The Door with Seven Locks - Edgar Wallace - ebook
Kategoria: Sensacja, thriller, horror Język: angielski Rok wydania: 1926

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"And were you well paid?" asked his captor, polite but incredulous. "I was - I got one hundred and fifty pounds on account. That makes you jump, but it is the truth. I was picking locks, certainly the

Fragment ebooka The Door with Seven Locks - Edgar Wallace

About
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3

About Wallace:

Richard Horatio Edgar Wallace (April 1, 1875–February 10, 1932) was a prolific British crime writer, journalist and playwright, who wrote 175 novels, 24 plays, and countless articles in newspapers and journals. Over 160 films have been made of his novels, more than any other author. In the 1920s, one of Wallace's publishers claimed that a quarter of all books read in England were written by him. (citation needed) He is most famous today as the co-creator of "King Kong", writing the early screenplay and story for the movie, as well as a short story "King Kong" (1933) credited to him and Draycott Dell. He was known for the J. G. Reeder detective stories, The Four Just Men, the Ringer, and for creating the Green Archer character during his lifetime. Source: Wikipedia

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Chapter 1

 

DICK MARTIN'S last official job (as he believed) was to pull in Lew Pheeney, who was wanted in connection with the Helborough bank robbery. He found Lew in a little Soho cafe, just as he was finishing his coffee.

"What's the idea, colonel?" asked Lew, almost genially, as he got his hat.

"The inspector wants to talk to you about that Helborough job," said Dick.

Lew's nose wrinkled in contempt.

"Helborough grandmothers!" he said scornfully. "I'm out of that bank business - thought you knew it. What are you doing in the force, Martin? They told me that you'd run into money and had quit."

"I'm quitting. You're my last bit of business."

"Too bad you're falling down on the last lap!" grinned Lew. "I've got forty - five well - oiled alibis. I'm surprised at you, Martin. You know I don't 'blow' banks; locks are my speciality - -"

"What were you doing at ten o'clock on Tuesday night?"

A broad smile illuminated the homely face of the burglar.

"If I told you, you'd think I was lying."

"Give me a chance," pleaded Dick, his blue eyes twinkling.

Lew did not reply at once. He seemed to be pondering the dangers of too great frankness. But when he had seen all sides of the matter, he spoke the truth.

"I was doing a private job - a job I don't want to talk about. It was dirty, but honest."

"And were you well paid?" asked his captor, polite but incredulous.

"I was - I got one hundred and fifty pounds on account. That makes you jump, but it is the truth. I was picking locks, certainly the toughest locks I've ever struck, and it was a kind of horrible job I wouldn't do again for a car - load of money. You don't believe me, but I can prove that I spent the night at the Royal Arms, Chichester, that I was there at eight o'clock to dinner and at eleven o'clock to sleep. So you can forget all that Helborough bank stuff. I know the gang that did it, and you know 'em too, and we don't change cards."

They kept Lew in the cells all night whilst inquiries were pursued. Remarkably enough, he had not only stayed at the Royal Arms at Chichester, but had stayed in his own name; and it was true that at a quarter to eleven, before the Hedborough bank robbers had left the premises, he was taking a drink in his room, sixty miles away. So authority released Lew in the morning and Dick went into breakfast with him, because, between the professional thief - taker and the professional burglar there is no real ill - feeling, and Sub - Inspector Richard Martin was almost as popular with the criminal classes as he was at police headquarters.

"Ho, Mr Martin, I'm not going to tell you anything more than I've already told you," said Lew good - humouredly. "And when you call me a liar, I'm not so much as hurt in my feelings. I got a hundred an' fifty pounds, and I'd have got a thousand if I'd pulled it off. You can guess all round it, but you'll never guess right."

Dick Martin was eyeing him keenly. "You've got a good story in your mind - spill it," he said.

He waited suggestively, but Lew Pheeney shook his head. "I'm not telling. The story would give away a man who's not a good fellow, and not one I admire; but I can't let my personal feelings get the better of me, and you'll have to go on guessing. And I'm not lying, I'll tell you how it happened." He gulped down a cup of hot coffee and pushed cup and saucer away from him. "I don't know this fellow who asked me to do the work - not personally. He's been in trouble for something or other, but that's no business of mine. One night he met me, introduced himself, and I went to his house - brr!" he shivered. "Martin, a crook is a pretty clean man - at least, all the crooks I know; and thieving's just a game with two players; me and the police. If they snooker me, good luck to 'em! If I can beat them, good luck to me! But there's some dirt that makes me sick, just makes my stomach turn over. When he told me the job he wanted me for, I thought he was joking, and my first idea was to turn it in right away. But I'm just the most curious creature that ever lived, and it was a new experience, so, after a lot of think, I said 'Yes'. Mind you, there was nothing dishonest in it. All he wanted to do was to take a peep at something. What was behind it I don't know. I don't want to talk about it, but the locks beat me."

"A lawyer's safe?" suggested the interested detective, The other shook his head. He turned the subject abruptly; spoke of his plans - he was leaving for the United States to join his brother, who was an honest builder.

"We're both going out of the game together, Martin," he smiled. "You're too good a man for a policeman, and I'm too much of a gentleman to be on the crook. I shouldn't be surprised if we met one of these days."

Dick went back to the Yard to make, as he thought, a final report to his immediate chief. Captain Sneed sniffed.

"That Lew Pheeney couldn't fall straight," he said; "if you dropped him down a well, he'd wear away the brickwork. Honest robber! He's got that out of a book. You think you've finished work, I suppose?" Dick nodded.

"Going to buy a country house and be a gentleman. Ride to hounds and take duchesses into dinner - what a hell of a life for a grown man!"

Dick Martin grinned at the sneer. He wanted very little persuasion to withdraw his resignation; already he was repenting - and, despite the attraction of authorship which beckoned ahead, he would have given a lot of money to recall the letter he had sent to the commissioner.

"It's a queer thing how money ruins a man," said Captain Sneed sadly. "Now if I had a six - figure legacy I should want to do nothing." His assistant might sneer in turn.

"You want to do nothing, anyway," he said; "you're lazy, Sneed - the laziest man who ever filled a chair at Scotland Yard."

The fat man, who literally filled and overflowed the padded office chair in which he half sat and half lay, a picture of inertia, raised his reproachful eyes to his companion.

"Insubordination," he murmured. "You're not out of the force till tomorrow - call me 'sir' and be respectful. I hate reminding you that you're a paltry sub - inspector and that I'm as near being a superintendent as makes no difference. It would sound snobbish. I'm not lazy, I'm lethargic. It's a sort of disease."

"You're fat because you're lazy, and you're lazy because you're fat," insisted the lean - faced young man. "It's a sort of vicious circle. Besides, you're rich enough to retire if you wanted."

Captain Sneed stroked his chin reflectively. He was a giant of a man, with shoulders of an ox and the height of a Grenadier, but he was admittedly inert. He sighed heavily, and, groping in a desk basket, produced a blue paper. "You're a common civilian tomorrow - but my slave today. Come along to Bellingham Library; there has been a complaint about stolen books."

Sub - Inspector Dick Martin groaned.

"It's not romantic, I admit," said his superior with a slow, broad smile; "kleptomania belongs to the dust and debris of detective work, but it is good for your soul. It will remind you, whilst you're loafing on the money you didn't earn, that there are a few thousand of your poor comrades wearin' their feet into ankles with fool inquiries like this!"

Dick (or 'Slick' as he was called for certain reasons) wondered as he walked slowly down the long corridor whether he was glad or sorry that police work lay behind him and that on the morrow he might pass the most exalted official without saluting. He was a 'larceny man', the cleverest taker of thieves the Yard had known. Sneed often said that he had the mind of a thief, and meant this as a compliment. He certainly had the skill. There was a memorable night when, urged thereto by the highest police official in London, he had picked the pocket of a Secretary of State, taken his watch, his pocket - book and his private papers, and not even the expert watchers saw him perform the fell deed.

Dick Martin came to the Yard from Canada, where his father had been governor of a prison. He was neither a good guardian of criminals or youth. Dick had the run of the prison, and could take a stick pin from a man's cravat before he had mastered the mysteries of algebra. Peter du Bois, a lifer, taught him to open almost any kind of door with a bent hairpin; Lew Andrevski, a frequent visitor to Port Stuart, made a specially small pack of cards out of the covers of the chapel prayer books; in order that the lad should be taught to conceal three cards in each tiny palm. If he had not been innately honest, the tuition might easily have ruined him.

"Dicky's all right - he can't know too much of that crook stuff," said the indolent Captain Martin, when his horrified relatives expostulated at the corruption of the motherless boy. "The boys like him - he's going into the police and the education's worth a million!"

Straight of body, clear - eyed, immensely sane, Dick Martin came happily through a unique period of test to the office. The war brought him to England, a stripling with a record of good work behind him. Scotland Yard claimed him, and he had the distinction of being the only member of the Criminal Investigation Department who had been appointed without going through a probationary period of patrol work.

As he went down the stone stairs, he was overtaken by the third commissioner.

"Hello, Martin! You're leaving us tomorrow? Bad luck! It is a thousand pities you have money. We're losing a good man. What are you going to do?"

Dick smiled ruefully.

"I don't know - I'm beginning to think I've made a mistake in leaving at all."

The 'old man' nodded.

"Do anything except lecture," he said, "and, for the Lord's sake, don't start a private agency! In America detective agencies do wonderful things - in England their work is restricted to thinking up evidence for divorces. A man asked me only today if I could recommend - -"

He stopped suddenly at the foot of the stairs and viewed Dick with a new interest.

"By, Jove! I wonder - -! Do you know Havelock, the lawyer?"

Dick shook his head.

"He's a pretty good man. His office is somewhere in Lincoln's Inn Fields. You'll find its exact position in the telephone directory. I met him at lunch and he asked me - -"

He paused, examining the younger man with a speculative eye.

"You're the very man - it is curious I did not think of you. He asked me if I could find him a reliable private detective, and I told him that such things did not exist outside the pages of fiction."

"It doesn't exist as far as I'm concerned," smiled Dick. "The last thing in the world I want to do is start a detective agency."

"And you're right, my boy," said the commissioner. "I could never respect you if you did. As a matter of fact, you're the very man for the job," he went on, a little inconsistently. "Will you go along and see Havelock, and tell him I sent you? I'd like you to help him if you could. Although he isn't a friend of mine, I know him and he's a very pleasant fellow."

"What is the job?" asked the young man, by no means enthralled at the prospect.

"I don't know," was the reply. "It may be one that you couldn't undertake. But I'd like you to see him - I half promised him that I would recommend somebody. I have an idea that it is in connection with a client of his who is giving him a little trouble. You would greatly oblige me, Martin, if you saw this gentleman."

The last thing in the world Dick Martin had in mind was the transference of his detective activities from Scotland Yard to the sphere of private agencies; but he had been something of a protege of the third commissioner, and there was no reason in the world why he should not see the lawyer. He said as much.

"Good," said the commissioner. "I'll phone him this afternoon and tell him you'll come along and see him. You may be able to help him."

"I hope so, sir," said Dick mendaciously.


Chapter 2

 

HE PURSUED his leisurely way to the Bellingham Library, one of the institutions of London that is known only to a select few. No novel or volume of sparkling reminiscence has a place upon the shelves of this institution, founded a hundred years ago to provide scientists and litterateurs with an opportunity of consulting volumes which were unprocurable save at the British Museum. On the four floors which constituted the building, fat volumes of German philosophy, learned and, to the layman, unintelligible books on scientific phenomena, obscure treatises on almost every kind of uninteresting subject, stood shoulder to shoulder upon their sedate shelves.

John Bellingham, who in the eighteenth century had founded this exchange of learning, had provided in the trust deeds that 'two intelligent females, preferably in indigent circumstances', should form part of the staff, and it was to one of these that Dick was conducted.

In a small, high - ceilinged room, redolent of old leather, a girl sat at a table, engaged in filing index cards.

"I am from Scotland Yard," Dick introduced himself. "I understand that some of your books have been stolen?"

He was looking at the packed shelves as he spoke, for he was not interested in females, intelligent or stupid, indigent or wealthy. The only thing he noticed about her was that she wore black and that her hair was a golden - brown and was brushed into a fringe over her forehead. In a vague way he supposed that most girls had hair of golden - brown, and be had a dim idea that fringes were popular among working - class ladies.

"Yes," she said quietly, "a book was stolen from this room whilst I was at luncheon. It was not very valuable - a German volume written by Haeckel called 'Generelle Morphologic'."

She opened a drawer and took out an index card and laid it before him, and he read the words without bong greatly enlightened.

"Who was here in your absence?" he asked.

"My assistant, a girl named Helder."

"Did any of your subscribers come into this room during that time?"

"Several," she replied. "I have their names, but most of them are above suspicion. The only visitor we had who is not a subscriber of the library was a gentleman named Stalleti, an Italian doctor, who called to make inquiries as to subscription."

"He gave his name?" asked Dick.

"No," said the girl to his surprise; "but Miss Helder recognized him; she had seen his portrait somewhere. I should have thought you would have remembered his name."

"Why on earth should I remember his name, my good girl?" asked Dick a little irritably.

"Why on earth shouldn't you, my good man?" she demanded coolly, and at that moment Dick Martin was aware of her, in the sense that she emerged from the background against which his life moved and became a personality.

Her eyes were grey and set wide apart; her nose straight and small; the mouth was a little wide - and she certainly had golden - brown hair.

"I beg your pardon!" he laughed. "As a matter of fact" - he had a trick of confidence which could be very deceptive - "I'm not at all interested in this infernal robbery. I'm leaving the police force tomorrow."

"There will be great joy amongst the criminal classes," she said politely, and when he saw the light of laughter in her eyes, his heart went out to her.

"You have a sense of humour," he smiled.

"You mean by that, that I've a sense of your humour," she answered quickly. "I have, or I should very much object to being called 'my good girl' even by an officer of the law" - "he looked at his card again - "even with the rank of sub - inspector."

There was a chair at his hand. Dick drew it out and sat down unbidden.

"I abase myself for my rudeness, and humbly beg information on the subject of Signor Stalleti. The names means no more to me than John Smith - the favourite pseudonym of all gentlemen caught in the act of breaking through the pantry window in the middle of the night."

For a second she surveyed him gravely, her red lips pursed. "And you're a detective?" she said, in a hushed voice. "One of those almost human beings who protect us while we sleep!"

He was helpless with laughter.

"I surrender!" He put up his hands. "And now, having put me in my place, which I admit is a pretty lowly one, perhaps you will pass across a little information about the purloined literature."

"I've no information to pass across." She leaned back in her chair, looking at him interestedly. "The book was here at two o'clock; it was not here at half past two - there may be fingerprints on the shelf, but I doubt it, because we keep three charladies for the sole purpose of cleaning up fingerprints."

"But who is Stalleti?"

She nodded slowly. "That was why I expressed a little wonder about your being a detective," she said. "My assistant tells me that he is known to the police. Would you like to see his book?"

"Has he written a book?" he asked in genuine surprise. She got up, went out of the room and returned with a thin volume, plainly bound. He took the volume in his hand and read the title.

"New Thoughts on Constructive Biology, by Antonio Stalletti." Turning the closely printed leaves, broken almost at every page by diagrams and statistical tables, he asked: "Why did he get into trouble with the police? I didn't know that it was a criminal offence to write a book."

"It is," she emphatically; "but not invariably punished as such. I understand that the law took no exception to Mr Stalletti being an author; and that his offence was in connection with vivisection or something equally horrid."

"What is all this about?" He handed the book back to her.

"It is about human beings," she said solemnly, "like you and me; and how much better and happier they would be if, instead of being mollycoddled - I think that is the scientific term - they were allowed to run wild in a wood and fed on a generous diet of nuts."

"Oh, vegetarian stuff!" said Slick contemptuously.

"Not exactly vegetarian. But perhaps you would like to become a subscriber and read it for yourself?" And then she dropped her tone of banter. "The truth is, Mr - er - " she looked at his card again - "Martin, we are really not worried about the loss of this book of Haeckel's. It is already replaced, and if the secretary hadn't been such a goop he wouldn't have reported the matter to the police. And I beg of you" - she raised a warning finger - "if you meet our secretary that you will not repeat my opinion of him. Now please tell me something that will make my flesh creep. I've never met a detective before, I may never meet one again."

Dick put down the book and rose to his seventy - two inches. "Madam," he said, "I have not mustered courage to ask your name, I deserve all the roasting you have given me, but as you are strong, be merciful. Where does Stalleti live?"

She picked up the book and turned back the cover to a preface.

"Gallows Cottage. That sounds a little creepy doesn't it? It is in Sussex."

"I can read that for myself," he said, nettled, and she became instantly penitent.

"You see, we aren't used to these exciting interludes, and a police visitation gets into one's head. I really don't think the book's worth bothering about, but I suppose my word doesn't go very far."

"Was anybody here besides Stalleti?" She showed him a list of four names. "Except Mr Stalletti, I don't think anybody is under suspicion. As a matter of fact, the other three people were severely historical, and biology wouldn't interest them in the slightest degree. It could not have happened if I had been here, because I'm naturally rather observant."

She stopped suddenly and looked at the desk. The book that had been lying there a few seconds before had disappeared. "Did you take it?" she asked.

"Did you see me take it?" he challenged.

"I certainly didn't. I could have sworn it was there a second ago.

He took it from under his coat and handed it to her. "I like observant people," he said.

"But how did you do it?" She was mystified. "I had my hand on the book and I only took my eyes off for a second."

"One of these days I'll come along and teach you," he said with portentous gravity, and was in the street before he remembered that clever as he was, he had not succeeded in learning the name of this very capable young lady.

Sybil Lansdown walked to the window which commanded a view of the square and watched him till he was out of sight, a half smile on her lips and the light of triumph in her eyes. Her first inclination was to dislike him intensely; she hated self - satisfied men. And yet he wasn't exactly that. She wondered if she would ever meet him again - there were so few amusing people in the world, and she felt that - she took up the card - Sub - Inspector Richard Martin might be very amusing indeed.


Chapter 3

 

DICK WAS piqued to the extent of wishing to renew the encounter, and there was only one excuse for that. He went to the garage near his flat, took out his dingy Buick and drove down to Gallows Hill. It was not an easy quest, because Gallows Hill is not marked on the map and only had a local significance; and it was not until he was on the edge of Selford Manor that he learnt from a road - mender that the cottage was on the main road and that he had come about ten miles out of his way.

It was late in the afternoon when he drew abreast of the broken wall and hanging gate behind which was the habitation of Dr Stalletti. The weed - grown drive turned abruptly to reveal a mean - looking house, which he thought was glorified by the name of cottage. So many of his friends had 'cottages' which were mansions, and 'little places' which were very little indeed, when he had expected to find a more lordly dwelling.

There was no bell, and he knocked at the weather - stained door for five minutes before he had an answer. And then he heard a shuffling of feet on bare boards, the clang of a chain being removed, and the door opened a few inches.

Accustomed as he was to unusual spectacles, he gaped at the man who was revealed in the space between door and lintel. A long, yellow face, deeply lined and criss - crossed with innumerable lines till it looked like an ancient yellow apple; a black beard that half - covered its owner's waistcoat; a skull - cap; a pair of black, malignant eyes blinking at these were his first impressions. "Dr Stalletti?" he asked.

"That is my name." The voice was harsh, with just a suggestion of a foreign accent. "Did you wish to speak with me? Yes? That is extraordinary. I do not receive visitors."

He seemed in some hesitation as to what he should do, and then he turned his head and spoke to somebody over his shoulder, and in doing so revealed to the detective a young, rosy, and round - faced man, very newly and smartly dressed. At the sight of Dick the man stepped back quickly out of sight.

"Good - morning, Thomas," said Dick Martin politely. "This is an unexpected pleasure." The bearded man growled something and opened the door wide.

Tommy Cawler was indeed a sight for sore eyes. Dick Martin had seen him in many circumstances, but never so beautifully and perfectly arrayed. His linen was speckless; his clothes were the product of a West End tailor.

"Good - morning, Mr Martin." Tommy was in no sense abashed, "I just happened to call round to see my old friend Stalletti."

Dick gazed at him admiringly. "You simply ooze prosperity! What is the game now, Tommy?"

Tommy closed his eyes, a picture of patience and resignation.

"I've got a good job now, Mr Martin - straight as a die! No more trouble for me, thank you. Well, I'll be saying goodbye, doctor."

He shook hands a little too vigorously with the bearded man and stepped past him and down the steps.

"Wait a moment, Tommy. I'd like to have a few words with you. Can you spare me a moment whilst I see Dr Stalletti?"

The man hesitated, shot a furtive glance at the bearded figure in the doorway.

"All right," he said ungraciously. "But don't be long, I've got an engagement. Thank you for the medicine, doctor," he added loudly.

Dick was not deceived by so transparent a bluff. He followed the doctor into the hall. Farther the strange man did not invite him.

"You are police, yes?" he said, when Dick produced his card. "How extraordinary and bizarre! To me the police have not come for a long time - such trouble for a man because he experiments for science on a leetle dog! Such a fuss and nonsense! Now you ask me - what?"

In a few words Dick explained his errand, and to his amazement the strange man answered immediately:

"Yes, the book, I have it! It was on the shelf. I needed it, so I took it!"

"But, my good man," said the staggered detective, "you're not allowed to walk off with other people's property because you want it!"

"It is a library. It is for lending, is it not? I desired to borrow, so I took it with me. There was no concealment. I placed it under my arm, I lifted my hat to the young signora, and that was all. Now I have finished with it and it may go back. Haeckel is a fool; his conclusions are absurd, his theories extraordinary and bizarre." (Evidently this was a favourite phrase of his.) "To you they would seem very dull and commonplace, but to me - - " He shrugged his shoulders and uttered a little cackle of sound which Dick gathered was intended to be laughter.

The detective delivered a little lecture on the systems of loaning libraries, and with the book under his arm went out to rejoin the waiting Mr Cawler. He had at least an excuse for returning to the library, he thought with satisfaction.

"Now, Cawler" - he began without superfluous preliminaries and his voice was peremptory - "I want to know something about you. Is Stalletti a friend of yours?"

"He's my doctor," said the man coolly.

He had a merry blue eye, and he was one of the few people who had passed through his hands for whom Dick had a genuine liking. Tommy Cawler had been a notorious 'knocker - off* of motor - cars, and a 'knocker - off' is one who, finding an unattended machine, steps blithely into the driver's seat and is gone before the owner misses his machine. Tommy's two convictions had both been due to the unremitting inquiries of the man who now questioned him.

"I've got a regular job; I'm chauffeur to Mr Bertram Cody," said Tom virtuously. "I'm that honest now, I wouldn't touch anything crook, not to save my life."

"Where does Mr Cody live when he's at home?" asked Dick, unconvinced.

"Weald House. It is only a mile from here; you can step over and ask if you like."

"Does he know about your - sad past?" Dick questioned delicately.

"He does; I told him everything. He says I am the best chauffeur he ever had."

Dick examined the man carefully.

"Is this er - er - uniform that your employer prefers?"

"I'm going on holiday, to tell you the truth," said Mr Cawler. "The governor is pretty good about holidays. Here's the address if you want it."

He took an envelope from his pocket addressed to himself 'c/o Bertram Cody, Esq., Weald House, South Weald, Sussex.'

"They treat me like a lord," he said, not without truth. "And a more perfect lady and gentleman than Mr and Mrs Cody you'd never hope to see."

"Fine," said the sceptical Richard. "Forgive these embarrassing questions. Tommy, but in my bright lexicon there is no such word as 'reform'."

"I don't know your friend, but you've got it wrong," said Tommy hazily.

Martin offered him a lift, but this was declined, and the detective went back alone to London, and, to his annoyance, arrived at the library half an hour after the girl had left.

It was too late, he thought, to see Mr Havelock of Lincoln's Inn Fields, and in point of fact the recollection of that engagement brought with it a feeling of discomfort. His plans were already made. He intended spending a month in Germany before he returned to the work which he had promised himself: a volume on 'Thieves and Their Methods', which he thought would pleasantly occupy the next year.

Dick, without being extremely wealthy, was in a very comfortable position. Sneed had spoken of a six - figure legacy, and was nearly right, although the figures were dollars, for his uncle had been a successful cattle fanner of Alberta. Mainly he was leaving the police force because he was nearing promotion, and felt it unfair to stand in the way of other men who were more in need of rank than himself. Police work amused him. It was his hobby and occupation, and he did not care to contemplate what life would be without that interest.

He had turned to go into his flat when he heard a voice hail him, and he turned to see the man whom he had released that morning crossing the road in some haste. Ordinarily, Lew Pheeney was the coolest of men, but now he was almost incoherent.

"Can I see you, Slick?" he asked, a quiver in his voice, which Dick did not remember having heard before.

"Surely you can see me. Why? Is anything wrong?"

"I don't know." The man looked up and down the street nervously. "I'm being trailed."

"Not by the police - that I can swear," said Dick.

"Police!" said the man impatiently. "Do you think that would worry me? No, it's the fellow - I spoke to you about, There's something wrong in that business. Slick, I kept one thing from you. While I was working I saw this guy slip a gun out of his hip and drop it into his overcoat pocket. He stood holding it all the time I was working, and it struck me then that, if I'd got that door open, there'd have been no chance of my ever touching the thousand. Half way through I said I wanted to go out, and, once outside, I bolted. There was something that chased me - God knows what it was; a sort of animal. And I hadn't got a gun - I never carry one in this country, because a judge piles it on if you're caught with a barker in your pocket."

All the time they had been speaking they were passing through the vestibule and up the stairs to Slick's flat, and, without invitation, the burglar followed him into the apartment.

He led the man into his study and shut the door. "Now, Lew, let me hear the truth - what was the work you were doing on Tuesday night?"

Lew looked round the room, out of the window, everywhere except at Dick. Then: "I was trying to open a dead man's tomb!" he said in a low voice.