THE GREEN OVERCOAT

It may be here mentioned that Fanks had no intention of arresting
Hersham at the present time, he had threatened to do so in order to
induce Anne to speak out; but this having failed, he thought no more
about the matter. The journalist was being watched, and he could be
arrested at any moment; so Fanks was quite at his ease on that score.
The slightest false step, and Hersham would find himself within the
walls of a jail; but up to the present time Fanks had not collected
sufficient evidence against him to warrant any magistrate authorising
his imprisonment. The confession of the next week might bring about
the intervention of the law, but till then Fanks left Hersham under
the eye of the watching detective, and devoted himself to searching
for the mysterious negro who had worn the green coat with brass
buttons.

It may seem strange to the reader that so astute a man as Mr. Fanks
should advertise for a negro, when he was confident that the only
negro connected with the matter was in Bombay. But this apparent
riddle will be explained when Mr. Fanks receives the expected answer
to his paragraph in the “Morning Planet.” This appeared two days after
he left Taxton-on-Thames, and read as follows:–

“Ten pounds reward will be given to any person who can inform
advertiser of the whereabouts of a black man dressed in a green coat
with brass buttons. Twenty pounds will be given to anyone who can give
information as to the movements of the said black man on the night of
the twenty-first of June last, between the hours of six and nine.
Apply Messrs. Vaud and Vaud, Lincoln’s Inn Fields.”

It cannot be said that this advertisement was a masterpiece of
composition, but the clumsy wording was due to Crate, and Crate not
being a scholar had written it in such a fashion. Fanks commented on
its prolixity to the author himself on the morning of its appearance.

“You could have shortened that advertisement considerably,” he said,
smiling. “I never saw so roundabout a request for information.”

“What does it’ matter?” replied Crate, growing rather red. “I ain’t no
scholar, Mr. Fanks, and I did the best I could. If, the fish bites,
sir, that is all you want.”

“I hope the fish will bite, Crate,” said Fanks, fretfully; “if not, I
do not know what I shall do. Never have I been so unlucky as over this
case. Everything seems to go wrong with me. But if I can find anyone
who saw this negro on the night of the murder we my hear strange
things.”

“About Mrs. Boazoph and Dr. Binjoy?”

“About Miss Colmer and Hersham. Though to be sure such information may
run me into a blind alley. By the way, did Mr. Garth call to see me in
my absence?”

“Twice, sir.”

“The deuce!” muttered Fanks, with a frown. “I wonder why he is so
anxious over this case?”

“I think I can tell you that, sir.”

“And I think I can guess what you are about to say,” retorted Fanks.
“However, let me hear your theory.”

“Well, I may be wrong,” said Crate, modestly, “but it seems to me that
this Mr. Garth is anxious to find out that Sir Louis Fellenger is
concerned in the murder of his cousin, because—-”

“Because he wants to inherit the Fellenger title and property as next
heir,” finished Fanks, smartly.

“Exactly, sir; what do you think of my theory?”

“There may be something in it, Crate,” replied Fanks, thoughtfully;
“of course, Mr. Garth comes into the Fellenger estates on the death of
the present baronet. But,” he added, emphatically, “we know that this
negro actually killed Sir Gregory, so Louis could only be associated
with the case as an accessory before the fact. Therefore he could not
be hanged, even if the case were proved against him. Where would Mr.
Garth be then? In such an event the estates would probably be thrown
into Chancery while Sir Louis was undergoing imprisonment, and would
not come to Garth for years. Your idea is a good one, Crate, but I do
not see how it would benefit our friend.”

Crate scratched his chin. “I suppose that Mr. Garth is lawyer enough
to know all that,” he said, grudgingly, “and wouldn’t risk his neck
for the mere chance of such a thing. He—-”

“Ah! now you are on another track. Mr. Garth may be anxious to prove
the case against Sir Louis, but I do not think he killed Sir Gregory
himself.”

“Oh, I know who you think is guilty, Mr. Fanks. All the same, I do not
agree with you; and I should not be surprised if this Garth turned out
to be the real criminal.”

“Garth isn’t a negro.”

“I guess you have your own ideas about that negro, Mr. Fanks.”

The detective smiled and rose from his seat. “I guess I have, Mr.
Crate. You are improving, my friend; and you are beginning to see
further than your nose. I should not wonder if I made something of you
yet. So you suspect Garth?”

With becoming modesty, but a good deal of emphasis, Crate asserted
that he did, and moreover said that if permitted by his superior
officer he would have great pleasure in proving his case against the
barrister. To this Fanks assented readily enough.

“Prove your case by all means, Crate,” he said, dryly. “I do not agree
with you in the least; all the same I am always open to correction.
One thing only I ask. You must tell me all you do, all you discover,
as I do not wish you to cross my trail.”

This Crate assented to without demur, and Fanks departed to Duke
Street, where he changed his clothes for the more stylish ones of
Rixton. Thence he went to the Athenian Club, and, as he expected,
found Garth in the smoking-room. The lean lawyer looked so haggard and
worn out that Fanks wondered if there might not be more in Crate’s
theory than appeared at first sight. But he rejected this idea almost
as soon as it crossed his mind; he was confident that the true
assassin of Sir Gregory was–but that revelation comes later. In the
meantime he greeted Garth with his customary coolness, and sat down
beside him with a view to learning all that had transpired during his
absence.

“Were you waiting for me here?” he asked, lighting a cigarette.

“Not exactly,” replied Garth, with some hesitation. “I hoped that you
would come in here sooner or later, and I wished to see you. But at
present I am waiting for Herbert Vaud.”

“Really! Do you expect him shortly?”

Garth looked at his watch. “He ought to be here now.”

“What do you wish to see him about?” asked Fanks, eyeing his companion
keenly; “anything about this case?”

Garth nodded. “Yes; young Vaud knew Emma Calvert, and I wish to learn
if she is really dead.”

“You can set your mind at rest on that point,” said Fanks, coolly.
“Emma Calvert is six feet below the soil of Pere la Chaise.”

“But the woman who appeared at my cousin’s chambers; the woman whom
Robert said was she.”

“That is Anne Colmer, the twin sister of the dead woman.”

“Anne Colmer! She is engaged to Ted Hersham.”

“She is. I have been down to Taxton-on-Thames, and I have found out
all the family history.”

“Have you found out who wrote on the back of the photograph; who
directed that envelope?”

“No,” said Fanks, gloomily, “I have not discovered anything yet about
that.”

“Do you think that Anne Colmer wrote it?”

“I am certain from personal observation that Anne Colmer did not.”

“Did her mother?”

“Impossible. Mrs. Colmer is a hopeless paralytic.”

“Then who wrote it?”

“That is just what I have to learn. I am no further in the case than I
was when I saw you last. Have you discovered anything?”

“No; but I had hoped to have learned about Emma from Herbert.”

“Well,” said Fanks, with a sigh, “we know all about Herbert Vaud; we
are aware of the identity of Emma Calvert. It is not in that direction
we must search. Our only chance of finding out the truth, lies in
discovering this negro.”

“I saw your advertisement in the ‘Morning Planet.’ Anybody who can
give information is to call at the office of Vaud and Vaud, I see.”

“I thought it best that they should receive the information,” said
Fanks, “seeing that they are the solicitors of Sir Louis. I hope that
something will turn up; but I am doubtful; I am very doubtful.”

At this moment the waiter brought in a telegram to Mr. Garth. The
barrister opened it, and uttered an ejaculation of surprise. After a
pause, he handed the telegram to Fanks. “Queer, isn’t it?” he said.

Fanks looked at the message, which ran as follows: “Cannot see you
to-day; have to wait in to see Fanks about advertisement. H. Vaud.”

“Humph!” said Fanks, rising briskly to his feet, “it is strange that I
should be here with you; and stranger still that the advertisement
should be answered so promptly. I told Vaud to write to Scotland Yard
should anything turn up; but this will save me a journey.”

“Can I come with you?”

“If you like; I must call at my room first,” said Fanks. “By the way,
my friend,” he added, turning sharply on Garth, “you don’t know
anything about this very apropos telegram?”

“Good Lord, no! How should I? You don’t think that I sent it?”

“No, I don’t. But it is–no matter. Let us get on; there is no time to
lose.”

As a matter of fact, Fanks did not like the look of things at all. He
was naturally suspicious of this telegram, fitted in so very neatly
with the subject of their conversation, that he thought Garth might
know more of it than he had chosen to say. But a moment’s reflection
convinced him that he suspected the lawyer wrongly. Garth did not know
that he was coming to the Athenian Club; therefore, he could not have
made such an arrangement. Fanks dismissed the matter from his mind;
and allowed Garth to come with him to his room.

In Duke Street he picked up a photograph, and placed it in his pocket.
Garth saw the face of the picture, and whistled. “You don’t think that
person has anything to do with it?” he asked, anxiously.

“This person has to do with the present matter,” said Fanks, smartly,
“but I can’t say if the person has anything to do with the death in
Tooley’s Alley. I am only taking this portrait on chance; I may be
wrong. However, we shall see,” and not another word would Fanks say,
until he arrived at Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

Here they found Herbert in his father’s room with an apology. “I have
to take the place of my father to-day, Mr. Fanks,” said the young
lawyer, who looked ill, “he is not well, and deputed me to see after
this matter.”

“Touching the advertisement?” said Fanks, eagerly.

“Yes. A man turned up this morning in answer to it. He is waiting in
the next room; and he says that he knows all about the negro you are
in search of.”

“Good. Let us have him in. You do not mind my friend, Mr. Garth, being
present, I hope?”

“Not at all,” replied Herbert, coldly; “that lies more in your hands
than mine. Show in that man who came about the advertisement,” he
added to a clerk who entered.

The gentleman in question entered. A dried-up little man, brisk and
keen-eyed, with a horsey look about him. He glanced sharply at the
three men, pulled his forelock, and proceeded to ask about the reward.

“I want thirty puns,” he said, calmly.

“Oh, no, you don’t,” retorted Fanks, “you want ten or twenty. The two
rewards are separate; you must not add them together.”

“But I can tell of the whereabouts of this negro; and I can tell his
movements. I know all about him, so I ought to get both rewards.”

“You’ll get either the ten or the twenty,” said Fanks. “Now no more
talk; what is your name?”

“Berry Jawkins; I am barman at the Eight Bells public on the Richmond
Road.”

“Ho; Ho!” muttered Fanks, “I thought as much.”

“On the twenty-first a nigger came riding a bicycle about eight
o’clock; he came into the bar; and had a drink. He wore a green coat
with brass buttons. After he had his drink, he asked if he might wash
his face. I sent him out to the pump in the back yard; he washed and
came in. Then gents,” said the little man, with emphasis, “I got a
surprise, I can tell you.”

“What kind of surprise?” demanded Garth, with an astonished look.

“Why, sir; that nigger weren’t no nigger at all; he were a white man;
as white as you make ’em.”

“A white man,” said Fanks, producing the portrait from his pocket.

“A white man with a smile and a moustache; a very good-looking sort of
feller,” added the barman, “he explained how it was he–”

“Wait a moment,” said Fanks, “is that the man you saw?”

Berry Jawkins started back in surprise, the moment he set eyes on the
photograph which Fanks had thrust under his nose. “My gum, here’s a
start,” said Mr. Berry Jawkins. “That’s the very identical person who
washed himself at the Eight Bells. How did you come to know of him,
sir?”

“I suspected it for some time,” said Fanks, “do you recognise the
face, Mr. Vaud?”

Herbert looked at the face, and his countenance reflected the
astonishment of Berry Jawkins and of Garth.

“Why!” exclaimed the young solicitor, starting back, “it is Ted
Hersham.”

Although Fanks quite expected this revelation, he was, nevertheless,
rather astonished at its unexpected confirmation. From that bicycle
ride of Hersham’s to Taxton-on-Thames to thwart his designs on Anne
Colmer, Fanks had deduced certain suspicions; the hesitation of the
journalist had confirmed those suspicions. Frankly speaking, he
had no reason to connect Hersham with the negro; but he had been
satisfied from the evidence of Simeon Wagg that Caesar–Dr. Binjoy’s
servant–had not been away from the Surrey village on that fatal
night. Failing the real negro someone must have personated the black
man; from the behaviour of Hersham, Fanks thought he might be the
person in question. His random shot had hit the bull’s-eye; it was
quite an accident that it had done so.

“I expected as much,” said Fanks, again restoring the photograph; to
his pocket-book. “I told you, Garth, that I was right to trust to my
instincts. This discovery explains the extraordinary conduct of
Hersham.”

“In what way?”

“I shall tell you later on. In the meantime let us hear what this man
has to say.”

He turned towards Berry Jawkins as he spoke, and waited for him to
speak. The barman looked rather downcast, and when he did open his
mouth it was to revert to the subject of the reward.

“I’m a poor man, gentlemen,” he said, in a whining tone, “and I hope
you mean fair about this thirty puns.”

“We mean fair about the twenty pounds, man,” said Vaud, sternly. “You
heard what Mr. Fanks said.”

“Oh, yes, I heard fast enough,” retorted Berry Jawkins, “and I don’t
hold with him; the rewards added together make thirty puns.”

“No doubt they do; but then the rewards are not to be added together,”
said Fanks. “You had better tell all you know, Mr. Berry Jawkins, or
I’ll look into the matter myself, and then you’ll get no reward.”

“Ah you’d go back on me. Well, d’y see, I shan’t tell anything.”

Fanks shrugged his shoulders. He had no desire to quarrel with the man
or to waste time in arguing. The only way to induce speech from this
obstinate creature was to pay him the money, which, after all, he had
earned fairly enough. The detective therefore advised Herbert Vaud to
fulfil the terms of the advertisement, which was accordingly done, and
Mr. Jawkins found himself the richer by twenty pounds.

“Though it should have been thirty puns,” said the obstinate creature;
“but there ain’t no chance of getting what’s fair out of the
aristocracy. I am a Radical, I am, and I goes—-”

“We don’t want to have your political opinions, man,” said Fanks,
sharply. “Come to the point.”

“I’m coming to it,” grumbled Berry Jawkins. “On the night of the
twenty-first I was in the bar. Business was bad that evening,
gentlemen, and there was not a blessed soul in the bar but myself.
Just about eight o’clock I thought as how I might shut up, when the
door opened and in came a black man. He said, ‘I’ve left my bike
outside: I want a drink of Scotch cold,’ he ses. And, mind you, I
twigged that he wasn’t a nigger when he spoke, and I saw as he was a
gent by the peculiar refinement of his jawing. But as it wasn’t my
business, I said nothing till he asked to wash his face. Then I told
him to go round to the pump in the back yard, ‘tho” ses I, ‘a gent
like you will want hot water.’ ‘I ain’t a gent,’ ses he, ‘I’m only a
poor strolling Christy Minstrel,’ he ses. Then I laughs, seein’ as he
was lying; but he scowls and bolts out to the back. When he comes back
his face was white–as white as you or me–and he had a moustached
like the feller in that photo. In fact, gents, he is the feller in
that photo, as I can swear to in any court of law. Well, he comes back
clean, and finishes his Scotch cold, and goes out. I thinks his manner
queer-like, and goes to the door. He gets on his bike, and goes off
down the road like a house on fire.”

“Which way did he go? To London or down the country?”

“Oh, down the country, for sure, gents. Well, I didn’t say anything
about all this, for I thought as he might be a gent doing a bolt in
disguise; but it wasn’t any of my business to split, perticular as he
had given me two shilling, just for fun like. But, all the same, I
keeps my eye on the papers to see if there was anyone wanted. Then I
comes to this Tooley Alley murder, and a description of the negro in a
green coat and brass buttons. ‘That’s my man,’ I ses, ‘but hold hard,
Berry Jawkins, and don’t say nothing till you see as there is a
reward.’ So I waits and waits, till in this morning’s paper I sees a
reward of thirty puns—-”

“Twenty pounds!”

“Very well, gents all, we’ll say twenty, tho’ to my mind it ought to
be another tenner. But, as I ses, I sees this reward, and comes up to
get it. I have got it,” said Jawkins, slapping his pocket, “tho’ not
the amount I did expect; now, having told all, I goes, hoping you’ll
catch that black-white nigger and hang him, for I think he is a
aristocrat, and I hates them, they being my natural enemies.”

Having heard this history, Fanks let Berry Jawkins go, as there was no
reason why he should be detained. First, however, he found out that
Mr. Jawkins was always to be heard of at the Eight Bells in his
capacity of barman. The man having left the room, Fanks turned towards
Garth and Herbert to see what they thought of the revelation which had
been so unexpectedly made. They returned his gaze, and Garth was the
first to break the silence.

“Well,” he said, in a low tone, “so Hersham is the culprit after all?”

“Pardon me, Garth; but I do not think that we have proved that yet.
What do you say, Mr. Vaud?”

“I can say nothing,” replied Herbert, coldly. “I have no opinion in
the matter. As my father is absent I am attending to the case by his
desire; but, personally speaking, I would not lift one finger to
discover the assassin–or rather, the punisher of Gregory Fellenger.”

“You hated him then?” said Fanks, quietly.

“I hated him; I still hate him; even though he is dead. You wonder at
my speaking in this way, Mr. Fanks, but–”

“No!” replied Fanks, with a certain pity in his tone. “I do not
wonder; your father told Mr. Garth here the story of Emma Calvert; and
Mr. Garth repeated it to me. I know you hate the very memory of that
dead scoundrel.”

“Can you wonder at it?” said Herbert again. “I loved her; she did not
love but she might have grown to do so in time. But he came with his
lies and money to drag her away from me. He married her certainly, but
he drove her to suicide; and if he had not met with his death by this
unknown hand, he would have had to reckon with me for his baseness.”

“You would have killed him yourself, perhaps?”

Herbert Vaud opened and shut his hand convulsively. “I don’t know what
I should have done,” he said in a thick voice. “But he is dead, so
what does it matter. But if I had my way, the assassin of Gregory
Fellenger should go free.”

“He may go free after all,” said Fanks, quietly, “we have not yet
solved the problem of his death.”

“We have proved that Hersham was disguised as the negro,” said Garth,
impetuously.

“We have proved that Hersham was disguised as _a_ negro,” replied
Fanks, making the correction with point, “but we have not proved that
he was–that he is–the negro who killed your cousin in Tooley’s
Alley.”

“If he did not, why was he blacked up on the very night the murder was
committed. He must have had some reason for so masquerading.”

“I have no doubt he had a reason; and I have no doubt that he will
explain his reason to me when I see him. But, on the face of it, I do
not think that he is the negro of Tooley’s Alley.”

“Why not?” said Garth, impatiently. “Look here, Fanks. The skein runs
out as clean as a whistle. Hersham has a cross tattooed on his arm.
The death of my cousin was caused by a similar cross being pricked on
his arm. Hersham is engaged to Anne Colmer; you tell me that she is
the sister of the girl, Emma Calvert, who committed suicide in Paris,
as the victim of Sir Gregory. The envelope, making the appointment
comes from Taxton-on-Thames; Anne Colmer comes from the same place;
she lives there. Hersham was disguised as a negro on the very night of
the murder–at the very time the murder was committed. What is more
reasonable than to suppose that Hersham was inspired by Anne Colmer to
kill the man who had deceived her sister. There, in a few words you
have the motive of the crime; and the way in which it was carried out
Oh, there is no doubt in my mind that we have the real man at last.
Were I you, I should arrest Hersham without delay.”

“If you were in my place, you would do what I intend to do,” said
Fanks, quietly, “and take time to consider the matter. I admit that
you have made a very strong case out against Hersham, but there is one
important particular which you have overlooked.”

“What is that?” asked Garth, “it seems to me that there is not a link
missing.”

“That comes of being too confident. Can you see the missing link, Mr.
Vaud?”

The young lawyer reflected for a few moments in a composed and
careless manner, then looked up, and professed his inability to amend
the case as set out against Hersham. Fanks shrugged his shoulders at
their lack of penetration, and explained his theory.

“The negro who was in Tooley’s Alley had no moustache,” he said,
slowly, “as was proved by the evidence of Mrs. Boazoph. Hersham, on
the contrary, both as negro and white man, had a moustache; as has
been proved by the story of Berry Jawkins.”

“It might have been a false moustache,” said Garth, still sticking to
his point.

“It was not a false moustache,” retorted Fanks, shaking his head, “if
Hersham intended a disguise he would have worn a beard. A moustache
would disguise him little. But for the sake of argument, we will grant
that the moustache was intended as a disguise. If so, why did he
retain it when he washed the black off his face; or, if it was part of
his disguise, why did he wear it both as the black and the white man.
No, no. I am sure that Hersham wore his own moustache; and not a false
one. And again,” added Fanks, with an afterthought, “I saw Hersham
shortly after the murder–within two or three days in fact–he then
wore a heavy moustache; and you can trust me when I say it was not a
false one. If then Hersham was the Tooley Alley negro, who we have
agreed committed the murder, how did he manage to grow his moustache
in so short a period. The thing is impossible,” finished the
detective, “that one point alone assures me that Hersham is guiltless
of the crime.”

“Mrs. Boazoph may have made a mistake,” suggested Garth, “remember she
did not see the negro go out.”

“She saw him go in, however. Mrs. Boazoph is too clever a woman to
make a mistake of that sort. The black man who committed the murder
had no moustache; our friend, masquerading as a Christy Minstrel, had
one. Against the evidence of Mrs. Boazoph we can place the evidence of
Berry Jawkins; the one contradicts the other; and both evidences
conclusively prove that Hersham had no hand in the commission of the
mysterious tragedy.”

“And another thing,” said Herbert, suddenly. “Mr. Garth couples the
fact of the murder with the name of Miss Colmer. As a friend of the
family, I protest against that. I know Mrs. Colmer, I know her
daughter; and I am certain that neither of these unfortunate people
have anything to do with the death of that scoundrel.”

“Nevertheless the envelope which contained the appointment of the Red
Star in Tooley’s Alley as the rendezvous bore the Taxton-on-Thames
postmark. Mrs. Colmer and her daughter live at Taxton-on-Thames.”

“What of that? Sir Louis Fellenger and his medical friend lived at the
same place. You might as well say that the new baronet committed the
crime so as to succeed to the title and estates. The one theory is as
feasible as the other.”

“Very true,” said Fanks, in a desponding tone; “I am as much in the
dark as ever. At the present moment we can build up a theory on
anything. For instance, I might say that our friend Garth here killed
his cousin.”

“The deuce!” cried Garth, aghast.

“You are startled,” said Fanks, keenly watching the effect of his
speech on the young man. “I don’t wonder at it. I merely say this to
show how slow you should be in condemning Hersham.”

“But I don’t see how you could bring me in,” stammered Garth.

“It is easy enough. You are the heir, failing Sir Louis; you know the
purport of that tattooed cross. You might have killed your cousin, and
have sent the appointment from Taxton-on-Thames to implicate Sir Louis
in the matter, and so have removed the two people between you and the
title at one sweep.”

“But I don’t want the title.”

“Possibly not; but you want money. But do not look so afraid, Garth. I
don’t think you committed the crime; you are no doubt as innocent as
Mr. Herbert here.”

“If I had committed the crime I should not deny it,” said Herbert,
gloomily. “I should glory in causing the death of such a scoundrel. If
Fellenger had not been killed by the negro in Tooley’s Alley, Mr.
Fanks, you might have had to arrest me as the cause of his death. As
it is, my revenge has been taken out of my hands. But the same end has
been arrived at. I am glad the blackguard is dead.”

Here the argument ended, and Fanks went out arm in arm with Garth.
Both of them were sorry for the unhappy Herbert Vaud, and both of them
were more puzzled than ever over the case. As yet all evidence had
failed to throw the least gleam of light on the subject.

Shortly after the conversation at Lincoln’s Inn Fields Fanks took his
leave of Garth. He was rather weary of the lawyer’s company, and,
moreover, he found such third person a hindrance to the free speech he
wished to induce from those with whom he conversed. In his own heart
he was perfectly satisfied that Garth was connected in no way with the
crime, for the test which he applied in the office of Vaud and Vaud
entirely satisfied him. Nevertheless, he was not so certain that Garth
would not be pleased to learn that his cousin–the sole person who
stood between him and the Fellenger estate–was implicated in the
affair.

On these grounds he therefore excused himself to the barrister, and
walked off by himself, intent on his own business. Garth, who was
suffering from a bad attack of detective fever, was not over pleased
at being thus dismissed; still he thought it best to obey his friend,
and so he departed, to think over the aspect the case had now assumed.
In fact, he intended to do a little detective business on his own
account, and, if possible, he wished to surprise Fanks by an
unexpected discovery. There were now three different people following
three different lines of action with respect to the case, so it was to
be hoped that one of them at least would run down the assassin of Sir
Gregory Fellenger, unless indeed all failed on the principle that too
many cooks spoil the broth.

On leaving the barrister, Fanks took his way towards Tooley’s Alley.
It was his intention to see Mrs. Boazoph and to try an experiment on
that astute lady. From her demeanour Fanks believed that the landlady
of the Red Star knew more about the case than she choose to confess,
and that she was anxious to screen the man or woman who had done the
deed. Of this belief he wished to make certain.

Mrs. Boazoph received the detective with her customary composure. She
was quite prepared for his visit, as she knew that her connection with
the case was too patent to escape his vigilant eye. Anticipating a
trying conversation, she directed Fanks to be shown into her private
sitting-room, and she braced herself up to confuse and baffle him.

No one would have guessed the landlady’s thoughts from the amiable
manner in which she received her almost declared enemy. She was
positively genial in her conversation and demeanour, and Fanks augured
ill from this.

“Well, Mrs. Boazoph,” said he, mildly, “I suppose you are wondering
what brings me here?”

“Indeed I am doing no such thing, Mr. Fanks. You came to find out what
I know about this crime.”

“I congratulate you on your perspicuity, Mrs. Boazoph. And what do you
know about it?”

The woman raised her eyebrows and shrugged her shoulders.

“I know nothing at all,” she replied. “I gave my evidence at the
inquest; you heard it.”

“Well?”

“Well, there is nothing more to be said.”

“I beg to differ with you, Mrs. Boazoph; there is a great deal more to
be said.”

“Not by me,” said Mrs. Boazoph, obstinately, closing her mouth. “If
you think that I am going to assist you to find out who killed this
wretched man, you are very much mistaken.”

“Strange,” said Fanks, in a musing tone, meant to reach her ear, “the
same thing was said in almost the same words by Anne Colmer.”

“What do you know about Anne Colmer?”

“More than you can guess. For instance, I know that she is the niece
of–Mrs. Bryant.”

With a start, instantly repressed, she looked to him in a hard and
fixed manner, a disbelieving smile on her lips. “Mrs. Bryant,” she
repeated, “and who is Mrs. Bryant?”

“If you don’t know, I am sure I do not.”

“Speak plainly. I hate epigrams.”

“So do I. They are such a bar to intelligent conversation. Well, Mrs.
Bryant is a lady of birth, who married beneath her. Mr. Bryant was a
bully, a sot, a spendthrift, and he lost all his money by fast living.
When he became poor, his friends–for strange to say, this unpleasant
person had some friends–set him up in an hotel. He was ashamed to
stick his own name over his door; so he cast about for another.
Perhaps you can tell me what that other name was?”

“No.”

“What a singularly obstinate person you are,” said, Fanks, shaking his
head. “Believe me, it is no use our wasting time in discussing facts.
Be sensible, Mrs. Boazoph, and admit that you are Mrs. Bryant.”

“No.”

“Mrs. Bryant, the sister of Mrs. Colmer, of Taxton-on-Thames,
dressmaker, and decayed gentlewoman.”

“I don’t know her; I never heard her name.”

“Really!” said Fanks, with gentle pity, “then I must inquire of Mrs.
Colmer, of Taxton-on-Thames, how is it that her sister, Mrs. Bryant,
is the notorious Mrs. Boazoph, of London.”

“You are a fiend!”

“And what is Mrs. Bryant, alias Boazoph?”

“She is a most unhappy woman; a woman rather to be pitied than
blamed.”

“Ah!” said Fanks, drawing a long breath of satisfaction. “So you admit
your identity at last.”

“I can do nothing else. I do not wish my poor sister to know that I am
Mrs. Boazoph. She thinks that I live on the money left to me by my
late husband; she does not know that I keep this hotel; that I am the
woman who has been mentioned so often in the papers, in connection
with thieves, rogues, and detectives. Yes. I admit that I am Mrs.
Bryant, the sister of Mrs. Colmer. Who told you?”

“Your niece, Anne.”

“She had no business to do so.”

“Very probably; but she could not help herself. I forced her to speak;
how, it does not matter; but I extracted the truth out of her, Mrs.
Bryant.”

“Call me Mrs. Boazoph,” flashed out the woman, “and relieve me of your
presence as speedily as possible. What do you wish to know?”

“I wish to know the agreement you made with Dr. Binjoy, regarding this
crime.”

“Who is Dr. Binjoy?”

“Come now, Mrs. Boazoph, do not let us have another argument. I have
neither the time nor the patience to endure one, I assure you. I know
more than you think; and I can force you to speak if I so choose. I
would rather not choose, if it is all the same to you. Let us conduct
this conversation pleasantly, if possible. You know that Dr. Binjoy is
the same as Dr. Renshaw?”

“Indeed, I do not. How can you prove it?”

“Very easily. I followed Dr. Renshaw on his presumed journey to
Bombay, and tracked him to Mere Hall at Bournemouth.”

Mrs. Boazoph quailed, and shrank back. This man knew so much, that she
did not know where she stood.

For the moment, she did not know what to do; but, unable to deny the
identity of Renshaw with Binjoy, she admitted it.

“Good!” said Fanks, in a satisfied tone, “we are getting on. And the
agreement you made with this man?”

“I made no agreement with him.”

“Then why was he here on the night of the murder?”

“It was an accident. For some reason of his own, Dr. Binjoy, whom I
met at Taxton-on-Thames, was in the habit of changing his name when in
London. He usually stayed with Dr. Turnor, who is an old friend of
his; and did his work when Turnor was absent. When I found out the
murder, I sent for Dr. Turnor, he was away, and Dr. Binjoy came under
his name of Renshaw. I was astonished to see him. I did not know that
he was in town.”

“Oh! Had you any reason to go to Mere Hall to see him?”

“Mere Hall!” stammered Mrs. Boazoph, “you saw me at Mere Hall?”

“I saw you with my own eyes; you cannot deny that.”

“I have no wish to deny it,” retorted Mrs. Boazoph, with asperity,
“yes I was at Mere Hall. I went there to warn Binjoy against you.”

“Indeed; and no doubt Binjoy assured you that he had baffled me by the
pretended journey to Bombay.”

“Yes, he said that.”

“And did he say that he had sent his negro, Caesar, to Bombay, in his
place?”

Mrs. Boazoph drew back and gasped, holding tightly on to the arms of
her chair. “You know that?” she said, in alarm.

“I know that, and a great deal more,” said Fanks, grimly. “In fact, I
more than suspect that I know the assassin.”

“Then you know that Caesar killed Sir Gregory?”

“You jump to conclusions, Mrs. Boazoph,” said Fanks, noting the tone
of relief in which she made this remark. “I do not know that Caesar
killed Sir Gregory Fellenger. But I know that both you and Dr. Binjoy
would like me to think so.”

“Man! Man!” cried Mrs. Boazoph, with an hysterical laugh, “do you
think that I had anything to do with this crime?”

“Why not; the man was killed in your house: you called in a doctor,
who is the dearest friend of the present baronet; it was to Binjoy’s
interest that Sir Gregory should be got out of the way.”

Again Mrs. Boazoph seemed relieved. “Then you suppose that Binjoy
instructed Caesar to kill Sir Gregory?”

“No, I do not; Caesar had nothing to do with the commission of the
crime.”

“Then who was the black man who killed the baronet?”

“It was no black man.”

“But it was,” said. Mrs. Boazoph, angrily. “I saw him myself enter the
room.”

“You saw a white man disguised as a negro enter the room.”

Mrs. Boazoph bounded to her feet. “What!” she cried, “do you mean to
say that the black man was a disguised white man?”

“Yes, I do say so; although I daresay it is no news to you.”

Mrs. Boazoph stamped her foot. “It is news to me, I tell you. I
thought that Caesar killed Sir Gregory at the behest of Dr. Binjoy.
When you entered the room I hoped to keep the fact from you; because I
did not wish Binjoy to get into trouble. But you say that Caesar did
not commit the crime, and so you have upset my ideas altogether. Now,
Mr. Fanks, I tell you truly, that if this negro did not kill Sir
Gregory, I do not know the name of the assassin.”

Fanks looked puzzled. She evidently spoke in all good faith, and he
could not but believe her. He wondered if she was right, and whether
the negro of Dr. Binjoy had killed the baronet after all. “Did you
recognise as Caesar the black man who came here on that night?” he
asked.

“No; how could I? I never saw Caesar in my life. But I know that
Binjoy had a negro servant; that he smuggled him off to Bombay; and
that he was the friend of Sir Louis Fellenger. Therefore I thought
this negro was the instrument Binjoy made use of to kill Sir Gregory.”

“Do you know anything about a tattooed cross, Mrs. Boazoph?” asked
Fanks, going on another tack.

The woman fell into her chair as pale as a sheet of paper. The mention
of the tattooed cross had a most powerful effect on her mind, and she
stared thunderstruck at the detective. Not a word could she utter for
at least two minutes. When she spoke her voice was thick and unsteady.
“What do you know of the tattooed cross?” she muttered.

“I know that Sir Gregory let this disguised man tattoo a cross on his
left arm, and that the needle used was poisoned. Now, can you tell me
why Sir Gregory let a cross be pricked on his arm?”

“No! no! I–I–can’t tell you that.”

“Does that mean that you won’t tell me?”

“It–means that I–I–can’t tell you,” gasped Mrs. Boazoph. “I did not
know Sir Gregory Fellenger.”

“Do you know anyone else who has a cross tattooed on his left arm?”
asked Fanks, preparing for his great stroke.

“No! Why do you ask me?” she muttered, in a terrified tone.

“Because the man who has that cross tattooed on his left arm was the
disguised negro; he was the man who killed Sir Gregory.”

“Ah Heavens! Oh, Edward Hersham?” moaned Mrs. Boazoph, and fell upon
the floor in a faint.

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