The Man Called Gilray - Fred M. White - ebook

The Man Called Gilray ebook

Fred M White

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Lovers of detectives and mysteries, this story will appeal. Gilray’s body was found in his office. It is curious that Gilray died a week after his servant was also found dead. But the journalist Philip Temple suspects that there is something wrong in this case, too many coincidences.

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Liczba stron: 272

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Contents

The Deed Itself

In The Study

For His Sake

A Happy Home

No Clue

The Midnight Guest

The Author’s Quest

A Clue By Chance

A Blind Trail

Was It A Woman?

Restitution

[Untitled]

A Slave Of Habit

The Story In The Story

The Girl Called Esme

An Inquiry For Lord Silverdale

Evidence For The Crown

The Cigarette

A Page From The Past

Lord Silverdale’s Latch-Key

What Man Dares, I Dare

Brachi To The Rescue

A Helping Hand

The Mask Of Death

Unmasked

The Third Cartridge

MURDER. £500. MURDER. REWARD

The above REWARD is offered to any person or persons for such information as will lead to the arrest of Some PERSON unknown believed to be a sailor or shipping hand and directly or indirectly concerned on Wednesday, the 6th inst., with the.

WILFUL MURDER

...of John Gilray. No definite description of the missing man can be given at present. All information may be rendered at any police station in the district

I. THE DEED ITSELF

For the last three weeks the placard had been staring the whole of London in the face. It was a brief document, epitomising one of these extraordinary crimes which from time to time stir England from one end to the other. It had first come to the attention of the public through the medium of the ‘Southern Daily Herald,’ a popular paper which was published in London by the same firm which are responsible for the ‘Southern Weekly Herald.’ The latter is a sort of weekly magazine, and enjoys a large circulations throughout the whole of the South of England. Now it so happened that the chief sub-editor on the staff of the Daily was also editor of the Weekly. Philip Temple was a journalist of the smart type, and never lost an opportunity of keeping up his reputation. He also made it a point of being on exceedingly good terms with the police, and by this means he had pulled off many a coup for his proprietors. Therefore it was that about two o’clock on the morning of the murder, he received an urgent telephone message from Inspector Sparrow asking him to go down to the Police Station at once.

“Anything very special?” he asked.

“It looks very much like it,” Inspector Sparrow replied. “At any rate, the crime has features out of the common. I should say that it is likely to make a big sensation. I haven’t been round to Ponder-avenue myself yet, because I have only just this minute heard what has happened from the sergeant on the beat.”

“Murder, of course?” Temple asked.

“Well, at any rate, a fatality which has resulted in a man’s death. Oh, it’s murder, right enough. The victim is Mr. John Gilray, who lives in one of the flats at Ponder-avenue. I’ve got practically no details yet, except from a constable who is on duty in that neighbourhood sometimes. He says that he knew Mr. Gilray well enough by sight. From his description I should say that he was a smart-looking man of about fifty. I believe he was a bit of a mystery, though he attracted little or no attention. He must have had money, or else he could not have afforded to live in Ponder-avenue.”

Temple nodded approvingly. He knew Ponder-avenue quite well, indeed, he had one or two friends in the immediate neighbourhood. It was a quiet street, but of very desirable houses, semi-detached, and more than one of them having studios. A good many of the better-class of artists and journalists and musicians lived in Ponder-avenue. There were gardens at the back and front of the houses, and altogether they formed a very attractive and respectable class property.

“I think I know what you mean,” Temple said. “You mean that the man was of a Bohemian temperament.”

“Well, at any rate, that’s what the constable said. Mr. Gilray appears to have had very few friends calling upon him, and I should say that he was a very independent type of man. He generally dined out, was exceedingly fond of theatres and concerts, and always came home in a cab. They tell me he was a very well-dressed man, so that he must have been possessed of means.”

Once more Temple nodded approvingly. Here was the making of a first class sensation. His journalistic instinct told him that. Here was a lonely man of independent habits and comfortable means who was probably a matter of speculation even to his easy-going neighbours. Possibly a man with a history, of whom nobody knew anything. He seemed to be well-to-do and young-looking, and at fifty years of age he was none too old for a love affair or violent flirtation. Temple was all hot foot now to get at once to the scene of action.

“I suppose I can come with you,” he said.

“That’s why I sent for you,” Sparrow said. “And the sooner we’re off the better. We’ll have a cab.”

Temple desired nothing more. All he had to hope for now was that his paper would have the exclusive news this morning. There was plenty of time yet. He and Sparrow came presently to Ponder-avenue. There was no sign of any excitement on hand, and Number 2, the house where the mysterious crime had been committed, was the only one that showed any lights at all. But here the electrics were turned on, and the whole place was in a blaze. In the hall a policeman was seated, grim and stern, nursing his helmet on his knee. As Temple glanced round the hall, he saw that it was most artistically and daintily furnished. Evidently no money had been spared, and evidently the late unfortunate occupant of the house was acquainted with someone or another who had travelled a great deal. There were trophies of arms on the wall, evidently collected from Southern Africa, and on the floor lay a couple of tiger skins not in the least like the skins which are usually offered for sale in West End shops. Temple saw that the few pictures were good; he also noticed that the profusion of flowers were of the best and most expensive kind. There was no doubt whatever that Mr. Gilray had been in no need of money.

Standing opposite the policeman, white and pale and trembling, stood a woman still in her hat and jacket. Unmistakably she was of the servant class, and had every appearance of the average smart cook-housekeeper on her evening out. Her eyes were full of tears, she bore every evidence of grief and terror.

“I’m glad you’ve come, sir,” the officer said. “This is Mr. Gilray’s housekeeper, Jane Martin she calls herself.”

“Well, then, perhaps you will tell us all about it,” Sparrow remarked. “Try and compose yourself. It’s nothing to do with you, you know. I want you to tell us all you know and answer my questions. I should say by your appearance you had just come in. It’s rather late to be out, isn’t it?”

“I came in at half-past one, sir,” the girl said. “I was out by master’s permission. You see, I live Cheetham way, and I went home for my brother’s birthday. I wasn’t expected back till half-past one.”

“Did you have a latch-key?” Sparrow asked.

“Oh, no, sir, there’s no occasion for that. Mr. Gilray never went to bed before two o’clock at the earliest. He left the front door open, and I walked straight in. I saw a light under the study door, and I went to see if my master wanted anything before I went to bed. And then directly I opened the door and looked into the study–”

The girl began to sob hysterically. It was some little time before she became calm enough to resume her story.

“This is very terrible,” she murmured. “The lights were all on, and there was nobody in the study except my master. He was lying on the floor just as you have seen him before the fireplace. There was a dreadful wound in his breast, and I could see at once that he was dead. I went directly and called in the policeman, and that’s all I can tell you. It’s all to mysterious, that I don’t know what I’m doing, hardly.”

“I suppose the other servants had gone to bed?”

“There are no other servants,” the girl said. “There’s nobody but me. I understood Mr. Gilray to say that he didn’t like a lot of people about the house. He wanted someone to keep the house tidy and answer the bell in case anybody called. You see, he never got up till midday, and as he mostly had all his meals out, I had quite an easy time. Except that it was a bit dull, I couldn’t wish for a better place.”

“Now tell me something about your master’s habits,” Sparrow said, “Had he many friends? And if so, perhaps you can tell us the names of some of them.”

“No one has ever called since I’ve been here,” the girl said. “And there’s no card tray anywhere.”

“What, do you mean to say that no one has ever called during the whole time you’ve been here?” Sparrow asked.

“Not one,” the girl said. “You see, I’ve only been here about a week.”

It was something of a check for Sparrow, and his face fell accordingly. He hadn’t expected this.

“In that case, we shall have to look up the last servant in the house,” he said. “I dare say you can tell us who she was.”

“Well, you see, sir, she died here,” Jane Martin said. “I came in to take her place temporarily, and it was arranged the next day that I should stay on.”

Once more Sparrow looked a little disconcerted. All this was so utterly unexpected. The mystery was deepening rapidly, and the difficulties were beginning to unfold themselves. Temple, listening carefully, could follow the dramatic points of the case.

“And that is all you have to tell me?” Sparrow asked.

“Indeed it is, sir,” the girl said eagerly. She spoke almost as if she expected that she might be accused of having some hand in the tragedy. “I can think of nothing else. And if you want me to stay here–-“

“No occasion to do anything of the kind,” Sparrow responded. “The house is going to be locked up, so that there is no occasion for anybody to stay here, my good girl. You must give me your name and address, so that I shall know where to send for you when the inquest takes place. You can tidy up just a little, but don’t disturb anything here. I may have a question or two to put to you, and if so I’ll call you. Make anything out of it, Mr. Temple?”

Temple shook his head thoughtfully He was as utterly puzzled as Sparrow.

“It’s quite bewildering to me,” Sparrow said. “I’ve never heard of anything quite like it before. Reminds me of some fascinating story. She is quite conscious of the fact that she has not forgotten a single detail. She may be right. On the other hand she might think of some little matter that she might drop out casually under the impression that it is not worth talking about; all the time it is a clue of the utmost importance. In affairs of this kind there are no such things as trifles–we don’t allow them to exist.”

“This man Gilray evidently tried to keep his identity a secret,” Temple observed. “Do you suppose that Gilray is his proper name?”

“I feel absolutely convinced it isn’t,” Sparrow said firmly.

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