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« on: August 23, 2023, 11:14:25 am »

4 - 4

CHANEY threw down his newspaper just as I laid mine aside. He turned to me with a characteristic grunt---expressive of pronounced conviction.

‘Um!’ he said. ‘I don’t think there’s much doubt about all that, Camberwell! Mrs. Goodge met him!’

‘You think that was the original murderer?’ I said.

‘I see nothing else that would explain matters,’ he answered. ‘I figure it out this way. In the man she saw in the bar of the Marquis of Manby Mrs. Goodge recognized the man she’d seen leaving her flats on the night of Mrs. Clayton’s murder. She followed him out, and accosted him. No doubt they began an argument. What is it likely the man would say under the circumstances? At first he’d deny her accusation, point-blank: he’d say that he was never there at all. She’d stick to it---she was the sort of woman who could be obstinate and who’d let anybody see that she meant what she said; probably she threatened to stick to him and hand him over to the first policeman they met. Then he’d begin to temporize with her. Probably he’d admit that he did leave the flats that night, but that he’d been calling on a friend there. Then he no doubt tried the other dodge---squaring Mrs. Goodge. Very likely---I should say certainly---he offered her money to keep her mouth shut: he would do that without admitting any guilt. Now, from what we saw of Mrs. Goodge, I don’t think she’d object to being squared---whatever her daughter may say. And there’s the undoubted fact---Mrs. Goodge was found with five and twenty pounds in Bank of England notes in her hand. Who gave them to her? This man, of course!’

‘Why didn’t he re-possess himself of them?’ I asked.

‘Probably because Mehta came along before he’d time to do so,’ replied Chaney. ‘And, of course, as soon as he’d finished Mehta, he’d want to clear out quick. But the fact that he did leave them seems to indicate to me that he was a man to whom five and twenty pounds was of no importance---a rich man. Anyway, after settling Mehta at the foot of the stairs, he wasn’t returning to his first victim for the sake of recovering a few banknotes. Or---he may have forgotten them in his excitement---if such a fellow can feel excitement. But, in any case, he cleared out, and made off and round a corner or two into Berners Street.’

‘You think he was the man who hailed the taxi-cab driver?’ I said.

‘I do! And I’ll tell you what I think about that. I think it was all a piece of bluff---sheer acting. He asked to go to Liverpool Street Station---bluff!’

‘But he did go there!’ I pointed out.

‘He didn’t. He stopped the cab at the corner of New Broad Street and Liverpool Street, with some muttered remark about walking. But he didn’t walk across to Liverpool Street Station---the big station, at any rate. The taxi-cab man, turning his cab, saw him slink into the Metropolitan---the Underground! Why? Because he was going back on his tracks---going back to the West End! Clever dodge, Camberwell! The fellow had figured things out. He knew that Mrs. Goodge and the Hindu would be found dead, murdered. He knew that he’d been in the Marquis of Manby when Mrs. Goodge was there, and had probably been seen with Mrs. Goodge. He also knew that these last murders would be linked with that of Mrs. Clayton and that of Hannington, and that somebody of foreign appearance, in black hat, black clothes, white muffler would be looked for. Very well!---let them have some clue that will make them look for him in the East End. So---to Liverpool Street. But---I think he went back west when he’d once got down to the Underground. And it’s in the West End that we’ll look for him!’

‘Chaney!’ said I. ‘Who do you think he is?’

‘Who do I think he is?’ he exclaimed. ‘Why, Crowther, of course! Who else? But---who is Crowther?’

‘Do you think he’s Paley?’ I asked ‘Do you---really?’

‘I can say more about that when I’ve heard what that clerk of ours has to tell us,’ he answered. ‘He’ll have some sort of a report to make. Paley?---ah, I shouldn’t be surprised. I reckon that chap’s capable of anything. But if it is Paley---if Paley’s Crowther---I should like to know Paley’s real motive for indulging in what’s becoming wholesale murder. He---the murderer, whoever he really is---is an expert at cracking his victims’ skulls, Camberwell! And look here, do you remember what the old gentleman at Monte Carlo told us about Crowther?---that he carried an old-fashioned life-preserver on him, always? Well, from my knowledge of such things, I should say that every one of these victims, Hannington, Mrs. Crowther, Mrs. Goodge, the Hindu, was finished off in that way. With one good blow, delivered in the right place! Camberwell!---we’ve got to find this chap and make sure that he swings!’

‘What are we going to do when we get to Victoria?’ I asked.

‘We’ll go straight to Lord Cheverdale and give in our report,’ he answered. ‘But listen! Our interview with Lord Cheverdale has got to be with him, in private, and not with him and Paley. With Paley we will have nothing to do. And we must be careful about what we tell Lord Cheverdale. I think he’s a man of honour, and if we pledge him to secrecy, he’ll respect our confidence. But still, there are things we must not tell him---at present.’

‘Such as---what?’ I asked.

‘Well, leave it to me---but in particular, we must not, on any account whatever, tell him that the man Crowther, wherever he is, and under whatever name he now goes by, can be identified by that tattoo mark we heard of----’

‘The Black Dragon!’ I exclaimed. ‘Ah!---I’d forgotten it!’

‘I hadn’t!’ he said grimly. ‘Not likely. We keep that matter to ourselves, Camberwell, until----’

He paused, and turning to the window, looked out on the Kentish fields with an inscrutable smile.

‘Until---when?’ I asked.

‘Until the right moment comes!’ he answered. ‘It’s coming!’

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