Hide Articles List

17 articles on this Page



I .PUBLISHED BY SPECIAL ABBANGEMENT.] DOUBLES & QUITS By G. W. APPLETON, 'Author of "A Forgotten Past," "A Tragedy of Error," "The Co-Respondent," Francois the Valet," etc., etc. [COPYRIGHT.] CHAPTER XI. 1 opened my oyas very wide when Mr. Golightly made that statement, I can assure you. "But—but v' I stammered, "how could such a thing bo possible?" "Possible or not. he relied. with a ourtness quite outside his usual manner, the thing has been done. You understand French, of course. Read this," and he handed ID3 a telegram. It ran thus: '•Telegram arrived during absence —weddimr of Friend- -not opened by clerk. Re- turned six-took immediate steps-regret that bonds were cashed nbout five-thirty-by person unknowil.-Vi.-na-,i(i." Dumbfounded. I handed back the telegram in wlence. Comment was useless. True enough, th(, tfiliix hex] been done. There you are," said he. It is all as plain as a pikestaff. The thief took the nine o'clock express from Charing Cross yesterday—the one you were to have gone by—arrived at the Gare du Nord as 4.45. took a cab, drove to where. the honds wrr- payable, pocketed the cash. and dis- appeared into space. And now I am the loser of a cool £ 20 COO—thronsrh a confounded wedding and the stupidity of a broker's clerk. It is very vexing—very vexing." "B?tt." I suhmit?d. "i? not Mr. Vignaud re- sponsible for his clerk's negligence?" "He ousrht to be; he certainly ought to be: but I am ignorant of the French law. The in- surance people will doubtless take some action in the matter if it be at all feasible. I have my doubt., about it. however. The amount of money involved is very considerable*. Some part of it might ho recovered, perhaps; but, as I say. I doubt it verv much indeed. It is a most unfortunate and mysterious business." But," I urged, "the capture of the thief and the recovery of the money should not be beyond the power of the French police." "Perhaps not," said lie. "Let us hope not. 'And that reminds me. After you have had your breakfast, you had better take this telegram to the Police Station. Give it to the superintendent, and say that the matter is now entirely in their hands. T"ll him. farther, from me. that I think I-Vor,- h L; CO tn\XI. till iC tJ TTltll at once. It is very possible, too. that I may send you over to Paris to-night. I do not feel quite up to it myself at present. Things have turned out in a way I little anticipated, and I hope to good- ness I shall have no trouble with the insurance people. Matters aro bad enough as they stand. I will "eo you when you return "-and with this h2 abruotly quitted tho room. f made all speed in dreasing. and rang the bell for breakfast. What my emotions were I can safely leave to your imagination. My wildest dreams had not encompassed such strange ex- periences as I was now passing through-not as in the ordinal*" sequence of events, but experiences tumbling madly, a., it were, each on the heels of the other, and each more astonishing than the last. Mr. Golightly',s suggestion that he might send mo to Paris that evening came as a positive i relief. Anything, I thought, to get away, even for a few days, from my present mysterious environment. Mary g'i',Vf' ma a sJiaxp look of enquiry when she brought me my breakfast, but beyond the usual formalities I exchanged no words with her, thinking this to bo best. Half an hour later I was again closeted with Superintendent Walker. I handed him the telegram at once. But this is in French," said he. "Ouitc so," I replied. Shall I translate it for you?" 'v, n;n d 7" didn't teach u.? "If yon don't mind T??y didn't teach us French in that pare of the country I came from— Cumberland." he said with a grin. Car-n b or l an d he :?d ( reaci the te l egram a l ou d T daresay not," and ( read the telegram aloud to him. He listened with bent brows, and then reflected ft moment. "Just go over that again," said he. "I want to fix it in my mind like." I did so. and looking tip said: XII"r-.At do you think of it?" "Think of it? Why, that it is one of the smartest jobs I ever heard tell of. And look at the nsk the mail took. It is always cool cheek that does it. Le Noir, I daresay, will be for goinsr back to Paris. No placo for him here now." The remark surprised me. Whv. had he an inkiirtg then that something mieht happen at 'The c. Yes, he overheard a conversation in Paris that brought him over." And he thought that Javotte might be in it?" "Possibly so—yes. That is why. thinking you to be the party, he followed and epoke to you as he did." To friprhten me off the jOJ Very likely." I shook my heed. No. no. If he i* tiv. man he is reouted to be. his methods would vA have been clumsy ones. Did he keep no further watch on the house then?" Ah! there you are, sir. That's exactly what ho did do, and some of our men with him. They seemed to know just what was going to happen and what did happen. And all through the night, until long after daybreak, a steady watch was kept on that place. But not a soul was seen, not a sound heard. is the puzzling pan of the affair. Quite true, there were wires set on the lawn, and there wa.- the ladder against the wind, But no ladder and no men went over the wall tiiat night. Take my word for that. and yet the servants say there was no such thing as a ladder on the premises. Every one of them are willincc to swear to it. So you see, take it all in all, it's a very rum business." Very," I said. You see," he added, I thought you might throv, a little light on it. But hang me! if what you told me didn't make it seem rummier than ever. Lo Noir was right in any case. He got wind of a projected burglary, and it came off. So f .i- he wasn't wrong, you see: but he wasn't prepared for such an uncommon sort of burglary as this. I'll report to The Yard at once by as I I'll report to telegraph that the bonds have been negotiated in Paris, and will see the chief and hand him this telegram in tha course of an hour or so. Le Noir will hear of it and be off to Paris at once, I dare- say." With this the superintendent arose. By-the-bye," I said, rising in turn, I saw Javotte- last evening." He looked at me in atonishment. "The real Javotte. The man Le Noir was after. Yes. Rnre?" Woil, I am not sure, of course, but the man was my exact doubte--the resemblance was astounding. Where did you see him?" At the Savoy Hotel." Was he alone?" "No. At the entrance he met young Lord Romer. Know him?" The superintendent smiled. "I should think so," aid he. "Goes the pace a bit. Has a villa not very far from here." "Just so—in Wildwood Lane?" Precisel y." When he met Javotte he had a very beautiful lady with him." ""1 daresay. That often occurs." Know her?" I have seen her—a splendid woman." "Lives in the same villa?" I think so." Wife?" Don't know. Imagine not. However, the point to me is. What was Romer doing in the company of a man like Javotte? I must report the incident. Don't mind. I suppose?" "Not a bit," I said. "Perhaps I shall be sent over to Paris to-night myself. Mr. Golightly sug- gested it," and I was moving away when a thought suggested itself to me. "Oh, one thing before I go." I said. PPtnenber that I have not said positively that the man I saw with Romer was Javotte. I don't commit myself to any such assertion." Quite right, Mr. Lart, quite right. I fully understand. You really must excuse me now." The next moment I was wending my way in the direction of "The Elms" once more. I related as much of my interviow to Mr. Goli<ratiy as I thought strictly necessary. Very well," said he, "nothing more can bo done at present. A wretched business—a wretched business. I perhaps should have gone Over to Paris myself to-night, but of course I must remain to interview the insurance people. I have been turning the matter over in my mind, and think you had better go in my stead. There is a train from Charing Cross at 2-20. It is now"—and he referred to his watch-" just turned half-past ten, eo that you have plenty of time in which to make your arrangements. Be prepared to stay away a week or so. Here are the twenty pounds you returned to me. Put up at the Grand Hotel, and. as I told you before, don't stint yourself in any way. I will communi- cate with you there. Take this letter to-morrow morning to M. Vignaud, 23. Rue St. Mare, close bv the Bourse. The address i, very easily found. Tell him everything that occurred the night of the burglary, and give him as exact a description as you can of the man who shadowed you that day. It may be of great assistance to him and to the authorities as Well. You quite understand my instructions. Mr. Lart?" "Qtlite. %ir." "Well, that is all, I think, for the present. As I have said, you will bear from me further at the Grand Hotel in the ooursa of a day or two. Good-bye, and a pleasant journey." With that he shook my hand heartily and left me. I lost but little time in packing such of my small belongings a3 I felt to be essential, I can assure you. An overmastering impulse to get away from the house as soon as possible had seized upon me. I dreaded the recurrence of a l visitation, the very thought of which began to terrify me. I de-rpd not so much as glance at the mirror, which I now held to possess supernatural attributes. The. mere fluttering of the window blind sent oold shivers down my back. I snapped the lock of my Gladstone bag. grasped the handle, thrust my hat upon my head, and, without sum- moning assistance, bolted out of the door and out of the house, madly hoping—alas, vainly, as it proved—never to enter its portals again. I had not nrc?oee&d very far down the road b?or? a small hoy. espying my bag, volunteered to carry it for me. I directed him to take it and lead me to the nearest cab-rank, which proved to b much c?osc" by than I had previously aus- pected. Within five minutes I was on my way to Charing Cross Station, and-all unwittingly-to further strange adventures. Arrived at my destination, I left the bag in the oloak-room, and turned my face towards the Middle Temple. Dick, in those troublous days, was always a very rock of refuge to me, and what I should have done without him, heaven only knows; but in this instance my journey proved in vain. Dick was not in, and his clerk knew not when he would return. So I left a little note of explanation, with my Paris address, and then aet about the not over-difficult task—in London- of killing time. I lunched at Gatti's; I spent an hour in the Royal Aoademy; then formed a casual acquaintance with the shop windows in New Bond-street, and at last returned to Charing Cross, just in time to take my scat in the Paris express. I elected to go by way of Boulogne, preferring I the longer sea route. At the Folkestone station I bought a novel, with the view of beguiling the long journey ahead of me. Reading this, pipe in mouth, upon the deck of the Channel boat, I was suddenly interrupted. A man stopped in front of me. "Will you kindly oblige me with a light, sir?" he asked. I looked up, and found myself face to face with the redoubtable M. Le Noir. CHAPTER XII. I Inat he had approached me with deliberate in- tent, I felt quite sure, though he affected surprise when I looked up. "Ah It's you, Mr. Lart:" said he, with a pleasant nod of recognition. I knew by this that he had been to Scotland Yard—had probably met Supt. Walker there, so I recognised at once the fact that equivocation would be worse than useless. "Yœ, it is I," I said, handing him my match- box. "We are having a very smooth and delight- ful crossing. M. Le Noir." He laughed as he lighted a cigarette. "It seems I made a little mistake the other day," said he. returning the box with a bow. "A very great mistake, indeed, I returned "I didn't like it-I was somewhat alarmed at first." "That is very conceivable." he returned. "I am sorry. Pray accept my apologies. I mistook you for another man." "I know you did-you thought I was Javotte." "Precisely. They told you at the police station. I suppose." "I learned it from Supt. Walker—yes." "He told me so. I saw him at Scotland Yard this afternoon. He told me also that you saw this Javotte at the Savor Hotel last evening." "I saw my double there," I replied, "and it occurred to me that he might be the man." "He was beyond a shadow of doubt. He met another gentleman there"Lord Romer, yes." "And a lady?" ,1 bdv wit)] Lord Romer. Yes "You see that I am already acquainted with these facts. I also know that Javott? left for Paris by the mail train this morning. His move- ments will be watched when he arrives there this afternoon." "But who is this Javotte?" I asked, my curi- osity now thoroughly piqued. "Can he be in any way connected with the burglary?" "That at present is impossible for me to say. It is a very mysterious business. Mr. Lart." "I find it so," I replied, "and a dashed un- pleasant one, too, for me." "U nquestionably. Those were the bonds you were carrying in the bag when I met you in the city." "They were." "You are sure those same bonds were placed in the safe?" "Absolutely." "You put them there yourself." "I did." "And you were present when the safe was opened" in the morning?" "I was bound to be. as I held the other key." "The electric alarm bells then rang throughout the house, I understand?" "They did." "And the safe was empty?" "Absolutely empty." He borrowed my matchbox again and lighted a fresh cigarette. He reflected a moment, then, said he: "You have not known Mr. Golightly very long, I believe?" "Barely a week." "Will you be good enough to describe the man you be good enough to descri b e the man "Certainly. He is a man about sixty. I should say. He has an amiable face, with plenty of colour in it and snow white hair, rather long. Some of his front teeth are broken. Still his smile i3 a very pleasant one. He wears gold spec- "Coloured ?" Uic1e" I as-,e-, are of a "Wel!. yes. slightly. The glasses are of a light bluish tint. He has rounded shoulders, in "fadt 'he stoops very much-and-wcdf, that is about the best summing up I can give about the man. "That's all right. Now what is the nature of his business? Has he any?" "Well," said 1. "I am scarcely competent to answer the question. I assumed him to be a man of means. He appears to be interested in mining properties in North Dakota, and other parts of America, and speculates, I imagine, in various directions. "Any family?" "None, I believe. Ho told me he was a widower. "A quiet house?" "Very." "How many servants?" "Five, exclusive of myself." "A pretty good-sized establishment for a widower. "It struck me so." "Many visitors?" "None. "Never saw Lord Romer there?" "Never. "Nor the lady he was with at the Savoy?" I hesitatad, and was conscious of ohanging colour. I am sure he perceived it, and it annoyed "Why this severe cross-examination?" I asked, in a tone of irritation. "I have answered this long string of questions to the very best of my ability. I told you there had been no visitors to the house-since I have resided there." "So you did; so you did. Excuse me—oh! by the way, I met a friend of yours at Scotland Yard this afternoon." I looked up in surprise at this. "Indeed!" I said. "Whom, pray?" "Mr. Hamilton. a arrister." "What the deuce took him there?" "He was sent for by the chief." "What for?" to furnish some particulars about both Golightly and yourself." and as I merely stared at him in dumb amazement he went on: "Has it not yet occurred to you, Mr. Lart, that the police have nothing but your strange story and his to work upon. They sound incredible as they stand. To other minds the possibility might suggest itself of collusion between Mr. Golightly and yourself." I looked at him in sudden consternation. "1—-I don't quite—er—follow you," I gasped. "Why, what would have been easier than for you and Mr. Golightly to remove the bonds-then set the bells--lock the safe up again—and hand over the securities to a confederate—who took the first train to Paris and sold them there?" My face went as red as fire with indignation. "This is a. monstrous, a horrible suggestion," I exclaimed, "and I deeply resent it. Did I not see the telegram containing the numbers of the stolen bonds sent to Paris with my own eyes? And then, what about Vignaud's reply?" "That proves nothing. Anybody can send a telegram, by arrangement, in another's name." "Then do you doubt that the bonds have been sold?" M. Le Noir laughed. "Certainly not; and your manner only con- firms the pleasant things your friend said ??, su? you. You ought to feel a little surprised at my taking you to such an extent into my confidence. ?' I am greatly so," I replied. Well, it is simply because we are convinced that you are perfectly innocent of any com- plicity in this job, and that, possibly, you may be of some service to us in the end. There is a lot to explain in this affair, and Mr. Golightly, I suspect, will have a bit of trouble with the insurance people, for this is not an ordinary burglary by a very long chalk. You are on your way to Paris on this very same business, I suppose. Yes," I answered, now completely mollified, but by no means reassured* I am to take a note to Vignaud' in the morning." Staying long?" For a few days—until I receive further instruc- tions. Shall be at the Grand." "All right," said he. "I'll know where to find you in case anything turns up. I must leave you now to rejoin a friend I have with me." He removed his hat in the Frendh manner and was turning away when I detained him. Just one little question, M. Le Noir," I said. Don't think me rude, but how is it that you —a Frenchman-speak such remarkably good English?" "Ah!" he replied, with a smile, "that would be a fine compliment, but for one circumstance— my mother was an Englishwoman; I was born in England and did not leave it until my mother's death, when I was fifteen. I thank you, however, all the same," and once more removing his hat he walked away. A moment later I saw him in seemingly earnest converse with a man at the other extremity of the deck. I caught fugitive glimpses of him now and then during the remainder of the journey. Nothing more. We duly arrived at Boulogne. My Gladstone was severely overhauled at the Custom House in search of contraband tobacco, and at last I settled myself in a cosy corner of a first-class carriage and found myself swiftly whirling in the direction of La Ville Lumiere. For a time I reflected. Had I done right in so frankly replying to all of M. Le Noir's tren- chant enquiries? I thought so. Mr. Golightly would, probably, have been annoyed had I done otherwise. Upon the endeavours of the police he must now, of course, rely for the possible re- covery of the stolen property, or its equivalent, at least. Yes, undoubtedly I had done the pro- per thing, and determined to exorcise the demon of anxiety, for a time at least, from my mind. I once more had recourse to the pages of mv novel, a sirring tale of love and adventure, which beguiled me truly and well until the train slowed into Amiens Station, when I heard shrilled into my ears, "Dix minutes? d'arret," which I soon ascertained meant refreshment for the inner man,, an appeal to which by this time I felt accutely sensible. Fortified by half a cold chicken and a small bottle of Beaune, I re-entered the train in excel- lent spirits, and the remainder of the journey does not require dwelling upon. To me, it was an exciting drive in an opera dab from bhe Gare du Nord to the Grand Hotel. Remember that I was then obtaining my first glimpses of Paris-trite enough to me now-but upon that memorable evening stimulating be- yond compare. Who, indeed, can ever forget his first impressions of that marvellous oity, especi- ally in the early summer time? The broad, leafy avenues, the myriads of lights, the oafes glitter- ing with crystal and gold. the endless array of marble tables upon the spacious footways, at whioh thousands upon thousands of men and women sat gaily chatting; while tens of thousands more, in laughing throngs went slowly sauntering by. To me it was a veritable fairyland, and' when at last we dashed across the Place de 1'Opcra—one blaze of electric light--pa.st the Cafe de la Paix—packed almost to the kerb with human beings—and into the great court of the Grand Hotel, with its plash- ing fountains and vivid greenery and glowing vistas of sumptuous saloons, I was full of almost childish amaze, and recking not of what might soon befall, I felt that, for a time, at least my lines were oast in pleasant places. Some of you-the hardened' ones—may smile at this, but I am only setting down the honest im- pressions of a very memorable night. I ordered a room, in the vernacular, and I may say at once that I was perfectly at home in Paris in this respect. My father was an excellent French scholar, and among my earliest recol- leotions is that of a genial French governess, to whom we—my sisters and myself—used to chatter in her own tongue as to the manner born; and as she stayed with us for years, it proved to be no fleeting acquisition as is often the case. Hence, when shortly afterwards I strolled out upon the boulevards, I was in no sense handi- capped, as most English people are, by ignor- ance of what was being said about me. It was a lovely June night, the air sensuous with a de- licious warmth, in keeping with the sights and sounds that pleasantly smote upon the senses at every turn. I was in almost a delirium of de- light with it all when, suddenly, the mention of a name sent a oold thrill through me and as quickly dispersed my rose-huecf dreams. I faced about to see who the speaker was, and was not surprised. It was Javotte—my double; and with him was a young man, whose face, also, was vaguely familiar to me. I let them pass on, following closely at their heels. Javotte oontinued, and I could hear every word with the greatest distinct- ness Oh, yes, Romer is all right. Have no fear about that. He is as straight as any man alive. How he will get through this last affair I don't know. That is mainly his look-out, however, as he took it upon his own shoulders. No don't you worry bout Romer; it is Lucette I am not so sure about." Was she with you last night at the Savoy? -no Yes. She looke?? superb aa usual. li?.,y .Y. was on her. What & magnificent creature she ist | But I don't quite trust her. She was a bit cold and distraite last night as though her thoughts ) were somewhere else. I wonder, if in the end, she will be Romer's ruin?" And ours?" Javotte laughed and shrugged his shoulders. "Dieu sait!" said he. It often comes in t'hat way. He walked on a fe-w paoes in silence. then gave me a great start by suddenly exclaiming: Oh! I forgot to tell you, my double i's some- where in Paris to-night." Your double!" repeated the other in atone of surprise. Yes-the. fellow who- Quick! Turn back! There comes Le Noir!" They instantly faced about without perceiving me, and were at once lost in the crowd. I looked up, and my eyes met those of the great detective. He merely smiled, lifted his hat, made a gesture with his thumb in the direction of the retreating Javotte, and1 hurried on. (To be oontinued.)







[No title]









[No title]