Bring the Monkey by Miles Franklin
First published 1933
All the incidents in this book
are imaginary and all the
characters except Percy
I have always loathed murder. Once I took not the slightest interest
in murder; cases. I never read even the most luridly head-lined nor the
socially shocking. However, the Tattingwood case assaulted my interest,
and has forced me to wonder how many other women or men may have killed
someone, and escaped detection, or even suspicion: or alternatively, how
many may have been wrongfully suspected, accused, or even convicted of
But I loathe murder more than ever, as revolting, stupid, bestial,
To employ Zarl Osterley's locution, it carries a fiendish thing
altogether too far.
It all happened through Zarl Osterley's monkey, Percy Macacus Rhesus y
Osterley. Until Zarl took the notion to acquire him I had as little
interest in monkeys as in murder. There are no monkeys in my native land,
except in Zoos, and these had always seemed to me as too repellently like
depraved editions of ourselves. Their mournful mien depressed me. But one
day when Zarl was restless through being baulked of an Everest
expedition, she said "Let's have a monkey!"
"Where would you keep the brute?" I inquired perfunctorily.
"Here, of course! With us!"
Zarl occupied a flat in a studio building in St John's Wood, London,
and I spent much time with her.
"A wart hog would be ever so much more convenient and beautiful," I
responded, continuing to read Julian Huxley.
"But I thought you loved animals?!!!"
"All but monkeys: and I don't love any animals in the bread crock, and
on the pillows, as they must be in these town places. Animals and
cleanliness can't be together in a flat!"
"But we could train a monkey to do anything."
"You'd have to hire someone to look after the beast."
This seemed final. We were in such low water that we could not even
hire a char.
No more was said on the subject for a week, then Zarl remarked "I had
an offer of a monkey to-day: he was a bit too big, but lovely. I'll never
rest now till I have one."
I turned and looked at her--this time over a book by Osbert Sitwell.
Zarl resembles a champagne glass, not alone in grace of fashioning, but
in effervescent contents. The bubbles are intensely fascinating. "Surely
you are not in earnest about a monkey?"
"I must have something. This is dreadful--just going to bed and
getting up again--without seeing the sun rise on Kangchenjunga, or the
ice break on the Lena."
"I should have thought you had enough of the sleet on the desolate
bays of the Beagle Channel when you went to the Horn."
"Oh, I've forgotten that long ago. I'm going to concentrate now on
going to the Lena or the Indigirka, and I must have a monkey to keep me
from doddering into a complete stodge."
"A monkey would hasten that," I contended. "You've seen those old
women with poodles--can't tell the women from the poodles--pathetic
derelicts--ugh! A monkey would do that for you--only more so."
"A monkey would be a symbol and a promise."
"A sure promise of wrecking everything in the place, and think of the
"I never heard that monkeys smell!"
"Then you must have been very deaf in the Zoo."
"But I'd only have one."
I had visions of Zarl's establishment degenerating into a kennel. Zarl
is not a Martha among housewives. That is one of her great charms; one
can live with her without ceaseless petty persecution. A London interior
becomes sufficiently trying with a cat or dog--but a monkey! Goodbye to
our pleasant association. I comforted myself by thinking that the monkey
would never materialise.
But a week later Zarl came bubbling in. "I've got a monkey!"
"Where? How? What!"
"Jimmy Wengham brought five back in an aeroplane from Africa, but only
one has lived, and he has kept it for me. Someone has it somewhere, and
I'm going there to get it. It will be too marvellously thrilling.
'Wizard! Eh, what?' as Jimmy says."
I took a farewell glance around the fine room with its comfortable
chairs, reflected that all things bright and fair are fleeting, and
retreated to my own lair. But next day, as I was descending, Zarl was
ascending my stairs.
"Look! I thought you'd like to see Percy--my monkey. I've had a
terrible time with him. He's bitten me, and I could never confess how
many things he has broken. I don't think he has been kindly treated. He
has a great scar on his leg--poor little cow."
I beheld a creature the size of a half-grown kitten, only more
slender, an appealing, shrinking mite that tried to creep out of sight
under Zarl's furs. He shuddered and showed his teeth in a piteous grin,
as if I were a big baboon that would demolish him. I can never resist any
animal, even the so-called human ones, if they appear distressful, and I
took this poor little soul in my arms and attempted to stroke his fur,
but he shivered through every fibre at the slightest touch, and looked so
woebegone that I was instantaneously and permanently enslaved.
"He's behaving very well with you," remarked Zarl. "Would you like to
keep him all night? I've got a chance to be motored up to Cambridge for
the week-end, and there is a professor there who might like to go down
the Lena to the Arctic Sea for the goose-plucking, and to see that
thinga-me-bob bird; and Percy might get in the way at the wrong
I was committed to Percy for one night, for two, for three. We were
left to make acquaintance as best we would. I washed all his human hands
and face, and he enjoyed dabbling in the warm water and grabbing the
soap. I made him clean and sweet, settled the matter of loin cloths after
the fashion of Mahatma Gandhi, gave him a cup of milk to hold in his own
tiny hands, got him a blanket and box, tethered him to the leg of my bed,
I peeped up now and again to see if he were there, to savour the
delight of such a guest. And every time I peeped, he would be peeping
too, to see what I intended. It was so amusing that I laughed aloud,
cheered and entertained. Never since my teens, in the joy of new kittens,
or a baby koala, or an echidna, had I felt such pleasure.
In the morning he came to bed to be cuddled, a warm
delicately-fashioned little thing of sensitive texture. How ignorant I
had been to think of a monkey only as ugly or evil-smelling! Here were
beauty and grace to nourish the aesthetic appetite.
In the days that followed, Percy settled in. I had been thoroughly
grounded by my mother in the ethics of pets. She always said, "Unless you
are willing to do everything for either a child or an animal, you do not
really love it; you only love yourself and the sensuous pleasure to be
derived from it." The world is full of the less thorough kind of lovers.
There is little competition on the other plane, so Percy quickly
developed into a personality, with me as a coolie on the end of his
string. A flatette was vacated in Zarl's building and I moved there to be
near him. We devoted ourselves to making him happy, and to surrounding
him with that affection said to be necessary for the flowering of a
monkey's genius. This was due to one exiled from his own sunny country to
make a toy for people who should have known better. He devoured as much
time as cross-word puzzles or bridge--more than we could afford--and was
an expensive luxury for hard-working women; but in an age of people
rendered superfluous by machines, the teeth were drawn from the rebuke
that we would have been better employed as mothers dragging up infants to
degenerate in uselessness.
Fulminations against a mischievous, unfaithful, troublesome invention
of sheer pestiferation collapsed. Percy had only to dance before us, or
to hold out a confiding hand, to break loose and jump into bed with us,
or cry if we left him alone, and our hearts were softened.
In the way of sirens of either sex and of any size or shape he was
irresistible--a continual nuisance and a perpetual delight. He was a
"wow" in several sets, a favourite in the Parks and on many buses and in
the Underground. To his popularity and my infatuation can be attributed
my connection with what is here recorded.
Through the evidence and gossip that surrounded the case, by
information gleaned from an articulate police official, by deduction and
inference--without which any chronicler is a dunce--there was no
difficulty in reconstructing the procedure preliminary to Lady
The impending week-end at Tattingwood Hall was noted by the Yard.
After the years of comparative freedom from robberies upon jewel owners,
which had followed the smashing of Cammi Grizard's and Leiser Guttwirth's
gangs just before the war, there had been recently a recrudescence of
such depredations. It looked as if the lesser gangs which had been
disrupted in the late twenties, by the arrest and conviction of the
master spirits, were attempting re-organisation around new leaders.
The tactics of Ydonea Zaltuffrie, the dazzling film star, were such as
to generate independent burglarious activities. Her press agent's
concoctions raved through the press with such virulence that the police
had had to disperse the traffic outside the Ritz. The credulous were
doped by the news that she was so startlingly beautiful that she ravaged
the hearts of princes and rajahs, as well as those of talking-picture
fanatics. She was now about to lay waste the remnants of the English
aristocracy. She was to open her campaign in one of the few remaining
country houses, where the Hon. Cedd Ingwald Swithwulf Spillbeans, second
son of the family, had taken to films as a career. They allured him as a
more pulsating adventure than that followed by his elder brother St.
Erconwald, in securing, without any thrills or frills, a nice tame
heiress, who had risen to the demands of primogeniture by producing two
Owing to post-war taxes and the rising cost of living in every
direction, the Baron himself was threadbare. Tattingwood Hall had become
a devouring monster that put him on the rack. Keep it up as of yore, he
could not; give it up he would not--not even to his son to evade death
duties. It was his life, his love, his religion, his hobby. His second
wife had been chosen for the sake of Tattingwood--a Miss Clarice
Lesserman. (Soap.) She had invested in Lord Tattingwood some ten years
before I met her, for the glamour of the title, and as a bulwark against
a war-time infatuation for a man many years her junior. Now mergers,
rationalisation and other humorosities of business efficiency were
deflating her suds and paralysing her products far below the needs of
She had no declared children of her own, so was comfortably
assimilated by her step-sons, and she welcomed the distractions of the
younger's film enterprises.
This week-end was the apex of opportunity towards which Cedd had been
diligently working for months. To have captured the fabulous Ydonea
Zaltuffrie, in itself was achievement, and the idea was to involve her to
the extent of starring in a film story which Cedd had gathered together
without the interference of an author. Cedd hoped to direct it. He was
even prepared to marry Ydonea for a spell, should art or career demand
such lengths. That she might be too independent to marry him, he was not
quite Over-Seas or post-war enough to grasp.
Lady Tattingwood had become friends with Zarl Osterley on Mount Cook
or Lake Taupo, where she had gone to get a little fresh air, being that
way inclined, and where Zarl had lent her some safety-pins in emergency.
Lady Tattingwood had been there for fresh air, it has been suggested, and
Zarl was taking a little exercise, because one of her fortes is to be
secretary to some great man or another on hegiras to the ends of the
earth to meditate upon the past history or to inspect the present private
life of some bug or weed. This gave her an intimate nook in many
Lady Tattingwood was uneasy about the Ali Baba trove of jewels
advertised in connection with her film star guest, who wore them with a
nonchalance becoming to beads from Woolworth's. There was no telling whom
they might attract to the village, so Lady Tattingwood had a
heart-to-heart talk with the local police. Lord Tattingwood sent a
peremptory message to New Scotland Yard. This was considered by the right
official and passed on to Chief Inspector Stopworth.
The Yard had earlier been consulted by Miss Zaltuffrie's Grand Vizier,
with the result that a Yard officer was to reinforce the lady's private
The Chief Inspector, or Captain Stopworth, as he was more familiarly
known to his friends, considered the police aspects of Miss Zaltuffrie's
advent. Her pictures met him on every illustrated page, and some of them
were remarkable. It was not her beauty however, but her jewels that
interested Captain Stopworth. It was rumoured that the heir to the
Maharajah of Bong or Bogwallah, or some such marvellous or mythical
principality, had gone mad about Ydonea in Paris. The press freely stated
that he had given her stupendous State Jewels, but probably there was
exaggeration in the interests of a commercial headline or two.
Captain Stopworth had plenty of salt to sprinkle on such "publicity,"
to keep down mortification, but he carefully extracted the grains of
news, and re-read Lord Tattingwood's demand. He then put through a call
to Supersnoring and requested the Butler to bring Lady Tattingwood to the
telephone. When he had established his identity, the Inspector asked her
ladyship to inform her husband that there would be a sergeant and
constable in his service from Saturday night till Monday morning; and
then his tone changed.
"I have not seen you for a long time, old girl."
"Whose fault is that?"
"Well, have you a spare bed for this week-end? I could kill two
birds--from Saturday afternoon till Sunday after dinner."
"Yes, oh, my dear, do come, and bring what we spoke of. It will be
safer. I'll explain when you are here."
"All right. I'll see you some time during the next forty-eight
hours--privately I mean: au revoir."
He replaced the instrument and tattoed a tune on his desk for a few
moments while sunk in thought. He then touched a buzzer and a smart young
officer came in. Calls to the Ritz Hotel and the Mayfair Police Station
were then put through, and there were conferences. Eventually Captain
Stopworth informed Detective-Constable Manning that he would proceed to
Tattingwood Hall for the week-end in the role of valet, while
Detective-Sergeant Beeton was to have the privilege of being present to
see Cedd Spillbeans' film, he supposedly being interested in sport and
the allied arts.
"It's getting to be a pretty pass with me to be invited for that!"
exclaimed Zarl with humorous petulance as she stood before the long
mirror and arranged a delectable copper-tinted curl on her forehead. She
refers to herself as ginger, but that is affectation. Her hair is that
incredible shade that shames a new penny, and challenges amour. It
matches the little dancing flecks in her soft round eyes.
She tossed a letter on stationery embossed TATTINGWOOD HALL,
SUPERSNORING, with a telephone exchange in the Home Counties.
My darling Zarl,
Do come for the week-end, and bring the Monkey. Ydonea Zaltuffrie is
to be here, and if Cedd's machinations hang fire, what am I to do with
such a white elephant? She is dripping in beauty and "it" and dresses
mostly in jewels, given her by some Indian Prince whose name is never
mentioned for fear of making things worse in India. So Swithwulf has
dubbed him the Rajah of Bogwallah for convenience. Do. This is a genuine
S.O.S. Besides, I'm dying to make his acquaintance. Swithwulf has called
in Scotland Yard because of the jewels. Jimmy Wengham is to be here too.
Don't fail me. Clarice.
"Did you ever I must be degenerating into a sorry old tart-like an
organ-grinder invited to bringa-da-monk to entertain a flicker doll with
goggle eyes, who registers the lowest paroxysms of osculation as a
substitute for witchery every time some Buffalo Bill whiffles through a
"I shouldn't mind being considered a tart with a tom cat, or I'd even
be civil to one of those goggle-eyed frowsy Pekes to gain admittance to
so marvellous a menagerie. I begrudge Percy Macacus Rhesus y Osterley, he
is all that has stood between me and jumping-off this last week."
I was spread in a deep chair, my feet to the fire with Percy on my
chest under my oldest woolly jersey, fast asleep. The lovable face showed
complete abandon, the closed eyelids were an eggshell blue that left
those of the painted ladies mere "mucky pups."
"You come too. I'll wire Clarice. She'll be delighted. She's a kind
"I've just refused the party at Buckhurst because I cannot afford the
tips in those private pubs--prefer the regular inns; besides, I've only
got one evening gown spry enough."
"I haven't a stitch either; and imagine me in evening dress with
Percy! He'd pluck every feather off me, and leave bleeding weals on my
most important promontories. The odious little cow never cares a hoot
about the side his bread is buttered, and favours all the wrong people.
He'll most likely go for old Swith's nose."
"He evidently knows how to annex a faithful coolie," I said, tilting
his chin the better to adore him. He made little guffing sounds of
protest against being disturbed, and crawled farther under my jersey.
"He really is consistent about you. It makes me think he must have
some character or intellect. If you won't come with me, come with Percy
to Tattingwood Hall."
"I've got an idea! I'll go as your maid in overalls, to take care of
Percy. I shall be saved from the woofits, and you'll help Lady
Tattingwood to offset Ydonea. My new dress will be free for your use
"Don't be a peanut! What an entertaining but utterly impossible
idea--some one there might know you."
"No. When I ascend to society, it is to a much more political
sociological clique who do good to humanity; also I'll be disguised in a
uniform. Who ever looks at a maid at one of those jamborees--plenty of
hunting higher up. If I wanted to commit a crime, I'd take Percy, and
then everyone would be looking at him and fail to see me. Yes, let's
"Why should I waste my fleeting moments on the oddments that infest
Clarice--not one of them could be excited to go as far as the
Murrumbidgee, let alone the Indigirka or Lena."
"What about Jimmy Wengham? I see in the papers that he is the pilot of
Ydonea's aircraft--going to fly to glory. I should think he might be
useful for your expedition."
"Aaaahhhh! Has she swallowed Jimmy? I might induce regurgitation, just
We telephoned a telegram:
DELIGHTED BRINGING MONKEY AND MAID SATURDAY FOUR O'CLOCK ZARL
We were in the midst of our preparations when Lady Tattingwood's reply
AFRAID NO ROOM FOR MAID HOUSE FULL SORRY LOVE CLARICE
"Well then, it's off, and I contribute Jimmy to Ydonea's bag," said
Zarl. "And I'm glad, as I'd much rather do something quietly with you.
Please send another telegram."
Unselfishness is one of the prominent ingredients of Zarl's
seductiveness. She was obviously planning to keep me from melancholia
during the weekend, because I had lately been knocked into a cocked hat,
but I did not want to burden her unduly. I went to the telephone and sent
MAID THOROUGHLY RESPECTABLE GIVE HER MATTRESS IN MY ROOM NECESSARY FOR
"There, you must live up to me now. Percy will be an opening for me to
be in the whole shoot, above stairs and below--a two-ring comedy."
I hauled Percy from a picture rail, where he was investigating an
electric wire, and lashed him to a divan leg, where he began to shred the
valance with perfect good-will and gentlemanliness.
It was a clammy day towards the end of the year with enough roke to
close it early, and a good many of the guests were assembled in the great
hall when Zarl entered a few minutes past four o'clock. We had arrived at
Supersnoring by train, where Lady Tattingwood's motor was awaiting us and
two other unclassified guests. Zarl attended to our suitcases while I
nursed Percy. His weight was six pounds but his energy made it seem like
fifteen, and his resourcefulness and perseverance in employing it were an
object lesson to the discouraged. And he can reach as far--well, he can
simply reach, and reach, and reach till he gets there. Zarl had to be
protected from him till the right moment, or she might arrive with the
air of one of those frumps in employment agencies waiting for jobs that
always pass them by. I was provided with overalls and a bag of tricks
such as a mother takes abroad with a young infant. Percy's wardrobe was
It is worth going to Tattingwood in any capacity to see the lovely old
place crowning the Park as one approaches by the long, sunken drive. To
halt under the arch of the tower and turn to the left up the imposing
steps that lead to the big chamber called 'the hall' is sheer adventure.
The noble beauty of these old places goes to my head.
At the right moment Zarl tucked Percy under her arm with a Judo clasp,
that has proved successful, and made an effective entrance. Percy was the
right shade to go with her trim coat and skirt, and peeped most
endearingly from her fabulous furs, that came straight from Alaska or
some such place, I was alert lest he should destroy them; on another
occasion he had chewed the head off a mink stole while Zarl was engaged
in conversation. He had been too good to be harmless.
Lady Tattingwood, a colourless but unmistakably kind looking woman,
like a patroness of suburban charities or the Women's Institutes,
welcomed us all three with eager cordiality, and drew us towards one of
the two great fires with which the hall was enlivened. Percy creates a
diversion in any society, so interesting are animals, but he was a
godsend to a company that needed dancing, bridge, gramophone, radio,
billiards or something like that to make up for the dearth of inner
resources all the time that amour was not on draft.
An elephant hunter from the Congo was presented to Zarl, and with him
was Jimmy Wengham, late R.A.F. I pulled my cap lower lest Jimmy may have
remembered seeing me at Zarl's one evening. He was an exceedingly tall
dark dissipated-looking young man, and had a name for general as well as
aerial recklessness. He had retreated from the Air Force because he had
used one of the Government planes for his own excursions.
He and the Elephant Hunter had been engaged in throwing knives into a
board set up as a target across a corner. Jimmy informed Zarl that the
Elephant Hunter was at present in the lead, as he had the more patience.
The Elephant Hunter was another very tall man, by name, Brodribb, stolid
and with eyes of elephant grey--protective colouration perhaps--which may
have been excellent for sighting big game, but had a disconcertingly
static stare for a house party.
Lord Tattingwood entered with a curious weapon about the size of a
dirk, but more the shape of a rapier, as though a rapier with a small
hilt had been cut down to nine or twelve inches, and filed very
He greeted Zarl, and poked his finger under Percy's neck, causing him
to shudder and click irascibly. He said facetiously "Shall I do the
little blighter in with this--it wouldn't be the first of his species.
Seen dozens like him cut up to flavour the Zulus' soup in South
The knife throwers were tremendously interested in their host's
unconventional weapon, which he said he had had since the Boer war. Both
men immediately tried it on the board. Wengham was fascinated by the
sport of throwing it to strike into the wood.
"By George! It could be a dangerous thing!" he exclaimed.
"It used to be when I was your age," admitted his host.
He was urged to try his skill now, but after wavering and twisting,
the knife fell short from his hand and made a hole in one of the great
rugs. "I've lost my nerve and judgment of distance," he said, turning to
talk to Zarl. She left the young men to their sport, as we both have a
horror of knives. Jimmy Wengham took no notice of Percy. He was engrossed
in the new sport and had not a capacious mind. He had not given me a
glance fortunately. Lord Tattingwood, on the contrary, fixed me with a
Nothing but his height fitted the figure of Swithwulf George Cedd St.
Erconwald Spillbeans to be the sixteenth Baron Tattingwood and Lord of
that splendid pile. He was stooping, shabby and dull--a dowdy old man in
the sixties. Disappointing. Zarl went the rounds, while I, thanks to
Percy, stood by the door enjoying the promising comedy.
Ydonea Zaltuffrie was not in evidence. A number of the other women
guests had also disappeared to put on something startling for the tea
hour, which was approaching. Lady Tattingwood, placing her arm around
Zarl affectionately, and again thanking her for coming and bringing "the
dear little monkey," said she would go upstairs with her. In ordinary
circumstances I should have been drafted off to the lower regions, but
Zarl transferred the monkey to my arms and said "Come along with him
"Yes," confirmed Lady Tattingwood, "Come with us now."
We ascended the grand main staircase and turned to the left. Lady
Tattingwood's apartments were in a corner which faced the Park on one
side. We were put into a large room adjoining. It had been occupied by
Lord Tattingwood during his first marriage, but he now occupied a suite
in the east wing. There was rather a large bed, and, placed at the foot
of it, was a stretcher. Zarl's quarters were a menage a trois by reason
of Percy and me. Lady Tattingwood apologised that she had had to give the
dressing-room on the other side to Captain Stopworth at the last
"I am so sorry to have turned him out," said Zarl, "But you brought it
"It is he who has cramped your quarters," she replied. "But with the
Maharajah's jewels plastered on Miss Zaltuffrie, instead of an idol that
could be locked up, I had to have protection. Such a relief to turn the
supervision of safety over to Captain Stopworth. It leaves me free to
help Cedd with his film fortunes."
Zarl chaffed her friend in low tones; and discussed Jimmy Wengham.
When he had crashed out of his Commission in the R.A.F. owing to the
abduction of a sacred war machine for a commercial stunt, Jimmy had
distinguished himself by one of the first flights to South Africa in
company with a titled air woman, who became desperately enamoured of him.
Jimmy however was infatuated with Zarl at that date, to the extent of
lugging home a family of monkeys. His present idea was to stunt in films
and thus collect funds for a record world flight. He had quite smartly
got himself elected as pilot of Ydonea's new Puss Moth and was spreading
himself as a prominent member of the star's retinue. Ydonea had her eye
on his publicity possibilities and for the moment tolerated his
standardised amorous cacklings.
While Zarl and her hostess talked, I opened the suitcases and made
pretentious play for my mistress pro tern, by laying out the gorgeous
pyjamas which were reserved for show and creating envy. Also laid out for
her was my one smart new evening gown.
"Don't leave any of the windows open on to the terraces," warned
Clarice, "We must guard against entrances for suspicious characters that
may be attracted by the jewels."
"It is too thrilling for reality to have the famous Capt. Stopworth
right next door to us," said Zarl.
"Hurry down and help us through tea," said her hostess. "And bring
Percy, too. Dear wee creature, I am so proud that he has come to spend a
week-end with me, and hope he will be happy."
"He will be, but I don't know about you, by the time you'll be
finished with him," laughed Zarl.
As soon as Clarice left us we moored Percy to the big coal scuttle
into which we piled a door weight and other unchewable articles. The
scuttle was put in a clear space near the foot of the bed and Percy given
a short leash. In his search for insects and the establishment of
hygiene, which was a major business with the little fellow, we hoped he
would not pull the pattern out of the carpet, or reach and reach in his
elastic capacity till he shredded the bed clothes or pulled over the
I plastered myself with a brunette cosmetic that made me resemble an
American Indian. Over a brown gown I wore a smart orange apron, and
around my short crisp locks wrapped an orange bandeau to match the apron.
"An accent will heighten your importance," I said to Zarl. My sporting
instinct stirred to outplay Ydonea Zaltuffrie's maid, no matter what she
"Don't be too ambitious, or I may crack in trying to live up to
Zarl had an arresting suit of lounge pyjamas for tea, in electric
light exactly the colour of her hair. It had been lent to us out of stock
for this prank by our friend Mabelle. (Madame Mabelle, Exclusive Gowns,
Loane Street, Knightsbridge, where Zarl at that time had a post).
Zarl was to depend upon the monkey for distinctive decor. We couldn't
risk his chewing up a forty guinea garment, which was worth at least
fifteen guineas on its merits, and Percy quite innocently could leave
disreputable hieroglyphs on bosom or cheek, as he struggled towards one
for refuge. Therefore where the monkey was, I had to be also, a
gilt-edged scheme to be in all the fun without the burden of being
entertaining, or having to appear in evening uniform, like a plucked fowl
in an ice box; and so inexpensive, compared with being a guest.
Percy had the most adorable little knitted singlet and brown velvet
shorts, and sported a strong new lead. All his four hands were cleanly
washed in warm water and scented soap, and his nose was powdered. He
loved to participate in Zarl's toilette secrets, which were very simple,
and no secrets at all. The entertaining little beggar added just the
requisite touch of unusuality to Zarl, who generally conquered the
wariest by her natural delight in the passing hour. She was stimulated by
the prospect of Ydonea, and went down the stairs with a mischievous
champagne-bubble expression in her eyes, and the lights making mocking
fires in her curls.
Her entry was not to be jeopardised by precipitancy, and while we had
been waiting she informed me that during the war, Tattingwood Hall had
been lent as a hospital for officers, and Clarice Lesserman had worked
there as a V.A.D. Thus had she met her future husband, and also a
handsome young second lieutenant, Cecil Stopworth. Away out on the shores
of Lake Taupo, Lady Tattingwood had told some of her story to Zarl--the
more romantic parts, her tongue loosened to sentimental reminiscence by
the inebriating New Zealand moonlight. Lady Tattingwood's
friends--so-called--had told Zarl other facets of the affair later.
Glamorous days for Clarice, aging and disillusioned, to look back
upon, days when she had nearly run away with the handsome boy, son of an
impoverished Indian Civil Servant, whose University career had been
interrupted to join up. She had been saved on the brink of folly because
whispering tongues insisted upon the fact that she was twelve years her
lover's senior, and rich, very rich, and the war was making her much
richer, while he would have to depend on his own exertions. Some people,
who meant well, put old Lesserman on the trail. Others had suggested that
Stopworth was a caddish fortune hunter.
In the antipodean moonlight Clarice confessed to Zarl her regrets that
she had not risked all, because Cecil Stopworth's name had never from
that day onward been connected with other women. His affection might have
been that one example in a million of lasting romance, despite disparity
in age and fortune.
The not very serious wounds that had taken Stopworth to Tattingwood
Military Hospital, were all that he suffered in the war. He rose to be a
Captain, won the Military Cross, and in due order was demobilised and
thrown on his own resources. To return to the University was impossible.
He had not the means, and had lost the urge. His father had died and his
mother was reduced to a small pension. He had the experience of many
other young men following the war, and in desperation filed an
application, and was accepted as a member of the Police Force.
He had been too proud to permit Clarice Lesserman to sacrifice herself
by eloping with him.
In the Force he found work that he liked, and when practicable made
application for removal to the Criminal Investigation Department, where
he quickly attracted attention. His rise was rapid owing to his
successful solution of several criminal mysteries. He came of a good
family, and, as the years passed, he renewed his acquaintance with Lady
Tattingwood. As he had simple tastes and remained a bachelor, his salary
was sufficient for his needs, and he was sometimes to be seen at other
week-ends too. It was predicted that he would one day be Commissioner. He
was well-suited to his post and seemed to have no interests outside it.
With his splendid good looks, charming manners and ability he could
easily have advanced himself by marriage, but women were not one of his
weaknesses. No one believed that he had a throb of anything but
friendship for Clarice, because she looked her years without subterfuge,
but the lamp that she had lighted for him was still burning. She was
fortunate beyond the dreams of most women that he never humiliated her by
affairs with other women, at least none that were known to her
She was now fifty-one or -two, and Captain Stopworth in the last of
his thirties. I was glad that the hero of this interesting romance was to
be quartered almost with us.
There had been no romance in the second marriage of Tattingwood to
Clarice Lesserman. Everyone knew it for what it was. The lady, when
forty, had contributed her fortune to the support of Tattingwood Hall in
return for position and name. It served as well as most unions, and vas a
splendid investment for many of those who depended on week-ends.
Tattingwood liked to dispense hospitality in the pre-war way, and Clarice
was so kind and unforceful that she never made anyone unhappy.
Zarl assured me that Lord Tattingwood had not always been the frump of
to-day. His life had been full of romance. His father was only second
cousin of the Fifteenth Baron, and Swithwulf had been designed for the
Church. He had escaped this for the army, and had his chance in the Boer
war, from which he returned a hero with the V.C. He had been invited by
his elderly cousin to stay with the son and heir, a quiet soul addicted
to the laboratory, and with no taste for being a landed gentleman. He
looked forward with regret to stepping into his father's shoes, whereas
Swithwulf would have sold his soul to possess the old place. It was a
passion with him. A great horseman, a crack shot, a champion at games, he
was a popular figure. People said it was a pity that he could not change
with the heir, to whom hunting and similar pursuits were a burden. When
it happened that the young man accidentally shot himself and Swithwulf
reigned in his stead, all seemed as it should have been.
My head was full of the story as I went down to tea in the wake of
Zarl with Percy in my arms. We could not allow him to be near the lounge
suite. He had had a good snooze in the train and was far from a cuddly
mood, alert to leap in all directions like a crab propelled by a Jennie
wink. He was so beyond reason that I put him down, whereupon he descended
the stairs with dignity. He liked Tattingwood Hall as much as I did, and
probably for analogous reasons. Its spaciousness suggested our native
habitats. He slid forward utterly silent, with an electric ease
approaching that of fish in water. Arrived amid the company, all eyes
were his, as always, wherever he appeared in whatever society.
Zarl's status was quite well upheld by her maid's smart uniform, and,
with the addition of Percy, it would be difficult for any other maid to
be more special. Zarl was so bewitching in her modish garments and
astonishing curls that it would take a transcendent film star to eclipse
Cedd Spillbeans came towards her. "Hello! Why this organ-grinder
monkey motley touch?"
"I'm so broke that I hope you'll cross Percy's hand with silver."
At this, Jimmy Wengham, who was still practising with the dirk in the
corner, desisted, and exclaimed "Surely that's not the stinkin' little
blighter I brought over in the old Haviland."
"No one ever knew Zarl so long faithful to any male," said young
"Do you mean the monkey or me?" demanded Wengham.
On beholding the company, Percy bolted to my arms and showed his teeth
in a grin that was merely nervous, but which to the uninitiated looked
vicious. One affected lady of mature years, in the dress of a flapper,
made a fuss of 'the dear little darling' and wanted to clasp him to her
attenuated frame, but a monkey is not that kind of cat. Percy threw
himself about and attempted to smack the lady.
"Spiteful little creature," she hissed, and turned to the company.
"Monkeys are dangerous things. You never can trust them, Never! I know of
awful cases of accidents with them. He's just a common little monkey,
"I wish the little cow would understand which side his bread is
buttered," whispered Zarl to me.
"He's going to, this evening," I whispered in return.
He was not at all attracted to the company filling the hall. He
clutched me tight and tried to climb inside my dress. At the approach of
Wengham he screeched and fluffed out his fur and became a fierce beast in
"Hal Ha! Jimmy," exclaimed Zarl. "What did you do to him when you were
Everyone laughed, to the discomfiture of Jimmy.
"I had to keep the little blighters in order. You're only a little
mongrel, not worth the trouble you were," he said, tickling Percy under
the chin. "Say Zarl, will you let me take a shot at him at twenty paces
with this knife. Just for practice!"
"He notta lika you," I murmured, gathering Percy to me.
"The little fellow feels instinctively that you are one of those
horrid blood sports creatures," said Zarl.
He settled down somewhat, but peeped entertainingly at his enemy,
raising his fur. To divert him I set him before a long mirror, and much
to the glee of the company he danced for the fellow monkey that he saw in
"Say Zarl," called Jimmy, "Don't you want to come with me on a world
flight, and bring the monkey for a mascot? It would be simply
"It would be colossical! When do we start?" demanded Zarl, the
champagne bubbles rising, and her sudden interest in Jimmy going to his
"Just as soon as I gather the beans. If you and the monkey could charm
some fat-necked millionaire into providing a machine--a Puss Moth like
"What is the matter with Miss Zaltuffrie's?"
"Now that's a wizard idea! I've got everything wrapped up except
money. The thing is to get away ahead of the crowd! It's a damned pity
you aren't an heiress, Zarl!"
"I find it an inconvenience myself, but the inevitable fate of
heiresses consoles me." She could have been thinking of her hostess as
her host shambled about.
"The competition is awful when the heiress isn't," admitted Jimmy,
"but I must get money somewhere, even if I turn burglar."
"Your state of mind should be reported to Captain Stopworth," said
Zarl, as a gentleman entered from the stairway. He came straight to
Percy. So this was the famous Chief Inspector! He had the touch that goes
with love of animals. Percy looked steadily up at him from his pretty
brown eyes so beautifully set in the dearest or little faces, and offered
a tiny hand. He took the Captain's thumb in his mouth, and next tried to
chew a button off his coat.
"What a success he would be on the films," the Inspector remarked, and
strolled over to help his hostess with the placing of the tea trays. Her
eyes lighted at his approach. It would be much more difficult to be sure
of the state of the handsome Captain's emotions.
"What should be reported to me?" he inquired lightly.
"Only that Jimmy says he would do anything for money, and so should I,
if I had an easy chance."
"Go on the films," recommended the gentleman.
"It would be as easy to win the Hospital Sweep," said Zarl.
The tea was cooling as the air grew heavier with the imminence of
Ydonea Zaltuffrie. All the social members of her retinue were suitably
disposed about the interior, among them, her mother, a plain woman from
the Middle-West who stuck to her plain name of Mrs. Burden. She was
called Mrs. Zaltuffrie, but more generally "Mommer." Ydonea so patently
capitalised the universal mother complex that Mommer Zaltuffrie was
suspected of being a hard-fisted and -headed non-relative hired to play
the sentimental part. Managers, directors or such potentates of the
industry stood about and made standardised pronouncements on the beauty
and cleverness of Miss Zaltuffrie, or emitted spontaneous "best bets" or
"wise-cracks" as to what would relieve the slump in the trade. One had
one dearth of idea, and one another, but they were generally agreed that
the total elimination of the author would be a tremendous advance. One
little man evidently had a place in the industry as commanding as his
proboscis. "An imposing thing carried altogether too far," as Zarl
described it. It was likewise bearded within, which thickened his accent.
"Not an accent, the honk of a siren, yet not a siren," again to quote
"Authors," said this gentleman, "Are the bummest lot of cranks I have
ever been up against. Why the heck they aren't content to beat it once
they get a price for their stuff, gets my goat."
"I'll say you've thrown off a mouthful there," agreed his companion.
"They are egotistical and jealous as cats. What surprises me about
them--or it don't surprise me no longer--is that they can't say anything
interesting to me."
There was ready agreement that authors were a wanton tax on any
industry, whether publishing, drama or pictures.
"Then why have them at all?" interposed Zarl.
"The public has kinda gotta complex about authors. It's an old
sooperstition hard to banish. They think you gotta have a big author; and
the bigger they are the deader they are above the neck."
"They're just the dumbest things," said another.
"Perhaps if you lent them your megaphones they could be noisier,"
"They sure need something," agreed the honk from the bearded beak.
"You can wear your life away making them known and then they think you
are trying to rob them. If you use a few of their little wise
"It might be a colossically new idea to crack your own wisdom,"
interpolated Zarl, "and teach the cows a lesson." She was so enchantingly
demure that Cedd Spillbeans came to the rescue of his guests.
"I understand your point of view," he said suavely. "That is why I
want you to see my film--one reason. It has been assembled by experts in
the industry, not written by some wayward outsider."
"Oh, Boy! You've said something there. That's what put it across with
"Yeah! Me too! Right away when I asked who was the author and you said
you had given those old guys the go by..."
The cue for Ydonea's entry interrupted this speaker, a virtuoso with a
formidable cigar that lolled upon his lips like a German sausage
sustained by miraculous levitation. The million dollar beauty was coming,
in the part of enchanted fairy princess. Her aureole of hair was palest
gold, commercialised as platinum--still more costly. She was a pioneer in
this innovation. It suggested ethereality as she descended with the light
from a great glass chandelier upon it. The first sight of such fresh
young beauty was breath-taking. Her form was tall and lily slender, but
voluptuous--no skinniness--supple as an oriental dancer's. Her nose was
perfect in bridge and nostrils, her eyebrows dark, her lashes long. She
had one of those mouths so obligingly patterned that she had only to part
the bowed lips to make a smile to cheer a photographer. She wore her
nails long and claw-like and bright rose. Her eyes matched her mouth and
nose in beauty. They were large and meltingly brown--like Percy's. There
was no nerviness to give them exotic meaning. Her laughter was not the
kind that puts wrinkles at the top of the cheeks, but no one would
discern this while such beauty was so loudly advertised, at least no
infatuated male creature. A sober woman remarking it would be suspected
She impersonated perfectly the exquisite unspotted maiden, with Mommer
ever at hand as a fortification against fornication and other vulgarities
ancient and modern. She was attired with that utter simplicity attainable
by none but famous couturiers regardless of expense, and had no jewel or
ornament upon her person. No silks or velvets for afternoon tea, but some
mythical stuff, like sunkist ivory sea foam against a cliff, frothed down
the dark stairs. Her man secretary, a young Englishman with a public
school "man-nah," who had been engaged for decorative purposes, carried
her billowing train, while her rousing utilitarian American woman
secretary came behind him and kept a managerial eye on the tableau. When
Ydonea halted, her mother rose and fluffed out her train around her with
a few finishing touches as to a little girl going to a party. These
endearments were advertised as too sweet and cute for anything in
middleclass minded society, but were critically received by the assembled
hard-bitten fox-hunters and poor relations.
"Oh, a dear 'cute little monkey!" exclaimed Ydonea, declining tea and
coming towards Percy.
Miss Bitcalf-Spillbeans, whom Percy had rebuffed earlier in the
evening, hastened to say that monkeys were never safe, never. Secretaries
and Mommer advised Ydonea to be careful, but she liked the long mirror as
much as did Percy, and came on.
Percy had been prepared by a slender diet during twenty-four hours, as
he is more amenable with an appetite than with a full tummy. I
unostentatiously handed Ydonea a baked chestnut. For this bribe Percy
ecstatically deserted me, being that way constituted morally. He sat in
Ydonea's arms expertly tearing the hull off the dainty, emitting engaging
grunts of satisfaction. Miss Zaltuffrie expressed her delight.
"Oh, boy! I don't know when I've had such a kick out of anything!"
When Percy had finished the chestnut he began to chaw a hole in the
diaphanous sleeve of her gown and then to rend it right and left. He
loved to tear rag. His new friend would not permit his pleasure to be
curtailed. A lady who could command contracts for fifty thousand pounds
at par was not obliged to be uneasy about her finery.
"It doesn't matter. He can have the whole thing to play with, the
'cute little darling. I just love him to death right away."
Miss Zaltuffrie must have a monkey forthwith. She could not understand
why she had not thought of one before. "Why didn't I think of having a
monkey?" she demanded of Zarl, who murmured disarmingly that it was
easier to let others think.
"I must have one for my next picture. I'll have this one. Whose is
he?" she demanded of me. I indicated Zarl, who was sitting on a pouff on
the hearth rug smoking one of the Elephant Hunter's cigarettes, while
Jimmy Wengham gazed down at her with a he-man craving inflaming his
Ydonea again turned in that direction, clicking her fingers to draw
attention. "Say, Miss, on the Turkish cushion, what do you want for your
Zarl, if she heard, affected not to. She continued her jocular
"Say, Miss Zaltuffrie is wanting you," said Jimmy, being in that
"Say, what do you want for your monkey?"
"Nothing at all, thank you. He has more than is good for him already."
She turned back to Jimmy. "Everyone spoils him in public, and I get the
backwash of it in private, and have to discipline him."
"Oh, Miss Thingamebob, I meant how much money will you take for him?"
persisted Ydonea, raising her voice.
"One does not sell one's friends. Miss What-you-may-call-'em," said
Zarl, turning to the Elephant Hunter.
The perspicacious laughed to their interiors, but Ydonea was
good-tempered as well as thick-skinned and ignorant--an undefeatable
combination with beauty added. It accounted for her height on the golden
ladder of industry.
"Do you put the little blighter out in the kennels?" said Jimmy, to
ease the air.
"Indeed, no!" replied Lady Tattingwood. "The dear wee fellow is an
invited guest and has the room next to mine." She, an heiress, married
for her soap substance, was delighted with Zarl's repartee. Zarl could
toss off the things that Clarice herself would have liked to say.
Cedd, commercially in attendance, tactfully observed "I expect the
acquisition of Percy will have to proceed like that of other stars. We
could offer him a contract. Princes tout for them now."
Percy having wrecked a thousand dollar confection with the aplomb of
the governing classes now complacently came to me.
"Do you go with the monkey?" inquired Ydonea.
"Oh, yes. I have come with da leetle fellow. Alway. Da leetle monk he
crya without me. I da coolie on da piece of string. I love mooch da
"Oh, Cedd, you must give her a contract too," exclaimed Ydonea,
clapping her hands. "I'll say she's as 'cute as the monkey!"
"That's a wizard idea," approved Jimmy, coming forward. He began to
eye me. His expression indicated a straining memory. To elude its capture
I excused myself on the score of Percy's needs and made an inconspicuous
Percy created equal excitement below stairs. He held court in a back
corridor leading from the butler's offices to the servants' quarters.
Even the butler took notice of him and was elated when Percy sparred
playfully with him. Kitchen- and house-maids and others piled around as
if he were a popular actor at the Chelsea Garden Party. In Ydonea's suite
was an Indian with the form of him who 'trod the ling like a buck in
spring,' whose legs were like water pipes painted white, and whose head
was haughtily reared under a hefty turban of kalsomine green with a fan
tail over the left ear. He had a coat of the same shade embroidered with
"Some rooster, ain't he?" whispered a housemaid. Nothing but the
ballet skirts and war bonnet of a Highlander with a beard on his knees,
and a burr in his beard proper could have rivalled so spectacular a
retainer. He regarded Percy with aloof disdain. He had the features and
expression of some ruler on an ancient coin.
This was Ydonea's chauffeur. The friendly housemaid informed me that
he had been presented to her by the young Rajah of Bogwallhoop. (This was
her version of the nick-name given him by her master). He had been
commanded to watch over Ydonea and the precious jewels till recalled from
that post by the boss Rajah himself. "And they say she can only keep the
jewels while she remains pure. That's why she has to be so careful--her
mother around her all die time, and kep' on ice so to speak. It ain't
very modern, is it?"
"What you think--that a gooda plan?"
"All right while it pays, but a trifle dull. What do you think
yourself?" She threw me a long knowing wink.
"You mean to be so pure, or so veree careful?" My sociological
tendencies were interrupted by the cook, who shooed us all to our
pursuits, and I was left with the chauffeur, whose real name was Gulam,
but Yusuf will serve to identify him. Ydonea called all her Indian
chauffeurs by that name, as some mistresses call the office of footman
Jeames regardless of its incumbent. I retreated from Yusuf's
distinguished presence, trying to recall a resemblance. It came suddenly.
This imperial creature had sniffed beside me in the Reading Room of the
British Museum. English fogs had evidently distressed him, and he had
sniff-sniff-snuffle-sniffed till I wanted to shriek "Use your
handkerchief!" His beauty had not reconciled me, for I had been reared to
a complex that the proper use of handkerchiefs is indispensable good
Pooh! So the faithful and picturesque attendant presented by a
potentate was probably a modest Indian student employing his week-end in
earning a little extra money to pursue his studies! The Rajah and
Maharajah were figments of Ydonea's publicity expert. Pooh! Yusuf's
beauty and sniffs had attracted me, but he had not deigned me a glance so
I walked past him now saying "Have you da handkerchief?"
He produced a shawl-like square of silk patterned as a tropic garden,
smelling as the roses of yesterday.
"Da handkerchief for da use. This way, look!" I used a firm white one
vigorously, and retreated with the parting shot "Da Engleesh not lika da
people not blow da nose, when da nose need da blow."
I went victoriously to cultivate Mammy Lou, Ydonea's Negress maid. We
began on a good level, she being exotic and personal maid to the great
star, and I keeping up my end as foreign maid to a distinguished charmer
with a popular monkey. Mammy Lou was a vast old darkey, genial and
approachable as only Negresses can be. None of the flunkies could speak
Italian, so the pidgin jargon I had assumed could not be questioned.
Mammy was probably an actress. She was a skilled publicity agent. She
welcomed me. I babbled artlessly about Percy. Mammy as artfully babbled
about Ydonea. She showed her Mistress's jewel safe. It was not very large
or heavy, but was locked with a chain to a big wardrobe trunk. The trunk
in its turn was locked with a chain to the bedstead. A burglar could not
therefore pick up the safe and walk out with it without shattering the
trunk and bedstead. It was at present guarded by a stout man who sat on a
chair with a revolver near at hand. I wondered if he might be a gangster.
A second member of Ydonea's staff was posted under the window, and a
gentleman, who had persistently ambulant movements for a guest, was
frequently to be seen in the gallery approaching the door.
Mammy whispered that these were Pinkerton gennelmen who always guarded
Miss Ydonea's jewels. I suggested that the real stones were probably in
some bank, but Mammy raised her hands in pious protest. "No, siree! I
should say not. Miss Ydonea is the real genoowine article. If she says a
thing, that thing sure is true."
I persisted that it was unnecessary to carry jewels about to private
house parties in England. Mammy mounted a big draught farm high-horse. It
did not matter what the folks did in these out of date old castles. Miss
Ydonea had better ideas. She always wore her grand jewels on Saturday
night. What was the use of spending all that money on jewels if they were
not to be seen and used. Miss Ydonea believed in spreading the sunshine,
not in gathering up cobwebs and dust on pretty things. I was dismissed as
a dolt that had not read the papers. The Pinkerton man winked at me, and
chucked Percy under the chin.
I attempted to lessen the worth of the jewels, but Mammy said that the
blue diamond alone was worth five hundred thousand dollars. I adopted a
more pacific manner and inquired if Miss Ydonea wore grand oriental
brocade with the rajah's gems.
"Oh, naw, naw. That would be too ordinairy," said Mammy, about whom I
was now sure there was nothing Southern but her uniform and her name. She
was a more practised actress than Ydonea, who had acquired her in
Hollywood. "Naw, my lawdy! Miss Ydonea will have a palest, pale sea-green
silk embroidered in cream, and then she looks like a northern mermaid,
and all the jewels, oh, boy! like the lights you see flash on the waves
at Catalina Island."
I was promised a glimpse of Ydonea when dressed. Other maids now
appeared for a peep at the jewel safe, and Mammy Lou went through her
piece again. Her only interest in Tattingwood, other than promoting her
mistress's reputation, was a possible ghost. She was supplied with
information that excited and terrified her. At a certain time of the
year, according to contradictory authorities, or when there was going to
be a death in the family, a ghost always paraded in the grand corridor.
What shape the ghost took was not forthcoming.
Suddenly all the vassals disappeared as marvellously as young turkeys
when Mommer Turkey announces a hawk, and I was face to face with the
master of the house. The baron in his hall was as interested in Percy as
the menials had been. Only the timid and the curmudgeon were ever above
"Oh, er, how did you carry the little blighter down?" inquired Lord
Tattingwood, stopping to poke an affable finger under Percy's chin. Percy
waved his arms like a windmill and made passes at imaginary monkeys in a
way natural to him. His host grunted.
"Where will the little chap sleep? Must be careful he doesn't get out
where one of the dogs will make short work of him...You are very fond of
him, aren't you, my girl?"
"Veree, My Lord."
"Pity we couldn't find you something better than a little devil of a
monkey at Tattingwood Hall." He looked at me with unmistakable amusement
in his small cunning eyes.
"Percy sleep in da basket," I volunteered.
"I should like to see," remarked the gentleman, and it devolved upon a
lady's maid to conduct him to our apartment.
He examined the waste paper basket lined with Percy's bedding. He was
a man of simple interests, fond of shooting and hunting. He said there
was a heavy footstool in his apartments which would make the scuttle
quite safe as an anchor, and in a most democratic way took the hassock
already being used and proceeded to make the change himself. "Come and
see," he commanded. We met the friendly housemaid on the way to Lord
Tattingwood's rooms, which were at the other end of the grand corridor
beyond the middle tower. The housemaid rushed to take the hassock. As
opportunity occurred she winked at me and murmured "The old chap's
findin' his way home with you!"
"Da gentleman mooch interest in ma leetle monk."
"Monkey, my eye!" she retorted, an uncompromising girl, and spry. "You
are not as used to these parties as I am. Sing out if you need any help."
She deposited the heavy mahogany leather-cushioned foot-stool in Zarl's
room and withdrew, again winking at large. Lord Tattingwood remained to
place the foot-stool, and was apparently infatuated with Percy's antics.
"Tie the little blighter up," he commanded. "I want to see if he can move
Percy, when tethered, settled down in the glow of the fire with
unusual placidity. Lord Tattingwood seated himself on a chair near by and
without preliminaries pulled me to his knee. I remembered the housemaid's
offer, but did not summon help. I eyed the poker near by and struggled to
free myself. "Oh, Mr. Engleesh Lord, pies, pies, I good girl. I pray da
Virgin all da time. I tink I hear someone coming."
That was efficacious. Lord Tattingwood resumed his game with Percy.
"Who's in there?" he asked, indicating the door into the Chief
"The swell polissman," I responded, critically surveying Swithwulf
George Cedd St Erconwald Spillbeans, Sixteenth Baron Tattingwood. The
eugenics of primogeniture had secured for him a coarse frame upon which
sat a big red face with small eyes, a long ungainly nose, a narrow
forehead and a sloppy mouth. He had one of those sandy skins, more often
seen on dukes than barbers, and hair everywhere, even in his ears and
nostrils. Ugh! On this had Clarice Lesserman sunk decent soap-suds money.
What economics! Thinking enviously of what I could do with fortune of a
few pounds, I murmured with genuine dejection "la poor girl!"
Swithwulf fossicked in his pockets and brought up half-a-crown. He
proffered it, murmuring half to himself "The old harridan keeps me
"Half-a-crown no gooda me."
"Hum, you know more than you seem to, it strikes me. You're a dago,
aren't you? Dagoes are hot stuff. One has to pay for what one wants these
days--and the man who doesn't take what he wants, when he feels like it,
and the cost be damned, is a poor man. Do you know enough English to get
the gist of that?"
I shook my head. "Da reech gentleman he must have what he wants," I
He took a pin from his tie and handed it. "Come to my room after
dinner when they are looking at the shouties. You know where it is."
He was gone out the door.
I popped out in his wake. "Mista Lord," I called, feigning
breathlessness. He was already at some distance. "Taka back--I honest.
Perhaps I hava da monk and notta get away."
"Tie the blasted little ape up," he said, disappearing with
I returned to my quarters and examined the pin, a large pearl exactly
like those priced ten bob at the Oriental jewel shops.
Blasted little ape, indeed! More like a blasted big gorilla! And all
that good soap-suds money wasted. What a life!
I answered a knock on my door and found Captain Stopworth.
"There is a desire for Percy's reappearance in the lounge," he said
with a slight twinkle of amusement in his eyes, "and as I was coming up,
I have offered to act as his escort, and yours."
We went down the grand romantic staircase together. The Chief
Inspector was charming--now if he instead of Swithwulf...
Me stood a moment looking down at the company lapt in that comfortable
idle hour that stretches between tea and dressing for dinner, when men
and women say the things that have to be said or listened to, in the hope
of hearing or saying otherwise. The Elephant Hunter, by name of Brodribb,
undertook to see to Percy so that he should not wreck the place.
Deposited on the hearth rug, he was immediately another person. Studious,
efficient, professional, he began upon his duties, the search for any
unhygienic fleck or insect that might lurk within his reach. With his
exquisite little hands he turned over the fur of a splendid bear rug
which promised to occupy him indefinitely.
"You slip away and get your tea and amuse yourself downstairs,"
"Don't miss your tea," Clarice added with a smile. "Your little pet
seems as if he could do without you for a while."
Tea is a prosaic superfluity: a Tattingwood Hall as a hostelry, a rare
enchantment. I had the wonderful place almost to myself for an hour, till
the dressing bell should summon those responsible for the physical
cleanliness of the people disporting themselves so banally in the great
hall. I peeped into the drawing-rooms, peered along galleries lined with
armour, took the noble vistas with an enjoyment that was compensation for
existence. One could almost feel the emotions that must saturate the
beams and stones of such a pile, half-hear bygone laughter, rage or
grief, like the echo of an echo escaping along the stately passages.
What a theatre for lovers! How many had longed and lied there since
the days of Elizabeth the Queen--from which in part it dated--to Clarice
of soap, consoled for a dull lord by her handsome Chief Inspector. Well,
great piles like Tattingwood Hall have been relinquished before to-day
for romance, though such gambles are more glamorous when both parties to
them are under thirty. Would the bulwark that Lady Tattingwood had
secured against foolishness, hold?
I was too weary and cold to exert myself for my role in the comedy
below stairs, so I slipped into Zarl's beautiful room where the big fire
was so comforting. Zarl's things were spread towards the top of her bed,
so without disturbing them I crept under the eiderdown at the foot, and
aided by the warmth of the fire, set out to overtake some of the sleep
which had of late eluded me. Just as I was gaining upon my desire. Lady
Tattingwood entered from her room, accompanied by the Chief Inspector.
Instead of passing into his own room, the Inspector turned the key in the
door into the gallery and sat down with his friend before the fire. They
sat in the glow of the coals which shone on the high wooden foot of the
bed, but left me entirely in shadow under the eiderdown. They were
comfortably settled before I had roused sufficiently to declare myself. I
hesitated, and the only unembarrassing behaviour was to remain quiet
hoping they would never know of my presence.
Clarice began to weep. She wept steadily and relievingly. Her
companion let her alone for a few moments and then said "Well, my dear,
you don't seem very happy to see me."
"Oh, but I am! The joy of having you here near me once more. Oh,
Cecil, my darling!"
"We must be circumspect. This is very reckless of me now--if anyone
"Oh, but they won't. They were all so entertained with that blessed
little monkey. Did you ever see anything like it. And Zarl never rushes
up to dress till the last moment. Her hair and skin and everything are so
lovely and natural she doesn't have to spend hours in making-up."
"Well then, I brought those letters as promised, but I want you to
reverse your decision and let me keep them--they are precious to me, and
some day in the future may be the most treasured possession..."
Their actions were reflected in the mirror on the dressing-table.
Clarice leant toward him, and he put a kindly arm around her. "You want
happiness to be known someday. You are ashamed of it?"
"Oh, no. But your career has to be considered, and also Swithwulf's
"All that he asks is to be let alone on his own trails. He is
"He might seem to be. But he is very cunning. He is not stupid...Oh,
I'm so tired of Tattingwood and what it entails...I want to go away."
"That is why it is foolish to run risks."
"But I had to have something to carry me along...and this is a good
opportunity...How is Denise?"
"More like her mother every day. She is always asking me about her
mother. I have a struggle to evade her questions. Some day soon I must
tell her the truth."
"Better not. Young people are so conventional. She would feel
disgraced, and never forgive."
"A new generation has come since the war, and I am training Denise to
have an open mind, so that she will be prepared. I discuss all sorts of
things with her. I am teaching her to understand the romance of her
"I am so weary waiting."
"But I don't want to be marked as a fortune hunter. The money
"Are you sure you really want me without the fortune? I am old now,
and I often wake up in the night terrified, because I have been dreaming
that you were only ridiculing me."
"You must not make it difficult for me. You know there has never been
any woman for me but you. Surely my life has demonstrated that."
"Oh, yes dear, and I am so grateful."
"Well, trust me with these," he tapped his pocket. "My life must be
uncertain, and I'll put these away in some vault in a sealed and locked
packet, with a letter."
"Oh, don't talk of that. It reminds me of the war. You can have the
letters, but if Swith found them it would be fatal."
"Thank you Clarice...Ssh!"
The Chief Inspector was gone to his room, with amusing speed. Lady
Tattingwood attended to the key into the gallery, and then returned to
her own room with slightly less dispatch. There were voices in the
gallery, and I had just time to slide off the bed and switch on the light
when Zarl turned the handle of the door. She was attended by the Elephant
Hunter and Jimmy Wengham, who were in charge of Percy so that finger
nails would not injure Zarl's trousered suit. Jimmy could not forbear to
tease animals and children, Percy, catching sight of me, laid his ears
back for a desperate effort which carried him with a whack to my
shoulder, where his nails would have lacerated my skin but for the
high-necked uniform. I snatched the lead, and the little creature
snuggled to me with murmurs of relief.
"You bad man. My little Percy he notta like you," I said. After a
little banter, the two men went away to dress. Percy had subsided and was
lashed to the coal scuttle. He sat on the floor squawking softly and
rubbing his nose with his hand. He was a trifle hungry, kept so expressly
in order to be open to bribes.
Zarl was to wear my new dress, and no decorations whatever but Percy,
just to contrast with Ydonea, who was to drip with trillions and
crocodillions of jewels.
"I haven't a working wit, so I'm in the hands of my maid," smiled
Zarl, whose amenability makes her a delightful companion. The dress was a
soft velvet, which glinted greenly in certain cross lights; a wrapped
wisp to the knees, below which it flowed in undulations. It would
disclose Zarl's perfectly fashioned arms and torso with barefaced but
well-grounded optimism, and heighten her "ginger."
"I hate my freckles," she protested.
"There are none below the belt, so to speak," I remarked, laying out
her implements of toilet.
"You don't like Jimmy Wengham," she commented. "You would have liked
him less had you seen him downstairs. He started cutting Percy's nails
with that horrid dirk till they bled. I don't know what has come over
Jimmy. He seems so brutal--I don't know how I could have carried on with
him even for a minute."
"You don't suppose he'd lug Percy all the way from Africa in an
aeroplane for me unless he had been infatuated. But he wants to go to
excessive lengths in love."
"Don't be such a peanut! He's sheerly sloppy. I've been telling him to
reserve such mush in case he comes down in a desert atmosphere. England
is mawkishly damp already. He always wants to go the whole engine!"
"Merely the usual, isn't it, nowadays?"
"It's carrying a cocktail like love altogether too far. Some men carry
even a kiss too far, if they are not curbed. It shows a deplorable lack
"How far do you consider love can be carried without being too
"Just to that point where the final demonstration to a person of
imagination, would be a clog upon imagination."
"I see...and the anticipation...you like that to inspire an expedition
to the Antarctic or the Pole of Cold...I'm thankful Jimmy did not quite
"He wouldn't split if he did. Swithwulf has been telling me that he
was right on the rocks. Clarice had to salvage him, and Cedd put him in
the way of this job with the Zaltuffrie, to tide him over. He's mad to do
a world flight, but he's such a cracked-brained thing that the aeroplane
people won't trust him. He'd be likely to take off without his petrol or
something like that."
I confided to Zarl that I had found Clarice weeping when I came up.
Seeking to discover if Zarl knew her secret, I asked "Do you suppose it
hurts her when old Swith tries to be gay?"
Zarl laughed right out. "Really, you are too middle-class for a lady's
maid among the best people. It comes of carrying respectability too far.
Clarice is not such a goat with a cast-iron throat...If ever she did
care, except from the point of hygiene and expense, she would have
outgrown it long ago...Much more likely that Cecil has said something to
her. I'd like to ravish that man myself, only I would never be mean to
Clarice; but you've only got to look at them to see it could not hold
up--why, she looks like his grandmother, and doesn't try to mitigate
"If she had her face lifted, and dyed her hair, it would show
"Clarice is weak. That is what makes her so lovable and kind."
"Is this from Woolworth's, do you think?"
I showed her the tiepin. She knows a little about jewels and
"It looks like a platinum setting, and if the pearl is as real as it
looks it could be anything from fifty pounds to a thousand. Where did you
"Swithwulf George St. Erconwald Spillbeans Tattingwood gave it to me
for mes beaux yeux. So, while you have been adventuring, I too have not
been idle. He has named a trysting place for this evening."
"The colossical old reprobate! Clarice told me once that he humiliated
her by his selection of ladies. She said if only he would choose someone
like me she would not feel it such a reflection, but I didn't
"You didn't think it was so bad as a coolie on Percy's string."
"I did not think he would have such discernment, or else your
incognita is satisfactory," bubbled Zarl. "I'd just hang on to the pin if
I were you. You are entitled to adventures among the best people. Their
lives are an artistic struggle to escape from the drabness of carrying
respectability too far."
"You say that you picked it up, and return it to Clarice."
"What are you going to do about the tryst?"
"What do you think?"
"That his optimism is barefaced, like the gallant Captain's who picked
me for his lady for the voyage. Clarice will revel in this when the time
comes to reveal it."
"If ever it should."
"We'll skip off home to-morrow. This mouldy collection of oddments
doesn't contain one man who could be pried loose from a life-size cigar
or a bar parlour, except the Elephant Hunter or Jimmy, and each of those
is more stony broke than the other, and each more luny. With people like
that it takes altogether too much effort to keep them in the platonic
form, whereas the nice professor scientists don't know what is the matter
with them but it works just the same..."
"Yes, like a donkey being lured on by a bundle of carrots on the end
of the shaft, even unto the Arctic seas."
"Exactly, but I did not construct the universe, and all things are
there for our use. The difference between you and me is that I accept the
world as it is and you want to mess around and change it, and think it
would or could be different if only this or that wasn't what it is."
She was a delectable established fact in the green velvet. Her petite
form had a lissom outline. Percy was attired in his black velvet evening
shorts, specially designed for him by Madame Mabelle, with a white silk
knitted singlet. We could not have buttons on the sides of the trews
because he chewed them off, but there were glass buttons at the back to
fasten the tabs over his lead.
Clarice entered to have a little chat with her friend before she
descended to dinner. She wanted Percy to be present, and said that I
could arrange for that with the butler. I agreed with alacrity. "You are
fortunate to have a maid so devoted to your little pet," she remarked to
Zarl, as I went out.
There is room and to spare in the dining hall of Tattingwood to
entertain an elephant or giraffe should the lord of that manor have taste
for such guests.
We spread a sheet at one corner and brought in a small heavy garden
table, and on it set Percy's tiny bowl of light ware, from which he would
drink in his human ultra-dainty fashion. These jobs gave me an excuse to
run up and down stairs while the guests were in their burrows dressing.
As I turned into the great gallery from the tower stairs the Chief
Inspector, already dressed, was ahead of me, evidently going the rounds
in his official capacity. His evening uniform was beyond sartorial
censure, fresh yet easy, and his flesh glowed with fragrant health; a man
to win any woman, and yet he seemed true to Clarice, the ineffectual, ten
or twelve years his senior, and making no attempt to soften the
disparity. There was dignity in the stability of this romance when
compared with those that are as fleeting as barnyard amours. If he really
did not desire Clarice's fortune, it was classical, even colossical.
I looked back after him and thus collided with a form coming in the
opposite direction. It was the splendiferous Indian chauffeur, Yusuf. He
was not a personal attendant and should have been with the other
chauffeurs above the stables, long since converted into garages. He was,
no doubt, prowling as guardian of the jewels, but I was so irritated by
the impact that I boxed his ears and sped to Zarl.
It was time to descend. No trace of tears was now on Lady
Tattingwood's hollow cheeks. An inner radiance informed her, gave her
gaiety and took ten years off her age. She was tastefully gowned in a
quiet conventional style, and was a contrast for Zarl who looked like a
mischievous elf in the extreme garment, with Percy wrapped in brown silk
and held in the crook of her arm.
Mommer and most of the retinue were downstairs, but Ydonea was still
awaited. She floated down the great staircase eventually to make an entry
lifted unblushingly from the films, as sure of herself as a crowned
princess in professional regalia. She approached slowly and regally and
posed before one of the big fires in the lounge. Every male creature
cavorted before her, casting covert glances or glaring, in key with his
character. Cedd and Jimmy led the scrimmage, but business partly dictated
their attitude. Even the Chief Inspector paid court, and his
distinguished appearance exacted response from Ydonea. No woman could
have resisted Cecil Stopworth had he exerted himself to woo. The more
astonishing therefore was his faithfulness to Clarice. No wonder that
people should doubt its reality.
Lord Tattingwood alone seemed impervious to the charms of the star. He
winked at me, to whom Zarl had handed Percy, and as Percy was a dinner
guest I had to be with him. Lord Tattingwood came ostensibly to pat
Percy, but it was my arm he squeezed, and murmured something about the
rendezvous. I considered what I could do to have the fun of storing my
cake against another day.
Ydonea deserved her eminence. She was not entirely auriferous. She was
more beautiful than is possible in reality. She dripped with ropes and
plaques of gems, and on her head had a gaudy bonnet like a Russian royal
head-dress that glittered like a looking-glass at every movement.
Nevertheless she was more a spectacle than a siren. In the glances of the
men was little of that which was in Jimmy's as he gazed on Zarl, the
mischievous champagne-bubble lure of whose glances very nearly thrilled
Miss Bitcalf-Spillbeans, who disliked Percy.
"Which jewels da rajah?" I asked Lord Tattingwood under cover of his
interest in Percy. He evidently liked low company, and was quite matey
"Whole box of tricks, except one or two, probably hired from a
theatrical property man," he grunted.
"Dey looka just as good."
"One or two are real. That yellow diamond on a chain around her neck
must be worth a ransom. Probably bought it from a dead-beat Russian. The
blue one in the bracelet on her right wrist is genuine--could light my
cigar by it. It is famous. There is a rumour that the Maharajah of
Thingamebob is trying to recover it. The young cock gave it to the
Zaltuffrie, and they say there are plots to rescue it--a yarn
He evidently knew something of jewels, had set himself up as one to be
highly purchased by soapsuds, whereas I could only make soapsuds like an
Everyone's mind was on the jewels and their fabulous worth. They
brought a gleam even to the protective grey of the Elephant Hunter's
orbs. "Look at that blue one. If I had that I should be saved from
bankruptcy," he remarked.
"I'd be content with the yellow one, it must be worth two thousand,"
"More like ten," said Brodribb.
"Whew! If I had that I could raise the wind for my world flight, and
she would never miss it. She could carry out the same effect with an
"It's worth thinking about. Jimmy. Couldn't you get her to lend it to
you?" said Zarl.
"It's certainly worth borrowing," he replied.
Everyone passed into the dining room. Dinner was earlier than is usual
at such places and put through with dispatch so that Cedd could show his
original film. The jokes were poorer than the wine, the wit duller than
Percy was delighted with his part of the meal, and immensely
successful as a side show. He drank milk and water and had a crust of
brown bread with a little jam on it.
When the diners rose I kept near to Miss Zaltuffrie.
The exhibition was to be closely guarded owing to her jewels, but
nevertheless I determined to be present. The new film was probably of
more interest to me than to most of the people present. I meant to gain
admittance through Percy. He was still of interest to Ydonea, and so
dazzled by her display that he might have been a reincarnated
pawn-broker. He danced at sight of the gems and boldly clutched them,
seeing in them so many opportunities for trying his teeth.
Everyone passed towards the lounge with the exception of Miss
Zaltuffrie, Jimmy and the Elephant Hunter. Wengham took the sheet that
had been spread for Percy and jumped about with it.
"This would be wizard to play ghost, eh, what? Say Miss Zaltuffrie,
they have a colossal family ghost here. Wouldn't it be coloss if he let
you have a squint at him?"
"I'll say it would!--just colossical!" she laughed, annexing Zarl's
Jimmy cackled as he flapped his arms. "I could nearly do a
round-the-world flight in this."
"I'm just crazy to see a sure-enough family ghost," said Ydonea.
"Can't you raise one for me?"
"You wouldn't like the one here. He's a murderous old boy--appears
only for something disagreeable, or out-and-out tragedy." He turned to
the butler and asked when the ghost had last been seen.
"Not for a generation, Sir. The night before the young master met his
death by accident."
Ydonea heard the story told me earlier by Zarl. I kept near to her as
she went to the lounge.
"I don't want to see a mean ghost like that," she commented. "Jimmy is
just the craziest thing! Always cutting-up so that I don't know when he's
in earnest, or what stunt he'll throw next. But he's ever so 'cute!"
I passed her another chestnut for Percy, and this was even more
enticing than the jewels. "No often he li-ka one so soon. Verree, verree
great luck--what you say, da mascot, when Percy he acta lika dat," I
murmured. When Percy clung to her (he clung to a chair leg when he
objected to removal), she said he must sit beside her at the film show,
and this was according to calculations.
As Jimmy Wengham came from the dining-room he detained me a moment by
flinging the sheet over Percy, and while enjoying his frantic movements
demanded, "Say, I've seen you before with Zarl, haven't I? Has Zarl
struck it rich that she can run to the personal maid business?"
"You must please ask Miss Osterley, please say nothing till she
explains," I began in a low voice, and ceased abruptly, finger on lips.
Percy having extricated himself from the sheet, gave a warning guff, and
the stately Yusuf was to be seen standing within earshot behind an
"Mum's the word all right. I'll see Zarl after the show. O.K.," he
said as we passed to the lounge because it was supposedly a warm room.
Ydonea nevertheless felt the draughts which distinguish the best of
English hospitality to the most ordinary American visitor, and Mommer
said she must have a wrap. She went for it herself and invited me to
accompany her to show the way.
"I'd trade a whole raft of this motheaten grandeur for a little
American comfort and cleanliness," she said when we reached the gallery.
"For the land's sake, I have to go along an icy hall a mile from my room
to find a bath and lavatory. Can you beat it! I'll say you can't! What do
you suppose makes the English like they are?"
"Probably da climate," I ventured.
"Shucks! I should think the climate would kinda drive people with good
sense in their heads to a few ordinary comforts. I didn't think a whole
lot of their cooking. It needs a little something to digest it."
To that end she secured a liberal supply of chewing gum of assertive
aroma, as well as a fur wrap. When we regained the company she gave some
of the digestive to Ydonea, who immediately proffered it to Zarl and the
The fur wrap obscured a little of Ydonea's obscene glitter and made
her increasingly attractive to Percy. He loves to nestle in fur, and
better still to search it for particles of loose skin. No matter how full
of "lepps" he may be, he will immediately assume a professional air if
there is a bit of fur, or a head, eyebrow or arm to be inspected. Never
is he more fascinating than when his exquisitely fashioned little hands,
with the perfect fingers and undersized inadequate thumbs are instruments
Ydonea was noisy with delight. I was firmly established beside her.
She said Percy was a whole haystack of fun, and better than a muff to
keep her hands warm. She let him chew her bracelets without qualms, while
I sat in the next chair holding his lead and also a woollen scarf with
which to extinguish him should he become obstreperous.
In addition to Ydonea's followers, already mentioned, were several
prominent journalists and dramatic critics. These were augmented by
after-dinner arrivals from the neighborhood, including a clergyman, a
master of fox hounds, a retired general, a colonel, some scraggy women
and some pretty girl's. The new arrivals feasted their eyes on Ydonea's
aurora borealis splendour. Her genuine beauty almost disarmed their
snobbish prejudice, but the film magnates were a. great satisfaction to
prejudiced preconceptions. Mommer distributing chewing gum was such a
fitting phenomenon that it oiled the superiority complexes to good
humour. One old general regarded her gift with a haughty
such-things-simply-aren't-done expression, but a M.F.H., bravely
sporting, considered it would "be cricket" to accept Mommer's eupeptic
efforts and gallantly went ahead till he became so entangled with his
dental apparatus that he had to retreat from the room to regain
normality. Miss Bitcalf-Spillbeans accompanied a blighting glance with
"Really! Reahlly, reahlly!!! The monkey must feel quite at home."
This evidently inspired the Elephant Hunter and Zarl to private
whisperings and to request extra sticks of chewing-gum from Mommer, which
they chewed ostentatiously.
Zarl as well as Ydonea had a ring of admirers, though Zarl was thrown
away on that company, and contemptuous of them. "I don't know when I've
seen such an unclassified collection of oddments," she murmured to me.
"Like a jumble sale" Zarl's forte is listening. She can listen so
brilliantly to those worthy of her gifts, that after expounding
themselves, great men have frequently been inspired to distinguished
undertakings. Even commoner ones can be intoxicated by her attention.
"Say, Zarl, as soon as I see the little imps in your eyes, I could set
out for the North Pole without waiting to collect my winter
underclothes," whispered Jimmy.
Cedd halted in his busiest moment to say "It's inspiring to have you
The siren and the spectacle. Carnal beauty and inspiring seductiveness
were in contrast or constellation. Ydonea had no conversation beyond a
few standardised pleasantries. The men followed her as a commercial
bonanza in the hope of a surplus with which to purchase the seduction of
Cecil Stopworth was particular about seating the company because he
and his staff were responsible for those jewels, and the room, which had
a number of exits, was to be darkened. Two of Ydonea's private
detectives, and Detective-Sergeant Beeton and Detective-Constable Manning
were re-examining windows and doors, and were finally stationed at the
direction of their Chief. Cedd had retained two or three of his father's
staff to supplement his own, and in addition, the only menials in the
film hall were myself, Mammy Lou, and Yusuf, the Indian chauffeur.
Stopworth insisted upon Yusuf being near one of the doors, where he
himself was standing, and placed Mammy Lou in a front seat, where what
light there was would fall on her. He permitted me to remain beside the
When he was satisfied with the doors and windows, he came to Ydonea
and asked her in a low tone to entrust him with the big yellow diamond
that hung at her throat. It was on such a slender chain that he said he
would feel happier if he were its custodian for the next hour or two. He
made his request with such a smile that I was more than ever enamoured of
his charm. Zarl too watched his every movement. She was sitting
immediately behind Ydonea, and beside the Elephant Hunter, who was on the
"He certainly is fascinating," she murmured in my ear. "I could almost
go too far with him, but for poor old Clarice."
"Is that fire really still alight?"
"How could it be? But one protects the illusions of one's friends.
Cecil has got into the habit of philandering inexpensively and harmlessly
with women above him financially, but he works too hard and has too
little money to be dangerous. A mighty pleasant fellow at a pawnbroker's
show like this. Clarice can let him do the worrying about the
Ydonea removed her diamond without hesitation and handed it to the
Chief Inspector, who placed it in an inner breast pocket. "He's the
'cutest policeman I ever did see," she remarked.
She was surrounded by protectors. On the other side of her sat Jimmy
Wengham, by the aisle, immediately in front of the Elephant Hunter. Lord
Tattingwood sat on the other side of me. He had so far not made any
remark upon my defection from the appointment he had made.
When the Chief Inspector announced that he was ready, the film
magnates hushed their loud technical conversation and seated themselves
towards the rear of the theatre. The lights were then turned off. There
was none remaining except that cast by the silver screen.
Clarice had been generous in helping her stepson with his career. His
cinema hall was a drawing-room beyond the dining hall, fitted with seats
on three tiers and with a fine screen and all modern devices. Something
unusual was expected of Cedd. It was quite an occasion to be present at
this showing. The film was prefaced by a formidable list of operators
from the man who emptied the waste paper baskets to the one who guided
the camera--not one was missed.
"The charwomen have been overlooked," said Zarl. "It is not chivalrous
There was no suggestion of an author. Cedd was listed twice, as
continuity expert and producer. The film magnates clapped and guffawed.
"I'm sure going to enjoy myself," one observed in a reverberating
"Clever Cedd," murmured Zarl in my ear. "He is selling himself as
author under another name. What a tradesman he is, as well as an
The wonder of the blue diamond in Ydonea's bracelet could be gauged in
the semi-darkness. It caught light from some source and glowed like a
flame, now white, now blue. I missed some of the film shots to observe
it. I missed still others through Lord Tattingwood's attempt to enjoy a
petting party in the darkness, which was eventually retarded by a pin
that caused him to start and emit a grunt.
"That blasted ape," he muttered quite savagely, to cover his
Percy was restless, waving his arms and casting about after
silhouettes so that I was thoroughly engaged. He was finally attracted by
the gleam of the blue diamond, and Ydonea in her grand way unclasped the
priceless band from her arm and put it around his neck.
"He can be the policeman," she whispered. Percy's fingers are so
strong and deft that Zarl warned that he might pluck the stones from
their setting. Ydonea said they could easily be reset. Percy was so
engrossed with trying his teeth on the diamonds that I must confess to
absorption in the film and carelessness with his lead. I was resting on
the fact that he is very quiet in the dark.
Suddenly the leather rushed through my fingers following a warning
guff from its wearer. Simultaneously with the disappearing leash, Ydonea
arose shrieking that someone had hit her. "They have taken my bracelet!"
she called out. "It has gone!"
"You were crazy to wear a thing like that here," said Mommer.
"I'll say I was!" she agreed.
The lights did not come on as quickly as to be expected, seeing that
Stopworth had stationed himself beside the main switch.
"Turn on the lights! Turn on the lights!" arose on every hand.
"Everyone remain quietly where he is." commanded Stopworth.
Another voice explained that the lights had been turned off outside
When the lights came on, the Chief Inspector's hair was disarranged
and his face looked red, but he was thoroughly in command of the
situation, and ordered everyone to stay put.
The only two who demanded to leave the room were myself and Yusuf.
"Everyone stay in his or her seat without moving, please," again
commanded the Chief Inspector, "Till I can find out what has
"My bracelet with the blue diamond, someone hit me and grabbed it,"
Zarl said that probably it was Percy that gave her a clout with his
hind hands or lead as he leaped away with the bracelet. There was no
accounting for the suddenness of Percy's "lepps."
"Find Percy and all will be well," said Zarl aloud.
"Quite," said the rasping voice of Miss Bitcalf-Spillbeans, the lady
who had earlier asserted that monkeys could not be trusted. "It's all
some silly publicity stunt. Some people will do anything for a little
Yusuf was at the door begging excitedly to be let out to hunt the
thief. He said he was guardian of the blue diamond, which was sacred,
that the thief had escaped and he must pursue him immediately. Needless
to say he was not allowed to go out, but was ordered to remain near Lord
I wished to go out to pursue Percy, as a hurried search did not reveal
him under any of the chairs nor behind curtains or pictures. Percy and
the bracelet seemed to be missing. A roll call by Detective-Inspector
Beeton and one of Ydonea's private guardians showed that no one who had
been in the room when the lights went out was missing, except Percy.
"If he got out, someone must have got in," observed Mommer
"He could easily have gone out the fanlight," said Zarl, pointing to
it. This had been left open for ventilation. The great window on the
front of the house was also lowered a few inches from the top.
Yusuf volubly upheld this. He knew the climbing capacity of monkeys.
Percy could have run up the curtains beside the window like fire in a
draught and disappeared in a moment. I had a vision of some dog worrying
him. If not that, if he refused to come to our call, he would catch his
death from chill. I was frantic to go out after him, but that was not
permitted. Orders were issued for servants outside the sealed room to
search for the monkey both in the house and grounds.
"Then let my maid be searched first," pleaded Zarl. "Percy will come
to her, and when he is found all may be well."
The Elephant Hunter and Jimmy were talking together apart. They
approached the Chief Inspector with a request to be searched at once. "If
the monkey has the gew-gaw, it won't be safe for him to be at large, with
us all cooped up in here, and we are the best two to liberate, as I know
every bird's nest of Tattingwood, and Brodribb knows the jungle habits.
He could mimic Percy so that Percy himself would be deceived."
Protest against the suggestion of personal search arose. Such things
couldn't be at a private house-party among the best people; such things
simply weren't done--weren't cricket. Tattingwood Hall was not a seaside
hotel for American tourists. If outsiders vulgarly displayed the contents
of a jeweller's safe on their persons they should take the consequences
and not subject delicately-reared ladies and gentlemen to outrage. But a
number took the idea sportingly and demanded to be searched for their own
satisfaction and a novel experience. Search it was to be.
Wengham and Brodribb were drafted off to a room adjoining to be
examined by one of Stopworth's staff and one of Ydonea's. They were so
long absent that it was remarked that search must approach dissection.
Zarl pleaded for my early release. She was backed by Clarice, so I was
the first female to be taken behind a screen to be examined by Mammy Lou,
advised by one of the C.I.D. men. Mammy needed no advice. She was
humiliatingly thorough. I doffed my clothes with an abandon warranted by
my form and demanded that my person should be searched first. They could
take as long as they liked over my garments. It did not flatter my
character that Capt. Stopworth thought it necessary himself to examine my
head, which he did with the skill of a barber and a dentist, and the
manner of a gentleman.
I escaped in a sheet, which I had requested, and which Zarl had
procured. It proved to be the one laid down for Percy during dinner.
Yusuf, owing to his insistence upon his knowledge of monkeys, was also
speedily released to go after the wee absconder. He was waiting outside
in the corridor when I emerged, hurriedly dressed in pyjamas and coat,
stockings and shoes. Yusuf seemed less desirous of finding Percy than of
chasing me everywhere that I chased Percy.
I skipped hither and yon, hoping to see him somewhere about. He was
wearing a long lead, which would be a help. When he breaks loose without
it we are helpless. Two or three hours of patience and industry have
sometimes been inadequate to recapture him in a moderate apartment and in
a great place like Tattingwood it would be hopeless until he grew
A demented race ensued. When I plunged into the long drawing-room and
adjoining corridors, the chauffeur's shadow chased me like a jack
o'lantern performance. If I dived into a room or cupboard, the chauffeur
dived also. Again and again I protested against his rough methods. It
seemed to me that the man was raving mad. Finding a broom with a heavy
wooden head, I threatened to attack him if he would not search in some
other direction. I raced up the stairs and along the grand gallery to our
own apartment, thinking Percy might have gone there. Yusuf rushed with
me. At my door I turned and menaced him with the broom. "Go outside and
look, please do. Don't act like a lunatic."
"I know what I know. I must recover the jewel," said Yusuf in cultured
English, bounding downstairs after me. He evidently suspected me of
wanting the gem as virulently as he did, whereas my only thought was for
the misguided Percy Macacus Rhesus y Osterley. I turned on all the lights
and called and coaxed and cooed through the big hall and dining room. I
sat down and rattled nuts in my pocket, but no Percy came. I feared that
he was loose in the cold. I scampered outside calling and good-fellowing,
Yusuf still in my wake, excitement in his eyes.
By ones and twos the people dribbled out of the sealed rooms, all
eager to know if the monkey had been found. He had not. Nothing had been
found by the search, but many tempers had been lost. Some unfortunate
souls with physical secrets, who had suffered severe ignominy by such an
overhauling, were asserting impolitely that the whole thing was a vulgar
publicity racket egregiously engineered. Swithwulf the Baron took no
pains to Tower his voice. He said the onus of disproving the assertion
was upon Ydonea, and that he would never have such rabble about the place
again, not though they paid the taxes henceforth. He said to the Chief
Inspector that it was all a hoax, but the officer was not to be deflected
from strict professional routine.
It seemed as if Percy could not be in the house, and the Elephant
Hunter and Jimmy Wengham--tardily released--led a search of the grounds.
Zarl asked Capt. Stopworth to suppress Yusuf and everyone else and let
her and me go softly about. If Percy were still in the house he might
come to us. He was now probably thoroughly frightened and would not come
out of hiding while strangers were about. He could very well be up in
some of the dark beamed ceilings, or on an antler, or in one of a
thousand hiding places. It was nearly as bad as trying to trace him in a
forest. But if he were left in quietude his restlessness would soon
induce him to reappear.
This was agreed upon. Zarl went in one direction, I in another.
Presently there was a shout, "There he goes!"
Someone had seen him shin down a bannister of the great stairway and
make along a corridor. Zarl was relieved to know that he was in the
house. Everyone withdrew and I was allowed to follow alone in the
direction Percy had taken.
At length, when I was thoroughly tired, I glimpsed the little
silhouette sitting on the big sideboard in the dining hall. He had been
seduced by grapes. He would sell his soul for grapes, and on the
sideboard had found a hothouse bunch as large as cherries, enough to make
any mouth water. His pouches were full to bursting, giving him the
expression of an indecent old man with the mumps, and he had a berry in
each hand. He was helpless with grapes. I shut one door and tried to get
between him and another, moving gently because his lead was around a
"Good fellow! Dear little Percy! Good little Percy!" I cooed. The
sensitive creature was expecting reproval and showing his teeth in a
pitiful grin. I was so glad to see him that I gathered him to me with
tenderness, praising and caressing him. Relieved, he snuggled to me and
began to ease the grape pressure with the aid of his thumb.
The Indian chauffeur swooped upon this reunion without ceremony,
plucked the precious Percy from my grasp and began to undress him. Percy
objected with spirit and dash. He screeched and clicked, struggling
wildly to get free. He flailed the air like flying wire, and members of
the company gathered to enjoy the fight between the chauffeur and me.
Percy's trousers came away in the man's hand and something flew past and
flipped on the carpet. Simultaneously the door from the Cinema theatre
was flung open, the search of its contents having been completed. The
curious crowded in there. I thought the flying object was a button, or
one of the grapes, but the Indian flung Percy at me and went down on the
It was enlivening to the onlookers. The monkey came straight at my
head, but was so excited that ere I could seize a limb, he sprang like a
flying devil over several other heads--all too timid to act--and was
Miss Bitcalf-Spillbeans, restated her dislike of monkeys, the
foolishness of running risks of being injured for life by a "horrid
common little monkey." They were degenerate creatures, she assured the
company, and always treacherous. "You never can trust them, never!"
"You don't have a monkey to trust," said Zarl. "A monkey is to
fascinate. If you want an animal to trust, invest in a bull dog, or a
turtle, or a cow, or a canary."
Another lady, still harping in the earlier key, said that she had a
brother scarred for life by a monkey. Lugubrious anecdotes
Some spectators watched the groping Indian with interest while I took
up the chase again.
Exclamations announced Percy's route. He scuttled under most of the
pieces of furniture in the big hall, his long lead partially retarding
him as it coiled around things, but ere anyone could catch him he was
running up the bannister. I pursued with unavailing blandishments. When
the little debbil-debbil reached the first floor he turned and streaked
down again like lightning. Zarl came to the bottom of the stairs while I
remained above, both wheedling; and requesting strangers to remain at a
distance. It seemed like an all-night job, but so long as Percy was not
out in the cold the infatuated Zarl and I made no complaint.
He scampered up and down the stairs several times and then halted near
the top. I stood in his way, and Zarl approached him diplomatically. He
let her come within a few treads and then, as if fascinated by the old
glass chandelier, turned and dropped with a tinkling clatter into its
beads and festoons. Here he displayed the utmost composure. He threw back
his head and averted his gaze haughtily as if bored to the back teeth by
monkey worshippers, and was complacent because out of reach. Lord
Tattingwood, whose evening arrangements had been impertinently evaded,
ordered a step ladder while Zarl prayed that the tormentatious little
blackguard would not wreck the heirloom from which he was suspended.
He did not like the look of the strangers gathering beneath him, and
when Zarl extended her arms, showing him a chestnut, he sprang straight
to her! She stood to the shock, despite her smart nudity, and this time
we had him. His lead had followed him cleanly without disturbing a dangle
of the chandelier.
There was no sign of the bracelet. People were theorising volubly.
Someone must have entered the room, or have been secreted in it, and
really attacked Miss Zaltuffrie, as she asserted: that, they said, was
why the monkey had been frightened and sprang away: his fright and flight
had had a cause.
Yusuf remained a centre of attention by creeping wildly all over the
floor of the dining room, making the knees of his pipestem--like white
pantaloons quite dusty. If he found what he sought, he kept it secret. He
had the impudence to exclaim that I had picked up something as I was
leaving the room. It was the button which Yusuf had wrenched off Percy's
evening shorts. I produced it, on demand, from my apron pocket; and there
was a button missing where I indicated. The chauffeur said I could have
had the button from an earlier moment.
He crawled through into the Cinema Hall, like a big boy acting bear,
and Zarl saw him pick an object off the back of the tall chair, the
throne on which Ydonea had been sitting.
"Chewing-gum, I verily believe!" gasped Miss Bitcalf-Spillbeans. "How
disgusting, but it is in keeping. Throw it in the fire and have the chair
But Captain Stopworth commanded, "Give it to me!" He took it in a
piece of note paper, and carefully verified Yusuf's statement of where he
found it. Brodribb, the Elephant Hunter, confessed that it was the gum
which he had gallantly accepted from Mommer Zaltuffrie. The Chief
Inspector asked Zarl where she had put her portion and she said she had
thrown it in the fire.
Servants recommended by Lord and Lady Tattingwood were asked to assist
the detectives in the search for the bracelet. If, as alleged, it had
been carried away by Percy, it was plain that he had not been outside the
house, and if not appropriated, the bracelet could be found by diligent
search. The Indian chauffeur acted excitedly. He said that the rooms must
be locked and searched one by one or the bracelet would be bagged by
whoever found it.
Mommer, Ydonea, Cedd, the Elephant Hunter, Jimmy and others had this
in hand. I was not much interested. Also I was otherwise engaged. Chief
Inspector Stopworth was questioning everyone, and I was one of the first
whose presence was requested in his room, next to Zarl's.
Zarl and I had managed a hurried consultation during the chase. In
such a contretemps it was awkward that I was masquerading as a maid
speaking broken English, but Zarl is not one to sell out on a friend. She
does not squeal and throw all the cats out of the bag to save herself at
the first hint of bother. It gives her marked distinction in a society
largely composed of reneguers, no matter how assured their pretensions to
"Just let him question me as if I were genuinely a maid," I said. "The
bracelet may be found presently and the whole thing end in a bottle of
smoke. What is your theory?"
"Jimmy says it is only a publicity stunt, and he might know, being in
the service. He says that chauffeur is engineering it. Or, if there is a
genuine thief who startled the Zaltuffrie, Yusuf is making this fuss to
cover the get-away."
"What does the Chief Inspector think?"
"No one ever knows what he thinks when he is on a case. He is renowned
as a secret worker. Never exposes his clues to be trampled by the herd.
And he would have to take it seriously just in case it is not a publicity
The Chief Inspector had arranged his room to give space, and look very
much the office. The bed had been pushed in a corner and the writing desk
brought forward and furnished with businesslike materials. He was seated
at it when I entered. His manner was unimpeachable and completely
professional. Zarl had assured him that she could vouch for me, that I
was her friend merely acting maid while I was depressed and down on my
luck; which might have been a satisfactory explanation, or just the one
to arouse suspicion. I had no way of knowing what the Chief Inspector
thought of it, or me. He courteously bade me be seated, and greeted
Percy, who was now nestling against me, glad to be comfortable and
unreproved. He was eager to get to bed and so was I, as all the capering
at high speed was fatiguing.
The Chief Inspector asked my name, and when I replied Ercildoun
Carrington in plain English, made no comment. He asked my business or
profession, where I lived and all that sort of thing for a beginning, and
then said. "I should like you as clearly as you remember to show me where
the monkey was when Miss Zaltuffrie cried out that someone had hit her,
and tell me what were your movements and the movements of other people
until the lights went on. Did you return to your own room during the hunt
for the monkey?"
"I shall have to order the room to be searched. I shall close the
doors and windows now."
I stepped with him into the room and he turned on the lights. His
quick trained glances travelled around taking in details, and he stooped
and picked up the pearl tiepin given me earlier by Lord Tattingwood.
Percy must have nipped it from the mantelpiece as I brought him in.
"Is it valuable?" I asked, as he examined it.
"Don't you know?"
"I know nothing about gems."
"How did you come by it?"
"I saw Lord Tattingwood wearing it. He must have dropped it when he
was in here looking at Percy before dinner."
"Perhaps the monkey pulled it from his tie," he remarked, as he
pressed a bell.
"In this case not a publicity stunt."
"Neither may it be in the other."
"Quite! And if Percy really sprang away with the bracelet, it may
still be lying about, and I should like to be free to look for it
"And if it is not found, what then?"
I did not let prejudice against Yusuf, because of his sniffing in the
British Museum, bias me into mentioning his name, but I said "Watch that
person who tries to put blame on others."
"And that is..."
"That will be noted as the case ripens--if it isn't merely a bottle of
"Have you had any training in criminal investigation?" he inquired,
looking keenly at me.
"None, but I should think that common sense and observation would
greatly help the untrained."
"Ask Lord Tattingwood if he will be so good as to come here for a
moment?" said the Chief Inspector to the servant who answered his
summons. He made sure of the fastenings of the doors and windows, and
returned to his office, leaving the door from Zarl's room open.
"I want you to tell me exactly what happened when Miss Zaltuffrie
raised the cry."
"I sprang up to grab Percy. He had been on Miss Zaltuffrie's knee. I
was beside her holding the leash, which he dragged out of my hand. Lord
Tattingwood was on the other side of me. He growled. 'Keep steady! Don't
run amok like a herd of elephants!' A few people seemed to be moving
about, but around me there was not much commotion till the lights went
"And now tell me exactly how each person was sitting or standing or
acting generally, near to you, when the lights went on. Be as exact as
"Lord Tattingwood, Miss Osterley and I were seated as we had been when
the lights were turned off. Miss Zaltuffrie had risen, but she sat down
again and her chair was slewed around a little. Mr. Wengham was pushing
his way amid the chairs to her."
"Are you sure of that?"
"That is what his action looked like. He leaned over her tall chair
caressingly as if to protect her, but the Elephant Hunter was before
"And where was Mr. Wengham sitting when the lights were about to be
"Beside Miss Zaltuffrie, on the aisle, and the Elephant Hunter behind
"You are observant and have a clear memory," he remarked, "but are you
sure that Brodribb got to Miss Zaltuffrie before Mr. Wengham, who was
Swithwulf, Sixteenth Baron, here presented his long heavy nose and
small embedded eyes.
"I shall want you to come downstairs later and go over this again
where it happened," said the Chief Inspector.
"Anything I can do for you?" inquired Lord Tattingwood, regarding me
with inimical suspicion.
"Merely that you might help us with a clue. How were people sitting
when the lights went out...and by the way, is this your tiepin?"
"I'd have to look at it first. Where did it come from?"
"I found it on the floor next door. You probably dropped it when you
were visiting the monkey before dinner."
"Me! I, here, looking at the monkey! Who says I was here?"
"It seemed an explanation of the pin's presence."
"Who said it was found here?"
"I found it myself."
"That is no reason to jump to the conclusion that I was here too."
"His Lordship's memory is not good," I interposed.
"Do you categorically deny being here before dinner?" asked the Chief
"Certainly. I went straight to my room to dress, I remember because I
The Chief Inspector wrote a chit swiftly and gave it to the man
outside his door. Then he turned to Lord Tattingwood and held out his
hand for the pin. "Thank you. Lord Tattingwood, and you do not recognise
this pin as yours?"
"I have one that is like it, but I could not be sure if this is it
unless I saw whether I had another or not."
"I should be much obliged if you will ascertain."
"Certainly. I'll go at once."
Was the old fool afraid that I should divulge what had brought him to
call upon Percy, or was he just one of those sneaks that acts thus under
pressure? Supposing my life or liberty depended upon his speaking the
truth! Such behaviour from a man of his family and education was
discouraging to any but a political irreconcilable.
The Chief Inspector made a note and put a few more questions till Lord
Tattingwood returned. "I cannot find my pin anywhere, so that must be
it," he admitted.
"How do you account for it being here on the carpet?"
"That and the disappearance of the bracelet will be interesting for
the police to solve. One does not know what riff-raff comes to the house
since the war."
"When did you last wear the pin?
"I don't remember. I'm rather forgetful. Probably I left it sticking
in one of my ties."
"If you should remember, you will be good enough to inform me."
"Oh, er, certainly. I'll give you every assistance in my power. You'll
find whoever took the pin has the bracelet also."
Lord Tattingwood retired. The Chief Inspector asked "What have you to
say about the divergence between Lord Tattingwood's evidence and your
"He's a gentlemanly old soul! What chance has the word of a coolie on
the end of Percy's string against that of a Baron?"
"It depends on further evidence to prove which is lying," said he,
Zarl was the next to be questioned, and she came with Clarice. I told
Zarl in a whisper, while Lady Tattingwood was saying something privately
to the Inspector, how Lord Tattingwood had denied visiting Percy. "Mean
old toad, I never gave a hint of his improper advances. He could surely
have admitted coming to look at Percy. Everybody always comes to see him
"Ah, but Swithwulf never goes to see any woman in your present walk of
life innocently. He knows they would all see through the Percy
camouflage, and that is why the poor old cow was so scared that he lied.
I must tell Clarice; she will understand." Zarl turned to her, picking up
the pin from the Inspector's table. "Look," she said "Captain Stopworth
found this pin on the floor of my room and Ercil says that Swithwulf must
have dropped it when he was here just before dinner talking to Percy, but
Swithwulf says that was impossible because..."
"I dropped it myself," said Clarice promptly. "I had it stuck in my
dressing-gown. I'm so glad it is found."
I flirted my eyelids at the Inspector, but he was grave as a
sculptured image of the old gods. It was most sporting but a little
excessive of Lady Tattingwood until she should have heard the whole
"Lady Tattingwood never lacks courage, and her generosity is well
known," remarked the Chief Inspector, giving her a glance which I liked.
He dismissed me for the present, saying that I could search for the
bracelet, but that he would require me later in the cinema hall.
Cedd Spillbeans merited condolences that the showing of his film had
gone so ill, perhaps had lost the chance for which he had worked and
manoeuvred, but he was a gentleman in the matter. He was aiding the
detectives and attending to the requirements of guests wherever possible.
Those from the neighborhood were loath to go home till they heard the end
of the exciting comedy, and those in the house were too excited to retire
for hours yet.
Ydonea was acting prosaically. She quickly felt the breath of
unpopularity blowing her way, and did her best to counteract it. "I'd
like to get the bracelet back if possible, but I don't want anyone to be
worried about it. There are just as good pebbles at the jewellers as ever
came from them, to date." She was only twenty-three and had not yet known
Hostile members of the company said that her carefree attitude was
vulgar ostentation similar to that of lighting a cigarette with a
ten-pound note. Others said it clearly indicated that the whole thing was
a publicity stunt and that the bracelet had been passed to someone of her
retinue during the hubbub. Had the detectives been searched?
I was suddenly sick of these people, as well-groomed as prize beasts
at a fair, but most of them petty or mediocre or worse under test. I was
shut out of my room till it was searched and I could not now go to the
Servants' Hall. I stole about the place with Percy in my arms seeking a
nook wherein to anchor for a little rest. The search for the bracelet was
still proceeding, and also the examination of various people by the Chief
Inspector or his colleagues. Ydonea's private men too were quite
officious. Eventually I found a little den beyond the drawing-rooms. It
had a gas fire, to which I put a match and then sank into a big, easy
chair. Percy is always cuddly and manageable in the dark. Old Mother Monk
had evidently instilled into him the need to be careful after dark.
In two minutes he was fast asleep. The greedy little wretch had been
unable to swallow all his grapes, and one or two were still extending his
pouch. His endearing abandon, spread on my chest, his tiny clinging
hands, the fragrance of his person, his furry warmth comforted my harried
soul. He was nervous and started and shuddered in his sleep as I placed a
scarf about him with tender touch. I laughed at the suspicions he had
directed towards me.
Too disturbed to doze, after a few minutes relaxation my mind began
upon the disappearance of the bracelet. I recalled that before the leash
had slipped through my fingers, Percy had made the little warning guff
that he always gives when a stranger, and particularly a male stranger
comes near him. Someone inside the room may have sneaked up to seize the
bracelet under cover of the darkness. He may have got away with it.
Otherwise, Percy must have carried it with him as he escaped through the
fanlight. He had a habit of hanging on to quite large objects tenaciously
for a considerable distance when chased. He could easily have carried
this one to some high nook where it might lie undisturbed through
extended search. He could climb like a rat or beetle, and the great
apartments bristled with embrasures, curtain rods, ledges and crevices.
Or, if the publicity theory were correct, how long would Ydonea keep it
up. She would hardly like to confess now; and unpleasant suspicions
gathered around several people, including me.
Speculation hovered around the chauffeur. If taking part in a
publicity stunt, and merely acting, he could simulate the hungriest glare
I had seen in human eyes for a long time. He seemed genuinely feverish
lest someone would be ahead of him in recovering the gem, and with
undisguised frankness he suspected that person to be me. It was within
the bounds of possibility that he had been set to guard the gem by
someone. That someone might be the Rajah of Wobwollah, or whatever it
was, though when one knows to what even the topmost film stars have to
resort--mustering sheriffs to get a dinner with a Lord Mayor, and paying
visits to Dukes and dungeons--it is difficult to believe or
Then there suddenly flashed into my mind the cause of a certain noise
which had reached me as I emerged from being searched. I looked down at
the tiny sleeping face so confidently snuggled against me. When the
cruel, self-indulgent character of human association with animals is
considered, it is profoundly touching that any beast or bird can be so
generous and brave as to treat one as an equal and a friend.
"My little peanut, I am sorry to disturb you, but I've just thought
where you may have left the bracelet, and if it is there, all this fuss
and bother has been your joke on your inferiors." Percy guh-guh-guhed and
shuddered in irascible protest, but I carried him upstairs and requested
a few words with the Chief Inspector.
"There are three possibilities about the disappearance of the
bracelet," I postulated. "One is that it was carried by Percy to some
place, and if that proves true, the other two can be wiped off the slate.
I heard a little noise when I first came out of the cinema hall, and the
bracelet may have made it; will you come with me and look."
He consented, and left his office in charge of a subordinate. I
explained that Percy, before he was captured finally, had sprung on to
the chandelier with such assurance that he might have been there earlier,
and deposited the bracelet. The noise I had heard could have been the
tinkle of the glass stalactites.
We were careful not to attract attention as we stood looking down on
the chandelier. There amid the festoons of glass prisms hung the
bracelet. It was so conspicuous that it was inconceivable that it could
have passed unseen for the hours that had raged since its disappearance,
but a monkey is unsurpassed to distract the eye from other activities and
objects. Everyone had been interested in the capers of Percy to the
exclusion of other things. Either that, or it was a publicity stunt, and
some member of Ydonea's retinue had tossed the bracelet there after the
removal of Percy.
The Chief Inspector took the honour of the find. He mounted a long
step-ladder to retrieve the bracelet. As he took it in his hand Yusuf
sprang from somewhere yelping "The blue diamond in the centre has
If he was acting, he was a master. The excitement in his eyes was
fanatical. My heart missed a beat at the implication of his words. The
diamond gone, and I the one to lead the Inspector to the lost bracelet! I
wished that I had not been so smart at deduction as to the whereabouts of
the lewdly useless and troublesome bauble.
People quickly gathered. The recoil upon me was swift. Yusuf looked up
and saw me leaning over the bannister. He leapt towards me exclaiming, "I
knew from the first that she took it. The monkey swallowed it. That is
what he was brought here for. It is a common trick in India, and this
woman has trained him. I see it at first glance. Here you have a wily
adventuress. That air flying man is her confederate. I heard them in
conference just after dinner."
I did not linger to combat this. I fled to the Chief Inspector's room,
and Detective-Sergeant Beeton for refuge. Zarl was there awaiting further
"The putrid old bracelet has been found but without the middle piece
of glass, and that foul chauffeur thinks Percy or I have swallowed
it--you don't think it too, do you?" I elucidated.
"Why, where, what, how? It doesn't matter what you have done. I can
get the rights of it some other time," said Zarl springing to me, a
full-fledged and unquestioning ally, and dragging me through the door
into our room, where a search was proceeding. That was the kind of
companion to warm the heart in a world of Swithwulfs and Yusufs.
Yusuf thumped on our door and shrieked that we must not be allowed to
escape, that we were both wily adventuresses. He was sharply ordered by
the Detective-Sergeant to put himself under control lest he should be
placed under restraint.
The Chief Inspector tapped on the door authoritatively, "Come out Miss
Osterley and bring your companion."
Zarl replied that she was willing to come out, but not to risk an
assault upon Percy from anyone, for any putrid mouldy old jewellery,
whether it was a Kohinoor or a Woolworth string of beads. She also gave
her opinion that it was much better taste to wear Woolworth's pretty
things than some trash that was dangerous to the lives and comfort of
innocent and respectable people. She demanded the full protection of the
law for herself and her maidservant and her pet, and also stipulated that
we were all three to be treated as innocent until we were proven
The Chief Inspector reminded her that that was his unfailing procedure
and that nothing was gained by resisting the officers of the law, but
Zarl muttered that it was safer to be an intractable vixen than a charmed
rabbit in any circumstances. With her psychological monkey up to her
eyebrows in rosy flushes, and her African monkey in the crook of her arm,
his funny little face full of boredom with the whole performance, she was
such an engaging fury that I chuckled like an Australian kookaburra
regardless of propriety. This was fortunately put down to hysteria. There
was interest and amusement in the Chief Inspector's eyes as he regarded
her. His voice was silky as he informed her that it was necessary to
proceed in accordance with the fresh development in the disappearance of
Zarl handed Percy to me, as, being relieved of his fears, he had set
about the major morality of his existence and was assiduously
investigating some little moles or marks on her half-nude form.
"There is certainly something degenerate in monkeys," remarked a
familiar voice. It was Miss Bitcalf-Spillbeans. "I should hate a monkey
to be so fond of me. It wouldn't look well."
"I don't think you need have any fears on that score," said Zarl
"Dreadful little monster, what a bother he has created! They say they
never live through an English winter, and I should think you would be
relieved when he dies."
"All my acquaintances and a number of so-called friends would relieve
me more by dying," said Zarl.
The Chief Inspector was now before his desk, everyone but Zarl, Yusuf
and me excluded. Yusuf repeated his accusations. The blue diamond was of
legendary reputation and cost--sacred. He suspected that the monkey had
been brought there to help in stealing it from the first, and now his
suspicions had proved correct. Percy might have come from Africa, but he
immediately recognised him as Indian. Stopworth told Yusuf that what he
said had been noted and gave him over to Detective-Constable Manning for
Zarl said she would mobilise the Elephant Hunter and Jimmy as a guard
for Percy, adding that men should be a little useful as well as
unornamental. The delightful Chief Inspector and I were left together. It
was almost worth the hullabaloo to have such fascinating association.
"Take a seat," he said courteously. He then ran over some of his
notes. "I understand that you have been doing publicity work for a
certain prima donna, and before that you investigated travelling
conditions for migrants going to the Overseas Dominions."
"And that you came here as maid to Miss Osterley to help her with her
monkey, and to keep up her end against Miss Zaltuffrie."
"Exactly. And this mess spoilt our little plot, gave me the limelight,
which I do not need, and took it from Ydonea. If I could have done this
for some of my clients, my fortune would be better than it is."
"Am I right in thinking you are in very low funds?"
"You would always be right in thinking that, but it is not a danger to
society, because I am not avaricious."
"I wish you to know that I have proved that you were speaking the
truth about the tiepin being here, not the whole truth, but some of
"Do you mind telling me how you proved it?"
"I saw Lord Tattingwood emerging from your room before dinner. One of
my men ascertained from his valet that Lord Tattingwood was wearing that
pin this afternoon: besides, I recollected the pin at tea time. It was a
little large and pink for.."
"A Sixteenth Baron--more like a film magnate?"
"Exactly! So you see."
"I see: rather bad though if my life or reputation had depended on the
Sixteenth Baron's evidence."
"We all run such risks, and worse, in human association. I see little
"I suppose you believe in nothing else."
"The little else, by comparison, becomes the most precious thing in
"Like Lady Tattingwood's readiness to go bail about the tiepin."
He would not let me share that. "Lady Tattingwood has probably been
using the pin recently, as she stated...It was sporting of you not to
hint why the gentleman visited Percy..."
"What are your suspicions?" he asked me suddenly.
"Suspicions can be very cruel," I parried. It would be mean to confess
that I suspected Yusuf because he had irritated me to loathing by his
sniffing in the British Museum Reading Room. That he was a student as
well as a chauffeur pro tern was not illegal. It was commendable. The
police had every facility for tracing him, so I decided to let that
"I never act on suspicions...they are sometimes useful in furnishing a
clue...what do you think of Yusuf's accusation that the monkey has
swallowed the gem?"
"I have never known him actually swallow such an object. He often
seizes a button, and once took a thimble and another time a big peach
stone, and got into difficulties. He is extraordinarily clever at
retaining a smaller object--can put it from his mouth to his pouches
again and again without swallowing it, or spitting it out. As soon as I
saw the blue diamond was missing from the setting, I thought that might
have happened, and also that he might have swallowed it in the hurry of
the chase. I meant to be careful in recovering the thing. Percy could not
harm it and I should have given it to you to return to Miss
It had seemed as simple as that to Zarl and me at the time, but we
were ignorant of finance, and how many persons go off their axis
criminally where gems of the notoriety of Ydonea's are concerned.
"Your own life would be in danger during such a process, and Percy
would soon be no more," said the Chief Inspector.
"I fancied that Percy ground something between his teeth after I
caught him, but a piece of coal which he brought to light might explain
that, but I know the genius of his fingers too well ever to allow him
even sixpenny jewellery. Could I not be incarcerated under observation
with Percy where I should be safe? It would be ignominious, but I'd do
anything to save Percy from harm. All this mess has happened through
bringing him to spend a week-end with the best people to save me from the
woofits, and it devolves upon me to see him through."
"It is at least a sporting offer," said Stopworth with a smile,
"though it has a fishy side."
"You mean that I could have handed the gem to Zarl long since?"
"That, or half a dozen other possibilities."
"In such case I demand that Yusuf be shut up too till the gem is
recovered from his own body or from Percy. Also, if the Zaltuffrie crowd
are not 'throwing' a publicity stunt, and if the gem is not found in
Percy or Yusuf, someone else may have escaped with it."
"That possibility is being acted upon," he said, a little coldly. "My
men are very capable."
"Miss Zaltuffrie says they are the 'cutest policemen she has ever
seen," I said as a parting thrust, confident in virtue and honesty.
Ydonea, Yusuf and others took their turn in the moving picture under
Stopworth's direction. Some of us were assembled to reconstruct events in
the cinema hall. Yusuf immediately placed himself near Percy, who was in
Zarl's arms, she being protected from his clambrous embrace by a velvet
"Quit your monkey shines, Yusuf," admonished Ydonea. "Leave them to
Percy. I guess there are scads of ways of tracing the doggoned old
diamond, and with a whole lot more kick to them, than throwing duck fits
in an ancestral castle."
She cast a duck's eye or two at the Baron himself, but rather as a
matter of form. Such reflexes had been standardised for her by a man with
a megaphone. And all members of family and house-party tacitly understood
that no one should obtrude upon Cedd's patter till a film was put
through. Cedd was fighting for his career, which in England has a
recognition as sacred as the cow in India, Also Ydonea's
Mommer-Mrs.-Grundy complex was reported to be "genoowine."
The Elephant Hunter and Jimmy Wengham made play as Percy's bodyguards,
for the pleasure of being near Zarl. "Nothing but the majesty of British
law itself shall lay a hand on him," said Jimmy. The Elephant Hunter said
nothing. He kept his cold grey eye on Zarl as if she were an African
animal or a target.
Yusuf and I were the main antagonists. He had such a fanatical desire
for the return of the blue diamond that he seemed to think nothing should
be allowed to stand in his way.
The Chief Inspector announced that I admitted the possibility of Percy
having swallowed the gem, in which case there would be no need to waste
the time of his Department further in the matter.
Ydonea gained in my regard by saying unaffectedly that she did not
want the 'cute little monkey to be hurt, that she would rather lose the
crazy old diamond outright than endanger him. "I must have him for a
picture now! Cedd, put him in one. Make him a continuity. Can't you see
that he attracts more attention than all the rest of us put together.
That picture to-night seemed to be developing kinda dull, not enough
"This would be more in your genre," said Stopworth with a disarming
Zarl was growing reconciled to Ydonea as a quite human female whose
asphyxiating beauty was harmless because an extra-territorial
"Couldn't the silly business be settled by X-Rays to save waiting--and
danger to Percy?" enquired Zarl. Her jaws were set on that. We wouldn't
have had that mischievous little monkey, weighing six pounds, injured or
tormented for a diadem, and any man of understanding respects such a
situation, or else so many of those offensively moron goggle-eyed Pekes
and Poms wouldn't remain alive in a dense population of nervous
Lady Tattingwood suggested the excellent X-Ray apparatus at the
Supersnoring Home for Cripples. She had helped to run a hospital at
Tattingwood during the war, and had been Hon. Treas. of this Supersnoring
Hospital ever since. It was only a mile from Tattingwood gates. Stopworth
agreed to this proposal, and Clarice went away to telephone.
Jimmy Wengham offered to take Zarl in his Austin Seven (geared for
Brooklands) in which he had rattled down from London, as England's
protective invisibility had been against air passage.
"What ho! If only I had my air 'bus it would be useful now," he
"What for--to escape with the loot?" inquired Zarl, while the Elephant
Hunter never took his eyes off her.
Lady Tattingwood returned to say that the operator at the hospital
would take the photographs as soon as the patients arrived. Yusuf and I
were ordered to prepare ourselves and go in the local police car. There
was no love lost between Yusuf and me. He was so eager to track the
diamond to me that I felt sure he must have something to do with its
Zarl said she would go too. "I shall not trust Percy to any stranger
while Miss Carrington is being photographed."
"You are just like an old woman with a poodle with that stinkin'
little cow," said Jimmy, who had assimilated the Australian significance
of this noun as an epithet.
"He smells much nicer than you," retorted Zarl burying her face in
Percy's back. Thus disturbed he flung his arms around her neck and gave
her a delectable kiss.
"Well, I'm dithered! Can't you get something better than that to kiss
at Tattingwood?" remarked Swithwulf.
"Do you suppose women would take to poodles if there was anything
better?" said Zarl, handing me Percy. "You must take the old lady with
her monkey," she twinkled at Stopworth. "If the diamond is found on me, I
want to be arrested by you. Clarice, you come too to chaperone me while I
am put through the third degree."
We went upstairs for our coats. "Nice little treat for poor old
Clarice," said Zarl. "Anything would be an improvement on being stalled
with these oddments."
The local police, apprised of happenings, were alert to the movements
of anyone around Tattingwood Hall or the neighborhood. We set out in a
local car with a local driver, with a C.I.D. man beside him. The Chief
and I had the corner seats at the back with Lady Tattingwood between us,
and Yusuf and Zarl facing us on the flap seats. Percy was in my bosom.
Zarl was sleepy but struggled to be alert lest Yusuf should fall upon us
with some magic of the East and eviscerate Percy instanter.
Stopworth returned to the hall to say something to one of his staff
and Jimmy leaned through the window to murmur to Zarl. He was in full
flying kit and was disappointed that Stopworth refused his offer to
"Seems to be liftin' a bit. I might blow up to London and bring the
Moth down and do a few stunts to-morrow, or I might start on my flight to
South America," he remarked aloud.
Zarl advised him to wait for better weather, but Jimmy said when it
was summer above the Line it was winter below, and he preferred to have
the balmy hours at the other end of so long a stretch.
"Whatever I do it will be for your sake, you must always remember
that," he finally whispered, with melodramatic inflection.
"I don't accept any such responsibility," Zarl whispered in
The X-Rays exonerated Percy, Yusuf and myself. The plates when
developed might divulge more, but the doctor said there was no famous
diamond to be discerned, certainly not in the organs of Percy.
Yusuf was unappeased. His suspicions took a fresh turn. He said there
was a plot in which the Chief Inspector was concerned. How did anyone
know that the Chief was from the C.I.D. at Scotland Yard? Yusuf
apparently had found English institutions unworthy of trust, or his mind
may have been inflamed by film romances about jewel robbers and their
aristocratic connections. He lost his head and said many abusive and
silly things. Zarl asked Stopworth if he couldn't arrest him.
Stopworth said not unless someone liked to lay a charge against
The household was still up. Even the neighborhood guests had not
departed. Cedd had had a trying time. He had offered to proceed with the
interrupted film display, but Ydonea said she could not concentrate. The
otiose film magnates seemed utterly disconcerted by encountering a
familiar film story in real life, and the cool questions that were put to
them by Scotland Yard officers. The icy politeness alarmed them. They did
not know what to make of the affair and congregated in the smoking-room
and performed on their exceptional cigars. It was well that Cedd had such
a weakness for Zarl, as he had just grounds for irritation in her
pestiferous little ape which for the moment had frustrated his plans.
People had been too nervous to sit again in a darkened room, so they
had made loud unspontaneous whoopee in other ways. The butler was waiting
his mistress's return to serve a sumptuous supper, including lobster
The Chief Inspector took me and Zarl to his office, and, because Yusuf
had been so rude to me and so venomously suspicious, I mentioned now that
he had occupied a seat beside me in the Reading Room of the British
Museum and that I had particularly noticed him because of his sniffing.
Yusuf was called in, and Ydonea summoned, and when the former had
retreated, the latter confessed that he might not be her usual chauffeur.
"But it is hard to tell those men apart. Coloured folks all look as much
alike as peas in a pod," she said.
Yusuf had a ready explanation. The usual chauffeur had been taken ill
with cramps, and Yusuf, being very like him in height and appearance, had
stepped in to save a good job for a fellow countryman.
Thus his excitement about the jewel could only have been simulated.
His passport was in order, his surname was Das, or something as
commonplace in India as Martin in France or Robinson in England. The
Chief Inspector did not attach so much importance or irritation to
Yusuf's sniffing in the Reading Room as I did. It was impossible to guess
what the Chief Inspector thought important, or if he had discovered any
He detained me when the others withdrew. "The X-Ray business has not
helped towards a solution of the disappearance of the diamond," he
"No: but have you a clue?"
"It is the prerogative of the police to cross-question," he parried,
but not repressingly, and he added disarmingly "I shall be glad if you
will tell me anything that your common sense has noticed."
"I shall be glad to tell you anything with substance in it."
"You are not free from suspicion."
"Suspicion has been semaphoring towards me from the beginning. The
Indian makes no bones about it."
"I don't want to have to suspect you unnecessarily."
"Thank you, kind sir," I said with a mock curtsey.
"You and Miss Osterley are both in Sow water financially, you are here
masquerading as a maid, and you are from Australia, a cool plucky pair of
young women who think no more of going to the North Pole or jumping into
a military scrap than..."
"Must one be a clinging weak-kneed rabbit to be beyond reproach of
jewel robberies? Why do you men love to suspect brave decent women when
you'll mostly find it is the sexy so-called feminine types that let you
"Women of the most Calvinistic upbringing often do the most lawless
things, succumb suddenly to temptation. Miss Osterley is a friend of Lady
Tattingwood, and I'd like to stop this thing from going any farther if
possible. I want you to help me. I've known women, respectable mothers of
families in the old houses, as good as this, to do many worse things than
hold on to a gem in hope of a reward for its recovery. If you know of the
whereabouts of the gem, there is still time to turn back. Don't be
offended! You'd like to save Miss Osterley from trouble, wouldn't
"Chief Inspector Stopworth, if this is a mild form of the Third
Degree, you are wasting your time."
"We always find out in the end. A gem like that could not be disposed
"You'll never find that gem about me unless someone hides it there as
a way out. Honestly, I don't know where it is now that Percy and Yusuf
have both been proved innocent. You surely don't suspect Miss
"It is my business to think no one above suspicion till this is
cleared up, but if I trust you, I wonder if you will return the
compliment and trust me sufficiently to help--and to clear yourself from
"I should love to trust you," I said mockingly. "I have sometimes
found a woman's intuitions as reliable as clairvoyance or psychometry in
certain cases. All I ask is that you confide in me, in strict confidence,
"Suspicions can be very cruel. I am suspected, though innocent. It has
cured me of suspecting others."
"Quite, but I should regard your suspicions as confidences, would not
even take a note of them, and they would be used only if there was
I laughed a little, considering the only suspicion that was left me
now that Yusuf was reinstated in respectability sounder than my own.
"Tell me what you are keeping back?" he urged suddenly.
"I think we are keeping back the same thing," I chuckled.
"That cannot be proved unless you tell me what you are keeping
"Very well. The lights were a long time coming on in the cinema hall
this evening, considering that you were standing right beside the switch,
and I thought you looked a little disarranged as if the burglar might
have given you a wipe on the cheek; and you had a tuft of hair sticking
up, whereas your head is generally as sleek as a head can be."
"Thank you," he said gravely. "I shall be obliged if you will continue
to exercise your unusual powers of observation, and let me know of
anything you consider worth reporting."
I was free. There was nothing more to be done now but to retire for
what remained of the night. It was about 2.30, and as we had supped
sumptuously, and it was Sunday, anyone who so chose was free to remain
undisturbed till luncheon.
I made elaborate preparations for bed. Zarl had not yet come upstairs.
An unopened letter was awaiting her on the dressing-table.
It must be borne in mind that we were in a large room adjoining Lady
Tattingwood's. We entered from the grand gallery by a door situated a
little from the middle of the room. There was a door into Lady
Tattingwood's room in the right-hand corner near the windows. The
fireplace was in the centre of the opposite wall, and to the left of
that, obliquely from Lady Tattingwood's door, was the door into the room
occupied by the Chief Inspector. There were noble windows in the outside
wall, which was the front of the house.
These windows opened on to a stone gallery or balcony, with steps
leading down to the terraces, so I made sure of all the fastenings. We
could do without fresh air for a little while. There was a bolt on the
door into the Chief Inspector's room, so I slipped that into place, but
there was no way of locking the door into Lady Tattingwood's apartments.
I shoved Zarl's bed farther into the corner, walled by the gallery,
opposite the windows, and pulled my stretcher parallel with it.
Zarl entered at this stage. "What is the matter with you?" she
exclaimed. "Are you a mallee hen making a nest? Let's flop into bed as we
are and leave the whole bally turmoil-in-a-thimble about a bit of
coloured glass till the morning. I wish I could find the foul thing now
and I'd never say a word about it, but keep it for my old age."
I drew attention to the letter. "Jimmy's scrawl! Well, that can rest
till morning anyhow. One lunatic is enough per hour, and the Elephant
Hunter is as cracked as a gridiron."
"Was he ever known to utter a sound?" I enquired.
"You should have heard him down there now. He feels as I do about the
diamond. He says if he could get hold of it he would stick to it till the
fuss blows over."
"Would you say that was more a sign of lunacy than of the average
business spirit of the day?"
"If he had stopped there, but he said that if he could get hold of the
diamond he could take me for the most astonishing expedition into Central
"Well, but you are always talking about expeditions, and inspiring men
"That would be an expedition with a bull elephant...but listen to
Jimmy. Percy could write a better letter. 'To see you again raises all
the old mad longing. You inspire me to great flights, and this is to say
ta-ta, as I may take off in a hurry while you are still asleep. Just to
ask you to believe in me whatever happens. Whatever the outcome I shall
do it for you!'"
"What do you think he means by that?"
"That his top storey is addled...dear me, why should men be such awful
"You deserve it. You bring it on yourself."
"One must do something to pass the time, and men put up such a bluff
of daring and brains that I like to see if they can be diddled--and they
all can be--oh, my, I believe I could leave them all behind if I set
I pulled back the curtains, switched off the lights and tested the
possibilities of silhouettes, which are fruitful, as those who lie often
awake in the so-called dark, well know. I laid the heavy broom, with
which I had threatened Yusuf earlier in the evening, beside my stretcher,
and then turned my attention to Percy, who was looking at me over the
edge of the waste paper basket.
I was now satisfied that against the windows or the fire, which had
lately been refuelled and would burn for several hours, I should have an
outline of any movement that might occur in the room, except in Zarl's
corner, and I did not expect anything to happen there but Zarl's
wholesome and happy capacity to sleep, by which at twenty-six she still
looks like eighteen, and, combining maturing mentality with physical
youthfulness, promises to be as permanent as Cleopatra.
"I've had so many late nights lately that I am just dizzy with sleep.
Do settle down. You are as restful as a box of fleas," she complained.
"And what are you doing with Percy? My life hereafter with him will be a
misery. I have to live with the contumacious little debbil-debbil, and
you spoil him."
I took Percy from his moorings and let him come to bed with
me--against the law. Zarl said that firmness was needed lest our
infatuation make of us replicas of those poor old potties who go balmy
over some mangy cat or dog. Percy, however, was daintier than any cat or
dog could ever be, and it was laughable to see him go to bed. No sitting
on top of covers or at the foot of the bed for him. With great authority
and equal satisfaction he pulled back the sheets and got in. His gurgles
of gratification as he snuggled against me, one tiny arm thrown
clingingly around my chest, his soft little cheek to mine, were comfort
to the saddest soul.
"Now old man, if the Tattingwood ghost walks to-night, I have done my
best." I was guarding against any attempt of Yusuf to abduct him. If we
had been given the gem neither Zarl nor I would have parted with Percy.
We lacked financial proclivities and were thus saved many
There was a nervous expectancy in my being to scatter the bouquet of
sleep, and Percy, so near to me that I could hear and feel his breathing
also kept me alert, but sleep enfolded the house--a fine deep sleep, as
to be expected after such a night on a cold winter Sunday morning in a
great country house. The place was soon wrapped in abysmal quiet. There
was nothing but the dropping of the coals in the grate. Even I grew
I was envying Zarl her sound sleep, when she surprised me by sitting
up and slipping noiselessly from her bed. I did not tell her that
precautions against waking me were unnecessary because I wished to nurse
my drowsiness. She picked up Lord Tattingwood's footstool and set it to
keep the door ajar, and went out into the gallery as she was, without a
dressing gown. She was away so long that I wondered if she were keeping a
tryst. I was aroused from a doze by her tapping sharply on the door. She
entered with the foot-stool in her hand and expressed annoyance that I
did not more expeditiously admit her.
"I saw you placing the foot-stool to keep the door open."
"I was so sleepy I could not have put it in the right place, and the
wind from somewhere sucked the door shut."
"Where in creation have you been all this time?"
"Keeping your appointment with Swith, of course; I couldn't have him
She warmed herself by the fire and shivered so that I cast an
eiderdown about her. "You look as if you had seen the ghost."
"What was he doing?"
"He was after the blue diamond, I think, but I told him I already had
"What was he like?"
"Exactly like the Elephant Hunter walking in his sleep. The silly ass
was in the corridor just near here and was apparently horrified at my
immodesty in seeing him."
"What was he doing?"
"Don't be such a peanut at this time of day! I suppose he was trying
to save his life after that filthy lobster, the same as myself, but he
was so mid-Victorian that he was shocked to be seen or to see me in my
night lingerie, and stalked off like Anthony Comstock."
"But what would he be doing in this wing? I thought he was a mile away
near Swith and Jimmy."
"Don't be such a goat with a castiron throat--the other queue might
have been longer."
Zarl was cross. I forbore to annoy her further. Mommer Zaltuffrie had
earlier expressed her contempt for the scarcity of sanitary
I offered to go in search of alcohol or other remedies, but Zarl said
she was now quite all right, and snuggled into bed. I turned off the
light again and we finally settled down.
I must have been dozing, perhaps had fallen quite asleep--the
slightest sound awakens me--and I thought I heard the faint click of a
key in the yale lock of the door. I fancied, that I felt rather than saw
the door half open, and a form enter. It was wrapped in a sheet or
something that rendered it shapeless, but gave an impression of height as
it moved somewhere between me and the fireplace. I thought I saw a big
arm wave like a scarecrow's, and that something fell with a sharp plunk
near where my stretcher had originally been placed. I became helpless
with fear. Stories of the ghost had a horrent effect on my hair. I could
have sworn to hearing the door click as the apparition retreated.
Petrification continued for some moments and then my goose-flesh
mentality subsided sufficiently for me to note that Percy had given no
grunt of warning. I came to the conclusion that it was a nightmare
induced by lobster salad. Either that or Jimmy was acting ghost for
Ydonea, and calling on Zarl in the process. I was relieved to find myself
alive and well with Percy on my chest. I could hear Zarl's steady
breathing near me.
I turned over. Percy scrambled over my head and took up a new position
mouth to mouth. I did not approve of it, but the attempt to place him
otherwise aroused wild protests likely to result in scratches. Mother
Macacus had evidently trained him to sleep in that position so that she
could warn him of danger by a mere accentuation of breath.
The next sound thoroughly awakened me. It was the opening of the door
from Lady Tattingwood's apartments. Percy did not hear anything. Zarl's
regular breathing continued. I added mine, and lay watching between
half-closed eyelids. Clarice was recognisable against the windows as she
stole across the room obliquely and disappeared in the doorway to
Stopworth's room. She was some time softly withdrawing the bolt, but
eventually was through to the other side with the door closed and
fastened behind her. I sat up quite interested, though, as far as I could
gauge, her business with the Chief Inspector could have little to do with
the diamond mystery. She too might be suffering from the lobster, but
surely would not have put such a strain on romance as to seek the
Captain, while women were at hand. I thought I heard a cry. Could she and
Stopworth be quarrelling! I got out of bed and went to the door. I
touched it, but it did not open. It was heavy and fitted perfectly. I
listened for fully five minutes, but could hear no sound of any kind from
the room, so crept back to the warmth of Percy, who was sitting up like
little Wilhelmine with wonder waiting eyes, and guffing
I had scarcely composed myself and Percy, when he warned me by a
little guff, no more than a stressed breath, and I saw that the door from
Lady Tattingwood's apartments was opening again. A form disguised in some
sort of cloth stole towards the fireplace and groped about where Percy
had been moored to the coal-scuttle earlier in the evening.
I lifted the heavy broom, and raising myself, struck with all the
force I could employ. The implement dropped with a fine felling thud on
some part of some person. Whoever it was went down without a cry, but was
up again and through the door into the gallery with amazing agility.
Now that the hunt was raised, Percy emitted loud grunts and sprang
bang on to Zarl's curly head. That, following the thump of the broom,
thoroughly aroused her. She sat up demanding "Did you fall? Has Percy
knocked something down? I'll turn on the light."
In removal, her bed had been pushed away from the switch, and I had to
grope about for it. When the light came on, Zarl had Percy in her arms,
and I crept in beside her, shivering from sleeplessness and fatigue.
"Some one has been in the room groping about for Percy, and I lashed
out at him with the broom. That was the thump you heard."
"Let's wake Clarice at once."
I related in a hurried whisper that Clarice, sometime since, had gone
into the Chief Inspector's room.
"Good heavens!" exclaimed Zarl. "You've been asleep, and then rose up
and hit her when she was on the way back."
This was a disturbing suggestion. We sat up in bed. We looked over the
footboard and saw something lying there. It was what the intruder had
been wrapped in, a purple silk bed cover.
"Clarice's counterpane!" exclaimed Zarl. "And you say you hit her with
a broom." The big broom was lying there in plain sight. "I must say you
are a nice one to bring to a house party among the best people! I Surely
you dropped to what was going on. Poor old Clarice! I hope you missed
her. Don't you think that was more likely?"
I began to think it could have been Lady Tattingwood returning, and
that she had missed her direction because of the beds being removed. It
was a paralysing thought. "What had we better do?...but I still believe
that it was Yusuf after Percy. Or it could have been Jimmy and the
Elephant Hunter playing ghost. There have been at least two different
people in here, or I had a frightful nightmare, that is the only
"At any rate the best line for you to take is that it was Yusuf after
Percy. We must do something, no matter how extreme, to save things for
poor old Clarice. Let's go shivering in now, and pretend to be
frightened, to take the down off the imbroglio. We can hide the
counterpane and spirit it back some other time."
We knocked on Clarice's door. There was no response. Zarl opened the
door and peeped in. There was a dim light burning. The bed was empty.
"SSSH! She hasn't returned yet! Cecil is probably massaging the poor
thing's bruises. At any rate I'm glad she has something better than
Swithwulf. I wouldn't have had him if he had been dripping with
"I should consider Cecil almost sufficient compensation for
"Another decent woman ready to go wrong all because of Cecil, but he
won't let you make the sacrifice," said Zarl with a chuckle, climbing
back to bed.
I climbed with her. "Zarl," I said, and shivered in the recollection,
"I really saw something else before the other two came through, a tall
form like a ghost that threw something in the doorway. I heard it fall at
the foot of your bed."
"The bed cover."
"No, it made a plunk."
"Lobster salad! I shed mine early."
"I hope it was that, but if you are game you can get out and see if
anything is there. I'm not."
Zarl said she had squandered her endurance for one night and did not
propose to risk pneumonia a second time. "Get some sleep. We'll need our
best working wits to crawl out of that attack upon Clarice. I hope to
goodness you did not give her a black eye."
It was now nearing six o'clock and the idea of a spectral figure
seemed to be too much the child of lobster salad to be convincing. I
cuddled in beside Zarl and Percy and had a decent sleep.
We awakened about eight o'clock, but as Lady Tattingwood had
thoughtfully arranged that no one was to be disturbed that morning until
he or she rang, we luxuriated a little longer, and then said we would
have a housemaid to clean up the fire and bring more coal.
I sat up and looked at the purple bed quilt again. It was lying flat
on an open stretch of carpet, but at one corner was a peak as if a tent
peg were underneath. That arm flinging something might have had more
substance than a bad dream. I suggested that it might be a good time to
get the quilt back to Lady Tattingwood's room, and Zarl agreed. I kept my
eyes taut as she withdrew it. There was an object sticking in the floor,
a dirk or dagger with a hilt like a rapier.
"There, I did hear something!" I exclaimed, pointing.
Zarl stooped and pulled the weapon out of the floor. It was deeply
embedded and required quite a tug. "Ugh!" she said. "It has jam or blood
or something on it. That brute must have been trying to kill poor little
Percy. Oh, do you know, I believe it was that thing they were throwing at
the board in the lounge yesterday afternoon. I don't like this kind of a
joke. It's carrying realism too far. We must tell Clarice."
We knocked hurriedly and entered without awaiting response. Lady
Tattingwood's bed was still unoccupied. At a casual glance the room
seemed exactly as when we last saw it.
"Let's knock up Cecil Stopworth. He's the right person to tell."
Zarl rapped sharply on his door. There was no response. "Clarice must
still be there. We must give her five minutes to get away." Zarl had more
acquaintance with week-ending among the best people than I had.
In ten minutes we knocked again. Still no reply. No reply from
Clarice's room either. We got back to bed for warmth, and discussed the
situation. "If you hit her she is probably with Swithwulf," said Zarl,
now quite serious.
"But surely she did not go to Swithwulf, and risk giving her show
"Clarice isn't one of those recklessly courageous people who has to
tell the facts. The weak have a great knack of having things both ways.
She could say that she tripped getting out of bed, or anything."
"But I should think others would be more sympathetic than
"Don't you believe it! Clarice's Trustees ensured Swith's overwhelming
care, and it's not so abstract as sympathy. The marriage settlement is a
masterpiece in its line, I understand. It only holds while Clarice is
well and hearty, during her life, and that sort of business. So if she
only looks yellow or pink or whatever it is about the gills, Swithy is on
the job like a fire squad. He's a wizard nurse too--picked it up
soldiering. Clarice has him there, and uses him too. No proud, silent
woman scorning his help, about Clarice. And it works. When you see what
marriage generally becomes, Clarice's arrangement is rather wizard."
"Rather, with Cecil as cher ami."
"This one-man-one-woman business in marriage is not the ideal of the
smartest people--too much like universal suffrage."
"How doth Swith take Cecil?"
"As a matter of good form, he ignores it, but it would be all to his
good if they would compromise themselves. He is always affable to Cecil.
An affair with Cecil, that could be proved, would be security for Swith.
If Clarice tried to get a divorce it could be squashed by Swith
countering with Cecil as co-re, and the fortune would remain where it is.
And there are a couple of other men who would gladly snap up Clarice's
soap if she were free--the Elephant Hunter for one."
"I see," I said. Zarl had been put in that room because she was a
friend whom Clarice trusted, whom anyone could trust both for tact and
loyalty and I, thrusting in as maid, had spoiled things. "What can we do
to mend matters?" I said rather helplessly, and looked out on the park,
clear in a crisp frosty morning after a fog-wrapped midnight.
"We must do something. Swith doesn't encourage people who are a menace
to Clarice's health." Zarl rang our bell, and tardily, a housemaid came.
Zarl asked her to attend to the fire. We got back to bed. The girl must
have been fifteen minutes. As she was withdrawing Zarl instructed her to
go to Capt. Stopworth next door and ask him to come to us as soon as
In due time the girl returned with a scuttle of coals, and said no one
answered her knocks next door, and that the door was locked. Zarl
suggested that the Chief Inspector must have dressed and gone downstairs,
and asked the girl to seek him. Later she reported that Chief Inspector
Stopworth was not to be found, but that Detective-Constable Manning was
in the Servants' Hall. Zarl asked for him and he came in a few
He rapped with authority on the door in the gallery, and then tried
the one leading from our room. Both were locked from the inside. The
windows opening on to the outside gallery were also firmly fastened. He
went for Detective-Sergeant Beeton, who came with implements, and they
forced the door from the gallery.
In company with the police officers, Zarl and I peeped in. Chief
Inspector Stopworth was lying full length on the floor on his back, one
arm flung out, the other by his side. His face showed that he was
"Um!" remarked Detective-Sergeant Becton.
The other man pursed his lips. Zarl and I were sick with horror, too
stricken for words.
Newspaper stories of murder run so simply that frequently they fail to
interest the outsider. It is a different thing to see the foul thing
before one's eyes, to find the remotely considered become reality, to
have felt its dread breath as it passed to reduce to ungainly death one
who a few hours earlier had been the most commanding personality, the
most beautiful being present.
The detectives re-locked and guarded the room till the regular
procedure could be observed. The Yard was immediately informed. Lord
Tattingwood had to be told.
Zarl and I scuttled back to our room. Zarl tripped over the heavy
footstool, and, recovering herself, set it against the door into
Stopworth's room as if placing a barrier between us and horror. I don't
know if I looked as startled as she did, or as pale. She sat shivering by
"What are we to do?" she demanded. "I never thought it would end like
this. Shall I have to say that I saw the Elephant Hunter when I was out
last night? And he'll say he saw me."
"You mustn't conceal anything, or you will be an accessory."
"I'd rather be considered that," said Zarl, "than seem to be kicking a
man when he is down. What ought I to do?"
"Wait till we find out what the Elephant Hunter says. He may confess
his movements. They probably were as innocent as yours."
"He looked as if he were walking in his sleep."
"He always looks like that."
But Zarl when first mentioning him had ridiculed his modest manner
upon encountering and being encountered in his night apparel.
Lord Tattingwood was out of bed, but undressed and unshaven. His wife
was in his room, wrapped in blankets on a couch. Lord Tattingwood said he
had found her half-an-hour since, cold and ill, in his dressing-room.
Alarmed by her condition, he wanted to telephone for the doctor at
Supersnoring immediately, but Lady Tattingwood had insisted that she was
only suffering from colic, which she attributed to the lobster salad. Her
husband had administered brandy, which she said gave her instant relief,
which endured as long as she remained perfectly still.
She murmured that she wished to be left alone, and Lord Tattingwood
emerged to learn of foul murder committed under his roof. Unshaven, in
the morning light, he looked old and dissipated, and an even less
attractive being than during the previous evening, when he had told the
fib about his visit to Percy. But on hearing the state of affairs he took
command with that energy and common sense to be expected of an intrepid
soldier. His first thought seemed to be for Lady Tattingwood. He said
this would be a terrible shock to her, as the Chief Inspector had been
one of her patients during the war, and they had been friends and
companions ever since. As the doctor had been sent for on the other
count, he would let her rest undisturbed as long as possible.
He said he would inform his son, and retreated for that purpose. In a
very short time afterwards, he and Cedd, shaven and dressed, were
everywhere, directing the household staff, assisting the police and
consoling their guests.
The detectives, in collaboration with the local police, proceeded with
their scientific routine, taking evidence, searching for clues. The
housemaid, who had knocked on Stopworth's door at our behest, was the
first to be questioned. I came next. I told of waking from a troubled
doze and fancying that I saw a great arm fling something into the room,
but this had seemed so fantastic that I attributed it to nightmare and
went to sleep again till thoroughly wakened by the entrance of someone
disguised in a wrap, whereupon I had struck out with the broom, and the
person had scuttled out the door into the gallery. As there had been no
light in the gallery I was unable to discern an outline in that direction
that would have helped me to identify the intruder.
Zarl corroborated my statement, but omitted to say that she had been
out in the night and had seen the Elephant Hunter. She simply testified
that she had been awakened by a thump, which I had explained. Neither
Zarl nor I wished to bring Lady Tattingwood into it unless necessary.
"Why did you not alarm the household?" the Detective demanded, very
We said we saw the purple quilt on the floor and were horrified to
think that we might have struck our hostess. We immediately sought her in
her room but had found it vacant. We then knocked on Capt. Stopworth's
door and received no answer, so were in a quandary, but as we saw and
heard no one about, we felt that the best thing to do was to return to
bed and wait till morning. It was only when we lifted the bed quilt that
we found the weapon, and then did arouse the house.
The detective censured Zarl for touching the weapon, though in this
instance it did not so much matter. The weapon was readily identified as
that with which the men had been playing on the previous afternoon, and
showed a medley of fingerprints useless as a clue.
My story of how the dagger came into our room did not ring very well
in the circumstances. Zarl and I were asked to remain at hand for the
When we were alone, Zarl said that she had not mentioned going out
into the corridor during the night and seeing the Elephant Hunter. "I let
it slip, and now I may get into a terrible mess. It's not like a thing I
could forget, and I don't know what to do. What should I do?"
"They'll probably question you again and then you could mention that
you were out, but just after you went to bed: affect modesty about your
errand, and that will cover the thing, I should think."
"It's not my being out that I mind telling--it's seeing the Elephant
Hunter." Later she said, "I'm not going to tell that I saw the Elephant
Hunter or that I was out of my room at all. If he committed the murder
and my withholding the evidence lets him get free, no very great harm
will be done, as he'll most likely go back to the Congo and stay there
for fear of being found out. Please don't tell a word of this."
Lord Tattingwood could throw no light on the subject. He said, that
with a number of his guests, he retired about 3 a.m., and had gone to
sleep at once. He was a heavy sleeper and did not hear his wife enter his
dressing-room. She had called till she wakened him only about half an
hour before Detective-Sergeant Beeton came to him. He slept so heavily
that it was always difficult to wake him, and he had heard no sound from
the time of his retirement until Lady Tattingwood's call aroused him. He
asked the Sergeant to defer questioning Lady Tattingwood till she had
recovered from her swoons. He dreaded the effect of breaking the news to
her, and preferred to wait till the doctor came.
A roll call of every member of the household-staff, guests and family
showed that two were missing, Yusuf and Jimmy. London was immediately
communicated with and the local police set to scour the neighborhood for
evidence of the movements of these two men.
No bruise was found on anyone that would tally with my tale of
defensive attack, but Yusuf and Jimmy Wengham were missing. A lot seemed
to hang on them.
Yusuf had not been seen by anyone after he got out of the car when he
returned from the X-Raying.
It was now recalled that Wengham had been in his thick clothes and air
helmet when we had departed for the Hospital. He must have changed out of
his evening dress after being searched for the blue diamond. This had
passed unnoticed as he had come forward offering himself as driver, also
he had a mania for air gear and would have worn it to dinner if
permissible. He had occupied a small room adjacent to the Elephant
Hunter's, in the bachelor wing, in the direction of Lord Tattingwood's
apartments, and his bed had not been disturbed at all on Saturday night.
The Elephant Hunter had not seen or heard him there.
Ydonea Zaltuffrie's company were all accounted for except Yusuf, and
yielded nothing under questioning. The magnates had been undisturbed by
eating the lobster salad, a form of cannibalism to which their digestive
apparatus was inured. They were intrigued or disconcerted according to
their temperaments, and consorted together in the smoking or billiard
Mammy Lou alone yielded anything of interest. She was too ill to get
up, but she was immensely fat and quite forty, and it was unlikely that
she could have disappeared with the celerity that I noted in the
intruder. She testified that she had eaten all the lobster salad provided
for her mistress and some more as well, and after retiring had been taken
ill. She had gone out into the corridor of the east wing, where Ydonea
was quartered, and at the end of the hall had seen a ghost, and rushed
back to her mistress jibbering with terror. She insisted that it was a
real ghost, though she saw it only for a moment before it disappeared
around a corner. She still shuddered and became unintelligible when
questioned, but asserted that the creature had been immense and white,
shapeless and awful, and reached nearly to the ceiling.
Ydonea said it was the dream of her life to visit a baronial hall and
see a real live ghost, so she had dashed out into the corridor, but could
see nothing. She ran to the end where it joined the grand gallery, but
the lights there had all been put out, and she returned to deal with her
panic-stricken maid. She thought the tale denoted that Mr. Wengham or the
Elephant Hunter had been playing a practical joke for her benefit when
interrupted by Mammy Lou, and had attached no further importance to
My story of the sheeted figure gained a little weight, but Zarl said
to me privately that Mammy Lou had seen the Elephant Hunter and her
fright had enlarged him to a ghost.
The doctor's evidence, in common language stripped of terms like rigor
mortis and other technicalities, was that Stopworth had been stabbed in
the chest by a sharp pointed instrument, and could have been dead about
four or six hours. As indicated by the position of the body the blow had
been savage, from a strong arm, from someone as tall as Stopworth
himself, and death had followed without a struggle. Stopworth lay where
he had fallen, soaked in his blood. He was wearing slippers and a thick
dressing gown over his underclothes. By the disposition of a deep, easy
chair and the reading lamp he had evidently been writing when disturbed.
This was borne out by there being on the floor near to his outflung left
hand a fountain pen and a note book. There was a gas fire in the room and
this and the reading lamp were both alight when the body was found. Owing
to the absence of any evidence of struggle it seemed that the murdered
man had been taken unaware, as he was tall and athletic, excelled at
tennis and rowing and always kept physically fit.
The position of the lamp threw the door from the gallery in shadow.
Anyone rising from the lamp and fire might not at first glance have
recognised who was at the door as he opened it. It seemed as if Stopworth
had removed his pen to the left hand with the book while he used his
right fingers to turn the yale lock.
Considering what had happened before he retired and that he was an
alert efficient man, the detectives were of opinion that he would not
have gone to the door in such a fashion unless someone on the outside had
spoken to him, someone whom he could trust. Therefore the intruder must
be someone whose voice was familiar to him, or someone who had been able
to imitate the voice of such a person. Nothing had been removed from the
room nor from the dead man's belongings so far as expert search could
The book in which the Chief Inspector had been writing at the time of
his death was the usual professional record of such cases. The events of
the evening from the dead man's trained point of view had been written in
his small clear hand. It was not a printed diary, but a small ledger with
a lock and key, in which he had made his own divisions for the days as he
needed them, some small, some larger. Scattered throughout it were pages
of shorthand, in neat almost perfect characters--that kind of shorthand
learned for keeping a personal private record and never roughened by
Zarl was known to be an authority on shorthand. She had once studied
the various systems to find the most easily acquired so that she could be
secretary at about three weeks' notice to a great man going to observe
sub-arctic growths in the carbuncles of the moose in Alaska, or some
other recondite scientific quest. The book was handed to her to discover
the system used, as none of the police officers present could decipher
Zarl said it was not Pitman, nor Gregg nor Webb. "Do you know it?" She
turned to me. Detective-Sergeant Beeton was not too pleased, but did not
like to be curt with Zarl (the famous charm was operating), and with
himself watching, I could not very well eat the book, so he submitted. I
saw it was the script I use, learned through a correspondence school. The
Chief Inspector had evidently taken such a course when he was demobilised
and did not know what to do. When I got the slant of the characters I
could read them as certainly as much handwriting of the highly educated,
but pretended to be boggling so as to learn as much as possible.
"Come!" said the Sergeant. "You cannot decipher it. We'll send it to
"I was just beginning to understand. He is explaining that when the
lights were switched off at the cinema show the diamond disappeared."
"I could guess that," said the man dryly. "Thank you," I said,
demurely returning the book, which was sent to Headquarters by a motor
cycle messenger. I did not confess what I had learned of its contents.
The C.I.D. was so efficient that my help was superfluous, and all men
prefer people who have less ability than themselves. If I was to be
suspected, concealed knowledge rather than intrusiveness would help me
more in learning the progress of the case.
My own name and Zarl's occurred in Stopworth's diary. I was commended
as being shrewd and observant, quick at deduction and inference, and not
easily rattled. Zarl was spoken of as daring and interesting and as one
who might know more of the matter than she would divulge. The unfinished
pages were in script and in them was the statement that the yellow
diamond had also been taken from Stopworth's pocket when the lights went
out in the cinema hall; that he had not yet traced it, though E.C.'s
evidence as to how certain men were placed when the lights went on, gave
him a clue. The chewing gum which the Indian Chauffeur had produced
(alleging that he had found it on the under part of the head rest of the
tall chair on which Zaltuffrie had been sitting, and from which the
Indian said he had taken it upon entering the room after the search had
been completed) contained an impression of a diamond. It was likely to be
that of the blue diamond, and whoever snatched that had evidently adhered
it to the chair with the gum and risked it being there later. The dead
man deducted that this could have been Yusuf, or Yusuf might be working
with a confederate. The gum had been handled with a handkerchief
evidently, so that no impression of fingers was on it. Two people, and
probably more, had been needed to pass both the blue diamond and the
yellow one through the searching of persons and the room which followed
on the alarm being raised. It was possible that the blue diamond had been
passed to Yusuf from some person near Zaltuffrie who could have tossed it
to the adjoining room while the lights were off and then recovered it
while pretending to grovel with E.C. and search for what had flipped from
the monkey and which E.C. had alleged was a button. The yellow as well as
the blue diamond was missing. Yusuf's every move must be watched. Wengham
and Brodribb were also near Zaltuffrie, and Carrington and Osterley. He
felt that the diamond had been picked from his pocket by...
That was the end.
As soon as the doctor had pronounced the dead man officially to be
dead, Lord Tattingwood called him to his wife. He said he had just broken
the terrible news to her, and was alarmed by the result. She had fainted
dead away, and was too long coming to for his liking.
When she came out other swoon she asked that Zarl should come to her
and remain with her during the doctor's visit. It was to Zarl that she
turned and clung rather than to the family connections such as Miss
Bitcalf-Spillbeans, who loathed monkeys. I consoled myself with Percy,
who was full of capers. Suspicion and danger seemed to have removed from
him, but I was embedded in the terrible drama, one of those to give
evidence, one of those receiving censure for what I had omitted to do,
and most likely being suspected of what I knew not.
The guests collected in whispering knots and discussed Lady
Tattingwood's indisposition. They said the shock of Capt. Stopworth's
death had been too much for her, as she had been at one time attached to
him. Some of the kinder hoped that Swithwulf would be considerate, said
that he owed it to her as she had been so generous with her fortune and
so tolerant of his humiliating infidelities. It was admitted that he had
risen to the occasion remarkably, with thoughtfulness for all and a
dignity that became him, though he looked shocked and worn. "I could have
met this thing better thirty years ago," he remarked to Zarl.
Zarl reported to me that upon examination the doctor speedily
discovered much amiss with Clarice, plus the alleged lobster colic. For
one thing her elbow was fractured. The doctor wanted to take her to the
Supersnoring Home for Cripples and have it X-Rayed, but her husband said
he would take her direct to Wimpole Street, and call in his friend. Sir
Philmore Galstone, the distinguished surgeon of Harley Street.
Inspector Frereton from Scotland Yard had arrived during the last half
hour to take charge, and he said it was necessary to question her
ladyship. As she was so ill and suffering, Lord Tattingwood and Zarl were
allowed to remain in the room and help her in any way possible with
cushions and draughts of water or sips of brandy.
She said that about an hour after she went to bed, she had been
attacked by violent pains. At first she could not even ring her bell or
call out, but after a while the pains eased, leaving her so weak that she
wished for brandy. She had no spirits in her room but thought that
Captain Stopworth would have some. She did not wish to wake Miss Osterley
and her companion after the tiring experiences of the night. She thought
she heard the breathing of both as she stole across the room and knocked
on Capt. Stopworth's door. She expected him to be busy writing up events,
but there was no answer to her knock, so concluding that he had retired,
she was retracing her steps with the intention of ringing for her maid,
when she was attacked in the most violent and astonishing manner and had
all she could do to rush through the door into the gallery. She was so
terrified that she sped to her husband's protection and reached his
dressing-room door. This fortunately was unlocked, as she had sufficient
strength only to tumble in.
The Inspector asked if she had cried out or screamed when hit. She
said she thought she had, but could not be sure, she was in such a panic,
the assault had been so sudden and horrid; she thought it must have come
from someone in hiding to steal the monkey on account of the mystery
about the gem.
"But if your ladyship thought that, how is it that you did not raise
the household after reaching your husband's apartments?"
"Oh, I ran such a long way; I thought I'd drop before reaching refuge,
and I must have fainted inside the door. I have been fainting ever since
my husband found me. The pains came on again and I thought I was dying. I
was quite helpless. The pains were worse than the clout."
Lord Tattingwood interposed that she had not been quite coherent when
he found her. The Inspector regretted her inability to raise the alarm at
the time. She was not reprimanded as I had been. She was seriously ill,
and the doctor had to attend her. A trained nurse was summoned from
Inspector Frereton was cool and smart. Stopworth had been equally cool
and smart but mellower through experience, and knew how to hide his
official contempt for laymen and suspects. Inspector Frereton put me
through a fresh examination. He asked why had I the broom in
I said, in expectation of an attempt to abstract Percy. I confessed I
expected Yusuf, because he averred that Percy had swallowed the missing
gem, and further, had been vociferously unsatisfied with the evidence of
"How did you expect him to get in?"
"I wasn't able to lock Lady Tattingwood's door, and I thought he might
steal through that way, that is if she did not lock her door into the
gallery; or that he might have secreted himself somewhere in her rooms
after returning from the X-Raying, and while we were diverted by supper,
and so forth."
"And how do you account for that dagger being where it was found?"
"I cannot account for it. It was flung by someone who had designs on
the life of the monkey or me."
"And that you suspect is..."
"I have nothing but suspicions, very addled suspicions, and suspicions
are not evidence."
"The form that Mammy Lou thought was a ghost was probably Lady
Tattingwood running to her husband's protection."
"I cannot say, but the form that I thought I saw throwing the dagger
into my room was much bigger, much taller than Lady Tattingwood."
"As tall for instance...can you make a comparison by someone in the
I thought of Jimmy Wengham because he was missing, but I would not say
his name seeing how cruel suspicions can be: and he had been near Zarl
when the diamond disappeared. Neither would I mention the Elephant Hunter
Brodribb because he also had been near Ydonea; nor Lord Tattingwood
because it would have been ungracious now that he was vanquished by
tribulation. I said, "It was a form much taller than Yusuf the Indian
Chauffeur; I should say that he was as tall as Captain Stopworth himself,
or Detective-Sergeant Beeton, or several of the film magnates."
"Oh! And have you any reason to suspect that anyone has designs on
"None whatever. Never in my life have I felt that my removal would be
of consequence to anyone."
"No sheet has been found that could have been used by the alleged
dagger thrower. All the beds, linen presses, soiled linen baskets and
such have been searched."
"It could have been the sheet that was spread for Percy at dinner.
That was large, and Percy dropped some fruit juice on it, and it would be
thoroughly crumpled because Mr. Wengham, the airman, wrapped himself in
it and said he could act ghost. Later I wrapped myself in it and came to
my room while my clothes were being searched for the blue diamond, and
later still I put it back in the dining room so that it could be used for
Percy again, Find that sheet. It should be easily accounted for by some
member of the household staff."
"Why did you not mention this earlier?"
"It has just occurred to me. I give it for what it is worth."
"Thank you," said the man, with a little less asperity. "And now, you
say you were only half-waked by this apparition that threw the
"That is so. I thought I had a nightmare or that it was a ghost and I
was too scared to get out of bed and see if something had fallen."
"You were quite awake later when a second person intruded?"
"And you did not recognise Lady Tattingwood?"
"The intruding figure was swathed in the purple bed cover, which was
dropped in flight."
"You did not see the figure after the counterpane was dropped?"
"No. It had the shadow of the door and the unlighted gallery behind
it. I had arranged my bed so that I should have a possible intruder
against the light from the windows."
He inspected the position of the beds now, and as they had been when
more or less open to observation during the previous evening. He noted
particularly the spot where the dagger had fallen.
"It is lucky for you that you moved your bed."
I did not divulge what I heard pass between Clarice and her friend
during the evening, nor that I had seen her go right into Stopworth's
room some time before I struck the intruder in the purple quilt, and had
no difficulty in recognising her. I did not believe that she had anything
to do with her lover's death. The downward trend and the savage force of
the wound that had killed him shewed that it could hardly have been
inflicted by a woman as weak as Lady Tattingwood, and it certainly could
not have been inflicted by anyone as small as Zarl or I unless on a
"The hand that plunged the weapon right through the strong, fit body
of such an alert, able man, in his prime, must have been on the arm of a
tall, strong, ruthless man," I said to the Inspector.
"Not necessarily," he replied, fixing me with a steady gaze. "That
weapon is as sharp as a needle, and found a spot between the Chief's
ribs. He had no clothes much to protect him. Any tennis-playing girl
could have done it if she were, say, on a step to give her height."
This was meant to remind me that Zarl and I were both noted for our
vigorous serving in tennis. It was such an impertinent suggestion that I
determined not to worry Zarl by repeating it.
The doubly stricken Lady Tattingwood grew worse. Sir Philmore Galstone
arrived during the morning.
"He's a pretentious old cow," observed Zarl, "the kind that isn't
worth bowling over. The greatest living scientists don't put on such dog.
He cackles like a quack and leaves the real work to the inoffensive
little chap from Supersnoring."
Sir Philmore expressed a desire to inspect the monkey who had opened
the campaign, and while he posed before Percy I inspected him. He
suggested that Percy would be an acquisition for the Research people.
"Such a fine fat healthy little chap."
Zarl filliped Sir Philmore's interest by riposting, "Oh, but Sir
Philmore, you'd be infinitely better--not quite so human, but the
physical area is larger quantity." She said this with her eyes dancing
and the famous charm operating so that it was accepted as wit. Sir
Philmore however turned with relief to the Supersnoring practitioner who
deferred to his great superior as to God. He had an attitude of deference
foreign to Zarl's upbringing, and please God, may life never dragoon her
Zarl observed further, in private, "It's a fine thing he's so full of
himself, or he might have been too sticky-beaked about what happened to
poor old Clarice; and dragged her little secret of midnight trysts into
the witness box."
Sir Philmore's edict was that she should at once be removed to a
private nursing home in Wimpole Street. Dr. Supersnoring deferentially
concurred in this opinion, and Sir Philmore mentioned the names of two
other highly successful physicians whom he wished to call in
"Such a bared-faced waste of decent soapsuds," said Zarl.
Mommer Zaltuffrie was glad to potter about and talk to me. "Everything
nowadays has to be made into a publicity stunt, or it can't be put
across. This doctor lord is monkeying a full-sized one with this poor
lady. I used to think once that lords and lordesses had to be born, but
it seems that they make new ones themselves, and one of them here has
been telling me that a labour politician who ain't a lord himself can
make earls and barons. That's a new one on me, like hoisting themselves
by their own bootstraps, without even having the bootstraps. It's sure as
good as a play in a monkey house."
Ydonea offered to convey her hostess to London in her super
Rolls-Royce, but Sir Philmore insisted upon an ambulance. Lord
Tattingwood said that his wife was too ill to see Zarl, but she sent kind
messages to the effect that if Zarl experienced any trouble arising out
of the tragedy or had any need of funds she was to remember that Clarice
was her banker. I was included, most generously, seeing that I was
supposed to have attacked her with a broom.
Lord Tattingwood added a few words of his own. "We don't know where a
bally mess like this may end, and er, should er, there, what I damn well
mean is that in case of bail you are to give my name, and that includes
the young lady acting as your maid. I saw through her from the start, and
had a good joke at her expense when I did not think things were going to
end this way." He winked slyly at me. Something of noblesse oblige
perhaps in that oblique saving of face.
Zarl thanked him appropriately, and observed later "Clarice isn't as
sick as they are giving out or else Swith is rising too marvellously to
the occasion: true British blue blood will tell sort of business."
He did not appear too desperately depressed by the grim happening
within his doors, but then he had earned a V.C. in the Boer war by
standing at the head of a pass and pitchforking the enemy over his head
with a bayonet, or some equally highly esteemed military feat. When young
he might have been the hero of women--of those who creep rather than
The Coroner arrived, and, when he had gone through the regular
routine, permitted Lady Tattingwood to be removed to the nursing home.
Lord Tattingwood dutifully seated himself beside her in the ambulance and
the local doctor sat beside the driver.
Ydonea received permission to take her retinue back to the Ritz; one
of her private detectives was to replace Yusuf. There was no evidence to
detain any of these people, magnates or menials, but they were instructed
to hold themselves in readiness should they be needed at the inquest.
Zarl and I had to remain for the present.
Ydonea bade us good-bye in comradely fashion. "Gee!" she exclaimed,
"Think of an ancestral palace like this putting on such a show! I'll say
it's thrilling! It's the first time I've lived a squawkie, and I want to
say right now that it licks the whole of creation out of a made-up one,
though you two girls have more of a star part than I. I still want to
sign Percy up as my leading man. Oh boy! what a play we could make out of
this! Just think of the shots they could get right here without any
dressing up whatever! Now if you girls are put to any expense I hope
you'll let me in on that, and if you want anyone to sit beside you when
the trial comes on, Mommer and I will take turns. I don't believe that
either of you know any more about the killing of that 'cute policeman
than I do myself."
I was about to plunge in and ask what she meant, when she broke down
and wept like a real person, and had to be comforted by her mother and
the still shuddering Mammy Lou.
This delayed her departure for some minutes during which Inspector
Frereton was called to the telephone. The Constable stood outside the
door of the room while the Inspector telephoned, and in a moment came and
said Miss Zaltuffrie and her staff would have to delay their departure
till further orders. Word went to the waiting troupe. The engines before
the ancestral door ceased their purring. Everyone looked towards the film
star. She was now to have her turn in the full limelight.
The Inspector had received extracts from the transcription of the dead
man's notes, those referring to the disappearance of the yellow diamond,
and it became necessary to question Miss Zaltuffrie.
I was first re-questioned as to what I had said to the dead Chief
about the position of certain people when the lights went on after Ydonea
called out that the blue diamond was missing.
Ydonea, when questioned, said that Wengham, when moving protectively
to her, as I had described after the alarm, remarked that he had taken
the yellow diamond from the Chief Inspector.
"How did he take it?"
"He did not say. I kinda thought the Inspector must have handed it
back for safety."
"And what did you do with the yellow diamond when Mr. Wengham returned
it to you?"
"He slipped its chain over my head."
"And no one noticed it?"
"It don't seem as if they did."
"Not even in the search--you were searched?"
"Oh yes, in a sort of way. But jimmy had put the diamond on upside
down and it was not remarked. No one was looking for it anyway. It had
not been lost."
In such a pawnbroker's display, one crown jewel more or less had
passed in the glitter.
"And you have the yellow diamond now--only the blue one is
"Why no! I gave the yellow diamond back to Mr. Wengham."
"You did! When?"
"When the schlemozzle about the search had died down."
"Did you ask him to take care of it?"
"No. He said he would keep it safely for the night, that the Chief
Inspector himself might be the leader of a gang of diamond thieves, for
all he knew. He said he couldn't see for what other purpose a gentleman
like Capt. Stopworth would stick to such a cow of a job for so long."
Sharply questioned as to why she trusted Mr. Wengham more readily than
the Chief Inspector, she said that they were all kinda strange to her and
not what she had expected in such a royal castle, but she knew Jimmy to
be the son of a bishop, who had a brother a lord, as she had heard his
popper preach, and she therefore considered he might know what he was
talking about and be more honest than a mere policeman.
Ydonea evidently had not fallen under the spell of Cecil Stopworth.
She was not frail sexually, therein lay part of her business ability, nor
had she been "raised" to regard the police as incorruptible.
Asked if she had told anyone that Wengham had the yellow diamond, she
said no, or she might as well have left it among her other jewels.
The next question was concerning Chief Inspector Stopworth. Had he
spoken to her about the yellow diamond and how it was taken from him?
Ydonea said she did not mention it to him at all. He was very busy in
other ways. She naturally thought Jimmy had just asked Captain Stopworth
for the diamond and that he had surrendered it because Jimmy was the son
of a bishop and had an uncle a lord, while Captain Stopworth was only a
plain clothes detective.
Her explanation was so obviously honest and unaffected that any social
criticism implied was unconscious and therefore inoffensive. She further
stated that she returned the yellow diamond to Mr. Wengham's keeping just
as soon as he and she were free from the search, which was early, as they
were among the first attended to.
The entries in the dead man's diary did not come so far as this. It
was possible that he had not noted the gem's return to the neck of
Ydonea, seeing that it was upside down and that he might never have
thought of its being there.
Mommer testified that she noticed the absence of the yellow diamond
when she and her daughter were placing the jewels in their strong box,
but her daughter had said that Mr. Wengham was keeping it for safety as
in such a mix-up the most unlikely person might be in with the
The Coroner and Inspector withheld censure. Miss Zaltuffrie's attitude
to State jewels was so high, wide and careless that it rather took their
"And what do you think of Mr. Wengham's disappearance with your plane
now, including the gem?" she was asked.
"I'll say Jimmy is just the craziest thing. It's what makes him so
It was divulged that Wengham had been traced as far as Paris.
He kept Ydonea's Puss Moth at a Club at Hendon, of which he was a
member. The machine had been left there on Saturday morning, because
there had been a thick fog and he could not fly to Tattingwood as
arranged, He had returned to the Club in his car some time during the
early hours of Sunday. One attendant heard a car and found Wengham's
Austin about eight o'clock. There were several to testify that they had
heard a plane leaving long before it was dawn. Wengham's Puss Moth and
one of the mechanics employed by the Club were missing on Sunday morning.
The tanks had been full and the machine in every way ready for a journey.
The fog had lifted about 2 a.m. after a shower, and the moon, a day or
two past full, had made good light. Wengham had left Paris before he
could be apprehended, but the mechanic was on the way back.
Wengham had been quite open about his movements in Paris where he was
a familiar figure in aeronautical circles, both on account of his own
achievements, and lately as Ydonea's pilot. His papers were in order on
account of his frequent crossings. He had refuelled, had his machine
brought up to the top screech, seemed to have plenty of funds and said he
was out to make a new world record in flying.
Telegraphs, cables and air stations were buzzing with messages about
him, and as a Puss Moth in full crow is not so inconspicuous as a Baby
Austin it was expected that he would be speedily intercepted.
Ydonea produced a crumpled note in Jimmy's scrawl in which he
expressed himself in the same terms as to Zarl. "Jimmy never had any
originality, that's what dishes him in the heiress marriage market," Zarl
said later. This letter relieved her of any necessity to divulge the note
which Jimmy had left her. "He apparently leaves these chits about with
the prodigality of a lady oyster."
"This note is kind of personal," said Mommer, "and doesn't amount to a
hill of beans, but I tell daughter she had best not keep anything back in
a case like this."
Jimmy implored Ydonea to think kindly of him, "and when I make a world
record, I'll lay it and myself before you. Baby Doll, for further
Asked what she took that to mean, she said it sounded as if he was
proposing. She generously expressed her belief that Mr. Wengham would be
able to account for his actions and would safely keep the diamond for
her. She did not attach any particular importance to his using her plane:
he was permitted to use it as his own, and had done so several times
The grave officials questioning her realised that she had a different
point of view from her interlocutors, also she was staggeringly beautiful
and young, and the glamour of limelight and millions enwrapped her. She
was permitted to go until the resumption of the inquest.
The date for this was not yet stated. As the owner of plane and jewel
thus gave Jimmy a charter, the police could only act accordingly. As
Ydonea testified that Jimmy had the diamond all the time, and as the dead
man's diary also stated that the gem had gone from him early in the
evening, it seemed to remove any motive on Jimmy's part for putting
Stopworth out of existence. Nevertheless efforts to trace him were not
relaxed. The blue diamond was not accounted for.
Brodribb, the Elephant Hunter, was asked to remain at hand, but that
we did not know till later, so thick was the velvet of C.I.D. manners in
conducting their business. He also said voluntarily that he had been out
during the night but had seen no one. But he continued to stalk Zarl and
fix his petrified stare upon her till she confessed that her nerve would
break under the strain.
The terrible day wore on.
Miss Zaltuffrie, reinstated at the Ritz, refused herself to friends
and reporters alike. No one could penetrate to her presence. She, who had
been flamboyant about publicity, was now acting in an exemplary manner,
which surprised and pleased the C.I.D.
Reporters stormed Tattingwood Hall and were met with dignity and
impregnable courtesy, first by the butler who passed them on to
Cedd--supported nobly by the Elephant Hunter, whose taciturnity was a
refuge. Thus they reached a member of the C.I.D. who said that the police
were following several clues. No arrests had been made but a number of
persons were under observation.
Zarl was allowed to telephone Mme Mabelle, who said we were just as
well where we were for the time, well-guarded from reporters and painful
publicity. Cedd had removed us from the tragic wing to a room next to his
dressing-room so that we should not feel nervous or lonely.
Cedd was so soothing that I suggested that Zarl should lead him over
the brink of matrimony, but Zarl said that two red heads might be a
conflagration, that she abominated to be soothed, that what she sought
was stimulation, that she would rather be marooned at Russkoye Ustye on
the Indigirka with one of her scientists than drop into Ydonea's
"But your sorties to Allaikha or the Lena would be immense film stuff.
The world is panting for it."
"But the film concoctors are not. Cedd and his putrid little cliques
boost each other as innovators but riot one of them has been off the
pavements, or farther than a French Plage. They cannot see beyond an arc
light. But I'll let Cedd sit on the hob and simmer in his own
sentimentality for the present--he might prove a useful contraption in
My functioning as Zarl's maid had broken down. The position had been
reversed. She was now my companion, a plucky one that would not leave me.
Most of the other guests left on Sunday afternoon and Zarl suggested to
Cedd that it would be livelier if we all ate together after that. We were
a party of Cedd, the Elephant Hunter, Inspector Frereton, Zarl, myself
and one or two left-overs, including Miss Bitcalf-Spillbeans, who
considered Percy the source of all the trouble.
When we met for dinner, the Inspector said to me again that the sheet
could not be found. The butler said it had been left in the dining hall
by Mr. Wengham and the other gentleman who had been playing with it. The
housekeeper and housemaids could not account for it.
"It has evidently been carried out of the house by some person," said
"Or burned. Have you examined all the ashes taken from the
"Naturally," he remarked with a cold glance.
Later we learned that Cedd Spillbeans had also been abroad during the
night. When about to retire at 3.50 or a little later, he smelt something
burning but could not trace the source. The odour was strongest in the
corner of the gallery and corridor towards Lady Tattingwood's apartments.
The smell of cabbage or other powerful substances often came up from the
kitchen by some uncontrollable current. He therefore went down to the
kitchen and found a half-burned tea-towel in the ashpan of the range and
came to the conclusion that the smell had penetrated upstairs from
A few remnants of linen threads had been found among the ashes, but
the fireplace from which they had come could not be decided. Other than
the great lounge, drawing room and dining hall, the rooms where coal
fires had been burning were Ydonea's, Zarl's and mine, the Elephant
Hunter's the housekeeper's and Lord Tattingwood's. I was thankful I was
not a tall woman, though a woman of any size can be accessory to the fact
of any crime.
The day wore to its close. We were all thankful to see it go. Late on
Sunday night there was still no trace of Yusuf. No similar person had
been seen at any railway station within a wide radius or noted walking on
the roads or by-paths. He seemed to have magically disappeared. He was
missing from his lodgings. Such a disappearance indicated that he must
have dependable and clever friends.
Percy Macacus Rhesus y Osterley was our diversion. He was enjoying his
week-end and eating his fill of grapes, supplied by his friend and patron
the butler. He liked dancing before the splendid mirrors, and rolling on
the rugs before the big fires--little exile from glorious African
The Police were reticent. The dead man had always been secretive about
clues in his spectacular cases, and the chief man detailed on his murder
was following similar methods.
Certain of the newspapers made harvest of the juxtaposition of the
airman son of the aged Bishop of Donchester, the disappearance of the
Puss Moth of the fabulously lovely film star, and a cruel murder at such
a scat as Tattingwood Hall.
The Bishop had haystacks of spiritual courage, and sought Ydonea, who
earned his commendation and affection by her attitude. She said she was
sure Jimmy would be able to clear himself. To fly off like that was the
kind of crazy thing he would do, but there was no harm in him, and she
had nothing to say further than that she had a great regard for Mr.
Wengham, who was just one of the 'cutest English boys she had ever
Asked if she would accept Mr. Wengham's offer of marriage (Jimmy's
lady-oyster chit had assumed dignity under reportorial pressure), she
said she just didn't know; and the Bishop said he would be happy to have
such an honest and unspoiled young girl for his son's bride.
Mommer was understood to say "There are sacks full of more important
folks waiting to marry daughter if she ever got time to think of such
Zarl said the best publicity stunt Ydonea could now throw would be to
marry the Bish.--that he was just about ripe enough in senility for such
a step, and that green or ripe it was all one to men in that department.
When asked to elucidate whether she meant sex or senility she said that
they were indivisible in men, but acted conversely.
On Monday morning a telegram was delivered for Ydonea, at Tattingwood
Hall, and as it came through the local office there was no difficulty
about its contents.
TRUST ME AND HELP ME STOP TAKING YOUR MONETARY HELP AND PLANE FOR
RECORD MAKING WORLD FLIGHT STOP DECIDED SUDDENLY TO SNATCH OPPORTUNITY
AHEAD OF CROWD STOP FULL EXPLANATION LATER STOP DIAMOND SAFE YOUR OWN
This history of this message, as compiled by the police, was that it
had been found on the table in the Club smoking-room with five shillings
and the instruction, "Don't send till after 8 p.m. Sunday so as not to
disturb household." The message had lain around unnoticed till Sunday
evening, which accounted for the delay. The police naturally had been
informed as soon as it was found, but it added nothing to Jimmy's chit of
Jimmy was still at large, but the mechanic who accompanied him as far
as Paris had been taken to Scotland Yard to give his version, which could
now be made public. He deposed that he slept on the Club premises and had
been wakened by Mr. Wengham between two and three o'clock on Sunday
morning. This brought great relief to the Bishop. Substantiated, it would
be an alibi for his son.
The inquest proceeded on Tuesday afternoon. Old ground was reharrowed
but no important new facts came to light, with one exception, important
to those implicated. Other witnesses were found to support the mechanic
(who had flown to Paris with Wengham) about the hour of the airman's
arrival at the Air Club on Sunday morning. No cross-questioning could
shake the fact that this had been between two and three o'clock.
Tattingwood was about fifty miles from London. The hour of our departure
from Tattingwood to be X-Rayed--when Wengham was last seen--was midnight,
so he must have taken his car out under cover of the general commotion
and come straight on to London without stopping. Indeed, a local
policeman testified that Mr. Wengham had followed our car, having
remarked that he would escort us.
An ancient name was thus cleared. Ydonea let herself go in interviews
to help the Bishop about Jimmy, and also, the censorious suspected,
because she had the habit of publicity. But Zarl said it was partly that
Ydonea had the hardiness and simplicity of an aspidistra in her freedom
from any need for privacy. She was of the school to whom privacy is
concealment, and what should any decent person have to conceal!
The gentle white-haired old Bishop appeared to me an incongruous
parent for Jimmy, but Zarl said "Not at all, among the best people he is
Ydonea said, "I'll say he's a sweet fatherly old dear." He became her
friend and invited her to be his guest at Donchester.
But Zarl said "I'll bet you a new pair of stockings to replace those
holed by Percy, that she'll marry the Bish. if her publicity dries
It became known from one end of the world to the other that Ydonea and
Jimmy had frequently discussed such a flight. It was to have been a
secret, but Ydonea had not expected it to be quite so sudden as this. She
was proud to have her machine used by such a gallant airman in setting up
a world record, and hoped it would be across the Atlantic to her own
beloved country. She was quite satisfied with the mention of the diamond
being safe with Jimmy. He was using it as a mascot and she hoped it would
bring him great luck.
Yusuf could not be traced. There was nothing but slight circumstantial
evidence to connect him with the murder. It was surmised that as soon as
he heard of it he might have been terrified of being connected with it
because of his eagerness about the diamond. It was thought that some of
his countrymen must have aided him to get out of the country on a
substituted permit as a lascar or waiter on a ship going to the East.
"We saw that the police kept clues to themselves more carefully than
is generally credited by the readers of the sensational press. Some of
the evening papers named had already solved the case. To them it was
plain that Yusuf had escaped with the blue diamond. He had spirited it
from the bracelet after turning off the lights, and placed it in the
chewing gum on the back of Ydonea's chair. The dead man had suspected
this. He had found the diamond himself but being a secretive worker kept
this to himself, the better to apprehend the thief and his confederates.
Yusuf, according to the evidence at the inquest, had rushed in and found
the chewing-gum as soon as the Cinema Hall was open after the search. He
announced it only because the diamond had already been taken from it. He
knew that Stopworth had the diamond and had stabbed him in the dead of
night and escaped. The sentimental and superstitious public were sure
that that diamond had gone back to the head of some joss in India who was
worshipped by the subjects of the unnamed Maharajah. The lay notion of
oriental abilities was so exaggerated that there was no magic beyond
The Elephant Hunter too was suspect by this audience. That he had been
chewing gum was conclusive to them, and his exploits in the Congo among
savages endued him with black magic only slightly below Yusuf's. He was
the accomplice of Yusuf, according to the amateur detectives, and Yusuf
had been false to the partnership and got away with the diamond. Some
shuddered and said they would not have such an unlucky object. Osterley
and Carrington were also not free from suspicion. Carrington's
masquerading looked very fishy.
Ydonea announced that she wished no money to be wasted or lives to be
risked in chasing the diamond.
The Underwriters responsible were not so indifferent and a reward of
two thousand pounds or ten thousand dollars, was offered for the return
of the gem. The C.I.D. expected results from this through the
Lady Tattingwood was dangerously ill in a West End nursing home and
unable to appear at the inquest, but her depositions were taken. There
was some danger with her heart, aggravated by the shock of being attacked
and that of hearing of the murder of her friend.
Examination of his effects exposed Stopworth's romance to the police,
but if the experts considered that it had any bearing on the murder, they
did not divulge it, and the facts were partially suppressed. Lady
Tattingwood's letters were found in the dead man's pocket, but they were
of ancient date and there was no shred of evidence that Stopworth had
ever used them to embarrass the writer. Lady Tattingwood, questioned,
said that he had brought them, at her request so that she could destroy
them, but there had been no opportunity of a moment of privacy.
Lord Tattingwood, cross-questioned, said that he knew of the old
attachment between his wife and Stopworth and had respected their later
Seeing that this romance was gone for ever, and in view of the fact
that Lady Tattingwood might recover and jog along with her husband, the
authorities were discreet in handling these facts. Documents concerning
Stopworth's daughter Denise were pigeonholed in case of need.
Swithwulf was acting commendably and spent a great deal of time
sitting by his wife's bedside. He took up residence at one of his Clubs
to be near her.
The weak spot in Lady Tattingwood's story of going to Stopworth's room
for brandy, when it was well known that he never touched alcohol in any
form, was ignored by the police. Evidence pointed to a more gallant
reason for her visit. The allegation of colic had faded in the stress of
circumstances, Lady Tattingwood's injuries were officially attributed to
the blow attributed in turn to the broom wielded by me.
My story of how the dagger came into the bedroom occupied by Zarl and
me, and which was corroborated by Mammy Lou in so far as that a tall,
sheeted figure had been abroad that night, had to be accepted for what it
The Elephant Hunter had not confessed to being in Stopworth's wing. "I
shall keep quiet for ever now," said Zarl. "Even if he committed the
murder, it's none of my business. They rather suspect you and me, so let
them get on with it."
A verdict of wilful murder was returned, against some person or
When Zarl and I returned to town we found among our mail an envelope
addressed in Jimmy's hand from Paris. It contained a scrawled line: "Mum
is the word. MUM."
"What does he mean by that?" I asked.
"That mum is the word--silence."
"For him or for you?"
"For us both, apparently. Well, it's a hygienic recipe in any case,
and I'll certainly follow it."
On careful examination we felt sure that all our mail had been opened,
also that our premises had been thoroughly searched.
"I told you they suspected you and me," said Zarl indignantly. "I'm
ever so glad I never told them about the Elephant Hunter. If I found out
the whole thing I should not tell them now. I'd fling the gem down the
drain if I found it, and hide the murderer. That Frereton tried to be
gallant to me. I suppose he thinks he can infatuate me and discover
something. Well, I shall make him in earnest. It won't be hard."
"Perhaps he is one of those men like Stopworth that has no weakness
"A fireproof man has not yet been littered."
"Women are the same..."
"Oh no, they are not. Nothing can seduce a really continent woman, but
there are no continent men--de fond en comble."
Zarl was so indignant with Inspector Frereton's gallant attitude
towards her that I expected a tense experience for him.
We were all back in our usual habitats. Zarl and I had been so near
the noxious breath of the dragon murder that we were depressed. A
salutary period of business activity followed to normalise us.
Ydonea had set her heart on Percy. If she had had her way, the public
would soon have been clamoring for a film of him, but Zarl was
indifferent. She said the possession of Percy was being vulgarised and
made a burden. Ydonea placed her hopes on me as his honorary mahout. She
offered me publicity work and as I was in low water I could not refuse
such a windfall. Ydonea was a wonderful subject. If not occupied with
starring she would have made a successful publicity stuntist. Her mind
worked on advertisement. Her beauty gave her entry to the film world and
she kept a position by publicity. Knowing what the supposedly great
artists resort to in advertisement to keep afloat in the moving picture
cataract, one respected Ydonea's astute reading of the business.
Physically she was more beautiful than a young lady can be, but she
lacked Zarl's power to enchant. Her beauty was so dazzling to behold that
it gave one a sense of indecency. Her colouring and features were
startling but Zarl had the more allure. She had the seduction of
personality that remains like the memory of an exquisite perfume. I
wished I could have Ydonea's appearance for six months as an adventure,
but Zarl said. "It's only a cul de sac; people have to turn round and
retrace their footsteps."
"So have they from you," I contended.
"But I let them prance along the parapet till they're quite dizzy. A
very different effect."
As Ydonea expressed it, she was nix on the murder mystery, but played
up the gallant and mysterious airman ranging the universe with her yellow
diamond for mascot. She accepted the Bishop's invitation to visit him,
and was a county and cathedral town sensation. Cedd managed to kite after
her and there was projected a film in which the famous Percy was to
co-star with her.
My title of "publicity" included companion and coolie to Percy, as
Zarl would not trust her little friend unprotected with such a collection
of oddments. There were many delays. There was the world financial
paralysis to contend with, for one. The film magnates were at their wit's
end, which Zarl said was not an extensive cul de sac. They said that the
public was sick of smut and sensationalism. The rage for platinum blondes
was quickly dying down. Ydonea persisted that a film with a lead for
herself and quite a prolonged part for Percy would be a riot. The drawing
power of Percy seemed to give grounds for this idea, but she had much to
contend against. Cedd was nonplussed by Percy as a star. He would fit
into none of the films he had in mind. It became clear by some inexorable
mathematics that an author was necessary. There was a project to buy the
name of a big one and hire a continuity expert to set up something in it,
but big names are not made by such acceptances, and none was procurable.
The matter hung in the air.
We seized the opportunity of directing attention to Percy's own
business, which was Madame Mabelle's establishment on Loane Street, where
he had a comfortable apartment during the day. Ydonea came there for
gowns, all for the wooing of Percy, and Madame and Zarl had such a boom
that they could scarcely contend with it in either of their departments,
started on high class lines to serve the needs of women. But that is
A day or two after the inquest we had had our first private call from
Inspector Frereton, a most presentable young man but not so handsome nor
so fascinating as his murdered Chief. It was doubtful if his antecedents
were so far up the social ladder as Stopworth's had been, but it was
Frereton's preoccupation to give the impression that they were.
"Are you going to accept him as a friend?" I asked Zarl.
"I want to find out what he wants. I think the noble gentleman
suspects one or both of us about the diamond, and he thinks I'm the weak
woman who will become confidential through his charms. It is a game that
two can play at."
"Yes, and having regard to what you said of men, I know who will win
the game, but it will be as deadly a bore as a game of Patience to
It was intensely interesting to observe Zarl's technique. In a matter
of days the Inspector was so efflorescent that the flat was littered with
chocolate boxes and wilting flowers. The Inspector was not original in
gallantry and he did not wade far enough into the syrtis of amour
entirely to put away the role of sleuth.
"The Tattingwood case shows me that the principal reason why so many
criminals are caught is (1) the inferior quality of the headpieces used,
and (2) the rarity of the ability to keep silence, and this cuts both
ways," said Zarl, "And I'm sick of Frereton and shall take a day at home
presently to think up a way of getting rid of him. There are gruesome
tales of detectives stepping upwards on the misplaced confidences of
women. I'd despise him if he did not hang on to his profession, but I
loathe him more that he should have an ulterior motive in his prancing on
"Let him simmer on the hob without boiling over," I suggested. "Very
likely I am the one he suspects as thief of the diamond or accessory to
the murder of Stopworth, and we'll never know the end of the story unless
we keep in touch with someone on the inside."
So he was allowed to remain a little longer to talk 'shop' and spread
himself as men will to impress a siren with Zarl's gift of listening.
There was also mine, and added thereto a turn for cross-questioning under
the cover of feminine ignorance and inconsequence. Many of the cases
cited by the Inspector to illustrate the prowess of his colleagues seemed
ill-chosen to Zarl and me. They proved to us that the marvellous coups in
recovering gems depended on the burglaries being committed by well-known
criminals. In the case of a crime committed sporadically, the mystery
could easily remain unsolved. The many unsolved murders proved this and
gave rise to Zarl's observation on the quality of the headpieces used on
both sides of the chase.
I wished on the fatal Sunday morning, that I could have been as free
and as vested in authority as the detectives to wander about the place
and observe, but I had been ignominiously detained. Now, without material
evidence, I had only my mind to poke into crannies, but that, as Zarl
remarked, was an original and independent apparatus. My mind clung
teasingly around the movement in Zarl's room on the fatal morning, and
returned again and again to my supposed attack upon Lady Tattingwood.
Everyone, even Zarl, believed that I had dozed and then started up to
give Lady Tattingwood a crack on her return from knocking on Stopworth's
door, but I knew differently. Had I walloped Lady Tattingwood on her
return, her right arm would have received the blow. It was her left elbow
that was injured. Further, to be in such a mess it must have been raised
to some angle, say that of defence, which she, taken unaware, would not
have assumed. I could not have hit an elbow in its natural position as
she walked across the room. Even fear and pain, it seemed to me, would
have been insufficient to lift a woman of fifty, rather frail physically,
from the floor, and enable her to turn and scurry out the door as quickly
as the person I had knocked down. That figure had been facing the gallery
door, he was not with his back to it, as Lady Tattingwood would have
been, according to her testimony.
She went right into Stopworth's room and drew the bolt after her. I
had not insisted upon the fact. I would not be treacherous to a woman in
whose house I was lodged in equivocal circumstances. This might be
helping a murderer, but the moment for speaking was long past. I must
certainly wait until Clarice was able to defend herself.
My first impression was right. It was Yusuf I had struck. It was he
who had left the purple quilt behind in his flight. He had come for
Percy, believing, in spite of X-Ray evidence, that he had swallowed the
diamond. This suggested that Yusuf himself had not procured the blue
Where was it? Who had it?
If Ydonea had taken it from the bracelet herself, or with the aid of
the absent Wengham, for a publicity stunt, the act would operate
detrimentally when followed by the loss of a gallant officer's life in
pursuance of his duty. In such a case I believed Ydonea capable of
throwing the infernal diamond somewhere into the shrubbery or Park where
it might lie hidden for a generation, or never be found. Money had come
to her so easily that she lacked financial proportion, but she had
perception approaching genius for what was popularising publicity or the
reverse. The reward offered had produced nothing, as we knew through
Inspector Frereton. There was another possibility.
The doctor at the Supersnoring Home for Cripples had given Zarl a set
of the X-Ray photographs. I studied them anew with an idea in mind. Percy
had been so lively on that occasion that it had taken both Zarl and me to
get him into focus without rough methods. There were fine studies of his
head, taken specially to discover if anything was in his pouch. Quite
unnecessary, as he permitted Zarl to forage in his pouches as if they
were her own. Grapes had been used to bribe him. He was so stuffed with
grapes that he had to take one from his mouth to ease pressure and hold
it in his hand, and I had held the hand to steady him.
When Zarl came home I locked the door against curious ears and told
her that perhaps after all Percy had picked the diamond from the bracelet
and had retained it in his pouches for some time before swallowing it,
and it was possible that it was still embedded in his intestines. It
would clear up one end of the thing to find it, to say nothing of the
financial status of the diamond.
"But it would have reappeared ages ago," said Zarl.
"What things should do and what they do are often wide apart." I
adduced the case of an infant relative who once swallowed a button which
should have reappeared in two or three days but which took a holiday of a
fortnight and then came to light without harm to the infant or
"There are always exceptions," admitted Zarl. "The lives of scientists
all remind us that this decade's data is mostly disproved by the
"Well, not a murmur even to ourselves, or Percy would be in danger
"Rather, and mum is the word, as Jimmy wrote, though I've never found
anyone but myself strong enough to keep a secret."
Zarl said she would study the photographs that evening to see if there
were any grounds for my idea. "I don't want that foul stone ruining
Percy's cog wheels. It would be a relief to be convincingly rid of it at
I had an evening engagement and when I returned, Zarl's light was out.
In the morning she informed me that she was not going to business, as she
wanted a rest. I asked was there anything I could do for her such as
taking charge of Percy for the day, but she said she felt a bit hooey and
would like his company, and I went off to Fleet Street leaving her
She had quite recovered when I returned during the early evening. She
said she had studied the photographs and saw what I meant. She believed
it was just possible that the gem might still be in Percy, and with
locked door and in low voices, we discussed the situation. It was
necessary to act at once as if the gem appeared no one would believe that
Percy had retained it so long.
Zarl ruled out the doctor at Supersnoring. He was kind, accessible,
had a fine apparatus and was already interested in Percy, but he was a
sociable man and likely to be a blatherer. Desire for self-importance
makes it difficult for what is called the normal being to keep silent
about anything interesting. Zarl chose Dr. Woodruff of Wigmore Street,
known to the world as a martyr to science, not only a great X-Ray expert,
but a man of unblemished record.
Zarl insisted by telephone upon Dr. Woodruff receiving us. She did not
want the reappearance of the diamond to be a premature birth sans
accoucheur and other substantial witnesses of its authenticity.
"It may have gone already," she said. "Twenty thousand pounds--how
much is it worth? No one will ever believe us. We'll just have to live it
We were speedily in Dr. Woodruff's waiting-room, and about twenty
minutes later were ushered into his presence, the famous Percy 'lepping'
in every direction till Zarl put him competently under her arm and hissed
a word into his froward ear.
The doctor rarely read newspapers and so had heard nothing but an echo
of the Tattingwood tragedy. The story was told as briefly as
"And what is it you want me to do?" the doctor asked with the direct
simplicity of a great man.
"Will you please X-Ray Percy again and see if the diamond is not in
him after all, and if it is, will you keep him under observation till it
"But my dear young ladies, what could I do with a mercurial creature
like that? He would be more comfortable with you."
"My friend will stay too," Zarl said.
I hastened to add, "Yes. Could you not have me shut in some hospital
cell with him to show all was fair and above board? It must be a secret
or his life would be in danger; my life would be in danger too; it has
The doctor, not being avaricious, and knowing little of gems, was as
innocent as I had been before I went to Tattingwood Hall. He believed in
the honesty of people. Zarl had to convince him of the condition of the
average mentality where a famous gem was concerned.
Zarl showed him the X-Ray photographs and stated her belief in the
possibility of the gem having escaped the rays because Percy could have
taken it from his pouch while I was steadying him. Zarl had nor had him
to herself for a moment after the cry of his being the thief was raised,
and did not suggest examination of his pouch lest some large rough finger
should wound him. It had not occurred to others to search him, or else
ignorance of his pouch, or fear of monkeys had deterred them. The
Elephant Hunter, who knew monkeys, had retained his usual silence. Jimmy
Wengham also had said nothing. Zarl pointed out that while Percy's head
and neck were being rayed, one of his hands had been in mine, and one
plate stopped just short of this.
"Well, just come through here," said the great man. "We'll photograph
him first and the next step can follow."
Dr. Woodruff had the charmed way with animals. Percy liked him and
tried to chaw a button off his shirt, and then danced on his knee till
the doctor gurgled with delight. He was not afraid of Percy's finger
nails nor that he was vicious.
"He's a great pet, isn't he, and magnificently groomed and
Zarl lent him her hand mirror, and he tried to get at the fellow in
its depths, who always eluded him. As he held the glass above his head
with both hands it placed his engine department in an excellent position
to be photographed.
The result showed a small solid substance within, which the doctor
admitted could be a gem.
Zarl and I were sure.
The doctor said "Why not keep the little gentleman under close
surveillance and return the gem to its owner as soon as possible?" But
Zarl pled for Percy's protection on the ground that a life had already
been lost, and other people tryingly suspected. The matter had to be
carried through in a manner above reproach.
The doctor plucked his beard and pondered a few moments till light
came to him. "I'll ask my wife. She will help us."
Mrs. Woodruff came upon request, and her husband asked us to go with
her and make our own explanation. She was one of those wonderful
helpmeets that great men occasionally acquire, though rarely through
their own perspicuity.
She listened to Zarl, putting an intelligent question now and again
and then said she would keep Percy and me with her till all was well. She
realised at once that for such a frail little creature to carry a gem
worth twenty thousand pounds was dangerous in several ways.
Mrs. Woodruff made it as simple and pleasant as a week-end visit, and
both she and the doctor became fast friends with their fascinating simian
guest. The doctor photographed him each morning to ascertain whether the
object had moved or had become embedded. Progress was eventually
Towards the close of the third day the Doctor, Mrs. Woodruff and I
were on the way to New Scotland Yard with the gem in a pill box in Mrs.
Woodruff's handbag, and Percy complacently snoozing in my arms. We
reported to Inspector Frereton, who still had the case in hand. He was
not at all cordial to me. He said it was incredible that the gem could
have been so long retained by Percy. He also said we had been a long time
coming forward with this idea. I said I had not looked at the photographs
again till recently.
He acted as though he suspected me of purloining the gem in the first
instance, and retaining possession through the various searchings by the
aid of some accomplice for the sake of the reward, and of later giving it
to Percy to swallow as the most plausible way out. It was now that I was
glad that Zarl had left him to stew on the hobs of amour.
The protection of a man of Dr. Woodruff's standing was also a great
help in softening insults to me. We now learned that Ydonea had privately
offered a big reward, but the pawn shops had been searched in vain. The
diamond was so notable that it would have had to be hidden for years or
cut into smaller gems.
Neither Zarl nor I would touch a penny of the rewards. Money in
relation to the whole business revolted us as sordid. The Doctor would
accept no fee for his professional services, and to entertain Percy and
his "coolie" was Mrs. Woodruff's contribution towards unravelling a
mystery. Had we taken the reward it would have proved Yusuf's
accusations. As it was, there was plenty of gossip going the rounds in
Mack's Bar and more pretentious Clubs and after-theatre haunts to the
effect that the whole diamond disappearance was an impudent advertising
coup, but it did our business no harm.
We lost no friends by the affair and Zarl said that as for others,
they were such a mouldy collection of oddments that she was indifferent
to their opinion. Ydonea remained unwithered by any of these blasts. She
was a product of the decade and not lightly to be robbed of such
magnificent publicity. She was photographed a hundred times with Percy
Macacus Rhesus y Osterley, she wearing the notorious diamond in a new
setting, or allowing Percy to hold it. She made a personal appearance at
the new Doges Palace Cinema House in the West End with Percy, charging an
exorbitant sum for this, and paying Percy a handsome salary. She drove
through the streets in her limousine with him peeping out the window till
the police had to forbid her progress because of difficulties with the
To compensate Cedd Spillbeans for the way Percy had interrupted his
film premier, on which he had placed such high hopes, I got him into the
picture too. He said it helped him beyond belief, though it rather
disgusted him and was against his County grain, but he had to take the
trade on its own tide and leave reform alone for the present.
Upon seeing the crowds that Percy collected every time he walked
abroad, he came to the idea of composing a vehicle for him. He visited
Zarl's flat, ostensibly to study Percy, but on nights that I was alone he
gave very little time to this research. To steady Percy he had an
unbreakable mirror, and looking in this he would moan and moan,
distracting us from conversation and distressing me so that I folded him
in my arms and comforted him, but Zarl said "Tush Percy, be a man! We all
have to endure our faces without such self-commiseration and you must
bear up likewise."
Cedd, colliding with Inspector Frereton, was indignant that he should
call on Zarl with such social assurance. "The fellow is a policeman, not
a gentleman!" he remarked with hauteur, but Zarl said that it was a
matter of opinion when a gentleman was not a policeman, and vice
Cedd wanted to know what she meant, but Zarl said it was obvious to
any gentleman, even a police one. Cedd then warned her against bolshevism
and "all that putrid equality rot."
Zarl pointed out that equality with Inspector Frereton would be
exceedingly difficult to attain--physically. He is very well set-up, and
Cedd rather scrawny, like the foreign caricatures of an Englishman.
The champagne-bubble expression and effect of Zarl's coquetry hastened
Cedd to apologize, by attributing his possessiveness to his ardent
passion for her. He proposed once again. Zarl said she had an aversion
from marriage as being ruinous of the ecstatic quality of love.
Cedd was so sprung with her allure, and his sense of humour so warped
by sentimentality, that he said "Real love should stand hard wear and
"Not at all," said Zarl. "You never get that idea among the best
people. Love is like a kettle specially boiled for tea, most perfect if
plucked from the flame before it goes too far. Leave it a moment too long
and it fizzles over, putting out the flame and releasing the gas fumes.
Either that or it just boils and boils till the water has gone and the
kettle is destroyed."
"Then," stammered Cedd, "Do you disbelieve in love, or only in
"Marriage is the colossical example of carrying love too far."
"But, it would be convenient to know how far you consider love should
"To the point of perfection, like the silver kettle--that point where
experience could not be added without tarnishing imagination."
"Couldn't that be a little unsatisfactory?" murmured Cedd.
But Zarl said that compensation was invested in obviating satiety.
Of course Cedd did not propose in my presence. I extracted this under
cross examination when he had departed.
"As for Frereton," said Zarl, "Shall I dismiss him now or leave him on
the boil a little longer to cure Cedd of presumption?"
"Leave him on the boil. Through him we can get news of the Tattingwood
case--if any, and be kept in chocs and flowers."
In my publicity operations I saw that Zarl also had the benefit of
Percy, she his rightful mistress. This had a repercussion in Loane
Street, Knightsbridge, which put Mme Mabelle's enterprises on their feet,
and more. Zarl and I were able to bank funds, and to take a taxi on wet
days when we had lost our umbrella (a chronic state). We were
well-groomed, this also, by the aid of Percy, almost became permanent
with us. And Zarl would exclaim, "Now to travel from Yakutsk to
Russkoye-Ustye, two thousand miles by reindeer! Those little darlings not
any taller than one's waist, who paw up the moss from under the snow; and
then to Bulun on the Lena. If this luck holds and I can inspire some
scientist explorer to investigate the second metacarpels of the birds of
flight, or the barbules on the wings of the barbels, or any other goose
chase on the Plokhaya Rietchka Ozera it would be just what I need. There
is the black brant, and the thick-beaked bean goose, and the large
white-fronted goose, and the small snow goose, very rare. And the rare
roseate gull, which nests at the Kolyma Delta."
I kept out of the news in every shape and form. Only a bad publicity
merchant fouls his own limelight. He must leave it clear for his subjects
if he wants the press platoons on his side.
Inspector Frereton was permitted to remain on the boil for the sake of
news. When the blue diamond had safely reappeared we insisted that it was
now clear that Yusuf had not been able to steal it. His actions had been
motivated by the idea that Percy really had taken it, a sound theory
rooted in knowledge of monkeys. During an evening when Zarl was
particularly winning, and served champagne for supper., Inspector
Frereton admitted that Headquarters had nothing serious against the young
Indian, and that no steps would be taken against him if he would appear
and explain satisfactorily his actions during the early hours of that
December Sunday morning. The Inspector confessed that there never had
been any clues to connect Yusuf with the murder--the only suspicion
against him had been in connection with the gem. We were naturally eager
to hear more but the Inspector was not so much on the boil, nor the
champagne so potent, that he divulged professional secrets.
"You are no true vamp," I said to Zarl, but Zarl said it was merely
that she did not waste big shot on insignificant game.
Between us we had contacts with Indians of many grades. We enjoyed
some of them as interesting and affectionate friends, and so spread word
among them. This resulted in Yusuf's reappearance He was a student of
high standing, whose family was making tremendous sacrifices so that he
might pursue his studies in London.
It transpired that the blue diamond was actually one of the State
jewels of a live reigning prince whose name, as a dictate of Imperial
good form, had been carefully suppressed. Lord Tattingwood's nickname for
him had now varying musical comedy versions ranging from Bong to
Bopp-whoop. This gentleman had given the diamond to Ydonea in Paris, but
the chauffeur guardian appointed by the father Rajah was merely an
imaginative publicity agent's creation. In England various students
occasionally earned something towards their education by this means.
Yusuf was an exemplary student in psychology, but reverses had made it
difficult for him to carry on. He had entered the room where Zarl and I
were sleeping at Tattingwood with the intention of taking Percy. He
confessed that his temptation had had two legs, one to secure and secrete
the Bongwallop gem and thereby reap a reward, the other to return the
diamond to its proper place in India where the awakening masses were
resentful that their Prince, the representative of Allah, should squander
the State Jewels and make a spectacle of himself in a continental capital
by supporting actresses, and in England by owning racehorses.
This would have been a graceful act of brotherhood towards a
countryman of different faith. Yusuf was a Hindu. He earnestly assured us
that Percy Macacus Rhesus y Osterley would have been quite safe with him.
He was a vegetarian, against the shedding of the blood of any animal, and
would not have hurt a hair of the monkey's coat. Percy was, he insisted,
an Indian temple monkey, and as he came from Africa, his forebears
probably had been taken there by Indian indentured labour. Yusuf was
revolted by people who made friends of animals, and at the same time
would either eat them or torture and chase them, and call it sport. His
name, which was Gulam, indicated a flower. To call him Yusuf was
analogous to indifference regarding the political and religious chasms
existing between Catholic Sinn Feiners and Ulstermen of the Loyal Lodge
Gulam Das, or Yusuf, as he had better remain for convenience for the
duration of this history, had felt the effects of my blow for some time.
It had caught him on the left side of the face and given him a terrific
black eye, but we forgave each other for our reciprocal suspicions and
started an interesting acquaintanceship on fellow feeling about them.
He had secreted himself in Lady Tattingwood's apartments upon
returning from Supersnoring and disguised himself in the purple bed quilt
as soon as Lady Tattingwood went out. How he returned to London and was
hidden in the Indian colony was of interest to the police, and they were
able to check his statements. His professors had been informed that he
had had to depart for India suddenly to see his dying mother, and could
do nothing but accept the statement.
I had no charge to bring against Yusuf but that of his failure to use
his handkerchief in the Reading Room of the British Museum, and I
suggested a regulation requiring the use of handkerchiefs to place beside
that other against licking the fingers, and the need for enforcing both,
but the C.I.D. said that that was for the Director of the British
I regretted having whacked and suspected Yusuf, and now acknowledged
that he was a handsome and engaging youth. I made amends by asking Ydonea
to give him some part of the reward which she had offered, but which
neither Zarl nor I could accept. Ydonea made it the occasion for a fresh
burst of publicity and flew back from the Riviera for the purpose. Yusuf
was forgiven his suspicious antics, his more suspicious disappearance,
and reinstated in that society which he adorns in Bloomsbury, The friends
who had sheltered him were likewise forgiven their distrust of law in a
foreign country; and also, a certain Maharajah, in London for some round
table conference, or conference around some table or another, was able to
say a word in the right quarter to put things straight.
But the murderer was still unapprehended. The clearing of Yusuf and me
in respect of the disappearance of the diamond and the alibi exonerating
the absent airman, left the mystery of who had killed Stopworth more than
ever a mystery.
Shortly after the reappearance of the blue diamond, Ydonea received a
letter from Jimmy Wengham from some place in Africa, where he had had a
forced landing and where the letter had awaited a mailman for weeks. In
it was enclosed a pawnbroker's ticket from Paris for the yellow diamond.
This had been his means of raising funds for the flight. This is what he
meant by taking Ydonea's monetary help as well as her plane, and the
diamond was safe. She had only to present the ticket and pay the few
hundred pounds which he had raised. Jimmy meant to fly to Cape Town for a
start and then do some cross world flight.
Nothing more of him or the Puss Moth had been heard. There had been
rumours of planes in various places but they could never be run to earth.
It seemed as if Jimmy had crashed in some wild place. Ydonea had another
flood of publicity out of this. Jimmy, she stated, was sure to be in some
new place, he might have lost the plane but would turn up in due time
with incredible adventures to his score.
Yusuf's reappearance and statement raised a new point in the evidence.
Upon their own insistence, two people had been cracked by my broom on
that December night, and I had not admitted hitting more than one.
Inspector Frereton had to revise the position in face of this, and asked
me to appear at Scotland Yard. He did me the honour to consult rather
than heckle me; thanks to Zarl's protection, also to the entries in the
dead Chief Inspector's diary commending my acumen in observation and
deduction; and because every statement I had made was verified by
I was asked if I had struck twice with the broom on the fatal night. I
said no, emphatically no. Then I was asked to say which story I
considered true. I promptly said Yusuf's. I placed furniture in relation
to doors and bed to illustrate the improbability of breaking an elbow
unless it had been raised.
"Then am I to understand Miss Carrington, that you have known all
along that you were not responsible for Lady Tattingwood's injury?"
"I only thought, I couldn't know. I allowed for the possibility of
falling asleep, as everyone suggested, which could have made me woozy
about my actions."
"But why did you not point out these possibilities?"
"You must remember. Inspector, that when you are seeking information,
you rely upon cross questioning, and repress any tendency to loquacity.
You must also remember that no credence was given to my statement of how
the dagger came into my room. My statement had no corroboration by anyone
but hysterical Mammy Lou; and you suggested that the form she saw was
Lady Tattingwood fleeing to her husband's room. You must remember that
the dagger was flung malevolently just where I should have stopped it had
I left the stretcher where it was placed by the housemaid. It seemed that
there was someone at large who had no scruples so long as he got the gem,
and I did not want to make statements that would further endanger my
safety. I had to think my way out of it. It seemed to me during the
cross-questioning that the aim was to prove me a daughter of joy or a
thief rather than to find the murderer."
"A mere matter of procedure."
"I accept your apology, but you must remember that this was my first
experience of such procedure, and it disinclined me to be expansive."
"Did you know of anyone who would have been willing to kill you for
the gem, or for any other reason?"
"I never suspected there was such a person in the world, till we found
that dreadful dagger. Was there anyone with a motive for killing the
"Not that we know of, but a man in his position runs the risk of
dangerous enemies. Someone besides you may have seen him take the yellow
diamond from Miss Zaltuffrie and not have known that it had been taken
from him in turn by Wengham."
"Have you any clues?"
"None strong enough to warrant an arrest. Have you?"
"I have no means of obtaining clues; I can only think."
Inspector Frereton is well-suited to his work. He has a disciplined
temper and is willing to learn. Also, to render him human and friendly,
was his infatuation for Zarl, near whom I stood. "I wish you would tell
me what you think about Lady Tattingwood's injury," he said.
"She probably met the apparition that threw the dagger, and in a
struggle to silence her, he judoed her arm, and it really was all that
she could do to reach her husband's room."
"The weakness of that theory is, why didn't she say so? Why should she
take advantage of your story with the broom, which she must have heard
from her husband before the doctor discovered her injury? She was
supposed to be desperately ill as well as injured, but she wasn't too ill
to mug up a story."
"Quite. But you must regard the evidence about her attachment to the
Chief Inspector. I believe that she went to his room, and encountered the
murderer just after the act. That was the terrible shock, and it was
merely to save her reputation that the poor lady made up the story of
being hit by me."
"So you considered that too."
"Rather!" I did not confess that I had seen Clarice actually enter
Stopworth's room, and fancied that I heard a cry. I had not quite made up
my own mind as to whether she met the murderer there or elsewhere. She
had met some brute somewhere, to account for her broken elbow. It was
possible that she might have tripped and fallen in her flight, but not
"If the murderer was after the yellow diamond, he did not search for
it, as nothing at all was disturbed, and it does not look as if he was
interrupted, or he wouldn't have had time to open your door and throw the
dagger in there; and he did that after the murder, as the blood on the
"Well, my door was opened with a key very softly and easily and it was
a Yale lock."
"An expert can open those locks with a hairpin. A non-expert must have
had a key."
"It would be helpful to know."
"There is the theory that Captain Stopworth must have opened his door
to some voice he knew?"
"Or one he thought he knew--some people are wonderful mimics."
"And that would be someone in the house, or one of his own
"It is the difficulty of establishing a feasible motive."
"Someone who had been gambling and was in low water."
"Everyone gambles these days. There was a wide choice of people
strapped for funds, nearly everyone from that Elephant Hunter to Wengham;
and nearly all the ladies. The Elephant Hunter was a tremendous
"I never heard him say a word."
"During the war he used to entertain the soldiers at Tattingwood by
mimicking all the officers and stage stars...It may of course have been
someone determined to "get" the Chief Inspector for a long time. One of
Miss Zaltuffrie's private squad may have been got at to allow a
substitute to impersonate him."
"But such a person would not have flung a dagger at me? It could
scarcely be considered a practical joke."
"Some people have an advanced sense of humour. Did anyone special know
the position of your stretcher?"
"Nearly everyone, I should think, because Percy was such a puppet show
that no one was above calling upon him from the butler to the kitchen
"We can't get any fresh clue unless through Lady Tattingwood."
"I haven't heard how she is lately. Miss Osterley has not been allowed
to see her yet, but that cannot go on indefinitely. She must get better
or pass out altogether."
"She has passed out--mentally. She is in a home for such cases," said
Inspector Frereton. "That is why we cannot get the rights of her story,
and the solution hangs on it."
We knew that Lady Tattingwood was seriously ill. Zarl kept in
telephone touch regularly, but the answer was always the same, that Lady
Tattingwood was going on as well as could be expected, but was not yet
permitted any visitors except the immediate members of her family. Lord
Tattingwood had given Zarl to understand that his wife's life had lain in
the balance for weeks. She was surrounded by specialists of one sort or
another headed by Sir Philmore Galstone.
My news from Inspector Frereton shocked Zarl. "Oh, surely it can't be
true," she exclaimed. "But poor old Clarice was never a strong character.
People could sway her. That was what made her so lovable and kind, and I
suppose the shock was too much for her in every way. I must get hold of
She wrote him a kind letter without divulging what she had heard, and
suggesting that they should lunch together. She apologised for
carelessness on the grounds that her business never allowed her a moment
for her friends.
Later she was depressed by her luncheon with Swithwulf. The report of
Clarice's mental condition was unfortunately true. He had done his best
to keep it quiet, hoping that she would recover in time, when her arm
mended and if she could surmount the heart trouble, but she now needed
special care. He did not advise her friends to see her, as she did not
know anyone. Lord Tattingwood himself visited her regularly. He had lived
beside her while she was in the nursing home, which had fitted-in, as he
was suffering a good deal himself with some indeterminable gastric
Zarl reported that he looked saggy and yellow, very thin and
dispirited. "Poor old Swithy, I liked him better than I ever did before.
He seemed really anxious about Clarice. He has found out that he cares
for her as well as her money. Perhaps friendship can grow in marriage if
there has been no love to spoil."
"Will Lady Tattingwood recover, or is it one of those hopeless
"The doctors think it depends on her being safe from any further
shock. They can't risk the excitement of the most ordinary visitors, it
appears, but Swithwulf says the doctors are of no more use than a pack of
hounds when it comes to a wind-up."
Any light that Lady Tattingwood could have thrown on the mystery of
Stopworth's death was thus indefinitely postponed.
It was pigeonholed as an unsolved case. Inspector Frereton said it had
become anybody's case, in a manner of speaking. Unless Lady Tattingwood
recovered sufficiently to make some fresh deposition, it might remain
unsolved for ever. A confession might come from some unconnected source
or never come at all, but when Inspector Frereton called on us, I could
detect that his mind was still on the case. To bring the murderer to
justice would be a triumph for him. His mind worked around the
disappearance of the sheet with which the Elephant Hunter and Wenham had
amused themselves after Percy and I left the dining hall, and the fact
that particles of linen had been found in the ashes brought from the
fireplaces. This strengthened the theory that it could have been no
outsider who threw the dagger. There might have been a gangster crack
among Ydonea's people, or among the Tattingwood household. Or, the linen
thread might not have been a piece of the sheet, which could have been
disposed of outside the house. The reward offered to anyone who could
throw any light on the matter remained unclaimed.
The public forgot the tragedy. Many another succeeded it on the
torrent of modern life. Winter passed and summer came again, with Percy
frolicking rapturously in any sunshine to be found. I took him to Hyde
Park for exercise. This ordeal taught me to sympathise with the King and
Queen, and the Prince of Wales, for the crowds that a monkey can
unfailingly collect would fill any cinema daily. Wherever Percy disported
himself all grades of headgear from top hats through peewits down to
caps, all accents from hee-haw to what-abhat it, all ages from twins in
prams to persons in wheel chairs, all minds from nit-wits and morons to
professors of high sensibility, and business successes, seemed equally to
enjoy the gambols and graces of our little friend. This showed us that
Ydonea understood the mob on some points. "When she comes back I'll see
that she gets a film about Percy. That peanut Cedd must make a
continuity, Percy will do the rest."
Ydonea was fulfilling a contract, some scenes of which were being shot
in Alaska, and Cedd's ambition in her direction was at present in
The social season went its way with its usual froth. Lord Tattingwood
asked Zarl to luncheon with him at the Berkeley and to go down to
Tattingwood for a week-end. Percy remained with me.
Zarl reported one of the saddest week-ends she had shared.
Lord Tattingwood was thinner and yellower than when she last saw him,
leant heavily on a big stick, and would starve but for Benger's food,
which he ungratefully anathematised as "blasted slops." The party was a
queer collection, presided over, and, apparently mustered, by Miss
Bitcalf-Spillbeans, the inconsequent connection who had been there at the
time of the tragedy. She asked Zarl if the odious little monkey was still
alive and as troublesome and spiteful as ever, and Zarl said that Percy's
spite was a matter of reflection.
Lord Tattingwood had seemed to cling to Zarl. The house had a musty,
unlived-in air, but the grounds were Lord Tattingwood's idol, and
lovelier than Zarl had ever seen them. He showed them to her from every
angle, pointing out fresh vistas. "A man might sell his soul for that,"
And Zarl responded "I wonder if he would think it worth it in the
"Nothing is worth anything in the end, except physical comfort, but in
the beginning a man wouldn't be a man if he did not take what he wanted
when he could," her host had said, and turned the talk to Lady
He spoke of her with evident feeling and hoped everything would be all
right for her in the end. He complained of his loneliness, and asked Zarl
to come and stay as often as she could, and to bring any of her friends.
He even asked to be remembered to me.
The doctors were no good, he complained. They were advising the knife
for him, but he was against that. "I could give a limb with comparative
equanimity, but don't want any of those cows of surgeons groping about
among my vitals for their own entertainment."
Cow in the profane Australian rendering was an expletive he had picked
up from Zarl. She asked him if he could account for Clarice's mental
collapse, and his theory, told in confidence, coincided with mine.
He believed she had been with Stopworth when the murderer appeared,
had herself been assailed, but escaped, and would say nothing of the
matter because it would disclose her relations with Stopworth. "Though
Gawd knows I should not have cut up about it--knew all the time for
matter of that--but people who live in glass houses should not throw
Everyone was sorry for Lord Tattingwood, ill and lonely, consoling
himself with the beauty of his grounds while the spirit of emptiness
stalked the noble pile, now open to tourists two days a week upon payment
of two shillings per head.
A summer of splendid leafage and intermittent sunshine ran its course.
I had lost track of Yusuf. Nothing more was heard of Jimmy Wengham. No
wreckage of a machine which could have been his had yet been found. His
aged father had almost given him up for lost. Lord Tattingwood reposted a
letter from "That wall-eyed Elephant Hunter somewhere in equatorial
Africa," who stated that one of his boys had described a man who had
fallen from the sky into a savage tribe and was being detained as a god
or devil or something. The Elephant Hunter suggested an expedition to
investigate the rumour but needed funds for bearers and ammunition.
"It might be just a ruse on his part," was Lord Tattingwood's comment,
"to get funds for one of his picnics. A queer fellow that. A lot more in
him than ever comes out, if you ask me."
Upon this Zarl remarked that she hoped so or he would be as hollow as
The various incidents of life come together in a series of climaxes
like bouquets. Then the flowers wither and the bouquets drop apart. We
had gathered at Tattingwood that Saturday afternoon in December in a
colourful bouquet, and now the sole remaining stalk was the Baron
himself, ill and suffering, but making regular visits to poor lost
Autumn was with us. The way to the British Museum was sodden with the
last of the plane leaves. Permanent twilight seemed to have settled on
us. We plodded along. Zarl was overcome with wanderlust.
"Here we sit like the outdated models at Mme Tussaud's," she would
exclaim, "prematurely in the dim twilight of our lives, and we ought to
be starting now on that thousand mile trek by reindeer from Verkoyansk
back to Bulun to see the ice break on the Lena."
"You must hang some tastier carrots before the nose of some
"I do, but they all want to go to the easy places, and it is Siberia
that drives me wild with longing. Nearly a year since I made up my mind,
and what have I got--not even an expedition to Margate in a backless
bathing suit. No experiments beyond Cedd and Frereton and a few
unmentionable oddments. We could have solved the murder mystery if we had
put our minds to it. Even that would have been better than nothing.
Something has got to happen."
Then she had a letter from Lord Tattingwood asking her to call on him
in the Nursing Home to which his wife had been brought nearly a year
since. Suffering, as do many men of his years, but refusing an operation,
he had gone through hell during the last six months, and came to the
knife too late.
Zarl was shocked. She reported that she could see Death in the room
when she entered. "I forgot to write to the poor old thing lately. I wish
I had rung up or something, but one never has time."
Lord Tattingwood had specially requested to see me. There could be no
mistake, "The young woman got up as a Dago maid in charge of that damn'
little monkey, the week-end of the murder. Tell her to come soon, or it
will be too late. I have to play out my hand with her."
I was surprised by the request to see me--the fancy of a sick man
probably, but later, Zarl was informed by Lord Tattingwood's physician
that he held to it.
After that, he was removed to Tattingwood upon his own demand, and the
eminent physician who attended him, took me down with him one foggy
December morning, just a year from my other visit to the lovely
Everything was arranged in the graciously hospitable manner of the
English country house where the entertaining of guests is an ancient
tradition. The physician went directly to his patient. I was taken to the
library where a splendid fire was just ripe, and offered wine, which I
refused. Miss Bitcalf-Spillbeans was not in evidence. It was the same
butler, and we chatted about things, including the tragic week-end.
"Things have never been right here since then," the old man said
When Sir Philmore descended we had luncheon together. He informed me
that there was little now to be done for his patient but administer
opiates. He was dozing and would send for me immediately after luncheon.
"You will probably have to stay all night," Sir Philmore remarked. "It is
kind of you to humour a dying man who has suffered shockingly and borne
it stoically. I greatly admire Lord Tattingwood's fortitude."
My expression probably changed when Sir Philmore spoke of a dying man.
"You must be prepared for a sad change in Lord Tattingwood's appearance.
Don't be too shocked. Release cannot be far away now. And do not be
distressed by his hallucinations. Humour him."
It was nearly three o'clock when a messenger came for me, and a
nursing sister, in the uniform of the London Hospital, ushered me into
the sick room.
Despite the physician's warning I was unspeakably shocked by the
spectacle before me. Lord Tattingwood had been felled by cancer, that
scourge so dreaded that we seek to evade its very name. He was freshly
shaven and exquisitely tended. All that skill, money and high position
commanded were his.
He did not offer his great hand. It lay outside the covers. The thick
red hair on skin contracted by emaciation, made it startlingly ape-like.
It was almost as hairy but not nearly so exquisitely fashioned as Percy's
fairy hand. The skin, yellow and deathlike, was tightly drawn over the
bones of the head. Only the small, cunning eyes ruthlessly held their
purpose and showed that reason was still fully enthroned despite the
merciful opiates, the only aid that civilisation can yet give the victim
in this grim battle.
"Well, young woman! It looks as if you had won, but I may have a trump
for the last trick," was his greeting.
I did not know how to reply so waited for him to continue. He asked me
to recall the nurse, and he ordered her to give him another needle, as
the dose had been insufficient.
"Don't go!" he said to me. "You'll find the view from the end window
The view was more than fine. It was a traditional, ancestral,
historical English view. One has to see these views and have the feeling
for them thoroughly to understand. "It must be wonderful to have that for
one's own, for that to be home," I said, returning to the bedside.
"It has been. But what about the price?"
"Do you regret the price?"
"What do you know of the price of such things?" he asked with a keen
"Nothing whatever. It was a random remark to make conversation."
"That's strange. Your first remark too, fitted in. It was to tell you
about the price that I brought you here."
I waited for him to continue.
"Go and lock that door," he ordered, pointing to the one through which
the nurse had disappeared. I did not like doing this, but I was there to
humour a man near death. He then asked me to see that other doors were
locked, and to look behind curtains and pieces of furniture. At length he
"I don't want anyone to hamstring my last play," he remarked. "Come
now and sit so I shan't have to shout."
I sat as he prescribed, taking care not to move those tragic tubes
protruding from the bedclothes into vessels, revolted by the cruel fungi
which prey on all things living. Eventually I was placed to his
"Did you find out who killed Stopworth?" he asked.
"Not as clever as you seem, perhaps...One of the unsolved murders.
Life is full of them...What do you think of the police handling of it?
Why couldn't they solve a striking case like that, when they have done
such ripping things--eh?"
"Perhaps it was a sporadic outbreak on the part of the killer, and so
left the police helpless."
"What do you mean by that?" he demanded sharply. "Out with it, tell me
your reason for saying that?"
"Just a theory...I must not weary you."
"It would entertain me, and you are here to do as I want--just exactly
what I want this time. Tell me your theory."
"Merely that I think the chief difference between the C.I.D. and
common outsiders is that the C.I.D. are trained and experienced: they are
expert at tracking down regular criminals, know whom to suspect and where
to pounce. They can also follow a murderer if he has done a number of
crimes because of similarity in method, or when there is a motive, and so
on. But supposing somebody like me, or yourself, were to break out and
kill someone for no apparent motive and just march off leaving no clue,
there would be nothing to go on, and Capt. Stopworth's death seems to be
a case in point."
"You're too damn clever by far. A woman who reasons things out and
can't be bluffed is not natural--she deserves to come to Stopworth's end.
Major force is the thing to apply to such hussies. Brains in women is a
sign of decadence--look at the world to-day...that proves it."
"Yes, I should say its parlous condition could be imputed to lack of
ethical intelligence and womanly common sense."
"There you go, sticking in some meaning that you think I can't get...I
haven't time to waste on slim-jim clack...open that box on the table," he
It was a smallish case containing among other things, two ancient
pistols elaborately ornamented in silver, and an up-to-date Webley
Revolver. He asked for the revolver and, when I handed it, laid it on the
bedclothes on his chest. "See anything there you recognise?" he
"You mean the dagger?"
"Yes. The police collared the other one; it's the fellow of the one I
threw into your bedroom a year ago, the one you stuck into
He must have seen a little of my shock, though I reacted against it as
quickly as possible. I recalled Sir Philmore Galstone's murmur of
hallucinations, and for the first time felt appreciative of that
physician's eminence. "I don't think I am tall enough to have done that,"
I remarked with what indifference I could assume.
"Huh! They were all too stupid when reconstructing the crime to put
that heavy footstool outside Stopworth's door--the one I gave you to
weight that filthy little ape. On that you'd be more than tall enough.
Piff! the blade went home like a bird, didn't it, as it did not strike a
rib or anything. Then all you had to do was to take the footstool back
next door and close the door on Stopworth. Juxtaposition was good for
"I see," I said, humouring a madman, but almost voiceless. "And what
do you consider was the motive for the crime?"
"Money of course--the blue diamond. You knew he had the blue diamond
all the time for safety. I know all about the stunt of recovering it
later from the monkey. You must have pulled wires to get that through. No
one would believe it would stay in the animal so long. Got too hot for
your fingers, and you thought it was safer to step out from under, as the
"The Zaltuffrie's squeak about losing it was all for a publicity
stunt. It was passed to the Inspector, and you knew that, the same as you
knew about the yellowboy. It all seemed nice and easy--sporadic
murder--he! he! Caught you nicely on your own theory there, didn't
I thought with great uneasiness of the locked door; and the bell rope
on the other side of the bed from me, close to his hand, and that
revolver--evidently loaded. Those awful tubes--to excite him might bring
his death there and then, or my own by his hand. There was no way of
summoning his nurse. I calmed myself and bided my time, for some turn
that would bring deliverance. In my consciousness arose tales of people
humouring madmen till they could escape. Though alarmed I was not yet
"When you threw that dagger into Miss Osterley's bedroom, did you know
that I had shifted my bed?" I suddenly demanded.
"Then you meant to kill me?"
"Oh, simply that it is not usual, is it?"
"I didn't care whether I killed you or not. I should have enjoyed
hearing you yelp."
Lord Tattingwood's attack upon me was more unnerving because he
appeared entirely sane. There seemed to be a twinkle of devilish humour
in his small ugly eyes, and he was as free from any sign of delirium or
excitement as I had ever seen anyone. I was fascinated by his apparent
enjoyment of the situation.
He continued: "The satisfaction of private killing is lost because it
is not safe to tell about it...the fun of shooting big game is soon over
if there is no smoking-room crowd to blow to about it...As for motive,
the smallest motives do a chap for anything if the lust for it is on
him... I'm going to tell you the story of my life."
"I should like to hear it," I said, seeing here a splendid opportunity
of gaining time and perhaps wearying him so that he would fall asleep
under the opiates, or that his attendant would come.
"You bet it's going to be interesting...I came here a gawky ugly devil
of a lad...You didn't want me that night--had the impudence to trifle
with me--and stuck a pin in me when I touched you. Stuck a pin in me in
my own house! I'll stick this dagger in you before we've finished, if I
feel like it." He felt the point with his thumb. I suppressed a
"I was the son of a poor parson, second cousin of the fifteenth Baron.
They were going to put me in the church! Ha!...My smug cousin-uncle, and
his priggish heir! The lovely Ecgwulf George St. Erconwald Spillbeans...
The first girl I cared about wouldn't look at me, because I was ugly, and
because Ecgwulf was to be the sixteenth Tattingwood.
"It made me long to murder him...He did not care for this place at
all...a puling fellow who wanted to get into a laboratory and make
stinks, and who despised soldiers and footballers, and good shots, and
steeplechase riders, and everything I was...Pshaw!...Tattingwood, the
only thing I ever loved. I never had a mistress, excepting the Nigger
wenches in South Africa, who gave me the satisfaction that I get by
looking out that window into those woods...The Boer war came...made big
game hunting seem as tame as firin' at a few monkeys...got some of the
fire out of me...They gave me a V.C. I earned it too, in the way V.C.'s
are earned...It taught me that human life is so trumpery...a man is
nothing more than a rabbit or deer when it comes to that--whiff! and he's
"When I came back from South Africa, my fine cousin was here,
trembling at the thought of the responsibility that must soon be his...an
inside like those grubs they fish with in Australia...It would take him
from his science laboratory...and I would have given three souls, if I
had them, to possess Tattingwood...Go and look out the other window...do
you see that wood?"
I went and looked out as directed, expecting a shot or dagger in the
back but hoping that his story might continue until deliverance.
"Ecgwulf and I went out shooting one day and we separated at the top
there...look at those two big elms against the sky...I got home before
him. He was so long coming that we had to go and look for him. The poor
fool had shot himself getting over the stile up there...Couldn't go after
a rabbit without making a mess of it, though he could find his way among
galipots and things that were much more dangerous...Come and sit down
I tried to improve my position, but he was insistent even to an inch,
and the big hairy hand was caressing the dirk. When my position was to
his satisfaction he leaned forward, his glances seeking to pierce me with
demoniac intensity, as he said, "I had extraordinary luck in that." I
nodded. He underlined the next phrase with the skill of a great
"No one ever suspected that it was not an accident..."
The sparrows could be heard outside the window, the coals dropping in
the grate inside. My tension tightened with the halt in his story.
"That was another unsolved murder at Tattingwood."
The hallucinations engendered by pressure on the spinal nerve, and
opiates, were responsible for this, I tried to think, but the grim
satisfaction of Lord Tattingwood, his calm clarity assured me that he was
speaking the bald truth. If insane, it was not in the form of loss of his
faculties. He was dreadfully fiendishly true, I felt in my inmost places.
The sense of unreality clung rather to me. I was seemingly entrapped in a
nightmare, thrust from actuality into phantasmagoria. I said
nothing--petrified--but a comfortable petrification now. The awful terror
which had sickened me had miraculously left me. There lay the dying man
confessing crimes, imaginary or real. Soon he would be among the
countless hosts of the dead, and I perhaps with him. Others had faced
similar situations. They had gone without recording their emotions. I had
often admired the pluck of people in like position, thinking that I
should have become hysterical under the strain, but apparently there was
only one way to act.
Lord Tattingwood continued, terrible and cruel. "I came into the place
while I was still popular because of the Boer war. The girl did not have
any trouble in turning her affections to me now...but I always despised
her for it...Clarice's was a better deal...No one ever suspected. It made
it dull, but civilians are a mouldy pack of rabbits. How can they be
anything else, and growing softer every year...I've often had the
temptation to stick a knife into a few of them just to see if they are as
frail as I remembered them. Sometimes--when the lust was on me, I had a
rough time holding in. It took me that night when you came in with the
ape and we were pitching the dagger. It seemed to me funny. I'm not a
wasteful man, and I looked around to pick someone that would mean killing
two birds with the one stone.
"There was that Stopworth beauty. Had Clarice nearly weaned away from
me...and that would have been the end of Tattingwood. There was no need
to kill Stopworth for that though...I could have spiked his guns easily,
but I took the easiest way to save a lot of fuss and feathers and to ease
the lust that was on me. I had you as a second string. You were making
fun of me--meant to doublecross me, as that Yankee moving doll would have
said. I hate clever women...that's why I have used little drabs. One
housemaid is worth half a dozen of the high steppers, and you, a
foreigner, a flunkey, had the audacity to stick a pin in me at my own
He looked for a moment as if he were going to faint. Having lost my
fear, I begged him to desist, but he said, "No, I must tell you the whole
thing. It was as easy as eating gooseberry pie, wasn't it?" He chuckled
as if in pleasant recollection. "I expect all the unsolved murders would
be equally simple if the killers confessed...I just put on some gloves
and a sheet, that one down in the dining room. I saw it as I went that
way to get the dagger out of the lounge. In case anyone should be
prowling about, I cut a couple of holes for my eyes, and set off. I
couldn't find the dagger we had been using, so I took its mate. I turned
off the lights in the gallery as I passed. Not a soul did I see but that
blasted old black woman, and I flapped my arms and breathed loudly and
put the fear of the Devil into her...never saw anything so funny. She
must be trembling and yelping still...But that was on the return
"I saw the light in Stopworth's window from the terrace. I knocked
softly on his door and spoke in a low voice. There was no reply. I
scraped on the door, but still no reply. I had a key. That suite was my
own once and I have always kept the key that was supposed to be lost. I'm
a 'tec in my own way, though I may not have looked it...There was the
bobby stretched out dead as a fish, and my dirk sticking through
him...You had been the little early bird, and got there before me...I was
so mad, I could have dragged you out of bed and spitted you, not for
killing him but for getting ahead of me--doublecrossing me.."
Fear invaded me again. This was an unexpected turn to the Stopworth
murder, and these were suspicions, not hallucinations. Others too could
harbour them. Inspector Frereton--his apparent bewitchment by Zarl,
evidently a sleuth's tactics.
"This comes as a complete, a horrible surprise, Lord Tattingwood," I
managed to murmur. "What did you do?"
"I pulled my dagger out of Stopworth. There was not a sound anywhere,
I opened your door--no sound but breathing--Miss Osterley's I suppose. I
just tossed in the dagger to put a frill on the affair. I hoped to hear
you squeak, but there was no sound, so I skedaddled back to base."
"Did you tell this to the police?"
"You'd like to know that, wouldn't you? But you must listen to my
whole story...My weak point was the sheet. It was dabbled in blood--must
have trodden in it when I was getting the dagger out. That would have
been incriminating, and what a triumph for you, to have me taken in the
act. If I had had all my buttons done up I should have flung it somewhere
out in the grounds or into your room at the first go. But owing to that
squawking old Negress I could not risk a second trip. I decided to burn
it. I made up my fire and meant to burn the thing in sections...I put the
clean dagger back in its place and was just starting on the sheet when
Clarice came knocking on my door and crying out. I guessed that she had
been to Stopworth's room, and would wake the house if I did not take hold
of things firmly. I could have let her rip only for that sheet. She said
she had a pain and had come for brandy, but I could see that she was
nearly demented with fright. She never had any stamina.
"There was nothing for it but to quieten her and get the sheet out of
sight in a bundle, and risk throwing it out of a window at the other end
of the house into the shrubbery. At first I think she really meant to
pretend, to hide her fright, and that she had been to Stopworth's room,
for fear of how I'd act, but she was too elaborately got-up in a negligee
fit for the film doll, to be honestly paying me a visit to get brandy for
a stomach ache. I tried to keep her in the dressing-room but she shivered
and asked if I had a fire. Then she saw I had just made up the fire and
was in dressing-gown and slippers.
"She still talked about the colic, but my being up--with a fire at
that hour was unusual, and turning round, she caught sight of the sheet
all over blood. She looked at me and would have shrieked aloud if I
hadn't taken strong measures. She went off her head...I had to silence
her...I may have been over rough...but I silenced her. Shock and pain
together broke her spirit. I threatened her.. my threats don't matter
now...They were effective. She moaned that I had killed him, but I said I
had not, that I had gone to his room to do so, but someone had been
before me. I pretended that that was herself, and the poor devil
collapsed altogether. She always allowed herself to be dominated. I took
the high hand. Said I knew all about her goings on with Stopworth, and
could bear no more. If she said one word I threatened to say that I had
found her in Stopworth's arms and had taken the short way for wronged
husbands. I also threatened her that her precious youngster would not be
"Poor old Clarice, a tight corner, but you're in a worse one now, so
keep your mawkishness for yourself. She really believed I killed
Stopworth so I worked on that. I was a bit hard on her...She was never a
beauty, but she was harmless and knew how to let a man alone...She was
thoroughly broken and desperately ill--neurasthenic--and a husband has a
great pull, in spite of the suffragettes. She was helpless against me.
She has no chance in face of my solicitude, and is held by fears for her
"Is that what unhinged her mind?"
"Her mind is not unhinged. Her turn is coming now. Old Philmore was a
ripping scout for this, a great expert ha! ha! but he never guessed how
clever I was. A great expert is easily manipulated...But Clarice's turn
is coming now. My game is up. I have come to the last trench, the last
kopje, the last round of shot, and Tattingwood Hall is no good to me
now...As for my sons--Cedd is not so bad--but I never cared for either of
them. I despised their mother for caring more for Tattingwood than the
man; though I should not have blamed her for that...inconsistent to blame
others for being like myself...The only son I cared for I could never
acknowledge, and he was killed in the war."
I saw with dismay that he was not wearying--was sustained
diabolically, was enjoying himself.
"My little joke is almost ended. You see I am not such a milksop as
you thought me when you stuck a pin in me after the racket about my
His hand again caressed the revolver. "Bring me the packet in that
drawer--of the escritoire--the right one, top. Yes, that's it," he said
as I held up a small sealed packet about the size of a fountain pen in
case. "Now, that big envelope." It was of linen such as used for briefs.
"And there is a small sealed envelope too...Yes, that's the one."
When the things were before him, he bound the sharp point of the
dagger in a handkerchief and placed it with the smaller packet and sealed
envelope in the big one. He looked at me and laughed, and I looked for
delirium in those small cunning eyes, but surely it was nothing but
amusement that gleamed there, devilish enjoyment of the situation in
which he had placed me. He had confessed to going to Stopworth's room
with the intention of killing him, why should he act to me as if avenging
"You haven't yelped or turned green around the gills yet," he said
with a ghastly grin. "You think I'm delirious and that you can handle me
and escape, or that I'll fall asleep, or that you can grab the pistol or
dagger, but one move my lady, and I shoot to kill, and I'll explain how I
had you. In here,"--he indicated the sealed envelope--"is a clear story
of my doings in Stopworth's room that night. Everything that I told you
except the facts of the other unsolved murder. I tell how I was
forestalled by you, and your probable motive. Now, all that you have to
do is fill in the blanks and I put it all in this envelope to be sealed
up till I'm dead...
"Now, come on, you can't say I'm not a good sportsman. While I am
dying you have time to get away--Zarl will go with you to the Pole of
Cold among the mosquitoes--you can have a run for your money. Take your
choice of writing your confession and going, or being shot here and
now...Well, which is it?"
I looked steadily at him, down that fearful barrel. I am no heroine
with nerves of steel to make brave gestures. My courage depends upon
non-acceptance of situations as presented, but this one was so cogently
presented that it made me sick and empty internally.
"I'll give you only five minutes more to decide," he said, looking at
the clock on the great mantel. Some of the lights had been on when I
entered. He now turned a lot more on above the bed by means of a switch
on a cord near to his hand.
"I cannot confess to what I did not do."
"Pooh, you disappoint me...showing the yellow streak. I'd have been
easier on you had you owned up and told me how you did it. I'd enjoy
that--and I always pay well for entertainment...remember that
"See here," I said. "You say you are near your end, why spend your
last hours in persecuting me? I was not in Stopworth's room that night, I
swear. Also I do not know who was." I deliberately omitted Lady
Tattingwood's name. "If you killed Stopworth yourself, confess or not as
you decide, but why go to your Maker..."
"Shut up! I thought you would be above such slush. If you had seen as
many men as I have curl up before their Maker--Bah! but here, the time is
up." He held the barrel towards me.
"I'll write," I said. He grinned like a fiend.
He allowed me to bring pen and paper. I gained a few minutes by
spoiling sheets, exaggerating the shaking of my hand, which was genuinely
bad enough. "What am I to write?" I said helplessly.
"Don't you try to doublecross me again. I have my specs here and shall
scrutinise every word with my finger on the trigger."
If he was genuinely mad, I could calm him by writing a supposed
confession, but it was not as simple as that. He seemed sane enough for
mischievous purposes, and the Tattingwood murder was still unsolved. Who
had killed Stopworth? That confession, bogus or otherwise, would do me no
good. With it in existence in my writing, who was there to stand by me
and say I had not done it? Zarl perhaps--but even she might be uncertain.
She had been soundly asleep that night till I wakened her with the broom.
And my experience of life had taught me that even the supposedly ethical
will "rat" without compunction if it saves any inconvenience to
No, I would not put a noose around my neck that way. I pretended to
write. I wrote on steadily, illegible stuff about nothing. Lord
Tattingwood grew restless. "You have enough there to cover ten murders.
Drop it, you are only stalling me."
"Just one moment more." I said, gathering my will and thinking I had
rather be shot than hanged, or muddied by suspicion till life was
insupportable. I suddenly rose with one of the jungle roars that I had
cultivated to discipline Percy, scattering the revolver and dirk beyond
his reach and rushed to unlock the door.
Lord Tattingwood pulled the bell cord. The nurse must have been
anxious or curious. I almost collided with her.
"Is there a change?" she gasped. "I thought I heard something."
"Your patient is delirious," I whispered "and is overdoing his
The male attendant was immediately at hand. It was evident that Lord
Tattingwood was now in great pain. I withdrew with the intention of
escaping, but he called out that he wanted to see me again, and his valet
came to conduct me to another room, but I sought the aid of the butler in
telephoning Sir Philmore Galstone.
I told him, guardedly, that Lord Tattingwood had told me something so
serious that I wanted him to know at once--that I needed his advice. Sir
Philmore said that he was speaking at a meeting of the Medical
Association that evening and could not see me till a late hour. I said I
was returning to London and would see him no matter how late the
I then asked for the physician in attendance and was told that the
little friend at Supersnoring called every hour, and had missed one call
because of his patient being so quietly occupied with me. He was due
again now and when he came went straight to the patient. I insisted upon
seeing him and the butler undertook to tell him. The doctor asked for me.
His patient, he said, insisted upon seeing me again.
"Don't excite him, his condition is very grave."
I refused to enter the room again unless the doctor and nurse
accompanied me. "He insisted upon me locking the door and then made the
strangest accusations," I ventured. "Do you know that he even threatened
to shoot me."
"Oh, did he. He must have been overexcited. It does him no good to
speak of old war days, and I'm sorry that you weren't told that his
weapons have been rendered harmless. We took that precaution some time
"Yes, but with regard to the solution of the tragedy here..."
"Oh, yes, did not Sir Philmore warn you of hallucinations. I say, and
Sir Philmore agrees, that in a condition such as Lord Tattingwood's, the
"But you must come with me, and don't leave me an instant alone with
The doctor then entered with me.
Even a lay person could note the change in the patient in the half
hour that had elapsed since my escape. Death was waiting in that splendid
chamber and would not go away empty-handed. To me, throughout, his mind
seemed clear, in spite of opiates, but I can only pit my belief against
the testimony and attitude of experts. Was it possible that Lord
Tattingwood's actions and words were entirely the result of opiates?
"It was most obliging of you to come," he said courteously. "Well, my
strength failed, but there is plenty here to prove my story to the hilt."
He indicated the long envelope, still on the bed. "I shall leave this in
trust to be opened at my death. Are you listening?"
"Yes. And will you not tell the doctor what you told me before he
"Think I am wandering, don't you? I deny having said anything to
you... you remember the tiepin, don't you?"
The half-laugh was ghastly on the mummified face. "In here, duly
signed and witnessed, is plenty to prove everything, and to clear
everything up, and that Inspector fellow from Scotland Yard won't boggle
at believing my story. He's been ready to pounce all the time like a
harpy. And here, give this to little red-headed Zarl--with my love.
Little Zarl, worth 'em all put together, in a scrum--heaps of wits of a
womanly kind--none of this brainy stuff...Poor old Clarice, but she'll be
all right when I am gone."
"Well, good-bye Lord Tattingwood, may you find mercy and freedom from
pain where everything is unravelled or forgotten."
"What are you going to do about it?" he asked, with an ironic glint in
the small burning eyes.
"I don't know. Au revoir."
The doctor stayed with him. The nursing sister escorted me from the
room. Outside the door I made another effort.
"Lord Tattingwood is very ill. He made the most extraordinary
statements about the murder here a year ago."
"Oh, yes, poor gentleman. His mind has gone round and round on that.
Sir Philmore does not allow the subject to be mentioned...He is very low
now. I don't know how he has lasted so long. It is easier when they have
not such a constitution and such an iron will. He has been a brave
patient--a great soldier--a V.C. He ought to have another V.C. where he
is going for what he has been through."
"It is terrible," I murmured.
"I am so sorry he upset you, Miss Carrington." It was evident that she
did not know if I were an important friend, and was feeling her way. "I
forgot to warn you not to let him talk about those weapons and to tell
you not to be frightened of them."
"It is a pity that he is so alone."
"He will not have anyone with him, but the heir is at hand all the
time, and the other son, Mr. Cedd, is on the way home. His disease gives
his Lordship notions."
I tucked the letter that had been given me for Zarl in my handbag and
went down the splendid staircase, up and down which I had chased Percy,
and found the butler waiting to show me out. I stood a minute or two in
the big hall where I had stood a year since with Percy in my arms, when
all was gay and adventurous as a scene from a Hollywood talkie of
imaginary English or Continental high life.
A grim spirit pervaded the grand house, accentuating the silence.
These stately piles designed for crowds are like museums when denied
them. Unoccupied they distil a haunting ghostliness. All such monuments
have sprung like a tree from the soul of man, are but a reflection of
It was a change-trams-cross-country journey back to town, and when I
telephoned Sir Philmore Galstone's house at 10.30 he had not returned.
When I rang at 11 o'clock I was informed that Sir Philmore had gone to
Tattingwood Hall, summoned because Lord Tattingwood had taken a bad
I could get no attention because Lord Tattingwood was so far gone that
the little man at Supersnoring, as well as Sir Philmore, was occupied in
transferring his allegiance to the heir.
Zarl was out at the theatre, I did not know which one, so could not
extract her. I was exhausted and shaken beyond the comfort of food and
sleep, and sat down to wait. I felt like wringing Percy's neck. Only for
him I should never have gone to Tattingwood. Alone all day, he was
delighted to see me, welcomed me flatteringly and kept up a clamour to be
taken from his box. I released him, and threw myself on Zarl's divan bed,
being unable to stand up. Percy took a position on my chest and put his
arms around my neck. The warm furry presence had its comfort. He cuddled
and gurgled so irresistibly that his execution was postponed for a time.
Soon I found he required attention.
We had just settled down again when Zarl's key clicked in the lock.
Someone was with her, saying good night. I feared she would invite him to
take coffee, though it was 1.30. No, his footsteps retreated. Zarl turned
on the light. "Why aren't you in bed? Poor old Peanut, you look like a
mouldy piece of bath soap. You've had a foul time I suppose. Did Swith
die, or anything, while you were there?"
"No, but I nearly did." I started to say something, and gave out.
Zarl to the rescue. I was put under an eider down, Percy was called a
foul little humbug and tossed to his nest, where he had the savvy to pull
his blanket over his head without a murmur.
"Something warm in your tummy; hot chocolate and toast."
On this diet I regained myself surprisingly. Zarl listened to my
tale--well, Zarl has genius in listening. She never maddens the raconteur
by interpolations. She was not horrified or surprised by Lord
Tattingwood's confession. Inspector Frereton had constantly observed that
if Lady Tattingwood could be got at, the mystery would be solved.
Zarl dismissed the accusations against me with an airiness that was
inspiring. "Pooh, the bally-whack old blackguard, you must put it down to
his disease, and hop along."
"It won't be pleasant to be suspected."
"It might be the makings of you." The adventurous champagne bubbles
danced in her eyes. She was as effervescent as yeast. "I'd snatch you
from the noose and take you to see the ice break on the Lena and
Indigirka. That was Professor Gilveray who saw me home. I've got him that
his eyes are fairly bulging about discovering some of the natural mineral
wealth in that belt. He's a geologist, and thinks a discovery like that
might put the financial wheels in motion again, as gold did in past
times. We want a livestock fogey or two, and I've said you are a great
cook, and they need me to take notes. It looks like a go. So cheer up!
I'll hold your nose and pour a beaker of wine down your throat and force
you to sleep. Nothing more now. We'll be in tighter places than this--I
have been--just when drunken savages were going to, you know...but here I
am still among the chased."
Thus encouraged and fortified I fell asleep. In the morning, about
eight, wakened by Percy, Zarl had the idea of telephoning Tattingwood
Lord Tattingwood was dead.
"Now," I said, "his document will be put in motion against me, I
wonder if Scotland Yard will arrest me, and how I shall clear
"A fellow always has some friend," said Zarl. We ruled Sir Philmore
Galstone out for this post. "Showy old cad, more servile to the nobility
than dedicated to medical science," said Zarl. "He was attending Clarice
when she was taken to the Nursing Home, and if she was not deranged, as
Swith says, why didn't the great pomposity discover it?"
I remembered the letter in my hand bag and produced it. On an inner
envelope was scrawled "To be opened without delay as soon as I peg out,
but not before."
"He's just pegged out, so this is in the nick of time," remarked Zarl,
and broke the seal. A crisp bank note of a large denomination fell out,
also another sealed envelope and a short note. The sealed envelope was
addressed to, "Clarice, my wife, by the hand of Miss Zarl Osterley."
Zarl's note ran, "I depend on you as one of the best scouts I ever
knew to go to my wife immediately you hear of my death. She will need
you. Persuade her to lean upon the facts in the letter herewith."
"Wonder what's in this," said Zarl. "Wish I hadn't been reared to
think that tapping letters was as foul as picking pockets. Perhaps it
would save everything to know what is in this letter."
She took Percy and me in a taxi and set off to the select Nursing Home
where Clarice was. Fortunately it was in Greater London. "I'll keep my
family with me in case of dog and other inspectors," she remarked.
"Philmore will not let you in."
"Philmore is not prepared for my tactics," she chuckled. "While he is
at Tattingwood, is my chance. He'll leave poor old Clarice high and dry
for a bit while he digs in with the new Lord, Percy will be a topping
help. Nursing mothers recently widowed are not in it with me and Percy
for pull, as it acts with both sexes, and you will be at hand to take him
if he becomes a nuisance."
Zarl in her priceless furs, with her little monkey under her arm might
have been a member of the Russian nobility or a celebrated "it" actress,
and so impressed the attendants. Her tactics worked up to the hilt and to
the matron, and then upon the resident physician. That she was the person
selected by Lord Tattingwood to come and break the sad news to his wife
was not questioned. In a very short time she was in Clarice's presence.
The poor soul fell upon her friend's neck with a glad cry and weakly
burst into tears, upbraiding her for forsaking her.
The attendants were for terming this hysteria, but Zarl said she would
soon comfort her friend if left alone with her. She told her of her
husband's death, which Clarice declared to be the vengeance of God, and
Zarl said that as God demanded a monopoly of that business it had better
be left to him, and instigated Clarice to open her letter.
It was short and rather cryptic:
"Better luck next throw old girl, I hope. Remember that on the night
of the murder you met a sheeted figure, you did not know who it was, who
flung you down the steps. That's all. The only important detail. Live and
Clarice wanted to leave the Home with Zarl, and failing that,
piteously begged Zarl to remain with her. Zarl managed to retain the
letter for safe keeping and resigned herself to stay with her friend, as
she did not want the C.I.D. to get at her prematurely.
I had to go home alone with Percy Macacus Rhesus y Osterley, who was
in roystering mood. He climbed up the wall with a bottle of ink and sat
on the electric light bulbs. There he extracted the cork and scattered
the liquid on the carpet.
Lively measures--with fresh milk--were necessary. During these, Percy
took opportunity to knock down and break a reading lamp, several dinner
plates and a picture that Zarl valued. He was generously contributing
diversion, but at length I caught him and tethered him, and did what I
could to repair the damage.
When he was snugly in bed I fell a prey to my anxieties, and bethought
me of the great Dr. Woodruff and his wife, and what a relief it would be
to have them listen to my tale--as a medical secret.
Next day I sought them.
I revived when the doctor remained calm and unimpressed and did not
seem to think that I was a homicide.
"It must be remembered that the disease from which Lord Tattingwood
was suffering could have affected the brain. Towards the end he would be
in excruciating pain, and heavily drugged, and subject to mental
delusions in keeping. In such circumstances innocent persons have been
known to confess to crimes and misdemeanours they were incapable of
committing. We know so little...the effect of toxins on the mind and
character...we grope...Everything Lord Tattingwood told you may have
resulted from mental aberration...and for his sins, however great or
small, he has expiated...I should not distress myself, if I were you,
till you hear from Sir Philmore Galstone. He is eminently discreet."
Our chief duty, Dr. Woodruff said, was to Lady Tattingwood, who must
have suffered terribly and was the victim of circumstances. He had no
doubt that she was in a state of nervous collapse from which she could
recover with care.
The good doctor talked on to comfort me, in simple non-medical
language. He said he would make a few notes in case of accident, and then
I could free myself from a feeling of responsibility in the matter. I
suppressed for the time my gnawing fear of the document in the big
envelope on the dying man's bed. What notice would be taken of that by
I told Dr. Woodruff the other leg of Lord Tattingwood's story--to use
Yusuf's expression--concerning the accidental death of the superseded
heir. Dr. Woodruff calmly remarked that that also was probably a figment
of the dying man's brain. It seemed to me more like a figment of science
to discredit it, but as Zarl said, "When such figments are the right sort
of garment for us, don't criticise them. The break-up of the present
state of society is doing away with strongholds of privilege like
Tattingwood in any case. Let's get on with our own washing."
Our special laundry at that moment seemed to be the case of Clarice.
With her wealth, there was no lack of laundresses, but Clarice clung to
Zarl and gave signs of hysterical collapse when relegated to others. With
Dr. Woodruff to pull official ropes, and the sanction of Cedd, there was
no difficulty in gaining access to Clarice now that Swithwulf and his
agents no longer held the pass.
Cedd arrived from the U.S.A. and furthered his stepmother's friendship
with Zarl. In less than a week Zarl was allowed to bring her friend away
from the Home where she had been a prisoner. She clung to Zarl piteously,
so Zarl brought her straight to her little flat and Percy. The poor thing
did not mind our humble way of life (and needless to report we
immediately sewed a few frills on it in her honour) at all so long as she
could be with us, and was assured of our help and sympathy. Fortunately
there was a flat vacant near at hand which was speedily put in order with
some of Clarice's own things, and she had the care of a nurse who was
chosen by Dr. Woodruff.
Sir Philmore Galstone faded out of her picture without explosions. He
was now, as Zarl had anticipated, busy impressing upon the new Lord
Tattingwood the wonderful qualities of the boy heir, and doing all that
would make him the popular physician to a great house, with the kind
little fellow at Supersnoring faithfully echoing.
The King is dead! Long live the King! We all must live, even the
"To cleanse us of this whole mess," Zarl would expound, when we had a
rare moment to ourselves, "We must keep our minds concentrated on the
Lena." But one of the snags in mobilising scientists to struggle to the
rich fields of northern Asia, was the invested fear of Sovietism. What
was the use in making the world rich for Russia, if Russia would make the
rich of the world poor by some pernicious experiment ethical and
equitable distribution of the world's productiveness?
What indeed! Amorous carrots dangling ahead of the donkeys of science
were hardly sufficient to counteract this powerful astringent to the
purse strings of those with capital to invest.
Inspector Frereton was no derelict of duty. As soon as practicable he
had access to Lady Tattingwood in the interests of the law. But she
rested secure in Zarl, leant on her like a child, and developed an
immovable amount of self protection. Inspector Frereton already had a
statement from her, to that she added a confused tale of meeting a horrid
ghost and being so frightened that she had fallen down steps. She could
not now remember how she received her severest injuries. When
cross-questioned she conveniently lost her memory in a most convincing
manner. Then her medical attendant and nurse would rescue her.
Cross-questioned as to why she had said nothing of the ghost in the
first place she said that she had been to the room of her dear friend,
Captain Stopworth, and had not stressed that because of giving pain to
others, but now that her husband and Captain Stopworth both were dead,
she was free to speak. In fact, said she, it was her dear husband who had
most chivalrously suggested the acceptance of the broom to hide her
story. She refused to make this statement more coherent.
"The doctors were sure that my mind had collapsed," she said to Zarl.
"Let them reap the fruits of their own work from it now."
"Good business!" chuckled Zarl. "You stick to that. All things work
together, or hang apart for good sometimes. Woodruff will be an earnest
soul doing the will of his Lord; and you don't suppose Galstone will let
any holes be made in his professional front without a stiff fight."
A wife cannot be called upon to condemn her husband, and there seemed
to be little upon which to re-open the case of the unsolved murder at
Tattingwood Hall. Stopworth was dead! Tattingwood was dead; no one was
accused. As to that document which I feared, Zarl said, "Tush! It will
get lost in the muddle somewhere, or if it does come to light. Woodruff
and Galstone will establish it as evidence of mental aberration."
I was the bystander punished for curiosity and listening-in because I
had gone lightly to Tattingwood Hall to take care of a frolicsome
In putting her house in order, Zarl's attention fell upon Inspector
Frereton littering the hob like a disused kettle and he was despatched to
the dustman. "He has nothing to tell us now," she observed. "We know more
than he does, and he might worm things out in time if we permit him to be
a cricket on the hearth."
Inspector Frereton, finding himself discarded and also baulked of a
spectacular solution of the Tattingwood case, turned mouldy. Zarl was
nearly always out of the way with Clarice, and I, as the bystander, again
fell in for the discomfort. I don't think he knew himself how much of his
spleen arose from disappointed gallant and how much from bootless
He maintained that he had been sure from the first that the murder had
been committed by someone of the household. "It stands to reason that the
old gentleman himself would have had a key to his own suite of
rooms--that's how your door could have opened. I believe the old cock did
it, but we could never get behind his position, and now he's dead."
I opened my eyes in horrified astonishment,
"Nonsense! What a terrible idea!"
The Inspector spread himself a little, "If you knew what we know, you
wouldn't be surprised if one of the bishops was found out as a murderer.
At the start I thought you or Miss Osterley might have done it."
"But surely that was only until you knew us," I said.
"Until all the clues against you gave out," he retorted. "And they
haven't given out against you yet. You think you are very clever, and
your friend thinks she is putting something over on us, but we knew she
had that blue diamond, and when we nearly had her she had to crawl out of
it through the monkey."
"You surprise me," I said.
"You think you are safe now, but you'll get daring-do something again,
and then we shall be able to nab you at once," was his parting
"Silly Peewit," Zarl said when I reported this to her. "A little
knowledge has been very trying to him. I don't believe he knew that I had
the blue diamond at all. He only guessed it because it was so long coming
"Did you have the blue diamond?" I asked, genuinely astonished.
"Of course I did. That Peewit of a Jimmy handed it to me in the
commotion while Ydonea was yelping, and I had it all the time."
"All through the searching?"
"You never told me."
"No, when it ended in that frightful tragedy the thing became a
burden, and what was the good of doubling it."
"But how did it start?"
"I can tell you the whole thing in five minutes...It started as a
genuine lark, and a publicity stunt. We never thought we'd get through
with the thing. The Elephant Hunter and Jimmy were to procure the gems,
and I was to be the fence. I got the blue diamond all right, and stuck to
it, as I said it would be easy to do...And then poor Stopworth was
killed, and Jimmy gone without explanation or anything, and I found
myself in one of the fixes of my life. I did not know whether I had been
used as a dupe, or what. Silence seemed the safest thing for me. I had no
right to drag you into the worry of it. You have a desperately intense
strain in you, and too much old-fashioned conscience. I thought of
tossing the bally thing away a dozen times, but somehow I could not do it
when it came to the point...the worship of money is in us all, I
suppose...Then I saw our premises had been searched in our absence, and
would be again. I might be seized any day and searched personally...
Well, to cut the cackle, the diamond seemed to get bigger and bigger, and
to have a spotlight indicating its position, no matter where I put it.
Then you came along quite innocently with your idea that it could still
be in Percy, and I saw my deliverance was near...I had a colossical
struggle to get it down the poor little beggar's throat...He's
tremendously clever at not swallowing anything he dislikes. You know the
remainder. I never expected it to go through with so little scandal...
but you see how your good faith helped...The story would look very lame
coming out now, so silence altogether is best, besides, the diamond had
no real bearing on the murder."
I agreed with her in this. "Where did you secrete the diamond while
"Ah, that was so simple, I never thought it would act. I'll share that
secret with you when we are watching the ice break on the Lena," she
The Yard shelved the case with commendable circumspection. Some wise
heads must have decided that no service would be rendered Church or State
by reopening a doubtful case to punish no criminal, but merely to throw a
shadow on the lineage of the new Lord Tattingwood, a worthy and dull
citizen for ever involved in good works such as preserving the beauty of
rural England or brightening the slums; nor upon the Hon. Cedd
Spillbeans, now one of the hopes of the British film industry.
Swithwulf had escaped to a higher tribunal, or to nothingness, or
Nirvana. Lady Tattingwood could scarcely be arraigned as accessory, nor
for concealing evidence, when several high medical authorities had
certified her into a mental home where her attempts to communicate with
the outer world had been intercepted. She might have had a case had she
cared to pursue it.
All that she wished to pursue, however, was the case of her child, and
this she would now be at liberty to do under dignified and feasible
There was no difficulty in tracing Clarice Denise Stopworth, or
Lesserman as she might be in law. Inspector Frereton was able to help
there, and recovered some of his equanimity in service.
The child had been at a select girls' school at Rotherhythe till the
Christmas following Stopworth's death, when the fees had become too much
for Stopworth's aged and valiant mother. Mrs. Stopworth Sr. had been in
her son's confidence from the beginning. It was she who had received the
child, a small bundle, from his arms in 1917, and without quibble had
wrapt it in her affection. The road was now clear for Clarice.
She never wished to see Tattingwood Hall again, and the remnant of her
fortune was ample for her to retreat to some more simple way of living,
preferably abroad, till her case should be eclipsed by a newer sensation.
Dr. Woodruff advised a long sea voyage as the best way for her to
recuperate and to escape acquaintances whose curiosity might be
Upon the suggestion of Zarl, she decided to take a trip to Australia,
and to invite the younger Clarice Denise and her grandmother to accompany
her. This was prevalent Imperial good form, engendered by the crusade to
stay in our own back yards and travel about our own runs, so gloriously
far flung, and thus keep our sterling in the family.
During the delightful weeks at sea involved, Clarice was to become
acquainted with the child of her middle age, of her first and only
romance. Later if the girl showed herself amenable, her mother could
legally adopt her. Thus the poor woman had a chance of mending her
tattered life. Much would depend upon the girl's character as she
"A great clearing-up, like a jig-saw puzzle," remarked Zarl, "but it
is not taking us to the Lena. I'll set off with Percy one of these days
if no other gentleman will accompany me."
Then it looked as if seeing the crocodiles laze in the regions of the
Limpopo would be likelier than icebreaking on the Lena. The Elephant
Hunter, by name of Brodribb, wrote again. He sent one note to the Bishop
of Donchester and another to Cedd Spillbeans. He stated that he had more
definite news from wild ivory hunters, of the man who had fallen out of a
great eagle in the sky somewhere between Ubangui and Uganda, or names
like that. He thought this might be Jimmy Wengham. If not, it was some
other air man whom it would be the sportsmanlike thing to rescue.
According to garbled tales, this man was being held as a wizard or devil
or something. The Elephant Hunter was ready to lead a party, but was now
low in funds, and it would be a costly expedition.
Cedd was inclined to believe that it was not Jimmy's route, but the
poor old Bishop was full of hope and enthusiasm. He communicated with
Ydonea, who had just returned from Northern Canada to New York. Headlines
soon staggered under her name and exploits. Money must be raised at once
to send an expedition to rescue Jimmy. Cedd was suspicious that it was a
scheme of the Elephant Hunter to glorify himself and be financed. Cedd's
recent experiences led him to suspect publicity in all things.
Ydonea had found a lever at last with which to get Zarl into her
exploits. She promised to think of a Siberian film with wonderful Russian
methods, with Zarl participating in some form, if Zarl would only use her
influence to induce Cedd to have a film of Ydonea at Tattingwood Hall.
She wanted this to be conventional, with oodles of "it" and platinum
vamping, and Percy as a novelty in many star shots. Percy was to be the
little something extra which makes a play of any class a success. "And
then," said Ydonea, "I guess I'll be at the end of the platinum blonde
business; and two films, one of the Lena and the other of the Limpopo
would be a nice change."
The Tattingwoods were willing to have the Hall used for the patriotic
purpose of aiding British industry, and also to help with the death
duties. There was no trouble about an author to provide a story. The one
that had happened was to be used. A skilled continuity writer was to
shape it. Everything was to spin on Ydonea's platinum "it."
And I was to be in it Ho, Ho! and yo-yo, as Percy's attendant!!! and
Jimmy Wengham, or his impersonator, would scour the world for love of
The Elephant Hunter would be in the wilderness for the same reason;
Yusuf was a Rajah in disguise as a chauffeur for the same reason, and the
handsome Inspector was killed because of God knows what by the devil
knows whom. But that would not matter to a story depending on
"continuity" instead of mere coherence or cause or effect, now so
sedately out of vogue. It would be useful to furnish the screen in those
places of refuge for adolescents in the throes of their own "it," or
those others, recovered from the distemper but who nevertheless require
some irritant to save them from melancholia by making thought
We are to begin this picture immediately. The idea of doing a serious
jungle film of the expedition in search of Jimmy Wengham has caught the
imagination of the public. The rumours of a man who tumbled out of the
sky in central Africa have increasing body. The Elephant Hunter's
despatches are given prominence in the news. Interest has been aroused in
scientific circles. The Imperial Geographical Club is moving in the
"I'm longing to see the Elephant Hunter again," said Zarl. "He is
almost a real man. Do you know that he never even asked me if I managed
to get the diamond that night. Just shut up. That makes him the strongest
he- or she-man I ever heard of. Not a bad old cow at all...Ah, ha, I've
just thought of the sex interest for the expedition film..."
I looked up expectantly--over a book by Norman Lindsay.
Zarl was overtaken with convulsions of mirth. "Ydonea shall vamp the
Elephant Hunter in the wilds. Picture it!"
"What about Jimmy's part?"
"He can chase butterflies with a net for all I care. Or, he can fall
in love with a savage princess, who has saved his life, and stick to her.
That will be a novelty after the flocks of white men who always kite off
and forsake the poor little darkies or brownies who have saved their
lives. Ho Ho! and yo-yo, sure enough. I can hardly wait to see the
Elephant Hunter doing a twenty horse power vamp suction kiss."
"I hope it will be sufficient compensation for the skeets."
"You have an ungainly habit of thinking of practical things."
"Just think how useful Percy Macacus Rhesus y Osterley will be among
the ignorant uncultured monkeys."
"You are taking him?"
I am limbering my fortitude in readiness.
Clarice is happy on the P. and O. cruise, and adores the Australians.
She writes that she has been guest of honour at countless affairs. She
does not know why she is honoured nor what the functions represent, but
describes them all as richly furnished with cakes and smothered in
flowers. She thinks she has opened things.
Zarl says that Australian tea-parties full of flutter and misplaced
deference to a title, and free from any mental stimulation, are just the
routine to soothe Clarice's exacerbated nerves and to recall her
wandering wits. Young Clarice Denise is ecstatic about the surfing.
I too am now quite at ease about the Tattingwood case and have
returned to the perusal of Bernard Shaw in thanksgiving. Some days since,
Cedd Spillbeans brought me a parcel which he said came to me by the wish
of his father.
I recognised the big linen envelope which had lain on Lord
Tattingwood's coverlet, and did not break the seal till Zarl and I were
behind locked doors.
The packet disclosed the dirk, still bound with Lord Tattingwood's
handkerchief. The little parcel contained the pink pearl set in a
platinum pin of Tiffany workmanship. The small sealed envelope was
addressed in Lord Tattingwood's hand, in ink, and there was an almost
undecipherable scrawl in pencil:
"Ha, ha! I had a trump after all. The story I told was true except for
the bit I said you did. I did that myself. The dirk went home like a
bird, You can do the filling in like the old johnnies who restore the
noses on statues. Cheerio!"
The note inside was formal, evidently written at some earlier
"Lord Tattingwood asks Miss Carrington to accept the enclosed tie-pin
and South African dagger as a souvenir other first visit to Tattingwood
Hall, which no doubt she would have enjoyed less if Lord Tattingwood had
enjoyed it more."