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.. . > •
T . ». ..
' Now, my pretty, we'll have a dance and a song.
Look up for a kiss ' "
(.Sw pagt 11$)
• •* - ,
CLEEK 5 S
By THOMAS W. HANSHEW
Author of "The Riddle of The Night,' » "Cleek of
Scotland Yard,/ "Cleek, The Man of
The Forty Faces/' Etc
* - •
• • *
WITH FIVE ILLUSTRATIONS
By CLARENCE ROWE
A. L. BURT COMPANY
Publishers New York
Published by Arrangement with Doubleday, Pack & Company
~ ~ 7
• • •
THE K :.\v VO. :<
AC; 'jr., l.': w ' X AND
TILDL'.N l'(j.;fv JA". IONS
n ;fl:<4 L.
• » *
• • ••
Copyright* *9*7» h
DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & CoifPANT
All rights reserved, including that of
translation into foreign language*.
including the Scandinavian
> • • •
" ' Now, my pretty, we'll have a dance and a
song. Look up for a kiss 9 " . . Frontispiece
"' Dog of a half-caste! . . . By the beard
of my father, but you shall tell me where
sheis!'" 1 ^96
" ' I can't make it out,' whispered Mr. Narkom
as the two men stood looking down on the
still figure" * . : 156
44 Catching him by the leg in a little bit of jiu-
jitsu • • . Cleek brought him crashing
to the floor" 198
44 4 Drink it up, mother, and it will make thy
dreams rosy. Eh, what is that? A-h-h!/" 312
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
IT WAS June — June with the world a-bloom, riot-
ing with colour, fragrant as a lady's linen-chest,
exquisite, golden. And of all spots most con-
ducive to the full enjoyment of the month, a kindly
Providence has created for that purpose the pleasant
Thames Valley, where the river winds its idle way
like a thread of silver, through golden pasture land
and shady forest, and the sky above lies like a sap-
phire canopy over the sun-drenched splendour of hill
And it was upon just such an afternoon as this that
Cleek, clad in the immaculate flannels that good taste,
and better judgment, dictate for such weather, lay
stretched upon a particularly green, particularly
well-cared-for piece of lawn, shelving down to the
river's edge, and breaking there into a riot of rose-
foam that wound downward to the tiny landing stage.
Beside him in a deck chair was Ailsa Lome; and, some
distance away, Dollops, engaged in polishing his
latest acquisition, a huge brass telescope, which Mr.
4 CLERK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
Maverick Narkom had given him, fortified his la-
bours at very frequent intervals by the consumption
of green gooseberries.
"A long job, eh, Dollops?" said Cleek, with a
twitch of the head in his direction, and a healthy,
happy laugh. For he was happy, was this man,
happier than he had ever thought it possible to be.
From now on, he need no longer adopt the disguise
that had hidden him from a curious world, for with the
renunciation of the throne of Maurevania for the sake
of the one dear woman who sat beside him, had come
simultaneously a slackening of the search parties of
Apaches who had hitherto made his life an exciting
and somewhat perilous game.
Lor* lumme, sir," returned Dollops briskly,
she's a fair old turkey gobbler for polish, but she's a
rare beauty, and it beats me why you can see every
blessed object, large as life and twice as natural, as
you might say."
Speaking, he put the instrument to his eye, and
then gave out a little cry of dismay.
"It's a motor, Mr. Cleek," he broke out anxiously,
jumping to his feet. "Don't go for to say it's Mr.
Narkom a-coming to spoil the first blessed holiday
"I shouldn't be surprised," responded Cleek, wit »
a rueful little laugh. "Eh, sweetheart? * When yc
come to the end of a perfect day,' as the song say.,
you've got to face what the evening must bring fort!
That's so, Ailsa, isn't it?"
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 5
For answer she looked up at him suddenly, a gleam
of anxiety in her deep hazel eyes, for she feared to
have the man she loved out of her sight for a moment,
lest the Fates be tempted once more to snatch her
happiness from her.
Presently the unmistakable hum of a swiftly driven
motor fell only too plainly on their ears strained to
catch the familiar sound, and Dollops sat holding his
beloved telescope almost like a gun, as though he fain
would repel the invader by main force.
Nearer and nearer drew the panting car, until they
were able to distinguish its occupants.
A reassuring glance told Dollops that it was not the
much-dreaded limousine of the Yard. Assured of
this fact, he gave vent to a little sigh of ineffable re-
lief, and snuggling down into the long, dry grass, re-
turned to his labour of love.
But the car stopped short in the lane that led down
to the private landing stage, and from it leaped a gentle-
man, tall and upright, with the mien and bearing of a
soldier, and clad in the conventional afternoon dress
of the well-born Englishman.
Cleek twitched his head round as the wicket gate
groaned on its rusty hinges, and catching sight of the
intruder, he jumped hastily to his feet.
" Count Irma ! " he ejaculated in the sharp staccato
of tmfteoMat. "This is an unexpected pleasure. I
thought jmi h*d returned to — that i# — left Eng-
land. " He stretched out a swift hand of welcome,
and gave vent to a little sharp sigh.
6 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
The Count took that hand, bent over it, then draw-
ing himself up, said sombrely : "No, Sire! I come to
make a last appeal to your conscience and your man-
hood. Maurevania calls to you, Sire; must she call in
The smile had vanished from Cleek's lips at the
sound of the first words, and simultaneously he linked
his arm within that of Ailsa Lome, who had also risen
from her low chair, and now stood by his side, as if to
ward off a hidden danger.
"I spoke my last word on that subject, Count,
months ago/' he responded smoothly yet with a
latent sternness that brooked no questioning beneath.
"Do not let us quarrel, my friend. Maurevania
must do without me, as she has done, contented, all
these long years."
"She has not! She has suffered, and suffered in
silence!" retorted the Count with a sudden tinge of
passion in his low voice. "Sire, I risk your dis-
pleasure. Kings are but slaves in another form;
slaves to their duty, slaves to God himself, and I be-
seech you, do not fail us now in our hour of need.
Maurevania looks to you for salvation from the yoke
of the foreigner. Will you fail her?" The words
came imploringly, in a swift rush of appeal, but Cleek
raised a silencing hand.
"Yes," he said quietly. "Yes, Count, if it means
the loss of this dear woman by my side, who has res-
cued my very soul, drawn me up from the depths of
hell itself. That resolution you cannot shake.
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 7
A kingdom without this lady as rightful, recognized
Queen, is out of the question. But a few short days
now, and she will become my wife, beyond all
thrones, beyond all earthly kingdoms save that
which lies within the shelter of her own home. And
there she will be queen indeed! I have no other an-
swer to give you."
His hand fell, he drew back his head with some-
thing akin to kingliness in the gesture.
For a moment Count Irma looked at him, re-
proachfully, sadly, then with a suddenly acquired
defiance, and bent his head. He knew the sentence
had been passed.
" So be it," he said simply, in a bitter voice. " For
the sake of a passing passion you have given over a
nation to the horrors of civil war. Ruin, moral and
financial, stares Maurevania in the face, and I must
return to say that its rightful deliverer cares for
naught but the love of a foreign woman!"
Then he turned upon Ailsa furiously, his face
white with a passion of hatred that seared it as a
branding-iron sears the horses' skin, leaving its in-
"Mark my words, both of you, on my sword I will
swear it — the sword with which I would have fought
to the last drop of my blood for you — henceforth I will
devote my life to the vengeance of that ill-fated people.
You shall never marry this woman who has so blinded
your eyes, and if your conscience will not aid you,
then perhaps Maurevania herself shall speak to you."
8 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
He swung round suddenly, giving out a low, peculiar
whistle. At its sound, from the body of the waiting
car there leapt some half a dozen men, whose pres-
ence there had been hitherto unknown and undis-
covered — Maurevanians, every man Jack of them, by
the swarthy skin and deep-set eyes — who, at a signal
from the Count, threw themselves on Cleek, and be-
fore Ailsa could utter so much as a sound or make so
much as a single movement from the restraining
hands of one, Cleek was bound hand and foot and
bundled into the car.
So sudden had been the attack that apparently not
even Dollops had realized the danger that his beloved
master had encountered, for he had not made his
presence known until Cleek's helpless body was lying
prostrate in the car. Then he approached the Count,
and pulling his forelock, said humbly :
"Beg your pardon, sir — Yer 'Ighness I means — but
I could 'elp yer along of that party there if yer paid
me for it."
" Dollops ! " The cry came like a moan from the lips
of Ailsa as she stood helpless in the grasp of a huge
"Money is money, miss," responded the youth
sullenly, "an* as I 'appen to know which road Mr.
Narkom an* 'is men are likely to be taking "
The Count wheeled round on him.
"The police!" he cried. "Ah! yes, good lad!
How much? Tell me the road and you shall be weD
CLBEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 9
"A couple of quid '11 do me," was the surprising
Then, almost before the words were out of his
mouth, the coins were pressed into the grimy hand
outstretched to grab them, and swinging round so as
to avoid the scorn on Ailsa Lome's face, the lad
gazed thoughtfully up the distant road.
" Mr. Narkom (the old blighter) Vs supposed to be
in London, but between you an* me, sir, Yer 'Ighness,
beggin' yer pardon, Vs at Oxford, on a special job,
and we expects him every hour. Starting now, as
yer might say. I could take yer some short cuts, and
you'd show a clean pair of 'ells."
Count Irma nodded sharply and motioned him to a
front seat in the big car, well satisfied with the deal.
Then he turned to Ailsa, who stood sobbing some
distance away, her face covered with her two hands,
and the whole heart of her tortured and broken.
" Mademoiselle," he said suavely, "the move is
mine. His life depends entirely upon his consent.
Escape is impossible, and were it otherwise, your own
life would pay the penalty. I do not war on women
if I can avoid it. So, mademoiselle, I bid you
With a gallant bow he swung upon his heel, re-
placed his hat, strode quickly over to the waiting
motor, and stepped into it. Then, in the semi-
silence of that perfect afternoon, the car slid out
noiselessly into the road leading toward London and
the things that lay ahead, leaving behind it a weeping
10 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
woman, and a desolation that was as deep as it was
Mr. Maverick Narkom sat in his private office at
Scotland Yard, intent on reading the reports of the
afternoon, with a cigar stuck between the fingers of
his left hand and the open window sending a little
breeze fluttering across the untidy desk. He looked
up suddenly, as the sound of hurried footsteps without
struck in upon the lazy silence of the afternoon, and
wheeled round in his seat.
But if he had expected to see Lennard, or any of the
staff of Scotland Yard, he was doomed to disappoint-
ment. The door opened and closed gustily, there
came a swirl of woman's skirts, and the astonished
eyes of the Superintendent fell on the last person he
expected to see. It was Ailsa Lorne y white and shak-
ing, the unrestrained tears coursing down her an-
guished face, as her trembling lips struggled to frame
the words to tell her plight.
"Miss Lome; why, God bless me . . . what
is wrong?" gasped the Superintendent. "Come,
come; tell me — it is not "
"Yes, yes, he's gone gone!"
"Gone! Good God! do you mean Cleek? Not
She gave out a little sob at that, then strove piti-
fully to regain composure, finally getting out some of
the facts, and as the Superintendent realized what
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 11
the danger meant to his beloved ally and invaluable
detective, he collapsed into a chair, with his face
hidden in the palm of an upthrown hand, and his
eyes wet with tears.
"Cleek! My God! and we thought. . . .
But who was to think of Count Irma?" he muttered
at last, in a heart-wrung voice. "They'll never dare
to touch a hair of his head! They can't I And after
all the precautions, to be taken like a first offence
safe-robber! Gad! but he shall be found, Miss
Lome. I swear it! I swear it! The whole kingdom
shall be searched, house to house, so that he shall re-
turn to us at last!"
His eye fell on the telephone and, fairly flinging
himself upon it, he seized the receiver in one shaking
hand and let a stream of words issue from his pale
lips, his face white now as Ailsa's own. N
In precisely ten minutes' time there wasn't a rail-
way station, port, or terminus but was on the lookout
for all suspicious characters. Then a red and per-
spiring Mr. Narkom turned to Ailsa and put out a
"It is Dollops I can't understand," he broke out
bitterly, replacing the receiver. " If only I could get
an explanation of him; it seems so impossible, so un-
like the lad."
.Even as he spoke, there came a tap at the door, it
opened inward, and Hammond stepped into the room,
removing his hat and standing at attention.
"Well?" rapped out the Superintendent, in the
12 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
sharp staccato of anxiety. "What is it? What do
"Beg yer pardon, sir, for disturbing you, but I
thought you ought to know; it's something to do with
Cleek!" flung out the Superintendent sharply.
Speak up, man ! If it's a clue, speak up ! "
Hammond "spoke up" forthwith.
I was on point duty, just off Kensington High
Street, sir," he began, "when a motor-car passed,
exceeding the speed limit something awful. I tried
to stop it, but to my surprise young Dollops was on
the front seat, and when 'e sees me, 'e puts his 'and in
his pocket, says something to a foreign-looking chap
on the seat beside him, throws me this, and they
drives on quicker than ever."
Mr. Narkom snatched "this" from the out-
stretched hand. It proved to be a scrap of paper
twisted round a sovereign. The coin fell unheeded
from Mr. Narkom's shaking fingers, however, for it
was the grimy scrap of paper that he clutched. On
it were the scrawled words: "God's sake and Cleek's,
take this to Mr. Narkom, Scot. Yd. Car L 404.
"What does it mean?" cried Ailsa, her hands cling-
ing to Mr. Narkom's arm. "Tell me, Mr. Narkom !
For God's sake, what does it mean?"
Mr. Narkom's eyes fairly gleamed.
"The bully boy! The splendid lad! Got him as
safe as houses ! " he retorted with half a laugh and half
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 13
a sob. "Thought it was a funny thing if that young
shaver turned out a crook. That's the number of the
car, Miss Lome, so don't you worry. We'll have
Cleek back again safe and sound before you can turn
He said no more, simply turned back to the tele-
phone, stopping only to toss the sovereign over to
Hammond as he told him that Cleek was in danger,
and instructed him to find the car of that number.
It did not take long to ascertain that L 404 belonged
to the Ritz Hotel, and even as the news was borne to
Narkom the clanging of his bell brought not only the
}>orter, but Lennard himself, who had just heard the
"The limousine, as quick as you can. What's
that? Ready? Good man! To the Ritz, then."
He dashed to a hook on which hung his hat and coat;
grabbing them, he beckoned to Miss Lome, and flung
open the door. "If only we're in time! If only it's
possible to save him! Come on, Miss Lome; come
on, my dear, to Cleek's victory!"
Miss Lome "came on" with such a surprising
suddenness that three minutes later the blue limou-
sine shot out of the precincts of the Yard, and took
the distance between it and Piccadilly at a mile-a-
The arrival of the well-known car and its still more
familiar Superintendent brought the manager on the
scene, only too willing to answer such inquiries as the
14 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
English law, embodied in the portly person of Super-
intendent Narkom, should demand of him. "Count
Irma of Maurevania? Of a surety, yes, he was stay-
ing here, occupying one of the finest suites the hotel
offered. Yes, he would send up and ask for an
interview. . . ."
Mr. Narkom, his cheeks pink with suppressed
excitement, mopped his forehead briskly. His foe
could not escape him, for all round the Ritz was drawn
a cordon of plain-clothes men, on the alert for all
out-goers, and the Count himself should be held
hostage for the man he had kidnapped.
The few minutes which elapsed seemed like hours
to Ailsa, her fears yet unallayed, despite her com-
panion's optimism. The return of the manager
brought with it therefore no disappointment to
"But an hour ago, monsieur," he said with many
bows of solicitude, "I find that one of his equerries
was taken ill while out driving, and the Count him-
self, like the kind master he is, drove him away to a
hospital. He will return later."
Mr. Narkom's banished fears arose in all intensity.
Only too well did he know how many chances there
were of Count Irma's return. Money would be sent,
but Irma himself would not come; he was already
making his way out of the country with all ex-
peditiousness, and, with him, Geek. To search the
hospitals was, of course, futile; they had come up
against a blank wall, and the Superintendent met
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 15
Ailsa's agonized gaze with a mute appeal for a re-
newal of her faith in his resources.
Without further delay they passed out into the
courtyard, and were back on the pavement beside the
limousine, when a paper-boy, to all intents and pur-
poses bent on selling them the latest edition of the
evening paper, sidled up closer and whispered to Mr.
"A chap said *e was Dollops, sir, if you're Mr.
Narkom — paper, sir?" he broke off; "paper, sir?
Buy a paper? "
"Yes, yes!" gasped the Superintendent, feeling for
"If you come 'ere, I was to give you this and get a
The shilling appeared forthwith, and with the copy
of the paper Mr. Narkom clutched another and still
grimier scrap than that other one he had received.
Instantly his eyes were on the alert. He glanced
down at it, without seeming to do so, and read these
words : " Tower House at London Bridge Docks, sail-
ing to-night. 6. Dollops. He's awl rite."
With one excited nod, Mr. Narkom fairly wrenched
open the door of the limousine, and waving Miss
Lome inside, leaned over to Lennard.
The docks at London Bridge," he said excitedly.
As fast as you can streak it, Lennard, my boy ! For
Mr. Cleek, for me ! We've got to get there before six,
or it's all up."
"Right you are, sir!" responded Lennard heartily.
16 CLEEKS GOVERNMENT CASES
Then, with a glance at the little clock before him:
"Half an hour! Crumbs! but it's a close shave."
Then they were off and away at a pace that ate up the
distance like a cat lapping cream.
But the age for miracles is over, and no motor can
beat time for speed. Try as he might, it was just ten
minutes after the hour had struck when Lennard
brought the car up to a somewhat deserted-looking
house at the rear of a disused landing stage to which
they had been directed. Evidently Count Irma had
had his plans all cut and dried before taking the final
motor ride into the pleasant Thames Valley. It was
not yet dusk, and even as they gazed up the expanse
of the river they could distinguish a long electric
launch making its way to the sea, and carrying with
it the man they both loved, beyond hope, beyond re-
demption, beyond everything that made life worth
Mr. Narkom sucked in his breath helplessly, then
switched round on his heel.
"The police launch, quick! Follow me, Miss
Lome. You stay here, Lennard, with the car. You
may be needed. Come!" The Superintendent
panted off, and a few minutes later he was telling as
much as was necessary to the head of the River Police.
In the swiftest launch obtainable they took their
places. There was a whirr, a shaking of the whole
boat, then it swept out, on the race against time, as
though it were a living thing, cognizant of the reason
for its mad haste.
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 17
Mr. Narkom sat with clenched hands, breathing
with great effort, until they again saw the trail of the
escaping boat, when he gave a little shout.
" Faster, man ! Faster ! Don't let it escape ! For
God's sake overtake it!"
And overtake it they did. Heading the launch
round so as to get directly in the way of the boat, the
police officers hailed it, bidding it stop, in the name of
the law. But there came no slackening of speed.
The hunted boat was simply swerved aside, and sped
on its course apparently undaunted.
"No use, Mr. Narkom, sir," said the police officer
in charge. " There's only one thing — wireless. Stop
her at the mouth of the Thames."
Darting down into a cabin, he closed the door, and
a few minutes later Mr. Narkom knew that the chase
was practically over. The launch would be over-
hauled by the police boats at the mouth of the
Summoning as much patience as it was possible,
Mr. Narkom prepared for the wait, with Miss Lome
at his side.
The launch was still in sight when they came up at
Gravesend, and from both sides of the shore there
came a little fleet of boats. Seeing that escape was
impossible, the boat slackened her speed, then came
to a dead stop and Mr. Narkom, with the officer,
made his way on board.
To his keen delight, he was greeted by Count Irma
himself, who was highly indignant and demanded ex-
18 CLEEICS GOVERNMENT CASES
planations for the chase and the outrage of
To Mr. Narkom's supreme dismay, a systematic
search revealed not the slightest trace of the two they
sought. From deck to cabin, from end to end, every
corner of the boat was subjected to closest scrutiny,
but in vain; there was no sign of Cleck or of Dollops,
nor was there any suspicious sight or sound. Indeed,
it began to look as if they had been led on a wild-goose
chase. The Count, who accompanied them, his dark
face now darker still with anger, looked triumphant
as they once more entered the gloomy little cabin,
while the perspiration stood out in great beads on Mr.
Narkom's forehead. Ailsa Lome's face was tense
with disappointment as they turned to go up once
more to the deck.
His eyes gleaming, Count Irma raised a lantern, and
proceeded to show his unwelcome guests up the
companion-way. As its light flashed round, it lit on
a familiar object, the very sight of which sent the
blood coursing back to Ailsa's heart, and caused
her fingers to grip feverishly on Mr. Narkom's
The sight was no less than Dollops's precious
telescope. With superhuman self-control she suc-
ceeded in drawing the attention of the Superintendent
to it, at the same time motioning him to be silent.
The effect on Mr. Narkom was instantaneous. He
stopped short, and sucked in his breath, for he, too,
realized what its presence meant. But it took all his
CLEEICS GOVERNMENT CASES 19
caution to prevent him crying aloud in his relief and
As it was, he strode up the narrow steps with
jaunty mien, and rejoining the River Police on deck,
delivered his ultimatum to the Count, who awaited
" Well, Count, we've made our search," he said in
imperturbable tones, "and everything is quite all
right. Still, my orders are very strict, and since you
are merely in a hurry to catch up with the packet
boat, you will have no objection, I feel assured, to
taking our police launch, which is able, as you are now
aware, to go even faster than this. I will return in
this one to London Bridge/'
Count Irma's face grew livid with rage, and he
resented this fresh proposal with all the language at
But Mr. Narkom remained obdurate. The launch
and its owner were subject to the commands of the
English law. His own boat was at the Count's com-
mand; a hasty signal from one of the officers brought
the launch alongside again.
The Count was evidently nonplussed, to say the
least of it, but seeing no chance of escape, he finally
accompanied the River Police into their launch, leav-
ing the beaming Superintendent and Ailsa Lome to
make the return journey alone.
The other boat had been barely set in motion when
Mr. Narkom turned and plunged down the stairs
again. Once more with Ailsa they made a detour of
20 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
the boat, calling aloud the names of both Dollops and
Cleek. It was Ailsa again who came to the rescue.
Pulling aside a tarpaulin thrown carelessly down at
the extreme end of the boat, she saw a series of newly
drilled holes, and it did not need the sight of the
boards, barely joined together, to tell her what they
She gave a little cry which brought Mr. Narkom to
her side at one swift jump, and the two proceeded to
tear up the boards. A few seconds, and the fast-fad-
iug light in the summer sky revealed the bound and
gagged figures of the two they had sought so ar-
The journey back was one in which very little was
spoken, after the few words of praise for Dollops,
whose quick-wittedness and apparent defection had
been so successful.
"I reckon we're quits, you young monkey ," said
Cleek, stretching out a hand to his young henchman.
"Not in this life, Guv'nor, Gawd bless yer for all
yer've done for me," was the fervent reply, and, at the
pressure of Cleek's hand on his, he grew very, very
It was quite dark when they disembarked at Lon-
don Bridge, and having seen the launch in the care of
the River Police, made their way to the limousine,
w T here Lennard waited. He gave a little whoop of
delight as his eyes fell on Cleek and Dollops.
But it was not until after Cleek had seen Ailsa safe
at an hotel, and he himself was on his way with Mr.
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 21
Narkom to the riverside cottage that he referred to
the subject which lay uppermost in their minds.
Then with a curious smile looping up one side of his
face, he said quietly :
"This is but the first throw of the dice, old friend.
Do not mistake. I am at the Yard's service now and
henceforth, but our journeyings together will be
accompanied by the hate of Irma, as well as the
vengeance of Margot. This is but the beginning; the
end, who shall say?"
A silent grip of the hand was all that Mr. Narkom
gave in answer, for he, too, was alive to the danger
which must now dog their footsteps. He did not rest
content, therefore, until he had seen Cleek and Dol-
lops safe in the cottage which served them for a tem-
porary home. Then he returned to town through the
soft coolness of the summer night, but though Cleek
was once more within the reach of the protecting
arm of the law, the Superintendent's heart was heavy
A FTER due reflection over the question of dis-
iJk guise, Cleek determined for the present to
^ ^ revive that of Lieutenant Deland, and it was
as that smart young officer that he once more took up
his quarters in Clarges Street, in a house not very far
from that which had been wrecked by Margot and her
gang of Apaches. That they, too, were on his trade
was ascertained by Dollops, who traced them down to
their lairs of Soho like a bloodhound scenting his
Despite the danger which surrounded him, Cleek
insisted on having the rest of their riverside holiday
with Ailsa Lome and Mrs. Hawkesley, who had re-
turned from India on a short visit, in the interests of
her little son, Lord Chepstow. Mrs. Hawkesley had
been spending her summer on a houseboat with
Ailsa Lome, that friend who by enlisting the aid of
Cleek had saved her son's life and given her her newly
found married happiness by the sale of the sacred
Dollops then was the happiest of mortals when,
having polished and repolished his beloved telescope,
on their return from the riverside retreat, he was given
the morning to polishing the mirrors in the great
GLEETS GOVERNMENT CASES 23
dining-room of Clarges Street. Now, if there was one
thing he loved more than another, it was a liberal use
3f "elbow grease," next, of course, to that ever-
present delight of satisfying his appetite, and it was
with much relish that he set out to undertake the
task. So it may be readily understood that his sen-
sations were not those of unmixed delight when, just
is he had got the mirrors thoroughly moist, an im-
perative postman's knock brought him to earth,
literally as well as metaphorically. Tumbling down
the high wooden step ladder, he flew to answer the
"Orl right, orl right!" he ejaculated, as a still more
riolent assault took place. "I'm not a blooming
caterpillar; only got two legs, you know, like the rest
"Bit of a hurry — I don't think," answered the
postman sarcastically, as he handed in a brown card-
board box similar to those sent out by most florists,
wid marked with all the usual precautionary labels.
"Don't let the lieutenant's buttonhole fade before
you take it to him, will you? " And with this parting
ihot the man departed, leaving Dollops for once too
busy reading the half-obliterated stamp to give full
rein to his usual gift of repartee.
"Lor' lumme!" he soliloquized, as he ascended the
staircase, three steps at a time, and rapped at the
study door. "Another flower from Miss Ailsa, bless
er! An' won't 'e just jump at it ! "
And jump at it Cleek did. He was writing his
24 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
usual morning letter to her, but at sight of Dollops's
smiling countenance his face lit up, and he fairly
snatched the box from him in his hurry.
JMeanwhile Dollops, with commendable tact,
turned to flick away a particle of imaginary dust on
one of the picture frames, and smiled knowingly.
But only for a moment. Came suddenly the
sound of a cry, half curse, half snarl, which sent the
lad spinning round like a top, and the sight of Cleek's
distorted face froze his very marrow.
"Gawd's truf, guv'nor, but what is it?" he gulped
breathlessly, running over to his master and peering
anxiously down into the agonized face.
The beads of perspiration stood out upon Cleek's
forehead, his fists clenched at his sides.
"The devils! The infernal devils !" he cried
fiercely, shaken out of himself by the awfulness of the
thing that lay before him. "By Heaven! but they
shall suffer for this! Ailsa, my dear, my dear!"
He lifted the little cardboard box from the table,
and held it toward Dollops with a look of almost
petrified agony. The boy gave vent to a hysterical
scream, for, even as he looked, he saw that it con-
tained a finger — a woman's finger — slender and ex-
quisite, encircled with the Maurevanian ring which
Cleek had replaced upon Ailsa Lome's hand such a
few short months ago at the Embassy. The box was
lined and padded with snowy cotton wool, a fit rest-
ing place for so precious though grim a treasure.
"Miss Lome ! " he gulped, passing a hand across his
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 25
yes in terrified amazement. "O, Lor' lumme, sir,
lon't go to say it's 9 er ! Oh, don't say it, guv'nor, for
jrawd's sake, don't!" He snatched up the piece of
Tested paper which had fallen from it, and scanned it
ragerly, feeling at such a time as this that he was one
arith his master. It bore these words: "With Count
[rma's compliments. Miss Lome releases the King
f rom his engagement, and he will do well to take up
lis duties immediately, lest worse befall her."
A chalky pallor overspread Cleek's face. His eyes
aarrowed. "Never!" he rapped out furiously, hit-
ting his hands together and breathing hard, like a
spent runner. "From this day I live to avenge my-
self! Dollops, the 'phone, quick ! Ring up Mr. Nar-
kom, and get him to speak to me. Quick as you can,
for God's sake!"
It was barely half an hour later when the limou-
sine, travelling at a mile-a-minute clip that sent the
police of the neighbourhood blinking and winking like
a cat in the sun, dashed up Clarges Street, and drew
up before the particular house in that particular row
that was owned and lived in by Lieutenant Deland.
A somewhat perturbed and crimson -countenanced
Superintendent sprang out upon the pavement,
flinging a few hurried words over his shoulder to
"Leave both doors open, Lennard," he said
hastily, grudging the time it took to give instruc-
tions. "Don't know which side he'll come in, but
don't take any notice. I'm doubtful these days.
26 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
Then make for the Thames cottage, and drive like
the wind. Miss Ailsa is in danger/ 9
Lennard gasped, and then nodded.
"Leave it to me, sir."
Then Mr. Narkom sprang up the stone steps, to
find Lieutenant Deland waiting for him, and Cleek's
agonized eyes looking out of the frame of his face.
He made no effort to speak, merely beckoned the
Superintendent and disappeared, and a second later
appeared again, and followed Mr. Narkom down
the steps to the limousine, handing him the little
cardboard box, with its horrible treasure, as he
entered the car.
The Superintendent opened it, then groaned aloud.
"Curse them!" he broke forth excitedly, as the car
leaped forward and went thundering off into the dis-
tance ahead. "I'll hang 'em, every one, if my life
goes for it. The beasts! The devils!" His voice
broke, and trailed off into silence; he put a hand
out, and touched upon the shoulder the crouching
figure in the corner. But Cleek never stirred,
never moved, merely sat there with bowed head,
while both hands covered his face, and his shoulders
drawn up like a whipped thing.
Then the Superintendent leaned forward, and picked
up the speaking-tube.
"Streak it," he instructed Lennard; and "streak
it " Lennard did, for the car went scudding through
the traffic at as mad a pace as the law would dare to
CLEEK'S GOVEBNMENT CASES 27
Soon they were passing down a narrow hawthorn-
hedged lane, field-edged with waving grasses that
swayed idly to and fro, and, half way down this,
came in sight of another car, standing empty and
disabled. The feet of the chauffeur showed gro-
tesquely from beneath it, and the sound of hammer-
ing punctured the silence that lay about them.
Lennard flashed a look of mute apology over his
shoulder, as he was perforce obliged to slow down;
and Mr. Narkom, feverish with anxiety, unlatched
the door, and stood ready to descend. It was im-
possible to pass the disabled car, unless it were
pushed right into the hedge.
"Curse the thing !" muttered Mr. Narkom,
furious at the unnecessary delay. "Just one minute,
my dear chap, and 111 settle it." He did not wait
for Cleek to answer, but jumped from the limousine,
and went stamping off in the direction of the other car.
Finally, in answer to Lennard's angry demands,
the chauffeur decided to come out, and out, too,
came something else, for with a paralyzing sudden-
ness, breaking on the calm of the summer morning,
shots rang out from behind the flowering hedges,
burying themselves in the limousine's front tire
with remarkably good aim. ' And before so much
as a word of warning could be uttered, the car itself
was surrounded by a crowd of dark, swarthy men,
muttering and talking among themselves in some
strange, outlandish language which Mr. Narkom
rightly assumed to be the Maurevanian native tongue.
28 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
Hearing this, he spun upon his heel, and with a
great fear in his heart went pelting back to the
limousine, and thrust his head inside the open win-
"Cleek," he said swiftly, with a little tremor in
his tones. "Save yourself, for God's sake!"
But too late. For even as he spoke a couple of
men bore down upon him, seized him ruthlessly
about his ample waist line, and slung ropes around
him, binding him close.
He cursed, he spluttered, he fought bravely and
well, hitting out with his fists as they swarmed about
him. But the numbers were too unequal. He
succumbed, and even as he fell his eyes saw Len-
nard bound and gagged also, and his heart went
out to Cleek in an agony of misgiving.
Yes, there he was! Cleek! Cleek, his pal, his
friend, the person he loved best in all the world.
They had thrown a cloth over his head, and were
bearing him toward the other car, which, for some
reason, seemed now to be in •perfect working order.
The whole miserable plot lay bared before the
Superintendent's eyes. He twisted over on his
side, and choked uncomfortably. There were tears
in his eyes, so that he could barely distinguish the
figures that kept passing to and fro in front of
At last they were all gone, babbling and laughing
triumphantly as the car sped off in the direction of
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 2»
"God!" cried the Superintendent mentally, in a
very anguish of soul. "Take care of him! Take
care of Cleek, for if he is hurt, I swear he shall be
The purr of the car dropped off into the distance,
and a silence followed. The sun was scorchingly
hot; the Superintendent's forehead streamed with
perspiration; every second seemed an hour. Then,
as if from some spot quite near him, came a sound
that nearly caused his heart to stop beating. It was
impossible! Incredible! Just the murmur of a
soft laugh, and before he could so much as lurch his
heavy weight over in the direction from which it
had come, Cleek, Cleek himself, by the powers!
stepped out from the limousine, and came toward
"Well played, well played!" said he softly, as he
whipped out a pocket-knife, and cut the Super-
intendent's bonds. "It was a close enough shave,
though! I suspected as much. It was a shame to
give you such a bad quarter of an hour, dear friend,
but there was no other way."
" Cleek, you're safe! Oh, thank God, thank God ! "
The Superintendent's voice broke and was silent;
he staggered to his feet, and clutched Geek's hand as
a drowning man might clutch at a floating spar; his
heart was in his eyes. He drew a shaking hand
"Come," said he, "let's get Lennard free, too.
It's too hot a day to enjoy such close captivity.
30 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
Then we must get on as quickly as possible. There's
none hurt, thank fortune!"
"No, none hurt, as you say, and that's some-
thing to be thankful for, in all conscience/' said
Cleek, as having freed Lennard, he drew Narkom's
hand in his arm and walked over to the limousine.
" But I think I've done for 'em this time, anyway.
They were as much taken in with Master Dollops
as you were. But the boy's safe enough. Hell
take care of himself. When those devils find oat
who it is, they'll start hot-foot on my trail again,
and run straight into Hammond and Petrie and a
posse of others. I rang up the Yard, dear friend,
after I had rung up you. I suspected a trick, and
I knew the kind I was dealing with. But it was
warm under that seat, I can tell you ! What's that,
Lennard? Got the tires on already? Bully boy!
Bully boy!" He sprang into the limousine, fol-
lowed by a puffing, breathless, somewhat incoherent
Mr. Narkom. Then, with a bound like a mad thing,
the car plunged forward, and proceeded upon its
journey without further mishap.
But there was no sign of Ailsa Lome when they
reached the cottage, and Cleek's heart sank within
him when Mrs. Condiment related how her young
mistress had gone off "in a grand motor, with a
splendid gentleman, with medals all over him, sir,
just like my friend, the sergeant."
"Count Irma himself!" rapped out Cleek in
answer to this. "He's tricked her somehow. I
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 31
might .have guessed they would hit at me through
her." He turned on his heel, and crossed over to
the latticed window, looking out with anguished
eyes. A minute passed in silence, then a tapping
sound attracted his attention. There was a pigeon
outside the casement window. He threw open the
window with a cry of delight.
4 * It's a message, a message from her dear self!"
he cried, as he pounced upon the bird and whipped
a tiny fold of paper tied with yellow silk from its
leg. "It's from Ailsa, Mr. Narkom, from Ailsa!
Listen!" The words "imprisoned — Sir Lionel Cal-
mount — safe," he read; then looked up into the
Superintendent's face with thankful eyes.
But the Superintendent was not so grateful.
"Yes, but where is that?" he bleated despairingly,
scanning the paper eagerly.
"Wait!" rapped out Cleek. "Calmount, Cal-
mount, " he gave a little yap of pleasure, like a terrier
that has just seen a rat — "Calmount! Lionel
Calmount, Irma's English chum! I've heard of
him often; one of the old school — noblesse oblige,
and all that sort of thing. And as for letting a
poor devil of a monarch marry anything but a
princess of the Royal blood — oh, dear, no! Yes,
our friend Count Irma knew his man when he sought
Calmount's help. But we'll be even with the lot
yet. He's got a place in Hampshire, Calmount
Castle, I think; that will be it, or else the pigeon
couldn't have done the journey." He rushed over
32 CLEEKS GOVERNMENT CASES
to the bookcase. "Here's a road map. Come, let's
see! I don't doubt that Lennard will do it all
And Lennard did "do it," for in a few minutes
the limousine was once more upon its way, with
Cleek and Mr. Narkom seated inside it, and the
road map in Cleek's hands. Now and again he
gave hasty instructions to Lennard through the
tube, watching with eager eyes how the distances
The Superintendent laid a hand upon his arm.
"I say, dear chap," said he doubtfully, "but isn't
it a bit risky putting your head into the lion's mouth
like this, eh?"
"I'd risk fifty lives for her dear sake!" snapped
out Cleek sharply, his eyes upon the fleeting vista
of fields that swept by the window, "but it's all
right, Mr. Narkom. Down with the blinds, and
switch on the electrics, and we'll see what Lieutenant
Arthur Deland from the Embassy can do with the
matter. That'll be best, I think."
Mr. Narkom thought so, too, and said so. For
the next half hour the two men worked feverishly,
and so it was that Lieutenant Arthur Deland stepped
out upon the stage, and found himself playing as
strange a part in the drama of existence as had ever
fallen to his lot.
IT WAS exactly five o'clock in the afternoon, and
the sun was beginning to think of retiring from
business, when a dusty, travel-stained limousine
drew up at the lodge gates of Calmount Castle like
a snorting, puffing horse, and demanded entrance.
"Who are you and what do you want?" demanded
the shambling old gatekeeper, -in a cracked voice.
"We want Sir Lionel Calmount," threw in Mr.
Narkom excitedly. "Open the gates, my good
fellow, as quickly as you can. The matter is urgent,
cannot be delayed. 9 '
But the "good fellow" was in no great hurry to
accede to this demand. He hemmed and hawed for
some moments, scratching his thatch of white
hair with a horny hand, so that Cleek felt, in the
unnecessary delay, a strong desire to leap out and
shake the sense into him. But at sight of the flash
of gold in Mr. Narkom's palm his actions quickened.
The transferring of that same gold piece to his hand
caused immediate obedience, and the limousine was
soon gliding comfortably up the long drive toward
Calmount Castle, and the fulfilment of at least one
part of the quest that had brought them here.
The great front door stood wide open, and in the
34 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
frame of it was a tall, erect, white-haired gentleman
staring downatthemblankly from beneath shaggy eye-
brows. Cleek stepped forward, and removed his hat.
"Sir Lionel Calmount?" he said politely. "We
come on account of Maurevania. Will you give us
a hearing? 9 ' He thrust out the Maurevanian ring,
and at sight of it the old man changed colour.
"If you have much to say," said he, leading the
way to a small drawing-room at the rear of the
building. "What do you want with me, sir? And
what is the business you have come upon?"
"I want the release of your prisoner, Miss Ailsa
Lome," rapped out Cleek sharply, meeting the
keen eyes with his own. "She is under the pro-
tection of the British Government, and Scotland
Yard has come to take possession of her and bring
her safely back home."
Sir Lionel clicked his teeth together.
"Impossible! Miss Lome is . . . well, to
speak perfectly plainly, she is not in possession of
her senses, sir. She is mad."
"Mad! Not unless you have driven her insane
with your atrocities. For God's sake, let us see her,
lest I do you an unjust injury, Sir Lionel. I beg of
you to take me to her at once ! "
Theold man switched round and looked athim keenly.
"Who are you, that you ask this of me?"
"Deland, Lieutenant Deland," Cleek made answer,
"and responsible for the safety of the lady you have
so foully injured!"
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 35
Sir Lionel's ruddy face went dough white; he shut
his hands together and breathed hard. "Injured?"
he bleated incredulously. "Injured, my dear sir?
I have done Miss Lome no personal injury, I assure
you. She has greatly endeared herself to my wife
and to me by her gentleness of disposition, and we
feel only a great grief at the terrible thing that has
deprived her of her mind. But as for any personal
injury; you speak in riddles."
Mr. Narkom looked at Cleek; Cleek looked at Mr.
Narkom. The old man's words rang true. There
was a great light shining in Cleek's eyes.
"If you will come this way," went on Sir Lionel,
and the two men followed him silently through a
long hallway, into what was probably the music
room, for at one end of it stood an organ and at the
other a piano. Seated before it, playing softly to
herself, was Ailsa, with her dear hand unblemished,
but bare of the ring that Cleek had first put upon
her finger many months before. She looked up,
and seeing Cleek dressed as she had seen him so
often, rose to her feet and came running toward
"Lieutenant Deland!" she cried, putting out her
hands impulsively, "this is indeed a surprise. So
vou discovered me, and come to take me back home
again? Why, and you, too, Mr. Narkom? Ah,
but this is too good to be true!"
With a little ejaculation of relief Cleek caught the
small hands in his.
36 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
Mr. Narkom drew the attention of Sir Lionel,
and tactfully contrived to leave the two together.
"Count Irma came for me," whispered Ailsa,
under cover of the conversation. "He told me you
had sent for me to come to the Embassy, and I
was to send on your ring as a sign that I was well;
an officer in another car took my message to you
while I packed. Luckily they never noticed my
new leather-covered travelling basket for the pigeons
that you gave me. Dear things! They did not
know of what invaluable use they were to prove,
otherwise they would have taken it from me. But
I smuggled it into the back of the car, and contrived
to get it out when no (one was looking. Then I was
driven straight here, and Sir Lionel and his wife
were told I was mad! Mad, mind you!"
Cleek pressed her hands in his, too thankful at
her escape to care aught for his own danger.
"Come, let us get away," he said. And Narkom
turned at the same time. "I must get back to
London, Sir Lionel. I think I have convinced you
that you have been fooled and deceived. How
serious the consequences might have been I need
scarcely say. But if Count Irma returns "
"He will be refused admittance," said Sir Lionel
sternly. "I am not to be made a catspaw, as he
will see. You and your friend are as safe here as
in the King's palace itself. It is late. I beg you
to stay, if only for the night."
Narkom looked at his ally dubiously, but Cleek
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 37
was gazing in turn at Ailsa, and it seemed to him
els if her eyes signalled "Yes." And accordingly,
some five minutes later, the dazed but delighted
Lennard was being led off for a welcome meal and
rest, while a party of five were soon seated round
the dining table, Cleek laughing as happily as if
Maurevania and all its troubles were at the bottom
of the sea, now that he knew Ailsa was safe, and
that the whole thing was but a malicious plot to
An onlooker would have deemed it the most
commonplace of country dinners, for it was not until
dessert was reached that anything untoward oc-
Just as the door opened to admit the butler with
this course, the house rang from end to end with
the sound of laughter, harsh, malicious, utterly
mad. Lady Calmount looked at her husband with
blanched cheeks. Then she sprang to her feet;
she was shaking as if with the ague.
"Lionel, Lionel, that dreadful laughter again !"
she cried hysterically, forgetting all else but her
terror, her unutterable fear. "Oh, my boy, my
boy! God help us all! What is to be done?"
Sir Lionel laid a steadying hand upon her arm.
His own face was pale, but he remembered the pres-
ence of strangers, and sought to calm her.
"Hush, hush, my dear!" he said persuasively,
pressing her back. "It is some servant, some trick.
You must not pay any attention to it. What's
S8 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
that, Miss Lome? Smelling salts? Oh, thank you
very much. That will be best. There, there!"
He smoothed Lady Calmount's pale cheeks with a
tender hand, his own face as white as hers.
Ailsa looked up at Cleek. Then she nodded her
"Tell him, dear Lady Calmount, tell the
lieutenant. He can help you, if any one can/'
she said softly in her low, sweet voice. "What is
the meaning of that awful laughter? I heard it
last night, and I really thought you had a mad
person under your roof. So if there is anything
to tell. . . ."
"Oh, there is, there is!" broke in Lady Calmount
despairingly. "You tell them, Lionel; I can't.
I can only think of my boy's danger; he is coming
to his death, I know he is, and it is too late to stop
him! Oh, it is cruel, cruel! What shall I do?
What shall I do?"
There was a pregnant silence; then, with a look
of mute pity at his wife, Sir Lionel cleared his throat.
"This must be all inexplicable to you, Lieutenant
Deland," he began haltingly, wiping his face with a
silk handkerchief, "but I will try to explain. We
are in very great trouble. Within the year both my
younger sons have been killed, I might say murdered,
in some mysterious, diabolical manner by some
agent that works by supernatural powers; there is
no other possible explanation. They have been
done to death, though showing no sign of wound
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 3d
or poison, just as that laughing gypsy swore that the
sons of our house should die, when she cursed them
root and branch."
"Hallo! Hallo! what's that?" said Cleek, sitting
up sharply, and dropping his table napkin. "A
gypsy's curse and the sons of the family dying mys-
teriously ! That's melodramatic, surely ! ' '
"God help us! It is indeed," said Sir Lionel.
" There is only my eldest son left now. He has been
abroad, or else Heaven knows but what he, too,
might now be lying with his ill-fated brothers. It
is all so inexplicable, and yet so appallingly true I
You can understand how I dread to see Edward
enter the castle gates."
Cleek pulled down his brows and pinched up his
"Hum-m-m! I can quite believe it," said he.
"But what has the curse to do with that sound we
have just heard? For I presume that you have no
insane inmate. "
"No, no! That is the forerunner of death —
her gypsy ladyship's laughter. I will try to explain.
As you, perhaps, know, we are a very old family,
one of the first to bear arms with King Richard the
Lion-hearted in the Holy War, and we have been
settled here in this castle more generations than I
can count upon my fingers. Our menfolk have
always married women of their own class."
"Noblesse oblige" murmured Cleek, with 9, whim-
sical smile, as he met Mr. Narkom's eye.
40 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
"Exactly," murmured Sir Lionel approvingly.
"All except one. Sir Humphry Calmount, in
seventeen-sixty-something, made a second marriage,
and mated with a beautiful gypsy girl. It was
believed that she was of Spanish descent, but, as a
matter of fact, she was one of a travelling band of
gypsies who settled on the waste lands just outside
the castle gates. Well, to cut a long story short,
Humphry Calmount fell in love with her and married
her. For a time all went well. Her portrait was
painted by "
"Sir Peter Lely," interposed Cleek. "Of course,
of course! I remember now. 'The Laughing Girl*
was the title he gave it. I saw a print of it only a
short time ago/'
"Yes," said Sir Lionel, with a shudder. "Her
laughter rang incessantly through the old walls,
and he got to hate it, just as we do. to this day. Well,
one day, in a fit of rage, he struck her, and I believe
a fearful scene followed. It ended in the lady pull-
ing out a dagger and stabbing herself. Just before
she died she cursed the house up and down and ended
by declaring that whenever her laughter rang through
the castle some disaster should befall one of its
"Hum-m-m!" said Cleek, "am I right in presum-
ing that at different times a wild death, that is to
say, a sudden death, has occurred, Sir Lionel?"
"At least once in every generation."
"But a coincidence, surely," threw in Ailsa, her
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 41
eyes on Cleek's face. "I cannot believe that a dying
woman's utterance could have any effect, after all
these hundreds of years. Can you, Lieutenant?"
"That's what Wentworth says," moaned Lady
Calmount, wiping her eyes with a wisp of real lace,
gossamer as a fairy's cobweb. "He is my nephew,
you know, Lieutenant Deland, and our heir, after
Edward, to the family estates. He has had trouble,
poor fellow, and is staying with us for the present,
until his plans are more settled."
Cleek's mouth grew grim. Yes, he had heard of
the "poor fellow's" trouble. It had something to
do with card playing, with a prompt resignation
from the army following shortly after.
"Tell me," said he quietly, addressing Sir Lionel,
who was watching him with great intentness,"was
he here when your two sons died? I do not wish
to probe into family affairs, but only, if you will
permit me, to help you to unravel this strange affair.
And a few facts are necessary. Was Captain Cal-
mount here with you at that time?"
Sir Lionel bowed his head.
"He was. But why do you ask? He was our
great prop and comfort."
"You called in the police, of course?" said Cleek,
apparently ignoring the last sentence.
"Well, no," admitted Sir Lionel, turning scarlet.
"The fact is, as Wentworth said, neither of the lads
was over-strong, and Dr. Marsh had advised them to
be kept quiet; for that reason they were allowed the
42 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
run of the house, and spent a great deal of their time
in the picture gallery.'*
Cleek lifted his chin. His face wore a curious
"Tell me," said he, "did they er — meet their
death in the picture gallery — at the same time? "
"Within six months of each other. Harold
fretted terribly, and he must have had a fatal attack
of heart failure, for his heart was naturally weak; he
probably just managed to crawl to the picture when
death overtook him. Dr. Marsh was very good to us,
and Wentworth did what we all considered to be for
the best. I see you are suspecting my nephew of
having some connection with that foul deed. I tell
you it is impossible. He cared more for those two
younger lads than Edward himself; indeed, that is
what they quarrelled about." He stopped short, as
if regretting having spoken.
"What's that? They quarrelled? What about?"
Cleek demanded imperatively.
"Wentworth never did get on with Edward, from
boyhood upward," put in Lady Calmount. " But he
did care for my poor darlings, and in his brusque way
he blamed Edward for going abroad on a pleasure
trip, the very one, in fact, from which he is now re-
turning. If anything happens to him " She
stopped abruptly, and let the rest of the sentence go
But Cleek got to his feet, and rubbed his hands to-
gether, smiling a little. "I should like to have a look
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 43
at Her Laughing Ladyship, if it's not too late and
it wouldn't trouble you too much, Sir Lionel," he
"Certainly, certainly," replied Sir Lionel, and
promptly led the way into a long, comparatively
narrow gallery, in the middle of which, in fact, right
opposite to the door, was a picture, roped off from too
dose inspection by a dark red, silken rope.
Sir Lionel held up a candle, and proceeded quickly
to light others.
"So that's her Laughing Ladyship, is it?" said
Cleek, gazing curiously up at the brilliant Spanish
beauty smiling down into his eyes.
" You beauty, you ! " he apostrophized her. " Have
you lured those boys to their death, or is it a trap?"
His eyes wandered first to Sir Lionel, if ho appeared
to be watching him almost too eagerly, then around
the gallery . Then he turned :
"Nothing to be learned here to-night, Sir Lionel.
So it's no use wasting any more time. I don't mind
having another look round in the daylight. Ton my
word I don't wonder you get superstitious up here.
Let's get down into the light again. I feel quite
"I very rarely come here myself," said Sir Lionel,
with a bitter laugh. "The place has hateful mem-
He stopped suddenly and shook his head. Then,
snuffing the candles about the spot, turned on his heel
and led the way downstairs once more.
44 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
As they passed the music-room door, there came
the rich strains of the organ playing the grand choral,
" Now Praise We All Our God," so that the house was
filled with the sound.
Cleek paused and lifted his head. "A grand
thing," he said softly, "a great and grand thing; and
the man who can play like that is fit for the angels
"And that is as true a thing as was ever spoken/'
put in the baronet, with a sigh of genuine delight. " It
is Gaston Calmount, a distant cousin, who lives with
us. Poor lad, he is humpbacked, but he is as dear to
us as a son."
"Another prop, eh?"
But Sir Lionel did not hear. He had opened the
door, and now, coming toward them from the organ,
was the figure of the hunchback, with a face that was
as beautiful as the angels he emulated.
"Uncle Lai!" he murmured tenderly, his soft-
toned voice shaking with emotion, "I heard the
laughter; I heard, I tell you. Surely now you will
take action? You will not let our own Edward be
murdered by that devil incarnate! You will not,
you will not!"
"Hush, hush, Gaston," struck in Sir Lionel
hurriedly. Then, as the boy drew back, ashamed of
his outburst, and sent a startled look up into Cleek's
face, he explained : " These gentlemen are detectives,
Gaston. This is Lieutenant Deland, and he is going
to try to protect our lad. !
CLEEK7S GOVERNMENT CASES 45
" The police! Oh, thank God!" The boy— for he
looked but little more, although he must have reached
manhood some time before — fairly flung himself at
Cleek, and laid a trembling hand upon his arm.
"Oh, save us, Lieutenant! Save us!" he cried
despairingly, "before he kills us all. It is Went-
worth's hand that has done the dastardly deed. It is
his wicked desire to become master here that is at
the root of it. He has hushed up the first two, but,
mark my words, Edward will be killed in some way or
other. It is not for nothing that he has been poring
over the medical books in the library. Oh, yes, I
know; I watched. I may have done wrong, but
Edward is as dear to me as though he were my own
brother, and if anything happens to him "
Cleek gave vent to a low whistle of surprise.
"Medical books, eh? Queer literature that for an
officer, Sir Lionel!"
"I've heard of queerer," broke in Sir Lionel
fiercely, with a sudden display of temper. "I can't
believe it, and I won't. It is one of Gaston's foolish
notions, simply because he hates Wentworth. That
is all it is."
"Steady, steady," said Cleek softly, with a quick
smile. " Circumstantial evidence isn't the best rod
to lean on, though I'm inclined to think you're right.
Anyhow, we're all safe for to-night, and, to tell you the
truth, Sir Lionel, I'm getting deuced tired. I . . .
I ..." he turned suddenly, sniffed the air, then
gave vent to a tremendous sneeze. "There's a
46 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
draught somewhere. I think, if you would make my
adieux to the ladies, I would like to retire."
"Certainly, certainly/' The baronet hurried off,
as if glad to escape from further parley with so curious
an individual. And, left to himself, Cleek turned to
the bowed figure of the hunchback, and laid a hand
upon his shoulder.
" My dear young sir," said he briskly, " why didn't
you wait till you got me alone before breaking out
like that? So you want Mr. Edward to escape death,
The other looked up.
" Then you believe it, too," he said abruptly, not
answering the question.
" Don't see a shadow of doubt," responded Cleek.
" You leave it to me."
Then, turning upon his heel, he yawned wearily,
wished the boy a sleepy "Good-night," and followed
Mr. Narkom up the broad staircase to their allotted
G LEEK'S desire to see Captain Wentworth Cal-
mount was speedily granted, for they met at
the breakfast table next morning. Cleek
guessed instinctively that the captain was inwardly
very wroth at the turn of events. He laughed rudely
when his aunt timidly volunteered the information
that Lieutenant Deland had offered to unravel the
"There's nothing to discover," he declared, in a
loud, grating voice. "One of the servants must have
played a trick on you while I was out last night." He
glared at the Superintendent. "They know all your
superstitious ways, Aunt Helena, from A to Z, and
most likely have taken advantage of that fact; still, if
it pleases you to tell every one your family history, it's
nothing to me."
"Pleases, Wentworth! How dare you say such a
thing!" ejaculated Sir Lionel angrily, glaring at him
in amazement. "I think you forget yourself, sir,
when you address your aunt like that. Lieutenant,
The meal proceeded forthwith, and Cleek, in the
presence of Ailsa, found himself making a big break-
fast Afterward he announced his intention of
48 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
thoroughly examining the picture gallery by day-
light. The whole party filed up to it, talking and
chattering as they entered the gallery. Here the sun
shone with full brilliance, and as Cleek stood with the
handle of the door still beneath his fingers, a shaft of
sunlight glinted upon the face of "The Laughing
Girl." Then, his shoulders hunched, he gripped the
knob firmly, and his mouth set into a thin, hard line.
"Idiot!" he ejaculated forcibly, "blithering idiot
that I am! I might have guessed, I might have
"Guessed what?" demanded Gaston interestedly,
staring up into Cleek's face with round eyes. "Struck
an idea, Lieutenant?"
"Yes, rather! There's no fireplace, you see," he
explained, as the rest crowded about him, "and it
doesn't look as if these windows are ever opened."
"They are not," said Sir Lionel. "I had them
screwed down so there should be no qhance of bur-
glars getting in; some of these pictures are of priceless
value, you know. I had ventilators put in the wall,
and it is the duty of one of the maids to pull the ropes
outside in the passage every morning so as to air the
"H'm-m-m — yes, I see," put in Cleek, with a jerk
of the head. "That is to say, if these ventilators
were not opened, for some reason or other, it would be
possible to be suffocated? Oh, no, it wouldn't/' He
stooped suddenly as his eye caught something at the
lower left-hand corner of one of the pictures. "I see
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 49
youVe taken care of that. Here's a hole for venti-
lation purposes, I presume?"
"What! Impossible!" chimed in Sir Lionel and
the captain in one breath.
"Well, I'm blest," said the captain, "so there is.
Too big for a mouse hole. Funny we never noticed
"Anyhow, it's no use for ventilation," threw in
Sir Lionel nonchalantly, "for it leads right into one
of the bedrooms, yours, too, by the way, Went-
worth." And he stared at the captain with a
strangely startled expression.
Gaston shot a meaning look into Mr. Narkom's
"Well, what of it?" demanded the captain ir-
ritably. "There's no crime in a hole being in the
"Not a bit!" said Cleek. "For one thing"—
he went down on his knees and sniffed audibly —
" it's not an old hole, but one newly bored; new wood
smells, don't you know? That's a mouse or a rat
hole." Then quite suddenly he seemed to find it
difficult to rise. "Oh, Lord. I'm getting stiff in
my legs. Old age, eh? Give us a hand, Mr. Nar-
kom. Thanks. What's that? No, no clue at all.
Shan't want to come in here again. Let's have a
look at these rooms on the other side of the gallery.
Yours, captain, and yours, too, Master Gaston, if
you don't mind."
They didn't; but beyond establishing the fact that
50 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
the mouse hole had apparently led right through into
Captain Calmount's room, the good lieuteiant ap-
peared to be absolutely stumped for a few minutes.
Then: "Bully, why didn't I think of it before?
Wait a minute. I've a book in my bag that's got a
similar kind of story. Some of those writing johnnies,
don't you know, aren't half bad."
He was gone before any one could utter so much
as a word, and Mr. Narkom's eye lit up, scenting a
clue. But the Superintendent was doomed to dis-
appointment, for barely two minutes later Cleek
returned looking the picture of sorry dejection.
"Can't find it," he said glumly, "must have left it
in the limousine. Mr. Narkom, you might nip down
and ask Lennard if it is there. Here's the title.
I know you'll forget it if I don't write it down."
When Mr. Narkom came back, Cleek turned
"Did you find it?" he asked rapidly, biting his
words off short.
"Yes, yes, you were quite right, dear chap; here it
is." He handed over a small red book; but after a
glance at its cover, Cleek seemed to lose entire
interest in it. He spun around upon his heel.
"It is not always the dog that barks the loudest
that fights the best," he went on quietly in a low,
even voice. "I'm sorry to have to hurt you, Sir
Lionel, but justice is justice." And all in a minute
those who were watching him saw a strange thing
happen; saw him turn and spring like a crouching
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 51
lion upon the figure — not of Captain Calmount, but
of the twisted, misshapen hunchback, saw him grip
the huge shoulders in his two hands, and heard his
voice ring out sharp and clear.
"Got you, got you, by Jupiter! " And even as Sir
Lionel sprang forward, with a little angry cry, there
came the sharp click-click of the handcuffs, and the
boy lay snarling and cursing, no longer a white-faced
angel, but a writhing, furious thing, biting and
"You Judas, you ! " snarled Cleek, as he leaned over
him and surveyed the distorted face. "You beast!
To kill the little lads who trusted you — to betray
your own flesh and blood ! "
"Man alive!" cried Sir Lionel, leaping forward.
•*What are you saying? It's impossible, utterly!
What had he to do with it?"
Cleek surveyed the baronet with stern eyes.
"Everything!" he snapped. "Everything! Per-
haps you'd like to hear Her Ladyship laugh once
more?" He ducked under the rope, and pushing
in one of the little carved acorns which ornamented
the frame, stood back.
The effect was startling: peal after peal of laughter
rang through the hall. Then, as the others in their
excitement surged up to the silken rope, Cleek looked
down at the handcuffed figure of the hunchback who
was watching them almost breathlessly.
"No, you little devil, you, it is quite safe. They
won't all fall down, stone-dead, without a sign or
52 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
mark, as your poor cousins died. See!" He picked
up the red rope, and let it drop to the floor with i
metallic clang. "I have had the current discon-
Lady Calmount gave vent to a little moaning
sound, and stared piteously up into Cleek's face.
"What does it mean?" she cried.
"It means, dear lady," said Cleek gently, "that it
was all part of a plot. He wanted to make himself
the heir. Did it never occur to you or to Sir Lionel
that, providing he could only continue his crimes
without discovery, he could stand in your son's
place? He comes from the French branch of the
family, does he not? And your life, your sons 9 , and
Captaii* Calmount's stood between him and this
inheritance. Look! I will show you the secret of
Her Ladyship's laughter. But there will be no more
* wild deaths ' in the family, Sir Lionel." He whipped
out his knife, and inserting it between the frame and,
the oak-panelled wall, caused the whole picture to
slide down gently. A deep, hollow recess revealed
itself, in which was seen the big brass funnel of a
"Here's our 'Laughing Girl,'" he said swiftly,
lifting out the instrument and setting it down upon
the floor; "and now you can set her laughing when
you like. As for you " Cleek turned to the
prisoner, but at sight of him he gave a little cry and
darted forward. For the boy was lying in a little
crumpled heap, with head dropped and eyes shut.
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 53
Cleek bent over him. Then, of a sudden, he straight-
ened himself, and passed a quick hand over his eyes.
"Dead," said he. "Dead, poor, malicious thing!
Dead before the rest of his malice could find its way
out. Heart, I suppose. Couldn't stand the shock
of discovery. Off with the handcuffs. No one ever
need know. Put back the picture, Sir Lionel, and
call up the servants, and let the outside world under-
stand that the boy died suddenly. After all, it's
the best thing that could have happened."
He picked up the limp, lifeless body, pillowed it in
his strong arms, and then, at a word from Sir Lionel,
passed out into the bedroom, and laid it gently upon
the bed. Ten minutes later he telephoned for the
"How did I come to discover it, Mr. Narkom?"
said Cleek, an hour later, as they sat together in
Geek's bedroom and the Superintendent was once
more questioning him, while Ailsa made ready for
"Oh, quite a simple riddle, dear chap. I sus-
pected electricity from the very first; only thing pos-
sible to kill like that, and always in the same place.
Then when I picked up a shred of yellow flexible
wiring on the staircase, that 'gave me to think,' as
our French cousins say. On top of that came the
unmistakable smell of that insulating material called
'Chatterton,' not after the poet, Mr. Narkom, but its
54 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
inventor; while the sight of that red cable acting as a
rope to guard the picture — which was just a metal
copper cable, and coloured red, a live wire, in fact —
gave me the whole truth. I was uncertain at first
whether it was Gaston or the captain who had com-
mitted the crime, until I remembered that there was
a framed genealogical table in the library; that gave
me the clue. That new hole bored through to the
captain's room was too obvious, and, besides, Gaston
was so over-anxious to fix the blame on his cousin,
that when I found every medical book in the libraiy
thick with dust, I began to have my doubts. Then
I felt pretty certain that that locked cupboard in his
room contained batteries, and I was right, was I
not, Mr. Narkom?"
"As you always are, dear chap ! " put in that gentle-
man with a glance of admiration.
Cleek sighed and stretched himself. Then, at the
sound of a light footstep on the stair, picked up his
hat and went swiftly out of the room.
"She's ready!" he called excitedly, like a wild
schoolboy. "She's ready, forsooth! And now back
to London and home. I'm anxious to know about
Dollops, Mr. Narkom, and to assure myself of his
safety. Ready, Ailsa? Ready, Mr. Narkom?
Ready, the pair of you? Good-bye, Sir Lionel, and
good luck. The son will come home to you safe and
sound. No, don't thank me; you have taken care of
Miss Lome, that is sufficient for anything I have
done. Good-bye, captain; and apologies for any
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 55
undue rudeness. Good-bye, all of you. Now, then,
Leonard, quick as you can, my boy."
Like a mad thing the car leaped forward and went
spinning down the long drive, out through the great
gateway and on into the soft, green distances ahead.
The sun was like fire in the sky, the day was warm,
and summer in her merriest mood; the trees swam
past the windows of the car like rivers of green.
Within the limousine, with eyes alight, Ailsa
was listening to the old, old story from Cleek's lips,
and laughing now and again as she glanced tenderly
down at the Maurevanian ring upon her finger, while
the Superintendent, with commendable tact, gazed
from his window at the changing country, and
tried to let them think they were alone.
HOW did I come to suspect the young hunch-
back?" said Cleek, as they rushed through
the coolness of the summer night, leaving
Sir Lionel Calmount still dazed with the unexpected
revelation of human duplicity, but happy, too, in
the relief from all future danger.
"Well, as a matter of fact, I did not give him a
thought; his feeble body and innocent look stood him
in good stead, as he had invariably banked on. It
was only when I came near him and caught the famil-
iar scent, that I knew, and when I saw the marks on
his finger I was certain. What's that, Mr. Narkom?
What marks? Why, of the Chatterton; and the
odour is peculiarly clinging. That is the stuff with
which he had joined the flexible electric wire round
the picture. Still, I didn't know but what he was an
innocent tool of the captain's, until he mentioned
that medical book. If you carry your mind back,
dear friend, you will remember that he said the cap-
tain had taken it from the library. The book was
certainly missing from there, but it happened to be in
his room, and not the captain's. That's where the
point comes in. The rest followed naturally/'
He looked out as the car turned into the station
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 57
from whence the London express would whisk them
to the metropolis and back into the maelstrom of that
evening's pleasure seekers. Lennard and the limou-
sine were to come on at their leisure. Briskly the
little party took their places in the train and prepared
for a somewhat lengthy journey.
"I think an evening out will do us all good," said
Ailsa, presently, with a little sigh, "and Lady
Chepstow — Mrs. Hawkesley I mean (somehow, the
old title still fits her best) , she, I know, will be only
too glad of a change. Suppose you come back to
dinner, and take us out afterward?"
"The very thing," put in Mr. Narkom briskly.
"Berkely Square is, if I remember rightly, on Petrie's
beat this week, and I shall feel safer if I know you are
under his eye. And, as I have promised myself a
night off with Mrs. Narkom " He smiled at
Cleek, who nodded back at him happily. Seated by
Ailsa's side, with her hand lying in the crook of his
arm, the world spelt happiness complete. Even
Count Irma and the menace of the Apaches were far
distant. He lived for the moment in the lap of a
The journey's end reached at last, he saw Ailsa
safely into a taxi, and promised to be with her in a
short half hour. Then bidding good-bye to Mr.
Narkom he turned on his heel and forged ahead
through the stream of traffic that surged in and out of
Charing Cross station. Foreigners there were al-
ways in plenty, but to Cleek, absorbed though he
58 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
was in the narrow escape of the woman who repre-
sen ted the whole sum of human happiness to him, there
seemed an ever-increasing number of Frenchmen in
the moving medley of humanity. It brought a frown
to his brows, and his mouth puckered into a network
of tiny creases that boded ill for any one who might
cross his path and his temper at that particular mo-
But long before he had reached the safety of Clarges
Street the magic of London had exerted its soothing
power; the old philosophical outlook returned and the
grimness departed, for, after all, and despite every-
thing, God was in his heaven, as the poet sang, and
"all's right with the world."
Of a sudden he gave out a happy laugh and swung
round the corner of the street, glancing up at the
house wherein he had taken up his lodging till he and
AiLsa should find themselves a more suitable apart-
men t . At the very thought of what was to follow, his
heart sang with happiness. But in his room all was
dark; no light met him on the landing, the place was
silent and deserted. Dollops had not yet returned.
On the table in the dining-room stood the remains
of a meal that would have been ruinous to the strong-
est of digestions — a menu in which Dutch cheese,
pickled walnuts, jam puffs, and monkey nuts figured
conspicuously. Cleek laughed aloud at the sight of
the disordered table.
"Only an ostrich could digest " he com-
menced, but the sentence died on his lips unfinished.
CLEEE7S GOVERNMENT CASES 59
Of a sudden his mouth fell open, he screwed round at
the sound of the door being opened cautiously, and
Dollops's face, the colour of new dough, peered in on
him in the half light, like an eerie spirit.
"Gawd's truth, guv'nor, it is you, is it? I've got
back!" ejaculated that individual with a sigh of re-
lief. "Thank the Lord for that! I wasn't in 'arf
a funk since those blessed foreign johnnies went
through this place only this afternoon! Look at it,
sir, look at it! Fair makes you sick!"
Cleek did "look at it," as Dollops switched on an-
other electric, and the curious, one-sided smile
travelled up his face.
That something had been "wanted" was more
than evident, for every article had been turned out of
drawer and box and lay in one disordered heap in the
centre of- the floor.
"What were they after?" 1:« rapped out sharply.
"Lumme, that's what I a^ked, when I saw 'em
wiv my own blessed peepers," Dollops gave back
excitedly. "But I gives 'cm the slip when they was
ready to be off again and 'id in a cupboard. And
'ere I am."
But Cleek had vanished through the open door
leading into his bedroom, and Dollops's voice came
to him dimmed by the distance. "Them blooming
Apaches," said he angrily, "they're all over the place,
and buzzing like a nest of hornets."
Cleek gave out a little laugh and peered at him
through the open door.
CO CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
"Well, what of that? Surely you're getting used
to them by this time? All you've got to do is to see
that these rooms are kept locked while I'm away.
ITiough what in the name of fortune should make
Count Irma desire to go through my property like
Speaking, he drove his hand into the pocket of the
coat he had worn all day, his fingers touched a little
metal object, and in a sudden fever of enlightenment
he grew very still. It was no less than a ring, the
false ring of Maurevania, which Mr. Narkom had
withdrawn from the dead finger that had given him
such an agony of anguish.
"Oho!" said he, a curious look passing across his
grim face. "He looked for the proof of his crime,
did he? So, Count Irma, there are others besides my-
self who will demand a reckoning for this day's work."
He replaced the ring in his dress-coat pocket, and
completed his toilet in silence.
Ten minutes later, leaving Dollops on the watch,
and as alert as a terrier over a rat hole, Cleek sallied
forth, his own nerves keyed up to conceit pitch by
the presence of an ever-increasing danger. Few
would have recognized in the immaculately clad
gentleman who took his seat at Mrs. Hawkesley's
dinner table a short while later the effeminate young
officer who had so lately looked upon the borderland
of tragedy and averted a still greater one by the
power of his wonderful mind; and only those few
could be numbered as the ones who knew.
IT WAS precisely an hour later that they were
seated in a private box at the Alhambra, for
Mrs. Hawkesley had chosen that place of amuse-
ment, the Captain having promised to join them from
the club. And the performance ^as halfway over
when the little flurry caused by Lie entry of fresh
people made Geek look down idly into the stalls.
The sight of two occupants there gazing back at him
in a sort of atrophied hatred, which iif?luded Ailsa
as well, drove a little spasm of fear through his heart.
Let them do what they like to him, let them trap him
and kill him, or torture him, as the fates provided,
but let one hair of her head be touched, and he would
show them that the very demons of hell coulii be let
loose for one man's service and one man's gain No
less the familiarity of the two, Count Irma am* the
pretty lady at his side, clad in a shimmering, gauze-
like material that was like the lining of a sea shell, and
with the diamonds flashing in her dark hair, caused
him to give vent to a little exclamation of surprise.
"Margot!" he ejaculated, and at the sound of that
name Ailsa turned swiftly to where his eyes rested,
and met those of Margot fixed on her with all the
insolent hatred that was at the creature's command.
62 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
She clenched her hands as she gave out a little
cry of dismay.
"The two together!" she said in a low, terrified
voice, "What does it mean?"
"Mischief," flung back Cleek sharply. "That's
what it means, Ailsa, mischief."
Of a sudden came the swift opening of the box
door, and Captain Hawkesley entered. Cleek was
upon his feet instantly.
"In the very nick of time, Captain," he said in a
low, smooth voice. "You have often expressed a
desire to make us quits. Here, then, is your oppor-
tunity. Take this seat; Ailsa will explain* I have-
n't time; but for God's sake keep your face unseen.
The game will be up if they recognize you. Quick,
Ailsa, another of your roses, dear, like mine here;
this one I cannot part with." He smiled whimsically
as Ailsa obediently placed one of the Chatenay buds
in the Captain's empty buttonhole. "And one of
your orchids for me, Mrs. Hawkesley. Now, fix
your attention on the stage "
"But you " broke in Ailsa with a little gasp of
"I am safe enough. I can disguise myself when
necessary. Have no fear." Speaking, he turned
abruptly. The door flashed open and flashed shut
again. And even Ailsa, who knew the secret of his
peculiar birthright, found it difficult to conceive that
the French Apache of the better class, with the orchid
in his buttonhole, who swaggered into the stalls a
CLBEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 63
minute or so later, was the man who had just left
That he succeeded in deceiving Margot was only
too evident, for she was seen to introduce him with
many shrill laughs and shrugs of her white shoulders
to Count Irma, and the three were soon in deep con-
fab, oblivious to the entertainment on the stage, or
of the disapproving glances of their immediate
neighbours. It seemed an eternity, though in reality
it was but a short half hour, before the last curtain
fell; and as the strains, of the National Anthem
floated on the heated, smoke-laden atmosphere,
Ailsa gave a little sigh of mingled dread and relief.
Of Cleek there was no sign when they reached the
crowded vestibule, nor of the French Apache with
the orchid, though it seemed to Ailsa as if the whole
place had been filled with Parisians, all gay, eager,
Close beside them as they stood on the curb out-
side stood a ragged, dirty-looking creature, darting .
here and there like a hungry sparrow to pick up the
few pennies that the occasional calling of a cab earned
him. "'Ere y'are, miss, keb, keb!" he said briskly,
jostling against Ailsa and with set purpose separating
her from Mrs. Hawkesley.
"I don't wish a cab," she responded coldly, "I
am with friends. I "
Of a sudden, to her utter consternation, she was
borne out into the street by the crush, and she found
herself surrounded, not by a mixed crowd of home-
64 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
wardbound theatre-goers, but, men who, despite
their evening clothes, were obviously Frenchmen
of the "Boul' Miche'."
She turned to go back, but the way was barred.
Panic seized her and she tried to call out. Instantly
one of the number thrust himself forward, and spoke
to her with a leer on his evil face:
"Leave la petite to me, I'll have her. Come
quick, before the cracksman discovers her loss n
Like a flash a path opened, and she was carried
off her feet by the vehemence of the attack, and
bundled into a waiting motor which was driven
away just as a portly figure turned the corner of
Leicester Square at the head of a posse of police.
"Mr. Narkom!" Ailsa managed but one cry be-
fore her cloak was twisted over her mouth and her
voice dulled to silence. Where in God's name were
they taking her? What had happened? Where
were Cleek and the Hawkesleys? Surely they would
discover her before it was too late!
But they did not discover her, and it was not until
the motor came sharply to a standstill in Hyde Paik
that a voice reached her through the folds of the
cloak about her face and head.
"It's all right, guv'," said that voice, with com-
forting familiarity. "Not a bloomin' Apache in
sight. Done 'em a fair treat this time. Orl right,
It was Dollops, and, dearer still, Cleek, her erst-
while abductor, behind him, his eyes alight, hi?
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 65
face glowing ! She gave out a little cry and stretched
her hands to him in bewildered abandonment.
He caught them in his own.
"I had to let you be frightened, dear one," he said,
in a low, tender voice. "There was no other way.
They might have guessed otherwise. But I was
lucky, for I managed to 'phone to Mr. Narkom, who
should just catch Margot, if he's quick, and then
appeared in time to whisk you off before the others
got you. Dollops" — he threw up the window — "can
you drive the car down to Hampton Court?"
Came a low whistle, followed by a chuckle of
satisfaction. "Lumme, sir, just you try me," said
that worthy promptly. "The houseboat'U be the
very thing for us now, and Miss Ailsa, bless *er 'eart,
will be as right as rain with old Mother Condiment.
Orl right, sir."
Then with a purr of the engines, the great car was
off and away to the old Thames Valley, whizzing
along at a splendid pace, while Cleek and Ailsa,
within it, entered for the time being into their para-
• • • • • • •
But Mr. Narkom was unfortunately too late.
Margot and her compatriots had vanished like snow
beneath the sun, and the Superintendent was left
once more to curse his luck upon not being on the
scene of action.
And it was not until a few days later that he was
actually made aware of Geek's hiding-place, though.
c ; CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
thanks to a hasty message sent to Mrs. Hawkesley,
he knew that both his charges were safe. However,
upon the third morning after that fateful visit,
Mr. Narkom got his letter. He mopped his fore-
head with a brand-new silk handkerchief, jerked
down his cuffs and straightened his tie, as befits
the "Yard's gentleman" when in performance of
the Yard's duty, and went down and out to where
the new limousine, a bright blue affair with trim-
mings of stone gray, awaited him in the courtyard
below. He stepped into it with a sigh of genuine
And Lennard, ever watchful, ever ready, replying
to his brisk nod, was off like a shot toward Chelsea,
scudding along the Embankment at a mile-a-minute
clip. Out across the broad road, and into a network
of meaner streets, where a goodly part of the army
of the great unwashed dwelt and had their being,
sped the car, and some fifteen or twenty minutes
later came out into the open country, which was now
at its height of summer beauty.
"This will be it, I think, sir," said he at last,
slowing down at the curve where the main road
threw out a narrow lane leading riverward between
two tall, close-clipped privet hedges.
Mr. Narkom unlatched the door.
"Yes, this is as near as we dare go, and I'll wager
I shall find him in the garden, so I might as well
walk down direct. So drive about a little, Lennard,
and be back here in about half an hour."
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 67
That Mr. Narkom knew his quarry well was evi-
dent, for, after passing a very wilderness of roses,
he came to a spot where a dark head moved about
among the bushes, and lo! there was Cleek, his
sleeves turned up to the elbow, his face flushed with
exercise, busy grubbing up weeds and loosening the
baked earth around the roses, while Ailsa Lome
reclined in a low chair, watching the operations with
He glanced up at the sound of Mr. Narkom's
footsteps on the gravelled path, and smiled ruefully.
"You're on time to the tick, you dear old nuis-
ance," he said, slipping an earth-stained hand into
his waistcoat pocket for his watch. "But you can
pass the time of day with Miss Lome while I go
and divest myself of some of her landed estate."
He held up his fingers for Mr. Narkom to see,
and went off whistling, while the Superintendent,
with smiling countenance, did his friend's bidding.
"Glad to get back, weren't you, Miss Lome?"
he said, with an appreciative look round the rose-
lined lawn and flower-filled pergolas that flanked
it. "I do wish I did not need to bother him again so
soon; but it's duty, you know, and in duty's call "
"One has to obey blindly," she gave back in her
soft voice. "And you know he will be only glad to
help you. Ah, here he comes! I will beat a re-
treat, and leave you a clear field of action." And
with a nod and a smile for the Superintendent, and
something more than a nod and a smile for Cleek,
68 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
as he came striding toward them, she turned upon
her heel and entered the cottage; and they could
hear her singing as she went.
But Fate is a strange creature. Much was to
pass before she and the man she loved would know
again the peace of that garden.
"Now," said Cleek as he and Mr. Narkom joined
each other and commenced pacing the pathway,
"what's wrong with the world this time? Robbery,
suicide, or what?"
"Murder!" threw in Mr. Narkom with a little
shudder. "And wholesale and diabolical murder
at that. That's why I asked you to let my client
come to you here, so as to get to work before another
crime is committed. It was good of you to permit
me that privilege, old chap."
"H'm! Is it as bad as that?" said Cleek, with a
little frown. "Well, let us go to that little summer
house there at the end of the path, and you shall
tell me the particulars."
A minute's walk brought them to it, set like a
bower in the centre of the roses.
"Well, now what, Mr. Narkom? " said Cleek.
"Wholesale murder, I believe you said? Gad!
that's a nice thing to throw at a law-abiding citizen
on such a gorgeous day as this! Well, go ahead.
But, first of all, who's the client? Lady or gentle-
man? You did not say over the 'phone this morn-
Mr. Narkom puckered up his brows.
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 69
" A gentleman/ 9 responded he. " A Hindoo gentle-
man, Mr. Gunga Ramagee, of Lincoln's Inn."
"Gunga Ramagee! Worst of those Indian Babu
chaps, their names are so much alike. But, if my
memory doesn't play me false, wasn't there one of
that name who took a scholarship for law in Cal-
cutta ? Came of high Brahmin caste, and was accord-
ingly disowned by his family when he came over to
"The very man!" ejaculated the Superintendent,
with a sigh of genuine admiration. "Though how
you learn these things beats me. It's uncanny,
I call it."
Cleek laughed good-naturedly.
"Not a bit, my dear chap. As it happens, there
was a small paragraph about it in an old journal
lying on the dentist's table last week, and as I had
to patronize one of that fraternity, and loathe the
inevitable hour's wait beforehand, that item im-
pressed itself on my memory. But go on. Begin
at the beginning, please. First of all, who has been
killed and where?"
"At least three Hindoos," said the Superintend-
ent with a sigh, "and probably a fourth. Each one
is found nude, and a strange thing about the whole
affair is that in each case nearly all the blood has
been drained from the body."
Cleek sat up suddenly and sucked in his breath.
"What's that? What's that?" he rapped out,
stung into a show of feeling by the revolting nature
70 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
of this statement. "All the blood drained! Good
heavens, man! this is something like a mystery.
Where were they found?"
"In the neighbourhood of the Essex marshes,
just near a little village called Easthope. The last
one was discovered at midnight by the constable on
duty, lying covered with a piece of sacking, a rope
twisted round the body, and not a drop of blood
spilt anywhere. They tell me that it seems as if
he had been allowed to bleed to death, and then
the corpse deposited in the road like a sucked
"No clothing, eh?" Cleek dived for his cigarette
case, a sure sign that his interest was aroused.
"Pretty good evidence that the poor beggars
clothes would have betrayed his identity, and that
he could not have been staying very far away from
where he was found. Even in a country village a
man can't carry a naked corpse very far without
attracting attention, can he? H'm-m-m! Any ve-
hicle seen or heard in the neighbourhood?"
Mr. Narkom shook his head.
"Not the ghost of one. But the first body was not
found in the main road at all, but in a little lane
leading over private fields. The constable is cer-
tain that no one passed him on his beat.
"But, according to Gunga Ramagee, a dog ran
down the lane, running as if it had been frightened.
As the constable knew where it belonged, he didn't
take particular notice of it, and concluded it had
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 71
een out on the prowl and was just making for Delhi
"What's that? Delhi House? " threw in Cleek
•ith an upward twitch of the eyebrows.
"Yes, it's the name of the house where Gulam
ingh, the uncle of Gunga Ramagee, lives."
"Oho!" said Cleek, with a strong rising inflection.
Now we're getting 'warm,' as the children say.
Ind all these gentlemen, you say, are Hindoos?
Lnd they're found outside a house wherein lives a
Mr. Narkom sniffed.
"Yes, that's the popular belief," said he disdain-
ully. "But Gunga Ramagee declares that no one
ad visited his uncle save himself, and that he was an
bsolute recluse and hermit. Investigation proved
hat this was so, and that no one had any reason to
xpect the presence of the murdered men in the
"Quite so. Any marks on the body? No signs
f mutilation, I suppose?"
"No. The only wounded spots were where the
rteries had been cut at the wrists and legs. Per-
ectly clean cuts, evidently made for the purpose of
»tting out the blood, and obviously not for killing.
teyond that the body bore no blemish. He had not
►een stabbed, shot, or bludgeoned, and Gunga
tamagee says that Seton, the village physician,
oade an examination, and proved, despite the fact
hat the body was practically bloodless, that there
72 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
were no traces of poison or disease. The only signs of
anything wrong at all were inflamed passages of the
inside of the mouth and nostrils, and the doctor
attributed this to cold, due to change of climate.
Perhaps so much attention would not have been
paid, but for the fact of finding, just three days after
the burial, a second man in exactly the same condi-
tion. This corpse was half buried in a deep ditch
about a hundred yards away. Examination showed
that the body was in a far more advanced stage of
decomposition, and that the man must have been
murdered some weeks before the other."
"ffmm! I see," said Cleek. "Go on, please.
I suppose there was an uproar in the village? "
The Superintendent threw up his hands.
"I should just think there was. The whok
countryside is up in arms, and, like you, have con-
nected Gulam Singh with the crimes. When a third
body was found in the ditch they nearly burnt the
house down, and Gunga Ramagee applied to the
county station to have a special posse of police to
guard his uncle, whom he fairly worships. The man
has been something more than a father to him, I
"Well, yesterday, a fourth body was dug out, and,
as I said before, Heaven alone knows how many more
may have been discovered by this time!"
Cleek pursed up his lips, as though about to whistle,
and gave bent to a low laugh.
"What a fool's trick!" said he. "What a fool's
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 73
.rick! The man must be a madman to court death
it the hands of an infuriated mob, by burying the
txxlies just outside his own house. How has he done
it without being seen? I suppose it is safe to assume
that the fourth was discovered under similar cir-
"Yes, all save the fact that the face was distorted
into an expression of fearful agony, whereas those of
the others were quite calm and peaceful; and the
corpse was wrapped in a fragment of Indian tapestry.
It was this, according to the entire village, that com-
pleted the evidence against Gulam Singh."
"The chain of events, but not necessarily * evi-
dence, 9 Mr. Narkom," threw in Cleek with a shake
of the head. "Kali! Swa! Krishna! Let me
think for a moment. 99 His voice dropped off; he
took his elbow in his palm, and his chin between
his thumb and forefinger, and sat looking, with
fixed eyes and puckered brow, out over the shining
river, and for a time made neither sound nor move-
And so he was still sitting when Miss Lome came
hurrying down the path, her white frock showing
vividly against the green trees, and at her side a
slim, frock-coated, top-hatted, brown-faced figure
with the features of an Indian god, and a close-
clipped, soot-black moustache covering his lips.
A slight frown crossed Cleek 's face as he sprang up
to greet them, and for the moment he hesitated.
Then he put out his hand.
74 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
"Mr. Gunga Rainagee?" said he politely.
The Hindoo bowed.
"This gentleman has an appointment with you,"
said Ailsa with a smile, and a sudden light leaped into
the Hindoo's face as he turned to thank her. He
bowed as she left them, with an obeisance that was
fitting for a queen.
Cleek turned on his heel.
"Come," said he briskly; "we will be off at once.
Drive down in the limousine, Mr. Narkom, and Mr.
Gunga Ramagee shall tell me the facts as we go
along. That's right, dear friend; lead the way and I
A few brief moments of farewell to Ailsa, and then
Cleek strode after the figures of Mr. Narkom and the
Hindoo; and, before she had time to retrace her
steps, Lennard was once more urging on his petrol
steed, as though it were an avenging angel, and they
were off, tearing down the road at a pace which ate
up the miles greedily.
ONCE inside the limousine, however, the
young Hindoo's impassive calm broke up,
and, hardly waiting till the three were seated,
he clutched painfully at Cleek's arm.
"Oh, Mr. Ledway," he cried, speaking without the
trace of an accent in his voice (for it was by this
name that Cleek had chosen to take on the case),
"come to my poor uncle's rescue; save him from
your brutal countrymen ! Mr. Narkom tells me you
are a veritable worker of miracles. Oh! I beseech
you, in the name of Brahma the all-powerful, help
me to get my uncle into safety, and once more into
his own country, where his ways will not be mis-
understood. If they kill him, those devils "
His eyes shone with an almost insane light, and Clock
raised a soothing hand.
"Calm yourself, Mr. Ramagee," said he gently.
"You can rely upon my doing my utmost, and no
harm can come to your uncle while he is under police
"Just what I told him myself," put in Mr. Narkom
Cleek gave the man a penetrating look.
"Have you no suspicions yourself of any one who
could possibly commit these outrages?"
76 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
For a brief second a look something akin to fear
flickered over the sallow mobile face; then Mr.
Ramagee stoutly denied any idea or knowledge.
"Dr. Seton says it is the act of a madman," he
said in conclusion, moistening his dry lips.
"Dr. Seton? Who is he, pray?"
"The only doctor in Easthope, it would seem.
My uncle has always been so well, but, for the last
few weeks he has had several bad attacks, and I
threw up all my studies to stay with him. I wanted
him to let me send for one of our native doctors, but
he refused; he said that he would have Dr. Seton;
and the doctor has been very attentive to him.
Really, I would not have left him at all but for the
fact that the doctor is staying in the house, and I
have had dogs placed in the stables. Naturally,
my uncle, who is a most devout man and keeps all
our religious ceremonials most rigorously, would not
allow the unclean beasts over the threshold of his
doorway, but they are allowed to be let loose at
night, to act as a guard over us."
"H'mrn! I see; that accounts for it, then," said
Cleek softly. "No, nothing, my dear sir. Go on.
What is this doctor, English, Scotch, Irish, or "
"Oh, an Englishman, I should say, but he has
travelled all over the world, and is a most learned
and educated man."
Cleek smiled at the evasiveness of the tone.
"Quite so," said he ^serenely. "Do you like
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 77
The Hindoo twitched up his mouth and threw
out his hands.
"Well, Mr. Led way, to be frank, I do not. Clever
he undoubtedly is, but he is certainly one of the
most brusque, plain-spoken men I ever have met;
and if I did not know my uncle too well, I should
think that he was afraid of him. Why, the other
day he made my blood almost boil; I could have
kicked him out neck and crop for the way he spoke to
my uncle because he refused to let the doctor enter
the shrine of Kali."
Cleek threw up his chin and lifted his eyebrows.
"Kali?" said he. "What's that?"
The Hindoo raised his eyes heavenward.
"My uncle," he replied, "as I have told you, is a
most devout man, and one room in his house has
been turned into a shrine for the divine goddess, Kali.
He makes offerings to her, and her temple is well
known to many devout believers who sojourn here
in this land of tears."
"Oho ! So at one time, then, many Hindoo visitors
used to come to pay their respects to Kali? "
"Yes, but none have come during this year; it is
not yet time. They will come for the Rising of the
Waters Festival, when the Indus rises, you know."
Cleek nodded in understanding.
"Yes, yes, of course. On what day was it," he
asked irrelevantly, "that your uncle refused to let
Dr. Seton enter the shrine? Do you remember, or
78 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
"As it happens, I can remember very well, for it
was on the morning of the discovery of the first
body, the cause of all the excitement; and my unde
spent the rest of the day praying to the goddess for
help and protection."
" Ah! yes, yes," said Cleek; and for a time there
was silence, only broken by the whirr of the motor
as it rushed on at a forty-mile clip.
The summer day was drawing to a close when
Lennard, following the directions of stray hay-
makers and sundry village boys, drew up the lim-
ousine in front of a large house, the home of Gulam
Singh. It was a substantial and somewhat ornate
building, standing in the midst of green fields, with
a high laurel hedge shutting it off from the lane.
An iron gate gave ingress and egress to and from
the grounds, and Cleek, as he ascended the steps in
the wake of Mr. Narkom and the Babu, caught a
glimpse of eager native faces peering down from an
upper window. The smell of incense and heavy
perfumes smote on his nostrils, and then he heard
the sound of a shrill, imperative voice saying:
"Well, I am sorry I took the trouble of calling
to-day, very sorry ! "
Gunga Ramagee glanced up into his face.
"That is Dr. Seton," he muttered, and hurried
into the stone entrance hall.
Here a curious scene met their eyes.
Before the great wide staircase with its crimson-
carpeted steps, their brown faces showing gro-
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 79
tesquely against the white of their garments, were two
natives humbly salaaming before an angry figure,
the figure of Dr. Seton, immaculate in his English
garb and silk hat. He turned as Gunga Ramagee
hurried toward him, and his dark face quivered with
" Good thing you have got back, Mr. Ramagee,"
said he, angrily waving a hand at the two figures.
"What's come to these fools of servants? They
say your uncle, Gulam Singh, has shut himself up
in his room, and has not been seen since you left
last night. He was all right then, wasn't he? "
A look of sudden fear, sudden surprise, swept
across the Hindoo's face.
"By all the gods, yes!" he ejaculated. "He was
quite well. I told these men — " he waved contemp-
tuously to the natives, who fled incontinently, as if
glad to escape the young man's wrath — "I bade
them not disturb him, but I did not mean that no
one was to see him. These," he added, turning
back to Cleek and Mr. Narkom, who stood some
distance from the two, "are two gentlemen from
Scotland Yard, Mr. Ledway and Mr. Narkom."
A sudden light flashed into Dr. Se ton's thin
face as he acknowledged the introductions; but no
more was said till they reached a wide, deep landing,
and there, outside a second door, Gunga Ramagee
stopped and knocked. There was no answer. A
deadly silence seemed to pervade the house, and at
last, with a little whining cry, the Hindoo threw
80 CLEEK 5 GOVERNMENT CASES
himself against the door and beat at it with his
fists. Cleek and Mr. Xarkom and the doctor helped
him, and finally the door gave way, and the little
party fairly tumbled into the room.
That it had been locked on the inside was self-
evident, for the key lay on the floor, where it had
tumbled from the lock on their tempestuous entry.
It was a long, large room; its walls were of a plain,
blood-red, bordered by a frieze depicting scenes from
the festivals and the sacred scrolls. At one end there
was a large bow window, fastened and sealed. At
the other an altar, banked high with flowers and
jewelled offerings, and above it sat a colossal figure
of Kali, smiling inscrutably down in all its painted
hideousness. But a brief glance was given to this,
for their attention was instantly arrested by the
sight of a figure in native robes of great richness lying
face downward on the Persian rug in front of the
Gunga Ramagee gave a low wail as he bent over
it, and Cleek did not need to be told that this was
Gulam Singh, and that the Hindoo had passed be-
yond the ken of human knowledge. That his death
had been a violent one was also probable, for his
death agony was registered in the hands which tightly
clutched the folds of the rug. But there were no
signs of a struggle, no aperture through which death
by an outside source could have come. To Mr.
Narkom, however, the cause seemed quite plain,
for on the altar, in the midst of the white lilies, stood
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 81
a sapphire cup, filled to the brim with a red, viscuous
"Blood, by James!" he cried, drawing it to Cleek's
notice, and waving an excited hand toward it.
"It's as plain as a pikestaff. He knew the game
was up, and he killed himself. What do you say?"
He turned inquiringly to his great ally, over whom
had come an imperceptible change. The . curious
one-sided smile looped up one side of his face, then he
turned dull eyes from one strained person to the other.
"Looks as if our man's escaped us, after all. Not
got far to seek for the solution, eh, what? Suicide,
I should say. Let's have a look at him." The
Superintendent lurched over toward the dead man,
and went down on his knees beside Dr. Seton,
who bent over the body, his face alight with some-
thing more than professional sympathy; and Mr.
Narkom found himself watching mechanically the
long, lithe fingers as they felt and tapped for any
trace of the divine spark. Cleek, too, watched
them, smiled, frowned, and shrugged his shoulders;
but as he advanced young Ramagee waved him im-
"You shall not touch him, you pigs of men!
You think him guilty of blood murder! But it's a
lie, I tell you! It's a lie!" he screamed, laying his
hands upon Cleek and pushing him away with all
his might. "My uncle never harmed a fly. He is a
Brahmin, and death is forbidden them. Go ! Leave
me with my dead."
82 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
But Cleek shook his head.
"All in good time, Mr. Ramagee," said he stolidly.
"You see, you've invoked the English law, and it's
our business to look into things. Men can't get
murdered in a locked room just as they like; and it
seems as if you were the last person to see him
"Sir!" He fairly hissed the word in his agitation
and anger, but his face was a sickly drab beneath
the olive skin, and he shrank back trembling as
Cleek advanced closer.
Dr. Seton straightened himself.
" There is no need, Mr. Medway "
"Ledway," corrected Cleek serenely.
"Well, whatever your name is, I can certify that
my patient died of the disease for which I have been
attending him, namely, that of the heart. I shall
certainly give that as my verdict."
"H'mm!" said Cleek, bending still closer over
the silent figure. "I see!" He looked up quickly.
"Well, doctor, if that's so, it's the first time I ever
knew heart disease to leave a wound."
"What do you mean?" Dr. Seton straightened
himself, and his eyes almost flashed fire as Cleek
picked up the wrist of the dead man and pointed to
a tiny red puncture.
"Some poison has evidently been injected; that
remains to be seen at the inquest."
Another frantic burst of grief came from the lips
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 83
of the dead man's nephew, for by this procedure
his uncle's body would be irrevocably defiled.
Consternation reigned supreme. Then Cleek
stepped back with a little shrug.
The passage beyond was filled with a group of
wailing, excited natives, for the news had spread
from one to the other that their master was dead.
By this time the evening darkness was beginning to
descend, and Cleek slipped quietly out of the room
into their midst, then plunged down the corridors.
The very atmosphere of the house reeked with
mystery and intrigue, and a soft rustling behind
some heavy curtains warned Cleek that he must
be near the women's quarters. But he was hardly
prepared for what ensued. For, with a whisper of
silken draperies, the curtain slipped back, and from
behind it stepped a white-robed figure. A hand
touched his arm, and a woman, her face concealed
by the black yashmak she wore, appealed to him
excitedly, speaking, to his colossal surprise, in per-
"You are of the law, they say. Oh, praise be to
the gods!" she sighed in a monotonous undertone.
"Naree, my maid-servant, has brought me the
news that my uncle, Gulam Singh, is dead — mur-
dered! And by some wicked hand! Ah, sahib,
you will listen to me, help me to avenge him! I
am Azzisan, his niece. You are surprised that I
speak your tongue? But my uncle had me taught,
as a little child. I have helped him in his writings,
84 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
and now to think Ai ! ai ! * ' Her voice broke into
the soft eastern wail, but she restrained herself quickly.
"Ah, but I must not give way, for if I am discovered
speaking to you he will kill me, too!"
Cleek switched round and looked at her sharply.
"'He?' Who is 'he?"' he said.
"Why, who but Gunga Ramagee? He wants the
fortune and the jewels of Gulam Singh. Oh, I knew
what would happen when he came, with his soft
tongue and loving ways; when he made the writings
in his favour and persuaded my uncle to sign it "
"Oho!" said Cle£k in two different tones. "A
will, eh? Leaving him everything?"
"Ai-ai, that is what you call it, a will. And he
has succeeded. Ah, sahib! in the name of the high
gods, take him away. He kills and kills, that
smooth-tongued cousin of mine; oh, yes, even though
I give him to a shameful death. I believe him to
have killed those dead men out there." She waved
a brown delicate hand, heavily studded with gems,
toward the open, and her voice grew to a whispering
thread. "We hear things in the zenana, and I fear,
I fear for myself. Death is in the air, death is every-
"But not for you, O Azzisan," gave back Cleek
grimly, with a sudden snapping of the jaws. "I
will prevent any further harm."
A murmur of gratitude came from behind the
concealing veil; then Cleek felt soft lips pressed to
his hand, and in an instant he was alone.
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 85
"Pretty little thing," he said to himself, retracing
his footsteps. But even as he did so a strange thing
happened. For across the quiet air came the sound
of music, soft, wailing, plaintive strains as from a
His body grew tense, taut, as a hound on the track
of a fox; the nerve in his temple throbbed incessantly.
Then, with a little, silent laugh, he hit the clenched
3st of his right hand into the open palm of his left,
and crept over toward the banisters, leaning over.
Gunga Ramagee, at the head of a band of native
servants, crouched outside the fatal shrine of Kali,
Goddess of Blood.
Cleek jerked up his head, and the curious one-
sided smile travelled up his cheek.
"An Indian reed pipe — and the solution, for a
ducat!" he said softly; then he went down and out
into the courtyard, where Mr. Narkom awaited him.
"It's no good staying here, dear chap, is it?"
queried the Superintendent, giving an uneasy look
over his shoulder. "This place gives one the creeps.
And the mischief's evidently been done."
" Yes," said he grimly, his mouth set in a straight
line; "the ripe fruit has been plucked, Mr. Narkom,
but it remains yet to be seen whether the unseen
plucker shall eat of it or not."
"Gad, man, have you any ideas already?"
Mr. Narkom fairly leaped at him in his excitement,
but Cleek merely smiled as he led the way through
86 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
the glass entrance doors to the gravelled pathway
"Bushels," said he finally, giving Mr. Narkom's
plump elbow a squeeze. "First, I want to see the
bloodless men for myself. Secondly, I could do
with a trip to the British Museum, for when dog
eats dog, then comes the tug of war."
With this enigmatical statement Mr. Narkom was
fain to be content, and in an almost unbroken si-
lence the two "gentlemen from Scotland Yard" were
driven to the village police station, there to see the
bodies of the four dead men, and to seek the solution
to the puzzle.
THE sight was not a pleasant one, and for a
few moments Cleek stood pinching up his
chin in deep thought.
"Poisoned, without a doubt," he muttered, as he
verified the Superintendent's statements. "But
with what? If it were that ! I wonder! It would
leave no trace, but their faces would be distorted.
Yes, but one was!"
"One was what?" said Mr. Narkom, in a sort of
dazed bewilderment. "My dear old chap, what are
you driving at?"
Cleek looked at him patiently.
"My friend," he said in a slow, level voice, as
one teaching a little child, "people don't let them-
selves be murdered knowingly without making a
struggle for life, and if they are poisoned they don't
smile peacefully like that. Look at that man's
face. And now, the other, the one that has been
buried, you say was distorted?"
"I should just think it was! " said the Superintend-
ent. "Anyhow, according to Ramagee "
"Ah, yes," said Cleek, drumming idly on the
window ledge near which they stood. Then he
stooped a little nearer, and examined the face of the
88 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
dead man found in the lane, whereupon he gave
vent to a little, yapping laugh. "The idiot! The
blithering idiot I am! Of course! Arsenic! And I
"But, my dear chap, no trace of arsenic has been
found," said Mr. Narkom with a plaintive sigh.
"Those who hide can find, Mr. Narkom, and
those who find can hide. There's a little puzzle for
you. Give me the limousine, and I'll be back by the
morning. And if I don't prevent any more good
blood from being spilled, shut me up in a lunatic asylum
for a full-fledged idiot! Engage a room at the inn
for me, and expect me up at Delhi House to-morrow
morning at nine. There'll be a pleasant breakfast
for some one, or I'm very much mistaken."
He turned on his heel and plunged out of the
police station, making his way to the yard of the inn,
the Easthope Arms, where Lennard had stationed
"Got enough petrol to take us back to town?"
he queried as Lennard came out of the inn, wiping
his mouth with the back of his hand and looking
beautifully satisfied with life in general.
"Yes, sir; just about, and a pint or two over,"
gave back Lennard serenely.
"Good! Then get me to the British Museum as
fast as you can streak it. I've a notion that we'll
get to the bottom of this puzzle sooner than I ex-
pected. Put on full speed, my lad. I'm due here
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 89
to-morrow at nine o'clock, and if the whole thing
isn't mapped out as plain as your grandmother's
patchwork, then my reputation is gone forever!"
Lennard laughed, turned the car round, and then
shot out along the silent village street.
It was just striking ten, and as they passed the
chandler's little shop, which was also dignified by
the name of "Post Office," Cleek, bending forward
for a better view, was just in time to see the slim
figure of Dr. Seton emerge from the building, a
well-satisfied smile on his face. Cleek smiled, too,
though, perhaps, had he known what the future held,
he would have kept that smile for a later date.
At nine to the tick on the following morning, Cleek
had said, and at nine to the tick he was back at
Delhi House, the blue limousine whirring him up to
the door in company with Mr. Narkom and Dr.
Seton, whom he found walking up the drive together.
"I think you will find our friend Mr. Ramagee
slightly more reconciled to his change of fortune,"
sneered the doctor as they entered the hall.
"It's to be hoped so," said Cleek through his
clenched teeth. "Not that it matters, for his game
is up now. I rather fancy I shall need your help,
doctor, so if you would not mind going up and seeing
that he is dressed, I should be greatly obliged."
"Verree pleased to assist you, Mr. Ledway," said
the doctor, and, turning on his heel, swiftly ascended
90 CLEE1TS GOVERNMENT CASES
the staircase, followed by Mr. Narkom. But Cleek
lingered to speak to the two plain-clothes detectives
who stood in the dim shadow of the landing, main*
taining an unbroken silence. They saluted him re-
"No one has been allowed to leave the house, I sup-
pose? " Clock queried as he acknowledged their salutes.
"No, sir. Mr. Narkom's orders was as no one
was to leave till you came, and we was to do what-
ever you said, sir."
"Good lads! Handcuffs with you?"
"Splendid! Then follow me up the corridor,
softly, after I'm in the second room. Keep a sharp
look-out, and you'll presently have the pleasure of
arresting one of the wickedest cold-blooded murderers
that ever walked on this earth."
He passed up the corridor, but before he could
enter the shrine of Kali, into which had disappeared
the doctor and Superintendent, there came again
the subdued rustle of silken draperies, and once
more an anxious voice appealed to him.
"Ledway sahib," it said in that low, moaning
monotone he recognized, "what of the truth? What
of the truth?"
Cleek lowered his own voice.
"Come, then, O x\zzisan," said he softly. "The
truth is revealed. Come with me and witness the
justice of the gods."
He opened the door, and the veiled girl slid gently
CLEEICS GOVERNMENT CASES 91
through, following him, silent-footed, along the cor-
The shrine was empty, that is, so far as Gulam
Singh was concerned, for his body had been removed.
Only Mr, Narkom and Dr. Seton stood in the
room, the Superintendent labouring evidently under
repressed excitement. There was no need to ask
for the Babu, for the door opened almost immediately
and the young Hindoo entered, his face once more
calm and composed, though obviously as one who
had suffered a great loss.
He started at the sight of Azzisan, then bowed
deeply to her, as if recognizing her right to be present
at such a time.
"Dr. Seton tells me you have come to clear my
uncle's name," he said, his voice quivering with emo-
tion. "Oh, if that is so, Mr. Ledway, prove it to
the world, I beseech you ! It will mean so much to
him — so much!"
"All in good time," said Cleek serenely, flicking an
imaginary speck of dust from his cuff. "But first
of all, let's come down to brass tacks, as our American
cousins would say. My name's Cleek, Mr. Ramagee,
Cleek of Scotland Yard. Maybe you haven't heard
the name though possibly others of your countrymen
may have reason to remember it, especially the Ranee
of Thang. That little affair of the Ladder of Light,
"Cleek!" gasped out Ramagee, falling back a step
and surveying him with astonishment.
92 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
Geek!" fairly shouted Dr. Seton, with an in-
voluntary exclamation of amazement. He nodded
in the direction of a native who stood shrouded by
the curtained doorway, and who instantly disap-
"Yes," responded that gentleman placidly.
' ' Cleek. I thought you would remember it. I think
you tried to get Her Highness to part with the neck-
lace, didn't you, Mr. Ramagee? But your offer
The young Hindoo mopped his face with his
handkerchief. It was strangely pale.
"Are you a wizard? 9 ' cried he in a state of blank
"No, my friend, only an ordinary ^policeman/
who will see that the law of his country cannot be
defied with impunity, eh, doctor? I said I should
want your help. Come over here; help me to catch
the murderer of Gulam Singh, the murderer of the
Hindoos who came laden with gems to place before
the shrine of Kali, the betrayer of an old man's
trust " He switched round suddenly as the
doctor came to his call, and faced Gunga Ramagee
whose figure suddenly stiffened.
The doctor came, came with a smiling countenance
to do his bidding; then, before you could say "Jack
Robinson," the thing was done. With a spring Hke
that of a cat on a hapless mouse, Cleek had lurched
sideways, throwing the surprised doctor to the ground
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 93
at the same time emitting a sharp whistle from his
pursed-up lips. The door flashed open and flashed
shut again, and two blue-coated men flung them-
delves on the writhing, struggling figure.
" Well played , lads ! Well played ! Careful, now !
He's as lithe as an eel — the charming Eurasian devil !"
cried Cleek, standing back and surveying the scene
with professional enjoyment. "A good capture!
A splendid capture! Thought you'd take us all in
with your little English ways, eh, doctor? But I
was one too many for you this time. Pity you didn't
learn to speak the native tongue with rather more
accuracy and not quite so much accent on those last
syllables. 'Verree sorree/ eh?" He laughed sud-
denly, and threw back his head. "It takes three
generations to get that trick of speech out of the
Eurasian tongue, and you, I should imagine, were a
pretty poor second. God! but what a beast, what
a loathesome devil, gentlemen! Not content with
torturing his fellow-countrymen and robbing them
of their life-blood for his devilish experiments, as
weD as of their earthly possessions, he must kill
Gulam Singh, too." He turned to the young Hindoo
and put out his hand. "Would to God I had been
in time to save him," he said gravely. "But it
was not to be. Forgive my seeming to accuse you,
Mr. Ramagee; you see, evidence could have been
piled up against you, and even this lady, Azzisan,
acknowledges her mistake."
At this the veiled girl stretched out a trembling
94 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
hand, and Gunga Ramagee took it in his own and
pressed it tenderly.
Cleek turned upon his heel.
"But I guessed that it was hardly likely that either
you or your uncle would commit these atrocities
and leave the bodies so openly exposed," he went on,
with a little frown of disgust at the whole awfal
affair. " It was too obvious. And when I noted that
your uncle's doctor was a Eurasian, I had my doubts.
What's that? How did I find out? Why, look at
the man's finger-nails! That should be proof
enough, in all conscience. That little purplish-
blue moon above the cuticle would damn the whitest
skin. And the accent, too! Besides, why should
an innocent man call a snake bite heart disease?
That wound on your uncle's wrist could only be
caused by one thing, the black death adder, the snake
which he whistled away with a reed pipe the moment
you had left the room yesterday after the discovery.
I found, too, that the faces of the dead men had been
treated with arsenic so as to give them a peaceful
expression. An experiment, I presumed, as there
was no reason for it, and one of the men had been
poisoned with the Malay "devil's dust,' as it is called.
That would leave no sign at all. It was only the
inflamed passages of the noses and throats that gave
me the clue. Possibly the stuff had been adminis-
tered as snuff, and the unknowing victims had sniffed
it up, unwitting of what terror was in store for them.
'"But how did I discover it all, you ask? Oh, just
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 9$
by the possession of an exceedingly good memory.
I recollected that a book on pathology, dealing with
the blood, had been written by a native doctor, Mani
Setarun. I've been promising myself the pleasure
of looking into it, and I wondered if it might not be
this man's father. I was right. In the British
Museum was the record of his change of name to the
English one of Seton, and the acknowledgment of his
authorship of that book. That's all."
The little group had remained silent during Cleek's
speech, but now, with one accord, they voiced the
question that was in their thoughts.
" One at a time, ladies and gentlemen, if you
please, as the parrot of well-known fame remarked.
How did he get the naked body up the lane when
no one saw him?" Well, the dog, one of those at-
tached to the stables, had probably followed the good
doctor home, and when the body was tied to him by
the rope, set off down the lane, freeing himself at last
just before he got to Delhi House. To make sure, I
stopped this morning at the doctor's house, and, in
the name of the law, searched it, finding sufficient
evidence to prove this a fact."
"But the blood?" said Mr. Narkom, pointing to
the sapphire cup. "That is "
"Not human, Mr. Narkom, thank God! I dipped
my handkerchief in it and had it analyzed last night
at the Yard. It is probably from one of those fine
breed of pigeons which are circling outside the win-
96 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
dow. See " He stooped suddenly and picked
up something which he held aloft. "Here is a gray
feather. The emblem of the sacrifice. The riddle
is solved, gentlemen, and I can wish you a very good
morning. Boys, remove your prisoner. Mr. Nar-
kom, whenever you are ready "
But before the Superintendent could make so much
as a single sound another voice struck in upon him,
and the erstwhile " doctor " pushed forward between
his manacled hands, and spat at Geek.
"Devil of a wizard!" he cried, his voice quivering
with mingled hate and despair. "I was a fool to
remain an instant after I recognized you, that time
you looked up into my face. It was a slip, eh? Oh,
yes, a slip, we know, but I, too, have a memory for
faces. Where did I see you, eh? In Paris, man ami,
where I got my degree. In Paris, where Margot loved
and hated you. Ai-ai! but I have my revenge, for
I have wired to her that you were here, and bade her
hunt out your pale-faced lily in the country cottage
and steal her away from you. Kill me now, if you
A cry like that of a wounded animal at bay broke
from Cleek's lips.
Gunga Ramagee sprang forward.
"Dog of a half-caste!" he spat out furiously, shak-
ing the doctor's slim figure in his strong hands. "By
the beard of my father, but you shall tell me where
The doctor laughed, and in a very madness of
"Dog of a half-caste! . . . By the beard of my
father, but you shall tell me where she is!'"
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 97
despair the young Hindoo struck blindly at the
There was a moment of awful silence. Then came
the sound of a commotion without, the shouting of a
hoarse, raucous voice, and instantly there was
pandemonium. The door burst open, and a dis-
hevelled, dirty figure burst into the room.
Cleek took a quick step forward.
"Dollops!" he cried in a sharp, hurt voice.
The boy bounded toward him, his heart in his eyes.
"Mr. Cleek, sir, guv'nor!" he bleated despairingly,
clutching Cleek's hand. "Lumme, sir, but it's Miss
Lome; she's bin sneaked off by some dirty Hindoos
and Frenchmen. But I knows where she is! I
knows where she is! I follered on behind, nipped
round and slung on to the back of their bloomin'
motor, and dru v strite to the place wiv 'em. At
Wanstead it is, out beyond Croydon. I puts a
couple of bobbies ter guard the 'ouse till we gets back.
She's as safe as — as a ship on shore," he finished
" Good ! " Cleek turned to Mr. Narkom and plucked
his sleeve. " You will come, dear friend? "
"To the death, Cleek."
"Right. Good-bye, gentlemen, and good luck.
It is now my turn for a mystery, but, please God, we'll
solve it soon."
As he passed, Gunga Ramagee caught his sleeve
and let his eyes dwell thankfully upon Cleek's face.
"Mr. Cleek," he said simply, "let me help. Let
ine make some reparation. Azzisan says these devils
may hurt Miss Lome if you attempt force. Let me
accompany you. We will get into the house by
stealth, and smuggle her out in disguise — a veil and
yashmak will do it. Then, once she is safe, let
the police raid the house if they will."
Cleek's hand shot out and gripped the Hindoo's.
His voice was huskv.
"Thanks," he said brokenly.
It was an hour later before Cleek and the Hindoo,
both clad now in native robes, arrived at the house
pointed out by Dollops.
A native servant opened the door and the Hindoo
swept impt riously by him.
"I come from Setarun," he said softly, speaking in
the liquid tones of his race. "The white prisoner is
to be handed over to this man, his servant. Disguise
her in the clothes he bears, and let her be dragged off
quickly. The police are on your track."
The man turned and led them upstairs.
From below came the sound of laughter and
voices; but above all was silent.
Finally the man returned, leading by the hand a
glim willowy figure, clad in the Indian garments of a
lady of leisure. Cleek's heart leaped at sight of her,
but he dared make no sign.
"You are to be delivered into other hands," said
the Hindoo abruptly, not daring to show any friend-
liness, lest the man should suspect and give a sign.
Ailsa shrank back .against the wall.
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
"My God!" she sobbed in a low, terrified whisper.
"What are they going to do to me? What? What?
Where is he? Why does he not come? He can save
me if any one can!"
She sent her haunted eyes up into Cleek's face,
and then something she saw there, under the painted
tan and the queer garments he wore, brought a
sudden light into her eyes. She turned to the man-
" I am ready," she said softly, but all heaven was in
her voice, and her eyes shone with a strange, new
Then, soundlessly, like whispering shadows, they
stole downstairs to the waiting car and to the liberty
that lay without.
IT TOOK Ailsa several days to get over the
shock of her sojourn in Margot's house, and
Cleek, who began fully to realize the extent of
the hatred levelled not only against him but against
what was dearer to him than his own life, the perfect
woman whom he loved, was himself almost in despair.
However, for a time, a truant peace reigned, the lull
which usually comes before the breaking of the
storm-clouds, and for a few short weeks it seemed
as if Count Irma and Margot had exhausted their
Ailsa, together with her dear friend Mrs. Hawkesley,
was settled in the tiny riverside cottage, while Cleek
and Dollops, in a houseboat anchored to the hunting
stage at the bottom of the garden, found the time
pass very pleasantly indeed. But all holidays must
come to an end, and when Captain Hawkesley ar-
rived from town for the week-end, it was to break
the news that his business at the War Office being
now completed, he had been obliged to book their
passage to return to India. Young Lord Chepstow,
now a lusty schoolboy, would be left at Harrow. It
was only the thought that both Ailsa and Cleek
himself would watch over his progress that recon-
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 101
ciled the boy's mother to putting the seas between
A day or so later found them back in town and,
having completed their arrangements, a last visit was
paid to Harrow.
Although they devoted themselves one and all to
forgetting the danger which hung over them, it was
little Lord Chepstow himself who aroused fresh
anxiety, by an unconscious revelation of their op-
" We've got a new boy coming to us next term,"
he said, after demolishing his fourth Neapolitan ice
with as much gusto as Dollops himself. "His
uncle came down yesterday; he's a foreigner, comes
from some potty little State or other, and wants his
nephew to be introduced to society. A bit of a snob,
eh, what?" he chuckled roguishly. "The Head
brought him into our room, and the uncle asked all
sorts of questions, and — wasn't it funny, Mother?
I heard him say : 'Put him in with Milord Chepstow,
and I pay you double, eh?' That rubbed the Head
up, of course; still I believe I shall have to put up
with the young beggar, because the uncle being a
count and — I say, Miss Lome, what's up? Have I
said anything?" He looked across at her, his eyes
wide with amazement, for Ailsa had turned sud-
denly white and shrank back in her chair like a
"Count!" she murmured hastily. "Count! What
was his name, dear, or don't you know? "
102 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
" ' Fraid I didn't catch it. But he was a tall chap
who looked as though he were in the army. Fierce
moustache and all that. Regular foreigner. But
his name slipped me," gave back the boy briskly.
So there was no eluding him after all. Cleek's
eyes met Ailsa 's across the little tea table. His lips
shut. Irma must know only too well that with
Mrs. Hawkesley on the high seas, Ailsa herself, as
well as Cleek, would be much in the company of his
schoolboy whom already they had rescued from a
dual danger. when, as a baby boy, he was the sacred
son of Brahma, and as such was sought and nearly
killed by the king of Apaches, Gaston Merode him-
self. Yes, Count Irma had indeed banked on their
love and loyalty only too well, and Ailsa was no whit
surprised when Cleek, pulling out his watch, said
"Well, youngster, I'm going to leave you to see
your mother and father off, while Miss Lome and I
take a trip down to town." And with a queer little
smile looping up one corner of his mouth, Cleek turned
on his heel and forged down to the nearest garage,
there to hire a taxi that should take them back to
town and the added protection of Scotland Yard.
He found Mr. Narkom in a state bordering upon
insanity, for that worthy gentleman, not content
with caring for the safety of his famous ally and the
woman he loved, had now involved himself in the
unravelling of a series of mysterious occurrences
which threatened to outwit him by their very cunning.
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 103
And indeed, on the following day, in spite of the
fact that his thermometer was registering eighty
degrees in the shade, and that his forehead was
literally streaming with perspiration, the Super-
intendent paced the floor of his private office in
Scotland Yard in a state of keen excitement. As
Big Ben's last, sonorous note of twelve came over
the intervening distance, he whipped round at the
opening of the door behind him, and nodded curtly
to Detective-sergeant Hammond, who stood in the
frame of the open doorway.*
"Well!" rapped out the Superintendent in a fury
of impatience. "It was only a petty gas explosion,
wasn't it? Speak up, man ! It's not another bomb
Detective-sergeant Hammond shook his head.
"I'm afraid it is, sir," said he gravely. "That's
the fourth time this month there's been an explosion
at that house in Harebourn Square, and this time is
worst of all, for the house has been empty since the
last explosion, when those French people rented it
and soon afterward moved away. There's not a
stick or shred of furniture in the place, no gas or
light laid on. What the Count wanted to go there
for at all beats me."
"So it does me," fumed the Superintendent,
mopping his bald patch desperately. "There's
only one explanation, of course. But there, what's
the use of talking ! He was killed directly he entered
the front room, you say?"
10* CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
"Yes, sir. He had reached the middle o! the'
room, when there came a flash, and he was IriDei
at once, as if a bomb had struck him on the head! *
Nothing passed through the air, shot or bomb, tint
we can both swear to. I can't believe there mi
any bomb hidden in that room, because the officer
on point duty went over it only the preceding day.
The agent happened to be passing, and they got
talking about the house; the agent, Metting and
Veil's young man, whipped out his key, and they
went into the very room, sir. The sergeant sayi
it's all covered with linoleum, the people never
took it up. That's all I can make of it, sir. Shall
I tell Lennard to bring round the limousine, sir?"
"Confound the limousine!" cried Mr. Narkom,
excitedly hitting his hands together. "It's Mr.
Geek I want, Hammond; and what the deuce hat
become of him Heaven alone knows! I've rung and
rung that blessed telephone till I shouldn't wonder
if the exchange refused to give another reply. And
now I've sent Lennard round after him. Ah!" as
the sound of footsteps rang in the stone corridor,
"that is Lennard now. Found him, my lad?"
Leonard's hand went up to his forehead in grave
salute, but his face wore a worried, anxious look.
"No, sir," said he. "No, Mr. Narkom. I drove
down to Clarges Street with Inspector Petrie, made
up as yourself, to see why no one was answering your
'phone; but all I could learn from the charwoman
was that the gentleman and young Dollops went
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 105
off to Hampstead Heath this morning, and they
haven't got back yet."
" Hampstead Heath be jiggered!" said Mr. Nar-
kom with an irritability born of long suspense. "I
know that means he has gone out for the day.
Think of it! Playing round Hampstead Heath,
with the law waiting, and a case like this in hand!
Cinnamon! but it's enough to send a man crazy to
think of it!"
" Yes, sir," agreed Lennard sympathetically. " But
he can't intend to spend the night there, sir. Not,
at least, unless he has gone clean daft."
"Which he has, the astounding beggar, over
every blessed leaf and bud and flower in the neigh-
bourhood!" snapped the Superintendent in a half-
angry tone. "But every minute is precious; besides,
there's the personal danger of the thing. To think
of him going off in a lonely spot like that! Just to
think of it, with those Maurevanian johnnies on
the look-out for him, to say nothing of the Apaches,
who owe him a pretty grudge now. Meanwhile, I
am here, prevented from going home till goodness
knows what hour to-night; and I promised Mrs.
Narkom to take her to a theatre, too! Two stalls
wasted, to say nothing of a good dinner! And the
only man capable of handling this diabolical case,
capable of getting to the bottom "
He stopped short, and sucked in his breath as
the sharp, insistant ring of the telephone bell caused
him to fairly jump and fling himself across the room.
106 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
And the softly whistled strains of the opening bars
of "God Save the King" sent him into a very trans-
port of delight.
" That you, old chap ! " he half laughed, half cried,
as he recognized the sound. "Thank Heaven you
have got back at last! I've had a nice old fright,
I can tell you. What's that? You're going out
shopping now with Miss Lome? Oh, but, dear old
chap, do put it off. I'm sure Miss Lome will forgive
you. We're in a dreadful hole. What? Yes, fear-
ful. What's that? You'll meet me? Oh, good man!
Good man! You'll have a laurel wreath for this, I
Still in a state of excitement that went ill with the
heat of the day, the Superintendent plunged across
the room, dragged on his coat, seized his hat, and
went down and out into the street, where Lennard
and the limousine awaited him.
"Mr. Cleek's meeting us at Oxford Circus, corner
of Portland Street, Lennard. Right-hand side.
Just a minute."
He scribbled a hasty message to leave for Petrie
when that worthy should return, jumped into the
throbbing car, banged the door after him, and off
they went dashing up Parliament Street, along
Cockspur Street, pell-mell to the Haymarket and
the meeting-place, at a speed that set the constables
on point duty winking in astonishment. It still
lacked five minutes of being a quarter after twelve
when the limousine whizzed up to Portland Street;
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 107
and there was Geek, immaculately attired, standing
in deep conversation with Ailsa, who was leaning
out of a taxi and talking to him with affectionate
Mr. Narkom leaned forward and unlatched the door
of the limousine; Cleek, seeing, raised his hat and,
with a word to the taxi driver, stepped back, mingling
with the crowd of sightseers and shoppers. Another
minute, and he had come abreast of the limou-
"All right, Lennard. Give her her head, lad, and
make for wherever you're bound," he said cheerfully,
as he flashed in and closed the door. Even as he
dropped into his seat the car wheeled round and with
a final scrunch rocketed away into the shining road-
" Well, here I am, you old fidget. Sony I wasn't
'on tap* the minute you rang. Didn't get back to
my diggings until ten minutes ago. Dollops and I
had an adventure, and that delayed us."
"Oh, yes, I know. Lennard told me. Been
traipsing round Hampstead Heath, and a day like
this, too! Enough to suffocate a black."
"Had to, old man. I went house hunting for a
friend, a friend of Miss Lome's, by the way, and I
was to have taken her to lunch this afternoon but for
you, you old spoil sport. I had an adventure, too,
as I told you. I came across a poor devil of a fellow
on the Heath. He'd evidently been knocked down
and injured about the head; but all he could do was
108 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
to writhe and twist about, his brain too badly in-
jured to give any account of himself, or what had
happened. And so, naturally, we had to stop/'
"Oh, yes, you would! Just the sort of sOly,
sentimental thing you would do!" interposed the
Superintendent, for once in his life rendered irritable
with his soul's idol, which was hardly to be wondered
at, for the day had been one of strange happenings.
The integrity and the efficacy of his beloved Yard
were at stake, and the Superintendent was almost
" You might have been blown up with a bomb or
knifed, but that didn't matter, I suppose, as long as
you could fuss over some one else. Besides, I've
got trouble enough at Hampstead as it is.' 9
"Hallo! Hallo!" laughed Cleek, turning amused
eyes on the heated face of his friend. "What's
rubbed your feathers the wrong way, my friend?
As -Dollops would say, 'You've got the fair old
'ump,' I can see. Just because I wasn't on hand
directly you rang for me, like a well-behaved parlour
maid, and spent an hour looking after a poor devil
of an injured chap."
The Superintendent fairly snorted in his rage and
"Ob, hang the man!" he flung out, half laugh-
ingly. "I don't care a jot about him. But don't
mind me to-day. I'm nearly crazy with anxiety.
And to think I needed you so but couldn't get at you
because of some petty tramp or other! Don't talk
CLEEITS GOVERNMENT CASES 109
about it; I can't think of anything but this infernal
mystery. To think that a man can be murdered in a
perfectly empty house, an absolutely empty room,
right under the telescopes of two of our own men
told off to watch him, and who have no more idea
than Queen Anne how it was done; and, in addition
to that, complete plans of fortifications destroyed
worth a fortune."
Cleek sat up suddenly and threw out his chin.
"Hallo! that sounds interesting," said he with a
flicker of the eyebrows. "An empty house, eh?
"In Harebourn Square, Hampstead, strangely
enough. Why, what on earth "
For Cleek drew himself up suddenly, his brows
puckered, and his face very grave.
"A queer coincidence," he muttered. "But let's
have the details of the case. When and where and
how did the affair begin?"
"Yesterday, at least as far as I personally am con-
cerned," replied the Superintendent. "It was some-
where about ten o'clock yesterday morning, when I
had a special message from the War Office that they
were sending some one to whom I was to pay special
attention — no less a personage than the Alterian
Ambassador, Count Estamar, I daresay you have
heard of him, Cleek?"
"I have, as it happens," admitted that gentleman
with a faint smile. "I believe, in his younger days,
he was attached to the Maurevanian consulate, and
110 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
represented the Ambassador at several State func-
tions. He came over here for the Coronation; then,
later, he was made Ambassador here. Surely he has
not been getting into any trouble over secret papers.
He is too honourable a man for any proceedings of
that sort, although I believe he is not half so wealthy
as he ought to be."
The Superintendent shrugged his shoulders.
"Oh, he wasn't soliciting the Yard's aid on his own
account, old chap, but for his son, Count Egon
Estamar, a young man of about twenty-five. That's
where the trouble lies, and "
But Cleek struck in upon him suddenly.
"Don't tell me anything has happened to that
bonny boy," he interposed with a little, anxious
sigh. "I remember him well by name. Supposed
to be the handsomest, bravest chap that ever donned
the Emperor's uniform or spoke the Alterian tongue.
Engaged to be married, too, to Adela von Altburg,
his cousin, and countess in her own right. It's not
that boy that has been hurt?"
"But it is," said the Superintendent sadly. "Hie
was killed little more than an hour ago; that's the
amazing part of it!"
"Killed!" Cleek hunched up his shoulders and
gave vent to a little clicking sound; then: "Go on,
pray. What did Count Estamar want with you?"
he said in a quiet voice.
"He wanted police protection for his son as far as
Dover on his way to Paris."
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 111
€€ Police protection?" rapped out Cleek, with an
inquiring rise of his eyebrows. "In Heaven's name,
what for? He wasn't in any danger, was he? Or
was he carrying special papers?"
"That's just it, Cleek; he was carrying the original
text of several secret treaties and fortifications. The
Alterian Government had been having them drawn
up here in the consulate, and Count Estamar, the
father, had a lively dread lest the nature of the con-
tents should have leaked out, and an attack be made
upon the young man."
"One moment, please. Did any one know that
these treaties were being copied? Any of the clerks
or attaches aware that he was going to make that
"Only one, his secretary, Fritz Tarleschen, a
young man absolutely devoted to the family, and
equally incapable of betraying his master, even if he
were ungrateful enough."
"Why ungrateful?" asked Cleek quickly.
"Because he owes his life to young Count Egon.
He had fallen overboard from a pleasure yaoht,
and Count Egon jumped in after him and rescued
him. But the immersion had injured his throat, and
he was rendered incapable of speech. He acted,
however, as a sort of combination secretary and com-
panion to Count Egon."
"A bonny boy, indeed!" said Cleek with an ap-
proving nod of the head. "It isn't every man who
risks his own life for a total stranger like that. Well,
112 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
go on. It doesn't seem as if anything could leak out
if he were unimpeachable."
"Oh, yes; they are sure of him. It was PriU
Tarleschen who copied the treaties and prepared the
plans, and got them ready for his young master to
take to Dover this morning by the 11. 40 from Victoria.
And so — I say, what the dickens are you muttering
about? I don't believe you're listening."
Cleek gave a dry little smile and jerked up his head.
"Oh, yes, I am, Mr. Narkom," said he serenely.
" But that name— Tarleschen— h'm ! Tarleschen; it
sounds familiar. Where the deuce have I heard it
"Why, the 'Tarleschen Salts/ perhaps. It's
been advertised pretty freely. Nothing to do with
our man, but it makes the name sound familiar."
"Very likely. Yet still— but of course not! He
couldn't speak. H'm. No." He pinched up his dim
reflectively. " Well, go on. Then what happened?"
"Well, when they were ready, Count Estamar
came down to me privately, and asked me to appoint
two plain-clothes men to watch over his son from the
time he left the Alterian consulate, here, at eleven
o clock, until he reached Dover, where the papers
were to be handed over to another envoy. The
Count thought that he could trust these valuable
papers to no one better than his own son."
"Certainly; but if he was so afraid of an attempt
being made on them, why didn't he go himself, in-
stead of sending the boy?"
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 113
Mr* Narkom frowned.
"Yes," he agreed musingly; "I thought of that
myself. But his reasons were quite natural ones.
Be was undergoing a severe attack of gout, and, as a
matter of fact, had to be lifted in and out of his car-
nage to come in to me."
"Rather a wonder he didn't send for you at the con-
sulate, wasn't it?"
"No. He didn't want his son to know that he had
Invoked the aid of the police, so "
Oho!" said Cleek, with a strong rising inflection.
So the young man didn't know he was being
watched over, eh? And who did you entrust with
that peculiar duty, Mr. Narkom?"
"Petrie and Hammond."
"IFm! They're trustworthy enough, if not par-
ticularly brainy. I should have thought there
wouldn't be much chance of ' spoofing ' them, as the
saying is. But you never know, as the old maid
said when the young man winked at her."
"Well, it seems, as far as I can make out," went
on Mr. Narkom gravely, "that young Estamar came
out of the consulate, after receiving the papers; had a
taxicab summoned and directed to Victoria in order
to catch the 11.40 Dover express. Our men fol-
lowed at a discreet distance. When he reached Gros-
venor Road, however, he evidently gave fresh direc-
tions to the driver, and off he went to this empty
bouse in Harebourn Square. The next thing he was
blown to pieces before the very eyes of Petrie and
114 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
Hammond. No sight or sound of a bomb or shot;
not a soul in sight but the two police officers; the
house and room empty, as they could see by their
glasses. And there's the whole case in a nubhcL
What do you make of it, old chap?"
"H'm!" said Cleek. "A remarkably thick shell
to crack — that's what / make of it. And what has
been done so far?"
"Nothing/' admitted the Superintendent, some-
what apologetically. "I had to communicate with
Count Estumar, who is almost crazed with grief; he
has had the body identified and removed by special
permission, to his own house, and "
"I presume you are taking me there now. Is that
so?" struck in Cleek with a smile.
Mr. Narkom fidgeted with his watch chain.
"Well, yes," he admitted. "Count Estamar
asked if Mr. Cleek could be induced to take the case
up. Sir Henry Wilding had told him about you.
So I said I would do my best, and see if you would."
Cleek paused a moment and sat studying the
distance through the square of window, with a ridge
between his brows. Finally:
"Oh, well!" said he in an even tone. "I've a
fancy to be out of town myself, so you might put
Lieutenant Deland on the job this time; and, with
your permission, as you've literally kidnapped me,
I'll use your locker, and fix that gentleman up.
Tell Lennard to drive round through the park to
Curzon Street; that is, unless you are going to the
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 115
nsulate? No? Well, all right, then." And while
r. Narkom gave the necessary instructions, his
mous ally pulled down the blinds, whipped open
at useful receptacle, and was soon busy in trans-
rming himself into the smart young army officer who
longed to a regiment that never existed.
HERE we are at last/' said Mr. Xarkom, as the
limousine drew up in front of a house in
Curzon Street, which house agents would
fitly describe as "a palatial residence.' 9 This wis
the Count Estaniar's town house, but it presented a
funereal appearance, with its closely drawn blinds
and dark, wooden shutters.
The Superintendent jumped out of the limousine,
and with Cleek at his heels, went clattering up the
wide stone steps to the great front door. Two
minutes later they were ushered into the presence ot
Count Friedrich Estamar himself.
There are few sadder sights than a grief-stricken
parent, and as Cleek looked on the haggard, de-
spairing face and silver hair, his heart beat in sym«
pathy. A mist swam up in front of his eyes for an
instant, blotting out everything but this sad, sorrow-
ing old man.
Then Count Estamar fairly leaped forward and
threw himself upon Cleek.
"Thank Heaven you have come so swiftly. But,
alas! it is too late," he said in a low, broken voice.
"I cannot realize it yet. Forgive my grief, Lieu-
tenant — Lieutenant Deland, I think you said, Mr.
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 117
Narkom? It has all happened so suddenly, the full
horror of it is hardly believable. He was my only
son, my bonny boy. So brave, so true, and now
this — this would make it appear that he was a
traitor to his country, a traitor to me, who trusted
him with something dearer to me than my life — my
honour. Oh, it is terrible, awful!"
Cleek let his eyes rest upon the stricken man with
an infinite pity in their depths. But he said nothing.
And finally the Count continued:
"Only the preceding night he swore to die sooner
than let any harm come to his charge — only the pre-
"He may have been lured there," Cleek said
gently, and even as he spoke came a sound which
made him switch round on his heel, the sound of a
woman's laugh, short and sharp and hard, which
grated horribly upon his ears.
He turned to look into the eyes of a girl, sweet-
faced and smiling, like a young lily sprung up sud-
denly in the darkness of the sombre room.
She was standing between the crimson plush cur-
tains that screened off one room from the other, and
it was evident that she had heard Cleek's remark.
He did not need the introduction to tell him that
this was Adela, Countess von Altburg, nor did he
need a keen eye to detect that she was suffering not
only the pangs of grief, but of wounded love as well.
"Loned there, you said, Lieutenant Deland?"
she reiterated, when they had seated themselves.
118 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
" Then why did he have a key handy, and why was be
talking so earnestly to a woman, promising to meet
her at that same house only this very morning, so
engrossed that he never heard me call to him? He
had locked himself in the study here so that he should
not be disturbed. Lured, indeed! Oh, no; there is
no help for it. He was a traitor, a traitor to his
country and to me, and he deserved his fate. But he
did not get the papers; at least, I saved our country
The old Count sprang to his feet suddenly and
seized her arm.
"But he did, Adda!" cried he in a strangely
blurred, forsaken voice. "My God! child, why did
you let him leave the house at all? Why did you
permit this dishonour to fall upon us, if you knewf"
She looked at him for a moment with horror-stricken
"What do you mean, Uncle Friedrich?" she said
swiftly. "Egon didn't have them then, he said so;
I heard him with my own ears, and I nearly went mad.
But directly he had gone I flew to the 'phone and told
you, begging you to hold the package over, and you
promised me you would. That is why I never
thought of them till now."
"But I wasn't there," broke in the Count dis-
jointedly. "I had a message from the War Office,
and went across there, unwillingly enough, for my
gout had been giving me a bad half hour. So I
locked up the papers in the safe and locked up my
CLEEKS GOVERNMENT CASES 110
office as well, and went over, to find out afterward
that a mistake had been made. When I got back,
I found my son had come and gone again, taking
the papers with him.'*
Cleek lifted a silencing hand.
"How could he do that," he said quietly, in his
smooth, even tones, "if you had locked up the safe
yourself, Count? Had he a duplicate key?"
"Yes. I told you I had trusted my son with
something dearer than life. That was it. He pos-
sessed duplicate keys to everything that I had that
was of value."
x see, x see.
Cleek stood a moment, pinching his chin reflec-
tively. Then he switched round upon the Countess.
"The woman?" he said serenely, "I suppose you
do not know her name?"
" As it happens, I do," threw in the Countess with
a fierce little laugh. "Oh, I know it was hardly
honourable, but I listened; you see, I loved him
better than life itself, and when I heard him speak to
her in endearing terms, I think my heart stopped
beating. I could have killed her with my bare
hands, that cat of a Frenchwoman. I " Her
voice trailed off into silence, for, of a sudden, Cleek's
head went up, and a queer light shone in his eyes.
"Tell me her name," he said quietly, his eyes upon
"He called her Margot. I do not know what the
last name is."
120 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
The word sprang involuntarily from Cleek's lipi>
Mr. Narkom echoed it blank!} 7 .
Then the Countess gave a little sharp, intakes
" You know her, too ! " she said with some suspicion
in her voice, " Who is she? What is she? "
"Head of the worst gang of Continental spies in
existence," gave back Cleek grimly. "That's who
she is — the devil! And if that poor boy got into
her cursed clutches "
He stopped suddenly, and let the rest of the
sentence go by default. For the Count, with a little
groan, had sunk back into his chair and covered his
face with his shaking hands.
" That accounts for the delay in getting through to
you on the telephone," cried the Countess in a very
frenzy of despair. "It must have been quite ten
minutes before you answered me "
"Ample time for Egon to have got round there
and imitated my voice," gave back the Count in t
hushed voice. " My God ! I would rather have died
before this came to me; rather have died than that he,
my son, should have proved himself a traitor."
Cleek waited a moment, and then threw in a qi k£
"What country are these treaties affecting. Count
Estamar? Or can't you tell me?" he said quietly.
'A little kingdom called Maurevania. It is com-
bining with Italy against us, and I am not betraying
GLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 121
my State secret in telling you that if Italy could have
lestroyed them, so as to leave no trace behind, they
irould have paid untold gold. They want further
time, and the loss of these papers means that they
bave got it. But what has that to do with my son? "
"Nothing, save that it might be that Power behind
Margot," said Cleek. "But we shall see. Mean-
while, Mr. Narkom has told me about your son's
companion, Mr. Tarleschen. Might I see him for a
Count Estamar's face became even graver.
** It is a veritable house of misfortune," he said
sadly. "Poor Fritz! Though, as a matter of fact,
it is far better that he is unconscious of this last
shock. He loved Egon better than a brother, he
dolized him, as, indeed, we all did."
"Yes, yes; but where is he?" rapped out Cleek;
tnd the Count looked up in surprise at his im-
"Tarleschen had the misfortune to be knocked
iown when crossing Regent Street late last night;
the car got away in the darkness. Egon, who must
lave been motoring down there half an hour after
le left me, was passing at the time, and his horror on
leeing Fritz injured can be imagined. He pushed
lis way through the crowd to the boy, picked him up,
ind drove him down to Charing Cross Hospital.
Afterward he rang me up and told me all about it.
[ intended to go down and see the lad this morning,
nit this " He stopped abruptly v ,and said no
1*2 CLEEKS GOVERNMENT CASES I
more. Clock, with a sudden intaking of the breath, I
leaned forward and bent his eyes upon the old mn'i I
" Did any message come? " he said at last. I
" No, there was no post at all/ 9 put in Countess I
Adcla, "and only Egon's new hat, sent on at the hi I
minute from Leath's. It came, as a matter of fad, j
while he was in the study, and was the cause of nj I
being nearly discovered. Egon unlocked the door ]
and tried the hat on then and there, going down-
stairs in it." I
The curious little one-sided smile looped up the
corner of Cleek's mouth.
"Well, there's nothing to be gained from that," he
murmured in a low voice. "And so, Maurevania,
we shall cross swords again ! "
Then he turned abruptly to the Count.
"Count," he said quietly, "foigive me if I inflict
an unpleasant duty on you, but I must see the body
of your son. I understand it has been brought here,
and I do not wish to ask the Countess "
The old man shivered, and rose reluctantly. Bat
before he could speak the young Countess had inter-
"No, no, lieutenant. Pray do not consider my
feelings. I am no weak, helpless girl. Do not give
yourself fresh pain, Uncle Friedrich" — she turned
almost caressingly to the old man — "I will lead
Lieutenant Deland to the room."
She switched about, her long, trailing dress drag-
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 12S
ng behind her like the tail feathers of a peacock;
id the two men followed her, half admiring her for
er courage, half wondering at her callousness.
"A woman scorned," muttered Cleek; but he said
Dthing more, only bent over the mutilated body of
hat had evidently been a man of fine build and
jure. It was not a pleasant duty, and directly he
id seen it and examined the one arm left uninjured,
i replaced the sheet, stooping to pick up some shreds
• cotton-wool which had fallen down at the side of
te hastily improvised bier.
The sight of a brand-new leather hat box seemed
rivet his attention, and he picked it up.
" This is the box, I suppose? A nice box. I could
> with that myself," he said; and the Countess Adela
oked at him scornfully.
" You are welcome to it," she said bitingly. "Any-
ing that he ever touched should be burnt, if I had
y way. A traitor to his country, a traitor to the
ther who worshipped him, and to me who trusted
m! Come; the very room stifles me. I regret
> thing — nothing!" she cried fiercely, and turning
>ruptly, left the room.
Cleek smiled oddly; then, to Mr. Narkom's
tense surprise, picked up the hat box and brought
downstairs with him.
In the hall, a ray of sunlight had streamed through
le drawn blinds, and, striking one of the cut-glass
•isms of the chandelier in the high roof , sent many
ttle shafts of rainbow-coloured light zigzagging
124 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES I
across tlie marble floor. At sight of them Ckeftl*
face went suddenly gray, curiously pinched, cop-
iously tired. W
"Impossible!" he said softly. "Utterly impof-r
sible! And yet, if it is " W
He plunged down the stairs, at the bottom of whkk V
stood the Count looking the very picture of grief tti t
44 Count," he said in a strangely quick voice, U I 1
should like to make a few inquiries at the consulate, I
if you don't mind, for some possible dues; and 1 1
may have something to report at the end of the day. I
Thanks. Come along, Mr. Narkom." 1
He scuttled down the steps, followed by the be- 1
wildered Superintendent, and gave the direction to !
Lennard to " streak it" to Harebourn Square.
Lennard "streaked it" forthwith, and as the door
closed behind them and they were alone, Mr. Narkom
leaned forward and laid a hand upon Cleek's arm.
"Any ideas, old chap?" he said eagerly. But he
hardly expected the reply Cleek gave him.
"Heaps!" said that gentleman enigmatically.
"Heaps. But the solution lies in the rainbow, and
those who made it, and if I only knew whether Count
Egon used scented soap or not, I should be able to
tell you a good deal more. At present, you shall
go on to Harebourn Square, and I wiH join you there
in half an hour; if I haven't discovered something
then, you may enjoy the tremendous pleasure of
calling me a silly ass."
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 126
Mr. Narkom laughed, then he grunted admiringly,
and as the limousine had slowed down on account of
the traffic, Cleek unlatched the door, flashed it open,
flashed it shut again, and he was gone, hat box and
all, leaving the puzzled Superintendent to make
what he could out of a jumble of remarks, chief
among which was a ridiculous allusion to "scented
IT WASa good half hour before Cleek arrived at
the house in Harebourn Square, around which
had been placed a cordon of police to keep back
the curious crowd; but at a word from Mr. Narkom,
who had been on tenterhooks till he saw the approach
of his ally, this was broken to allow Cleek to pass
Strangely enough, very little damage had been
done to the actual room, and Cleek was able to
examine it thoroughly. As Hammond had said,
the floor was covered with one unbroken piece of
linoleum, and it was self-evident that the invisible
death had come from above and not below. It was
a well-nigh impenetrable mystery, and Cleek stood
looking down on the mess of plaster and bricks,
pondering upon it with a little ridge between his
brows. Suddenly a particle of black caught his eye,
and he swooped down on it joyously with a little
yap of delight.
"Got it!" he shouted. "Blithering idiot that I
am! Why didn't I guess it before? That stuff
could be knocked about until Of course n He
plunged out of the room, and down the steps, until
he got to the line of policemen.
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 127
"I want the man on point duty," he flung out;
then his eyes lit up again as a tall man stepped for-
ward and saluted. "You, Boyce, is it? That's
food. A man of your intelligence is bound to have
noted something in this case. How many houses
are there in this square altogether, and who live in
them? Do you know?"
"Yes, sir, as it happens, I do," was the alert re-
sponse. " There are only eight. We have had this
house in view a long time, and the other inhabitants
of the eight houses are much annoyed about their
privacy being broken in upon like this. This is the
He handed it to Cleek, who perused it with a sort of
intensified eagerness, then handed it back to the man.
"No use climbing up that tree, then. Were there
any suspicious characters in the square this morning
— organ-grinders, or carts — when the explosion oc-
"No, sir; only a pantechnicon."
No, sir; that's what made me look at it, not ex-
pecting to see one in a closed square like this, that and
the funny look of the driver's seat. I took the name
and address. Here it is, sir. Dallington & Co.,
Fumival Street. But when the explosion occurred,
of course I rushed off, and I expect the van drove
away, for I didn't see it again."
"H'm! And what was the funny part about the
van's appearance?" put in Cleek placidly, twisting
128 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
up in his fingers the tiny scrap of black stuff that lay
in his hand.
Boyce gave an apologetic laugh.
"Nothing much, sir," said he, "but it strode me
queer for it to be lined throughout with sine I
couldn't help but think it was pretty cold to sit
upon, and with a door at their back -"Why, lor'
lumine, what is it, sir?" for Cleek gave vent tot
little cry of unalloyed delight.
"The clever devils!" he rapped out sharply. "Tke
clever devils! Splendid, Boyce, my lad. A hieky
thing for you. This means promotion." Then he
turned to the Superintendent, who was standing
near. "I know all I want to know now, Mr. Nar-
kom," he said serenely, and straightway made for
But at the door of it he paused, pulled out his note-
book, scribbled something on a leaf, and put it into
Mr. Narkom's hand. "Find out if that address is
right, and bring it to me at the Count's house in
Curzon Street. I've got just one call to make, and
I'll join you there in half an hour."
Then he hopped into the limousine and was off in a
jiffy, pelting down the road at a pace that ate up the
distance like a cat lapping cream.
And it was barely half an hour later when the
Superintendent, pale with excitement, rushed up to
the door of the house in Curzon Street, and was
admitted once more into the presence of (Jount
Estamar and the Countess Adela. As he did so,
CLEEK7S GOVERNMENT CASES 129
tere came the whirr of a motor, and to his immense
lief "Lieutenant Deland," immaculate as ever,
epped from it, and mounted the steps, smiling
"Right, was I, Mr. Narkom?" he queried, smil-
igly , as he entered the room and made his way to the
"Good lord! yes. Right as rain, old chap. The
ospital authorities had never even heard of the
scident, much less seen him. 9 '
"Good! And while you have been losing a
itient at one hospital, I have been finding one at
lother." He turned back to the door and opened
. Outside, there was a confused hubbub of voices,
id in the doorway appeared two servants, half
irrying the bandaged figure of a man .
**Egon!" cried both the Count and Countess to-
other; and they sped to him like two arrows impelled
y a single bow.
Traitor or not, it was evident that affection still
signed in the hearts of both father and fiancee
>r this man who had faced death so shortly be-
Get him to bed quickly," interposed Cleek,
or the doctors will not answer for his ultimate
■covery. See; they are waiting." He waved to the
oor, where appeared a silk-hatted figure and two
o ital nurses, who, in a twinkling, had recovered
k .r patient and carried him off to a room upstairs to
inch a soft-footed servant led them.
130 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
"But what does it mean? Who is that other?*]
Count Estamar made a gesture as referring to tkj
dead man upstairs.
"Who should it be/* gave back Cleek grimly,
"but the traitor, the ingrate, Gustave MoseDc,
alias Fritz Tarlcschen, hoist with his own petard."
"Fritz! My God! Fritzl" broke out the Count
excitedly. "It is incredible — impossible! Fribl
Then does it mean that Egon, my son, is not, after
"A — traitor," concluded Cleek softly, with a ten-
der smile. "No, Count, no traitor comes from
your line, after all. The bonny boy! How waa it
possible that such as he could betray his country?
No, Countess von Altburg, you let your jealousy run
away with you when you fancied it was your lover
talking to the head of the Apache gang. Indeed,
it was Tarleschen, clad in his clothing, and "
"But he could not speak," protested the girl, her
"He pretended he could not," was the grim repty.
"But he could speak well enough when, having bor-
rowed Count Egon's car, he followed in the wake of
his beloved young master, and, having seen him run
down by a member of the Apache gang, came for-
ward and identified him as Fritz Tarleschen. Then,
like a good Samaritan, he offered to drive him down
to the hospital. That he did not do so, Mr. Narkoin
has just proved; but I was doubly sure, because I
picked Count Egon up myself, stripped of all his
CLEEK7S GOVERNMENT CASES 131
agings, on Hampstead Heath this morning, and
>ve him to the Cottage Hospital there. The only
1 he could say was 'Tarleschen.' He was evi-
ly crossing the road to get to his friend when he
knocked down. I reckoned that it was his own
e till I heard of the other accident. It was
eschen's idea to leave him to die on the Heath,
re he threw him out of the car, so that he could
e up like him and sell the plans to the French
i. He must have had a fright when the Countess
Altburg rang up at the consulate.
Jnfortunately for our friend, the Italian spies
had their eye on these papers, and had evidently
d out that Count Egon was going to take them;
they determined to experiment with their new
latest discovery, the ultra-violet rays. YouVe
the diagram of the spectrum, Countess, and,
ou know, white light is composed of the seven
oatic colours; but there are other rays on either
of the visible spectrum — those on the red being
rays, and on the violet, the chemical, cathode
Rikitgen rays, and smaller ones still, known col-
rely as the ultra-violet rays. Now, given the
, exploding materials, these rays will go right
jgh bricks, stone, earth, aluminum, or anything
you may care to experiment on, but are stopped
inc. So when I found that a zinc-cased pan-
[licon had stopped outside the house on the other
of the square, I knew what had happened. Yet,
ich little things do big events hang, and had not
132 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
Tarleschen stopped to steal the Count's hat, even
then he would have escaped.
" What's that, Mr. Narkom? What had the bat
got to do with it? Everything, for it was lined with
the new gun cotton, which is composed largely of
nitryl, and can be handled as roughly as you please
until the disintegrating powers of the chemical rays
of light are applied. I found a piece of the hat, and
examined the hat box, which was obviously one of
foreign make, and not, therefore, belonging to
Leath's, of Oxford Street. It hardly needed my
inquiry there to tell me that they had sent neither
boy nor hat box. Probably the telephone was
tapped, and when Mr. Tarleschen laid his plans with
Margot, the Maurevanians, acting with the Italian
spies, followed on with their death-dealing pantechni-
con. I expect they reckoned to wipe out the French
spies. At any rate, they didn't attain their object"
Cleek stopped, and fumbling in his pocket, brought
out an officially sealed envelope, upon which Count
Estamar threw himself and opened it with trembling
"Where — where was it?" he exclaimed, as he ran
the precious papers through his fingers, as if to assure
himself of their actual presence.
Cleek's eyes twinkled.
"In Count Egon's red flannel chest protector,
which Tarleschen never thought of touching. I
expect he must have had some fears himself, and
possibly he came back and left a dummy copy in the
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 1SS
>nsulate, and sewed up the real things next to his
wu brave young heart. With care he should pull
1 rough, and he never should know how he was mis-
ldged by those nearest and dearest to him."
The Count looked at the young Countess, the
lountess sent her eyes back to the old Count's;
aen their heads came together.
Cleek turned away. Who was he but an outsider
[> intrude upon their joy? He smiled serenely at the
"What's that, Mr. Narkom? The soap?" said
e. "Why, when I picked up my patient, he smelt
trongly of soap scented with ' Ambr6 Ideal, ' but the
upposed Count did not. To make absolutely sure,
owever, I rang up his valet. The answer was
Yes.' His master was particularly partial to a
ertain pink-coloured soap, somewhat highly scented,
rhich he acquired from Paris. So there, you see,
s the whole matter in a nutshell."
He turned back once more to where the old Count
tood looking at him out of grateful, tear-wet eyes,
rith the Countess Adela clinging to his arm.
"Lieutenant," said that gentleman brokenly, in a
nere thread of a voice, "Lieutenant Deland, how
■an I thank you for what you have done? How can
'? Had it not been for you, my son would surely
lave died out there upon the Heath, hidden in the
joak of a traitor, and dishonour would have fallen
lpon my family's name. As it is "
He threw out his hands, shrugged his shoulders,
134 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
and let the rest of the sentence go by default, while
Geek, with a whimsical smile, put out his hand
toward the Countess's, and raised hers to his lips.
"Good-bye, Countess," he said quietly, "and God
bless the pair of you. You've a bonny boy in that
future husband of yours, and he has a proud l*4j
for whom he should be justly thankful. Good-bye,
Count; good-bye. Don't mention it. I assure yoi,
anything I have done has been more than a pleasure,
for it has but helped to preserve the honour of t
great gentleman, and to show that the same staunch,
honourable blood flows in his son's veins as in hit
He picked up his hat and gloves, touched Mr. Nar-
kom upon the arm, strode over to the door, and then
stood in the frame of it, erect, tall, every inch of him
equal to the man whom he had served; a gentleman,
indeed, with a gentleman's bearing and the unmis-
takable stamp of the aristocrat upon him.
"Ah, Count," said he in a low, even voice, "jiut
one more little thing. My name, by the way, is not
Deland, as you have supposed, but Cleek — just
Cleek of Scotland Yard. I thought, under the cir-
cumstances, you might be glad to know."
Then, before they could so much as answer, lie
swung upon his heel, and, still smiling, went down
and out into the hot August sunshine, with Mr. Nar-
kom at his heels.
^>|INNAMON! Cleek. That was a near squeak
of tumbling up against both of them/'
ejaculated Mr. Narkom as they turned into
pde Park and swung along at a leisurely pace.
Nho was to think of Margot joining the Count in
attempt to steal the plans? Jewels are more in
"All's fish that falls into her net/' said Cleek
arply . "I remember " He broke off, a spasm
pain compressing his lips. The memory was
rdly a pleasant one. He shook his shoulders as
ragh he would cast off the very thought.
They reached Scotland Yard at last, its red brick
rrets shining hotly in the rays of the fierce
"Come in with me, there's a dear chap," said the
perintendent 'imploringly. "If I left you out
re for three minutes, it's a ducat to a guinea that
>se French beauties would be on you before I could
7 Jack Robinson."
Cleek gave a little laugh as his eyes swept the
irtyard. "I shouldn't be surprised/* he began,
d stopped short.
Mr. Narkom looked up in the direction of his gaze,
13(i CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
and took in as quickly as his famous ally the presence
of two olive-skinned young French boys.
"Sentinels on the watch! Cinnamon! old chap."
He turned to speak to his companion, but the pave-
ment was empty beside him; noiselessly, like the
shadow which ominously had dimmed the radiance
of the sun above them, Cleck had vanished. Tfr
courtyard was empty save for a huddled-up figur
of a drunken or sleeping man lying curled up in a
doorway like an outcast mongrel, his clothes covercu
with dust, his hat battered in over his eyes.
Slowly the young French Apaches, for so indeed
they were, passed down, and after giving a look up
and down the little street, ran swiftly out of sight.
But Hammond, at a signal from his chief, was after
4 'Wonder where that astonishing beggar vanished
to," said Mr. Narkom dejectedly, as he mopped his
forehead with the purplest of purple bandana hand-
"Another narrow squeak," came the voice of
"that astonishing beggar" almost from the ground
itself, and the recumbent, dust-laden figure rose in
front of the amazed Superintendent. "It means a
wash and a change, my dear Narkom," he con-
tinued, laughing at his friend's face. "Still, it wis
the best I could do at such short notice."
He entered the building, and the Superintendent,
his portly figure forming a substantial shield against
rear attacks, trotted in after him.
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 137
It was some ten minutes later that, the Yard's
business having been transacted by the Yard's
4 'gentleman/' Cleek sat, spick and span, in one of
the tweed suits always kept for him in Mr. Narkom's
own room, a cigarette between his lips, and upon his
face an expression of supreme content. He was
only waiting now for the next hour to pass, when it
would find him with Ailsa, who was travelling up to
town for the express purpose of spending the day with
Lieutenant Deland of the non-existent regiment of
Suddenly Mr. Narkom gave vent to a little bleat of
astonishment. He was reading Petrie's report of the
day, when down went the paper, and thump wait
his fist on the table before him, without hint or
warning, and Cleek chopped off the sentence of
inquiry before it was half evolved.
"Golly! But they've gone, fled the country, old
chap ; given it up as a bad job, eh ? Bully boy, Petrie !
I thought we'd hound 'em out before we were done."
He laughed shrilly, then turned to Cleek, who sat
watching him, a curious little smile creeping round
"It's that precious Count and the Margot gang,"
he said, his exuberance of joy and relief subsiding
a little. "Petrie says they left together by the
early boat-train to Paris. So that's all right; you
can have your day in safety, and as Miss Lome is
with Lennard in the limousine by this time, there
can be no possible danger."
l.'KS CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
But Cleek was by no means sure of this, and dis-
regarding all the Superintendent's arguments, he
rose to take his departure.
"If Irma and Margot have gone back so publicly/'
he said, a curious note underlying the smoothness of
his tones, "you may rest assured that there are
others of the gang left on the track. I could almost
wish Ailsa were not coming up to-day."
Never was human wish granted so swiftly, for even
as the words left his lips, there came the sharp ting of
the telephone bell, and a minute later, Mr. Narkom
was told that it was Ailsa Lome herself speaking from
the Hampton Court cottage, between which and
Scotland Yard Cleek had taken the precaution of
fitting up telephone wires for additional safety.
Away went Cleek to the instrument, to learn that
Ailsa had developed a summer cold, and was going
to postpone the trip for a few days. Cleek's pro-
posal that he should come to her was gently but firmly
negatived. There was nothing to be done but betake
himself to Clarges Street for a lonely afternoon. And
as he crossed the familiar stones of Leicester Square,
Cleek's sharp eyes saw the unmistakable figure of
Irma, Count of Maurevania; and his heart leaped
suddenly with mingled relief and joy at the thought
that Ailsa all unconsciously had kept out of danger.
"So the other was a blind, the artful old fox!"
he ejaculated, as he went on his way.
And that was why, when Narkom rang him up for
a case that was to puzzle half the world, Cleek had
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 139
already betaken himself out of the house again, and
into fresh regions undreamed of by Apache or Maure-
It was just an hour later when Mr. Narkom,
having responded to a hurried summons from the
Chief's room, issued therefrom as worried a man as
it would be possible to find in a day's search. He
made a dash to the 'phone and began to talk excit-
edly to the person at the other end.
"Yes, yes! I quite understand, Dollops; got to
be very careful, eh? All right. Where is he?
What — Kensington Gardens? Might have known
that, though, at this time of the year. Yes. Fair-
haired, usual military getup; Lieutenant Deland,
I suppose? All right! Thank you; that's all.
Mr. Narkom replaced the receiver with a sigh,
pushed aside the telephone, took pen in hand, and
wrote out a few necessary instructions for his staff
to follow. Then, having done all this, he put on his
hat, picked up his gloves and walking stick from a
nearby table, and swung out into the summer
sunshine, prepared to spend the morning, if neces-
sary, in Kensington Gardens, in pursuit of his
A few minutes later the limousine, under the
guiding hand of Lennard, threaded its way skill-
fully through the dense traffic of Hyde Park Corner,
which was crowded with sightseers who had been
watching the morning riders in the Row.
140 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
"This will be about the nearest, I think, sir"
saiil Ixnnard presently, discreetly using the speaking-
lube. " You said opposite the De Vere Hotel, and
here is the first gateway, if you don't mind looking,
"Yes," said Mr. Narkom eagerly, "this is about
the place; but drive right on slowly to Kensington;
we've got to be careful, it seems. I'll get out at
Harkcr's, and you can follow round by the Albert
"Right you are, sir."
Obeying instructions, Lennard let the car meander
at a snail's pace, his sharp eyes fixed now upon the
passing traffic, and now on the stream of leisurely
pedestrians that swarmed the pavements on either
side of him. Just outside the large drapers, he
swung into line with the long string of carriages and
cars that lined the roadway, and the Superintendent
stepped out. He wore a brown suit and a bowler
hat an d a pair of rather shabby yellow cotton gloves,
while from one hand swung a big cardboard box,
presumably containing samples. He nodded curtly
to Ilennard, then, mingling with the shoppers on the
pavement, was soon lost to view. But not for long.
Ten minutes later, he returned to exchange the box
for a black attache case, and then once more disap-
This time he bent his steps back through the High
Street, and thence into the beautiful gardens which
surround what was once the country seat of royalty.
CLEEKS GOVERNMENT CASES 141
A few minutes' quiet strolling brought him within
sight of his quarry, a young gentleman immaculately
dressed, sporting an eyeglass, lemon-coloured kid
gloves, and the very latest atrocity in walking canes.
He looked up with bored indifference, staring in-
solently at the Superintendent as he stopped in the
pathway and looked down at him. Then Mr. Nar-
kom brought himself abruptly to the salute.
"Beg your pardon, sir, but you're Lieutenant
Deland, aren't you? I'm Sergeant Smith of the old
regiment. Don't suppose you remember me, sir,
but I thought I wasn't mistaken."
The handsome officer sprawled himself out, and
screwed his monocle tighter into his eye.
"Can't say that I do, my good man," drawled he;
"still I don't mind refreshing my memory. Nice
morning for a walk; I'll stroll back to the* barracks
with you, if you like."
"Proud to have you, sir," said the delighted ser-
geant, clicking his heels together as an old flower-
seller seated upon an adjacent bench arose with her
basket, and shuffled off in the opposite direction,
and Cleek gave vent to a little bark of pleasure.
"Bravo, Mr. Narkom!" he said in his low, smooth
voice, as the Superintendent smiled into his face;
"you've the makings of an actor in you. Dollops
evidently warned you what to expect."
" Yes," assented Narkom; "he was very mysterious.
Have you any suspicion that you are being fol-
lowed? I have taken tremendous precautions,
142 CLEEK'S GO\ 7 ERNMENT CASES
and sent out Hammond and Petrie in the ouW
4 'Yes/' said Clock, as he leaned back and sniffed
the rose-scented air contentedly. "Get ahead,
anyhow, Mr. Xarkom, for I suppose it's another
case, or you wouldn't have wormed my whereabouts
out of that young scamp Dollops."
"You're right; it w a case!" said the Superintend-
ent excitedly, swinging into his story at once. "It's
partly a Government affair, too; in fact, I might say
i;\s a national affair. Nearly bowled me over, bj
James! when the chief told me about it; for I was
only speaking to the man two days ago, and he had
every right to live another twenty years."
"Which means, I take it, that he has died sud-
"Died? It's worse than that, my friend. It's
murder — downright wicked, diabolical murder, and
just when he had completed the greatest of all his
numerous inventions. And the worst of it is, there's
absolutely no clue as to how the crime was com-
mitted; the door was locked on the inside, and the
room has no windows whatsoever."
What's that?" said Cleek, arching his eyebrows.
No windows? How's that?"
It's a laboratory, lit day and night by electric
light, with ventilation from the top. To all ap-
pearances he had fallen asleep at the desk; but it's
murder, for all that."
"H'm-m ! " said Cleek, stroking his chin. "Sounds
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 143
pretty queer, Mr. Narkom. Let's have the facts,
please. First of all, who was the gentleman?
Somebody of importance to the Government, I
"Of the very greatest, in the military world,"
replied Mr. Narkom excitedly. "He is, or, I should
say was, poor fellow, an English irfventor. You've
heard of him — Edward C. Wharnecliffe."
"Oho!" said Cleek in two different tones; "that
man, eh? Oh, yes, everybody has heard of him, I
should think. He's the man who conceived the idea
of that long-distance gun for aiming at aeroplanes;
invented a new oil engine for working turbines.
That's the man, isn't it?"
"Yes, that's the man. Well, for the last six
months he has been experimenting on the subject of
smokeless powders, and the Government had fitted
up a special laboratory in the cellars of the War
Office. All doorways save one were bricked up,
special ventilating and lighting apparatus were
installed, and a guard set day and night in the pas-
sages. And, my dear chap, there isn't a crevice by
which so much as a rat could have entered!" Mr.
Narkom paused dramatically. Then he went on:
"And yet, just as he had completed the formula of
the new powder (fluorite, or * golden rain,' as he had
nicknamed it) he was found stone dead in his chair,
with neither mark nor bruise to show when he had
met his death, or by what means. At the post
mortem the doctors declared his heart to be
144 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES I
sound as a bell. The Chief says that, despite il 1
the secrecy observed, there have been several at- 1
tempts made to get at Whamecliffe; in fact, one I
Power had offered him half a million/ 9 1
4 'And how did Mr. Whamecliffe take this offer? 1
Was he tempted by it, or don't you know?" fltid
4 ' As it happens, I do know/ 9 replied the Superintend-
ent, "for amongst his letters were copies of the
letter and his answer, and he evidently told them
he'd see them hanged, drawn, and quartered before
he would give any other country save his own the
benefit of his discovery."
"Bravo!" said Cleek, slapping his palms together,
"that's the true patriot's spirit, Mr. Narkom. It
Isn't every man who would refuse half a million of
money for the sake of a most ungrateful country; and
I don't suppose he was a rich man, by any means."
"He wasn't. That's why the Government sup-
plied him with the laboratory and one of their most
trusted typists to render him clerical assistance."
"All, here comes the second party! Who is this
young gentleman? One of Albania's flowers of no-
bility, or a German prince in disguise?"
"Neither, my dear chap; a young lady, a Miss
"Carsholt— Carsholt?" rapped out Cleek. "Any
relation to that Carsholt — Colonel Carsholt, I think
— who won the V. C. at Ladysmith, and died of his
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 145
"H'm-m!" Cleek pinched his chin harder, and
•cowled at the waving trees as if he bore them a
personal grudge. "Tell me," he blurted out at
last, "wasn't there something about another brother
who went out from England to America for the news-
paper on which he was working, and got mixed up in
nme of the political riots?"
The Superintendent nodded vigorously. "Yes,
yes! George Carsholt was that chap's name. Well,
he turned up again six months ago, apparently fairly
well off. He had been searching everywhere for his
brother and his family, and at last was directed by the
War Office to the boarding-house where Marion and '
her brother lived. Mr. Carsholt promptly took the
rest of the house, and has since been like a father
to them, poor youngsters! They've evidently had a
struggle since their father's death, for his pension
was discontinued, and they were absolutely friend-
less and alone."
Cleek twitched up an inquiring eyebrow. "Ah,
just so ! So the War Office accuses Miss Carsholt of
murdering their inventor, does it?"
"Great Scott! no. They can'-t do that, because,
although she was the last to be in the room with him,
the guard heard Miss Carsholt talking to Wharne-
cliffe as she stood at the door."
"And what did Miss Carsholt say?"
"She said, 'I shan't be more than an hour, Mr.
Wharnecliff e, ' and the old man answered her, 'Be
146 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES I
as long as you like, Miss Carsholt; my work is I
fin is) icd/ Then the guard heard him lock the door I
after her. Poor old chap! it was finished indeed, for 1
an hour later, when Miss Carsholt came back, she I
could get no answer to her knocking, and eventually I
the door had to be blasted open, and they found I
him dead in his chair. He had evidently been test*
ing the 'golden rain/ for there were matches and test I
tubes lying about, and on his writing pad were scrib-
bled a few incoherent words with no real meaning;
still, I brought the sheet away for you to see."
The Superintendent handed Cleek a slip of paper
on which was scribbled, illegibly:
"Wrong — Miss Carsholt — tray — country/*
"Meaning, therefore, that Miss Carsholt had com-
mitted a wrong and betrayed her country/'
"You think so?'* asked Cleek serenely, the queer
little one-sided smile looping up the coiners of his
"Decidedly. What else? But, whether he com-
mittcd suicide, or was murdered (and I believe the
latter) goodness only knows. What is more, an hour
afterward, the Chief learned through secret service
channels that the formula was partly known to some
foreign Power, and that they were only waiting for
the experiments to be finished. They must have got
this througli Miss Carsholt in some way; at least,
the War Office says so; and they have dismissed
her practically at a moment's notice, and placed the
matter in the hands of the Yard/'
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 147
~ "Ah! So that's the way the cat jumps, is it?"
abused Cleek, laying a finger along his cheek and
Mttaring up into the canopy of blue overhead. " Well,
think, if you don't mind, that I'll come and have a
into things. I should like to see the brother,
" he added abruptly. " That is, if you have their
"Yes; of course. Here it is: 19 Kesteven Terrace,
South Belgravia," said Mr. Narkom, consulting his
notebook with studious eyes. They came upon
another bench, and as they sat down upon it, a
shadow grotesquely long in the sunshine fell across
the path, and at sight of it Cleek sprang up with a
little cry of pleasure and put out an ungloved hand.
"Ailsa!" he said tenderly, as she stopped at sight
of him and gave bent to a glad little laugh. "You
"I was shopping at Harker's," she gave back,
laughingly, flushed at the light that was in his eyes,
at the note that was in his voice. "I felt so much
better after all, that I thought I might make the
journey to town. It was such a beautiful day and I
wanted to see you, even if I did put you off ! I want
you to help a friend of mine. Her name is Marion
Mr. Narkom whistled. "The very case we are on
now," he said in surprise.
"You may be doubly sure of my attention now,"
threw in Cleek, laughing down into the Superintend-
ent's flushed face. "Lead, and I will follow, Ailsa.
148 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
I hare heard Mr. Naikom's side of the story; m
let me hear yours."
Ten minutes later Ailsa left them, her eyes aligi
and her heart beating high with hope, while M
Narkoat and his famous ally jumped into tl
limousne, and made their way to South Belgravi
""T WAS exactly half -past twelve when Lieu-
tenant Arthur Deland, a big, handsome, fair-
*■ haired and fair-moustached fellow, stood with
r\ Narkom on the white steps of a somewhat dingy
use. They were shown into the Carsholt's gen-
a.1 sitting-room, and straight into the presence of the
other and sister.
*'If you don't mind giving me the facts, Miss
fcrsholt," said Superintendent Narkom, "I should
u» to hear what Lieutenant Deland thinks of
*' Ye-es," drawled Cleek. " Supposing" — he turned
■dually on Marion — "you tell me all about this
tolden rain ' business. I'd awfully like to hear. Sort
fireworks, I suppose; something of the Crystal
fclace sort, eh, what?"
"No, indeed, lieutenant; it's a smokeless explo-
Ve — but beyond that I can tell you nothing. I have
?ver mentioned a word about my work to any one;
ive I, Vernon?"
"I'll take my oath on that. Why, we never even
lew she was working in the beastly dark hole of a
boratory until two days ago, when Uncle George
und the acid stains on one of her shoes."
150 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
"What's that?" said Cleek, his eyes beginning to
snap. "Acid stains?"
"Yes; a little sulphuric acid fell on one of them,
and Uncle George noticed it. It worried him to
think of my being near such dangerous liquids."
"Doesn't he understand chemistry?"
"Not he," laughed Vernon Carsholt faintly.
"Dear old chap! I believe he'd dip his finger into a
jar of prussic acid and then taste it to see if it were
"Bless him! he thought it was a mud stain," put in
Marion, "and tried to rub it off for me."
"I see," commented Cleek. "And so you never
told your uncle about the 'golden rain,' then?"
"No; certainly not. How the secret could ever
have leaked out is inexplicable. I told only Hugh
about the laboratory because I have had such bad
headaches, which came from closeness of the atmos-
phere. It upset him, though, when he heard of it."
"Who is Hugh?" inquired Cleek, softly drawing
the fringes of the tablecloth through his fingers.
Marion's fair face flushed. "Mr. Eastwicke, my
fianc6," she answered in her simple, straightforward
"And a splendid fellow, too!" Vernon put in
enthusiastically. "He's my senior at Prester's,
you know, and we've been chums ever since I went
to the office. He'll be here, too, presently; Saturday
afternoon he's always with us."
"I see," said Cleek. "Wen, Miss Carsholt, per-
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 151
haps you'll be so kind as to tell me the events of the
last day; it was on Thursday when all this happened,
was it not? What time did you arrive? "
"Nine thirty, as usual," replied Marion, "and I
brought the key from the Chief. You see, I was al-
lowed a key for the laboratory during the day, as the
door was locked every time either the professor or I
went in and out. At night time the key was taken
back to the Chief and the housekeeper had to search
me to see that there were no notes or carbon copies
made of the accounts and formulas of the daily ex-
periments. That's what makes it still more puz-
zling. Mr. Wharnecliffe would never have com-
mitted suicide; I feel sure of that. Besides, why
should he? And as for murder, what possible motive
is there? Whatever he meant by those words in
his notebook I can't conceive. He had seemed so
pleased with me, and I had brought him that very
book myself only that morning. You see, we bad
quite finished on the preceding night, and I had
typed out everything. He had had a whim, however,
to copy the particulars himself; that was why I
brought him the new book. After making some final
tests, he sat down to write, and told me I might take
an hour longer for lunch."
"What time did you go?" said Cleek, rubbing his
hands together and watching her face with keen eyes.
"It was exactly one o'clock. Big Ben had just
struck the hour. I got ready, and at the door I
looked back and told the professor I was going.
152 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
Both the guard outside and myself heard his answer.
'Be as long as you like, Miss Carsholt; our works
finished/ And then he got up and locked the door
behind me* That was the last I ever saw or hetid
of one of the cleverest, kindest men that ever lived."
She paused .aid drew a deep breath; the tears were
chasing each other down her cheeks. Then she
"Well, I met Vernon and Hugh at one of the
restaurants and we had lunch together; then Hugh
rushed off to the office, leaving me with Vernon.
I did not hurry back; in fact, it was nearly two when
I did return. Then to my horror I found I had lost
the key to the laboratory."
"Hallo! What's that?" said Cleek. "Lost the
key? That was rather careless of you, surely?"
"Yes," she acknowledged in a shamefaced way.
" I thought I had placed it in my handbag as usual
but I couldn't have done so, because when ire
couldn't get any answer and the door was broken in, I
found it lying by my chair. It must have dropped
out of the bag without my hearing it fall. Of course,
I handed the key to the Chief, and then " She
covered her face with her hands and fell to sobbing
Cleek pinched up his chin, and stared at her reflec-
tively, while the Superintendent fixed his gaze on the
smoky ceiling, feeling more than a little awkward
and extremely sorry for the poor girl.
Suddenly the door swung inward; a sweet-faced,
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 158
benevolent-looking old gentleman entered the room;
ind it did not need Vernon's affectionate "Uncle
Seorge!" to tell them who he was. His face was
dight with sympathy as he took in the scene. He
crossed quickly over to the sobbing girl and knelt
town beside her, petting and soothing her like a
Cleek stuck in his eyeglass, and when the introduc-
tions had been made, leaned over confidently.
"I say," said he, "what do you say to a smoke out-
nde, Mr. Carsholt? Miss Marion'll be better alone
— eh, what? Just a friendly cigar."
"I don't smoke, sir," said the old man rather
stiffly, and turned back to his niece, who was now
drying her eyes.
"Please do forgive me, Mr. Narkom," she said.
"Don't go away. I will come down again in a
minute." She opened the door, passed through it,
and went swiftly from the room.
" My poor, dear girl! " said the old man as the door
closed behind her, his kindly old voice choking over
the utterance. " Mr. Narkom, I'll give every penny
I possess to see her righted again ! I believe it's only
a mare's nest, just an excuse to shield a sudden death
of an inventor who worked too hard."
"Between you and me, Mr. Carsholt, as men of the
world," said Cleek, tapping a forefinger on the old
man's arm, "I believe you're right. I daresay
they'll find that the old gentleman died of some
obscure kind of heart disease."
154 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
"Yes, indeed," struck in Vernon from his posi-
tion. "That's what Hugh said. Oh, and here he
comes. I'll let him in." He flung himself out of the
room, and the eyes of the elder men met in mutual
appreciation of the enthusiasm of youth.
Cleek turned to the white-haired old man. "Mr.
Carsholt, what sort of a man is this Mr. East-
The other's face paled a little and he looked
piteously at his questioner. "Why do you ask?
He is a pleasant young man, and Marion loves him;
so what else is there to say?"
"Love is blind sometimes," put in Cleek with a
one-sided smile. "What does he take an interest in
besides his work? Tell me a man's hobbies, you
know, and I'll tell you his character."
Mr. Carsholt paused, and seemed to struggle as
with a temptation not to speak.
"Chemistry, I think," he stammered out finally;
"that's why he was so interested in Marion's work-
after she told him about her position in Professor
"Yes," said Cleek, rising to his feet. "I see.
That explains it."
But what it explained he did not say, for at that
moment Vernon entered, and Cleek and Narkom
were speedily introduced to Marion Carsholt's
Cleek's eyes wandered indifferently over him; took
in the careless, unbrushed coat, the dust on the worn
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 155
elvet collar and cuffs. His eyes narrowed. Then
^ turned away.
*'Well, my friends," said lie serenely, with a little
huckle, "I don't think it's much good wasting your
**tte further. I think myself it's much ado about
He shook hands genially all round, and was soon
>Hce more out on the pavement.
"Well, dear chap, what do you think about it?'*
l&ked Mr. Narkom eagerly, as the gate slammed
>ehind them and they were alone once more.
*'I think," he said disgustedly, "it's a beastly
lirty neighbourhood, and I'm going home to change
ay shirt. That's what I think, Mr. Narkom. You
an go down to the War Office, and I'll join you there
iter." And without tendering another word of
xplanation, Cleek went off to pick up Lennard and
be limousine somewhere in the neighbourhood of
r ictoria Station, and to proceed upon his journey
IT WAS fully an hour afterward that Cleek, even
more the supreme " exquisite " than ever, lounged
through the swinging doors of the War Office,
where Mr. Narkom was waiting patiently to show
him the laboratory.
He followed the Superintendent down the steps
and along tessellated passages lit by electric light,
till they reached one heavy iron door, set in a solid
brick wall. The soldier on guard saluted Mr. Nar-
kom and unlocked the door, allowing them to enter.
The room was like a long steel tube, without windows
or any apertures that might allow the slightest ray of
daylight to be seen. The soft effulgence of electric
lamps showed the steel-plated walls, which deadened
the sound of experimental explosions. The floor was
of stone, the furniture of the simplest, composed for
the most part of long boards supported on trestles.
Chemical apparatus there was in abundance, little
trays of various mixtures; and there, surrounded
by the materials and objects amongst which he had
laboured so earnestly, lay the inventor, sleeping his
last, long sleep.
"I can't make it out," whispered Mr. Narkom as
thetwo men stood looking down on the still figure. " I
"I can't make it out,' whispered Mr. Narkom as the two
men stood looking down on the at ill figure"
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 157
thought it was murder, right enough; butnow I think
you were right when you said it was heart disease."
Cleek stopped suddenly, drawing in his breath with
a curious, startled sound; then he rose again and
shook his head.
"The devils!" he muttered. "I might have
"Good God, Cleek! Found a clue already? Eh?
Wliat devils do you mean? You know something
"Yes, Mr. Narkom, I'm afraid I do. It's murder
right enough." He pulled down the dead man's
lower lip very gently. "Poisoned, for a ducat!
\nd there's only one gang that could have supplied
that atrocious stuff. * Waters of Lethe' it is called,
because it brings forgetfulness so quickly and leaves
30 little trace. The gang are on the warpath once
more, and this" — he pointed to the dead man with
one accusing finger — "is their work."
"Cinnamon!" gasped Mr. Narkom, clutching con-
vulsively at his pocket handerchief and mopping his
face. " Gaston Merode? The old crowd of Apaches? "
"Th* very same. The gang have still retained
some of his methods and materials. But how on
earth they got Wharnecliffe to drink it " He
bent again and examined the dead man's hands
intently. Then once more he turned away.
Mr. Narkom was searching the tables diligently
for sign of glass or cup, but, save for test tubes and
flat chemical dishes, there were no other receptacles
158 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
to be seen. On the table where the professor had
sat writing, the little notebook reposed in all its
newness. Cleek stopped short.
"An idiot! a blithering idiot I am!" he exclaimed
sharply, swinging round with the curious, little one-
sided smile looping up his mouth. "I remember a
headache cure I promised Miss Carsholt. I'm off
to South Belgravia, Mr. Narkom, before I forget iL
Beastly things, headaches!" And before the astonished
Superintendent could utter a word of protest Cleck
had vanished. Springing into a passing taxi, he was
soon standing in the awe-inspiring "best drawing*
room" of 19 Kesteven Terrace, South Belgravia, foi
the second time that day.
Miss Carsholt, hearing the sound of his footstep
in the hall, came hurrying downstairs, followed bj
"Oh, Lieutenant Deland!" she cried excitedly
clasping her hands in her emotion. "Have you dis
"Yes, Miss Carsholt. I've just remembered th<
name of that headache stuff: * pyemic/ finest stuff ii
the world, don'tcherknow. Can't think why I forgo
it this morning; only get it at one place. I'll writ*
it down for you."
The girl sank down with a little cry of disappoint
"Oh!" she said, a trifle bitterly. "I thought yoi
hau something important to tell me. What does 3
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 159
matter about the headaches! Both Vernon and I
suffer from them; don't we, Uncle George?"
"Indeed you do, my dear," said Mr. Carsholt.
"It's very good of you to have rushed back like that,
Lieutenant; but I don't think it's so important "
"Headaches are beastly things," persisted Cleek.
"I'll write the name of the cure down for you, if you'll
give me a piece of paper."
Seeing that there was no other way of getting rid of
him, Miss Carsholt picked up a handbag which lay
on the chair, and took out a notebook and pencil.
Cleek's eyes brightened as he looked at it.
"Splendid! " he murmured. "Nothing like a good
notebook, and this — " he stopped short — "this is
such a ripping paper to write on."
"Yes," threw in Miss Carsholt, nodding her head.
"The professor said the same. Uncle George gave
them to me, didn't you, dear? I gave one to the
professor, and kept this for myself."
"I picked them up cheap," said the old man.
"A regular bargain," agreed Cleek. "I say, Miss
Carsholt, I'd like this."
"Why, of course."
"Thanks awfully," said Cleek. "And, in return,
I'll give you some good news, Miss Marion. I ought
to have told you first, but I was so excited over the
pyerine and the address."
"Oh, what — what is it?" she cried.
"Why," said he cheerily, "it's just as I told you.
The doctors have decided that it was heart disease,
160 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
and it seems there was a flaw in the 'golden rain/ or
whatever you eall it, and the professor must have dis-
covered il. Anyhow, you're to go back to the office
to-morrow and re-copy the formula. The official
let Ut will conic by Monday morning. So make your
mind easy, (iood-bye, good people." Then with a
genial lit lie nod to tlicin all, he was gone, clattering
down the stairs like a schoolboy, a strange look upon
his face and a strange new light in his eyes.
It was a very homely little gathering on which
Cleek and Mr. Narkom made their unceremonious
entrance about seven o'clock on Monday evening.
Vernon and Eastwicke had evidently come in
themselves, for the latter was in the act of re-
moving his gloves, while Marion lay sleeping on the
couch, and Mr. Carsholt sat near her, a book in his
"Hallo!" said both young men together, though in
a whispered undertone. "You must have been right
behind us. AVc have only just come in, and found
Marion asleep on the couch.**
Mr. Carsholt held up a silencing hand.
"Hush!" said he. "Don't wake the dear girl,
if you can help it, Mr. Narkom. She is tired out
after her day's work."
"I dare say," said Cleek, speaking in loud, incisive
tones; "but duty is duty, Mr. Carsholt, and I'm
sorry to say a great mistake has been made." He
lurched up against the couch, but it did not wake the
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 161
sleeping girl. "Yes, Mr. Carsholt, I am sorry to
have to break the news to you, but the murderer of
Professor Wharnecliffe is in this room, and we have
come to arrest him."
"What in the world are you saying?" began Mr.
Carsholt. He looked at the faces of the two men
with fear- widened eyes; his lips quivered pathetically.
Vernon remained absolutely still, but Hugh East-
wicke gave vent to a little cry, and moved toward
"No, you don't, my friend," said Cleek, stepping
up to him and stamping his foot upon the floor.
"Nobody leaves this room, Mr. Eastwicke, nobody
"What do you mean! What do you dare to
imply?" Eastwicke's face was deathly white.
"I mean this." Cleek wheeled round as the
door opened, and Hammond and Petrie, who had
been waiting outside, appeared. "The game is up,
Rossi lion, or Carsholt, or whatever you claim your
dashed name to be at the moment." He sprang
forward suddenly, flinging himself upon the white-
haired figure of the old man. "Quick, boys! Get
him before he slips out! This way! This way!"
But the couch with its sleeping figure hindered
them. Hammond and Petrie blundered by it — too
late, too late.
Like a flash Carsholt's hand whipped out and up;
there was the glint of steel, the sharp twanging of a
bullet piercing the air in its rapid flight, the smeU of
UK C LEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
smoke and powder, and Cleck fell back against tit
tabic with a Jittle gurgling sound, as though he were
laughing ami sobbing in the same breath, and slipped
down ujxrn the floor beside it.
Instantly there was pandemonium. The fiw
men sprang upon the Frenchman, who stood looking
at tliein with triumphant eyes.
"Do what you like to me, canaille I" he cried
excitedly, waving one hand in the air. "I have
killed the great Cleek; I have had my revenge, and
the Cracksman has vanished forever.. Moreover,
I know the formula. If I cannot now sell it I may
at least shout it to the world in court."
Mr. Xarkom struck at him with his clenched fist
The tears were running down his face, so that he
could barely see. Then he ran to Cleek.
"Cleek, dear chap, dear old pal, wake up, wake
up!" he said. "You're not killed, are you?"
"Not quite, dear chap; but the breath's knocked
out of me for a bit," broke in Cleek's laughing voice.
"It's as well I changed my shirt, though."
He got slowly to his feet and flung wide his coat
and waistcoat, revealing to the astonished eyes of the
little group in the room a shirt made completely of
Air. Xarkom swallowed something in the back of
his throat. He blundered forward and seized Geek's
hand, wringing it in both his own.
"Thank God! Thank God!" he said fervently,
pumj- :ia ndling Cleek for all he was worth. "Once
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 163
•ore I had such a shock as this, and it was enough
a lifetime. Good heavens! man "
* Don't please, Mr. Narkom; don't, old friend,"
>ke in Cleek's voice, a trifle shakily. "You'll
ve me blubbering like a baby in a minute, and this
no time for sentiment. How did I know it was
>ssiilon? I thought I recognized him from the
st; but I wasn't absolutely certain until he said
s didn't smoke, and I noticed his fingers were
abed with some sort of acid. And those headaches
Miss Marion's, too."
"Good heavens!" It was Vernon's voice which
oke in excitedly. " I had forgotten her. To think
it she's slept through all this din!"
Hugh Eastwicke rushed over to the couch where
5 lay, but Cleek waved him back.
'One minute, Mr. Eastwicke. Be careful; she
in no ordinary sleep, but in a hypnotic trance,
rked by this devil here." He bent down and
ipped off the white wig, revealing a sleek, close-
pped, bullet head, the skull of the famous Apache
minal who for so long had sought Cleek's life in
urn for Cleek's merciless pursuit of the Apaches in
Heek smiled gently.
*What knowledge he has gained through hypno-
ing Miss Marion will be of no service to him. The
iff was worthless absolutely, because one of the
iterials with which it was made had been taken
>m the wrong tray. There had been a mistake,
1G4 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
and that is what the professor tried to write before be
\v:in poisoned by means of that devil's notebook."
" Mr. ( kvk!"
"IL".* trie, my friend — absolutely true.* He
* jnit.i ti» Iio>-iiIon, who glared back at him with
i: ._:;-y eyes. "AH your information that you gotby
hv;ii*iiti/i".i^ Mi?s Marion every night is useless,
Kos*iIk»:). I suppose you thought you had it all and
tii;it you were about to complete your sale of the
>ecret, but you see that's all over, too. Sooner than
let the professor make another copy of the formula,
vou sent him that notebook, everv leaf of which to
impregnated with the cursed powder. That to
why I rushed off." He turned to Mr. Narkom and
laid a hand upon his arm. "Directly I saw the
clean ball of the thumb I knew what had happened.
The professor had been using the book, and in turning
over the leaves wet his thumb, so that they should
not stick to it, and so carried the poison to his mouth.
I was afraid, however, that, having killed off one
victim, Rossillon would next kill Miss Marion. As
it was, I got away the other notebook just in time."
He turned again to the Apache masquerading as
" That is why you hypnotized her to-night, I sup-
pose? But Vernon disturbed you. Come; reverse
the passes, and restore her to her natural self. I—
bid — you — to — release — her!" he added incisively.
The great criminal's eyes gleamed with fury, but,
seeing the futility of disobedience, he stretched out
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 165
is hands mechanically, waved them backward and
*Tward before the girl's face, and muttered something
*idcr his breath. She stirred and sat up, and Cleek,
^king his eyes at last from Rossillon's, gave vent to
little sigh of genuine relief.
Instantly there was a scuffle of footsteps, the flash
f a man's body leaping across the room toward the
nguarded doorway and the safety that lay beyond,
he clatter of hurrying feet, the harsh shouting of
•oices, and the rattle of handcuffs as they snapped
bout the Apache's wrists.
" Played, my lads, played!" said Cleek, clapping
is hands and giving vent to a quick, triumphant
ttle laugh. "The rat is caught at last, and caught
1 his own trap. Off with him, Petrie; off with him,
oth of you — quick, before Miss Carsholt sees who
; is! What's that, Miss Marion? Been asleep,
h? Well, well, we've wakened you up with our
alking. Everything's all right, everything's set-
led and finished, and your name is as clean and free
pom stain as yourself. Mr. Eastwicke" — he beck-
ned to the enraptured lover — "I've something to
ay to you." He dropped his voice, so that only he
ould hear. "She must never know the truth," he
aid softly. "It would kill her. Make any excuse
ou like for her uncle's disappearance, but never let
er know how nearly she betrayed her country into
he hands of another, or how she was the innocent
leans of killing the greatest inventor of the world.
Ir. Eastwicke, my deepest congratulations. Love
1G6 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
Miss Carsholt; cherish her, for a good woman's
heart is a very jewel from Heaven."
He clicked his heels together and bent his head
Then, sharply, stiffly, he swung round and went out
of the door, passing from it to the stairs beyond, and
out into the star-dusk, to the sweet-scented vetod
darkness, and into the warm sweetness of the sum-
THE incident gave Cleek much food for thought.
It showed him perhaps even more plainly
how keenly Maurevania was striving to free
herself from the yoke of King Ulric and his faction.
This "golden rain," the priceless explosive, a few
ounces of which would have served to destroy the
whole tiny kingdom, would have been theirs, had it
not been for that failure.
He had an intuitive idea, that for the immediate
present neither he nor Ailsa Lome would be inter-
fered with. There were evidently even more im-
portant matters in the wind. If he could but find
out whether Irma was going to remain in England;
a frown crossed his face, for it was Irma that he
dreaded mainly, rather than Maigot and her gang,
more desperate though they might be. Still, fear of
the police kept a slight check on their actions, and
then again, there was also a question of money;
not even for revenge on the Cracksman would they
spend the money as Count Irma would and could.
Almost unconsciously, his footsteps took him to the
Ritz Hotel, where he knew Count Irma to have his
lodgings, and fortune favoured him, for, descending
the steps, his coat collar buttoned high up round his
168 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
throat, his hat pulled down low, was Count Irma
himself, and Cleek, doubling himself back in the
shadow of the stone portals, followed in pursuit.
That the Count was anxious not to be followed was
very evident, for several times he stopped short, and,
turning from side to side, looked furtively at the
homeward-bound throngs of passengers. Across
Piccadilly he went, up Shaftesbury Avenue, until
he reached the most crowded part of Soho, surely a
strange place for a gentleman to go thus unattended
and unprotected. Cleek, following, inwardly cursed
his luck at not being able to disguise himself better.
Down a narrow courtyard, squalid and filthy, Count
Irma stopped and, peering in at each door, knocked
at last at the third from the end. It was opened by
a young French boy, obviously an Apache. Cleek's
heart gave a leap and missed two beats; he knew now
who it was that Count Irma had thus ventured to
visit in such grimy surroundings. No one less than
Margot herself. What fresh evil were these two
planning? What was to be their next step? The
door shut to with a bang, and the sound of heavy
bolts drawn across told the huddled-up watcher that
entry by that means was impossible. Through an
upstairs window floated a shrill laugh that brought
a light of recognition to Cleek's face. It was Margot
herself. His eyes turned upward. If only he could
climb up to that window! But there was not a
single foothold. To his surprise, a second later came
the sound of the bolts being withdrawn, and Count
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 169
a reappeared, with Margot close on his heels,
t she was in a bad temper was self-evident, and a
: of amusement looped up Cleek's mouth as he
lied the old days when he himself had incurred
capricious tempers. Now another fool had his
in the trap.
ifou might just as well have brought it with
," he heard her remark as he slipped along, a
low amongst other shadows, at their back.
Mot so foolish, ma belle," was the grim reply. "I
idy have paid out too much for no results. Get
man alone; I will see to him when I return. But
woman — she must be put out of the way."
[argot laughed. The sound made Cleek's blood
Trust her to me, man ami. As long as she is ove*
, she cannot escape the clutches of my people,
s, alas! is forbidden ground. You understand,
sieur, the police; but they have short memories,
life is long. And you, monsieur, what do you
[ leave London to-night. I must catch the boat
•ess, so, mademoiselle, if you want your cheque,
will hurry/ *
y this time they were out in the open thorough-
of Shaftesbury Avenue, and the Count hailed a
leek troubled no further; he was too thankful
i the results of his espionage. In one short hour
nt Irma would be on his way to Calais, thence to
170 CLEEITS GOVERNMENT CASES
set forth for the kingdom for which he had fought
so unscrupulously. For the rest, Cleek had already
made up his mind. In Paris Ailsa would be safe, far
Margot would be unable to get back to ho* beloved
city till some recent misdeed had been allowed to fall
Hardly hesitating a minute, he went direct to the
lodging where Ailsa had established herself until they
should make their home together. "I can alwaji
go to the Baron de Caryorae. They will be gkd
to see me/ 9 she said quietly after he had finished hi
story. "When shall I go, dear?"
" Now, this very minute," responded Cleek in the
sharp staccato of excitement. "Dress as a nursing
sister. Dollops shall be on the watch. I want you
out of the country immediately. Time is short,
Ailsa, and you hold my life's happiness in your hands.
If you care for me, dear, you will be very careful,
She gave him her answer with her lips upon his.
Then together they planned for her departure. A
hasty telephone message fetched Dollops, and a few
words sufficed to put him on guard.
"Lor' lumme, sir, don't you worry. It's not that
bit of pink gauze" — his favourite name for Margot—
"wot's going to so much as touch our Miss Ailsa,
bless her, I can r promise yer!" was his hearty response
to Cleek's questioning. And it was but a brief hour
later, with mixed feelings of relief and loss, that Geek
watched her dear figure borne away in the boat trami
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 171
to safety; then, turning with a sigh upon his lips,
he made his way back; but not for long. London
without Ailsa was unendurable. He wanted his
roses, his own dear flowers — and hers — in return for
the peace and contentment that she had carried
away with her.
And so it came about that, Mr. Narkom, seeking
him out, as ever upon the Yard's business, made his
way down to the little house. It was one of those
gorgeous June days, when the countryside was
astream with sunshine, and the sky a wonderful
turquoise river, in the bowl of which floated a thou-
sand little cotton-wool cloud boats, drifting serenely
on into an eternity of sapphirine sea. Even the
hedge rows themselves, decked out as they were in all
the gay green of summer leaves and summer blos-
soms, took on that bright vivid crudity of tint that
only the sun — Nature's greatest master-hand — knows
exactly how to mix.
In the garden of the little house out there where the
lazy, sleepy old Thames reaches out a finger to touch
the edge of Little Barholm and then runs on a bit
into the heart of it, Captain Horatio Burbage leaned
on the handle of the spade, with which he was digging
around the root of a fine yellow "William Allen
Richardson," and passed a hand over his streaming
"Hot work, eh, Mrs. Condiment?" said he, with
a twitch of his head in the direction and a healthy,
172 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
" Don't be stayin' out too long in the heat, Capt'n;
it's not good for us" old 'uns, say I," responded
Mrs. Condiment practically. "That rose'll wait
until the evening, I'll be bound, and it'll be oookr
Then she stopped suddenly, and threw up her
hands, giving vent to a little cry of surprise as, dowi
the long white ribbon of a road that stretched away
at the bottom of the little wicket gate, a figure slowly
wended its way into view. As it came nearer the
sun shone upon the red, perspiring face of the
Superintendent of Scotland Yard.
"Mr. Narkom, as I'm alive!" ejaculated Mis.
Condiment, running down the garden pathway with
a flu Iter of white apron strings and a flapping of
black silk skirts. "Good afternoon, sir. And wiB
you be pleased to come inside, then? The Captainl
be that delighted to see you."
The Captain, or, to give him his proper name,
Cleek, reached out a mud-stained hand, and gripped
the Superintendent's, at the same time favouring
him with a wry smile.
" Well, you old spoil sport," he said with a lurch
of the shoulders, "come to hunt me out again, have
you? Mrs. Condiment, you might get us a cup of
tea, while I have a chat with Mr. Narkom out here in
the sunshine. Ah, that's right. Well, what is it
this time, old friend? A case, of course.**
The Superintendent sank down upon a rustic seat
and mopped his streaming forehead with a white
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 173
silk handkerchief. His face looked troubled, con-
"Yes, it is a case, Cleek," he said dejectedly, with
a deep-drawn sigh, "and the very devil of a one, too.
Boy disappeared; not a trace, not a sign. Abso-
lutely vanished. No clue to be found. No person
who saw him after he left for that walk along the
seashore. Stepped off the edge of the earth, so to
speak, and not even a footprint to show where he did
" Hello ! " said Cleek with a strong rising inflection.
" That sounds interesting ! Disappearance, eh ? How
old was the lad, and when did it happen, or how?
Or, no ; better wait for the details until after that cup
of tea Mrs. Condiment's promised us. Then I'll
change into a few decent Muds/ and come along
with you. I'll be bound that Lennard and the
limousine are dodging somewhere in the background
down that road there. Ah! I thought so! Tea
ready, Mrs. Condiment? All right. Come along,
Mr. Narkom, and have a wee drappie. Just a dash
in your ' tay ' will pull you together after your long
journey, and then we'll hear all about your adven-
They went inside the little house, and found tea
waiting for them in the tiny drawing-room, with Mrs.
Condiment's best china in honour of the visitor.
Then Cleek turned again to his companion.
"Now," said he with a sigh of resignation, "to
return to our muttons. You say it was a disap-
17 t (LEEKS GOVERNMENT CASES
pearance, Mr. Narkoiu, and that the person in
question is a boy? Of what age?"
" Ten. Son of the Luton-Baybera, biggest people
in Portreath. Own miles of countryside, rich m
Croesus, and as nice a family as you could wish to
meet. Mother, father, and the little chap.**
Cleek pursed up his lips and gave forth a low
whistle of surprise,
''Cornwall, eh? Devil of a journey! And you're
expecting me to go there, of course."
" Yes, if you only will, old chap. The case is I
sad one. Listen. Last Tuesday week, June the
tenth, as you'll remember, by the calendar, little
Ronald Luton-Bayber was watching the workmen
upon St. Jude's Church, which has been in repair
for some time. The church itself is an old ruin of
feudal times, a beautiful place, but utterly useless ass
place of worship since seventeen-sixty-something,
for in that year it was almost totally destroyed by
fire. The spire still stands, though, and a goodhh
part of the actual body of the building itself, but the
south nave was entirely destroyed, and the whole
place is at present being put into repair by a certain
Mr. Joshua Burnaby, a rich, elderly gentleman who
has but lately come to live in the neighbourhood, and
has already erected a library for the people, and a
rather marvellous drinking-fountain in the middle
of the village square."
"Hum! Quite an embryo Carnegie," gave back
Cleek serenely, as he sipped his tea and lit a cigarette.
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 175
"And where, may I ask, did this amiable church-
restorer come from in the first instance, eh?"
"Yorkshire. He's a mill owner, or something of
the sort, I believe, and the village people literally
worship him. That church has been their joy and
pride since time began. It's one of the sights of
the place, and the statuary, I believe, is considered
very beautiful. There are some very fine images in
gilt that used to stand in niches some six feet over
the church door, and across the front of the building,
eight of them, and Mr. Burnaby is having those that
have gone to ruin replaced with others as nearly
like the originals as possible. But that's not the
case, Cleek. As I was saying, young Ronald was
walking along the cliff toward the church "
"So it stands on a cliff, then? That's an inter-
esting situation for a place of worship, isn't it? I
don't remember hearing of a church that stood on
the edge of a cliff."
"Yes, right on the edge, with nothing in reach of it
for a quarter of a mile on either side. The cliff is
hardly a proper one, though, being in reality a high
edifice of ground, jutting out over the caves where
in the olden days the people say the smugglers used
to congregate. He was watching the workmen, with
his governess, Miss Doritt, when Mr. Burnaby came
up and spoke to him. Miss Doritt says he was
most kind to the boy, and offered to take him inside
to see the interior repairs, if he'd care about it.
But the lad was afraid of the darkness, and wouldn't
176 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
go. So she took him home again. But she im-
pressed on me how perfectly charming the man was,
and remarked also that he had the most beautiful
eves she had ever looked into."
"Hum. And is the gentleman a bachelor? If
so, he'd better mind his p's and q's, or perhaps I
should say, his 'eyes,' where the ladies are con-
cerned, or one will be landing him yet. And who is
this Miss Doritt?"
"Daughter of the rector of the village. A slim,
sweet -faced girl with reddish hair and blue eyes.
Been with the family for three years. Well, to
continue: Next day Ronald wandered out by him-
self, and did not return until almost dark, when the
family were distracted with fears for his safety.
The coast is lonely and very rugged, and the coast-
line neither straight nor smooth. There are many
pitfalls for unwary feet, and they were afraid the
boy had fallen down one of the many crevasses.
But he hadn't, for he returned home none the worse
for his little walk alone, and full of interest in a
certain 'Mr. Andrew* with whom he declared he had
had a nice long talk upon the seashore. It seems
that the boy had chanced upon the entrance to a cave
at the foot of the cliff and after exploring it in a half-
timid, half-eager fashion he had turned back and
met "Mr. Andrew' on the sands. And now the
strange part of the story comes, Cleek. As it hap-
pens, there isn't a person by the name of Andrew
in the village. The boy vanished next day, after he
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 177
had taken another little walk, unknown to his
governess, and the last person who spoke to him was
an old peasant woman upon the cliff, halfway toward
St. Jude's Church, who told him he should not be out
alone at such a dangerous place."
"And what answer did the boy make?"
"The woman said that he replied that he wouldn't
be alone long, as his friend Mr. Andrew had prom-
ised to show him something, but that it was a big
secret, and he couldn't tell her."
Mr. Narkom leaned back in his chair, and took a
large mouthful of tea. His eager eyes sought Cleek's
There was silence for some minutes; then:
"Rather careless governess that, to let the child
wander alone two days in succession," said he sud-
denly, with an uplifting of the eyebrows. "I should
have thought after the first time that "
"Mrs. Luton-Bayber had had a slight attack of
influenza," interposed Mr. Narkom, "and Miss
Doritt had had to nurse her. The parents are
literally distracted, Cleek. Mrs. Luton-Bayber sits
all day long in his nursery, and can't be moved out
of it, and the father, too, has settled into a sort of
coma of despair, and doesn't seem to see or know any-
thing. Miss Doritt, too, was almost beside herself
with grief when I saw her, and kept saying that it
was all her fault that the boy had gone out alone,
and that she ought to have been more careful. Mr.
Burnaby , I am told, called immediately at the house
178 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
the day after the disappearance, and offered his
services in any way that he could. He even or-
ganized a party of his own workmen, to search for
the missing child. Every cave on the coast was
scoured for him, every inch of the countryside, every
crevice, every cranny. But hide. nor hair of him
there was none. There, that's the case, Cleek.
What do you make of it?"
"I'll tell you later, when I've looked into it a bit,"
responded Cleek, twitching back his head. "An-
other cup of tea? No? Well, I'll be off and away,
and change my clothes, then, for it's a long, long way
to Cornwall, and the sooner we're on the scene of
the disaster the better for all concerned."
THEY found it " a long, long way to Cornwall "
indeed, but at last even that way was trav-
ersed, and they stood at the front door of a
big, rambling old country house, low and long, with
gabled roof and ivy-covered walls, awaiting admit-
tance to its precincts. That was not long forth-
coming, and when Mr. Narkom, with Cleek at his
side, passed into the low-ceiled drawing-room, it
was nearer luncheon than breakfast, for they had
travelled all night in the limousine, and had not even
waited to snatch forty winks at the village inn where
they stopped for breakfast.
Mr. Luton-Bayber himself ushered them into the
room, and then closed the door softly behind him.
His face was the face of a man in awful anguish of
soul, his eyes looked restless and haggard, and there
were deep lines of care about his narrow, close-
"I don't know how to begin, Mr. Headland," he
said listlessly, after Mr. Narkom had performed the
necessary introduction, and "Mr. George Headland"
stood confessed before them. "It's all been so
terrible and unwarranted. 1 The local police could
make nothing of it, so I took the matter into my
ISO C LEEKS GOVERNMENT CASES I
own hands, and sent to Scotland Yard at ono. I
Mr. Xarkom here kindly came down by the 1
next train. He has told you all the details, I I
" Most of them, certainly," gave back Mr. Head- I
land in his slow, stupid voice. "No suspicion of
foul play, I suppose? Or kidnappers? Was your !
boy likely to come into any property which might
induce some unscrupulous rascal to hold him in ran-
som? I take it, Mr. Luton-Bayber, that you area
man of means. Pardon the question, but a police-
man, you know, has privileges which an ordinary
gentleman has not."*
"Yes, certainly/* responded Mr. Luton-Bayber
quietly. "My business is a great one, or was, fori
have since sold it for an enormous sum of money,
which my only son Ronald would one day inherit.
In fact , now, he owned most of the farm lands about
here; arable culture, Mr. Headland, was my line,
but on a very great scale, and I had theories which
fortunately enabled me to 'strike it good,' as our
American cousins would say. Ronald was the
youngest landowner anywhere around, and the ten-
ants of the different farms that belonged to the little
chap took a great delight in dubbing him 'the little
Squire, ' and always sent their rents in to him. It
delighted him a good deal. My nephew, young
Geoffrey Fawcett, only son of my eldest brother, is
next of kin. He is a fine young fellow, and is staying
with us now. High spirited usually, but of late I
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 181
link something has been preying on his mind, for he
is grown morose and silent, and hardly spoke to
tybody but little Ronald. Now that the boy has
>ne, Mr. Headland, he is desolate, as we are; ab-
Mr. Luton-Bayber paused a moment and drew a
iep breath. His eyes searched Cleek's face for any
jn, any clue. But if there were any, Cleek did not
"Hum!" said he slowly, pinching up his chin be-
reen a thumb and forefinger. "I should like to
e this new heir very much indeed. You don't,
course, connect him in any way with the disap-
arance, I suppose? Wasn't in any money diffi-
lties or anything of that sort? "
" Good God, no. Not that I know of. The idea
s never entered my head. No, certainly not.
?offrey has nothing whatever to do with the case;
ran swear to that. Why, he simply idolizes Ronald,
d Miss Doritt."
"I take it that she was the lady who was with the
>y on his last walk in company with some one else,
is she not? Could she be called? I should like
hear her account of the story from her own lips.
>u never can tell, you know, as the small boy said
len he broke the barometer, just exactly what kind
weather is likely to follow after the sunniest day.
lanks very much. Ah, and this is little Ronald's
verness, is it? How d'you do, Miss Doritt? I
iderstand from Mr. Luton-Bayber here that you
182 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES I
were the last person to accompany the boy uponuf l 1 ^
walk which he did not take alone. I am right, in 1 |W,
Miss Doritt bowed her head. |*i u
" Yes, Mr. Headland/' she said unevenly, drawnj lie
in sharp breaths between each word, and Cleck I <k -
noticed that her eyes were extraordinarily reddened 1^
us with much weeping. "Ronald and I went forov l te
little walk down to St. Jude's Church to watch the 1*
rebuilding. It was a favourite pastime of his, and 1 :
he never grew tired of watching the men at work at V
that huge scaffolding across the face of the chunk 1
pasting the new stone bricks with. mortar and setting 1
them in their places. The golden statues par- I
ticularly took his fancy. His * yellow boys 9 he called 1
them, and he knew every one of them by some pel |
name or other/'
"Just so. And did you meet any one upon that
walk, Miss Doritt? "
"Yes — Mr. Burnaby. It is he, you know, who is
doing the restoration work, and a kinder gentlemai
it would be difficult to imagine."
"Made a good impression, eh?" Cleek's eyes
twinkled for a moment.
"He was very courteous, and very much of a
gentleman," she gave back in some confusion. "Be
spoke kindly to Ronald, and asked him if he would
like to go inside. But the church is gloomy and foil
of shadows and Ronald was always afraid of the dark,
so he refused to go. A short time after that, ire
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 183
urned home. That is all I can tell you, Mr. Head-
d, quite all."
IHeek's eyes sought her face with a sort of mute
uiry in them that made the colour rush to her
'Sure that's all, Miss Doritt? Every bit?" he
:ed quietly. "Just think again. It's my busi-
is, you know, to read people's faces, and I can
id yours. That's not * quite all,' is it?"
She flushed again and shifted her eyes to Mr.
ton-Bayber's face. Then they came back to
"Well," she stammered at last, "there — there's
illy nothing more of consequence, Mr. Headland,
ly the curse of an old woman whom the villagers
1 a witch."
Cleek twitched back his head like a terrier scenting
4 Hello ! " he rapped out sharply. " What's that?
old woman's curse, eh? Sometimes curses cover
— other things. I should like to hear exactly
at the curse was, Miss Doritt, if you don't mind."
She hesitated a minute, and looked back again at
'We were passing her cottage in the village one
jr, and she was sitting at the door with an old clay
>e in her mouth. It made Ronald laugh, and
tlishly, and also very impolitely, he called out to
% 'Old clay pipe! Old clay pipe!' The name so
uriated Old Jeanie, as she is called, Mr. Headland,
184 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
that she picked up the pipe and threw it after him,
screaming a curse meanwhile about his dying %
the sunshine when the first quarter of the moon was
Mr. Luton-Bayber glanced up with sharp eyes
into Miss Doritt's face.
"I have never heard that story," he said quickly,
with sudden suspicion. Miss Doritt flushed.
"I know. Because I have told it to no one. It
was only an old woman's stupidity, and Mrs. Luton-
Bayber is so superstitious that I thought it best not to
tell her. And then the thing quite passed from my
mind. But Ronald and I never went that way
"Quite so. And the first quarter of the moon was
up some few days ago, wasn't it? Curious coinci-
dence, but one can hardly set much store by it
That's all, I think, Miss Doritt. And now, sir, if I
might see a portrait of the boy?"
A large coloured photograph, heavily framed, hung
upon the opposite wall, and Mr. Luton-Bayber
pointed to it.
"There he is," he said, with a world of g^jnp^ in
his deep voice. " There's my bonny boy, Mr. Head-
land. A handsome lad, but very small for his age."
"Yes, certainly doesn't look a big child. What
was his height?"
"Something more than three feet. And he was
thin, too. Small bones."
Cleek looked long into the pictured face, with its
CLEEITS GOVERNMENT CASES 186
yellow curls and large, wide-open blue eyes. The
child was certainly handsome; the photograph
showed that, but he was remarkably undersized for
a boy of ten years, and he was, as his father had said,
thin almost to leanness.
" Well, I certainly can't find anything here," said
Cleek, after a quick look round the v room and a
glance at the stricken father whose gaze dwelt upon
the portrait of the boy he had lost. "If I might go
up to his nursery, sir? Thanks. No, don't bother
to come. Up on the right-hand side of the stairs,
you say? Very well. I won't make any mistake.
Coming along, Mr. Narkom? Very good."
The two men passed out of the room, and up the
passage toward the stairway.
"Any ideas, old chap?" whispered the Superin-
tendent eagerly as he trudged up in the wake of his
famous ally. Cleek looked back over his shoulder.
"Yes. A few. First, why does Miss Doritt paint
her eyes red in that rather overdone manner? I
should think any one but a rank fool would be able
to discern that * unnatural grief.' And likewise, why
had she kept the story of the curse so carefully to
herself? No one with a single grain of common sense
would believe that, unless the whole story were a
hoax and a blind. Ah, well!" He stopped on the
top step and smiled down at the Superintendent
puffing and blowing in his wake. "It's a sure thing,
dear friend, that you must not add any more to your
# waistband, or you'll be having to carry escalator
186 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
apparatuses about with you with which to climb
stairs. But there's something very 'rrttoa in the
state of Denmark ' which I'm going to put my finger
on, and put it there, too, in a brace of shakes."
They reached the nursery, and left it, after having
glanced in through the half -open door to where the
sound of a woman's sobbing came to them through
the silence and sent the dagger of sympathy piercing
their two hearts.
They descended the stairs in silence, and passed
on down the long, shallow hall toward the drawing-
room door, where the sound of men's voices came to
them. There were two newcomers there: one was a
short, thick-set man with graying hair and heavy
eyebrows that were like miniature moustaches, and
truly the kindest blue eyes that ever looked out of
the mirror of a human face.
" Gad ! but there's a sunny temper, or I'm a Dutch-
man," commented Cleek as they passed into the
room. "Looks like the sort of person who was made
for reliability, a human prop for other and weaker
men to lean against. Mr. Burnaby, I take it.
Pleased to meet you, sir. Headland's the name —
George Headland of Scotland Yard. Mr. Luton-
Bayber called us in on the case to investigate."
" Glad to make your acquaintance," responded Mr.
Joshua Burnaby with a little formal, old-fashioned
bow and a smile that showed two rows of extremely
white teeth. "This is the most awful tragedy that I
have come upon in all my travels. Terrible, sir,
CHEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 187
terrible! My poor friend here — what it must mean
to him to lose his only son!"
Cleek felt an instinctive liking for the man. Then
he turned toward the other newcomer, and gave him a
quick glance from under his narrowed eyelids. "A
fine young fellow/' Mr. Luton-Bayber had called
him, but hardly "a fine young fellow" did he appear.
For, in the first place, he had that particular kind of
eyes which are set rather too close together over the
bridge of a thin, high nose; his brow was long and
rather forbidding, and his mouth a narrow thread
of scarlet set into the mask of his lean face. One
shoulder drooped lower than the other, and he kept
continually shifting his feet and running a finger
under the edge of his collar as though he were a very
nervous man indeed.
"Either a guilty conscience, or a fool," Cleek
mentally designated him as he shook hands with the
gentleman, and put a question or two to him in a
rather abrupt voice. "Haven't quite made up my
mind which." Aloud he remarked:
"And where were you at the time of the boy's
disappearance, if I may inquire? Were you in this
house, or not?"
The young man shifted his feet uneasily. When
he spoke there was a catch in his voice, as though he
were making up his mind whether to speak or not.
"No," said he finally, "I was not here. F-fact is,
Mr. Headland, I was seeing a man in Redruth, which
is clote by here, on — on business."
188 CLEEICS GOVERNMENT CASES
"I see. And business of a very personal and
private character, I take it, from your tone?"
"Yes. Entirely personal and private."
"Just so. Well, Mr. Luton-Bayber, there is
nothing to be discovered here, I'm afraid. And be-
fore I go up to Truro to look up some little matters in
connection with the case, I'd like to take a stroll in
the village, if I may. Never been to Cornwall in
my life, and haven't the faintest idea what it is like.
If some one will be so kind as to accompany me "
Some one was, after Mr. Luton-Bayber had
shown some disgust and amazement at the altogether
casual manner in which "Mr. George Headland"
had dismissed the affair for the moment; and that
some one was no less a personage than Mr. Joshua
Burnaby. He laid a hand upon Cleek's arm, and
smiled his fresh, sudden smile.
"Come along with me," he said cheerily. "I'll
take you along and show you our church, and what
my men are doing to it. It'll interest you, if you've
any eye for beauty of architecture. You coming
along, too, Mr. Fawcett? Oh, very well, then; per-
haps Mr. Narkom will accompany us as well.
Good-bye for the present, Mr. Luton-Bayber, and
for God's sake, don't look so troubled and anxious.
We'll find your boy, I promise you!"
Then they passed out of the room, and left the
stricken man alone. The road to the church led
them along the cliff's edge by a narrow zigzag path
worn through the grassy slope by continual travel.
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 189
The cliff itself shelved over some fifteen or twenty
feet above the rocky beach, where a strip of sand,
white and loose as dry salt, showed them that the
water never reached quite so far up upon this par-
ticular portion of the shore. Fifteen minutes' walk
brought them in sight of the building, a handsome
pfle of ruins set upon the cliff like the nest of some
solitary eagle, with neither sight nor sign of any
habitation for some distance round. In the after-
noon sunlight Cleek could see the golden statues upon
its front glistening like great nuggets, and the scaf-
folding about it was alive with little moving spots
that were the workmen upon their task.
44 It's a fine piece of restoration," said he, with a
deep-drawn breath of admiration as they walked up
the broad gravelled pathway. "That's what I call
real philanthropy, Mr. Burnaby, returning to a
nation one of its own treasures of the past. They're
doing some splendid work these men of yours,
with that frontal. Hardly tell it from the origi-
Mr. Burnaby fairly beamed with delight. He slid
his hand through Cleek's arm apd drew him forward
for fL closer inspection. One of the men was stand-
ing by the great open doorway, with a recumbent
golden figure lying ready to be hoisted to its niche
over the centre of the door, and Cleek stepped farther
forward to inspect it. Then he bent down suddenly
and picked something out of the gravel and put it
into his pocket with a smile of satisfaction.
190 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
"Bit of my favourite lichen," said he, answering
Mr, Burnaby's inquiring look. "Grows on old
places like this, and I'm a fair fool over botany.
Keep specimens and all that. What are the statues
made of, if I may ask? Marble or stone, or what?
They're very fine."
Mr. Burnaby leaned over and whispered some-
thing in his ear.
Plaster," he said with a little knowing smile.
Nothing more nor less than common plaster. That
was a little idea of my own. We took the original
statues, which were mutilated and broken in parts,
and poured the stuff over them. When it hardened
it left a perfect model, and the finishing touches were
put on afterward, and the gilding done. Smart,
"Very," gave back Cleek enthusiastically. Then
the others came up, and the conversation became
general. Mr. Narkom showed an Englishman's
delight in the restoration process and admired every-
thing in his voluble way. Then he called Mr. Burn-
aby to come over and introduce him to the foreman
of this wonderful work, and Cleek and young Fawcett
stood alone. Suddenly Cleek dived again, picked
up something, sniffed at it for a few moments, and
put that, too, in his pocket.
"Bit of a collector," he explained] to the interested
young man. "Always poking my nose around
somewhere to see what I can find. Policeman's
business as well, you know, Mr. Fawcett, and I'm
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 191
no sluggard at the task. They're beckoning us;
we'd better go in."
He followed in the wake of the two men, and they
entered the church together. It was very beautiful
in the interior, and now that the roof had been built
over the main body, one noticed that the height was
enormous. At the high altar they paused to admire
the carving of the wood of which it was wrought,
and Geek pointed to a little door, also carved, which
lay at the back of it, and seemed to point to some
" Where does that lead to? " he said in his interested
manner. "That door — I presume it is a door,
though I know they were in the habit of carving
panels behind the altar-pieces in the good old days —
looks a fine bit of work."
"Yes," assented Mr. Burnaby, "it is a fine bit of
work, I believe. They say that some secret cup-
board lies behind it; I've tried many times to wrench
it open, but it's too much for my poor strength, and
the years have swollen the wood so that it will not
"I see. Well, I suppose we'd better be getting on
now. It's nearly tea time, and I'm as hungry as a
hunter. And I promised Miss Doritt I'd show her
the way to plant those bulbs she was so interested
in." Cleek noticed the quick, sharp look of jealousy
that Mr. Fawcett threw at him, and drew his own
conclusions. So that was the way the land lay, was
it? Hum! A match, most possibly. But how
192 CLEEB7S GOVERNMENT CASES
could a girl like that Miss Doritt Then sud-
denly he twitched back his head and gave a little
noiseless laugh. "Birds of a feather!" and all the
rest of it. Then they passed out of the church into
the afternoon sunlight. A workman was hoisting
the gold figure up in his arms with a good deal of
care, and Cleek stepped forward instantly.
"Here," said he, "let's lend a hand. Bit difficult,
eh? Wait a moment; I'll hold it for you until you
get that ladder straight. Steady, now! Fine repre-
sentation, Mr. Burnaby. Even my somewhat lim-
ited teaching will tell me that it's supposed to be the
Infant Samuel, eh? Yes? I thought so. There,
that's it. Got him fast, have you? That's all right.
Then he spun upon his heel and rejoined the group
that was waiting for him at the bottom of the wide
drive, and together they walked back along the cliff
to the Manse and the stricken parents of the lost
Mr. Burnaby left them at the door, and young
Fawcett went back with him, as he wanted some
stamps in the village; so Cleek and Mr. Narkom
walked into the drawing-room together. Mr.
Luton-Bayber was standing at the window, looking
out. He turned at the sound of their footsteps and
approached them; his face was lined and furrowed
with the sorrow that was eating its way into his sou],
" Good afternoon," he said in a dull, lifeless voice,
"I hope you've enjoyed your walk, gentlemen. I
CLEEK7S GOVERNMENT CASES 193
can hardly expect you to have discovered any clue to
my poor boy's whereabouts. That would be asking
" But not more than I am willing to give/' replied
Geek, the queer little one-sided smile travelling up
his cheek. "I can say nothing at the present, Mr.
Luton-Bayber, but if you will meet me here in this
drawing-room to-morrow morning at eleven, I may
have something that will throw some light upon the
case. No; I tell you I can say nothing as yet; I can
give no hope. The night will show. But for the
present, I am going down to the village to interview
Old Jeanie and see if she has anything to tell me.
And, by the way, if you can find out exactly what
kind of business detained your nephew in Redruth
on the afternoon of June the eleventh, I'd be much
obliged. Good-bye, for the present — and you might
get him to be with you in the morning when I return;
also Miss Doritt. That's all, I think. Good-day."
Then he spun on his heel and, beckoning Mr. Nar-
kom, left the astonished gentleman staring after his
retreating figure, a newly-aroused suspicion growing
in his mind, and incredulity marked plainly upon his
*T ELEVEN the next morning, Cleek had said,
/-\ but it was nearly a quarter to twelve when he
<+* ~ at last made his appearance, followed by a
white-faced, excited Superintendent, and stepped into
the old-fashioned drawing-room where already Mr.
Luton-Bayber was seated, with young Fawcett
leaning against the mantelpiece, looking down into
Miss Doritt's upturned face, while Mr. Burnaby
made a fourth to the little group.
"Thought I'd just look in on you and see if there
was any news," Mr. Burnaby said, as he greeted
Cleek with outstretched hand, a genuine welcome
shining in his eyes. " Got to get off to Truro by the
twelve- thirty train, to see about some more * church'
stuff that hasn't arrived, and for which the men are
waiting. Can't get on, poor beggars. Tell us what
you know, Mr. Headland, for pity's sake. I'll wager
none of us have slept a wink for anxiety. Have you
found poor Ronald yet?"
Cleek shook his head.
"No," he said gravely, "but I've got some news of
him, which is something. Will you all put on your
hats and walk down with me toward the cliff?
Old Jeanie is to meet us there at one, and there is a
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 195
little matter with regard to a certain gentleman's
business upon the afternoon of June the eleventh
that wants looking into. You will? Ah, I'm glad.
Can I fetch your hat for you, Miss Doritt? I saw it
hanging in the hall. Been out for an early walk,
haven't you? I thought I saw you at eight this
morning by the cliff, or perhaps I was mistaken.
Ready? Very well, then, we'll be moving on, for
time is short, and I've got to get back to London this
afternoon by the five o'clock train."
Miss Doritt 's pretty pale face went a sort of brick-
red at Cleek's allusion to that "early walk," and at
the mention of that "certain gentleman's business
on June the eleventh" all eyes instinctively tinned
toward young Fawcett, until he was fairly beside
himself with that miserable self-consciousness that
people of his temperament show under such circum-
stances. A move was made toward the front door
and the whole party set forth along the cliff's edge
toward the church, where Old Jeanie had promised
to meet Cleek.
Her cottage was the nearest place approaching it,
and as she was supposed to be on the other side of
ninety, walking was hardly one of her pastimes.
" But she wouldn't hear of my bringing you all down
to her house," he said, in reply to Mr. Luton-Bayber's
inquiry. "She persisted that she would rather meet
us here by the church; she didn't want her house
'overrun with the pack of 'em' was the unflattering
way she expressed it. Ah, and here we are. with
196 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
half an hour to wait. Might show us round, Mr.
Burnaby, won't you? I could see this place over
and over again without getting tired."
Mr. Burnaby drew out his watch and looked at it.
"Haven't got much time/' he said with a shake
of the head, "but I'd be glad to show you what I
can." Then he made a move toward Cleek and
whispered something in his ear, giving a guarded
look back to where young Fawcett was chatting with
Miss Doritt, the morning sunlight streaming down
upon his pale face and narrow, close-set eyes. Cleek
" Yes," said he in an undertone, and then : " Not a
word, mind you. But this morning, Old Jeanie —
she saw him with the boy — yes — hush! he's coming.
Might take us inside, Mr. Burnaby. I'll be bound
that the rest of the party haven't seen the place as
closely as I have."
The rest of the party hadn't, and so Mr. Burnaby
led the way inside, and Cleek, coming last, jostled
against young Fawcett 's figure and set the great door
swinging upon its hinges with a clang.
"Clumsy fool!" he ejaculated as they all turned
their heads at the sound . " Banged it with my elbow.
Hope I didn't hurt you, Mr. Fawcett? So careless."
He slipped a hand out and quietly turned the key in
the door, and put it into his pocket. Then the party
advanced toward the altar and stood before it admir-
ing the carving of its frontal piece.
" That bit of work at the back is what gets me,"
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 197
commented Cleek as they moved in a body toward it,
Mr. Narkom at his left side and Mr. Burnaby at his
right, with Luton-Bayber, Miss Doritt, and young
Fawcett bringing up the rear. "Finest thing in the
place, to my thinking. No, no, Mr. Fawcett, come
back here; I've something particular I want to say
to you, and I don't want you wandering off while I'm
saying it. About that little business on the eleventh."
He wheeled suddenly upon his heel and bent his
eyes upon young Fawcett's startled, dough-white
face. There was a little flutter in the group, Mr.
Luton-Bayber stepped forward as if to speak, Mr.
Burnaby settled his mouth into a line which said
plainly, " I told you so ! " and Miss Doritt gave out a
hasty, terrified scream.
"Thought you'd bluff it out, did you?" threw out
Cleek in a voice of thunder as the young man tossed
back his head and began stammering explanation^
as fast as it was possible to conceive them. "But
not if I know it. My name's not Cleek if I don't
know a criminal when I see one."
"Cleek!" The word came from them in an as-
The queer, one-sided smile looped up the corner
of his mouth and as he had been speaking his fingers
had touched a tiny button in the carved panel, and
it had slid noiselessly back, to reveal a dark, cavern-
ous opening, down which ran a flight of narrow stone
"Just Cleek of Scotland Yard, gentlemen, at your
198 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
service/' he said serenely. "And in this little matter
with Mr. Fawcett here "
Came the sound of a sudden scuttle of footsteps,
a quick, hasty exclamation, and then, before you
could say "Jack Robinson," Cleek had whirled
round upon the swiftly moving figure of Mr. Joshua
Burnaby as he was in the act of slipping through the
aperture. Catching him by the leg in a little bit of
jiu-jitsu that he had learned in those dark days
that had gone, Cleek brought him crashing to the
floor, where he lay, a squirming, wriggling, screeching
thing, with Cleek 's hands locked about his throat
and Cleek's knee planted firmly upon his chest.
"Got you! Got you, you infernal hell-dog!"
rapped out that gentleman sharply, as there came
the sound of a sharp click-click and the bracelets
glittered upon the prisoner's wrists. "Got you as
safe as houses, thank God, before you and your little
tribe can go on with your game of cheating the King
of his lawful rights, or of slaughtering any more
innocent children just because they happen to have
got a peep into the inner workings of your little con-
cern ! Mr. Narkom, give those boys a whistle, and
we'll have the whole gang in harness in a brace of
shakes. That's it, that's it! Here's your man,
lads, and take good care that the 'kind' gentleman
doesn't slip through your fingers, for he's as slippery
as the proverbial eel. Now then, gentlemen, come
"Good God!" It was Mr. Luton-Bayber's voice
telling him by the leg in a little bit of jiu-jitsu
Cleck brought him crashing to the floor"
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 199
that spoke, Mr. Luton-Bayber's voice filled with an
awful anguish, a terrified awakening. "Slaughtered
innocent children, you said, Mr. Cleek? What did
you mean? Surely not Mr, Burnaby? Surely not
"Surely, yes" gave back Cleek softly. "God!
but I'd give my soul not to have to break this awful
thing to you, sir. That's where the hard part of this
kind of game comes in. But it's got to be done, it's
got to be done. The lad's — gone, Mr. Luton-Bayber,
beyond hurt, beyond harm, and the body is hidden
here, in this church, where all eyes can see, but only the
chosen few can understand. Steady there, steady!
It'll be harder for the wife than for you, you know,
but it's a man's part to carry the heaviest burden.
You want to see it, then? Very well. But first,
there is this other little matter that cannot wait,
and he, poor lad, can."
Then he beckoned to the little band of blue-
coated constables that were standing near, with the
prisoner in their midst, and waved away those who
"Take him to the local prison until Mr. Narkom
is ready for him," he said in a cold, harsh voice.
"The less time one spends in the company of such a
devil the better. Come, gentlemen." He led the
way down the dark little staircase, behind the panel,
while they followed after him, stumbling in the semi-
darkness. Down, down they went, almost into the
bowels of the earth it seemed, until, of a sudden, the
200 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
stairs stopped, and they stepped out into a wide,
cavernous, rock-bound place, with a tiny passageway
which led out into still another cave, and from thence
to the seashore. The place was littered with picks
and shovels, and the instruments that men use to
extract metals from the parth, and there were trays
full of broken earth-crust crumbled almost into dust
in the search that had been made through it.
Here Cleek stopped and turned toward them.
"Don't expect you'll find many left, boys," he
said to the men who stood waiting for his commands,
"but hunt the place through. Every nook, every
cranny. Don't let one escape. They've got the men
working on the front, haven't they? Good. Now,
get along with you. Gentlemen — Miss Doritt — "
he turned toward them and threw out his hands
in a little theatrical gesture that so much belied the
character of him — "in this innocent-looking place
you find the den of one of the smartest gangs of
Government thieves in existence. True successors
to those smugglers who used to use this very cave
for the carrying out of their contraband goods. The
office building of Mr. Joshua Burnaby's staff of
miners, who are here for the purpose of extracting
pitch-blende, and who have by now made a pretty
penny out of it, too, or I'm a Dutchman."
" Mr. Cleek ! " The name came involuntarily from
young Fawcett's lips. "Pitch-blende, sir?"
"Yes, pitch-blende, Mr. Fawcett. That par-
ticularly rare ore which, as you know, is extracted
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 201
from the metal uranium, and is the substance from
which radium is chiefly obtained. Our friend Mr.
Burnaby must have discovered its existence here,
for Cornwall is one of the very few spots in which it is
to be found, and put his ingenuity to work im-
mediately. His restoration of the church was a good
excuse for getting natural admittance to the place,
and the smugglers of old helped him in his plan by
unconsciously building him a workshop right among
the ore itself. But the process of extraction is
necessarily a long one, and one has to have money in
the first place to exploit it, for the pitch-blende,
after its extraction from the uranium, has to be
boiled in a concentrated solution of carbonate of
soda, and the residue dissolved in hydrochloric acid.
The radium and other metals are then precipitated
in the form of insoluble sulphates by the addition of
sulphuric acid. I've no doubt that we should. find
a complete laboratory in our friend Mr. Burnaby 's
house if we took the trouble to look, but we've
proof enough here without that. What's that, Mr.
Pawcett? How did I find out?
" Why, that little bit of lichen which I picked up in
the pathway yesterday told me. Its species was a
very special one, so special, in fact, that, like the
pussy of the fairy story, I * smelt a rat.' It was, in
fact, a lichen that took the form of a piece of that
particular kind of earth-crust which contains uran-
ium. Then that oak panel at the back of the altar-
piece, which Mr. Burnaby showed Mr. Narkom and
202 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
myself yesterday, was another clue in the right
direction. I noticed that the carving upon it was
of a more modern, more cultured school than that
which had conceived the altar-piece, and the edges
of it had a smooth polished appearance as of the
passage of fingers constantly upon it. Also, when
I put my hand against it, it jarred silently, as
if it had been often opened. Last night, when the
rest of you good people were in bed, Mr. Narkom
and I came down here to investigate. We found out
— which, after all, is a policeman's duty, Mr. Fawcett
— just as I happened to find out the reason of your
little jaunt to Redruth, to see a man 'on business,'
was to procure a marriage license made out in the
name of Miss Rose Doritt and yourself, and ar-
ranged to take place this morning at eight o'clock.
It was luck that guided me into the Town Hall,
where I saw a man making out a record of that par-
ticular license right under my very nose — luck and
Old Jeanie combined, for she seems to be a person
who knows everybody else's business a great deal
better than her own."
He looked at the two faces of the young couple and
saw the truth of his statement written upon them.
Mr. Luton-Bayber gazed from one to the other like a
"Married?" he said blankly. "You two mar-
"Yes, and likely to very happy, too, I should say,
from the look of them," threw in Cleek softly.
(LEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 203
"Air. Fawcett, forgive me. I didn't think you had
it in you, you know. To run away with a girl like
that, out of hand, because she had refused you re-
peatedly, and then bring a marriage license to wave in
her face. Women always loved, and always will
love, the cave-man ancestor rather better than the
polished descendant of to-day. Come, let us get
hack into God's daylight again, and find the end of
the riddle at last. 9 '
He turned upon his heel and led the way once more
up the narrow stone stairway into the body of the
church, and from there out through the great doors,
which he unlocked quietly with his key, into the
sunshine. Mr. Luton-Bayber followed him with a
stricken, ashen face.
"My boy!" he kept saying softly to himself.
"My own little Ronnie! Where is he, Mr. Cleek?
Where is he?"
"Up there," said Cleek quietly, pointing one arm,
above the church door to the seventh niche, where the
infant Samuel sparkled and shone with its coating of
new gold. "Hidden in that figure, and set up as one
of God's own little angels, Mr. Luton-Bayber.
Steady, man, steady! God! I can imagine what
the shock must be, but the choice was surely a happy
one, if there is anything to find in it that can have
the element of happiness marked there. Sit down
a minute, old chap, and rest yourself. There!" as
he led him to an oak bench, that stood on one side of
the church door, for the weary to rest before entering
204 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
into its sacred precincts. "That's better! What?
You want to hear all about it? Very well, then, I'll
tell you. In the first place, I made the discovery
yesterday, when I came here with that brute-beast,
and saw the figure lying on the ground, ready to be
hoisted into place. He told me the statues were
plaster casts, but when one of the workmen lifted it,
it struck me that there was more than * plaster cast'
in that particular figure, if not in the others. So
I gave him a hand with it, just to see. The weight
was something under five stone; four stone odd is
about the average weight of a boy of ten; the rest of
it lies in the stuff that covers the body.
"Secondly, with my finger-nail I had flaked off a
bit of the gilt, and found that there was some other
sort of substances which had a strong smell under-
neath. It proved to be varnish. And the height of
the statue, too : — roughly, I should say it is about
three feet six, the height of your boy, Mr. Luton-
Bayber, from what you tell me. The — the odour
that hung about the thing gave me the final clue.
No doubt that arch-fiend had another statue of the
infant Samuel all ready to put up in its place when
opportunity afforded, but he chose that devil's
hiding-place for the time being, until he could get the
body away for good.
"And — what did you say, Miss Doritt? Why did
he murder the boy? Why, for the simplest of rea-
sons. You remember the lad's story of the discovery
of a cave and his subsequent talk with a man called
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 205
Andrew upon the seashore? Andrew was Burnaby
himself, of course. The child did not know his name
and the man gave that one as an extra * blind.' The
boy had obviously walked into the place unknowingly
and Burnaby was afraid he would go home and talk
about it to every one else. You can very easily see
how Burnaby's undoing might have been brought
about by the boy's absorbing interest in the cave
and his very natural desire to share his discovery
with his parents. No doubt Burnaby made a bar-
gain with the lad to meet him the next day, and then
— that was the end. The child was probably
strangled, and the body carried down into the cave,
where the abominable work of disguise was done.
" I think that is all. The riddle is solved, and I'll
be getting back to London to the unravelling of other
riddles. Mr. Luton-Bay ber," he went toward the
anguished figure upon the bench, and laid a hand
upon the stricken shoulder, "good-bye, and God give
you the solace that I cannot. To have lost your boy
— your only boy! But the years are long yet, and
perhaps — who knows? He may send you another
one in his place. Miss Doritt," he crossed back
again to where the young couple were standing,
looking into each other's eyes with a sort of mingled
happiness and shamed grief that was very apparent
upon their faces, "don't try and make grief cbme
when it isn't there to show for itself. You know what
I mean — you must. If you didn't love the boy as
you felt you ought "
206 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
"I — I couldn't, Mr. Cleek; I couldn't. He was
such a — a little beast to me; so rude and unmannerly
and horrid — and now, when he's gone "
"I know, I know. But there was no need for
those reddened eyelids, was there? And you needn't
have felt called upon to grieve — like that. Sin-
cerity, you know, is the chief essential. But youth
has much to learn, and I wish you all the happiness
in the world. Good-bye, Mr. Fawcett, and good
luck to you. Good-bye, all. Mr. Narkom, time's
getting short, and I'm keen for the river and the
Then, with one long last look at the figure of the
man for whom life had lost all its joy, in that other
little life that had gone out of it, he gave a short,
sharp sigh, looked up into heaven, as if to solve the
greater riddle there, and swung onward along the
cliff's edge, with his hand in Mr. Narkom's arm,
and was silent for a long, long time.
WITHIN the next few days all the joys of
heaven were Cleek's, for he was content in
the knowledge of Ailsa's safety. True, to
have her so far from him took a little of the happiness
away, but as she had written in her prompt letter,
she was busy in making concluding purchases for
that most important event of her life, her wedding,
and happy in the knowledge that soon she would
rejoin him never to part again. He spent much of
his spare time in the garden, among the flowers he
loved and which, in their very fragrance, reminded
him so constantly of her. Up at cock-crow each
morning with the first light of dawn, he was digging
and delving and dreaming of the still greater joy
when she, the woman who had drawn him up from
the underworld, the woman for whose sake he had
gladly given up a throne, should be his by all the
laws of right — and might. Even Mr. Narkom, busy
at Scotland Yard with the multitudinous small cases
which occupied his time, was lulled into security and
only satisfied himself by a daily 'phone call which told
him that his beloved ally and friend was in safety.
At the end of the second week all was in readiness,
and Cleek had determined to return to town the
208 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
following day, to have a look around the Apache
centres in Soho, to discover if possible the where-
abouts of Margot's gang.
He slept as usual on the houseboat, anchored at
tlie end of the landing stage, with Dollops curled up
outside the door, like the faithful young animal he
was. Every night Cleek would pack him off to his
own bunk, and half an hour later would find him
outside his master's door, curled up like a kitten and
as fast asleep as though the very heavens themselves
could never wake him.
Usually Cleek slept the dreamless, healthy sleep
of the man at peace with himself and all the
world, yet to-night he was wakeful, and knelt looking
out of the little white-curtained houseboat window,
his thoughts far away across that wider strip of water
which separated him from Ailsa and all that he held
most dear. And then, from out the silence and the
solitude, as if over the very water itself, came a
sound. It seemed to him to be a voice he knew.
Surely it was, it must be! It was Ailsa herself
calling to him in the vivid mental reaches of his
Shaking himself still wider awake, heleanedforward,
and listened, every nerve pricking and quivering.
But there was no actual sound. The whole thing
was supernatural, a sort of calling of soul to soul,
and Cleek, unable to explain, yet assured that Ailsa,
in some inexplicable way, needed him, turned and
plunged out of the quiet of the cabin.
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 209
"Lor' lumme, sir, thought it was them Apaches
again," ejaculated Dollops excitedly, as he leaped to
his feet; then, catching sight of his master's grim,
tense face, with the eyes like pin points, he lapsed
into a startled silence, and waited for Cleek to speak.
" Lock all up and get back to town as sharp as you
can," Cleek rapped out in grim, staccato tones.
" Paris . . . sir, and without me ! " began Dol-
lops, his face the colour of a whitey-brown paper bag.
"Can't stop to explain, youngster," responded
Cleek sharply. "Get to Mr. Narkom, tell him to
'phone through to the Chief of Police in Paris to give
me official assistance, and look out for yourself."
He swung off into the semi-darkness of the summer
night and before Dollops had fully mastered the
situation he could hear the sound of Cleek's foot-
steps rapidly nearing the end of the landing stage.
A matter of forty-five minutes and Cleek was in
London, and without stopping for bite or sup, change
or message, he flung himself into a train that should
take him to Dover there to catch the first boat for
Calais and thence to Paris, where he felt certain that
Ailsa was in some dire distress. Frantically impa-
tient, though outwardly calm, he arrived the next
day in the "City of Pleasure" and drove direct to
the Rue St. Gaulois, where the Baron and his
daughter had been living, and from where Ailsa
had written but three days ago.
Hardly had he been shown into the gilded drawing-
210 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
room when the Baron himself came in, and the
first glance of his grave face told Cleek that his
intuitions were correct.
"Ah, m'sieur, but how glad I am to see you!"
cried he shaking his hand vigorously, meanwhile
resting anxious eyes upon Cleek's face. "But now
you will explain — Miss Lome — she is with you, eh?
and safe? You get ze telegram?"
"With me? Safe? Telegram?" rapped out Cleek
his face suddenly gone gray. " My God, Baron ! what
do you mean? Is Ailsa not with you then?"
"Non! I understood, Oh! mon Dieut what haa
happened? Miss Lome, so happy, went to meet you
at ze Gare du Nord, and we, my daughter and I,
we have not seen her since. I wire to you at ze
Yard, do you call it, las' night, but now you are here.
I can make no heads nor tails of anything. If not
with you, then where is she?"
Cleek sat a moment very, very still. He knew
now why that cry had come to him in the night.
Ailsa was in the hands of those devils, Maurevanian
or Apaches, it mattered not, and he who loved her,
who would have given his very life for her, was with-
out clue or sign.
His face went suddenly grim, the lines about his
mouth tightened until it was a mere slit in the gray
mask of his face. At sight of it, the Baron crossed
himself devoutly, as a good Catholic should, and
waited in silence.
CHEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 211
It might have been five minutes, it might have
been ten, but to the waiting Baron it was an eternity
before Cleek roused himself from the torpor into
which the news had thrown him.
Then he said peremptorily : " Will you give me a
room to go to and fro, no, no, not in the house, but
have you a stable or outhouse, or something like
"A room? But why not my guest here in ze
house?" asked the Baron, only thankful to find him-
self of some use.
"No, no, it must not be the house. Some other
part — stable or barn or "
"Zere is ze empty garage, round at ze back,"
struck in the Baron, swiftly, with a nod of the head.
"Good! The very thing. Give me the key, and
let me see what I can do."
He would say no more, but having finally got the
key and seen Mile, de Carjorae and comforted her
with the assurance that they were not to blame,
Cleek swung on his heel, and drifted out into the
thronged streets of Paris, with one thought in his
mind, to find Ailsa, and if need be — to kill.
RIOT and laughter reigned supreme in the lairs
of the Apaches that night in Paris, and not
^ even the police themselves would have ven-
tured into many of the tiny cabarets at the back of
Montmartre. Frequenters of the quarter buttoned
their coats round them, as they heard the sound of
the raucous, shrill laughter borne out through the
open doors, and sniffed the heavy reek of wine and
caporal that floated like a cloud above them. Yes,
the Apaches were evidently in high feather, and as
an ill-dressed, evil-looking fellow slouched into the
Twisted Arm, his face disfigured with a hardly-healed
scar from a recent fight, a little shout went up from
two or three men, grouped round the bar over which
Mother Marise was once more installed.
"Mon Dieu! Gustave Lerue, Gustave! They said
you were dead. Died in prison!" cried out a few
of them in the harsh staccato of excitement.
The man Gustave shook his head.
"SacS norrty" he growled, and his hand went in*
stinctively to his pocket. "Show me the man who
said the lie and I'll choke him dead!" He spat on
the sawdust floor. "Let the pigs of police look out
for themselves. I'm in funds, brother. Here's to
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 213
Margot. Drink to our Queen !" He threw a gold
coin on to the bar, and joined in the rush made for
the glasses of green absinthe that were instantly
forthcoming. Soon indeed a noisy, shouting medley
of humanity crowded about him, talking and listen-
ing to his plans of revenge for his capture some six
months ago, and relating in their turn events which
had happened in his absence.
It was Marise who came laughing and leering at
him later in the night. "I've a pretty bride for
you, Gustave, mon ami!' 9 She shrugged her
shoulders and wagged a dirty forefinger in his face.
"A pretty bride, since you are so rich. An English
bride. What think you of her?"
"What think I? That you had better keep her
for some other man. I care not for the cold English
ladies, Marise," he gave back roughly. "Give me
life, warmth. No icicles for Gustave, ma chere /"
A roar of drunken laughter greeted the joke. But
Marise continued to persuade.
"She means money, Gustave. Margot told us
to get this Ailsa Lome and keep her. She is going
to deal with her herself, when she returns next week.
Much money for all of us, mon vieux, that's what it
" Name of a dog ! And who is this Ailsa Lome you
speak of?" demanded Gustave Lerue sleepily, throw-
ing down another louis and lifting in its place still
another glass of the greenish liquid that can so loosen
the tongue and make such fools of wise men.
214 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
"Why, Gustave, and you to forget the Rat! the
Man of the Forty Faces! It's his woman," re-
sponded Marise. "His woman, man ami, remember
" Then she shall be mine instead ! "
Unsteadily he rose to his feet, an oath on his
"It's that rat, Cleek, eh?" he broke out at last,
shaking his fists in a sort of drunken frenzy. " Cleek,
the Cracksman ! Cleek, the Forty Faces ! Ah ! But
Margot shall have them both. Cleek is in Paris,
mesfreres. I saw him here with my own eyes, coming
out of the Rue de Nord."
Instantly there was pandemonium. And in the
midst of it Lerue rose to his feet, swaying unsteadily,
and shouted :
" Show me your English captive. Let me have a
look at her, and then make her send for her lover.
Mon Dzeu ! but I'll take the note myself, for I know
where he is staying. Margot shall have the Rat
safe under lock and key to-night, or my name isn't
Another shout of approval greeted this, and Marise,
fumbling in her bosom for a key, beckoned him to
A party of them went with him, evil-looking
scoundrels each one. At the end of a dark passage
behind the bar, Marise flung open a tiny door. Lerue
peered into the half gloom. His eyes caught sight
of a figure, bound with a rope to the chair upon which
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 215
she sat, the shrinking figure of Ailsa Lome, white-
faced, terrified, and half fainting from the fear that
was within her.
Gustave swaggered up, and tapped her face in-
solently with his finger.
"A bit too pale for me," he snickered with a
drunken leer. " Get some wine, and let's make the
colour come. See, ma belle I thou shalt dance for
us, instead of the Cracksman."
The wooden roof rang again with the shouts this
idea brought forth. One went for wine, while
another slashed at the rope which bound her lagging
form. With a harsh, drunken laugh, Gustave
dragged her to her feet.
"Now, my pretty, we'll have a dance and a song.
Look up for a kiss. Ah ! cold, cold as death are the
lips of her, comrades! I would not wish another.
He forced her to swallow some of the wine, brought
by Marise herself, and was still grasping her in his
filthy hands when there came an ominous sound of
knocking in the shop beyond. Instantly a silence
"Open, in the name of the law!"
"The Police!" They scattered like rabbits, only
Marise pausing uncertain of what best course to
"The girl! It's my life if Margot loses her," she
whimpered, looking up into Lerue's face. He gave a
216 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
" I'll carry her off through the passage under ground.
Go and get rid of these dogs outside."
With a nod of comprehension and relief Marise
disappeared, locking the door behind her, and Gus-
tave pried up a hidden trap door.
Then he turned to Ailsa, who was crouched, half
fainting, in the corner. And his voice took on a
sudden new and familiar note.
"Quick, Ailsa, my darling! Be brave a few min-
utes longer." Cleek tore off the disguising wig and
caught her to him, lifting her bodily in his arms.
She gave a little cry of happiness. "My dear!
my dear!" Then together they descended into the
sewer's depths, at the end of which Cleek knew lay
safety, and the upper world at last.
A hastily produced pocket torch lit the way for
them ; above him, already, Cleek could hear the roar
of the Apaches, who had returned to find their prey
missing. It seemed ages, though but a few short
minutes, before a glimmer of light and the end of the
passage brought them up to the living world again.
"Oh, my dear, my dear!" Ailsa whispered, as
Cleek set her down in the safety of a dark doorway
and leaned back against it. " To think, just to think
what might have been!"
For a moment, recollection of the peril just passed
held them both dumb, then Cleek, with a sharp laugh,
stepped out suddenly and hailing a taxi drove back
again to the Baron's house.
But he would not risk another night in Paris, and
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 217
an hour later saw them on board the train, on their
return journey to London and the saf ety and vigi-
lance of the Yard.
They found Mr. Narkom, to whom they had wired
their safety, anxiously awaiting them at Charing
Cross, with Dollops in attendance, and the relation
of their adventure was not likely to add to the
"What are you going to do now?" he queried, as
they entered the limousine.
"Drive to the Hotel Rose and put up there, and
you can put a few plain-clothes men on guard," was
Cleek's quick reply. "Don't worry, Mr. Narkom;
we have won out again, and perhaps this time for
good and all."
But it was all very well to tell Mr. Narkom not to
worry. As a matter of fact, he had already reached
the stage known as "fairly frantic" over the events
of the past week. However, when he entered his
private office at Scotland Yard a fortnight later he
dropped into his chair with a sigh of satisfaction.
For the first time that week, his report sheet was
clear. Good ! He had scotched that gang of smug-
glers at last. Now he would be freed from the
reproaches of his colleagues and the sneering smiles of
his subordinates, as every fresh case had been brought
home to his notice. Gad ! he'd just like them to be
in his place for a week, and see whether they could
stop unlimited cargoes of saccharine being passed
through the Custom House, absolutely free from duty
218 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
and discovery only being made when it was too late,
through the channels of the Secret Service spies and
the political underworld.
The oncoming of footsteps outside caused him no
qualms of doubt. This time he would be able to
report a clean sheet; and at the opening and closing
of the door behind him he wheeled round with the
dignity of a judge of the High Court of Chancery
"Well, Petrie?" he said blandly to the detective-
sergeant who stood with bared head in front of him.
"All right this time, eh? I thought my little dodge
would work — searching every vessel in the port, one
at a time. Speak up, man. There isn't anything to
report, is there ?"
" Yes, sir. There's another case got through some-
how," gave back Petrie with just the suspicion of a
change in his imperturbable countenance. "Mr.
Kesteven has just wired through to the Yard with
"Another case! Good heavens, man, it's impos-
sible ! Every boat and passenger has been searched
by my own men."
"Yes, sir," said Petrie patiently, "but it's true,
sir. Mr. Kesteven at the Customs says the source
of information is an umim— urn "
"Unimpeachable one," rapped out the Superin-
"Yes, sir. Hate them four barrelled words my-
self. That's the sixth case this week. Some one's
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 21<)
making a pretty good thing out of it. Saccharine's
fetching a fair price just now, but if this goes on "
"Goes on!" Mr. Narkom drummed his fists im-
patiently on the arms of his revolving chair. " Goes
on! If it does, I shall go mad. Man alive, you
don't know what this means. It means the total
ruin of industry, international espionage, and possibly
a war, if something isn't done. Meanwhile, of
course, it is all my fault. Gad ! I'd like to give 'em a
taste of it!"
Detective Petrie gave a little dry cough, glanced
nervously at the frowning face of his chief, then
finally, taking his courage in both hands, spoke
"There's only one man as can get to the bottom
of it, sir, and that's Mr. Cleek," said he nervously,
shifting from one foot to the other. " Tisn't many
queer things has happened but what he hasn't
"Oh, I know that," flung out Narkom, frowning
harder than ever. " You needn't remind me of what
he's done. But the devil of it is, he's not in town.
The constant strain of dodging that band of Apaches
who have sworn to be revenged on him for the old
Vanishing Cracksman days has finally told even on
Cleek, and I persuaded him to go away and rest and
let his enemies think him out of the country. Just
wait until we catch them at some of their desperate
games in England, then we shall rid Cleek of his
incubus forever. Meanwhile, there's the blessed
220 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
saccharine coming in as if it were wheat. I've half a
mind to run down and see Miss Lome, but Lord!
what'd be the use? No one will ever find Hamilton
Cleek, unless he's ready to come back."
At that particular moment the telephone bell
jangled harshly, and Mr. Narkom spun round like
a shot and seized hold of the receiver. The sound
of some one whistling the opening bars of " God Save
the King" came rippling to him over the wire.
"Gad! it's he himself. I — oh, my dear chap, I
never was so glad to hear you are back, in my life."
He lowered his voice, "For heaven's sake, don't
go away. Hold the line one minute." He turned
to the waiting sergeant. "Clear out, Petrie; send
"You there, Cleek? All right. Just sent for
Lennard. You can't think how glad I am to get
you back. What's that? Urgent? I should think
it is urgent. I say, can you contrive to meet me
somewhere this morning? What? Yes, I'm lis-
tening. . . . Oh, lord! the beggars still at it!
I thought our last trick had done 'em. All right; I
understand. It's a bit risky, but we'll do our best.
Villiers Street, in half an hour, eh? All right.
And that was how it came to pass that half an
hour later, Mr. Maverick Narkom, restored to his
old debonair self, sallied forth from Scotland Yard.
There, drawn up to the curb, the very latest thing
in limousines awaited him, and he dropped into it
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 221
with something akin to a smile lighting up his
round, podgy features.
A little crowd of boys had collected idly round the
entrance to the Yard, talking and laughing among
themselves, and in the midst of the crowd, ragged
and dirty, was a little Parisian gamin, his sallow face
alight with curiosity.
"Charing Cross Station, Lennard, as fast as you
can streak it. Must catch the eleven o'clock boat
train," shouted Mr. Narkom as he jumped into the
limousine and swung the door to behind him. "And
keep a sharp look-out for Mr. Cleek at Villiers
Street; he'll be disguised as an old road sweeper."
"Very well, sir," said Lennard. Then as he
noticed the time on his clock dial before him, he gave
a low whistle.
"Crikey! Only three minutes!" he said, as he
wrenched the car round and let her go full tilt.
Yet he was not so quick as the little French urchin,
who was scudding along the Embankment as if the
arms of the law were already after him.
Fate was evidently against Lennard that morning,
in the shape of another car, obviously of foreign
make and driven by a French chauffeur, who seemed
bent on getting in his way, and he wasted much good
English breath telling the driver what he thought of
his methods and manners.
It was just under the arch approaching Villiers
Street, however, that the accident happened. The
rival cars were very close to each other, and Len-
222 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
nard, glancing up at the little army of road sweepers
busily engaged in their labours, was just in time to
see one of their number put down his broom, run
out into the open roadway directly in front of the
fast-moving wheels, and then, even as he shut down
the brakes and tried to bring the machine to a stand-
still, the front wheel caught the figure of the running
man, whipped him quickly off his feet, and sent him
crashing down into the roadway.
He spoke as he fell, muttered something, gave a
little writhing twist of the body, and was still,
lying like a dead thing, even as Mr. Narkom, with a
hurried exclamation of dismay, jumped from the
limousine and went pelting toward him while a
policeman on point duty, receiving a sign from his
chief, hurried off and waved back the fast-approach-
But Lennard was already kneeling beside the still
figure, with well-marked horror in his face.
"He's dead, sir," 3aid he softly, rising to his feet.
"Dead as a door nail, poor devil!" Then, lifting
up his leathern driving apron, he threw it reverently
over the body and bared his head.
The crowd that had accumulated hissed at Mr.
Narkom as he turned on his heel and looked at them,
his face grim and set. Then a hurried colloquy with
the constable on duty brought reverent obedience.
Meanwhile, the other car had driven rapidly away,
pounding off in the opposite direction at a mad rate
that ate up the miles like a cat lapping cream, and at
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 228
the sight of which the Superintendent gave vent to a
little sigh of relief.
Leave it to me/' said he loudly to the constable.
IH take him to the hospital in the car. Poor fel-
low! So careless of Lennard, though it was hardly
his fault. No need for the ambulance." And, re-
fusing all assistance save Lennard's, he lifted the
body, with the apron still covering its face, and
deposited it gently in the limousine; then slowly the
car was turned round and went wending its way in the
direction of Westminster Hospital, to the accom-
paniment of the boos of a hostile crowd and the
rumble of the passing traffic.
Yet, when that selfsame crowd had been left far
behind and the blinds of the limousine drawn by Mr.
Narkom's hand, a strange thing happened. For the
"corpse" sat up suddenly, throwing off the leathern
apron, and looked at the Superintendent with a little
laugh of triumph.
"Well played!" said he in Cleek's voice, and with
Cleek's own little trick of speech. "Played indeed,
Mr. Narkom, and Lennard, too; though I had to
remind him with a wink to cover my face up. What's
that, dear friend?"
"A pretty close shave," struck in the Superin-
tendent grimly, with his hand on Cleek's arm. " Too
close to make me altogether comfortable. But it
ought to give those johnnies the * push ' for a while at
least. They drove off like mad things, taken com-
pletely in, by James! Directly I spotted that little
tut tie »"?»''»(
«q * "^ James''*
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 225
Kesteven, in command of the Custom House at
Southampton, is perfectly enraged over the whole
"H'm-m!" said Cleek, pinching up his chin.
**It isn't another case of a barking dog and the
burglar's friend, I suppose?"
"Not he," threw in the Superintendent, with a
shake of the head.
"The Lord helps those who help themselves, some-
times," put in Cleek gently. "Well, my friend, we
must wait and see. Meanwhile, as it sometimes
happens that the fool knows the least and sees the
most, we had better proceed to dig up that blithering
idiot * George Headland ' again, ' the smartest man in
the Force, by James ! ' and see what he can do in the
matter. Then, if we can't manage to put a stop to
this business and finish it once and for all, my name's
not Hamilton Cleek ! "
■*■ down to the t-usl
sent in his official curd
Headland waited in t
dently served as an ofl
Two minutes later i
a tall, elderly gentlema
belonged to a long-lot
Kesteven, the Head of
a fine, hale, gray-haired
fifty-five or sixty ; a mar
officer in his bearing.
Mr. Narkom coughec
toward Cleek, who stot
"This is Mr. George
a little at the Captain's
taken the place of C
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 227
self together with obvious effort, and waved his hand
in the direction of some chairs.
"How long has it been going on?" asked Cleek
quietly, tipping his head on one side and looking so
altogether stupid that Captain Kesteven eyed him in
"Nearly five weeks," he replied. "We have a
special number of Secret Service men making obser-
vations, and they reported the cases to me. I have
it down here in my official report book." He crossed
over to his desk, returning to the table with a large,
"Here you are. 'June 8th. Case of saccharine
got through free. Reported. Starchpelt.' Here
you are again. '15th, ditto, 19th, ditto, 24th,
Cleek put up a detaining hand.
"Stop. One minute," said he blandly. "There
couldn't be any mistake, I suppose? This Starch-
pelt, as you call him, is "
"One of the finest men in the service."
"Hum! Ah! quite so. And now, what about
the boats? What manner of craft are they, and
where do they come from?"
"Havre, mostly. You see, just now vast quanti-
ties of French dairy produce, fruits, and vegetables
are being landed, and we had every one searched.
Mr. Narkom's own men have been hard at it. Even
the crates of vegetables were overturned, and the
boats themselves searched from stem to stern. I tell
228 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
you, sir, if we don't get to the bottom of it, all thfi
French vessels will go to Portsmouth. They are
"At what?" struck in Cleek, with sudden up-
lifting of his eyebrows. "They don't like being
searched, do you mean?"
The Captain shook his great head.
"No, it's the delay. Everything depends on their
catching the boat trains to London, and all this
searching takes time."
"H'm-m! And what boats have you in harbour
"Practically none but our own, sailing out to-
morrow, the great liners, you know, and a few small
trading-boats from Havre and Brittany. They
bring most of the dairy produce, make weekly trips.
I don't see there's anything more to tell you."
"Nothing else to do but to look at the boats for
ourselves," said Mr. Narkom, looking over into
George Headland's dull countenance.
"The very thing I should suggest," said Captain
Kesteven eagerly, and jumping to his feet, he
grabbed for his official cap. From the Custom House
it took but a few minutes to reach the harbour, which
bore a curiously deserted look. Two or three great
liners lay in the docks, while at anchor rode a few
French boats, their decks still crowded with the
empty packing cases in which their cargoes had been
"Every ore of these was unloaded under police
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES ±29
supervision," said Captain Kesteven. "That one is
La Chirefloux" pointing to the nearest. "Skipper —
Marton; as honest as the day. La Rose . . ."
" Hello !" interrupted Cleek abruptly, as his eyes
swept over the various boats. "That's a peculiar-
looking object, that black one at the end."
Captain Kesteven's eyes lit up.
"Ah! so Jean Bertillot has come back! That
means my wife has returned from her holiday as well.
She said she would sail with Jean. A splendid
fellow. That's his boat, La Fleurette Noire, Mr.
Headland, sailed and owned by the finest man that
ever drew breath, and, by heaven! the most un-
Cleek switched round so suddenly as almost to
startle the grim-faced Captain, whose eyes had
grown strangely soft.
" Unhappy ?" he said. "Why should he be un-
happy? Or perhaps you don't know?"
"It happens that I do, for I, or rather, my wife,
was the means of making him happy for a few
He drew out his cigarette case and offered it to
Cleek and Mr. Narkom, and lighted one himself.
"It was this way," he continued, blowing out the
match and tossing it into the swirl of green waters
below them. " He lost his young wife on their wed-
ding trip, five years ago. He is a sort of protigS of
mine, and I have known him since he was a lad, when
he came to and fro on his father's boat before him.
2S0 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
My wife, some years ago, had a desire to have a maid
from Brittany, and Jean Bertillot said he would
procure her one from his native village some twenty
miles from Havre. He brought us Rose Marie, a girl
as good as gold, industrious and honest to a fault,
and we were delighted with her. Well, we did not
have her long. Bertillot discovered that she was
more necessary to him than to us, and married her
forthwith, and we attended the wedding in Brit-
tany. You may imagine our dismay when La
Fleurette Rouge, as the craft was then called, returned
"Hello!" said Cleek, with a twitch of the eye-
brows. "So he changed the name of his boat,
" Yes," said the Captain. " I think he worshipped
Rose, abd after her death (it seems she contracted
ptomaine poisoning on board, died, and was buried
at sea) he became like a different man. He is morose
and embittered, but faithful. My word, I'd trust
my life to Jean Bertillot. Well, when he got to har-
bour he spent all his profits on painting his boat
black, everything is black, inside and out: cabins,
decks, sails, as you can see for yourself, a regular
raven amongst doves. And he re-christened her
La Fleurette Noire. Very few men, in fact, will work
on her; they say it's so damnably gloomy. Well,
it's his own boat, and he does what he likes. Ever
since that day, however, he has plied to and fro,
with his butter and eggs; he doesn't seem to care
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 231
whether he sells them or not. He's just broken-
"What I call a bully boy/ 9 said Cleek, nodding his
head approvingly. " Isn't every man mourns for his
bride for five years, or gives up money-making, either,
especially a Brittany man. Women are their natural
servants there. Ah! well."
"Jean is certainly a splendid fellow," said the
Captain warmly, "and has worked like a Trojan with
me to see that no suspicious characters or cargoes
have been landed."
"I'd like to have a chat with him," said Cleek,
shading his eyes from the sun and peering intently
over the blue, sunlit harbour, where the sea lay like a
shimmering, jewel-set cloak of green velvet.
"So you shall, Mr. Headland," said the Captain,
nodding, with perhaps just a little tinge of irony in
his voice. "Perhaps he'll be able to give you some
"Perhaps he will," answered Cleek enigmatically.
He followed the Captain down to the little quay
where La Fleurette Noire had anchored, her black
decks and rigging looking even more depressing when
at close quarters than at a distance.
A little crowd of gesticulating, chattering Breton
sailors were on the deck, amidst them just a patch of
white: a woman's dress, and at the sight of its wearer
Cleek gave a cry of ecstatic delight and rushed off at
headlong speed, leaving Mr. Narkom to explain to a
justly-aggrieved Customs officer that this was one of
232 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
the latest methods in detecting on the part of his
"smartest officer, by James!"
But Cleek cared nothing for Customs or smugglers
just then, for here, within a hundred yards, was Ailsa
Lome, who had vanished from the riverside cottage,
leaving but a brief note "to allay anxiety."
But now the waves took on a brighter blue, the
sun shone more royally, but not more so than Cleek's
face, as he helped her along the coal-black gangway.
"A stroke of sheer luck, this, or am I dreaming?"
he said softly, with a little laugh of pure rapture.
"Ailsa, is it you, my dear, my dear?"
" It is indeed," she made answer with a quick smile.
"But surely you got my letter? It should have ar-
"For which Mr. Narkom is to be blamed," said
Cleek, with an inward frown for that gentleman.
She gave vent to a happy little laugh.
"Never mind!" said she softly, looking up into
his face with shining eyes. "I am rather glad you
didn't. Somehow, the crossing on that boat has
got on my nerves. My old Breton nurse, Jeannette,
wrote to me that she was very ill, so I could not help
but go to her; and, not wanting to wait for the other
boat, I came back on this one, with Mrs. Kesteven.
But," with this she gave a little shiver, "it's full of
Cleek's face twitched with sudden interest.
"Mystery? What do you mean by that, I won-
CLEEIFS GOVERNMENT CASES 233
They had crossed to the end of the quay, and Ailsa
gave a little nervous look over her shoulder before she
answered him. Then, seeing that they were out of all
"It is only just a fancy, I expect, on my part.
The blackness of everything got on my nerves — but
I fancied I heard all kinds of queer sounds during the
night. I slept on board last evening, so as to be sure
and get the boat train; but it was so hot and stuffy
in the cabin that I threw a cloak around me and went
out on deck. It was then I saw " She broke
"Saw what?" said Cleek, with a quick in taking of
She gave another nervous little giggle.
"It sounds so silly," she said apologetically, "but
I saw a match strike itself on a box. I know you'll
think I'm mad, but I saw the yellow matchbox and
the white match. I even heard the scratching sound
it makes when it ignites, yet there was no one there !
I don't think I was ever so frightened in my life."
"But where did you see the matchbox?" asked
Geek, quietly watching her face with keen, search-
"Just inside the cabin, next to mine. Rose
Marie's cabin, they call it, and the crew swear that
it is haunted. Hush!" She stopped short as the
Superintendent, together with Captain Kesteven and
a tall, pale-l<5oking woman with faded hair ap-
proached, and lifted a warning finger. "Don't say
234 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
a word. They are both so fond of Jean Bertillot.
I've known Captain Kesteven for years, you know,
and I wouldn't hurt their feelings for worlds, just
for my own foolish imaginings."
Cleek nodded silently and, joining the others, the
whole party drove to the Captain's house for tea and
a rest after their journey. There was time enough to
see over the boats to-morrow morning; to-night he
insisted that they must rest.
"Jean doesn't unload till the morning," said Mrs.
Kesteven, as they drove away. "He told me he was
in no hurry; so you can look over his cargo in the
morning if you like."
"I've put a man on guard," said the Captain.
"No one will be allowed to set foot in the town or
leave it till I'm on duty to-morrow. Here's the
house, gentlemen. I expect you'll be glad enough
for a rest and a wash. Motoring isn't as conducive
to cleanliness as some people think."
When, half an hour later, Cleek and Mr. Narkom
went upstairs to their bedroom and shut the door,
Cleek's face was as keen as a terrier's, and his eyes
fairly snapped witH excited interest.
44 Going to be a corker this time, and no mistake,"
said Mr. Narkom dejectedly. "I stopped to speak
to that chap Bertillot, while you were with Miss
Lome, and it's just as they say, he's a fine fellow — a
— a " His voice trailed off into silence as he
noted the curious look on Cleek's face.
"Cleek, old chap!" he cried, and the hard ham-
CLEEICS GOVERNMENT CASES 235
mering of his heart made his voice quaver* " Good
lord! man, don't say you've got a clue already, out
of nothing! Tell me — who — what 9r
Cleek turned on Narkom, who was hopping round
the room in a veritable fever of impatience*
"It's only just a faint idea, old chap. It may not
lead anywhere. So let me alone, like a good fellow.
Go downstairs, like a friend, and entertain these
people for me. Do anything, say anything, but just
let me alone."
And Mr. Narkom, suppressing his curiosity with
a slightly disappointed air, promptly went out of the
room, and left Cleek to his own resources.
IT WAS barely six o'clock, on the following
morning, when Cleek and Mr. Narkom found
themselves once more on the quay, looking out
for Captain Kesteven.
"Early birds," said that gentleman as soon as he
caught sight of them. "Going to take a hand at
helping Jean unload, eh?"
"Yes, that's it," said Cleek serenely. "I'd like to
have a look at his boat."
"Preposterous nonsense ! " The Captain shrugged
his shoulders scornfully. "You're barking up the
wrong tree, I can tell you. Still, come along. Boat
ahoy!" he shouted; and in a minute or so a sleepy
figure came tumbling up on deck. "Jean, mon
gars, we're coming on board."
"Mais ouiy monsieur. But one moment, if you
please," came back in the hoarse, broken tone of the
Breton peasant. Then the black-painted gangway
came crashing down and the three men crossed over
on to La Fleurette Noire. Even as Cleek set foot on
the pitch-black deck, he shivered in the morning
sun as if the shadow of impending disaster hung over
everything; and in that minute he came face to face
with Jean Bertillot.
CLEEITS GOVERNMENT CASES 237
The man was tall and dark, with heavy-lidded eyes
and soot-black hair. There was an olive hue to his
skin, but his fine eyes were gray and wrinkled at the
corners, and his mouth had a pathetic droop. He
stared at the newcomers with simple unconsciousness.
" A couple of officers from London, Jean, who have
come to look into the matter of the smuggling/' was
the way the Captain introduced the subject. "Just
a matter of form. You don't mind them looking over
La Fleurette, do you?"
"Mais non 9 m'sieu 9 , of a certainty not," said Jean
smoothly, with a wonderful courtesy. "It is of a
business but all mysterious."
He led the way over the boat without further ado.
" That's so," agreed George Headland, his heavy
face appearing even more stupid than before.
" A fine boat this, skipper." They had reached
what was evidently Bertillot's own cabin. "And
I don't mind telling you, now I've seen it, that all
my ideas have gone to smash, so to speak. I'd a
notion there might be a place in here where one of the
men might have pushed in a box, don't you know."
"Well, of all the blithering nonsense!" broke out
Captain Kesteven impulsively, while Bertillot looked
from one to the other, as if only half comprehending
the drift of "Mr. Headland's" remarks.
"A box in 'ere!" he echoed. "But non y m'sieu,
zere is no box. Zis is my cabin, my own, no one sets
ze foot in 'ere but myself."
"Quite right, skipper. I see now I am wrong.
238 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
No room to hide a cat in here/' Geek swung
round slowly on his heel, then as his hat slipped from
his fingers to the floor, stooped slowly to pick it
"Bit of a facer for me, eh, what?" he said de-
jectedly. Then, as he caught sight of an oil stove
standing on an empty packing case, he smacked his
lips. "Have a morning cup of tea and an egg, eh?
'Pon me soul, I could do with a cup myself."
Jean Bertillot looked him up and down in wither-
ing contempt. "M'sieu* is pleased to joke. I not
'ave time for morning tea."
"Like a little something stronger, eh?" Geek
chuckled inanely; then lurched over, accidentally
striking a case of eggs packed by the egg factor at
Jean Bertillot uttered a hurried exclamation, and
Geek blundered away again, apologizing profusely.
"I'm like a bull in a china shop," he muttered
under his breath, as he mopped his forehead with
his handkerchief. Then, suddenly, he went off on
another tack. " Tell you what, it's so precious dark
in here, and stuffy; let's have that port hole opened."
He lurched over, this time catching his foot in the
black-dyed matting which covered the floor and,
in the circumstances, it was only natural that he
should lose his balance. With a hasty exclamation
of dismay, he clutched hold of the nearest crate of
eggs, righting himself from what would have been a
foolish and hasty fall, and sent the crate clattering
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 239
to the floor with a heavy crash that made everything
in the cabin clatter and jangle together.
Bertillot's face grew red with anger as the lid
burst open, and the top layer of eggs tumbled out
pell mell over the floor. Considering the force of the
fall, it was surprising that more eggs had not broken,
and Cleek, fairly covered with confusion at the blun-
der he had made, tried to make restitution by saving
as many as possible, to a running accompaniment of
oaths and maledictions from Bertillot, who, when
there were only the broken yolks to be seen, darted
from the cabin, returning in a second with a cloth of a
brilliant yellow colour, with which he wiped up the
stains. Still apologetic, Cleek raised himself up.
" I think, m'sieur, a cigarette would not be un-
acceptable." He stopped short, as a faint clicking
sound came through the closed door; but only for a
second; then he fumbled clumsily in his pocket,
pulling out his cigarette case and holding it toward
The Breton scowled, but his love of good tobacco
triumphed, and he put out a brawny hand. Like a
flash Cleek's hand closed upon it, and Narkom leaped
forward. Came a struggle, short, sharp, infinitely
fierce and then: the snapping of steel against steel,
the harsh music of the handcuffs, and Bertillot stood
a prisoner, while Captain Kesteven, too dazed by
the sudden turn of events, gazed helplessly at the
three of them.
"Good heavens!" he cried out at last. "Are you
240 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
mad? Mr. Narkom, I appeal to you! This is
rankest idiocy! What has Jean done?"
Cleek whipped round upon him, breathing hard,
something bright, triumphant, gleaming in his eyes.
"He has smuggled his last tube of saccharine into
the country, my friend, that's what he's done!" he
said, with a little theatrical gesture that sat oddly
upon the personality of George Headland.
"Impossible!" Captain Kesteven's face still
showed utter disdain of the matter. "How has he
done it, man? How could he?"
"By a very simple but effective plan. I rather
think you will find the tubes in those hard-boiled
eggs over there, and I shouldn't be surprised if
the pats of butter had not got their little loads
He stepped over to the big crate and lifted an egg
from it, tapping the shell upon the window sill,
while Bertillot, a writhing, cursing furious thing,
watched him with absolute hatred in his eyes. The
shell broke, and he severed the egg with his fingers.
In the centre of the crumbling yellow yolk lay a
tiny glass tube, an inch or so long, filled with what
appeared to be white powder.
For a moment there was a silence — tense, terrible,
fraught with the bitter disappointment of a broken
faith, the bitter triumph of a task fulfilled.
"Bertillot, Jean, Jean! And I would have trusted
you with my life!" broke forth the Captain in a dull,
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 241
lurt voice, as the man stood looking sullenly at
But Cleek laid a gentle hand upon the Captain's
" You wouldn't if you knew he was cousin to Gaston
Merode, the worst Apache in Paris," said he quietly.
"I've a good memory for faces, mon ami, and I
haven't lived in the * Twisted Arm' days for nothing.
Margot's slave! Margot's pet! Margot's pretty
tool for the execution of her vile work! A dollar to a
ducat she's at the bottom of this!"
The man made no response; merely stood there in
a sullen silence; and Cleek switched round upon his
heel and laid a hand upon the Superintendent's arm.
"How did I guess?" he said, in answer to Mr.
Narkom's excited query. "First, I wasn't so im-
pressed with that mourning idea as the rest of you,
and when a match was struck on a box by invisible
hands, I felt sure that some trickery was being done.
And that's the explanation of the Vanishing Lady's
trick, as our friend Mr. Devant makes it. A clever
trick, too, by Jupiter. Clever as sin. Simply black
against black. Put a man in a black suit, mask, and
gloves, in the centre of equally black surroundings,
and I'll swear you won't any of you see him. Bertil-
lot could pass from one cabin to the other unnoticed.
I confess I was a bit puzzled about this method of
smuggling in the stuff, until I saw that egg-timer
He pointed to the somewhat old-fashioned con-
842 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
trivance standing on a little shelf just above the
oil stove, and Narkom sighed in a sort of dumb ad-
"That settled it. Then, again, a fall like that
which the crate received ought to have smashed every
egg in the place, and when I picked them up and
helped the good work a little bit further with my
fingers, I knew I was right. I had suspected some-
thing when I picked up the chip of eggshell just by
the table, and the yellow cloth settled the matter.
Why the yellow cloth, my friend? Because it would
show no yellow stains, after wiping away the yolk,
when the tubes were pressed into the egg. A clever
trick, Monsieur Jean Bertillot, a very clever trick,
The sentence was never finished. For just then a
strange thing happened. From between Bertillot 's
lips a chuckle proceeded, fiendish, malicious, full of
devilry, and La Fleurette Noire, which was anchored
in harbour lifted suddenly, dropped, swung round a
little and began slowly to move!
Some one had cut the cable; some one who was in
this devil's pay had released the ship from its
moorings and set it free.
"My God!" broke out Captain Kesteven fur-
iously. But Cleek's extended hand silenced him.
There was the soft splashing of oars outside, telling
of an approaching boat; some enemy's trick, no
doubt. The three of them made a wild plunge for
the door, but it was locked and locked from the
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 248
outside. As Bertillot was their prisoner, so were
Mr. Narkom looked at Cleek, Cleek looked at Mr.
Narkom: their silent lips framed the one word
" Apaches !" Their faces grew a shade paler.
Then Cleek drew himself up. The character of
George Headland fell from him like a mask. There
was something almost regal in his bearing, something
that brought the wonder-light into Captain Keste-
ven's astonished eyes.
"Who are you?" he said briefly.
The answer came just as brief.
"Cleek, just Cleek of Scotland Yard. And so
this, after all, is the end — the end ! "
Bertillot chuckled again. He lifted his head and
chimed out the old Apache cry, "Hola, ho la! la!
la! loi!" that went ringing upward into the outer
spaces beyond. An answering call came to him.
"Aha! we change places but ver* soon, M'sieu*
Cleek," he said shrilly, in an utter abandonment of
triumph. "Ze Vanishing Cracksman who deserted
us like a rat! Ze man of Forty Faces. Bah!" He
spat furiously upon the ground in front of him.
"Not all your tricks nor all your faces can save you
now. It is your last trick that fca* been played,
not mine! not mine!"
Cleek lifted up his head and shut his ists.
"That remains to be seen, mon ami," he gave back
serenely, giving his mouth a curious little twist.
"So some one is to let us out of this, is he? Well,
244 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
we shall see, we shall see. Steady yourself, Mr.
Narkom; there's likely to be some little rush for our
company shortly, and we must stand prepared."
And rush there was. For at that identical mo-
ment a key grated in the rusty lock of the doorway;
there came the sound of the door crashing back
against the woodwork, a scream of triumph, the harsh
sound of many voices, and Margot, followed by a
string of chattering, gesticulating Apaches, plunged
into the room. She faced Cleek with flashing eyes
and upthrown head, all the hatred of a thousand
years crammed into her insolent face.
"So, M'sieur Cleek," said she, sweeping him a
deep courtesy, "so, m'sieur, we come face to face at
last! My revenge, eh? Not yours, but mine, mine!
Nom de Dieu ! but I shall enjoy it. If I could kill
you but fifty times instead of a paltry once, for every
insult, every sneer! So many times have you es-
caped us, but now — now!"
She lifted her hand and struck him across the
face, fairly screaming in her triumph, like some witch
at the fulfillment of her charm. But Cleek never
moved, merely stood there, staring back into her eyes
with a charming courtesy.
Finally she moved away.
"Unloosen Bertillot," she commanded, and the
man stood free instantly. Then she began speaking
with him in low, hurried tones; finally issuing instruc-
tions to the men who swarmed about her. The
tubes were taken from the eggs and passed over to
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 245
Bertillot again, and she watched the proceedings
with snapping eyes, clapping her hands now and
" Hurry, mes amis, hurry ! We must not be caught
like rats in a trap. Oh, mon Dieu ! but it was a grand
idea — a grand idea!" She turned her black eyes
toward Cleek. "Rats in a trap; but that is splendid
— magnifiquel Quick! Bind them to the chairs,
and scuttle the ship. La Fleurette will be sunk before
help can come, and we can watch from a safe dis-
tance ! Jean Bertillot, fitting your boat with wireless
was a masterstroke. Name of a devil! But of a
verity I cannot yet believe it. The great Cleek,
the Cracksman, caught, caught! And the fat Eng-
lish pig, too!"
She laughed uproariously, clapping her hands and
fairly dancing in her utter delight.
The three men made no struggle when the bonds
were thrown about them and they were tied to the
furniture, like animals for slaughter; the odds were
too heavy. Only a dull resistance glowed in their
"Shall we gag them, Margot, ma reine ?" put in
Bertillot, as the last knot was tied, the last rope
bound, and the Apaches stood back delightedly to
survey their handiwork.
"But no, of a certainty. Let them squeal like
the rats they are. Rats in a trap! Come, mes
enfants. Come away from the ship, home again to
Paris, and to the end of the Cracksman at last!"
246 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
She turned at that and faced Cleek smilingly.
Then, with another courtesy, faced about, and with
head uplifted went from the room with the crowd
of chattering, shrieking things that had once been
this man's comrades.
He smiled a little and twisted his head over in the
direction of Mr. Narkom, whose fat body had found
but poor comfort in the flat top of a table. The
Superintendent's eyes met his. A sudden lurch of
the ship, a sudden rushing noise as the sound of
incoming water, made his face gray. La Fleurette
Noire had indeed been scuttled, as Margot had said,
and there was nothing for it but to wait — and pray.
"Cleek — my pal — my friend," he said shortly,
between sobbing breaths, "it is I who have brought
you to this. My God ! if I could only have given my
life for yours! Just for the chance, Lord, just for
A mist swam up before Cleek's eyes, miAing the
cabin swim. His voice, when he spoke, was as soft
as a woman s.
I know, I know, old chap/' he gave back simply,
smiling his whimsical smile. "But, as the fatalists
say, 'What will be, will be,' and who are we to
attempt to alter it? Anyway" — he smiled again —
"it was in the Yard's call, Mr. Narkom, and in the
Yard's service. We shall have — passed — in harness.
fHis face was calm with the perfect tranquillity
of a battle won. But in his heart the picture of
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 247
with her dear hands outstretched and her
dear eyes misted over with unshed tears, brought
torture. He shut his eyes against it and breathed
And all the time the rushing water brought melan-
choly music to their ears, and the long day wove itself
into the woof of the afternoon, and the sun smiled
on them through the cabin window with a sort of
Captain Kesteven talked constantly, telling anec-
dotes of his career with a pretty wit, while all the
time one eye was fastened upon the porthole, and one
ear listened for the nearer approach of those swirling,
Finally a silence dropped. Each man was thinking
his own thoughts, thoughts that he would have died
sooner than have repeated ; and the slow swish-swish
of the water was the only sound that broke the silence.
"Only a matter of — er — half an hour or so now, I
should say, gentlemen," said the Captain somewhat
unevenly, with his eyes glued upon the window.
Suddenly Cleek twitched up his head. His ears
had caught the sound of something in the distance
that sounded like the whisper of oars in the water.
Mr. Narkom looked round quickly; his position
was hardly one conducive to much movement, but he
managed to raise his head a little.
A boat," he said shortly.
A boat!" echoed the Captain in a hoarse voice.
248 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
Cleek looked at them.
"They're coming back, in [all probability,
hasten their handiwork. Hard luck to go like this,
isn't it? Listen!"
There was the tramp of many feet upon the deck;
the injured ship keeled over at the extra weight that
was put upon her side, and a great cry went up
echoing from one end of her to the other, calling
forth other echoes; and at the sound of it, the three
men looked at one another, and gave vent to three
little choking, gurgling, half -hysterical laughs.
"English, by James!" shouted Mr. Narkom,
hoarsely, kicking his feet in his abandonment of
relief, so that the table he was strapped to tilted
dangerously. And :
"English!" echoed Captain Kesteven, with a little
gurgle of thankfulness. But Cleek said nothing;
merely lay with his hands bound behind him to the
chairback, and his thankful eyes looking out over
the great distance, with Ailsa in his heart and a silent
"thank you" upon his lips.
And at that moment the cabin door came open
with such force that it sent the handle grinding
against the woodwork; came a stream of blue-coated,
eager-faced sailors, with grim mouths and ready
fingers, and before you could say "Jack Robinson"
the three men found themselves free of their bonds
and were led out on deck by the shouting crowd, to
where, in the water below, a veritable colony of boats
awaited them. La Fleurette Noire pitched danger-
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 249
ously, rolled, pitched again, and as the last man left
her decks, plunged her black prow into the rolling,
swirling, hungry waters, and took her black paint
into the greater blackness below.
Mr. Narkom looked at Cleek, but Cleek was not
noticing him. His eyes were set upon a slim, white-
clad figure upon the quayside who was waving fran-
It was Ailsa — even at this distance he could tell —
Ailsa! So the good God had been merciful and
spared them to each other. Then, being thus un-
noticed, the Superintendent loudly blew his nose.
"That's the young lady, sir, that warned us. She
saw those French beggars climbing on board, and
guessed something was wrong/' said one man re-
spectfully, as he followed Cleek's eyes to the harbour.
"They'd escaped, though, by the time we got the
boat out. There must have been more of the French
fishing smacks that came in the night."
Cleek smiled whimsically. So it was Ailsa who had
saved them! He owed his life to her now; he had
owed even more to her before. Ah! well, the debt
was getting heavier than ever. As they landed he
made his way straight to her and took her hand in
"We might have solved the greatest riddle of all,
Ailsa, but for you," said he simply, looking down into
the flower of her upturned face.
But she could make no answer, and for a brief
moment a great silence held.
250 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
Life was before them yet — and who can tell?
The journey back to London was a particularly
quiet one. The occurrence on board the boat, La
Fleurette Noire, had shaken even Cleek's iron nerve,
and Mr. Narkom himself was in a state bordering on
collapse. Reaction from the acute danger to the
peace of safety as they forged through the quiet
country was almost overwhelming, and it was Ailsa
who noticed the presence of their mutual enemy,
Count Irma, as they steamed into Waterloo Station.
She touched Geek upon the arm, nodding quietly
in his direction.
A queer smile looped up Cleek's mouth for a
"We are not fortunate, Ailsa mine, you should not
have come back," he said softly. "I wonder if he
is on the lookout for us, or if it is only chance."
Mr. Narkom gave a hasty sigh.
"It's my fault, Cleek," he blurted out ruefully.
"I wired Lennard to meet us with the limousine,
And in some mysterious manner he must have learned
Oho ! " said Cleek with a strong rising inflection.
Well, it won't be the first time I have outflanked
the enemy. Keep quiet, Mr. Narkom, and let
every one get out. This train will probably be sided
in one minute. There go the lights. Just as I
thought." As the words left his lips, the winking
electric in the carriage went out; the passengers
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 251
were on the platform, making their way to the exit,
or struggling with their luggage. No one gave a
glance at the dark first-class compartment in which
three silent figures sat like things of stone.
From a distance they watched Count Irma as he
walked to and fro, evidently on the lookout for them.
For some ten minutes he waited, until the empty
train commenced slowly to puff its way into a siding;
then, coming rapidly to the conclusion that he had
been fooled, he turned upon his heel and swung
swiftly out of the station.
It was fully a quarter of an hour later when the
three descended from the carriage, and after a brief
explanation to the guard accompanied by a magnani-
mous tip, they escaped into the crowded safety of the
Ailsa was soon borne westward to a new boarding
house, where she passed as a lady traveller — a line
which accounted satisfactorily for her sudden jour-
neyings and odd times of going in or out.
Not even Count Irma himself could have recog-
nized her as she passed out of the station doorway.
Her fair hair was drawn back from her forehead in a
tight knob, a mackintosh concealed her costume
successfully, as well as adding bulk to her slim figure,
and she wore Cleek's felt "Homburg" tugged down
over her eyes. Even that gentleman himself could
not refrain from laughing at sight of her.
"There'll be no home coming for me to-night,
Mr. Narkom," said he with a rueful smile. "Nip
252 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
round the station and see if Lennard has gone, for
I'll have to borrow the use of your locker."
Mr. Narkom did "nip" round, and to such good
purpose as to find the limousine with Lennard just
crawling into the Waterloo Road. Five minutes
later found Cleek safe in its depths.
"Down with the blinds, Mr. Narkom, and let's
see what you can do for me. I'll go to the Regent
for a week or so, and I look to you to keep young
Dollops away, or else he'll be giving the show away.
Ah, here's the very thing." He drew forth a military
undress uniform, and in a very short space of time
so completely transformed himself that even Mr.
Narkom, well accustomed as he was to the powers of
his famous ally, leaned back and gasped, " Cinnamon,
Cleek, but it's a marvel, that's what it is!" he ejacu-
lated. "I can't believe you're the same man that
got in here just now."
"I'm not, my friend. That's where the point
comes in. The art of acting lies in being who and
what you actually represent. And now, I think, we
part. Let me have a week's rest, old friend, if you
can, but if the Yard needs me, very well. Now, as
always, I am at the Yard's service — and yours."
His hand shot out, clasped that of Mr. Narkom
with a grip that spoke volumes, and before the
Superintendent could make so much as a sound,
the door flashed open and flashed shut again, and
Lennard whizzed away to the Embankment at a
I^HANK heaven ! " ejaculated Superintendent
Narkom, as he rushed up the steps of a cer-
\ tain house in a quiet street in London, and
had his knock rewarded by the appearance of none
other than the ubiquitous Dollops himself , who re-
plied to his question that Cleek was at home. With-
out vouchsafing another word to the surprised cock-
ney valet, he swept past the lad and was up the
staircase and outside the study door before that
faithful henchman could — to use his own words —
say "Jack Robinson."
It was not often that Mr. Narkom ventured to
approach the house thus openly and without adopt-
ing a disguise, and having knocked, he looked in
rather apprehensively. But his face lost some of
its anxiety, and he gave a sigh of ineffable relief,
as he saw Cleek, his shirt sleeves rolled up, a big
bowl of fibre and sand on one side of the table, and
on the other a collection of bowls and glasses, while
in the middle reposed a heap of somewhat grimy red
and purple objects, the size of billiard balls, at the
sight of which Mr. Narkom smiled ruefully, for in
these he recognized his worst enemies*
Cleek glanced up from his labour of pressing down
254 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT. CASES
the fibre in one of the bowls, as the door opened to
admit the Superintendent, and said cheerfully:
"Well, for once you have caught me idling, Mr.
Narkom. I never even heard the sound of the
limousine. Sit down. You look positively worried,
"I am," admitted Narkom with a sigh. "I've
been on pins and needles during this last hour, lest
I might find you out of town, and I didn't dare stop
to ring you or Dollops up on the 'phone, so "
"Which means that you have not come straight
from the Yard, eh?" struck in Cleek serenely. "A
case, of course ; that goes without saying. But where,
when, and how?"
"You remember that beautiful girl I pointed out
to you last week? I told you she had come up to
London to buy her trousseau "
"Miss Cecile Jerningham, only daughter of Colonel
Jerningham, the great aviation expert? Why, of
course I do. One of the most beautiful debutantes of
last season, and the living image, in a feminine way, of
"Well, poor girl, she's dead," said Narkom grimly.
The hyacinth bulb slipped from Cleek's nerveless
fingers, and rolled unheeded to the ground.
"Dead!" he echoed. "Cecile Jerningham! Hav-
ens! Why? How? When?"
"Last night," said Mr. Narkom tersely. "^Vfcy*
heaven alone knows, for she was absolutely in *he
best of health and spirits and looking forward to her
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 265
marriage with a rich man. Still, young Tren-
"Trenton— Trenton! Who is he?" struck in
Cleek sharply. "Wait one moment; is he any rela-
tion to Gerald Trenton, the brilliant young aviator,
one of the first to win the King's prize for height
"The identical person, and was as good as engaged
to Miss Cecile, until Mr. Wilfred Harbridge, a rich
Australian squatter, appeared on the scene and suc-
ceeded in capturing the heart of Miss Cecile; they
were to have been married next week, as soon as the
Colonel returned "
"Returned?" echoed Cleek quickly. "I did not
know Colonel Jerningham was out of England."
"Nor is he," replied the Superintendent. "But
he was to have left for Paris to-day, with the plans
of the new army aeroplane. Unfortunately, now
that is impossible."
" Impossible? What do you mean? "
"Why, because those plans are missing, though
there is no sign of any burglary or attempt made on
Cleek twitched up an inquiring eyebrow.
Oho!" said he, with a strong rising inflection.
That accounts for the milk in the cocoanut, as they
say. We might have known there was something
else in the case."
" That, my dear chap, is where you are quite wrong.
The one thing has nothing to do with the other. Miss
mat puts him ou
"No. I don't attJ
loss at present; certai
death that puzzles m
the last person to see
my dear fellow, then
storm between them,
the young man's voice
servant was passing th
after Trenton flung him
his countenance criinso
" 'Cecile,* he said, 'I
a thing possible from y<
speech that, in face of su
the servant girl is to be b
CLEEKS GOVERNMENT CASES ^7
way Harbridge is carrying on," said the Superinten-
dent sadly. "But as to the lady, I cannot quite say.
You see, Colonel Jerningham is not a rich man,
though of the very highest integrity and honour;
while Harbridge "
" Is a millionaire? Any other member of the family
"Yes, her mother. But there's nothing coherent
to be got from that poor lady," replied Mr. Narkom,
shaking his head. "The shock has quite turned her
brain. As a proof, you will readily believe me when
I tell you that she declares that the murdered girl is not
Cecile Jerningham, at all, but a straiiger. So "
Cleek swung round upon him like a flash.
What's that? What's that?" he rapped out.
Not her own daughter! Do you mean to tell me
there is any doubt of the dead girl's identity ? That's
something new in the chain."
"Not the slightest, Cleek. Haven't I told you,
the shock has turned Mrs. Jerningham's brain.
You can quite understand it. The girl says she has a
headache — bids them all good-night about nine
o'clock, but is heard talking to Gerald Trenton in the
boudoir on the first floor ten minutes later. After
which, no one sees her alive again. She is found dead,
apparently from heart failure, for there is absolutely
no blemish or mark on the body, in her bed, some
six or eight hours later. (The room is next to her
"Just as luck would have it, I happened to be in
258 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
the local police station at Croydon, on my way from
Brighton, where Mrs. Narkom and the youngsters are
staying. I had had a temporary break-down, but of
course I went up to Ariel House (Colonel Jerning-
h a m's place, you know), and took the case in hand
" Quite right," said Cleek absently, as the Super-
intendent stopped to take breath. " Had the Colonel
discovered the loss of his plans at that time?"
"No. He never gave a thought to them, natur-
ally. It was not till Mr. Gerald Trenton put in an
appearance, which he did, at nine o'clock in the
" I was on the point of leaving, and met him coming
up the drive, and when I told him about the murder,
he stared at me in a frightened sort of way, and
murmured incoherently about his darling being dead,
and something about some things being worse than
death. His first question was as to whether any-
thing had been missed. Well, I was so struck with
his callousness that I turned back with him and was
present when he rushed in to the Colonel and asked
him whether everything was in the safe."
"H'm! Strange that he should ask. But what
"Well, naturally, Colonel Jerningham stared in
surprise, but just to satisfy him, he examined the
safe, as it stood there in the library. The plana were
gone. There was a scene then, I can assure you,
Cleek, for 'pon my soul, I think he was more upset
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 259
about their loss that at the sight of that poor dead
girl upstairs, though it sounds a cruel thing to say."
Cleek twitched up one corner of his mouth.
And was nothing else missing?"
No; at least, nothing of importance. The Colonel
wouldn't say what other paper was gone. Just a
private paper, he said."
"Does Mr. Harbridge know of the murder or
"Oh, he knows. I had the task of telling him
over the 'phone. And when he did come, he had a
big bag, packed so that he could stay; and, Cleek,
never do I want to listen to such grief as his again.
It makes my blood turn cold. And he swears that
Trenton is at the bottom of it; he swears, too, that
he saw him lurking about in the grounds the last
thing at night.' 9
"What does young Trenton say to that? Has he
any explanation?' 9 asked Cleek sharply.
Oh, yes, he has explanations," replied Narkom.
He says that he was so upset by his interview with
the poor girl (though what it was they did quarrel
about he refuses to tell) that he marched straight
out of the house, and spent the rest of the night
tramping about the country."
"H'm! And do you believe him?"
"Well, that would be difficult to say. Of course,
he wouldn't admit the thing, even if he were guilty.
Anyhow, it's unfortunate he can't establish an alibi,
because he does admit that he didn't go to bed all
260 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
night, and that no one heard him return to his
father's house, some two or three miles away."
"Looks fishy enough, I grant you," said Cleek,
pulling down his cuffs and flicking the dust from his
coat sleeve. #t I'll be able to tell you more, perhaps,
when I've seen the young man for myself. As it is,
I suppose you didn't mention my name?"
"Well, no,'' said the Superintendent hesitatingly.
" I said I would try to get one of our smartest men —
Inspector Boyce "
"Boyce, eh? Well, let it stand; only give him ten
minutes in which to wash off the arduous stains of
toil, and he'll be with you, dear chap, in the winking
of an eye."
4ND he was with him in " the winking of an
L\ eye/* and down the steps and into the limou-
JL jL sine with Mr. Narkom panting behind, in the
space of another.
A swift run of half an hour brought them at last to
Colonel Jerningham's residence, an imposing build-
ing standing in extensive and well-ordered grounds;
and here, in the great library which opened on to a
wide marble terrace, the master of the house awaited
Mr. Narkom's assertion that Colonel Jerningham
was himself "nearly mad" had prepared Cleek
to find an over-wrought, half-distracted man. He
found, instead, a pale-faced soldier, calm, yet alert,
a man whose eyes showed traces of the storm and
stress raging within his breast, yet at the same time
ready and willing to give the officers of the law every
assistance within his power.
"I suppose, Colonel," said Cleek in a casual, off-
hand sort of way, when he had learned that the plans
were still missing, "you have no reason to believe
that Mr. Gerald Trenton inadvertently let fall any
information as to their being in your possession?
It is just possible that he may have told some one*
and entirely forgotten the matter."
262 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
"But, as it happens in this case," said the Colonel,
"both his honour and his career are bound up in the
success of this aeroplane, for he was to have been the
first to fly it. He it was who begged me not to
breathe a word, even to my wife, or Harbridge, my
poor Cecile's JiancS, not that it would have been of
any consequence to him, for he's a splendid fellow,
one of the handsomest in the world, but without an
idea in his head, outside of agricultural matters."
"Where are the young gentlemen, if I may ask,
at the present moment?"
"Mr. Harbridge, I am glad to say, was persuaded
to go and lie down, so that he might recover from the
shock. But though I wanted Trenton to do the
same, he, after vainly trying to get into Cecile's
room (forgetting, I suppose, that Mr. Narkom had
given strictest orders to the police to allow no one
whatsoever to pass) flung himself out of the house."
The Colonel sighed deeply.
Mr. Narkom gave Cleek a significant glance that
said as plainly as words, "What more do you want?"
But Cleek merely looked non-committal, and
noticed him not at all. Then:
"It seems strange that no one in the house heard a
suspicious sound throughout the night, doesn't it?"
The Colonel fidgeted restlessly.
"Yes; it seems from what I can gather that every
man and maid slept like logs; and as they complain
of headaches, they obviously must have been drugged.
Yet how or when it was administered heaven alone
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 263
knows. For myself, I usually take a 'nightcap,' as
we call it, just before retiring, and my wife and Cecile
a glass of hot milk. These may have been drugged,
but who could have done it, and for what object?"
Before Cleek could answer, however, the door was
opened, and a young man strode into the room. He
did not need the formally made introduction to tell
him that this was the young aviator, Gerald Trenton,
and as Cleek's eyes noted the drawn, haggard face,
with its furtive eyes, the restless, twitching hands,
he grew thoughtful.
The young man fairly threw himself at Cleek, who
had assumed as usual that befogged expression of
incompetence on being introduced to a stranger.
"Thank heaven you have come, Mr. Boyce," he
said, his voice breaking with emotion. "Now per-
haps you will let me go into her room "
"Cecile's room!" echoed Colonel Jerningham.
"Why should you want to go back? You saw her
this morning as she lay "
"Yes, sir," said Trenton, "but— but Oh, it's
no use! I can remain silent no longer. It's those
plans. Cecile did get them, after all. She must
Colonel Jerningham stared as if the young man had
"Good heavens, Trenton, are you all mad in this
house! Has the shock turned your brain? What
did Cecile know about the plans, when not a soul
knew but yourself? "
264 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
"She did know," declared the young man almost
sullenly. "Because she asked me to get them so
that she might look at them."
"What! Heavens, but this is inexplicable! I
think I am going out of my senses."
"I've already gone out of mine!" responded Tren-
ton harshly. But Cleek struck in upon him.
"Tell me," said he, "what time exactly did this
occur? Perhaps you don't know?"
"As it happens, I do, to the minute," replied
Trenton smoothly. "It was just nine o'clock (you
remember that, Colonel?) when Cecile retired to her
own apartment. You remember how we all laughed
at her for going to bed like a naughty girl "
"Then Harbridge went up to pack," continued
Trenton, moistening his dry lips, "and I went into
the hall, to get my own things "
"Pack?" interrupted Cleek, looking at him in
But it was Colonel Jerningham who answered the
"Mr. Harbridge had been staying with us for the
week," he said quietly. "He went away only last
"All at once, I looked up," went on Trenton,
"and there on the landing I saw Cecile. She beck-
oned to me, and up I went. She was unlike herself,
and in for a bad cold, as she said herself. Her eyes
were bright with fever, and with her pink cheeks and
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 265
hoarse voice she quite frightened me. I begged her
to let me send for a doctor, but she refused. All she
wanted was one thing, and that was to have a look
at those plans. I nearly had a fit when she said
that, Colonel, as you told me you hadn't spoken a
word about them."
"Neither had I."
"Well, of course I told her that was out of the
question, and then — then she promised to give up
Harbridge if I would just let her see those plans. It
was only a foolish fancy she said, but she was deter-
mined, and said she would kill herself if she didn't
have her way. I grew angry, and after telling her
that she was behaving shamefully to try and tempt
me to become traitor, I rushed away and out of the
house. That was how I came to be walking about
pretty well all night," he added apologetically •
" I didn't know what to do, but I had made up my
mind to come and tell you, when I met Mr. Narkom
here. Then it was too late."
"Too late indeed!" groaned the unhappy father,
and the young man buried his face in his hands.
Cleek turned to the Colonel.
" I shall be able to tell you more after I have been
upstairs myself," he said smoothly. "But where is
Mr. Harbridge? I should like to see him. You said
he was still here, I believe."
And shortly after Harbridge came. Under ordi-
nary circumstances he must have been not only one of
the handsomest of men, but one of Nature's own
266 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
gentlemen . His eyes were blue and child-like, though
now dimmed with unrestrained weeping.
At sight of Cleek, he stopped short.
"Ah, Mr. Boyce," he cried, as he shook hands
warmly with that stolid gentleman. "I owe you a
thousand apologies for not being present when you
Don't mention it, sir," said Mr. Boyce bluntly.
" Quite understand it. Well, gentlemen" — he turned
to the other men — "I think I will go upstairs, if you
have no objection."
"Certainly, certainly," responded the Colonel.
"I will show you the way myself."
He passed out of the room, and in utter silence the
three men ascended the staircase and reached the
corridor, at the end of which stood a village constable
on guard before the fateful room.
"All the bedrooms are along this corridor," ex-
plained the Colonel, as he noted Cleek 's gaze wander
from one side of the wall to the other. "That is
Mr. Harbridge's room" (he .motioned toward the
first) " and that, on the other side of that linen cup-
board, is my wife's. I do not want to disturb her if I
can help it; it will only distress her still further."
"Quite right, sir," agreed Cleek warmly, following
his host's example and walking on tiptoe.
Unfortunately, he was treading on the highly
polished beeswaxed floor, instead of the centre strip
of carpet, and the effect of standing on his toes can be
readily imagined. Like a flash, the shiny floor rose
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 267
up in front of him, and he came down with a heavy
crash against Mr. Harbridge's door, sending it flying
open. He picked himself up, rubbing his arm rue-
fully. "I'm a clumsy ass, Colonel. No, no, I
haven't hurt myself. I only hope I haven't dis-
turbed your good lady." He backed out into the
corridor, leaving the Colonel, with a little frown on
his face, to close the door again. But his hopes were
not to be fulfilled, for as he turned, another door on
the opposite side of the corridor opened like a flash,
and there darted out a frail-looking, gray-haired old
lady, who with a swift glance of fright at the figure
of her husband, drew Cleek within the portal of her
bedroom door. Her whole body was shaking and
trembling with excitement, but her eyes were quite
calm and sane.
Thank heaven you have come!" she gasped.
You are the great detective Mr. Narkom promised
us. You will discover the truth. They think me
mad, but I am not. I tell you that — that thing
there" — she shuddered toward the end door —
"that is not my darling. She is older. I tell you —
— " Her voice had risen shrill and quavering,and its
sound brought the Colonel racing across the passage.
"Nelly, Nelly!" he said soothingly, as if speaking
to a child. "You must not delay these gentlemen.
Come and lie down, and sleep."
"No; no; it is no use, Hugh. I will not be treated
like a lunatic. I am quite sane, I know " she
struggled pitifully to regain composure.
S68 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
Cleek put a hand gently on the frail, bent shoulders.
"Dear Mrs. Jerningham," he said quietly, "be-
lieve me, I will do my best. We will find out the
He turned and entered the room where the dead
" Everything is just the same as they found it this
morning, Cleek/ 9 said Mr. Narkom softly, as he
closed the door. "See — her clothes — everything!
Why, -what is it?" He stopped, for Cleek was
sniffing the air vigorously.
"Funny smell of burn," he muttered, just as the
Colonel himself entered softly behind him. "Ah f
I see. The young lady evidently burned something:
letters, perhaps; love letters, eh?" He crossed
swiftly to the grate, wherein were the ashes of some
heavy paper substance. "H'm! Not paper; it
looks like parchment."
"Dear heaven! My plans!" groaned Colonel
Jerningham, staggering into a chair, as Cleek knelt
down and scrutinized the charred fragments.
Then, all at once, he gave a little lurch of his
shoulders, jumped to his feet, and strode over to the
bed. Very gently he turned down the white sheet.
He bent over the body of the young girl, and
examined it minutely, pulling down the scarlet
lips, and opening the clenched hands, in one of which
was concealed a tiny scrap of paper.
But no one saw and no one knew save Mr. Nar-
kom, and he held his peace. Then Cleek turned
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 269
to him with a sharp upward movement of the
You were right) Mr. Narkom," he said grimly;
it is a case of murder after all. Miss Jerningham
was the victim of some foul assassin."
The sound of the ugly word brought the Colonel
to his feet.
"Murder!" he gasped. "Mr. Boyce, how could
she? What do you mean?"
"By the prick of some sharp instrument. See
here, right at the back of the shoulder/* He pointed
to a tiny puncture, hardly to be seen without the aid
of a glass. "No girl could possibly have inflicted
that mark herself; some easier, more accessible spot
would have been selected for suicide. A dagger,
perhaps, or a pin; perchance our old friend the
poison ring, specimens of which can be purchased as
easily in the Tottenham Court Road as in Italy
itself." He turned aside sharply and walked away.
Then he stopped short, and, catching hold of a white
silk blouse which had fallen at the side of the bed,
sniffed at it again and again.
"Colonel," he said in quick, staccato tones, "oblige
my by taking this blouse in to Mrs. Jerningham and
ask her whether she is absolutely certain to whom it
belongs. It is just a whim of mine."
Colonel Jerningham obeyed, evidently bewildered;
Cleek threw himself on his hands and knees and went
sniffing round and round the room, like a terrier after
a rat. Presently he rose, and inspected the con-
270 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
tents of the dressing table, finally halting before
another small white enamelled table, on which stood
the dregs of a glass of milk. This, too, was smelled
and cautiously tasted.
"Drugged! A ducat to a guinea but it's opium.
I wonder." He prowled around restlessly, halting
finally at the foot of the bed, on which lay a pile of
things, evidently the clothes discarded by Miss Cecile
on retiring for the night.
"The young lady was in a hurry, Mr. Narkom,
and evidently undressed without the aid of a maid.
See; here is the dress, the hooks nearly torn away, a
string broken here, more lace; it almost looks as if
they had been torn "
"Gad! Cleek, it was the murderer who dragged
them off," put in Mr. Narkom, an absolutely dazzling
inspiration coming to him.
"H'm!" Cleek pinched up his chin, and stared
fixedly at a chair beside the bed, on which lay a
second heap of clothes, neatly folded, surmounted
by black silk stockings and light house slippers.
"Something caused this lady to get up and dress
But before Cleek could continue, the Colonel was
in the room.
"Yes, Mr. Boyce, this is my poor girl's; both her
mother and the maid are absolutely sure. Is there
anything else I can do?"
"Nothing, thank you, Colonel, except to wait for
me in the library. I will not keep you long."
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 271
Again he was obeyed, and Mr. Narkom's heart
began to beat hard as he saw his ally stand just in
front of the wardrobe, his eyes narrowed down,
his mouth set, and every nerve alert. An observer
would have said that he was listening, but this was
All at once he threw his head back, a low laugh
coming between his lips.
"Of all the mutton-headed fools!" he said softly.
Then he advanced back to the bed again.
"Cleek, what is it? Tell me," asked the Super-
intendent. But his ally looked at him enigmatically.
"Two doesn't often go into one, old chap, and
when it does, it leaves unpleasant consequences for
some one. Go downstairs, like a good chap, and
round up the other actors in this little drama. Give
me half an hour, and if I haven't something sur-
prising to show you, my name shall be Boyce till
the end of the chapter."
HALF an hour's grace had been the time
stipulated by Cleek, and Mr. Narkom had
certainly done his part in " rounding up the
actors in this drama/' as his ally expressed it.
Colonel Jerningham, grim and erect, sat on one side
of the great marble fireplace in the library; Gerald
Trenton sat on the other, under Mr. Narkom's
watchful gaze; while up and down, like a tiger bereft
of its prey, paced Wilfred Harbridge. The clock
struck the half-hour, and still no sign of Cleek.
At last Mr. Narkom, forgetting even his usual cau-
tion, volunteered to go upstairs and find him. One
minute later he was back again, and in a state of
" I want you, Mr. Gerald Trenton. Come up and
clear yourself if you can!" he exclaimed. Then he
turned round on his heel to Mr. Harbridge, " Do you
know that man Boyce has found evidence to hang
him for murder twice over!"
A veritable volley of words greeted this assertion
and the Australian would have literally hurled him-
self on the dumbfounded Trenton had not Mr. Nar-
kom barred the way. The Colonel stared in speech-
less horror, but Trenton, after one gasp, seemed to
recover Lib wits.
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 273
"What tomfoolery is this you are talking? " he
cried fiercely. "Have you gone mad? What can
that fool possibly have found? Is it a trick?"
"We've had enough of your tricks, young man,"
said the Superintendent sternly. "You are prac-
tically under arrest now, but my colleague has asked
for you, and up you go."
"Oh, I'll go, quick enough. You can jolly well
make your mind easy as to that," cried the young
man hotly. "Come, Colonel, let's see what mare's
nest this is."
He flung himself out of the room, followed by
Colonel Jerningham, who needed no second invita-
"I fear we shall want your help, Mr. Harbridge,"
said -Mr. Narkom significantly. "He's a desperate
"I guessed it from the first," was the quick re-
One and all, they swept up that staircase, and down
the long corridor, to that end room, and into the
presence of Cleek. In such haste were they that
it was not until they heard the click of the door
behind them and the turn of the key in the lock that
any one realized the presence of two of the village
policemen, past whom they had walked unnoticed.
"That's right, my lads. Well played!" sang out
Cleek from his position on the hearth rug. A screen
had been drawn round the bed, and he crossed over
to it. "All right, Mr. Narkom; Stand ready,
274 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
please. Well, my clever young friend " — addressing
Trenton — "you've played a pretty game, haven't
"What do you mean? How dare you hint "
"Well, something stronger than a hint, eh? You
were told I had found something, weren't you?
Like to know what I found? Well, then, you shall
He held up a thick, folded parchment.
"The plans!" gasped the young man, and the
cry was echoed by the Colonel behind him.
"Yes, the plans," sneered Cleek. "And this is
where I found them." He twitched one corner of
the screen, and jerked it away; a cry of astonishment
arose, for the bed was empty. But the cry was lost
in a sudden tumult and uproar. Leaping as a cat
does on a mouse, Cleek had flung himself full tilt
upon the man Wilfred Harbridge, and had borne him
backward to the floor, his knee on the fellow's
stalwart breast. Then with the assistance of two
policemen and Mr. Narkom he succeeded in man-
acling his arms and ankles, and while the astounded
onlookers stood spellbound they heard a low cry of
mingled triumph and pain, in the direction of the
door. It had been unlocked and opened ever so
silently; and in the aperture stood a dead girl brought
to life — Cecile Jerningham herself, with her mother *9
arm encircling her slender waist. At the sight,
unexpected even to Mr. Narkom himself, Trenton
turned his dazed eyes to Cleek
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 275
"In the name of heaven, Mr. Boyce, what does it
mean?" he stammered, while Colonel Jerningham,
his shaking arms by this time round his daughter's
neck, lifted his head to echo that same ques-
"It means that Miss Cecile has had a very nar-
row escape," said Cleek gravely, "and if she and
Mrs. Jerningham will retire for a few minutes, I will
dispose of this clever gentleman."
"But I don't understand!" cried Trenton. "Ce-
cile, did you want the plans for him? Tell me!"
"Plans? What plans?" asked the girl in a puz-
zled tone, but keeping her eyes averted from the
writhing, struggling figure on the floor.
"The plans you asked me for last night," said
Trenton, "after you went upstairs."
"I never saw you last night at all," said the girl.
"It was that brute who came to me. Ugh! To
think I had meant to marry him!" She turned
away, shuddering, and once more her mother's hand
soothed the pale forehead.
" Come with me, darling, and let Mr. Cleek explain
it all," said Mrs. Jerningham softly; and as she led
her away the Colonel and Trenton turned upon
Cleek in absolute amazement and incredulity.
Cleek!" ejaculated the Colonel dully, and
Cleek!" echoed Trenton in the high-pitched voice
But Cleek had turned toward the prostrate pris-
moved that famous rii;
known the iiiark Ro
swooped down on one
held it up. A ring c
tanned skin like the v
when a picture is remc
the guilt upon Mr. Trei
it's come home to roost
"Well, take him aw
escape you even now,
when he's cornered, an
The policemen hard!
before they had laid wi
hauled him off to his fa
"But the doctor sai.
said the Colonel, as the
"Some one's daughti
said Cleek, almost sten
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 277
which lay the figure of a girl, the very counterpart
of the living girl who had just left the room.
"Cecile!" exclaimed Trenton, staggering toward
"No. Sidonie," said Cleek, his eyes fixed on the
ashen face of the elder man; "daughter of Hertha
"Ah! dear heaven, but she died at her birth, with
the mother," gasped Colonel Jerningham.
"Evidently not," said Cleek, "since there is no
denying her likeness to her half-sister, both perfect
images of their father, Colonel Jerningham, here.
From what I can gather from Miss Cecile, my read-
ing of the crime is this : Heinrich Harnhelm, to give
him his real name, must have heard of these plans
before they came into your possession, Colonel, and
probably Sidonie, who was also in the Balkan Secret
"My little daughter a spy!" moaned Colonel
"Yes, a spy," answered Cleek. "Women do
strange things when left to shift for themselves.
The name on her passport, which I found, pro-
claimed her to be Sidonie Metz, so she evidently
believed herself to have been wronged by you."
"Her mother was beneath me in station, and she
ran away from me when I was attach^ in Servia,"
said the Colonel, " and all I knew after that was that
she died, and the child with her."
"Ah, well, I take it that she came here, with
278 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
Harnholm, and by collusion with him, after he had
drugged Miss Cecile, in her boudoir, she took her
half-sister's place, and tried first to get you to steal
the plans, Mr. Trenton. Failing in that, she must
have stolen the keys from you as you slept, Colonel,
Harnhelm having drugged you all, including Miss
Cecile. But with the plans she also found another
document. You see, Colonel, I guessed right; you
had lost something else, your first marriage certifi-
cate, though you were afraid to admit it to Mr.
Narkom. Whether, when she saw her mother's
wedding certificate, on parchment, as it was in the old
days in Servia, she felt remorse, or meant to keep
the plans for her own use, I cannot say. Anyhow,
she concealed them in the same place as TTArnhglm
had placed Miss Cecile drugged and senseless "
"Where was that?" came in chorus from his
"In the wardrobe," was the quiet reply. "Ph>b-
ably Harnhelm returned, and when she refused to
give them up, showing him the parchment certifi-
cate, he lost his temper, and shook her by the
shoulder. His ring, which was the same old-time
weapon that some of our dead 'heroes* used for
executing their pleasant little assassinations, killed
her instantly. Then he tore off her clothes, bundled
her into bed, and made his escape, after burning that
certificate in the grate. He meant you to think they
were the plans. Unfortunately, he forgot one or
two little things : one was the scrap of parchment left
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 279
in his victim's hand; the other was the second pile
of clothes, which Miss Cecile had left at the side
of her bed. She says that she had already retired,
when she heard the knock, and thinking it was her
mother, went to the door. Harnhelm pushed a cloth
over her mouth and drugged her then and there."
"The devil!" cried Trenton, leaping forward like a
young lion at bay. "And to think how he might
have won her for his wife ! "
"But the aeroplane plans," broke in the Colonel.
"Were they burned, too?"
"No," replied Cleek, "they were in HarnhelnTs
pocket, were they not, Mr. Narkom? Ah, yes, I
"But how did you discover this, Mr. Cleek?"
asked the Colonel, his eyes still bent on the face of
the dead girl.
"I thought it was strange if a mother didn't know
her own child, Colonel," said Cleek quietly, "and
when I found that the two sets of clothes had two
different scents, I began to get suspicious. One was
strongly saturated with hyacinth" — he looked over
at Mr. Narkom and smiled — "the other bore traces
of violet. Then came the charred fragments of the
certificate, and the final discovery of Miss Cecile
in the wardrobe settled the matter. All I had to
do was to wait till her mother had restored her to
composure, and trust to luck to catch the villain
in his own trap, which I did, ]bfc. Trenton, by giving
you a very bad quarter of an hour."
280 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
He stretched out his hand, which the young man
seized with fervour.
"Invite me to the wedding later, dear fellow," said
Then, quite suddenly, he turned to the waiting
Superintendent. "Mr. Narkom," he said, "time's
short, and I've a lot to do. Our work here is done.
Tell Lennard to crank up and be ready. Colonel,
good-bye. Good-bye, Mr. Trenton, and God bless
you and the dear girl who cares for you. Love's
better than money, any day, and twice as lasting.
And a loyal heart is better than both. Always
Then he swung upon his heel, picked up his hat
and gloves, and went down and out into the winter
sunshine to the Yard's duty and the Yard's eternal
THERE are times in the life of every man that
stand out above all others if only for their
very peace; and for Cleek such was this month
of June. For the world again was aflood with roses
that made the air honey-sweet with their perfume, and
taught one to forget all that was sorrowful, all that
was sad, for the time being at least. Count Irma,
reluctant and indignant, had returned to Maure-
vania, and for a time Cleek's life had drifted on aim-
lessly, unmolested, and secure. The Yard had been
idle, at least, be it said, for the Yard; and he had
found plenty of time to dwell in paradise, with Ailsa
Lome's hand to guide him and Ailsa Lome's dear
eyes reflecting his love.
Now, therefore, his home was a caravan, tethered
at a discreet distance from the flower-filled cottage
over which Mrs. Condiment reigned and watched
for the return of her dear Cap'n Burbage; and his life
passed peacefully as a summer's day.
But it was too good to last. For duty, like the
avenging angel, and in the person of Mr. Narkom,
overtook him, whizzing countryward in the old lim-
ousine, with Lennard at the helm, and the Yard
very much indeed to the fore.
282 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
" This is about it, Lennard," said the Superinten-
dent, as they turned into a long lane, green-edged
with hedges like fur on a lady's frock. "Keep a
sharp lookout. He must be found, whatever hap-
pens, or those devils will get him as sure as eggs is
eggs. Slower, now, and Til hunt him myself."
He leaped from the car, plunging straightway
into a leafy lane, and came at last to a corner from
which he could see Cleek, the one being in the world
he loved and looked up to, and the slim, straight
figure of a woman standing beside him and looking
out, with his eyes, upon a sun-kissed, heaven-blessed
world. The Superintendent frowned and looked
"It's too bad," he muttered, "to have to bother
him, but he'll be safer with me now that those
Apaches and Maurevanians are after him again.
So, Narkom, my boy, pull yourself together and be
He advanced swiftly, yet not so swiftly but that
Cleek .noted the coming of him, and went to him
with outstretched hand and a warm smile.
" Sorry, old chap, to have to disturb your holiday,"
said the Superintendent apologetically, taking Ailsa's
hand and looking down into her face with appealing
eyes. "But I'm in the very devil of a hole, and I
want you to help me out of it."
"A change of work is as good as a holiday some-
times," interposed Ailsa, with a little nod of under-
standing, "and I can see that Mr. Narkom has a
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 283
specially interesting case. Go and break the news
to poor Dollops, dear, and I'll keep Mr. Narkom
entertained until you get back. 9 '
Cleek twitched up his shoulders, and threw out his
hands, and, turning upon his heel with a little laugh,
went back to the caravan and disappeared inside it.
Then the Superintendent turned to Ailsa.
"It isn't only a case, Miss Lome," said he with a
pucker between his brows, " but those devils are after
him again; they're buzzing like hornets over the cap-
ture of their pet, Rosillon, and I have learned, too,
through secret channels, that Count Irma is again
on his track, so he'll be best with the Yard to guard
him. You may safely trust him to me."
Ailsa smiled. There was a mist of tears in her eyes.
" Indeed, I do, Mr. Narkom," she said earnestly,
"and with none better. But to be so uncertain of
his safety again "
There was no fear in her face, only sorrow and
understanding, and her eyes were moist.
Later, Cleek said good-bye to her tenderly, and
entered the old limousine once more, sighing a little
at the parting; but if he saw the quick look of inter-
rogation that passed between Mr. Narkom and Len-
nard, he thought best to ignore it.
"You're a regular old body snatcher," he said
softly, turning to the Superintendent with a queer
little smile, as the limousine bounded forward and
went ripping off into the distance like a thing pos-
284 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
Mr. Narkom at once swung into his story, and soon
the car lurched round a corner, bringing into view a
gypsy encampment. A coil of smoke curled upward
into the still air, while round and about it a group of
rough-looking men lay stretched on the grass, enjoy-
ing their noon-day meal.
At sight of them Cleek gave vent to a little excla-
"Dollars to ducats," said he, "those chaps are
Apaches. I know the cut of them too well to be
mistaken. They're coming this way, Mr. Narkom,
so it's good-bye to your humble."
And sure enough, they were coming "this way,"
for the whole crowd of them suddenly surrounded
the car, chattering like magpies.
"Cinnamon! but you're right, old chap!" broke
out Mr. Narkom excitedly, as he put his head out of
the window and looked at them. "Beastliest crowd
I ever saw! I say "
He turned to face an empty seat, for Cleek was no
longer there. Like a shadow he had slipped out,
and only the door slightly ajar showed where he had
"Nipped it, by James!" muttered the Superinten-
dent, with a little gasp of admiration. "Slow down,
Lennard, and let's see what the beggars want. Hold
their attention as long as you can, to give him time
Further speech was rendered impossible by the
rush of the erstwhile gypsies; and, despite Mr. Nar-
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 285
kom's imperfect knowledge of French, he gathered
that they had recognized the limousine, and guessed
that Cleek would return in it. They resisted all his
efforts and threats and piled into the car, searching
every nook and cranny with a true knowledge of the
"Vanishing Cracksman " and the "Vanishing Cracks-
Finally they fell back, and, followed by scowls
and curses, Narkom was allowed to proceed, the
gang hurrying at full speed in the opposite direction.
The Superintendent laughed softly.
"By the time they reach the caravan, the police
will be in possession," he muttered. "Now, I won-
der what that amazing beggar did with himself?"
He looked out anxiously; only the waving corn-
fields were to be seen, and in the midst of one an old
scarecrow, its rags waving to the summer wind, the
stick which served as an arm pointing to the blue
sky above. One rook, braver than his fellows,
perched jauntily on the old silk hat, but, with a
squawk of fear, fled forthwith as the scarecrow
dropped swiftly to the ground, and, creeping through
the corn, came out at the precise moment that the
Superintendent signalled Lennard to slow down.
"My dear, dear chap," cried Mr. Narkom, as the
door flashed open and flashed shut again, and the
car leaped forward once more like a mad thing, " that
was a close shave. Full speed ahead, Lennard, my
lad," this through the tube.
"That," said Cleek, straightening his cuffs, "was
286 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
the Rosillon gang, and I suppose Maurevania will be
found in the offing." He gave a curious little lop-
sided smile. " Years ago they drove me out by force,
and now they think to drive me back in the same way.
Bah! Come, Mr. Narkom, what is this case of
yours — murder, robbery, or what?"
The Superintendent mopped his forehead, then
his eye lit up. With the magic word "case" Mr.
Narkom was himself again.
"It's this way," said the Superintendent, "Lady
Brasker is the person in question, and the discovery
that the family jewels have been stolen was made
yesterday morning when "
"Hold on a minute!" interposed Cleek. "Sorry
to interrupt you, but it's as well to know something
about your company before you start your play.
Lady Brasker, eh? Isn't that the charming young
lady who, as Maisie Grey, played leading lady at the
Triviality Theatre, and after breaking the hearts of
nearly half the young sprigs of nobility six months
ago, married Sir George Brasker, the head of one of
England's oldest families?"
"That's the lady, yes," replied Narkom. "She is
really young, too, and quite as pretty as her postcard
photographs, though that has nothing to do with it.
The thing that does count is that Sir George Brasker
rode to hounds last week; coming back, his horse shied
at a fence; and later, Sir George was discovered with
his neck broken, while a riderless horse found its
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 287
I see, I see!" broke in Cleek, pinching up his chin.
Leaving his young widow broken-hearted, I sup-
Mr. Narkom coughed almost apologetically.
"Well, I wouldn't like to say as much as that.
It seems to me as if she is more angry at having to
give up the family diamonds after only once wearing
them than anything else. I'm taking you to her
now, to Bassington Combe, here in Surrey. It is she
who has put the case in my hands. Combe Manor
is the name of the estate, and I shouldn't be sur-
prised if her ladyship has found the place a bit of a
change after the boards."
"I suppose she has filled it up with old friends,
eh?" said Cleek quietly. "Cecile Clanes and Belle
Brahams, and one or two others of that ilk. Am I
"For once you are, my friend. There is only her
chaperon, Mrs. Crustin, a most estimable lady, and
"Hallo, hallo!" rapped out Cleek, sitting up very
straight. "Any relation to that Captain Willmott
who had to send in his resignation at the time of the
spy scare at Portsmouth?"
"The same man. But, my dear fellow, it was a
trumped-up case all through. Don't you remember
they proved that he had absolutely nothing to do
with the matter, and even offered him his step over
the heads of his senior officers? "
"H'm, yes," said Cleek reflectively. "A burned
288 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
child dreads the fire, they say. Well, go on. So the
worthy captain is staying there, with one eye on
the lady, I suppose, and the other on — well, never
The Superintendent nodded.
"Well, yes," he said reflectively, "I don't deny
that there's every chance of her ladyship shortly
becoming plain Mrs. Willmott, though plain she
never will be. But there are still some people who
say she ought to have left Combe Manor directly
the heir arrived."
"And who is he?"
" Mr. Edward Brasker, now Sir Edward, of course,
a nephew of Sir George and a recluse and bookworm.
In fact, he looks like a blind mole dragged out of his
hiding-place underground, and he refuses to let
Lady Brasker move. He wants her to stay and
keep up the honour of the name while he goes back
to his books.
" Oho ! " commented Cleek softly ; " an obliging heir,
that. Newly made heirs are not generally so dis-
interested and kind. No chance of any son and heir
coming to Lady Brasker, eh?"
"Not the slightest! And though she will be the
mistress of the house just the same, it will be by his
courtesy instead of a right, so I don't wonder if the
lady does feel a little bitter; and now the loss of the
jewels will cause trouble with the other executors,
who have already treated her very summarily, as
they resented a chorus girl being introduced on the
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 289
family escutcheon of the Braskers. And that, my
dear Cleek, brings me to the actual case at last.
"Amongst those jewels there is a certain superb
necklace of rubies, said to have once lodged in an
Indian temple; the stones are of colossal value, and
have caused so much trouble that they have won the
name of "
" The Tears of Blood," supplied Cleek with a quick
smile. "Gad! Why didn't I recollect the things
before? I remember now, they were stolen from
one of the shrines of Kali, in India, at the time of the
Calcutta insurrection under the East India Company.
The necklace changed hands many times, bringing
tears and bloodshed, till at last it was bought by Sir
George Brasker's grandfather and included as one of
Mr. Narkom drew a deep breath and shook his
head in mute admiration.
" There's no getting to the end of your knowledge of
jewels," he said at length, ignoring Cleek's sudden,
crooked smile. "Well, anyway, the 'Tears' have
vanished; they've been dried up or washed away
somehow; and Lady Brasker is nearly mad with
despair. It seems she had them sent down along
with some others to wear at the Hunt Ball the day
before Sir George's accident. All the jewels are kept
in the strong room of the London and Eastern
Counties Bank, and they were all brought down in-
tact by special messenger, and verified by Sir George
himself. Lady Brasker wore them on the night
290 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
of the ball, and locked them up in her own jewel
case preparatory to sending them back the next day.
Of course, with the excitement of Sir George's death,
the jewels were forgotten."
"Gad!" interposed Cleek quickly, "it begins to
look exciting. Well, when did her careless ladyship
find out her loss?"
"Yesterday morning. At least, she remembered
them then, while she was dressing. The case was
opened in her presence and that of her maid, Ben-
"H'm! A risky thing to do," said Cleek quietly,
stroking his chin.
"Oh; but this maid has been with the family
for years; in fact, she's almost an heirloom herself.
Anyway, the jewels were there safe and sound, and
the case relocked, and placed back in the drawer.
Lady Brasker herself took away the keys, together
with the one that fitted the bedroom door, until Sir
Edward was ready."
"And what, may I ask, had Sir Edward got to do
"A great deal. He had promised to take the
jewels up to town himself that very day. As one
of the executors he was responsible, you see, and he
thought it would be less risky if he were to take them
than to send them by post."
Cleek nodded several times in succession. Then he
smoked for a second in silence.
"So I should think," said he finally. "But one
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 291
minute, please. Where was Captain Willmott all
this time? Anywhere near the lady of his dreams?"
"No. He'd gone up to town immediately after
the funeral; but he returned yesterday, and is staying
at the village inn. The whole thing can be put into a
nutshell. After breakfast, when Sir Edward was
ready, her ladyship went upstairs, and, opening the
locked door, drawer, and jewel case, found the
' Tears of Blood* vanished. Now, what I want to
know is, how it was done. I can't believe Lady
Brasker herself has anything to do with it. Her
agony of mind is too great to be simply acting."
"Even though she did act in melodrama at the
old Olympic, I think," said Cleek musingly. "Well,
well, it's no use crying 'thief till you've caught him
with his hand in your pocket; so I think Mr. George
Headland will take a look into things, always pro-
viding you haven't mentioned my name before-
Mr. Narkom gave vent to a deep sigh of relief.
His face cleared.
"No, not I," said he enthusiastically. "You're a
fine chap, Cleek; a fine chap. Always come when
you're wanted. Hallo ! Here we are at Bassington.
Drive right in Lennard, as fast as you can. That's
And with a lurch and a jar the limousine swung
round swiftly and went spinning up the long drive to
Combe Manor and into one of the strangest cases
Cleek had ever handled.
IT WAS still early in the afternoon when the
limousine stopped at the foot of the broad flight
of steps that led up to the Manor where, framed
in the open doorway, a slender figure, clad in widow's
mourning, awaited impatiently the approach of
Scotland Yard, as personified by Mr. Maverick
Narkom and the stolid, heavy-faced individual
who slouched clumsily in his wake, and was
introduced as "Mr. George Headland, one of our
smartest men, Your Ladyship/*
The little lady was painfully agitated, and she
shook like an aspen leaf as, scarcely waiting for them
to be seated, she addressed herself altogether to Mr.
"Oh, Mr. Narkom," she broke forth excitedly,
her little white hands fluttering in her lap like twin
doves, "I thought you were never coming back. I
am nearly mad! It's a plot, I tell you, a wicked
plot to bring me to ruin — and I verily believe Sir
Edward is at the bottom of it ! "
" Sir Edward ? My dear Lady Brasker, you must-
n't say that! Why, bless my soul "
She clasped her hands and breathed hard.
"Yes, yes, I know," she interposed breathlessly,
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 293
"it sounds incredible, but more things have since
disappeared : two rings now, in just the same myster-
ious way; and I believe he hates me, and is trying to
get the jewels for his books."
"Jewels for his books?" murmured Cleek inter-
" Yes. He has the covers of them encrusted with
jewels. He has never been able to afford many be-
fore, but now that he is the heir, I believe he means
to use every one of the family jewels for that pur-
pose." She fairly ground her teeth upon her lower
lip, and her voice took up a note of hatred. "Oh,
he pretends to be very sympathetic and all that,
but I'm certain he is plotting against me, Mr. Nar-
kom. Mr. Headland" — she turned to him, hands
outstretched, and with tears in her eyes, looking like
a very Niobe in the depths of her distress — "for
heaven's sake help me to defeat him, to keep up the
honour of my dead husband's name!"
Mr. Narkom held up his hand. His face ex-
pressed polite reproof.
Come, come, Your Ladyship," said he briskly,
you've got no proof, have you? No actual proof,
"Proof? No, but I am sure! Aunt Crustie says
Cleek raised inquiring eyebrows.
"She is the only friend, besides Captain Willmott,
I have in all the world," put in her ladyship in an-
swer to his silent inquiry. "She was with me on my
294 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
last engagement, and, poor old thing, she has been
with me ever since. I don't care what they say;
they all laughed at her, the Braskers, I mean; and
she may be old and dowdy, but her heart's in the
right place, and that's something, I tell you."
The door came softly open, and a tiny, wizened-up
little woman, clad in rusty black, with a strange
concoction of lace and violet ribbon bows upon her
white hair, came quietly into the room.
It did not need her delighted cry of "Oh, Aunt
Crustin!" to tell Cleek that this was Mrs. Crustin,
and as his eye swept over the quaint old figure he
smiled involuntarily. An old-fashioned curtsey ac-
knowledged the introduction; then she sank down into
one of the low chairs, and presently the click-click
of knitting needles and the soft drone of "two purl,
two plain, slip one, knit one, draw the slipped stitch,
one," told them that she was in the throes of that
feminine puzzle, a stocking, and oblivious to the rest
of the world in consequence.
Cleek rose blunderingly to his feet, and, drawing
out an immense notebook, much to the Superin-
tendent's surprise, began writing hurriedly in it.
"I think, My Lady," he began, speaking with a
strong cockney accent, "I'll see the good gentleman
for myself, and the room wot them jewels was taken
from, if you don't mind."
"Certainly." Lady Brasker looked at him in a
sort of disgusted assent. " Come along, Crustie, let's
go upstairs again."
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 295
She crossed over to the old lady and took her by
the arm. "This gentleman wants to see the room,
Mrs. Crustin looked from one to the other, then
laboriously rose to her feet and followed up the stair-
case, her needles still clicking diligently and her
wool bag hanging on her arm. Outside a door on the
upper landing Lady Brasker stopped short.
"This is the library," she whispered. "We shall
find Sir Edward here. I don't suppose he's spent
more than an hour out of the place since he came to
the Manor. 9 ' She knocked on the door, and, turning
the handle, went in. Cleek and Mr. Narkom saw in
the dim interior of the room the figure of the newly
made Baronet, bending low over a big book, the
cover of which was encrusted with dull-blue tur-
He looked up at the sound of the opening door,
and peered at them over his spectacles, blinking like
an owl brought into a strong light. But he was not
alone. Another man stood at his side, and at the
sight of him Lady Brasker gave vent to a little cry
" Gerald ! I did not know you had come back."
She turned, reddening confusedly, and made the
necessary introductions. Cleek's keen eyes sur-
veyed the newcomer, a handsome, military-looking
man, even though they appeared not to do so.
"Splendid force, the police!" the Captain ejacu-
lated noisily as they all trooped upstairs and into the
of things mu.,t ,.„,]
Ilia! Mill be the hart
Cleek scratched 1
"Publicity, Sir E<
brows. "What do
Sir Edward lower'
tiey two could hear.
into the room and tl
"Why," said he so
direction, "if you o
tnem np, the other e
matter what I say.
He put his fingers
nose vigorously. " Y.
By this time Lad
drawers and the jewe
■ntact without so mi
"It's so inexplicable.
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 297
"They was indeed, dearie," assented the old lady
«?ith a vigorous shaking of her white curls.
"H'm-m, I see. Well, supposing you tell me at
what time you discovered that the jewels were miss-
ing, Lady Brasker, and I'll just jot down a few
Cleek pulled out the huge notebook again, and
tentatively sucked the point of his pencil, looking
for all the world the veritable "bobby" that Captain
Willmott had designated him. "At what time did
you first see the necklace?"
"I remembered it while I was dressing," said Lady
Brasker, eying him with almost a smile of amuse-
ment, "about eleven o'clock. I had had a very
bad night, and I slept on till Aunt Crustie came and
brought me a cup of tea. She's always so thought-
ful of me, dear old thing. Well, then, I don't know
what made me think of it — Oh, yes, I do! Crustie
was telling me all about your jewelled books." She
turned suddenly on Sir Edward Brasker, who ap-
peared just a little confused by her unmeditated
attack. "She said you had told her all about them
"Er — yes — I suppose I did," stammered Sir Ed-
ward self-consciously. "It's my hobby, you know."
He turned round to Narkoni with raised brows.
"Yes. Well, then I said, 'Oh, Crustie, the neck-
lace!' " continued her ladyship after a slight pause.
"Just like that, interrupting her in the middle;
didn't I, dear? And she. said, naturally, 'What
:in<l lifted the jewel ca
Then I gave her the ke
itself and lifted up the i
Bennett (that's my man
service since she was boi
it. Aunt Crustie put it
as possible, locked it all
locked the bedroom doc
stairs with me. When
fetch the necklace for Si
"Anything else beside
in Cleek, looking up at
rose-garlanded cupids as
to drop down on top of tJ
" Yes, two rings ; I only
"Well," said Cleek, ai
idea, "it seems to me tha
cate key." He walked
Dinchine »** *» : ~ - 1 '
CLEEKS GOVERNMENT CASES 299
Strikes me it's a clear case of the servants; one of
them's had a key made, hoping to nick off some-
thing." He gaped round, as if expecting a burst of
applause for this, and Captain Willmott shrugged
his shoulders with a look of disgust.
"Of course you had them all searched, eh?"
"Yes, indeed, and nice and insulted they were, too!
Called me all sorts of impertinent names. Still, I
insisted upon it, and Sir Edward supported me,
"Yes, yes, of course; quite unnecessary , still, it was
the right thing, I suppose," muttered his lordship in
a low, incoherent tone. "But there's no sign of the
" That settles it, then." Cleek looked, if possible,
even more stupid than he had done up to the pres-
ent. " Strikes me it must have been some one from
London, then. I'll make a few inquiries in the vil-
lage, suspicious characters, don't yer know; and by
the way" — he swung round suddenly on Captain
Willmott — "I suppose, sir, you'll be able to prove
that you were in London all the time, eh? Just as a
matter of form."
His whole expression was one of such direct accusa-
tion that it was no wonder that the Captain flared
up like a lighted match put to a bonfire.
"How dare you, sir!" he broke forth, crimsoning
and pulling himself up very straight. "I've stood a
good deal, but if you're insinuating that I have had a
hand in this wretched business, I — I "
300 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
Then Lady Brasker, whose face, too, had reflected
outraged dignity and a certain crimsoning anger,
" Sir, if this is your idea of helping, I will stop the
case at once and take the consequence of the loss!
To insult my guest and friend, who was not even in
the house at the time! It is monstrous! Unheard
of ! Appalling ! "
Cleek looked from one to the other in injured in-
nocence. "I didn't mean any harm/' he said
bluntly, pulling a wry face, "but, you see, if it isn't
the servants and it isn't any one from outside, it
looks precious much as though it were some
one inside, doesn't it? Still, I'm only too willing to
apologize for havin' given any offence, so to speak.
And I don't see as there's anything more to be got
here, so with Your Ladyship's permission I'll go
down to the inn and think it over."
He touched his forehead clumsily, and shambled
out of the room, followed by Narkom, who stared
at his great ally in blank amazement. But once
outside in the limousine and under cover of its closed
windows, he burst forth.
" My dear chap, what did you want to act the fool
like that for?" he said with a little sniff of dis-
pleasure. "The Captain's got 'em, of course, but
you needn't have put him on his guard like that. Of
course, I know you've got your methods, and I'm not
one to quarrel with 'em, but "
Cleek smiled and smoothed out the torn pieces of
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 301
paper he had picked up, and laid them upon Mr.
" Might be/ 9 he said softly, smiling his queer little
one-sided smile, " but I'd like you to go and see what
sort of rubies those were that Sir Edward was evi-
dently sending to London the day before yesterday.
And you might hurry up Dollops. I'll stay at the
inn (what's the name of it? Oh, 'The Hen and
Chickens') till you come back."
The door flashed open and flashed shut again,
leaving Mr. Narkom gazing at the torn, crumpled
paper, which read:
"Sending . . . setting . . . Gask • •
Pritch . . . rubies . . . encrusting. Bbasker.
"Cinnamon!" ejaculated the Superintendent ex-
citedly; "the beggar must have dropped the pieces
while he was taking out the rubies. Good Lord!
What fools some of these collectors are! Who in the
name of goodness would have thought it!"
CLEEK was up at the Manor, after sending a
lengthy telegram to Scotland Yard, a little
after ten o'clock the next morning, and
before an hour had passed away he may be said to
have driven the whole household to desperation.
Lady Brasker was turned out of her bedroom by his
enthusiasm to measure up the room, for, having
once questioned the servants and seen over their
possessions, to their increased indignation, he had
evinced the belief that the jewels were hidden in the
room itself, and he therefore spent no little time in it.
At last, having driven Sir Edward to his library,
and seen Lady Brasker and the Captain safely
ensconced in one of the conservatories, with Mrs.
Crustin deep in one corner, knitting as for dear life,
Cleek slouched out into the grounds. It was at the
lodge gates, some two hours later, that the limousine,
dashing up at full speed, found him engaged in
teaching the lodgekeeper's wife how to graft roses.
At the sight of Mr. Narkom, who alighted with
most dejected mien, he straightened himself and
walked up the carriage drive.
"Well?" said he blandly when they had passed
out of hearing.
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 303
"Well? It isn't well this time, old chap," replied
Mr. Narkom, dabbing at the top of his bald head
with a silk handkerchief, a sure sign that he was dis-
turbed. "Regular wild goose chase. The rubies
were little pin-point stones, to illumine some letters,
and the box hadn't been opened; the head of the
firm (Gaskell and Fritchett it was) undid the seals
and showed them to me, and what on earth you
wanted Hammond and Fetrie down here for I can't
imagine. I called in at the Yard, of course, and
just got your wire in time. They're in the limousine
now, waiting for instructions."
"Good," said Cleek with a little purr of satisfac-
tion. "We'll have them up at once, and then the
lot of us will go and pay our respects to her little
He gave vent to a long, low whistle, and at the
sound of it the limousine door swung open and Petrie
and Hammond came out. There was a short,
whispered conclave, and then the tiny brigade swung
round and filed slowly up to the house.
Outside the drawing room door Cleek was joined
by Sir Edward, who frowned rather deeply and pursed
up his lips when he saw him.
"Back again, Mr. Headland?" said he without
enthusiasm. "Got a fresh clue, perhaps, or going
to throw the case up?"
• "Yes, Sir Edward." Cleek's face was dully in-
scrutable. "I think that's what I shall do. I want
to see her ladyship first, though."
* usuuJiy UO ]t on
plaintively to (.'leek, us
stood beside her; "but
so knobby and unreasoi
"Oh, I'll help you, ]
amiably. "Yon hold, .
"Splendid force, the
softly as Mrs. Crustin
lands. The wool went
and nodded into Cleek's
Bte the flash of shot i
mouth came the sound
the scuffle of feet, and in
appeared the iat, podgy
nad approached through
to hear Cleek's voice say
"Got you, my beauty!
pot you, got you, got yc
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 305
the startled watchers' amazement two policemen
took up their guard beside her. Cleek's face was
glorified, triumphant; he clapped his hands and
"Watch her, Hammond, and you, Petrie," said
he with a little nod at the two constables; "she's
artful as the devil, and as dangerous/ 9
"How dare you! Oh, how dare you! It's a lie,
a lie!" shrieked Mrs. Crustin, and Lady Brasker in
one voice, as her ladyship flung herself upon the
struggling figure and tried to release her.
"You fool! You brute to treat an old woman like
that! As if Aunt Crustie would steal my jewels!
It's impossible, I tell you, impossible ! "
"Unfortunately no, Lady Brasker," put in Cleek
smoothly, and in the sudden change of his voice,
the sudden cultured note that had crept into it, she
sent her startled eyes up into his face.
"Who are you?" she gasped. "Who are you?"
Cleek," said that gentleman, softly, in answer;
just Cleek of Scotland Yard, Lady Brasker, and
proud to have done the Yard a good, service in rid-
ding London of one of its wickedest, most malicious
thieves. Oh, yes, I know your sleight-of-hand
tricks, madame," he said blandly to the writhing,
shrieking woman, who glared up at him with baleful,
devilish eyes. "Unfortunately for you, I happened
to recognize that scar on your wrist. Remember
cutting it in the old * Twisted Arm' days? People
don't knit scarlet stockings nowadays, especially
make sure, anil though I
journey, Mr. Xarkom, I
down, for I want to catch
and I don't doubt that tl
"But first, let's have
grab at the black repp w
wrist, and as he did so she
With & little snarl of disi
open, and pulled roughly a
wool that it contained, but
unravelled it, there was evi
" Done, curse you ! ' ' yelle
of delight at sight of his i
white wig had fallen off in 1
wisps of hair fell over her ev
lost the jewels; your precic
shine no more!" She turne
have not worked for six moi
to you direntlv w ■"•*" ¥
CLEEK\S GOVERNMENT CASES .S07
Cleek stood stock still, his lips twitching. He was
evidently working under some strong emotion, for
his face was pale and his eyes brilliant.
Came suddenly a buzz of voices outside in the
corridor, and in another minute Ailsa Lome, pale
and panic-stricken, fairly ran into the room.
"Forgive me," she said brokenly. "You are
Lady Brasker. * I know; forgive my intrusion like
this, but oh! it is so important." She tinned to
Cleek. "It is Dollops, dear Dollops. He has been
stolen in the night, carried away after you had gone,
and the caravan was raided. They've got him, the
Apaches have got him, for I found this scrap of paper
crumpled upon the floor!" She drew from her
handbag a tiny, crumpled piece of paper, and Cleek
seized upon it instantly. It read, in a scrawling,
"Blooming Apachds . . . Miss Ailsa save
him. . . . Dollops."
A low chuckle broke from Marise, and Cleek
switched round suddenly and surveyed her.
"You know where he is?" he rapped out sharply,
seizing her by the shoulder and shaking her as a
terrier shakes a rat. "Well, you'll tell m#, or III
know the reason why. In five minutes," he saM
"He's at the Hollies," she snarled furiously, fairly
quivering with hate. "But they'll kill him, Cracks-
man, immediately they set eyes upon you. There is
"Be still." Cleek's ban
"I'll get I he boy back, come
I take it that The Hollies is
the left-hand side as you ei
Ah, thanks. What's that,
want any help, thanks. I'll
He snatched up the whitt
head, then he turned to Ails
"I want that skirt and b
to the recumbent figure, "i
rig-out. Give me five min
He darted across the ro
screen from against the wj
point he was able to reach
ments. A few minutes pas
gave a little gasp of surprise,
who was accustomed to the
uttered a sigh of genuine ;
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 809
command in it. "And you, Mr. Narkom, come on
to The Hollies in half an hour. With God's help
I mean to rescue that boy, and perhaps complete my
Ten minutes later he stood on the steps outside the
door of The Hollies, and timidly rang the bell.
The door was opened gingerly by a villainous-
looking individual, with the face of a cut-throat and
a three days' growth of beard to add to it. He peered
suspiciously into Cleek's face.
"The password!" he said in a low voice.
Cleek shrugged his shoulders.
"Dost thou refuse entrance to Marise, fool?"
he said, in Madame Marise's voice and with Madame
Marise's identical manner.
"But yes, if the password comes not. Give it,
and you shall enter."
For answer Cleek sprang with the swiftness of a
tiger and wound his fingers about the man's throat.
"God!" he whispered, between shut teeth, "I
know you, Merode; I know you. Fve not forgotten
those old days when you and your brother Gaston
fought me for supremacy. Dog that you are, I'm
going to kill you where you stand, if you don't tell
me where you have hidden the boy. Know me,
eh?" as the man's eyes went wide with Unified
recognition. "Yes, it's the Cracksman, it's Cl*ck,
and he means what he says, curse yout
or 111 throttle the life out of you. Where is the
310 CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES
"I'll see you in blazes first!" Merode spluttered in
a broken thread of a voice, and as he spoke he fell
back against a chair and sent it spinning like a top
down the passage.
Instantly there was pandemonium.
A door leading from the basement was flung
noisily open, crashing heavily against the wall; then
there came a clatter of rushing feet, and a hoarse-
throated voice shrieked out of the stillness: "Come
on, come on; there's something wrong!" And Cleek
had just time to twist himself free of the panting,
gasping thing that had seized him, and to dodge
behind the shadow of a long, hanging portiere that
flanked the hallway, before a dozen Apaches came
tumbling noisily into the hall.
"Merode!" shouted one, as he saw the gasping
figure. "Merode! Name of a devil, what is it?"
"The Cracksman!" gave back Merode brokenly;
"he is somewhere within! Find him, shoot him,
kill him if you can, but bring him back to me so that
I may stamp upon him with my heel!"
"The Cracksman!" They screamed the words
in a frenzy of anger. "Where is he? Where?
But almost before the words were uttered a fist
like a hammer shot out from behind the curtain,
caught the leader of the gang, who stood near it,
full in the face, and sent him crashing down like a
ninepin, as something like a flash of moving colour
swept madly past him.
CLEEK7S GOVERNMENT CASES 311
"Here!" shouted back Cleek over his shoulder, as
he raced past them, doubling and twisting in his
tracks like a fox in front of the hounds. On he went,
on, on, on, out through the heavy door, which cut off
the basement from the rest of the house, and banged
it sharply behind him. A click of the bolt told them
that it was locked.
Then, hampered by the skirts, he fled down the
steps, writhed his features once more into a semblance
of Madame Marise's, and passed into a room which
must have been, when the house was occupied, the
Obviously no sound of the scuffle had reached here,
for there was only one figure at the table, and that
was Margot; while in one corner by the window,
trussed up as tightly as a caught fowl, his black eyes
despairing and his face pale with anger, lay Dollops,
staring up at the ceiling.
Margot raised her head and looked at the seeming
Madame Marise with a little impatient sigh. "Soul
of me, but you have been a long time coming, Mar-
ise!" she said in the sharp-edged voice of impatience.
"Any more pretty things hidden in the wool bag,
eh? Ah, but that was a splendid idea of thine.
Nom du diable ! a splendid idea!" She laughed
shrilly, tossing a great scarlet bale of wool up in
her fingers and catching it again. "The rest of us
are somewhere in the house; it matters not. But
thou dost deserve a drink for thy pains. Here,
take this." She slopped out a tiny glass of greenish
that lay near to Dollops ;
Then he bent down and
face. "If they should as!
he in a low, tense voice, "
man, and they will under;
lops? Yes, coming, my la
He whipped out his knifr
where Dollops lay, and cut
The boy rose and stretel
a flash of lightning for s
he led the way through a
coal cellar, but from abov
patch of blue sky through e
Passing the table, Cleek
red wool and ran his fing
swering hardness in the cen
lips. He rushed after Doll
For even as the door close
o+n~t J" *I "
"Drink it up, mother, and it will make thy dreams rosy.
Eh, what is that? 'Jth-ht'"
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES S13
"They've found her," whispered Dollops, as they
climbed up and wormed their way through the man-
hole, "and they're howling like mad things. Quick,
sir ! quick ! "
For the door had been suddenly crashed in with a
blow that sent the echoes chasing each other over
the great house, and Merode appeared in the rudely
made doorway. He rushed up after Cleek had
wormed his way through the narrow hole. As his
head appeared over the top, Mr. Narkom laid a
hand upon his shoulder and pulled him through the
aperture, and a veritable posse of police surrounded
"Played, my lads, played !" cried Cleek's voice
exultingly. Instantly, like the cry of a shot bird,
Merode's voice went up in warning to those others
below, even as the crowd above closed round him and
Mr. Narkom snapped the bracelets on his wrists.
"Now then, boys, surround the house and we'll
have the lot of them caught like rats in a trap!
Quick, or they'll get away from you yet. Sharp,
there ! Don't hesitate ! Don't wait ! " shouted Cleek.
They needed no second bidding. Like a pack of
hungry wolves they surged up through the front
door and swarmed over the house.
Ten minutes later they were in the presence of an
anxious little group who had been waiting for them.
Ailsa ran forward with outstretched hands, her eyes
were shining, her face was transfigured.
"You succeeded! Thank God, you succeeded!' 9
'<*•* Utile ,aunt,e
™ took tie ci,,;,
°»W«tchedh M d.,
Blood/ and yet ai^
f™ °P "to some ,
f»tetoy ou . c ;
•^fMPrf it lovingly
CLEEITS GOVERNMENT CASES 315
And so lie left them and passed on and out, with
Ailsa by his side; Dollops, faithful, adoring Dollops,
behind; and his best friend, Mr. Narkom, in front —
a bodyguard a king might envy.
And he smiled as he passed down the wide staircase.
IN THE silence that is born of complete under-
standing, they passed down the drive, hedged «
both sides with flowering shrubs and great,
swaying branches of trees. So intent, in fact, upon ]
their own happiness were they, that for once deck's '
ears were not sharpened to the sounds that lay abort *
him. He was with Ailsa and that was enough.
Even Air. Narkom, following at some diatom*
with Dollops, rested content in the knowledge of an
It was Ailsa who saw, and, seeing, pointed into a
clump of thick shrubs, from which appeared the head
of a woman, with the late sunlight picking out, like
silver, the thing that was in her hand.
"Oh, my dear, my dear!' 9 she cried out suddenly,
and flung herself before Cleek, with a little sob of
anguish and terror. He turned instantly, but it was
The little shining thing spat forth a jet of fire; came
the sound of a shot, the zip lot a, bullet singing in the
still air, and as the word "Margot ! " left his lips, Ailsa
fell forward at his feet with a whispering breath, and
lay very, very still.
For a moment he made no move, uttered no sound,
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 317 .
simply stood there, unable to realize the appalling,
awful thing that had happened. Then, with a
choked-up cry of unutterable horror, he fell to his
knees beside her.
He caught her in his arms, rocking her to and fro
in a sort of mute anguish, like a mother whose child
has passed into the silence of the great Beyond. The
sweat stood out upon his forehead in great beads,
his face was twisted and dreadful to look upon.
Mr. Narkom fairly bounded forward.
44 Miss Lome! My God! And she saved you,
Cleek! Not dead? Not dead?"
"God knows," gave back Cleek in a wrung, tense
voice, as he bent over the still figure and placed a
shaking hand upon her heart. "No, not dead. But
failing fast. A carriage, Mr. Narkom, and a doctor,
for the love of heaven! O Ailsa, my dear, my dear!
To think that this should be the end of our happiness,
the finish of our dreams! And I would have given
my soul to save you ! "
He looked up suddenly at the sound of sobbing,
and looking, saw Dollops with one arm thrown up
across his eyes and his shoulders heaving, crying as
though his very heart would break.
The boy was beside him in an instant, his lips
pressed against the dark cloth of Cleek's sleeve.
"If it might have been me, guv'nor; if only it
might have been me!" he sobbed out in a heart-
wrung, desolate voice. "To *ave given my life for
^,.^.>. WU.-U 10 sraiie,
"a brace of shakes" a di
the spot by the sound
Ailsa's still form lying i
upon his knees beside it,
Cleek watched his I
haunted eyes. It was gi
Finally, his tense lips :
words, and the shadow ol
The doctor hesitated,
the heart; two inches fa
answered "No" to that c
had not settled it beforeh
ing freely, staining the
forming an ugly, sticky
ground. Then. he put ba
" Perhaps, but $he loss
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 319
his fingers. " We shall staunch it ! Good God, doc-
tor, if you knew what she meant to me! Ailsa, my
dear, my life! Don't go from me! Don't drag me
back again into the mire of despair from which you
saved me. Ailsa — Ailsa ! My God ! My God ! "
It was a heart cry, wrung from the depths of his
tortured soul. Even the doctor's eyes filled. Rarely
had he come upon such love as this, and the sight of it
sent him silent, wondering.
Then he shut his lips together, and got slowly
to his feet. There was a new, resolution in his ac-
"Brandy!" he snapped out quickly. Geek ten-
dered his flask. He slopped a spoonful of it be-
tween her blue lips. "That's right. Hold back the
blood. Hello! there, boy, sprint off to the hospital
at the bottom of this road and fetch a stretcher and a
couple of nurses. Say it's Doctor Harmon, and tell
them to come at once. Gad! but I believe she's
And for a moment it seemed true, that she was
"coming round," for a slight breath stirred her limp
body, like a whisper, so faint it was, and was gone.
But it had been a breath nevertheless.
Cleek's face whitened with the strain of it.
"Let her live, doctor, and you shall have every-
thing I possess ! Only Jet hpr live ! "
"I'll do all I can, man. For the love of humanity,
nothing else. Hello! who's this? Stretcher com-
in them, and blew ]
"Yes, but alight
'"Hen God will |„
indent quietly, with
Come. They are o
her away, dear pal, at
if I could have saved j
"I know, I know'"
voice. "You, Don™,
•led for her. But it,
<k«r friend, as far a> t
I»rt; I am such a pooi
Ore old Cleek, eh? T<
JAethat! And that
"•■got! The devil sh,
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 321
their wake. Lady Brasker and the gallant Captain
first among them. It was Cleek's hour of torture,
and he would see that he bore it alone. Only Dol-
lops, returning when he found the stretcher had al-
ready been summoned and had gone; only Dollops
might see his master's grief, and he because he held so
great a portion of his master's heart.
The " Tears of Blood ! " Cleek had triumphed too
soon. The fateful jewels had exacted their due once
more, and it was Ailsa who had paid the price !
They reached the hospital at last, and were shown
into a little, bare waiting-room, while the doctors and
the nurses and the stretcher bearers, with their pre-
cious burden, passed on to a private ward, where the
case might be looked into and thoroughly examined.
Mr. Narkom sat by Cleek, very close, very still, his
hand upon Cleek's arm, his face pain-wrought, full
of silent sympathy, while Dollops, faithful henchman
that he was, dropped to the ground at his master's
feet, and crouched there, a little huddled heap of
clothing, with wide eyes, tear-wet still, and his great
love for the man shining upon his thin, cockney
And between them, like a graven image, making no
move, uttering no sound, sat Cleek himself, watching,
with tight-pressed lips and tortured eyes, how the
little clock upon the mantelshelf ticked off the min-
utes, until such time as they could tell him if life had
conquered in the great battle which was being fought
out there in the peaceful ward.
thumped a cradles,
AiLsa! Ailsa!" fl
°V' "■<=<&■> distal
""".-Ik sent his pafe
lo P» ""Bowed a sob "
,. J ™J<ut then, when
»d Docto, Har ffl „nc.
J-«* got to his feet
;"« docto, bowed hi,
Ies > he said quietl'
farte to nuUceup forth™
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 82S
Like a shot Dollops was upon his feet, his hand
clasping Cleek's arm, his face pale, exultant.
"Let me, guv'nor, for Gawd's syke let me give it to
'er!" he said in a low, excited voice. "It's little
enough to do for yer, sir, after all wot yer've done
fer me! But it's summink. An' that's all I arsk.
I'm — I'm a full-blooded cove, guv'nor, and strong
as a young colt. And I'd be so glad, I would, I
would. Yer'U let me, won't yer, sir? Please /"
Cleek looked at him a moment and swallowed
something in the back of his throat. The blessed
young beggar! Why, the boy would willingly give
his life if need be, that he knew. But there should
be none who could make this sacrifice but himself.
He started to speak, but Mr. Narkom silenced him,
his podgy face working with difficult emotion.
"Cleek, dear chap, dear friend," he said in the short
sharp sentences of a man's heart-words, "it should be
for me your oldest friend to offer, boy. And after all
you've done for me. Doctor, I will come at once, if
you will show me the way. But to be able to help
you, Cleek — really "
His voice trailed off into silence, and he let the
rest of the sentence go by default, merely stood there,
shifting from one foot to the other like an eager
schoolboy, very red about the face, very willing, his
eyes filled with unshamed tears.
For a moment Cleek made no answer, simply stood
looking at these two — his friends, his pals — who
were willing to make the sacrifice for him, willing to
„ ' l ° racli.
We "^ *«
™" »» lo be, ci«Tl
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 825
And what greater happiness, after all, than that?
So it was with head erect, and heart singing, and
eyes alight that he passed on to the spot where the
one dear woman lay, and made ready for the sacri-
IT WAS September — beautiful, golden, amber-
hued September — with roqes ablow, blossom-
sweet, heavy with perfume, a very paradise for
the nature-lover and the artist!
And in a sense Cleek was both. To-day Ailsa had
left the hospital for good and all, said good-bye to
the white-capped nurses who had grown to love her
in the time she was with them, bade adieu to Doctor
Harmon and his confreres, and was returning once
more to the cottage by the river and the quiet peace of
the pleasant Thames Valley.
A fortnight there for rest, and then — after that —
Cleek's thoughts dared not go further. Sufficient for
the moment was the happiness thereof; he would not
probe into the joy of the future, there was time
enough for that. To-day was enough for his soul's
needs. For Ailsa was well, Ailsa had recovered, and
— she owed her life to him. It was enough to send
any ordinary man daft with happiness.
He passed from one rose bush to the other, run-
ning his fingers over the petals, with a sort of caress-
ing mpvement that was always his when his flowers
were the thing in mind at the moment. Already
Ailsa's lap was filled with the beauty of them. He
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 327
snipped off a perfect "Lyons" and tossed it lightly
upon the tumbled heap of colour that she already
"Perfect, eh, Ailsa mine?" he said in his deep,
full voice, with a little laugh of pure happiness under-
lying it. "And to be back again among them like
this! Gad! but the world's a glorious place to-day,
made perfect by the sunlight of one dear woman's
smile. And to have you here, well and strong and
He went to her and stood a moment looking down
at her with his heart in his reverent eyes.
She gave vent to a happy laugh, and reached up her
arms to him, twining them about his neck as he knelt,
and pillowing her fair head against his breast.
"Oh, but it is heaven, this, king of my heart!"
she said softly, smoothing his back hair with her
soft fingers. "And the future, dear, the future that
is ahead of us."
Their lips met and held; all heaven was in the kiss.
Then, like a deriding Nemesis, they heard Dollop's
voice calling out across the garden, and sprang apart
like guilty conspirators caught in the act.
Dollops, faithful henchman, darted conveniently
behind a rose bush and waited his time. Then he
issued forth seeing nothing but the buds and the
birds and the trees, and waved a paper in his hand
until such time as Cleek would come down sufficiently
enough to earth to look at it.
Dollops giggled again
"About the best lega
me, guv'nor," he eji
what the pyper says, s
join me in a lark down i
the drinks on me! It's
in a cat's age. Maure
clared a republic, wiv
Hirma as 'ead ofjthe Cabi
little tit-bit, eh? No mt
chatterin' monkeys now
'ole lot of 'em 'as got a pr
in order, I 'opes, and let
the peace alone!"
He suddenly stopped s;
face, and sucked in his
hissing sound. For then
CLEEK'S GOVERNMENT CASES 329
ment of sadness in it, even though the relief was
Then his hand went out and touched Cleek's arm,
and his voice, shaken, afraid, broke in upon the
silence that had fallen about them.
"Yer don't care that much, do yer, guv'nor?
Gawd's trufe, if yer do, I'll step across the ocean and
see what I can do myself fer annuwer blessed king
ter put in yer place. But them sorts is better wiv a
republic, yer know, sir, they is truly."
"Yes, Dollops, 'them sorts is better wiv a repub-
lic,' as you say," gave back Cleek quietly in a slow,
dreamy voice. "But, my country! My country!
To think you should have come to this — and all
because of me ! Poor Irma ! Poor, faithful friend of
a country's throne, this must indeed be your most
bitter hour. And so the dream is ended. Come,
Dollops, shake hands. From this day forward, I am
a private country gentleman, with no unpleasant
royal relations. That is one comfort, anyway.
Ailsa!" He turned upon his heel and went toward
her, a smile upon his lips, a lingering regret in his
eyes. Perhaps he had dreamed, who knows, that
some day Maurevania might call to him, and, calling,
take him back, with Ailsa as his Queen, to the land
that had held his heart ever since that day, so many
years ago, when he had been driven out of it.
And now the dream was ended, over. He reached
out his hands to her, and drew a deep, heart-wrung
__ rf „. w lul- litru, ana
call up Mr. Narkoui, ai
He will be relieved, poi
among them! Dollops,
and say I wish to spet
That's right; nip off, nc
Ailsa!" He reached out
came to him, head up, e;
him yhinin g j n her fair, .
I have no throne to offer, n
you may find in my heart.
Maurerania's, that I can
be content, dear?"
For answer she looked
arms about his neck, kissii
" Yon have given me th
for you have given me yoi
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