Search of house and grounds was fruitless.
Before half-past eleven the rainstorm
was over, and a bright moon lighted the brothers and
the men-servants to the discovery of just nothing
Except to give an order, or make a
suggestion, neither Bellamy spoke until they stood
alone together in the hall.
They looked at each other like men
who from dreams of hell have waked to find it.
Then the elder groaned, beside himself.
“The poor girl!” he said. “To
think of her ill-used murdered, perhaps!”
The younger man cut him short with
a glance, which even through his agony pierced Randal
as if the livid lightning of a god had been launched
at the ineptitude of human compassion.
“Cut it out,” said Dick.
“That’s a car coming. The father.
Take him right back to town in it. You’ve
got the pull. You can make the political coves
get Scotland Yard and the police of the world working,
before you’d get the county bobbies into their
The car drew up in front of the house.
“How shall I tell him?” said Randal.
“I shall,” answered Dick.
“You get into tweeds jump.”
And he went to meet Caldegard at the door.
“Good God!” said the old
man, when he saw the young one’s face. “What’s
“I’ll tell you,” said Dick.
“Is that a good car?”
Caldegard knew how to obey. “It’s
Broadfoot’s Rolls-Royce, six cylinder,”
he replied promptly.
“Tell the man he must take you back to town.”
When the order was given, the lover,
in curt and terrible phrases, told the father what
had happened. And Caldegard’s face, as he
listened without a word, was a tragedy which Dick
Bellamy, heeding it not at all for the moment, remembered
all his life.
“Set every dog in the world
on the men who’ve stolen Ambrotox,” he
said in conclusion, “and you’ll find Amaryllis.
A trace of one is a track of the other; news of either
is news of both. Leave the local work to me.”
Caldegard looked into the strange
face, and almost flinched from the terrible eyes.
“I’ll do all you say,” he replied
Then Randal came, pulling on his coat.
His brother made him swallow whisky and water, forced
the elder man to do the same, and before they left,
demanded money of Randal.
“There’s a hundred and
twenty pounds in notes, in the small right-hand drawer
in the safe,” he replied, “ unless
they got that too.”
“No,” said Dick.
“They were hustled. Let her rip,”
he said to the driver, and went back into the house.
Trembling with excitement and keeping
back genuine tears for Amaryllis, a guest to serve
whom had been pleasure, the parlour-maid fetched him
cold meat, bread and beer. When he had changed
his clothes, he ate hastily in the hall, swallowing
doggedly what he could not taste.
“Twenty-five minutes they’ll
be in town. Another fifteen and the wires’ll
be humming,” he calculated. “Twenty
more the local police will be here, and
rub out every trace. Is there a trace, a mark a
print a smell, even? I’ve got
He sent all the servants to bed, except
Randal’s chauffeur, whom he summoned to the
“My car’s fit to travel,
Martin,” he said. “Shove in as many
tins of petrol as she’ll hold. I may want
her to-night. Run her out into the drive, put
on an overcoat and sit inside till I come.”
Then he went to the study, lit all
the candles and another lamp, opened the safe with
the duplicate key, and found, as he had expected, the
money in its drawer.
“Mostly one-pound notes,”
he muttered, as he locked the safe.
Turning to leave it, he stood suddenly
stock-still, head up and sniffing the air, puzzled
by an intangible association of sense and memory.
Failing to fix it, he left the alcove,
and went to the writing-table, choosing the chair
she had sat in, when she could not, or would not,
give reason for her tears. And now he gave a flash
of thought where before he had refrained even from
speculation. Could it have been the forgotten
letter that had made her weep? Yet there had been
no trouble in her face while she read it, and it seemed
certain that the handwriting was unfamiliar.
While he mused his eyes were fixed
on the alcove at the end of the room. The light
of the candle he had left there outlined sharply the
edges of the two curtains which hung from the rod
crossing the recess. At the ceiling their edges
met, but, at a height of some two and a half feet
from the floor, their folds were looped back to the
wall in a style formally old-fashioned. And now,
even before his mind became concerned, his eye was
irritated by a lack of symmetry in the draping; for
the drooping fold of the right-hand curtain was out
of shape. Again, his thought ran, if thieves
playing for so great a stake as Ambrotox had found
a woman in their way, their best card was prompt murder.
If they could abduct in silence, they could have killed
silently. And this made clear to him the soundness
of what had been hitherto a merely instinctive conviction;
since they had not left her body dead, they had taken
it away alive and with no intent to kill
elsewhere. For, if murder were to be done, the
dead was safest of all behind them in the place of
Then again while the distorted
loop of the curtain haunted his subconscious mind,
so that with imaginary fingers he was adjusting its
curves, even while his mind pulled and twisted the
elements of his problem then, again, he
thought, this thief had he shrunk from murder,
or merely from this murder?
“If I could know that!”
And before he was well aware of what
he did, he was in the opening of the alcove, handling
that awkward fold and again he drew breath,
deep and slow through the nose; again the vague memory again
the elusive association. Was the scent sweet
as well as musty was it in the curtain?
But as he stooped, he saw what made him forget that
vague odour: a crumpled bunch of the soft linen
had been squeezed together, and was not yet recovered
from the strain of some violent compression.
Gently stretching the stuff, and bringing it closer
to the light, he found the almost regular marks, above
and below, as of some serrated, semi-trenchant tool
which had been closed upon the doubled piece of cloth.
“Teeth, by God!” said
Dick. “Tried to gag her with it shoved
a bag of it in with his fingers, gets ’em out,
and stoppers the lot with his hand. Before she
faints, she bites here and there she’s
gone clean through the stuff.”
Indecision gone, he took the smaller
lamp in his hand, and made a tour of the room.
At an angle to the fireplace was a
broad-seated, high-backed oaken settee, covered with
cushions. The back almost hid the hearth from
the french-window. The silk pillow nearest the
alcove still kept the impress of a head.
“When they came in,” he
reasoned, “the back of that thing hid her.
She’d lain down to rest, and stop that sobbing
before she came back to me. Fell asleep women’ll
do that, happy or wretched, before they know where
they are. They reached the safe, and that arm
at the end would hide even her hair. While they’re
messing round with the safe, she wakes and peeps at
’em was it cold feet or sand kept
her from yelling? What next?”
He was back at the alcove now, on
hands and knees, the lamp set on the ground, searching
the thick pile of the carpet for signs of the struggle
there must have been. And again the smell near
the right hand curtain where the wool of the carpet
Roses attar of roses!
Where had he heard of attar of roses combined with with
what? And again the two wires would not touch but
they were throwing a spark across the gap.
Yes, it was Caldegard Caldegard
had said something something of a foul
man and a rotten stink. It was some story he’d
been telling that first night at dinner.
Then a glitter in the carpet.
Half-hidden trodden in amongst the roughened
wool, he found it a morsel of bright steel the
needle of a hypodermic syringe. Who had spoken
lately of a morphinomaniac that carried his syringe
always with him?
Why, Caldegard, Caldegard!
“Melhuish? Melford? Meldrum? Melcher?-Melchard!
By God, the swine that stank!”
And he remembered how he had upset
the silver candlestick, setting fire to the shades,
to cover the girl’s discomfort, and the smile
she had paid him with. Then it was this particular
murder from which the thief had shrunk.
Melchard, the chemist, had guessed
at the direction of Caldegard’s research.
Discharged at a moment when his hope of mastering a
valuable secret was at its height, he had found means
to track Caldegard’s movements, and even, it
seemed, to discover the hiding-place of the perfected
drug and its formula.
“Agent or, p’r’aps,
a leading member of the Dope Gang Caldegard hinted
at. He lays his plans to grab the stuff and the
formula. Just as he gets his fingers on it, up
pops the only being on earth he’d give a damn
about knifing. Twenty years’ clink if he
leaves her to talk. Takes her with him hell’s
blight on him! Wouldn’t have been dosing
himself on a game like this. Used the syringe
To find Melchard was to find Amaryllis.
The first thing to do, therefore, was to find Melchard’s
address, and the first man to ask was Caldegard.
If Caldegard could not give it to him, it meant a long
hunt with the police. Anyway, he must begin with
He crossed to the telephone, lifted
the receiver, and, hearing no tinkle, blew into the
transmitter with the receiver at his ear. Hearing
nothing, he hung it up with a curse.
Sitting at Randal’s desk, he
wrote rapidly the following note:
“Got the money.
Enclose key. Melchard’s the man we want.
cut outside. Wire me address P.D.Q. Dick.”
Through the window he went to his car in the drive.
“Martin,” he said, “get
out Sir Randal’s car and take this note to him.
Go to New Scotland Yard. They’ll tell you
where he is. Drive like hell.”
He went back into the house, ran upstairs,
lit a candle in his room, stuffed one pocket with
handkerchiefs, and into another dropped a tin of tobacco
and an electric torch.
Why hadn’t he brought a gun?
Oh, well, it only meant five minutes at his flat in
Great Windmill Street.
As he came down the passage, his eyes,
obeying a new habit which seemed already old, lingered
a moment on Amaryllis’ door. But it was
not sentiment which checked his feet.
“There might be something,”
he muttered, and, without hesitation, entered the
An oppression of silence weighed upon
him painfully as he felt for his match-box. When
the candle showed it, the pretty room was a cruel jest.
His examination was made with business-like
care. On the dressing-table was nothing but the
pretty things which served her toilet; but on the
writing-table in the window lay a pile of letters.
The topmost he recognised at once for that which she
had read in his presence after dinner.
As he pulled the stiff sheet from
the envelope, he was aware once more of the odour
which he had smelt first in the alcove of the study.
He spread the letter open. It
was signed “Alban Melchard.”
It was written on good paper, stamped
with the address, and read as follows:
“Rue de la Harpe,
“I fear that you will be surprised
at my venturing to write to you, considering
the distressing circumstances under which we parted.
Although the small request I have to make of you
is of some importance to me, I should not have
the presumption to make it, if it were not that
it gives me the opportunity to assure you that the
passage of time has made a wiser man of me and
a grateful one, for the delicate forbearance
with which you taught me my place.
“I have recently
met with good fortune in my profession, and am
settling down as a man
of business in the neighbourhood of
Millsborough, with considerable
prospect of success.
“In the happy days when it was
my privilege to pick up unconsidered scraps of
your father’s scientific wisdom, I kept, jotted
down in a notebook, many items for future use.
Until recently I have had no occasion to refer
to these notes, which I now find are essential to
the success of my most promising scheme.
I must have left the memoranda behind me with
some other things, when I departed so suddenly
“If you can have
this notebook found for me, I will ask that it may
be posted to me at The
Myrtles, Grove End, near Millsborough, as I
shall only be in Paris
for three days longer.
“I heard, quite
by chance from a friend, that Professor Caldegard
was staying with Sir
Randal Bellamy in Hertfordshire, so I have
ventured to use his
gratefully in anticipation,
“My dear Miss
“Yours very sincerely,
“H’m, in Paris, is he?
No more in Paris than I am. Wrote this in case
he should be suspected, but didn’t count on
having to cart the girl along. False addresses
wouldn’t help him. These two are straight
goods. Clever move, if it hadn’t been for
the girl. Your alibi’ll hang you, Alban
Melchard. That fixes Millsborough.”
Savagely he cranked up his engine
and jumped into the driving-seat. The car rushed
When St. Albans was behind him the
confusion of excitement began to settle, and his thoughts
presented themselves clear as those of a dispassionate
spectator. For him, in all this tangle, there
was one thing, and one thing only, that mattered;
to be in time. He did not fear murder; but the
very reason of her security from death was the cause
of a fear so horrible, that he knew inaction would
have been torture past endurance.