The Deliberate Detective - E. Phillips Oppenheim - ebook

The Deliberate Detective ebook

E. Phillips Oppenheim



The adventures of Mr. Stanely Brooke, „The Deliberate Detective”. E. Phillips Oppenheim’s detective Stanley Brooke unearths the strange and criminous underbelly of London, but the greatest challenge he tackles is how to capture the heart of his beautiful but grim partner, Constance. This detective contributed to the foundation of the genre’s history. The collection also includes the following stories: „The Rescue of Warren Tyrrwell”, „The Princess Pays”, „The Other Side of the Wall”, „The Murder William Blessing”, „The Disappearance of Monsieur Dupoy”, „The Spider’s Parlor”, „The Silent People”, and „The Glen Terrace Tragedy”.

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Liczba stron: 238

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LORD WIMBLEDON was plainly out of sorts with everything and everybody. He looked gloomily across at the young man who shared the compartment with him in the Paris express, an expression of irritation on his severe face. The young man, quite oblivious to the fretful scrutiny, adjusted the golf-bag against the seat and turned to the pages of an illustrated sporting magazine.

“What on earth did you bring those things with you for?” the old gentleman asked, irritably.

The Hon. Stanley Brooke, scientific illuminator of crime, smiled up at him.

“They assist,” he replied, “in giving an air of general negligence to our journey. No one would imagine, for instance, that reasonable men would take golf-clubs with them to Paris on an errand like ours.”

Lord Wimbledon grunted, fumbled for a moment in his waistcoat-pocket, and finally produced a telegram which he smoothed out and passed across to Brooke.

“If only one could form any idea as to what our errand was!” he remarked irritably. “Read it aloud, please.”

Brooke obeyed. The message had been handed in at Paris about midnight on the previous day, and was addressed to Lord Wimbledon:

Beg you to come over at once, Am in great trouble. WARREN.

“Can you make anything out of it?” Lord Wimbledon asked.

“Nothing,” Brooke admitted.

“The most idiotic message I ever received in my life,” his lordship continued.

“However, I suppose we shall know all about it presently. I hope to goodness he hasn’t got himself into any trouble with his chief. Tell me honestly now, Brooke, how does it strike you?”

“To be candid,” Brooke replied, “I should say that it does point to some sort of trouble at the embassy. If it had been a private matter, he would surely have written. I must confess, though, that I don’t understand it at all. Sidney was always such a careful chap.”

“He has never,” Lord Wimbledon pronounced, “given me cause for one moment’s anxiety.”

“That,” Brooke sighed, “is what makes it so disquieting. Paris is no place for a young man of that sort.”

Lord Wimbledon relapsed into stony silence. It was not until they reached the outskirts of Paris that he spoke again.

“Well, we shall soon know all about it now,” he remarked, as they collected their baggage. “Let me come to the window. I shall recognize Warren more easily than you.”

The train glided into the Gare du Nord. There was the usual little rush of porters and the bustle of descending passengers. They made their way toward the barrier. The frown on Lord Wimbledon’s face grew deeper. There was no sign at all of Warren.

“I can’t understand it,” he repeated, for the twentieth time. “The boy must know how anxious I feel, and I wired that I was coming on this train. Hello!”

A little dark man had touched Lord Wimbledon upon the arm.

“You are Lord Wimbledon?” he asked.

“I am, sir,” was the curt reply. “If you are connected with the press, let me say at once that I am traveling incognito. I do not wish my presence–”

“I have nothing to do with the press,” the little man interrupted. “I have come to you from your son, Mr. Warren Tyrrwell.”

Lord Wimbledon looked him up and down with disfavor. He was neatly dressed, with pale face a little wizened, but his clothes and manners were of the middle class. He had the appearance of a respectable tradesman–perhaps a detective

“If you have a message from my son,” Lord Wimbledon said, “please let me hear it at once.”

“There is a little trouble,” the man announced slowly. ” It would be best, perhaps, not to speak here on the platform. You have registered luggage?”

“None,” Lord Wimbledon replied. “I am proposing to return to-morrow.”

“If you will come this way into the buffet,” the little man said, “one can speak there with more freedom.”

“Lead the way, then,” Lord Wimbledon answered sharply. “This is my traveling companion, Mr. Brooke.”

They passed hurriedly across the open space and mounted the stairs to the buffet. The little man led the way to a table in the corner.

“Coffee–bring anything,” Lord Wimbledon ordered of the expectant waiter–“coffee and brandy will do. Now, sir,” he added, “if you will be so good as to get on with your message. You can speak before my friend here; he is in my confidence.”

“My name,” the little man announced, “is Antin. For the last year your son has made use of me as a guide and interpreter. I am, at the present moment, having been unfortunate with my other work, occupying the position of his valet.”

Lord Wimbledon frowned.

“I was not aware that my son had a valet here,” he remarked.

“What I have told you is the truth, my lord,” the man declared. “It is only during the last two months that I have filled this position, but the season has been a bad one in Paris, and it has provided me at least with a roof and an opportunity to look around me. If you will pardon my saying so, it will be better, for the present at any rate, if you will accept my statement.”

Lord Wimbledon nodded.

“Very well, then,” he said; “go on.”

“Mr. Tyrrwell was, as you are doubtless aware, my lord,” the little man continued, “fond of visiting the out-of-the-way corners of Paris and mixing with people of strange nationalities. Considering his official position in this city, it will probably occur to you to wonder whether such a course was altogether wise. In any case, the telegram, is the result of trouble into which Mr. Tyrrwell has fallen during one of these expeditions.”

“Tell me at once,” Lord Wimbledon begged, “the nature of this trouble–”

“I am coming to it,” the man declared. “It is perhaps within your lordship’s knowledge that Mr. Tyrrwell’s special duties at the embassy lately have been connected with Russian affairs. Mr. Tyrrwell has had lessons in the language and is fairly proficient. He has taken great interest in the Russian colony, and he and I have visited together occasionally some places of which it is well not to speak too openly.

“Yesterday afternoon Mr. Tyrrwell brought back from the embassy a document consisting of about twenty pages of foolscap pinned together. He told me that he should not stir out until he had finished translating them from the Russian tongue. He set to work almost at once with the dictionary, and I made him some tea.

“I understood from him that he had been given special permission to bring the work away from the embassy, as a reception was going on there, and part of the premises being closed for repairs, it was difficult for him to find a quiet corner.

“In the course of his work Mr. Tyrrwell came across several phrases which he was quite unable to translate. He asked for my help, but my knowledge of the Russian tongue is very slight, and I was unable to assist him.

“He did then what at the moment seemed only natural. He sent for a taximeter automobile and drove to the address of the man from whom he received lessons in Russian. That was about eight o’clock last night. Since then I have not seen Mr. Tyrrwell.”

“You have not seen him,” Lord Wimbledon repeated. “You mean that he has not returned?”

“About half past nine last night,” the man went on, “the telephone rang. I answered it, and the voice which spoke to me was the voice of Mr. Tyrrwell. I could tell at once from his tone that something was wrong. He told me that he was down at the cafe over which the man Grika lives, from whom he has received Russian lessons, and there was something going on which he did not understand.

“He was left alone for a moment, from what I gathered, and had rushed to a telephone in the back room. He seemed to be afraid that they were going to keep him there for some purpose. He begged me to come down at once, but to come quietly. In the middle of the last sentence the telephone was disconnected.”

“Disconnected!” Lord Wimbledon exclaimed. The little man nodded.

“I heard Mr. Tyrrwell’s voice suddenly choke,” he said. “What happened, without doubt, was that some one had stolen up from behind and dragged him away.”

“Good God!” Lord Wimbledon cried.

“What did you do?”

“I took an automobile to the place,” the man replied. “I saw Professor Grika at once. He was sitting in the cafe, which occupies the lower part of the premises, with some friends. He seemed surprised, but not in the least discomposed, at my visit. As to your son, he assured me that he had not seen him for ten days.

“I bribed the waiters and a servant. I could learn nothing-. I sat for some time in the cafe, thinking. Then I followed Grika to his room. I spoke to him plainly. I told him that Mr. Warren Tyrrwell was an Englishman of high position; that any attempt to ill-use him or to tamper with any documents he might have had with him could only result in utter disaster.

“I threatened to go to the police. I spoke to him seriously. It was useless. Grika begged me to take any steps I liked, to have the place searched. He treated me as though I were a mild lunatic, and persisted in his statement that he had not seen Mr. Tyrrwell for ten days. Neither could I find any telephone upon the premises. Therefore I came away. I could think of nothing to do. I sent you the telegram in your son’s name.”

Lord Wimbledon sprang to his feet.

“Why didn’t you go to the police at once?” he exclaimed.

“Because if the affair becomes known,” Antin replied, “I presume that Mr. Tyrrwell will get into trouble at the embassy. He confided to me that the document which he had brought away from the embassy was one of great importance. It will scarcely be considered discreet that he should have gone to such an unsavory neighborhood with any portion of that document in his possession.”

“In a sense that is true,” Lord Wimbledon admitted. “On the other hand, my son’s personal safety is the chief concern. What do you think, Mr. Brooke?”

“I should suggest,” Brooke said, “that you allow me to pay a visit to Professor Grika. It can do no harm and will only delay matters a little.”

Lord Wimbledon jumped at the idea.

“I place myself entirely in your hands, Brooke,” he declared. “My own impulse, I must admit, is instantly to visit this man myself with a posse of gendarmes at my back. Warren’s official position, however, must be considered. If that can be saved as well, so much the better. You have gifts in affairs of this sort, Brooke, which have been denied to me. We will await your return.”

“Better go to Warren’s rooms, I think,” Brooke advised. “Get back there as quickly as you can, and wait for me. Now write down this man Grika’s address, if you please,” he added, turning to Antin. The little man tore off a piece from the menu and obeyed. Brooke turned to Lord Wimbledon, lowering his voice a little.

“If I were you,” he said, “I should get back to -Warren’s rooms as quickly as you can, and take this man with you. I hope I may be able to bring you a report of some sort or another in a very short time.” Even the driver of the automobile hesitated when Brooke directed him to drive to 83 Rue de Mont Bleu.

“It is far, monsieur,” he objected, “and the roads are very narrow and difficult. One does not often approach the Rue de Mont Bleu in an automobile.”

“You will do so,” Brooke assured him cheerfully, “and you will receive for pourboire another of these when our errand is accomplished.”

The man pocketed the five-franc piece and mounted a little reluctantly to his box. He paused for a moment to roll a cigarette, and started off. Even though he drove with the customary recklessness of his class, they reached safely in time the district they sought.

Here their progress became slow. There were stalls out in the street, strange names transcribed in Jewish characters over the shops. The streets were ill-lit, the men and women had little of the air of French people. They were far removed, indeed, from the children of the city of pleasure. There was another turn, a long and silent boulevard filled with decaying houses, a steep climb, and another narrow street. At a cafe half-way along it the automobile came to a standstill.

“Voilà, monsieur,” the man announced.

“You can wait,” Brooke ordered.

The man looked about him with an air of contempt.

“If one can but obtain a drink in this hole–” he grumbled.

Brooke stepped through the swing-door into the cafe. The place had none of the characteristics of similar establishments on the other side of the city. It was, in fact, more like an English public house near the wharfs. The illuminations were dim and scanty, the sawdust on the floor was stale, the few customers were gathered together at a table in a remote corner, intent on watching a game of dominoes.

They turned their heads at Brooke’s entrance and stared with something in their faces which reminded one of hungry vermin.

Brooke addressed himself to a lady of great size who stood behind the counter. She had very fat cheeks and small black eyes. Her hair was jet-black and showed no signs of any attempt at care or arrangement. Her dress was insufficient.

She looked at Brooke with the palms of her two hands stretched fiat upon the counter. She looked at him steadily, and the natural viciousness of her expression was overshadowed for the moment by a certain blank surprise.

Brooke, carefully dressed notwithstanding his journey, his smooth, boyish face unwrinkled, his mouth still a trifle open, his monocle in his left eye, was a type of person of whom madame had had no experience. As she studied him the many wrinkles in her face relaxed. Her lips parted a little and disclosed her yellow teeth. One might imagine that if indeed she were a partner in any nefarious scheme, the advent of the Hon. Stanley Brooke had failed to inspire her with forebodings.

“I understand,” Brooke said, “that Professor Grika lives here and that he gives lessons in Russian. I should like to see him.”

“Professor Grika has gone into the country for three days,” madame declared. “He is not to be found here.”

Brooke hesitated for a moment. Without turning his head, he was yet aware that the little group of men in the corner had suspended their game. Their faces were turned toward him. They were all listening.

“It is unfortunate,” he continued, “as I have come so far. Madame will be so good as to give me a glass of cognac.”

She moved slowly toward a row of bottles and served him. Brooke raised the thick glass to his lips. The liquor which he tasted was like fire. He coughed, and the woman laughed.

“Monsieur is used to milder drinks,” she remarked scornfully.

“It is of no consequence,” he replied.

“I must admit that I find the brandy a little fiery, but it is perhaps suitable for the tastes of your clients. Is it possible, may I ask, that you give me the address of Professor Grika?”

The woman was replacing the cork in the bottle.

“One never knows where he is to be found,” she declared. “He comes and goes when he wills. A strange man! He is perhaps visiting the president or the King of England. It is as much as I know.”

Brooke turned his head slightly. He could hear the sound of a man’s footsteps coming across the sanded floor. A large, loosely built man, collarless and unshaven, wearing only a shirt and trousers, had approached.

“Monsieur was inquiring for Professor Grika?”

Brooke admitted the fact affably. The man pointed to a table.

“We will sit down, you and I,” he said, “and for something to drink–”

“Serve monsieur, I pray, with what he desires,” Brooke interrupted.

The woman grinned and half filled him a glass out of the bottle from which she had served Brooke. The man led the way to a little wooden table. They sat down before it.

“We speak plainly here,” the man growled, folding his arms and looking steadfastly at Brooke. “What is it you want?”

“A few words with Professor Grika,” Brooke replied.

His companion looked at him steadfastly. His face was coarse, brutal, vicious, and unwashed. His small eyes had contracted almost into points underneath his lowering brows. He seemed to be subjecting Brooke to a steadfast examination.

Presently he glanced across at the woman. She made a sign to him.

“There are many reasons,” he said slowly, “why Professor Grika does not at once receive all those who may choose to visit him.”

Brooke’s mouth opened a little wider. He kept the monocle firmly in his left eye.

“Political?” he asked.

“Political,” his vis-a-vis admitted gravely. “But why not–The professor was exiled from Russia. They called him a nihilist because he was of the people. That is why he came to France–France, which should be a country for the people. Bah!”

The man spat upon the floor. Then he crouched across the table, so close that Brooke leaned back to escape his garlic-laden breath.

“For a louis,” he said, “you shall see Professor Grika.”

“I don’t understand,” Brooke protested, “why I should pay a louis to see a man whom I have come to ask to teach me Russian.”

“I tell you,” the other replied, “that Grika is a difficult person to see. You might come here a dozen times and be refused. It is worth a louis. Come!”

He held out his hand. Brooke affected to hesitate for a moment. Then he placed the piece of gold upon the table. The man pocketed it and rose.

“Come this way,” he directed. They left the front room of the cafe and passed through a door, the two upper panes of which were broken and stuffed with brown paper. They climbed a flight of uneven stairs and arrived on a landing. Brooke’s guide, who had been whistling to himself all the way up, whistled a little louder. Then he knocked at the door of a room.

“You can go in,” he said. “You’ll find Professor Grika there.”

Brooke entered the room without hesitation. He heard the footsteps of his guide departing as he closed the door behind him. To his surprise the apartment, though plainly furnished, was clean, the floor carpeted, the walls filled with books and pictures. A man sat writing before a table, with a green-shaded lamp by his side. He looked up at Brooke’s entrance. He was a man with a white beard, hollows in his cheeks–a frail man, apparently very old. His voice, when he spoke, shook a little.

“Monsieur desired to see me?”

“If you are Professor Grika, yes,” Brooke replied. “I was recommended to you some time ago by an English friend of mine–Mr. Warren Tyrrwell. I wish to take some lessons in Russian.”

Professor Grika regarded his visitor thoughtfully. It was curious that, although Brooke’s accent as a rule was a matter upon which he prided himself, he was speaking now with a curious, almost a guttural pronunciation.

“Mr. Warren Tyrrwell,” Professor Grika repeated. “Yes, yes; I remember the young gentleman perfectly. Why do you wish to learn Russian, monsieur?”

“I am in the German army,” Brooke replied. “Staff officers are required to know at least two languages. I have chosen Russian for one, and I wish to make use of my vacation to acquire, at any rate, the rudiments of the language.”

The professor nodded gently. He seemed, indeed, a very quiet and harmless old man.

“Sit down, please,” he invited.

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