, seated writing a letter, when the door-bell rang, and I rose and opened it. On the threshold stood Granny Gough. My heart stood still for a, moment. Hullo, old man. Come in," I managed to say,and ho followed me in with-the sLagle\ £ ord Hullo." n He was smartly dressed in what he called his business kit, namely a perfect-fitting frock coat and silk ha t, which he wore when inter- viewing people on business. Like the true cos- mopolitan, he hated such garb, preferring the ease of the dark flannel lounge suit and the soft-fronted print shirt. But he had to don the shiny head-gear of commerce and ceremony in order, he always declared, to produce an im- pression. Been out on business—eh ?" I asked, as he sank into an armchair. I saw his facc- was a trifle haggard, and in his eyes was an expres- sion such as I had never seen there before. Yes," he replied simply. Got a drink handy ?" I went to the cupboard and got out some whisky and soda. Then,when he had swallowed a stiff glass—which, by the way, was quite unusual to him—he sighed, took a cigarette from the box I offered, and lit it with due deli., beration. 1 •• I've been out in the country. I'm only just back," he said, volunteering "the informa- tion. I pretended not to have been round to the Cecil. I was undecided how to judge him. Business, I suppose." Yes," he responded emphatically. I met Carlier, the big banker of Lyons, quite acci- dentally. He's at the Savoy—wants met. go to America to do some business for him." Well, if it pays, go," I said. He blew a cloud of smoke slowly from his lips, and answered. The game he's on requires too much bluff. my dear boy. I'm not up to it just now." Because you're hipped.Granny. But things will come right for you. Roumania is not the only country in the world where concessions are to be picked up." "I know that," he cried impatiently. But this business of Carlier's is a big game of bluff -simply to bluff a company in New York out of its lawful rights and get its shares for our- selves." Well, Granny, if there's a man in Europe who can play that game, it's yourself," I de- clared. They took down dress after dress, examining them carefully. My dear Phil," he said, raising his finger and laughing. "I'm a philosopher, as you know. I make lots of money, but never keep any. When Grannv Gough hte money the world has money. You know that. I give it all away. And when I haven't any-well. I easily find mugs who'll give me some. You've known me a long time, Ralston. Have I ever worried over the1 future ? Have T ever been glum ?" Not until just recently." Ah I have cause-now. There's the woman I love-the woman whose future depends upon me procuring the necessary funds to make her happy," he said, suddenly serious. Yes, Ralston, I've been a fool. I ought to have kept the money I had. This time last year I had, in the credit Lyonnais, about eight thousand pounds. To-day all the money I pos- sess in the world is in my pocket-about twenty pounds. And yet- Yet, what ? AnA yet I have ideas—big ideas." I know that. Your schemes are always col- lossal, just as your confounded cheek is, He laughed heartily. When we were together alone he and I never minced matters. Yes, I suppose I've got a bigger amount of cheek than most people. But, my dear fellow, it pays. It seems to hypnotise people. It puts them to sleep, and I get the money I want. They pay me for prospective concessions, and advance me money for expenses in business that as business men they ought to know is rotten. Bah Your sharpest business men here in your city of London can be put to sleep by a little hypnotism, properly applied. I don't lie —oh dear no I only present the facts of my various schemes in a rosy glow of light, as it were And thuy get dazzled—and put their l hands into their pockets,always for the benefit of Granny Gough." 1 I And he laughed, hi^ great, blue eyes fixed upon me. Could this man, so easy-going, so careless, and yet so generous, be an assassin ? No—a thousand itnes no He lit a fresh cigarette, and leaning hack again in his said Carlyle was quite right when he said that the world was peopled mostly with fools. A clever man can just use his fellow men to ^his own advantage—providing he is bold enough to face sudden danger." Ah there are few men like yourself. Gran- n I ri, ny," I remarked. I'm a wide man—I've got big ideas, and I can work 'em," he declared. Perhaps my methods are open to criticism. I quite admit that. But you'll agree that there are few finan- Iciers or successful business men—those who give big sumfi to charities and hospitals, and figure in the Birthday Honours—who can put their hands upon their hearts and sav they have never been guilty of a bit of sharp prac- tice." I quite believe you," I said. The snug Puritanism of the great majority is a mere veneer of religious respectability, and the, mag- istrate who fines a boy for playng pitch and toss will, on the same day, do a deal on the Stock Exchange.?' My dear fellow," Gough said, if you only knew half the story of my adventures in search of a fortune you'd hold the world in the greatest contempt. I'll tell you what happened ordy a few months ago. I was in Copenhagen and a trifle hard up, when- I received word that a big concession in the Adriatic had been given by the Hungarian Government to a German syndicate. The latter had heard of me as a man of means, and as a man who could find capital. Therefore I was approached and asked by wire to Cologne. I went-as the big Ameri- can finaDC-icr-put up at the best hotel in the best suite, of rooms, although I hadn't the money to pay for them. I worked the trick of a bogus telegram or two from bankers, and then I met the syndicate. I invited them to a meeting—ten of them—in a private room at the hotel, and heard what they had to say. The moment I set eyes on them I saw that they would fall into my hands. They were little butchers and bakers and retired clerks—hard- headed, but without experience. They offered "Promise me never to repeat what I said concerning her," he begged in a harsh voice. me a big share of the concession for building a casino, hotels, etc., and I said I would consider it. As to the price they were obdurate, and put it in writing. That's just what I wanted. i got a copy of the concession, and allowed them to go. Then next day I invited them to meet again. They came like lambs, thinking that. I was about to finance them. When the wbole ten of them were inside the room I loiked the door and going to the table I calmly sain, Gentlemen, the whole lot of you are in prison You should have seen their faces, By Jovs They were a study. Yes,' I went on, you've tried to induce me to finance a conces- sion which you haven't got. The concession from the Hungarian Government is not com- plete, and isn't worth the paper it's written upon. And you've tried to get two hundred thousand marks ont of me for it. You've attempted to obtain money by false pre- tences The whole crowd were flabbergasted. Some of them, when they could speak, begged met to let them off. Others were inclined to be defiant." Arid you soon dealt with them, 1 suppose Granny ?" Dealt with them," he cried. Why before I left that room I had the whole bag of tricks in my hands, syndicate, concession—such as it was-and the sum of two hundred and fifty pounds advanced to me to go to Hungary as their agent, and get the concession com- pleted I "Bluff!" Bluff, of course I simply struck them so suddenly that before they could recover I'd left Cologne for Budapest with two hundred and fifty to go on with, and a very fail' bit of business to tram.-act. I've a.Ireadv made another five hundred over it, and hope to make more." You're a marvel. I shall begin to be frightened of you soon," I declared. My dear Phil. I'm always straight to a man who runs straight, as you know," he s i id. But I like to get even with some of these business sharks sometimes. 1 love to do a bit of sharp practice, and so teach them a lesson. On that day in Cologne I was in a very tight corner for money. You can't play the Amer- ican financier without cost—you know. You recollect how I got that big order from the Russian Government to buy Chilian and Argen- tine warships during tho Japanese war. I posed in Petersburg as a millionaire, and through 'a lady's influence got in touch with the admiralty. I sold them four ships sec- retly, paid the lady fifty thousand francs for her services as my secret agent,and made a pot myself." vc And you've lost it all-already-eh ?" Yes—every red cent," he laughed. I in- vested ten thousand pounds to provide for little Gertie. That's intact, I'm glad to say, so she'll never want." How is the child ?" I asked, knowing the strange, romantic story, and how dear the little nine-yea.r-old girl was to his heart. She's bonnie. I went down to see her to- day. She's growing fast and getting even pret- tier. By Jove Phil, I only wish I were not such a wanderer," he sighed. "Then I could see her more often. But the people she's with at Brighton are very good indeed to her." She's a delightful little thing," I declared, reflecting that out of his stroke of good fortune he had prpvided for the tiny orphan''ohild he had some four years before adopted as his daughter. Men might call him hard names if they chose, but surely he had a big generous heart—just as he had a big hand, a big beam- -ing face, and a burly imposing figure. True, he loved Myra Stapleton with a deep honest and devoted affection. But perhaps if the truth were really told, fair-haired little Gertie,with her nine-year-old prattle,held first place in his heart. I knew the circumstances of her adoption, and they were, indeed, romantic. We were silent for a few minutes, the crim- son London sundown flooding the room. My thoughts bad reverted to that mysterious tragedy in Redcliffe Gardens, and suddenly I said Granny, you recollect that woman who joined Garshore at the Cecil last night. Was she Lydia Popeseu ?" He started forward, staring at me. Why ?" he gasped. What do you mean ? Didn't I tell -ii she was ?" "Y, bul I thought you might have mis- taken her." Why ? Why should I mistake her? What —what do you know about her ? You Know something Tell me And he looked straight intto my eyes. Was he bluffing me, as he bluffed others ? I know nothing," I declared, returning his gaze. That's a lie, Phil he said plainly. You know something—something about that wo- man." You hate her. You told me so, Granny." In confidence. ProVnise me never to repeat what I said concerning her," he begged in a strange, harsh voice, with a curious look in his eyes. No, Phil, you are my friend-my best friend. Promise me that one thing (To be continued.)



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A Misunderstanding. ..






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