A MYSTERIOUS PARCEL

The woman who had caused this commotion stood in the doorway, looking
on in some surprise. She was dressed in the semi-masculine fashion now
affected by the sex–a serge gown, short and smart in appearance, a
natty jacket of the same material, worn over a black striped shirt,
and a Tyrolean hat of brown felt. Her face was oval and waxen in its
pallor, her eyes of a dark blue, and her hair black and luxuriant. A
look of determination was impressed on lip and eye, but this gave
place to an expression of surprise when she saw Robert fall on the
floor. Finally, when her eyes met those of Fanks’, she started and
shrank back. Maxwell peered over her shoulder in gaping astonishment;
and for quite half a minute there was a dramatic pause. It was broken
by the woman, who stepped forward and addressed herself to Fanks.

“You see how the sight of me terrifies this wretch,” she said,
pointing to the man on the floor; “you shall hear from other lips than
mine how he treated his master’s wife. Wait, gentlemen, till I bring
up my friend to confront this man.”

And with these extraordinary words she pushed back Maxwell and
disappeared.

Quite believing that she spoke in all good faith, Fanks made no sign
that she should be stopped. Indeed, he was too dumbfounded by the
strangeness of the situation to speak; and he looked helplessly at
Garth.

That gentleman was, if possible, even more surprised than his friend.
The sudden appearance of the presumably dead woman at once alarmed and
astonished them both; and they knew not what to make of the matter.

“Do you believe that it is Emma Calvert?” asked Garth, who was the
first to recover the use of his tongue.

“Emma Calvert, my friend?”

“Well, then, Lady Fellenger, if you prefer it.”

“It doesn’t matter what we call her,” rejoined Fanks, with a shrug,
“seeing that she is dead.”

“But she is not dead.”

Fanks again shrugged his shoulders, and pointed to the photograph.
“The card says that Emma Calvert is dead,” he remarked; “the valet
says that Emma Calvert is dead. How then can this living woman be Emma
Calvert, Lady Fellenger?”

“I can’t explain,” said Garth, obstinately, “but I am sure of one
thing; that she is the original of this picture.”

“It would appear so,” said Fanks, looking puzzled; “and yet–upon my
word, it is the most extraordinary thing I ever saw in life. Garth,
for once you see me at my wit’s end and thoroughly mystified.”

“Wait, Fanks. Wait the explanation of this woman; hear the story of
her friend. In the meantime, let us revive this wretched creature.”

“He is in a kind of fit,” said Fanks, kneeling down and loosening the
collar of the insensible man. “Get some water, Garth, and you,
Maxwell, go down and see if that woman and her friend are coming up.
We may as well see this business out.”

These directions were obeyed, and Garth soon returned with a glass of
water, while Fanks–always provided against emergencies–produced a
smelling bottle and a flask of brandy. While thus employed they were
interrupted by Maxwell, with a look of alarm on his face.

“Well!” said Fanks, sharply. “Where is this woman and her friend?”

“I don’t know about her friend, sir; but she’s gone off.”

Fanks sprang to his feet. “Gone off!” he repeated. “What do you mean?”

“What I say, sir,” said the policeman, doggedly. “I went down and
could not see her. I asked the constable at the door, and he said as
she had drove off in a hansom.”

A look of mingled surprise and distrust settled on the face of Fanks.
In a moment he guessed without much difficulty that the woman had
tricked him, and he felt small in his own estimation at having been so
neatly baffled. It was the most humiliating moment of his life.

“Attend to this man with Mr. Garth,” he said roughly, “I shall see for
myself;” and, blaming himself for his simplicity, he caught up his hat
and took himself out of the chambers.

At the street door he looked up and down, but ho could see no trace of
the missing woman. A constable loitered on the pavement some distance
away, and although he was a stranger to Fanks the detective accosted
him without the least hesitation. This was less the time for
considering than for acting. Every moment was precious; every moment
lessened the chance of tracking and discovering the woman. Fanks, as a
rule, was one of the most self-contained of men, rarely losing his
self-control or cool temper, but at this moment he could have sworn
freely at his want of caution which had let a possible witness in the
case slip through his fingers. But he hoped that there was yet time to
retrieve his fault. “Officer,” he said, walking quickly up to the
constable, “did you see a lady come out of yonder door?”

“Yes, sir. The policeman upstairs just asked me about her. She went
away in a hansom five minutes ago. I see it drive off like mad.”

“Were you near at hand?”

“Just at her elber, so to speak, sir.”

“Did you hear what address she gave the cabman?”

“What do you want to know for, sir?” asked the policeman, in a gruff
way.

“That is my business and not yours,” retorted Fanks, unused to being
thwarted by members of the force; “I am Fanks, the detective, and I am
here on business. Quick, man, the address?”

As Maxwell had hinted that a detective was upstairs, the policeman at
once believed this statement and saluted respectfully. “She didn’t
give no perticler address, but she jest said Piccadilly promiscus.”

“What part of Piccadilly?” demanded Fanks, hailing a hansom.

“Jest Piccadilly, and no more, sir,” repeated the officer.

“Do you know the number of the cab?”

“No, sir; there weren’t no occasion of me to take it.”

“Of course, of course,” muttered Fanks, testily. “Can you describe the
hansom? Was there any particular mark, by which I can recognise it?”

“Well, sir, I did note as it had a red, white, and blue suncloth over
the roof, with a cabby as wore a white beaver, so to speak.”

“That will do,” cried Fanks, jumping into the vehicle which had driven
up; “which way did the cab turn?”

“To the right, sir; down Piccadilly.”

“Cabby,” cried the detective, as the driver looked through the trap,
“go down Piccadilly, and look for a hansom with a red, white, and blue
suncloth. It’s a sovereign if you catch it.”

“That’s Joe Berners’ cab, that is,” said Jehu, and drove off briskly,
with his fare in a fever of excitement.

Fanks had enough to think about during that drive, the material being
amply supplied by the woman who had so cleverly tricked him. What
motive had brought this woman to Fellenger’s chambers? For what reason
had she taken her departure so suddenly? Was Emma Calvert dead? If so,
who was the woman who bore so extraordinary a resemblance to her? If
Emma Calvert were not dead, and this was she, why had she come to
Half-Moon Street, and why had Robert fainted at the mere sight of her?
All these questions presented themselves to the mind of the detective,
and he found himself unable to answer any of them. If he discovered
the mysterious woman there might be a chance of explanation; failing
the woman, there remained the valet. But if the one was missing and
the other was ignorant, Fanks knew not what he should do in so
difficult a matter.

As it was the height of the season, Piccadilly was crowded with
vehicles of all descriptions, and the rate of progress was slow. Far,
very far, ahead Fanks thought that he could descry the noticeable
suncloth described by the constable, but of this he was not quite
sure; therefore he remained in his cab instead of alighting to make
certain.

During a block caused by the congested state of the roadway it flashed
into his mind that he had seen the woman’s face before. He was
doubtful if this was so, and yet he had an uneasy feeling that it was.
The features of this unknown woman were familiar to him; but, as the
Americans say, “he could not fix her nohow.” It only remained for him
to refresh his memory with a second glimpse; but at present he saw no
chance of getting one. He despaired of finding the woman of whom he
was in search.

The hansom showed no signs of moving on, and, finding that he could
walk quicker than he could drive, Fanks paid his cabman, jumped out,
and raced along the crowded pavement. He saw a number of people whom
he knew, but paying no attention to these he rushed along, intent on
getting to his goal. At length his exertions were rewarded, for by the
Isthmian Club he saw the wished-for cab ahead. It was turning into
Berkeley Square, and, as the throng was thinner in the side street,
Fanks secured another hansom with a likely-looking horse, and followed
in its wake. It struck him that he might as well find out where the
woman lived; therefore he did not attempt to catch up, but directed
his driver to keep persistently on the trail. It was his only chance
of gaining his ends with so crafty an opponent.

Then commenced a long, long chase, which cost Fanks the best part of a
sovereign. He followed to Oxford Street, thence emerged into Regent
Street; passed through Piccadilly Circus, down to Trafalgar Square.
After proceeding along the Strand, the cabs dropped down Arundel
Street to the Embankment, went up through Northumberland Avenue,
Cockspur Street, Waterloo Place, and again doubled the trail in
Piccadilly. Fanks began to weary of this interminable chase; he
wondered where this woman intended to stop. Still he held on in a
dogged fashion, determined to weary out his adversary, whom he began
to consider a foeman–or rather a foewoman–not unworthy of his steel.
He therefore kept up the chase on the doubled trail, and, to his
surprise, he found that the cab which he had so persistently followed
turned up Half-Moon Street, and stopped before the chambers of
Fellenger.

“Good Lord!” said Fanks to himself, “surely she has not been so great
a fool as to come to earth again, where she knows she will find me.”

He was perfectly right in making this remark, for when he jumped out
and ran up to the first cab he found it–empty. Fanks swore, whereat
Joe Berners grinned.

“And it do serve y’ right,” said Joe, who was a surly person; “I never
did ‘old as young gents should persecute innocents. G’ on wi’ y’.”

Fanks recovered his temper on hearing this speech. It was most
humiliating to have followed an empty cab for so many miles; but it
was rather amusing to be accused of being a profligate when he was
ardently bent on doing his duty. The detective laughed, although the
joke was against himself.

“The question of persecution will bear argument, my friend,” he said
in a laughing tone. “In the meantime, perhaps you will tell me what
you did with the young lady you picked up here?”

“Why!” said Mr. Berners, “she told me as you was after her for kisses
an’ such like; so she gives me a sov. to mislead you. She got out of
my keb at the end of this street, she did; and told me to drive on an’
on for an hour or so, while she got away. I done that,” added Joe,
with a grin, “an’ you’ve bin follerin’ a h’empty keb ever since I went
up to Berkeley Square.”

“You have acted according to your lights, my friend,” said Fanks, when
he realised how he had been tricked, “and I do not blame you. All the
same I am not a profligate, but a detective.”

“Lor!” said Joe, “has she done anything, sir?”

“What she has done is nothing to you. Can you tell me in which
direction she went?”

“No, I can’t, sir; and I don’t bel’ve you, I don’t,” and so saying Joe
Berners drove off in high dudgeon.

Fanks made no attempt to stop him; for he saw that the woman had
defeated him, and the only thing left for him to do was to retire with
the best possible grace. To this end he paid his cab, shrugged his
shoulders, and went upstairs again. Since the woman had succeeded in
escaping him, the solution of the problem lay entirely with Robert.
Then a miracle. On the way up to the chambers the memory of that face
flashed across the mind of Fanks.

“Ah!” he said, with a start, “I remember now. I saw that face in the
crowd round the Red Star, on the night of the murder.”

Before Fanks finally dismissed the matter of that futile chase he
asked a question of his friend the constable. “Did you notice,” said
he, “if that young lady had a friend with her?”

“No, Mr. Fanks,” said the other, promptly, “she was all alone.”

“Humph! I thought so,” meditated Fanks, as he ascended the stairs,
“the accusing friend was a myth. Well, I guess there’s a vacancy for a
fool, and I’m elected. I’ve lost her once; but she won’t escape me a
second time. Taxton-on-Thames isn’t London.”

The links of the chain which brought forth this remark were as
follows:–The postal mark on the envelope was Taxton-on-Thames;
the handwriting thereon was the same as that on the back of the
photograph–to all appearance that of the missing woman–therefore
Fanks thought that he might gain some information about her in the
village. The link of the writings connected her with the riverside
town; and by following such clue he hoped to arrive at some knowledge
of her identity.

With this resolution, he entered the chambers and found Robert
restored to sensibility, sitting on the sofa, with Garth and Maxwell
in attendance. The latter looked up eagerly as the detective entered.
But Fanks had no idea of letting an inferior into his methods of
working, and he dismissed him forthwith.

“Maxwell, you can leave the room,” he said sharply; and when the
policeman had taken his departure he turned to Garth, and continued,
“I lost her after all, my friend; she gave me the slip with singular
dexterity. That going down to bring up a witness was all bosh; she
told that story as a blind to get out of the room without suspicion.”

“But who is she?” asked Garth, at this tale of failure.

Fanks smiled grimly, and looked at the valet. “No doubt Robert can
tell us that, he said, significantly.

“I think she is Lady Fellenger–Emma Calvert,” said Robert, faintly.

“That is all nonsense. You told us distinctly that Emma Calvert was
dead; the inscription on the portrait affirms your statement. How then
can this living woman be the lady in question?”

“It might have been her ghost.”

“Rubbish! Ghosts don’t appear in the daytime; and drive off in cabs;
moreover there are no such things as ghosts. Your explanation is weak,
Robert; try another story.”

“It is the best that I can give, sir; if she isn’t Emma Calvert; who
is she?”

“That is what we wish to find out,” said Garth. “You say that Lady
Fellenger–whom you will persist in calling Emma Calvert–is dead?”

“I saw her lying at the Morgue, sir,” declared Robert, passionately.
“I saw her placed in her coffin; I saw her buried, and the earth
heaped over her. She is dead; I swear that she is dead.”

“Where is she buried?”

“In Pere la Chaise, in Paris.”

Fanks began twisting his ring. “You say that she destroyed herself,”
he said; “had you anything to do with her death?”

The man broke down, and burst out weeping, exculpating himself between
his sobs. “I had nothing to do with her death,” he declared, “she was
always a good mistress to me, but my master treated her shamefully.
When he married her and first came to Paris they were quite happy. But
Sir Gregory grew tired of her; he grew tired of everyone; and he began
to neglect her for others. She was very proud, and she put up with it
for a time. At last she got angry at him, and insisted that he should
take her back to London and introduce her to his friends. This he
refused to do, and he taunted her with having been in a shop. He
called her Emma Calvert even before me.”

“You are sure that she was his wife?” interrupted Fanks.

“I was present at the marriage myself, sir. It took place in a
registry office. She was his wife and Lady Fellenger sure enough, but
after some months he would not call her by that name. He knew that she
was proud,” added Robert, in a lower tone, “and I think he wished to
drive her to her death.”

“I always said that he was a bad lot,” interposed Garth, in disgust.

“He was not a good man, sir, but he was a good master to me. But the
end of it all was that one evening they had a terrible quarrel, and in
a fit of rage she ran out of the house. I would have followed her, but
my master would not let me go. When next I saw her, she was lying dead
in the Morgue.”

“You think that she flung herself into the river?”

“I am sure of it, sir. Her body was taken out of the Seine. My master
seemed to feel her death terribly, but all the same I think he was
relieved that his marriage was at an end. He got it put about in some
way that the death was an accident, and the body was buried in Pere la
Chaise. After that he made me promise not to tell anyone that he had
been married, and we returned to England. That is all I know, except
that she has come back to haunt me.”

Fanks stood biting his fingers. The servant was evidently in earnest,
and according to his story the ill-fated wife of the late Sir Gregory
was dead and buried; yet, going by the likeness of the portrait to the
woman who had vanished, she was alive. Fanks had been engaged in
several very difficult cases, but they were all child’s play compared
to the intricacy of this problem. He was at his wits end, startled,
mystified.

While the valet wept and Fanks thought, Garth broke the silence. “We
are off the track,” he said roughly; “we are seeking to solve the
mystery of my cousin’s death, not to trouble about that of his unhappy
wife.”

“It is all of a piece,” replied Fanks, “the one death is connected
with the other; how, I am unable to say at present. In the face of it,
I can hardly bring myself to believe that Emma Calvert is dead.”

“Robert swears that she is,” said Garth, with a shrug.

“I do, I do, I swear it,” wailed the man. “I saw her buried.”

The tones of the wretched creature were so heart-rending that both his
listeners believed that he spoke the truth. The detective placed the
portrait, the pasteboard star, and the envelope containing the slips
of print in his pocket, and beckoned to Garth. “We can do no more good
here,” he said in a low tone. “I must think out the matter by myself;
let us go away.”

“But Robert?”

“I shall stay here, sir,” said the servant, rising; “Mr. Vaud said
that I was to stay here until Sir Louis Fellenger came to town.”

“Who is Mr. Vaud?” demanded Fanks.

“Oh, he is Fellenger’s lawyer,” explained Garth, quickly, “of the firm
of Vaud and Vaud, of Lincoln’s Inn Fields. I was wondering why my
cousin had not come up to take possession of the property; but it
appears that he is ill.”

“Was he not at the funeral?”

“Yes, and, mighty bad he looked; he must have taken to his bed since.
I suppose that not finding himself able to come he sent for Mr. Vaud.”

“Yes, sir,” said the valet, “and Mr. Vaud came here to find the police
in possession; so he told me to stay here.”

“Quite right,” said Fanks. “I shall see Mr. Vaud myself.”

Before leaving the chambers Fanks told Maxwell to keep a sharp lookout
on Robert, of whom he had some suspicion. Then with Garth he went down
slowly, talking and thinking. Garth had asked him what was to be done
next, and he did not know what to say. Ultimately he declared that he
would interview Vaud.

“Why?” asked Garth, after a pause.

“Because if I do not see him, he will see me. I must explain why I
wish the police to continue in possession of the dead man’s chambers;
and also I want a letter of introduction to the new baronet.”

“I can give you that; but I do not understand why you should wish to
see him. He can do no good.”

“I am not so sure of that,” responded Fanks, dryly, “and in any case I
must tell him what I am doing. As the heir he must be anxious to clear
up the mystery of his cousin’s death.”

“I don’t think he’ll trouble much,” replied Garth, doubtfully.
“Gregory and Louis hated, one another like poison. They had not met
for ten years.”

“Why did they hate one another?”

“I don’t know. Louis is a better man than Gregory. He was a scoundrel,
as you have heard. An out-and-out scamp.”

“And something worse than a scamp,” said Fanks; “but about this
introduction? Are you on good terms with your cousin Louis?”

“I don’t like him,” answered Garth, after a pause, “he is a scientific
prig. All the same there is no ill-will between us.”

“Very good. You can give me that introduction as soon as you like.”

“I’ll write it to-day; and if you wish to see Vaud the elder you’ll
find him at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, a pleasant old gentleman of the
out-of-date school.”

“You emphasise the elder Vaud. Is there a son?”

“Yes, a fellow of thirty or thereabouts, He is the partner, but he has
been ill of late, and has only returned from a tour of the world. But,
I say Hersham, you know.”

“I shall call on him to-morrow,” said Fanks, “and question him about
the tattooed cross.”

“When shall I see you again?”

“Call to-morrow night at my Duke Street chambers. I may have some news
for you.”

“About Emma Calvert?”

“About Dr. Renshaw.”

“Do you still connect him with the crime?”

“I connect him with Dr. Binjoy, and I connect Dr. Binjoy with his
negro servant; and further I connect a black man wearing a green coat
with brass button& with the murder.”

“Then you suspect that the servant of Dr. Binjoy killed Fellenger, and
that Binjoy in the disguise of Renshaw was at the Red Star to assure
himself that his instructions had been carried out.”

“That is exactly what I don’t mean.”

“Then what are you driving at?”

“Ask me the same question in five weeks, and I’ll tell you.”

“Will it take you all that time to find out the truth?”

Fanks laughed at the implied sneer. “I am no miracle-monger, my dear
sir,” he said; “I am groping in the dark; and a mighty hard task it
is. I do not know in which direction to move at the present moment. If
only some thing would turn up likely to point out a path. Renshaw,
Mrs. Boazoph, and Robert are all sign-posts, but which to go by, I
really cannot say. Five weeks, Garth, and then perhaps failure.”

All this time they were still standing at the door at the foot of the
stairs. Now Fanks made a movement, but before he could step on to the
pavement he was aware that Maxwell was coming down the stairs quickly.
In another moment he was at the elbow of his superior officer, holding
out a small packet wrapped up in brown paper. Fanks took it gingerly,
and examined it with a thoughtful look on his face.

“Well, Maxwell,” he said, “what is this?”

“I don’t know, sir,” said the breathless Maxwell. “I guessed that you
mightn’t be far away, so I took the liberty to come after you.”

“To give me this packet?”

“Yes, sir. I found it a few minutes ago in the letter-box on the door.

“Ah!” said Garth, in a startled tone, “was it there last time you
looked?”

“No, sir; not an hour ago. It ain’t got no postmark or stamp.”

“And it is addressed to Sir Gregory Fellenger,” said Fanks; “I’ll open
it,” and without further remark Fanks did so. Therein was a morocco
case. When this was opened they saw lying on a bed of purple velvet a
long and slender needle of silver. Garth would have picked it out, but
Fanks stopped him with a shudder. “Don’t touch it,” he said; “there is
death here.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean,” said Fanks, “that I hold in my hand the poisoned needle with
which your cousin was murdered.”

Share