PHILIP BASSARD paid, and lived, for apparently the Crimson
Circle kept faith; Jacques Rizzi, the banker, also paid, but in a
panic. He died from natural causes a month later, having a weak
heart. Benson, the railway lawyer, pooh-poohed the threat and was
found dead by the side of his private saloon.
Mr. Derrick Yale, with his amazing gifts, ran down the coloured
man who had crept into Benson's private car and killed him before
he threw the body from the window, and the coloured man was hanged,
without, however, revealing the identity of his employer. The
police might sneer at Yale's psychometrical powers—as they did—but
within forty-eight hours he had led the police to the criminal's
house at Yareside and the dazed murderer had confessed.
Following this tragedy many men must have paid without reporting
the matter to the police, for there was a long period during which
no reference to the Crimson Circle found its way into the
newspapers. And then one morning there came to the breakfast table
of James Beardmore, a square envelope containing a card, on which
was stamped a Crimson Circle.
"You are interested in the melodrama of life, Jack—read
James Stamford Beardmore tossed the message across the table to
his son and proceeded to open the next letter in the pile which
stood beside his plate.
Jack retrieved the message from the floor, where it had fallen,
and examined it with a little frown. It was a very ordinary
letter-card, save that it bore no address. A big circle of crimson
touched its four edges, and had the appearance of having been
printed with a rubber stamp, for the ink was unevenly distributed.
In the centre of the circle, written in printed characters, were
"One hundred thousand represents only a small portion of your
possessions. You will pay this in notes to a messenger I will send
in response to an advertisement in the Tribune within the next
twenty-four hours, stating the exact hour convenient to you. This
is the final warning."
There was no signature.
"Well?" Old Jim Beardmore looked up over his spectacles and his
eyes were smiling.
"The Crimson Circle!" gasped his son.
Jim Beardmore laughed aloud at the concern in the boy's
"Yes, the Crimson Circle—I have had four of 'em!"
The young man stared at him. "Four?" he repeated. "Good heavens!
Is that why Yale has been staying with us?"
Jim Beardmore smiled.
"That is a reason," he said.
"Of course, I knew that he was a detective, but I hadn't the
"Don't worry about this infernal circle," interrupted his father
a little impatiently. "I'm not scared of them. Froyant is in terror
of his life that he will be marked down. And I don't wonder. He and
I have made a few enemies in our time."
James Beardmore, with his hard, lined face and his stubbly grey
beard, might have been mistaken for the grandfather of the
good-looking young man who sat opposite to him. The Beardmore
fortune had been painfully won. It had materialised from the
wreckage of dreams and had its beginnings in the privations, the
dangers and the heartaches of a prospector's life. This man whom
Death had stalked on the waterless plains of the Kalahari, who had
scraped in the mud of the Vale River for illusory diamonds, and
thawed out his claim in the Klondyke, had faced too many real
dangers to be greatly disturbed by the threat of the Crimson
Circle. For the moment his perturbation was based on a more
tangible peril, not to himself, but to his son.
"I've got a whole lot of faith in your good sense, Jack," he
said, "so don't be hurt by anything I'm going to say. I've never
interfered in your amusements or questioned your judgment—but—do
you think that you're being wise just now?"
Jack understood. "You mean about Miss Drummond, father?"
The older man nodded.
"She's Froyant's secretary," began the youth.
"I know she is Froyant's secretary," said the other, "and she's
none the worse for that. But the point is, Jack, do you know
anything more about her?"
The young man rolled his napkin deliberately. His face was red
and there was a queer set look about his jaw which secretly amused
"I like her. She is a friend of mine. I've never made love to
her, if that is what you mean, dad, and I rather think our
friendship would be at an end if I did."
Jim nodded. He had said all that was necessary and now he took
up a more bulky envelope and looked at it curiously. Jack saw that
it bore French postage stamps and wondered who was the
Tearing open the flap, the old man took out a pad of
correspondence, which included yet another envelope heavily sealed.
He read the superscription and his nose wrinkled.
"Ugh!" he said, and put the envelope down unopened. He glanced
through the remainder of the correspondence, then looked across at
"Never trust a man or woman until you know the worst of them,"
he said. "I've got a man coming to see me to-day who is a
respectable member of society. He has a record as black as my hat
and yet I'm going to do business with him—I know the worst!"
Jack laughed. Further conversation was interrupted by the
arrival of their guest.
"Good morning, Yale—did you sleep well?" asked the old man.
"Ring for some more coffee, Jack."
Derrick Yale's visit had been an unmixed pleasure to Jack
Beardmore. He was at the age when romance had its full appeal and
the companionship of the most commonplace detective would have
brought him a peculiar joy. But the glamour which surrounded Yale
was the glamour of the supernatural. This man had unusual and
peculiar qualities which made him unique. The delicate aesthetic
face, the grave mystery of his eyes, the very gesture of his long,
sensitive hands, were part of his uniqueness.
"I never sleep," he said good-humouredly as he unrolled his
serviette. He held the silver napkin ring for a second between his
two fingers, and James Beardmore watched him with amusement. As for
Jack, his eager admiration was unconcealed.
"Well?" asked the old man.
"Who handled this last has had very bad news—some near relation
is desperately ill."
"Jane Higgins was the servant who laid the table," he said. "She
had a letter this morning saying that her mother was dying."
"And you felt that in the serviette ring?" he asked in
amazement. "How do you get that impression, Mr. Yale?"
Derrick Yale shook his head.
"I don't attempt to explain," he said quietly. "All that I know
is that the moment I took up my serviette I had a sensation of
profound and poignant sorrow. It is weird, isn't it?"
"But how did you know about her mother?"
"I traced it somehow," said the other almost brusquely; "it is a
matter of deduction. Have you any news, Mr. Beardmore?"
For answer Jim handed him the card he had received that morning.
Yale read the message, then weighed the card on the palm of his
"Posted by a sailor," he said, "a man who has been in prison and
has recently lost a great deal of money."
Jim Beardmore laughed.
"Which I shall certainly not replace," he said, rising from the
table. "Do you take these warnings seriously?"
"I take them very seriously," said Derrick in his quiet way. "So
seriously that I do not advise you to leave this house except in my
company. The Crimson Circle," he went on, arresting Beardmore's
indignant protest with a characteristic gesture, "is, I admit,
vulgarly melodramatic in its operations, but it will be no solace
to your heirs to learn that you have died theatrically."
Jim Beardmore was silent for a time, and his son regarded him
"Why don't you go abroad, father?" he asked, and the old man
snapped round on him.
"Go abroad be damned!" he roared. "Run away from a cheap Black
Hand gang? I'll see them—!"
He did not mention their destination, but they could guess.